Politics and Presuppositions

January 13, 2017

With one week left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president there has been much talk over his cabinet and staff appointees, like there always is with each administration. The senate and house are allowed to “grill” as I saw one headline this past week, each of the  people that Trump has chosen and determine if they will approve some of the people to serve.

In the midst of all the leaks and “fake news” that has been talked about, the presidential appointees have been given more discussion this year than perhaps I remember. Each president has the right to put in place his/her own people and usually does. They want like minded people that will support and offer a hand in completing the agenda that they believe will work best over the next four years. This sharing of a similar philosophy allows them to work more efficiently together.  Examples of these political philosophies could be raising or lowering taxes, regulations, job competition, and so on. These are the political presuppositions that each of these people have found to be trustworthy and rules to live and govern by.  If you need a definition of presupposition you can check this previous post.

Would it be smart for a president to  have someone on his cabinet or as an advisor that would offer a dissenting view or opinion that would offer advice to them?  I say yes, making the best decision would include having all the information available to make an informed decision. Sadly many will not do this. We only like to hear compliments or praises from those who agree with us.  Keep in mind we do not have to follow or take their advice, but at least give them an ear and listen with an open mind.  Ever read a post you disagreed with but were not approved to post a different opinion? Ever notice how the talk show host will mute the person on the phone when things start to get messy or out of control.

I have found this to be the case when having conversations with people over spiritual discussions or when using apologetics with people of other worldviews.  Each person comes to the discussion with certain presuppositions that they are not willing to let go of.  These may include things like; a naturalistic or supernatural belief, a belief in miracles, or a Reformed theology vs. a Wesleyan.

One thing I have found helpful before spending large amounts of time with someone is to ask if they will be open-minded and willing to consider certain basic ideas in the discussion you want to have.  If you are willing to talk with those understandings it will be less frustrating for both of you and you can remind the person again that they agreed to hear your case with an open mind.  Maybe this will help them, or you, understand the topic more completely and you may win them over to your side politically or in your religious worldview.


Defining Terms: Presupposition

March 22, 2012

dictionaryA hard word to say, but not that hard to understand.   It sounds like a disease to me,  I hope it’s not contagious.   According to Merriam-Webster,  Presupposition: is to suppose beforehand or to require as an antecedent in logic or fact.  Using it in a sentence,  I might say; “Before you read my blog, my presupposition is that you like to learn about apologetics.” or “It is a presupposition that you don’t have a problem seeing blood if you are going to be nurse.”

In apologetics there are many presuppositions that both sides have when it comes to debates and conversations.  For example as a Christian after I have examined and study the Bible, I have a presupposition that the Bible is inspired by God and that it is trustworthy and valid.  I have a presupposition that miracles are possible and that God exists.  Someone else who takes an atheist position might have a presupposition that there is nothing within our universe that is not physical.

Presuppositions are often foundations that we set at the base of our knowledge and can add-on to our beliefs on top of our presuppositions.  Most of the time if a person has a presupposition, they have locked in their trust or belief in that presupposition and it is hard to move them away from what they have already come to find true for themselves.

However, if you really want to “put a pebble in someone else’s shoe” to make them think about their beliefs and worldview attacking their presuppositions are a great way to make some progress.  For example, if I were talking with a Mormon and I wanted them to see that Christianity is the one true worldview a good place to start would be to show the Mormon the faults, contradictions, and failed prophecies within the Book of Mormon and it’s leaders through history.  If I can show them that the book that they presuppose is true is false, then I have made significant progress in knocking down the pillars that support their Mormon worldview.

As I mentioned before that often times, someone will assume something is true based on their presupposition about a certain related subject, even without knowing that something in an absolute certainty.  I might read a difficult passage of scripture in the Bible, but because I have found the Bible to be trustworthy and reliable as a whole, I will take it for truth even if I can’t explain or understand it yet.  Both Christians and atheists alike must be careful not to let the cart come before horse in the formulating of their premise and conclusions based on their presuppositions.  You can quickly get into circular reasoning, which is a bad debate technique.

If you have any questions, comments, or examples you want to share, please feel free to leave comments.

