Your Opponent Might Know Your Position Better than You

Anyone who cares about truth and consequences ends up in debate. We must, by necessity, hammer out our beliefs and ideas through argument with people who disagree with us. The internet has provided us a miracle in this regard: we can now find persons with virtually any and every possible intellectual claim in the world.

We also may find ourselves challenged by those people to take a closer look at our own characterizations of our own position(s). We naturally think we know our own beliefs better than could our opponent in a debate, but I think you ought to pause and examine that. Here is a wise word from the comment section of a post at Green Baggins (a great Reformed blog with a glorious past). Check this out, think about it, and maybe let these words come back to you next time you’re in the heat of debate. It might be a strength for you to learn to listen to others and analyze yourself better.

Just dropping by . . . it seems to me there’s a twofold assumption here on the part of Nathan and art which is, in fact, somewhat dubious: a) only someone who holds a position can accurately define that position, and b) their definition must necessarily be accepted as accurate. To be sure, one must always be careful, in arguing against another’s position, to do so fairly and accurately, without replacing one’s opponent with a straw man; but that doesn’t change the fact that none of us can see our own face without a mirror, and in an argument, the only mirror we have is our opponents. There are times when, in fact, those who argue against us can actually perceive our positions more clearly than we ourselves can, because they see implicit/unexamined assumptions which we don’t see, or because they catch logical implications of our position which we haven’t caught. As such, to say “I don’t agree with your characterization of my position, therefore you aren’t addressing my position” is not, in fact, necessarily true. It is, rather, a reason for careful self-examination to see if, perhaps, someone else might have seen something in our position which we ourselves have missed.

Source: https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/inerrancy-vs-the-god-objectivity/#comments

Yours in Christ,

Adam

Atheism: Confident Evangelism

Even though I talk about how atheism is one of my favorites to confront in evangelism, for some reason I felt completely off kilter in this lesson until about 3/4 the way through. Maybe you won’t notice it.

Evangelism to the atheist is unique in certain ways, so there is a different flavor to this approach from other religions.

When we talk to the atheist, we must do the heavy and difficult work of showing them, from 10,000 different angles, how impossible and illogical it is to posit a lack of the eternal Being of God. This isn’t easy, not because it takes a huge brain to do it, but rather because the atheist has fallen into a pit of deep, dark snares within his or her own mind. A total logical failure cannot be embraced without an awesome mental ability to enforce it upon one’s own mind and heart. In other words, self delusion through moral suppression of the light of reality.

Sin. That enemy and closest companion of every mortal human. Sin can corrupt and twist our minds until we cannot see the sun shining at noon day in a cloudless sky. Watch the video, and see if you follow. Comments are open. Workbook is here.

Thanks,

Justin Adam

Confident Evangelism: The Bible Hasn’t been Changed

Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” Thanks to the hard work of one of my church elders, we have it on film, so I wanted to put it up for anyone to enjoy.

My angle is to approach ALL evangelism topics beginning in Colossians 2:2-3 “that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Continue reading

Confident Evangelism Class: Where We Find Confidence

Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” Thanks to the hard work of one of my church elders, we have it on film, so I wanted to put it up for anyone to enjoy.

My angle is to approach ALL evangelism topics beginning in Colossians 2:2-3 “that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Continue reading

I Think 1 Corinthians is the Hardest Book in the Bible

Over the past half decade, my study focus in the Bible has been in the field of biblical theology, as opposed to systematic theology. In the latter, we ask a specific question about doctrine, like “What is the trinity?” or “What is baptism?” and then search all 66 books of the Bible for relevant passages. The goal of systematic theology is to say “this is what the Bible says about X.”

Biblical theology, on the other hand, asks “How do all the different, little parts of the Bible fit together into a whole?” This question (like with systematic) presupposes the divine, inerrant nature of Scripture, and as such you won’t be taught biblical theology outside of a Bible-believing church or seminary. When we do biblical theology, we are seeking to trace the common theme and unifying principal of Scripture from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.

Well, I love biblical theology, but as I run my fingers along the whole vessel of unified Scripture, I always get splinters in 1 Corinthians. Other books and chapters of Scripture are very difficult to reconcile with the whole, but in my opinion, 1 Corinthians is in a class of its own. It seems Paul comes out with insights unique to this letter – and hard to reconcile with the whole of Scripture. This is a fearful thing for an inerrantist. (We can be honest with each other, right?)

