Redefining Faith: Is Apologetics Rationalism?

I‘m often asked if apologetics, defending the reasonableness of the Christian faith, is really just a veiled form of rationalism. Rationalism is the view that reason is the supreme authority for knowing truth. I think this is an important question.

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Star Wars: A Modern Day Morality Play

Morality plays were kind of a big deal in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. They were one of three main forms of plays in the Middle Ages. The other two forms, miracle plays and mystery plays, focused on biblical characters or saints. The morality play focused on a particular hero, an everyman, whose character was tested, but who exhibited strength and achieved redemption.

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Your Weekend Worldview Reader

Want to better understand the Christian worldview? Check out the four-part video study based on my new book Christ or Chaos. It’s like a worldview analysis crash course. You can download the study here. It’s available for use with small groups or for a discounted rate for individual use. The kit includes four teaching sessions, an outline of the material covered, discussion questions, and more.

Here’s your weekend worldview reader with links to articles, essays, reviews, and videos that I consider to be interesting or important from a biblical worldview perspective. Any work that I point to is not an endorsement, but rather an invitation for you to think deeply about your faith and the world around you.

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NEWWEEK

⊕  The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

⊕  The Elephant in the Room

⊕  Batman v. Superman & the Problem of Evil

⊕  Plausible Arguments, Deceptive Philosophy, & the Gospel

⊕  Why Mere Christianity Won’t Go Out of Style (Posted at The Gospel Coalition)

articles

  Can we trust robots to make moral decisions?, Quartz (Olivia Goldhill)

  Why a Christian Anthropology Matters for Liberty and Love, Letters to the Exiles (Charlie Self)

  Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on C. S. Lewis, Reasons (Kenneth Samples)

  The Darkness of Porn and the Hope of the Gospel, DennyBurk.com (Denny Burk)

  The ages of distraction, Aeon (Frank Furedi)

books

  Kierkegaard and the Paradox of Religious Diversity, George B. Connell

  Review: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

  You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K.A. Smith

  Review: Reformedish

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Two Ways of Getting Home

The twentieth-century journalist and Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton once said, “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.” Chesterton’s point was that truth might be closer than you realize, perhaps right under your nose. And sometimes, like with the prodigal son, truth is found at the end of a long road back to the Father’s house.

Chesterton was specifically speaking of Christianity. And in his book The Everlasting Man he contrasted two helpful forms of analyzing the Christian faith. The first is from the inside. The second is from a million miles away. As he said, “The best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it.”

In other words, sometimes stepping just outside the front door of a particular worldview leaves you too close to have a clear perspective. You can be standing beneath the awning while complaining of the shade. Your proximity itself creates emotional and intellectual blind spots.

As Chesterton put it, “The popular critics of Christianity are not really outside of it. . . . Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling.” The modern-day terrain of heckling, as Chesterton describes it, is fraught with emotional landmines and intellectual blockades. Safe passage to meaningful conversations can be hard to find.

This is an excerpt from my new book Christ or Chaos that comes out this weekend with Crossway. You can purchase the book here

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Christ or Chaos

The sun will probably kill us.

That’s what scientists tell us. The large warmth-giving star our earth orbits around will continue to heat up until it burns all its nuclear fuel. Feeding its insatiable hunger for energy, it will grow into what experts call a “Red Giant.” In its hot wrath this giant will gobble up all life on earth and burp out a silent planet.

The End.

That’s how the curtain closes in one storyline at least. And that’s the outlook many embrace today. The plot begins in a murky prebiotic ocean and ends in the heat death of all of civilization. And if that’s where life came from and where history is headed, there’s not much we can do about it. After all, wishful thinking has never slain a giant.

I loved giant stories as a kid. They involved mysterious beans, cunning heroes, and defeated Goliaths. But the Red Giant isn’t my idea of an inspirational fairy tale. I think I like the Jolly Green Giant, who advertises canned veg- etables on television, a whole lot better.

If it were up to me, the Green Giant would trounce the Red Giant, and we would all walk off into the sunset holding hands and snacking on sweet peas. In all seriousness, there actually is a fifty-five-foot-tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. If things end the way scientists predict, this monument will one day melt beneath the heat of the expanding sun, a reminder that life doesn’t have to mirror fantasy.

Not every story has a happy ending. Not all giants are jolly. When I was a child I thought like a child. Perhaps it’s time to put away childish things.

But we’re all suckers for a good story. That’s why we squirm a bit at gloomy projections for the human race. We want a comedy even though our meteorological forecast forces us into a tragedy. I think deep down we’re all hold- ing out hope for a David figure to step in with a humble sling and defend us from the cosmic foe threatening our existence. We simply want a better ending.

Every perspective of reality contains an inherent narrative. Every worldview is a novel. Each has an author, a beginning, and an end. The task for thinking people is to consider not which story is the most interesting, but which one is actually true. In the end we may find a story compelling and true in which we can lose ourselves. Better yet, we may discover a story in which we can actually find ourselves. That would be novel indeed.

This is an excerpt from my new book Christ or Chaos that comes out this weekend with Crossway. You can purchase the book here

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Your Weekend Worldview Reader

There’s only a couple days left to order The Owlings: Book Two and have it delivered in time for Christmas. Thanks to everyone for helping to support this project. It hit #2 on new releases in genre. In fact, J.R.R. Tolkien (at least the one who manages the Twitter account in his name) sent out a tweet to his 100K plus followers recommending it. After all, one of the owls is inspired by the author of the ever popular Hobbit. The other three talking owls are also inspired by British authors: Dorothy, Clive, and Gilbert.