Biography

1 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/presuppose>


It’s Resurrection Day, Forget the Bunny!

April 7, 2012

Since, it’s Resurrection Day, I figure I would make an easy post and spend time with the family.   The following is a collection of objections and answers to the resurrection of Jesus.  It has been a slowly growing as I read more  and add things to the Pile.   I will cite the authors and books at the end.  Many books have the similar information.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”  As a Christian, EVERYTHING hangs on the resurrection.  Everything.  IT has turned many skeptics into followers.  I hope this will add to your faith and make it stronger.

OBJECTION 1: IT IS UNREASONABLE TO BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION

Because of the beliefs of many atheists and skeptics it is the last option that they would accept because of their presuppositions about the Bible, miracles, or belief in the existence of God.

ANSWER:

1. Because the resurrection was a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one, there are many difficulties to faking the resurrection by stealing the body or some other means of trickery.  You have the following points.  Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices.  (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds.  There were Roman guards placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery.  A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible.   If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment.    There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.

2. The Biblical account of the resurrection has the women to be the first ones appearing at the tomb.  This seems to be issue if you believe that the claims of the resurrection were made up.  During the Biblical times women had no right to much anything, they were not given the ability to testify in court except in a few cases.  If someone wanted people to believe a lie that Jesus really was alive, then why weaken the argument with women.  The reason the women were the first to the tomb and to witness Jesus is perhaps, because it actually happened that way.

3. Another issue is the reaction of the disciples.  The disciples had scattered after the arrest of Jesus for fear of their own lives.  Annas the high priest had been asking questions about Jesus followers also.  They had locked themselves in a room in fear of persecution that Jesus had warned them about.  (John 15)  Jesus had appeared to them and shown them his hands and side.  (Proof)  What followed then was the transformation of their lives.  They went from hiding to boldly proclaiming the news of his resurrection.   They were also willing to face opposition, cynicism, ridicule, hardship, prison, death, and death.

4. After the resurrection, the Christian faith exploded and many Jews had become followers of Jesus.  In doing so they left several key tenants of their faith behind.  Below are a list of some of the major ones.

  • The animal sacrifice system.
  • The binding supremacy of the laws of Moses.
  • Strict monotheism to a belief in the Trinity.
  • The Holiness of the Sabbath.
  • Belief in a conquering messiah to a humble, servant in Jesus.

5. The conversion of “hardcore” skeptics in NT times.   There are 3 mentioned in the section.  The apostle Paul, James the half-brother of Jesus, and Thomas who was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them in the room.    Each of the 3 are listed with the scripture references  within the Bible that show their conversion.  Paul is of course the strongest example because he was a well-known figure and his letter to the Corinthians is dated the earliest written and  he is well-known outside to the Bible  many with his writings.

6. Only the resurrection would explain the growth and survival of the church.  It is well documented about the persecution of the Christians in the first century.  Nero was well-known for his hatred for the Christians and Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.  So, if the resurrection was fake and made up why would all the Jews and Gentiles have placed their lives in so much danger and trouble in less it was true?

7. There were too many appearances of Jesus to have the resurrection easily dismissed.   The 1 Corinthian letter from Paul lists the great number of people whom Jesus revealed himself too.  (Chapter 15 , also Acts 1:3)  At the time of Paul’s letter which is about 55-57 A.D.  Paul included that many of those witnesses were still alive.  This was most likely 20  years or so after the death and resurrection.  There would have been plenty of voices of opposition to Paul’s claim that Jesus had resurrected.

This proof reminds me of the Elvis or now, Michael Jackson example I have used for many years.  Imagine today that people started claiming that Elvis or Michael Jackson was not dead but had come back to life.  What if the number of people started growing and more and more people joined the band wagon.  All the families or government would have to do is open the casket or dig up the body to silence the critics.  One objection might be, “well the families wouldn’t want to do that.”  Maybe, but keep in mind that the government in Jesus day was not like that of today.  If they wanted to put an end to the Christian movement, all they had to do was produce the body.  They didn’t because they could not produce the body, it was gone.

OBJECTION 2: JESUS WAS NOT REALLY PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, BUT RATHER IT WAS HIS ESSENCE – SOME PART OF HIM THAT LIVED AMONG THEM.

