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Ai’s Apologetics Roundup



Ai's Apologetics Roundup is a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, apologetics- and countercult related articles, news items and other research resources.

We plan to make this a regular feature here at Apologetics Index. If you'd like to suggest a resource for inclusion in Ai's Apologetics Roundup, please do so.

• Note: As throughout Apologetics Index, links and quotes posted here do not necessarily indicate endorsements on our part.
• Also, read About Ai's Apologetics Roundup for some info about the material on this page


= Apologetics ===

JP Moreland on Apologetics

Sean McDowell has posted an interview with JP Moreland at his blog:

Sean: Why do apologetics sometimes get criticized?

JP: First, people often misunderstand what it means to do apologetics. Many people associate apologetics with a cold, objective, didactic presentation of the facts that is meant to control what people believe. If that’s what apologetics were about, you could count me out as well! This overlooks the type of reasoning of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which is presented in story form in a very warm, passionate way. You can even engage in apologetics through presenting your own testimony while including some of the reasons you found persuasive. Second, in a culture where people are not well educated any longer, where they know deep in their hearts that they cannot think very well, or they know they really don’t know why they believe what they believe, it’s too painful to admit that they are inadequate and they need to grow and then have to do their homework to make progress. It’s a simple way to dismiss the problem by just saying, “Who gives a rip about that anyways?” So, then you can just sit in your laziness and complacency and not have to do the hard homework of growing.

- Source / Full Story: JP Moreland, Sean McDowell, God Love (Blog), July 21, 2009 -- Summarized by Apologetics Index

The interview first appeared in McDowell's book Apologetics for a New Generation

Does God Exist?

Dr. Douglas Groothuis was the guest speaker at Grace Chapel in Englewood, Colorado, last July 12. He shared the first sermon in the Developing A Biblical Worldview series: Does God Exist? [MP3] Sermon notes [PDF]

Is The Universe Designed?

William Lane Craig presents a talk at Asbury Theological Seminary: Is the Universe Designed? Posted as an MP3 at Apologetics 315, a blog billed as "The Ultimate Apologetics MP3 Audio Page."

Challenges to the 21st Century Church: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Narcissism & Gnosticism

Todd Wilken of Issues, Etc. asks, "What characterizes American Christianity today?" Guest is Shane Rosenthal of The White Horse Inn:


= State of the Church ===

ICRS 2009 - The Church in the Marketplace

Jackie Alnor reports on the ICRS, the International Christian Retail Show -- formerly the Christian Booksellers Association's national convention.

Jackie's report shows that "Christian" here (as elsewhere) is a rubber term that more than ever is being molded to accomodate whatever teaching, whichever group, and whomever wants to represent him- or herself as, allegedly, a follower of Jesus Christ.

The ICRS held last week in Denver is a veritable snapshot of the condition of the visible church today under one roof. Prosperity teachers such as Larry Huch and Marilyn Hickey autographed their latest books. Books by Emergent authors such as Brian McLaren and Richard Foster were abundant.

Faith teachers like Fred Price and the late Kenneth Hagin had fancy booths - Hagin’s booth had a big supply of chocolate candy to lure in the buyers. Faith evangelist Reinhard Bonnke walked around with an unwelcome expression on his face. Catholics nuns manned a booth selling contemplative prayer paraphernalia such as icons, statues, candle holders and incense burners. And the “former” cult, the Local Church, was there now that they have been given a clean bill of health by some would-be apologists.

The biggest draw of the conference appeared to be Mormon celebrity, Marie Osmond, signing copies of her new inspirational CD. She brought her own camera crew to capture the moment when an endless line of Bible-believing Christians, so-called, formed a line to greet the idol of Utah. [...]

- Source / Full Story: ICRS 2009 - The Church in the Marketplace, Jackie Alnor, Apostacy Alert, July 19, 2009 -- Summarized by Apologetics Index

Prosperity, Spiritual Warfare, and the “On-Demand” God

Given that so many powerful Pentecostals and Charismatics, like Senator John Ensign and Sarah Palin, are embroiled in high-profile scandals, one might expect to hear more about the movements that unite them. Anthea Butler, a leading scholar on Pentecostalism and American religious history, traces the various movements and their theologies of wealth, healing, and dominion.

