We have a class that is about current issues, ethics, and apologetics. The purpose is to discern how the Bible, especially Christianity, relates to our world and then explain that to others. It is designed to engage the high-school & college age group, ages 16-23 and anyone else that is interested (if parents approve, the age can drop lower).

The class meetings are held at the church on the second Sunday of each month during the lunch time. We will audio-record the discussion and archive it here.

Each class is related to a podcast that has been selected from the SES (Southern Evangelical Seminary) NCAA (National Conference on Christian Apologetics) or similar presentations. (When you click the podcast link you will see the action bar with three vertical dots. Clicking this will allow you to download the podcast and listen using your own preferred application.) There is homework with each podcast.

We invite those in the class to work on the homework, propose a solution that has biblical support then rehearse it to make an oral presentation that is compelling. This homework can be done either individually or in groups, each person making their own presentation. When we meet as a group there is a discussion to hear the various views and refine what presentation each individual will make. Some of those who attend can volunteer to present their view.

To remain in the class there can be NO judging, no condemning conversation, no confrontational or combative behavior. This is in harmony with 1 Peter 3:8-17; Colossians 4:5-6; Matthew 7:1-2 and Romans 14.

The classes are listed here, the most recent listed first.


January 2020
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
April 2019
February 2019





Class for January 12, 2020
We have started Paul Copan’s book on apologetics Is God a Moral Monster?. Today we are in chapter 6 “God’s Timeless Wisdom? Incremental Steps for Hardened Hearts” that discusses odd things in the Old Testament Law. The handout has eight questions posed by a critic. Copan’s answer is primarily claiming that the ethical guide from God takes incremental steps of improvement throughout time and the Law of Moses was never intended to be the ultimate for all humanity. I agree with this but there is more. Much of the Law has been misunderstood such as the laws on ‘slavery’, the status of women and the Kosher laws. These laws show much wisdom and this is discussed in class.
The handout was not entirely completed in the class and will be continued in the next class.
Here is the handout for the class: January 2020 class
Here is the recording of the class: Recorded session




Class for August 11, 2019

[Here is the recording of our ==>> session]

Please look at the outline (below) for Turek’s presentation that we finished watching last time and, if necessary, you can refer to Turek’s audio here.

Choose from one of these two for a homework assignment:

  1. Choose one or more of these key arguments and develop a presentation:
    • Give an explanation for why we believe there was a Creator for the universe. (A more difficult argument, but still effective, is: There was a Creator for the first living thing.)
    • Give a reason why the New Testament is a trustworthy document (Turek gives 8 reasons)
    • Argue for why the Resurrection of Christ is trustworthy history
    • What do you say if someone says ‘I found an error (or contradiction) in the Bible.’
      Try to explain one of (or each of) these defenses:

      • The manuscript(s) is faulty (How could this happen?)
      • The translation is faulty (How could this happen?)
      • Your understanding is faulty (How could this happen?)

      Then turn the conversation to the Resurrection of Christ.

  2. Choose one of the ==>>Turek’s top 10 questions to ask a non-believer (select from #1 – #7 or my favorite – #11) and develop a skit around it.





Class for July 14, 2019
[The class discussion is found here.]
Last time we started watching a 53 minute video of Frank Turek (the audio is here) but stopped at 35 minutes into the video. This time we will back up to 31 minutes and continue from there. Here is an outline of the highlights of the presentation:

Presentation highlights with a few added notes
Frank tells a true story that captures the audience’s attention. It is about Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, how he died and why he was awarded the Medal of Honor. This story eventually transitions to talking about someone dying for his friends, leading to the point that Jesus died for you.

[3:30 min]
How do we know the story about Jesus is true? How do we know Christianity is true?
Four key questions to start the presentation of the Christian message:

  1. Does Truth exist?
  2. Does God exist?
    • Did the universe have a beginning? (Science says ‘yes’)
    • Was there something outside of space, matter & time that caused the universe to begin? (How else did it come into existence?)
    • Therefore, space, time and matter had a beginning
    • Therefore, there is a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, personal, intelligent Being that caused space, time and matter to begin.
  3. Are miracles possible?
  4. Creating the universe out of nothing is the greatest miracle of all (Genesis 1). So God can perform the miracle of raising the dead.

  5. Is the New Testament reliable about the resurrection of Jesus?
    1. Eight reasons the NT is true:

    2. Early source material (There are almost 6,000 NT fragments ranging from individual verses to a few whole NT Collections. These are all prior to the 12th century.)
    3. Eye-witness details
    4. Embarrassing stories that would be disrespectful of the founders
    5. Excruciating death for many of Jesus’ followers
    6. Embedded confirmation across different writers (‘Undesigned coincidences’); Independent accounts supply missing and useful details
    7. Expected OT predictions -documented by a religion that later denied the Messiah- were fulfilled by the Messiah
    8. Extra-biblical sources (10 non-Christian ancient sources within 150 years of Jesus)
    9. Explosive growth of the church occurred soon after Jesus’ death and spread out from where informed opposers were concentrated, Jerusalem, where his death happened and where his tomb was, that, if not empty, would have refuted the NT.