Many times critics will claim that the disciples did not see a real physically resurrected Jesus but rather a spiritual one or something to the equivalent.

ANSWER:

This would imply that the disciples went on and on about the resurrection of Jesus dishonestly and new it was a lie.  Or at the least ALL had hallucinations of Jesus resurrection to believe it was real.    I will look at the second part of the last sentence in another Objection next.  In Paul’s letters to the churches he specifically uses the word “Soma” which is translated body.  His repeated use of the term implies very much that Jesus had a physical resurrection.   Rhodes lists the scriptures that show us Jesus had a special glorified resurrected body, in which I will list for reference.

  •    Luke 24:39 – See my hands and feet, touch me to see.
  • John 2:19-21 – Jesus told about destroying the temple in 3 days and building it back up again.
  • Luke 24:30, 24:42-43, John 21:12-13, Acts 1:4  – Jesus ate food  4 different times.
  • John 20:17, Matthew 28:9, Luke 24:39 – He was touched and handled by many different people.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 – Paul talks of the body that goes down into the grave, and the body that comes up.

OBJECTION 3: JESUS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED BUT SEEN BY HIS FOLLOWERS IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE.

This objection comes from the objection of skeptic Keith Parson, where he notes that the famous scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 uses the word “ophthe” which has the meaning of either “seeing” with the literal eye or “seeing” with mind or spirit.  In other words because we do not know the clear meaning of that word, we can assume that it was a spiritual vision they saw and not a physical one.

ANSWER:

This objection does not fit well with the rest of the Bible and the use of others who saw the resurrected body of Jesus.    The numerous passages in the gospels as well as the other Pauline epistles.    It also does not work within the context of the same letter of Corinthians.  Paul also uses the phrase heaven vision to make a vision of a different type.

You can also look at the same answer above for more of the same evidence of Jesus having a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one.

OBJECTION 4: THE DISCIPLES OR OTHER PEOPLE STOLE THE BODY OF JESUS, AND THE DISCIPLES ASSUMED HE HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD.  Because we have tons of evidence that bodies don’t just rise from the dead or disappear into nothing or Heaven.  The only two options that we are left with is that someone stole the body or the tomb was not empty.

ANSWER:

There are several issues that make the likelihood of the disciples taking the body of Jesus.  Below are some listed from the first objection above.

Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices.  (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds.  There were Roman guards  placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery.  A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible.   If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment.    There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.

It also is worth pointing out that the disciples were in no shape to steal His body.  There were hiding and on the run from the Jewish rulers.  It also goes back to the basic principle that “no sane person” would die for something they knew was a lie.  It was not worth all the trouble or persecution they received.

OBJECTION 5: THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS HALLUCINATED THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

ANSWER:

Hallucinations generally happen to individuals and not large groups or multiple people.  The 1 Corinthians 15 passage says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time.  Did all these people have a hallucination at one time?  The answer is not likely.

Books Referenced:

McDowell, Josh; Evidence That Demands a Verdict, second edition.

Zacharias, Ravi; Can Man Live Without God

Sherrod, Chris; Faith, Fact, and Reason Study #4 Jesus is ALIVE

Rhodes, Ron; Answering Objections of Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics


The Evolution of Evolution

March 21, 2012

I want to spend a few posts examining the claims of evolution and breaking it down piece by piece, but before I do that I want to give you a basic understanding of what evolution is and how it has changed over the years.  Evolution is one the most popular alternative answers to the question of where did we come from, outside of a theistic of creation answer.  A 2010 gallop poll has shown that 40% of Americans believe in creation, 38% believe that a supernatural being created the world through the process of evolution, and 16% believe in a naturalist evolution without the help of the supernatural. 1

Evolution Belief ChartThe word evolution can mean different things depending on who is using the word.  Evolution simply means a change over time.  People often speak of the evolution of a certain model of car or how computer technology has evolved.  Most people think about the evolution in biology when they hear or use the term.  When you discuss evolution it is important to understand the distinction between two different types of evolutionary.  Micro-Evoluion where minor changes within a species (family group) occur, but do not give rise to new gene material.  I call this type of evolution adaptions.  We see this everyday within varieties of plants and animals such as dogs, frogs, garden vegetables, and trees for example.  Macro-evolution is  larger scale change from species (family group) to another species (family group) that is more complex and higher through mutation and natural selection.  No one has ever witnessed this type of evolution before and this is the type of evolution that is claimed through Darwin’s theory.  From this point forward, when you see the word Evolution, it will refer to Macro-Evolution.