Butler briefly cites some of the issues surrounding Pentecostal/Charismatic types like Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Gov. Sarah Palin, and Bishop Thomas Weeks, and writes:

Given the avalanche of media attention on these Pentecostal and Charismatic “newsmakers,” one might expect to find more helpful information on the movement(s) to which all three belong. After all, understanding their affiliations and beliefs can help to make sense of the motivations of such disparate figures; to say nothing of the prosperity purveyors like Creflo Dollar, Paula White, and Joel Osteen who share their tradition to some extent. When God is like “on-demand cable”—standing by to provide instant forgiveness and prosperity—it is very hard to convince the most fervent believers to adhere to basic rules of propriety, let alone values.

From a Senate investigation of prosperity ministers to Sarah Palin’s New Apostolic Reformation movement connections, Pentecostalism and its progeny (Charismatic, Third Wave, Full Gospel and non-denominational churches) have multiplied rapidly, making it is difficult to discern what the original movement is and where the offshoots are. Consider, for example, the fact that most people are unaware that Joel Osteen's Father, John Osteen, was originally a Southern Baptist who turned Charismatic then Word of Faith (the old name for prosperity gospel). There is a reason why Joel Osteen can teach “Your best Life now”—he’s a word of Faith/prosperity guy who’s toned down the rhetoric for broader consumption.

Genealogy is important. So, in order to help you distinguish one movement from another, let me give you a brief primer on Pentecostalism and its two mutations: Prosperity Gospel and the New Apostolic movement.
[...]

It is clear that both the basic theological tenets of what Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement denominations promote and what scholars research are not the beliefs of many of its prominent leaders and adherents. True, many denominations and faith traditions change over time, but what’s striking about Pentecostalism is the movement’s ability to morph from its antecedents into a plethora of new movements, all with basic Pentecostal teachings at their core. The sheer present-day diversity of the movement begs the question, what really is “Pentecostal” and what is not?

Are these manifestations of prosperity gospel and New Apostolic Reformation heresy, bad taste, or simply capitalist adventures for those in leadership? For a movement that started out with a millenarian orientation, it has certainly become enamored with the world, and with retaining earthly power in every way. Whatever these new mutations of Prosperity Gospel and Apostolic leadership are, it is time to pay even closer attention to them, and to their relationships to the realms of social and political power they currently possess.

- Source / Full Story: Prosperity, Spiritual Warfare, and the “On-Demand” God , Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatched, July 15, 2009 -- Summarized by Apologetics Index

Anthea Butler is a historian of American and African American Religion, specializing in African American Religious History, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Gender, and Religion and Popular culture. She is in residence for the 2008-09 year as a research scholar at Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program.

Her most recent book is Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World (UNC Press, 2007).

Inside D.C's Secretive Religious Sect

In this video report, NBC's Rachel Maddow lifts of corner of the veil of secrecy surrounding a movement known as The Family (and sometimes referred to as The Fellowship).

This is not The Family International, the cult -- formerly known as The Children of God -- that recently launched an image makeover. Rather, The Family is an international network of evangelical elites, in government, military and business, dating back 70 years, organised around this one central idea, which was that Christianity for 2000 years got it wrong. So says Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

“Christianity, in theory anyway, was about the poor, the weak, the suffering, the down-and-out, and the idea of the founder of this network was that God was more interested in those whom he called the up-and-out: the wealthy, the powerful, those with status. (They rely) on this very literal reading of a verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans: ‘The powers that be are ordained of God.’ They take that very literally. If you have power that’s because God wants you to have power.”

- Source / Full Story: Secrets of a powerful Family, WATOday, June 13, 2008 -- Summarized by Apologetics Index

Checking in on a friend's brother at Ivenwald, a Washington-based fundamentalist group living communally in Arlington, Va., religion and journalism scholar Sharlet finds a sect whose members refer to Manhattan's Ground Zero as "the ruins of secularism"; intrigued, Sharlet accepts on a whim an invitation to stay at Ivenwald. He's shocked to find himself in the stronghold of a widespread "invisible" network, organized into cells much like Ivenwald, and populated by elite, politically ambitious fundamentalists; Sharlet is present when a leader tells a dozen men living there, "You guys are here to learn how to rule the world."

As it turns out, the Family was established in 1935 to oppose FDR's New Deal and the spread of trade unions; since then, it has organized well-attended weekly prayer meetings for members of Congress and annual National Prayer Breakfasts attended by every president since Eisenhower. Further, the Family's international reach ("almost impossible to overstate") has "forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most oppressive regimes in the world." In the years since his first encounter, Sharlet has done extensive research, and his thorough account of the Family's life and times is a chilling expose.