[13.5 min]
Does the Bible have errors?
Story about the Titanic, 4 different accounts yet the core is true.
How much does our faith depend on the accuracy of the NT texts?

[19 min]
Reasoning on the reliability of the resurrection of Jesus

    ==>> Either it happened or it did not.

      If it did not happen:

        ==>> The Jewish followers were mistaken (what did they all see?)
        ==>> Or the Jewish followers lied (bore false testimony).

          What was their motive?

            They already believed they were God’s chosen people.
            Being Christians put them in line for persecution from both Jews and Gentiles. (Jesus foretold this.)
            There was no biblical reason to expect that the Messiah would die and be raised (Matthew 16:21-22; John 12:32-34; – Jews did not realize the application of Psalm 16:10 / Acts 2).
            This fabrication could easily be refuted by Jews or Romans by showing the corpse (no Jew would steal a DEAD body on the holy Passover) OR showing the bones, even a year later.

      If the resurrection happened, then Christianity is true

[23:30 min]
But if they object: “I found an error in the Bible!”

    So?

  1. Like in the accounts of the Titanic there are different eye-witnesses.
    What do Gospels agree on? … the resurrection
    You may have eye-witnesses who see things from a different perspective.
    (See scholarly references on reconciling Bible differences.)
  2. Why do we trust the OT? Because the NT shows Jesus trusting in the OT Bible.
  3. [31 min]

  4. Augustine said that either …:
    • The manuscript(s) is faulty, (Bart Ehrman will mostly agree that most of the Bible can be reconstructed.)
    • The translation is faulty
    • Your understanding is faulty
  5. If there appears to be an error, ask: Does that mean the resurrection did not happen?
    When the apostles was preaching, did they preach inerrancy or resurrection?
    (Answer: they assumed inerrancy when talking to believers but spoke about the resurrection to everyone.)
    When Paul preached to non-believers in Acts 17 he preached that Jesus was raised from the dead.
    There is no reason to start by preaching inerrancy or that you need to believe the whole Bible is true.
    Emphasize the resurrection.

[35 min]



Top 10 (+1) Questions to ask non-believers:

  1. Why aren’t you a Christian?
    Rarely does someone leave Christianity because of one of the essentials. They leave over the issue ‘the problem of evil’. The Bible promises there will be evil but Christians with wrong expectations don’t like what God allows so they leave.
  2. If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?
    They are not on a truth quest they are on a happiness quest.
    If there is a choice between happiness and God most will choose happiness.
  3. If there is no God (Creator), why is there something rather than nothing. Leibniz (one of the two inventors of Calculus), a believer, asked this.
  4. Who do you think Jesus of Nazareth was? (Lord, liar, lunatic, [legend])
  5. Why do the NT documents even exist? Who wrote them and why?
  6. Why would devout Jews invent a resurrected Jesus and then suffer and die for their own lie?
    What was their motive?
    No one will die for what they know is a lie.
  7. Do you think there is an afterlife? (What do you think happens after you die?)
  8. Three general questions:

  9. What do you mean by that?
  10. How did you come to that conclusion? (NEVER ask “Why do you believe that?”)
  11. Have you ever considered … ?
  12. My favorite question:

  13. If Jesus were real, would you want him to be your King?

Concludes with the true story of Michael Monsoor.
Frank tells how the SEALS put their golden trident medals on his casket and likens this event to those who put their identity into their ‘savior’. The world needs to put their identity in something that is eternal, their savior.

References:

  • CrossExamined.org/FF
  • CrossExamined is also on YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook
  • Cross Examined app for smartphone

My thoughts on this:
Dr Turek’s presentation is ideal for Christians to hear. His style is likely too strong or intimidating for non-believers. Present it gently using the techniques he describes. Colossians 4:5-6. Focus on the hope (1 Peter 3:15). Present it tastefully so that the hearer wants to know why you have hope beyond death.





Class for June 9, 2019

We will listen to Frank Turek’s message from the conference. It is available in audio and video format. The audio is here. This is one of the best (or the best) presentation packed into 53 minutes I have ever heard. We will listen to it at church and then discuss homework.





Class for April, 2019
The four Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not all identical and they tell a slightly different, but not contradictory, account of the ministry of Jesus. Some skeptics claim that the Gospels were produced by collusion, by promoters of Christianity, who copied from each other thinking that having four accounts that essentially say the same thing would convince people of this religion. Is there internal evidence that says otherwise? Do the Gospel accounts give evidence that there was some independence, that while the writers may have referenced similar source material they tell the stories in their own way with differing details so that there are four independent witnesses all observing basically the same events?