I recently took a poll on Twitter to see if anyone else agreed with me – and although some did, the majority fell into my Revelation trap:

Of course many Christians see Revelation as the tough one – a book of riddles and puzzles. I pitted these two against one another because my theory was that most Christians do not know their Old Testament very well – and that translates into confusion about Revelation. If we know our Old Testament, and if we read Revelation keeping in mind the second-century church would have gotten direct application and comfort from Revelation, then it unravels into semi-easy, understandable interpretation.

Yet 1 Cor is a belly flop of a letter. Paul is not addressing any one issue (like in Galatians or Colossians), and he isn’t writing a splendid overview of biblical theology and gospel (like Romans and Ephesians), and he isn’t giving apostolic guidance to a stable brother in Christ (like 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon), but rather he’s attempting to corral a group of borderline wackos who had asked him a basket of difficult questions.

1 Cor begins well enough – in fact, I understand and enjoy everything pretty well up to chapter 7. From there on, Paul loses me, no matter how many commentaries I consult for guidance. Check out some of these gems of biblical enigma:

Because of the angels, Paul? Really? That’s all you’ve got for me? And what do you mean about the believing spouse “sanctifying” the unbelieving spouse? And please, Paul, tell us why you had to say all that stuff about speaking in tongues – I wish you could have seen all the fallout we’re suffering because of it. Couldn’t you have clarified that all that stuff expired with the closing of the canon?

And why, brother Paul, oh why did you have to say “I, not the Lord, say…”? That one is an apologetics nightmare, my dear father and apostle.

But are these questions just mine? How about you all – does anyone out there find 1 Cor equally confusing? In case you’re still feeling strong, looking down on this poor Adam as a confused, well-meaning saint, I deliver my final blow in 1 Cor 15:29

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?”

If you know what on earth he was talking about, I’m all yours, teacher. What’s my point in all this? I’ll be straight with you: I’m a teacher of God’s Word, I play a strong supporting role in my local church, and I teach multiple Bible studies in home meetings. When I write a post like this, it’s because I want to be vulnerable and open with my family in Christ. I want to have the credibility of admitting that this is not an easy book (the Bible as a whole), and there are some questions I cannot answer. I struggle in my faith just like anyone else, and even have days of heavy doubts at times.

I’m confessing publicly that I’m made of flesh and blood, and no matter how much confidence I have in teaching the Bible, it is still my master, and God is still its final interpreter.st-augustine No man or church can be the master of this divine library, we are forever its pupils and in submission to its wisdom.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m writing this blog post to celebrate a book like 1 Corinthians. Maybe it gives me a bit of comfort to know that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25 ESV). You see that? He put it right in the hardest book in the Bible – “Not everything here will appeal to your human wisdom and understanding. Not everything in My book will be fully comprehensible. That’s OK – you know the center and foundation of Scripture (Jesus and His gospel) – you can let some of it be over your head.” (No, God did not say that to me. I’m imagining that would be something like what He would say to me about 1 Cor.).

I will always try to understand 1 Cor better, but I will be content in my personal faith and in my apologetic endeavors if these things remain an enigma to me.

What about you?

Thanks for reading,

Adam

 

How can we REALLY Know that God has Spoken?

This is the text of an academic paper I recently presented at the Northeastern Seminary theology conference (Participation in God’s Mission, featuring Michael Gorman).

This paper arose from my own search for solid ground underneath the Christian faith. In other words, if Christianity is true, shouldn’t we be able to dig down to some ultimate foundational truth that cannot be undermined? The answer is…

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Revelation and Knowledge Bridged in Proverbs: the Confident Cruciform Life
The cruciform life begins, for each Christian, by the authoritative call of God. That call, which comes through hearing his word, is radical in its implications, absolute in authority, and transformative. It is predicated on the superior authority of God’s self-revelation through redemptive history. This divine authority does not confront us as first of all a proposition to be studied, or to be accepted by some degree of probability, or even as the conclusion to a complex syllogism. Notice there is no philosophical defense of the existence of God in Genesis 1:1, but rather a naked assertion of his being (“In the beginning, God. . .”). Jesus’ radical call to discipleship comes from that same assumed authority.
To heed the call, and to follow Christ is to put oneself at peril. Human nature is bent toward self-preservation, yet the example and commandments of Jesus bend us away from self toward God and others, even to the embracing of dangerous enemies. If we are to obey Jesus, forsaking even “house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands” (Mark 10:29), then we must have a solid confidence in the preeminent authority of God’s self-revelation. Continue reading