Sagemont Church (January 7, 2018) – Lecture by Greg Koukl. This video is part of the Sagemont Apologetics Conference 2018 Playlist
Daniel C. Peterson discusses Christopher Hitchens’ book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”… KEEP IN MIND, this is a Mormon apologist defending in parts Mormonism — However, Dr. Peterson spells out some grand church history and other common defenses of the faith. AS WELL AS the low threshold of scholarly aptitude in Hitchens work.
- “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take the veil away” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
Lynn Wilder and Corey Miller are among 4 scholars who tell their story of leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the new book “Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Mind.” They engage with Mormon believer James Holt as they discuss Jesus, Joseph Smith, polygamy, testimony, the Book of Mormon and more. For more on this program, see HERE.
One can also read my chapter on Mormonism, “Infinitely Finite – Mormon Materialism: Are Mormons Really Dialectical Materialists?“
 James A. Beverly, Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions: A Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009), 368.
I truncated a much longer response and isolated my original thinking in the area of a common atheist charge of evil towards the Judeo-Christian God. I want Prager to read it!
Here the skeptic posits God’s wrath on 42 children, presumably innocent in that their greatest offense was calling someone a “bald-head.” It would be similar to a guy being called “four-eyes” by a bunch of kids and then whipping out an AK-47 and mowing them down… and then expecting you to view him as a moral agent. In accessing the following books,
✦ The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times;
✦ Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Daily Life in Bible Times;
✦ An Introduction to the Old Testament;
✦ The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament;
✦ Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament;
✦ A Popular Survey of the Old Testament;
✦ New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties;
✦ Hard Sayings of the Bible;
✦ When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties.
I noticed something was missing. That is, a bit more of what is not said in the text, but we can assume using and accessing what any historical literary critic would with the principles that predate Christ — mentioned in the above “latte” link. Mind you, many of the responses in my home library that I came across were great, and, in fact they made me dig a bit further. (I do not want the reader to think that I place myself on a higher academic level that these fine theologians and professors.)
This crowd of persons was older than what is typically posited by skeptics. Secondly, this group was a very bad lot. But didn’t explain why bald-head was egregious enough for God to call 42 scurvy bastards to judgement. To be fair, I sympathize with the skeptic here. That being said, there is more to the story.
I want us to view some artistic drawings of historical figures from Israels history: priests, prophets, spiritual leaders, and even Flavius Josephus.
What did you notice above in the cover to an A&E documentary? Yup, a turban as well as a cloak which covers the heads of the priests and prophets. Take note of the below as well.
I posted multiple images to drive a point home in our mind. The prophet Elisha would have had a couple cultural accoutrements that changes this story from simple name calling to an assault. He wouldn’t have been alone either, in other words, he would have had some people attached to him that would lay down their lives to protect him. And secondly, he would have had a head covering on, especially since he was returning from a “priestly” intervention. So we know from cultural history the following:
- He would have had a head dressing on — some sort of turbin;
- and he would have had an entourage of men to dissuade any attack or mistreatment of a priest of Israel on a journey.
One last point before we bullet point the complete idea behind the Holy and Rightful judgement from the Judge of all mankind. There were 42 persons killed by two bears. Obviously this would require many more than 42 people. Why? What happens when you have a group of ten people and a bear comes crashing out of the bushes in preparation to attack? Every one will immediately scatter! In the debate I pointed out that freezing 42 people and allowing the bears time to go down the line to kill each one would be even more of a miracle than this skeptic would want to allow. So the common sense position would require a large crowd and some sort of terrain to cut off escape. So the crowd would probably have been at least a few hundred.
Also, this holy man of God was coming back from a “mission,” he would have had an entourage with him ~ as already mentioned, as well as having some sort of head-covering on as pictured above ~ as already mentioned.
So, what do these cultural and historical points cause us to rightly assume?
That the crowd could not see that the prophet was bald.
Which means they would have had to of gotten physical — forcefully removing the head covering. Which means also that the men with the prophet Elisha would have also been overpowered. So lets bullet point the points that undermine the skeptics viewpoint.
✔ The crowd was in their late teens to early twenties;
✔ they were antisemitic (this is known from most of the previous passages and books);
✔ they were from a violently cultic city;
✔ the crowd was large;
✔ the crowd had already turned violent.