Listen to this presentation by
Tim McGrew (Western Michigan University philosophy professor) called
The Ring of Truth: Undesigned (uncrafted) Coincidences (interlocking) in the Gospels” (I have reworded the title for clarity)
Seminar #42 given at the SES 2017 conference

There are 6 examples of interlocking verses that McGrew gives.

1) Matthew 14:1-12 (@8:30; death of John the baptist);
[compare the parallel accounts Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9]
Note especially 14:2 “said to his servants”, which is not in any of the other Gospels.
Luke 8:1-3 – How does this explain how Matthew would be able to report what happened in 14:2?

2) John 2:6-7 (@14:30; miracle at Cana)

Can you find the verse in Matthew where we learn that the Pharisee elders had a tradition to wash before they ate? Do you know about https://www.biblegateway.com and how to search?

3) The Transfiguration of Jesus (@16:30)
[Read these passages first, before listening to the lecture]
Luke 9:28-36 (What were they told to do? Did they keep silent?)
Matthew 17:1-9 (What were they told to do? Did they keep silent?)
Mark 9:2-10 (What were they told to do? Did they keep silent?)
Who alone mentions both the command and their obedience?

Did you see a place where the presenter makes a mistake in the verses he mentions?
What did he mean to say?

4) Feeding the 5000 (@20:00))
Mark 6:30-39 (green grass);
Matthew 14:13-21 (grass);
John 6:5-15 (much grass);
Luke 9:10-17 – what do we learn here?
What do we learn from John 12:20-21?

[
What are the synoptic Gospels?
How do you pronounce ‘pericope’?
What is the synoptic problem?
Is there a unanimous answer?
]

5) Pilate questions Jesus about claiming to be King of the Jews (@36:50)
Compare
-Luke 23:1-16
-John 18:29-38
-Matthew 27:11-22
Does it appear that the Gospels were copied from a single source?

6) Post-resurrection appearance.
Fish dinner (@44:40; Does Peter truly love Jesus, even more than the other disciples do?)
John 21:1-17; (Mark 14:66-72)

Homework:
How would you use these examples to give evidence that there was no collusion between the Gospel writers? Pick one of the six examples and rehearse how you might use it to show that the Gospels support each other. (Present it to a family member or friend if possible.)

Look at this next example and see if you can show show the Gospels support each other.
Which Gospels tell of Jesus saying something about tearing down the temple? (You may use the biblegateway.com search engine.)
Which Gospels tell of Jesus being falsely accused of claiming to literally tear down the temple?
Does the book of John mention the accusation at Jesus’ trial about tearing down the temple?
Why is John’s account so valuable?
If Jesus had never foretold his death and resurrection this way, what could the Pharisees have accused Jesus of doing?

Listen to the recording of the class audio here

References:

“Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts”

John James Blunt “The Veracity of the Gospels and Acts” or “Undesigned Coincidences”

http://historicalapologetics.org/

http://wmich.edu/philosophy/directory/mcgrew

Undesigned Coincidences: Part 1


http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/01/tim-mcgrew-replies-to-ed-babinskis.html

Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences: The Ring Of Truth

Tim McGrew on Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels





Class for February 27, 2019

How do we relate to those who are different? How do we communicate? Do we defend the Bible with assertiveness? What about those who self-identify as something they are not? Is that against nature, against the Bible? In general what techniques do we use with those who are different?

Before listening to the podcast research these rumors. These rumors are deliberately fabricated, so what is the real truth? Google these names and find out. There is definitely something odd going on. Is there a biblical response?

  • Kimberly Mascott Zieselman is a female but claimed to be male.
  • Sandra Laing is clearly black but claimed to be white.
  • Leon Botha is 80 years old but claimed to be 26.
  • Nicky Freeman is 10 years old but claimed to be 40.
  • Can a person claim to be 6′ but in reality be 4′ tall?

Next watch this short video. This video is used in the podcast below and occurs at 6:53-11:08 into the podcast.

Finally listen to and evaluate this 1 hour 5 min podcast:
Podcast #64 of 2017 SES conference.

Post-Truth Apologetics: A Challenge to Apologists
by Jeremy Cummings; Director of Spiritual Life and Old Testament Instructor, Charlotte Christian School

What do you think of Mr. Cummings comments after he plays the video, especially at 16 minutues into the audio?
He references a passage in Exodus 1:15-21. What does this teach about biblical ethics?

What do you think about this podcast?
What techniques should we use in explaining the Bible to others.
Mr. Cummings, beginning at about 23 minutes in discusses 1 Peter 3:8-17. What do you think about his discussion?
What does this saying mean: “People do not care what you know until they know that you care”?
What issues do we care about in our defense of the faith?
What issues are within the Bible’s jurisdiction?

Listen to the class here (1hr 20 min)