“I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.” — Popeye, the sailorman
Given the subjects that I usually read and write about on this blog, critical thinking really comes in handy. Not that I’m some great logician or anything. Far from it! But, over the last few years, I’ve been exposed to the discipline of informal logic by some pretty darn good thinkers. (At least, I think they are.) I’ve noticed that I am now more apt to notice logical errors & fallacies when reading or listening to someone’s arguments for his/her position on a particular topic. It’s not always easy, and sometimes I get lazy about it, but it is helping my thinking process. And, yes, this applies to matters of science, politics, and religion (including theology, philosophy/worldview, & apologetics), as well as day-to-day issues.
I recently came across a great primer on informal logic and critical thinking in the book A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Testby Kenneth R. Samples, who teaches on the subject. It was a great summary, and I thought it so valuable that I decided to adapt Samples’ presentation into a series of blogposts.
Now, some of you are thinking that this sounds like it’ll be dull, or hard, or both. But, it’s not really all that difficult, and I think it’s actually kinda fun! When the pieces come together in your mind and you’re able not just to recognize bad thinking but also see why it’s bad, it’s really cool! Not only will you become a better thinker, but as a result you’ll be able to formulate better arguments and, therefore, be a better case-maker & debater on the subjects you hold dear.
Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 1 | A View from the Right.
Here’s a podcast featuring J. Warner Wallace that I listened to twice on a recent road trip. This is an after action report from Wallace’s recent missions trip to Utah to evangelize Mormons.
The MP3 file is here. (74 minutes)
- Mormons disagree with Christians about the nature of God, Jesus and salvation
- The differences are so dramatic that the two religions are completely different views
- Mormons try to portray themselves as a denomination of Christianity
- The Utah missions trip: how Christians were trained to engage with Mormons
- Mormonism is a works-based religion – you earn your way to eternal life by doing works
- In Christianity, eternal life is a free gift from God to anyone who accepts Jesus as their leader and redeemer
- Mormons believe that doctrines can change from generation to generation (progressive revelation)
- Mormons commonly make the case for a works-based theology by appealing to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount
via J. Warner Wallace: important differences between Christianity and Mormonism | Wintery Knight.
A Short Statement
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
The complete document is available here: Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
Theologian Wayne Grudem, research professor at Phoenix Seminary (and author of a great Systematic Theology), presents four talks on the topic of: How to Interpret the Bible.
How to Interpret the Bible:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
If you have access to a good theological library, you might have access to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. But then, you might not. For many of us, there is no readily available copy of the four or five volume encyclopedia.
Thanks to modern technology, Amazon.com has a Kindle version of the new, five-volume Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE).
For Barnes and Noble Nook owners, there is the original four volume edition FOR FREE!
Spiritual formation, becoming more like Jesus Christ in thought and deed, requires a renewed mind (Romans 12:2) that avoids worldliness (1 John 2:15-17) and pursues godliness (Matthew 5:1-18). Our sanctification through the Holy Spirit requires an ongoing dependency on God wherein we grow in the knowledge of God, how his Kingdom operates (Matthew 6:33), ourselves (James 1:25), and our place in the church (1 Corinthians 12-14) and broader culture (1 Chronicles 12:32).
To this end, here are some principles and recommendations in how to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
1. Remain faithful in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, which are God’s cognitive revelation of himself and the ways of salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-16). Acquire and use study aids such as one or more study Bibles. I recommend The Apologetics Study Bible, The Reformation Study Bible, The NET Bible, and The NIV Study Bible. Of course, there are many other tools such as commentaries and other helps. The excellent commentaries of John Calvin and Matthew Henry are available on line for no charge.
2. Discern your unique calling as a Christian. No one can do everything, so we must concentrate our energies where we are gifted and in accordance to God’s leading in our day. I highly recommend Os Guinness’s book on this vital topic, The Call. See also John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life.
Read the rest: The Constructive Curmudgeon: Living a Thoughtful Life for Christ and His Kingdom.
Was Jesus God? The question is of extreme importance, since if Jesus really is God, He is worthy of worship and praise. We are going to examine several lines of evidence to determine the answer to the question of Jesus’ deity. The most extensive evidence is found in the Bible. However, there is extra-biblical evidence that confirms what the Bible says. This page represents a summary of the evidence, much of which can be found in more detail on specific pages of this website.
The Bible is a collection of writings authored by 40 men over a period of 1,500 years. The writings are roughly separated into the Old Testament (written before the birth of Jesus) and the New Testament (written by the disciples of Jesus after his death in 33 A.D.). The writings of both Testaments are centered around a person called “Messiah” (which means “anointed by God”). The Old Testament says the Messiah would come as the Savior of the world. The New Testament says the Messiah came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Both the Old and New Testaments claim that the Messiah would be both man and God – the God-Man – who would save us from our sins. So, if Jesus really were the Messiah, we would expect Him to be God in human form. Our first task is to determine if Jesus was the Messiah.
Read the rest at GodandScience.org.
I have added sections for the Creeds and Confessions of the Church. I have limited the Creeds to those agreed upon by the Reformed, Catholic and Orthodox churches. I have added the three most influential Reformed Confessions, Belgic Confession, Westminster Confession of Faith, and The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689).
False teachers are with us and always have been. Being aware of the existence and presence of false teachers is something the disciple should always be aware of. Test your teachers. Test even those you trust. Test even those whom you have trusted in the past. Scripture is the standard, not what you already or want to believe.
“There were also false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)
There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That’s a matter of history.
False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people. Continue reading
Knowing that we are lying to ourselves is the best first step in not undermining our own Christian walk.
LIE: This is such a minor, insignificant sin! It’s not really a big deal in God’s eyes.
TRUTH: Every sin is a horribly offensive to God. Sin is the sum of all evils, the opposite of all that is good, holy, and beautiful. Even the smallest of my sins required the death of the Son of God. There is no such thing as a minor sin. Every sin is cosmic treason.
LIE: I’ll give into sin this one time, then I’ll be done with it. I just need to get it out of my system. Continue reading