- Source / Full Story: The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Publishers Weekly, quoted at Amazon.com

Regarding this book, Thomas Frank of the New York Times wrote, "Of all the important studies of the American right, THE FAMILY is undoubtedly the most eloquent. It is also quite possibly the most terrifying."

This is one group where you're not likely to hear the question, "What would Jesus do?"

See also these articles about The Family/The Fellowship


= Books ===

Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader

This looks like an interesting book. The publisher, Crossway Books, describes it as follows:

An unprecedented anthology of apologetics texts with selections from the first century a.d. through the Middle Ages. Includes introductory material, timelines, maps, footnotes, and discussion questions.

The apostle Peter tells us always to be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us to account for our hope as Christians (1 Peter 3:15). While the gospel message remains the same, such arguments will look different from one age to another.

In the midst of a recent revival in the field of apologetics, few things could be more useful than an acquaintance with some of these arguments for the Christian belief through the ages. This first of two proposed volumes features primary source documents from the time of the early church (100-400) and the Middle Ages (400-1500). Featured apologists include Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.

The authors provide a preface to each major historical section, with a timeline and a map, then an introduction to each apologist. Each primary source text is followed by questions for reflection or discussion purposes.

- Source / Full Story: Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, Product description at Amazon.com -- Summarized by Apologetics Index

The book is edited by William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint.

WILLIAM EDGAR (DTheol, University of Geneva) is professor of apologetics and coordinator of the apologetics department at Westminster Theological Seminary. His books include Reasons of the Heart, The Face of Truth, and Truth in All Its Glory.

K. SCOTT OLIPHINT (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His books include Things That Cannot Be Shaken and Revelation and Reason.

Incidentally, Amazon.com list of contributors to the book is as follows:

by William Edgar (Author), K. Scott Oliphint (Author), Aristides (Contributor), Justin Martyr (Contributor), Athenagoras (Contributor), Irenaeus (Contributor), Tertullian (Contributor), Origen (Contributor), Athanasius (Contributor), John Chrysostom (Contributor), Augustine (Contributor), Boethius (Contributor), Peter Abelard (Contributor), Anselm (Contributor), Thomas Aquinas (Contributor), Raymond Lull (Contributor), Girolamo Savonarola (Contributor)

An august gathering indeed.

While the book is scheduled for publication on September 20, 2009, it can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com.

Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors

A timely book by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig:

Contending with Christianity’s Critics is book two in a series on modern Christian apologetics that began with the popular Passionate Conviction. This second installment, featuring writings from eighteen respected apologists such as Gary Habermas and Ben Witherington, addresses challenges from noted New Atheists like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and other contemporary critics of Christianity concerning belief in God, the historical Jesus, and Christianity’s doctrinal coherence. Contending with Christianity's Critics and Passionate Conviction are the result of national apologetics conferences sponsored by the Evangelical Philosophical Society (www.epsociety.org).

Publisher B&H Academic says the book is a well-informed counterpoint to recent controversial bestsellers
such as God Is Not Great (Christoper Hitchens), The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), and Misquoting Jesus (Bart Ehrman).

Chapters include "Dawkins' Delusion" PDF file, by William Lane Craig [Sample chapter], "Misquoting Jesus? Bart Ehrmann and the New Testament's Reliability" (Dan Wallace), and "What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism" (David Hunt). View the Table of Contents PDF file

Paul Copan (Ph. D. in philosophy, Marquette University) is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. A number of articles from one of Paul's previous books, True For You, But Not For Me, are posted at Apologetics Index.

William Lane Craig (D.Theol., Ludwig-Maximilliens-Universitat Munchen, Germany; Ph.D., University of Birmingham England) is Research Professor of Philosophy
at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. Prior to his appointment at Talbot he spent seven years at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


= Ever So Briefly ===

What are some other names for the church? -- an interesting post by Matt Slick of CARM. Quick, before taking a peek: how many Biblical names for the Church do you know?

• What do you get if you cross a search engine with a religious encyclopedia? Creedopedia says it offers real, meaningful sentences that are right on topic. Handy in a way, but in the end the snippets shown are largely out of context.

God Doesn’t Sing Amazing Grace; He Never Was a Wretch Like Me


= Twitter ===

Want to know when new Ai Apologetics Roundups -- or other items -- are posted to Apologetics Index? Follow our Twitter Apologetics stream.



= About Ai's Apologetics Roundup ===

- Collected and posted by Anton Hein

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This post was last updated: Jul. 3, 2010