Evolution is a purely physical/naturalistic explanation to the origin of life on earth and of all matter in the known universe.  Charles Darwin has been known as the Father of evolution, but he wasn’t the first to contemplate a purely physical origin, during the fourth and fifth centuries some Greek philosophers like Thales, Leucippus, and Democritus had detailed explanations of how the universe came together through random forces rather than by design. 2  Darwin also had a partner, Alfred Wallace, who worked with Darwin on the theory of evolution, but Wallace began to doubt it was adequate to explain obvious features of the human race.  You don’t hear much of Wallace and His disagreement with Darwin now.

About 30 years ago the theory of Evolution begin to be looked at more closely by public and private school systems  because of the rise of Christian apologists in the mid-century that began to challenge the views of Evolution.  Parents and school boards had Evolution taken out of school textbooks or demanded that other textbooks that taught other ideas like Intelligent Design as equally as Evolution to be used.  This seem to waken those who supported Evolution like Dawkins, Hawking, Dennett, and Harris, to push back even harder with newer evidences and proofs with the new advancements that science was making recently.  Many of these newer evidences are published in scientific journals, books, web blogs and are used by many highschool and university teacher to continually bombard students through indoctrination.  Most of the scientific claims today that are labeled “support for Evolution” are speculative at best, leaving the majority of the proof on assumptions and premises.  They are lean on supporting facts and rely on your presuppositions and how you interpret the data.  I can back up that last thought with the evidence that despite all this “new” evidence for Evolution the debate still wages on.  The case had not been closed in the slightest.  Open-minded intelligent theists are not abandoning their beliefs in support of evolution.  You can reference this in the Gallop chart.

The New Atheists have been on the offense as of late to attempt to snuff out any religious beliefs by Christians. Their words towards religious beliefs have been harsh.  Richard Dawkins has even had a college circuit speaking tour where has offered a debaptizing ceremony for those who wish to renounce their faith in God. 3  The boldness at which these new claims are being made by those who support Evolution is very high.  It reminds me of the axiom, that “the bigger and more important the lie, often the greater the enthusiasm of which it must be sold with.”  Not to worry though, because there are a new group of well-educated Christians in both the field of science and philosophy that have risen to the challenge by the New Atheists.

Over the next few posts I will examine Evolution  and break down the processes and talking points that many supporters of Evolution use to champion their beliefs.  Evolution must account for three “Big Bangs;” the origin of matter, the origin or life, and the origin of our consciences.  We will also look at the processes like genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, non-random mating, as well as natural selection.  If you don’t understand those words, don’t worry I will explain them to you one at a time in future posts.  If you support evolution and have something you want me to look at please leave a comment here and I will add it to the list of topics of discussions with Evolution.  I will do my best to give you an accurate view of Evolution, I don’t want to try to make any red-herrings out of the other side of the argument.  As always your questions, comments, and discussions are welcomed.

Biography

1 – http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/Evolution-Creationism-Intelligent-Design.aspx

2- Sherrod, Chris – Fact, Faith, and Reason Study #5 The Flaws of Evolution, pg. 27

3 – Marrow, Jonathan; McDowell, Sean – Is God Just A Human Invention?


My Story

September 28, 2011
Amy and me

Amy and me

A few weeks ago our pastor challenged the church congregation to “Be Courageous and Share Your Story”.  A few days later it hit me that one way, not the only way, I could do that would be online through my blog or on Facebook.  So here it is, Here is my story and I welcome any questions, comments, or snide remarks.

I grew up in a great home, a happy home, and while  I felt very sheltered from a lot of crazy things in life, I knew that  I was blessed because of the environment I was raised in.  My parents were both involved in church and so consequently, so was I, but again I didn’t mind.  I loved church, I love the people in the church.  My friends in church were different from most of the other students at school.  I had a few good friends at school, but most of my close friends were in the church with me.  Because I had a long history of being in church I knew a lot about the Bible, facts about God, and felt like I had a grasp on why things were the way they were.  As an early teen I began to notice that my brother and some other friends were making a choice to trust Jesus as their savior and they were baptized later on.  After a few months, it hit me that I knew a bunch of facts about the Bible and God, but I had not yet taken those facts to heart.  I had not really placed my faith, my trust in Jesus in my own personal way.    One night, while at a youth ministry event I really felt convicted within me to stop putting off what I already knew I needed to do and go talk to someone about making my faith personal.   I still get reminders today, because of my job,  of how scary that can be for a teen, to walk out of a pew or crowd and go talk to someone.  I knew what I had to do, grab the closest person near me and make them go with me!  I grabbed a great friend named Susanne and stepped out to find someone to talk to.

That night, April 30, 1988 I sat down with a man who went over the gospel of Jesus with me quickly to make sure I understood what I believed and what my need was.  For the first time I placed my trust in Jesus, that His death on the cross was payment for my sins and even though I didn’t understand it all, I knew that I was far from perfect and that I needed Jesus not only for an eternal life, but for a great life now.  I said a short prayer and asked God to forgive me of my past sins, I placed my belief in Jesus, for who He said he was, and I turned my life over to God to be my Lord, or boss for a lack of a better term.  A few months later I was baptized by my grandfather, who also was a pastor, in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Since I have placed my faith in God I have had some interesting times, some great times, some challenging times, but they have all helped me grow in my relationship to God.  During my college years, I struggled with the idea that, perhaps I was a Christian only because I was raised in a Christian home.  I didn’t want the faith of my parents, I wanted to own my own faith.  I began to look at all the other worldviews and examine then for myself.  I knew after all, that not all the different worldviews could be correct.  I begin reading books on other religions and studying them to get a better understanding of them.  I admit at first I kept a close grip on my faith and didn’t want to be pulled from my own faith.  Some might say I was studying with a presupposition.   I was lucky enough to be taught though by my pastor and other teachers that I should do the research and examine things for myself and not just except the way things are because someone tells me so.  Trust is earned.  What I read was backed up by what I read for myself and what I found to be true in life.  My faith was becoming my own.

Right before finishing college, I began to question my career and what God really wanted me to do after I graduated.  I had always felt that God wanted me to be a teacher, but the last few months before graduation, I believe that God used a few different people to speak to me about being a pastor/minister.  After a few months of pushing the idea aside I finally quit telling God “no”, and I told God that if He wanted me to do something different with my life I would do it and trust Him for the things I didn’t know.  It was amazing what happened immediately after I had that conversation with God in my prayer time.  I felt this peace just fall over me like a heavy blanket.  I knew right then and there that I was not going to be an orchestra teacher anymore.

Right about this time, God opened a door for me to work in a church as an intern for the youth ministry.  Six months later the church came back and offered me the job permanently.   That was in 1997.  Fourteen years later I have had the joy of serving 3 churches as their student pastor  and have loved every minute of it.  I don’t feel like it is a job, but rather a calling.   Over the past 14 years I have grown in my passion for teaching the Bible and have also found a love for apologetics.  Apologetics is the study of “why you believe what you believe” or backing up your faith with reason and evidence.  Apologetics has allowed me to get a better grasp in what I believe and made my faith stronger.  Over the last few years I have opened up my reading and began to read books from both sides of the debate between atheists/agnostics and believers.  I try to read both sides to get an honest view-point from both sides of the aisle.  I have yet to find anything that worries me or that might cause my faith to stumble.  My passion today still lies with both the teens in this generation and teaching them apologetics that will prepare them for the vastly different world in which they live today.  It is a different world in which I lived in 20 years ago as a teen.

If you have any questions for me I would be glad to try to answer them for you.  I don’t know all the answers, not even close, but I would be glad to share what I have found to be solid ground to stand upon in my life.

God Bless,

John