Here’s your weekend worldview reader for December 20, 2015, with links to articles, essays, reviews, and videos that I consider to be interesting or important from a biblical worldview perspective. Any work that I point to is not an endorsement, but rather an invitation for you to think deeply about your faith and the world around you.

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 NEWWEEK

⊕ The Inklings in Flight

⊕ Star Wars: A Modern-Day Morality Play

⊕ The Riddle of Humanity & the Incarnation

articles

⊕  The latest social science is wrong. Religion is good for families and kids, Washington Post (W. Bradford Wilcox)

⊕  We Were Made to Marvel, The Gospel Coalition (Erik Raymond)

⊕  Univ. of Tenn. clamps down on campus Christmas parties, Washington Times (W. Scott Lamb)

books

⊕ Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, Diana Pavlac Glyer

⊕ Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics, Roger Trigg

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The Inklings in Flight

No literary group has more shaped my imagination than the Inklings. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and friends, were a larger-than-life, once-in-a-lifetime, kind of creative crew. Deeply committed to the Christian worldview, highly educated, gifted, compassionate, et cetera, the list of their qualities that have lead to their impact goes on and on.

At the heart of the group was Lewis and Tolkien who met weekly, often at the Eagle and Child Pub, for pipes, pints, and publications. G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers are often associated with them in terms of similar influence and interests, though they were not part of the weekly meetings. These four, Chesterton, Sayers, Tolkien, and Lewis, are the inspiration behind the owls in my worldview novellas The Owlings. You can get my latest installment The Owlings: Book Two on Amazon here.

Here’s a starters guide to reading these great British authors:

I. C.S. Lewis (inspiration for the owl Clive in The Owlings)

I like to recommend couplets of Lewis’s writings to my students to give them a contrast in his approach. Read Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters together, two very different avenues he used for presenting the Christian worldview. The next couplet I recommend is not as well known, though two of my favs. Read Miracles and ‘Til We Have Faces together for another delightful contrast. Additionally, I cannot recommend highly enough the reading of Lewis’s letters. They are rich in content.

II. J.R.R. Tolkien (inspiration for the owl Reuel in The Owlings)

Tolkien is best known for his trilogy based on the Hobbit. One cannot go wrong starting here, but plan for a lengthy adventure through Middle Earth. For a more leisurely introduction, I like to recommend his children stories like Mr. Bliss or Smith of Wooton Major. Tolkien was inspirational father in so many ways. His Letters from Father Christmas that he made for his children motivated me to begin a similar annual tradition of my own “The Chronicles of Father Christmas” that I write and illustrate for my kids to read on Christmas Eve each year.

III. Dorothy Sayers (inspiration for the owl Dorothy in The Owlings)

Sayers is remembered for her detective stories affectionally called The Wimsey Novels. But my favorite Sayers’ works are her apologetic pieces like The Mind of the Maker, her play The Man Born to Be King, and her essays like Creed or Chaos. Her little booklet The Lost Tools of Learning is a helpful resource for parents of young children considering educational priorities.

IV. G.K. Chesterton (inspiration for the owl Gilbert in The Owlings)

As with Lewis, I like to recommend couplets for Chesterton. Those new to the literary giant known by his initials G.K.C., should begin with his book The Everlasting Man that famously contributed to C.S. Lewis’s departure from atheism. This book pairs nicely with Chesterton’s novel The Ball and the Cross, a story about a theist and an atheist who start out trying to kill each other before becoming dear friends. The next grouping I’d recommend would be to toggle between Chesterton’s essays and his poetry, a colorful tour of his joyfully simple and paradoxically complex view of the world.

Stocking Stuffers

With little time before Christmas, you might want to pass along a couple titles from this list to anyone looking for stocking stuffer ideas. Books make great gifts, the best in my humble but accurate opinion. And if you’re giving literature, something by the Inklings is a great place to start.

And if you are curious as to what these literary powerhouses look like in animal form, check out my first book The Owlings: A Worldview Novella or the recently published The Owlings: Book Two. Thanks to all who’ve supported this project helping it to reach #2 in new releases in genre on Amazon. Please help me continue to spread the word. If you’d like to help promote the book consider posting (copy/paste) something like this on social media:

Check out my friend ‘s book “The Owlings: Book Two” a worldview story for readers of all ages: 

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Your Weekend Worldview Reader

Order your copy of The Owlings: Book Two in time for Christmas. It is the second installment in the tale of talking owls (think the Inklings in animal form). Join Gilbert, Clive, Dorothy, and Reuel, in a worldview adventure as they help a young boy, Josiah, and his friends, learn about the greatest truth in all the world—that the world doesn’t exist by or for itself. You can purchase a copy here.

Here’s your weekend worldview reader for December 12th, 2015, with links to articles, essays, reviews, and videos that I consider to be interesting or important from a biblical worldview perspective. Any work that I point to is not an endorsement, but rather an invitation for you to think deeply about your faith and the world around you.

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 articles

⊕ C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent, Christianity Today (Harry Lee Poe)

⊕ Science, Because Faith: Why Religious Belief Is Rational, Intercollegiate Review (Rodney Stark)

⊕ A Century Ago, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Changed Everything, New York Times (Dennis Overbye)

 America’s dividing line: Thoughts, prayers and belief in a transcendent God, CNN (John Inazu)

books

⊕ The Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious than Ever by Rodney Stark

∴ Review #1: The Baptist Standard

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