These points caused God in his foreknowledge to protect the prophet and send in nature to disperse the crowd. Nature is not kind, and the death of these men were done by a just Judge. This explains the actions of a just God better than many of the references I read.
[May I also add here that there is a bit of “free-will” actions here that could have contributed greatly — although this is still an example of God intervening with nature. I suppose that these mother bears may have minded their own business while keeping their cubs safe. But the ruckus created by this large crowd caused alarm enough in these mother bears to roust their natural instinct to protect their own. That is all. If this crowd had not done the above, everyone could have gone their own way on their respective journeys and “survived.”]
On the Ultimate Issues Hour, Dennis Prager speaks about his upcoming book to be published and the topic of “Slavery and the Bible.” Previously I uploaded a shorter dealing with this topic, here: “Prager Deals with Three Misconceptions Obama & Liberals Have of the Bible“
(6-23-2014) Unbelievable hosted Reza Aslan (a religious researcher and a confused man as well as a cannibal), author of Zealot, claims Jesus was a political revolutionary and not the peace loving Messiah of the Gospels. Anthony Le Donne, a visiting lecturer at the University of the Pacific and author in his own right, debates Reza on who Jesus is.
Michael Medved had Author Reza Azlan on about his newest book, “God, A Human History.” What a confused man… not just in his worldview, but even how he defines terms accepted by other faiths — in this case, inerrancy. Here are some of my posts regarding the issues herein:
- “…inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact…. that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.”
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 90, 91.
I just pre-ordered via Amanon, “THE RATIONAL BIBLE: EXODUS,” by Dennis Prager (due out April 2, 2018). This is the first in a commentary series by Prager on the first five books of the Bible, the Torah.As a Bible student and bibliophile, I am excited for this new series.
I clipped the above section to compliment some other uploads I have by Prager:
- Prager Deals with Three Misconceptions Obama & Liberals Have of the Bible
- Does The Bible Really Say… Parents Can Kill Their Children?
And my post on 2 Kings, “ATHEISTS CHALLENGE TO BIBLICAL ETHICS (2 KINGS 2:23-25)” — where I note ORIGINAL understandings in an apologetic defense of this event.
Best takeaway line from the video:
- “…this new flat earthism clearly has a northern hemisphere bias…”
Heh, I would say that the this bias is perpetrated by imperialist white supremacist Christian cisgender capitalist heteropatriarchal males. Now… chant with me: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom – It is our duty to win – …We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
THE BIBLE DOESN’T TEACH THIS: Is the ’erets (earth) flat? — Equivocal language in the geography of Genesis 1 and the Old Testament: a response to Paul H. Seely;
ISAIAH IN PARTICULAR DENIES IT: Isaiah 40:22 and the shape of the earth;
THE CHURCH NEVER TAUGHT THIS: The flat earth myth;
IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY ABSURD ON NUMEROUS GROUNDS: A flat earth, and other nonsense — Debunking ideas that would not exist were it not for the Internet;
- “The Flat Earth Society is an active organization currently led by a Virginian man named Daniel Shenton. Though Shenton believes in evolution and global warming, he and his hundreds, if not thousands, of followers worldwide also believe that the Earth is a disc that you can fall off of.”
Dennis Prager reads from a New York Times opinion piece by an atheist entitled, “The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’.” Of course this is the idea of most honest atheist thinkers (Listen to “Atheists Cannot Live Without God“). A great Ultimate Issues Hour by Prager.
Here are some excerpts from the NEW YORK TIMES article:
Here I will take a break and point out that there are MANY “utilitarian benefits” to the Christian faith, but say this is not the goal of our faith…
- “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” – JOHN 8:32
…but the “healthfulness” of experiencing TRUE JOY is a natural outgrowth of believing in Truth:
- Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel Discussion Panelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
- Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades. He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.
- His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.” Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed. He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status. His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities.
- Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth. His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons. First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect. While the government might be able to design [secular/non-God] programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behavioral changes needed to turn kids away from crime. Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior. Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingness to be blunt. The message of effective mentors is simple. “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.” Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.
- Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, “The Faith Factor,” Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
- Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
- Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. “Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
- Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: “Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches.” The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
- Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., “Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy,” Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: “Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
- The presence of active churches, synagogues… reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., “Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being,” RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
- People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, “Correcting the Welfare Tragedy,” The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
- Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
- Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, “Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?” Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
- Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* “Church attendance and health.”* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
- Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* ” The Impact of religion on men’s blood pressure.”* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* “Diet, Hypertension and Stroke.” in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
- People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
- Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* “God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control” in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: “Psychotherapies on the Clergy” in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
- Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior.” * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O’Malley:* “Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.”* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes.”* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were replicated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.
- The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
- Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
- The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
- Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
- Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
- The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
- In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
- Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.
When asked, “Why are you a Christian?” most Christians provide the same answers that believers of every other theistic worldview offer. Are these answers good enough if everyone can use them to explain their commitment to a particular worldview? J. Warner Wallace challenges viewers to develop better answers to one of the most important questions anyone can ask a Christian. All believers must accept their duty to make the case for what they believe as described in the book, Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith.
(I am changing some of my “Pages” to “Posts,” so some of this info is older to my site)
This will be a response to the “shellfish” mantra. These two challenges are from a much larger conversation in a private group on Facebook with a large group of gay or either homosexual behavior supporting friends and family.
I will deal with the above in a couple ways. Firstly, the entirety of Leviticus was not written for everyone.
Let me repeat that, the entirety of Leviticus was not written for everyone.
There are parts that speak to the Jewish nation of the day (the Hebraic peoples), and other commands that included more than just the Jewish nation. The Moral versus the dietary and ritual laws.
We know this because God says, “Speak to the sons of Israel saying…” He gives instructions to the Israelites, not to the rest of the nations.
✂ *SNIP* ✂
✂ *UNSNIP* ✂
…MORE, my second point… patience please:
(Acts 10:9-23) Peter’s Vision
(Acts 10:9-23) Peter Visits Cornelius
The edict against the ethnic/religious Jew (“the sons of Israel”) was lifted in this verse. So contrary to the horrible arguments often made by Skeptics of the Christian faith, You, G.C., should not use the same horrible exegesis that non-believers use. The same can be said regarding arguments for same-sex marriage needing to be made well. (Per Mr. Blatt, whom I agree with on this point — that is, a coherent reasonable case needs to be made for same-sex marriage. A case that isn’t arbitrary, like liberals tend towards.) So to do hermeneutics need to be used well in the Christians life. No matter where it leads you (often times it leads ALL OF US to face our sins and sinful nature, right?).
Here are the very next words/list out of G.C.’s mouth [keyboard]:
You see, G.C. (as well as E.M.) do not want to accept what the Bible says at face value.
They have no need for ways to approach ancient texts to allow personal opinion and deconstructionism (progressive values) to be set aside and create a model for all people to equally and fairly come to these texts to get the most truth from them.
I explain this well in another post where the Bible is attacked and the people doing so are the literalists/legalists, similar to G.C. and Others.
They are the absolutists.
Conservative Christian and Jews are not the Biblical literalists as these skeptics define it (wrongly, creating a straw-man)… even though we are painted as such.
- In other words, they incorporate what they deny, while applying straw-man positions to our side, its very convoluted on their part and why progressives typically think these attacks are acceptable.
A final word from Dr. Copan, that also touches a bit on the salvonic history involved in this discussion, that is often overlooked by the skeptics. He makes a point also about the wooden interpretation of the pharisees and has to point out that these topics (divorce, slavery, and the like) are not ideals from God but Him dealing with man’s “hardness of heart.”
One last small dialogue from the larger strain. E.M. mentioned the following:
To which I quoted Scripture (not to mention Jesus was heavily involved in writing Leviticus! Just Sayin’). I respond:
You can read more about how to approach text in ways any deep-thinking literary critic is trained to as well as the person seeking truth. Obviously G.C. rejects portions of Scripture to embolden his view how he views man’s nature and his own standing before God. He fashions God and His Holy Spirit to fit his conception. Not based on deep study, but of psychological wants and needs. You can click through to my other post. I caution you however, this is a step those interested in truth should take. Those not interested in literary criticism, history, hermeneutics, and the like, shouldn’t take.
These are three books I recommend to the serious student: