Seminary Lecture Series – Sexuality and Morality

..we should be confident about the truth claims of Christianity and not be afraid to articulate those convictions…

VIDEO by Liberty University

Seminary Lecture Series – Genocide and War in the Old Testament

VIDEO by Liberty University

Everyday Theology Conference Videos – Liberty University – Ben Witherington and Craig Evans Sessions 3 & 4

Everyday Theology Conference Session 3 

Craig Evans – Addressing theological issues and looking at the real implications of those on what we believe and how we live:

Jesus and the remains of His day. Insights from new discoveries in archaeology

Everyday Theology Conference Session 4

VIDEO by Liberty University

Watch Sessions 1 and 2 here –

Everyday Theology Conference Videos – Liberty University – Ben Witherington and Craig Evans – Sessions 1 & 2

Everyday Theology Conference Videos – Liberty University – Ben Witherington and Craig Evans – Sessions 1 & 2

Chad Thornhill: Two of the worlds finest New Testament scholars Ben Witherington and Craig Evans speak about some of the Current issues going on right now in New Testament Studies. The purpose of the annual Everyday Theology Conference is to address critical issues in Christian theology, while also exploring what this means  for everyday life and every day Christians. We believe very deeply that what we believe about God matters, not just for our intellectual endeavors, not just so that we get it right, but this also impacts how we live. This has true implications for day to day Christianity and  too often, those connections are not sufficiently explored. We have theologians  and we have practitioners and they don’t make the connections often enough. So what we hope to do is to present  the data, the arguments, the material and then get some of the practical download.

Everyday Theology Conference Session 1

Ben Witherington – questions related to Jesus, the New Testament, the first century, how is it that we can have confidence today, 2000 years later in an ancient faith that actually began 2000 years ago? And how do we know we’re getting it right and making the right kind of a connection?

VIDEO by Liberty University

Everyday Theology Conference Session 2

An hour of praise music and hymns at Liberty University

All Praise Liberty University Convocation

Video by Liberty University

Sheila Walsh at Liberty University

photo credit outreach.com

Sheila Walsh, born and raised in a Baptist family, in Scotland, speaks to students about brokenness and faith. Sheila Walsh has worked for the BBC, has co-hosted the 700 Club program for Christian Broadcasting Network, and she was also a contemporary music artist. Sheila now works with The Women of Faith Organization. At about the 10th minute Shelia shares some very personal moments from her life, about the circumstances leading to her spending time in a psychiatric ward:

Shelia Walsh: … I spent all my life running from that place. I was brought up in Scotland by Christian parents, which would not be unusual in America, but in Scotland, less than 2% of our population even go to church. So, to have a mom and dad who love the Lord is quite a gift. But, when I was 5 years old, my father had a massive brain aneurism, and it turned his personality from being loving  and kind, to being a frightening stranger. And when I was 5 years old, my father tried to kill me; he tried to bring his cane down on my skull. But, I pulled it and knocked him off his balance, and he was taken off to what was called a local asylum, a horrible old hospital on the hill. He was 34 years old. And he was placed in a maximum security ward because he had become violent. He escaped. My mom asked if he could be moved to a ward with some younger men and they agreed. But, it meant that it was less secure. And on the first night that he was placed in that ward, he escaped. And they looked for him all through the night, and they had found him in the morning. He had taken his own life in the river. He was dead, caught in the salmon nets.

In Scotland, in those days, you don’t take children to funerals. All I knew, my mom came home in a black dress, in a black hat, took all the photos of my father off the wall, put them in a suitcase, put them under her bed, and we never talked about him again. I think she thought: If Sheila wants to talk, she will. But she had no idea of the conversation going on in my head: What did my father see in me, that made him hate me so much in the end? When you’re 5 years old, you don’t process information very well. And I think, it would be interesting to know some of your stories, because every single one of you have a story and some of you suffered a lot when you were really little. And when you have that kind of pain and you don’t know what to do with it, you find a way to cope, you find a way to go on. You find some kind of mask, a place to hide. Some of us do it through a career, or we try and dress differently, or we try do it in all sorts of ways. I found the perfect place to hide: Christian ministry. I mean, who is gonna come and say, „Put that Bible down and we’re gonna have an intervention? It’s probably not gonna happen. But God is the only one who knows exactly what’s going on inside. And I determined I would become the perfect Christian woman, if it killed me. And it very nearly did. I went to seminary training to be a missionary in India because I couldn’t think of anything I would hate more. I thought it would make God happy- if I chose something that I clearly didn’t want to do, that would show God that I was giving my life to him.

I then came to America. I was signed to a recording label, and then I was invited to become Pat Robertson’s co-host. But inside, nothing had changed. I was the same scared little girl who wondered what God saw, what my father saw  that made them turn to me and determine that God would never see it and that I would never allow anyone else to get close enough to me that they could see it too. I was very well known and very lonely. To everyone else, it seemed like I had all my ducks in a row. But God knew the truth. And one of the things to me, about the fiery  outrageous merciful love of God is that He is committed to pursuing us into a real relationship, not just pretending. But, that we be really known. If I had my choice over how God redirected my life, I would have had Him take my fear away. But instead, He decided to allow the very thing I was afraid of to happen, to show me the truth of what Paul , when he wrote to the church in Romans said, „I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

I went from one morning being on the 700 Club (CBN Christian show) and by that evening, I was in a locked ward of a psychiatric hospital. I was 34 years old. Exactly the same age as my father. I remember, on that first morning, when I had to meet with the psychiatrist, and he asked me a question. He said, „Who are you?” And, I could see my name on his pad, and I I wasn’t in a good mood, so I just said, „Sheila. Sheila Walsh.” And he said, „No, Sheila. I know your name. Who are you?” „I’m the co-host of the 700 Club.” And he said, „No, Sheila. I didn’t ask you what you do. Who are you?” And I said, „I have absolutely no idea.” And he said, „I know that. That’s why you’re here.” I discovered that God will sometime take you to a prison to set you free. And that some of God’s most precious gifts come in boxes that make your hands bleed when you open them, but inside is what you have been longing for all your life: A relationship with God, where you bring nothing to the table.

To the students at Liberty: So let me ask you a question. When you walked in here this morning, instead of the worship team or whatever, on the big screen, [what if] what we had specially prepared for you this morning was a movie of your life, everything you’ve ever said, everything you’ve ever done, the things that you’ve actually thought so you don’t consider them a sin, because you just thought about them and never did it. But it’s all up there on the screen for anyone who wants to watch. How would you feel? Because the radical truth of the Gospel is that God has seen your movie and He loves you. There’s absolutely nothing about you, the darkest shadowy places , there’s nothing that God does not already know, and has not already paid for, and wants to welcome you to come into the light and be  and be known to just tell the truth.

My son is 17, and so starting to look at colleges. But, when he was 10, we just finished lunch one day and I was washing up dishes and Christian looked at me and said, „Mom, would you make me a flask of hot chocolate?” I said, „Yeah sure, babe. Are you going outside?” It was kind of cold. He said, „No, mom. Today I’m running away from home.” I said, „Well, that’s huge news.  Thank you so much for telling me.”  I said, „Do you mind me asking, did I do something, or did dad do something?” He said, „No, no, mom. It’s nothing like that. But think about it. There’s you, there’s dad, there’s the dogs. Nothing happens here. If I don’t leave now, I will never have stories to tell.” „Excellent point,” I said, as I prepared his hot chocolate. And I said, „Do you mind me asking where you’re going?” And he said, „North. I’m heading North.” And I said, „What are you gonna do for money?” He said, „Don’t worry mom, I intend to return home on weekends.” Huge relief to me, as his mother.

So, I gave him his hot chocolate and he’s packing up his backpack, puts in his soccer ball, the dog’s blanket, his flask, everything. And he heads out the back door, and I’m like, „Well, stay in touch. Traveling mercies.” And off he went. So I ran upstairs and I’m watching in the balcony, cause I know I can kind of watch for awhile. And he walks away, around the lake and he stops by a tree, where he and I like to fish. He sits down, gets out the blanket and has some hot chocolate. And I think, „What do I do when he moves on?” And so I thought, „I’ll get the dogs and I’ll take them for a walk. I’ll try and stay far enough back and if he sees me, I’l just say, ” Oh, so sorry. I had no idea this was north, [you know, I’m] directionally challenged. But after a while, I realized what he was doing, is he was actually coming home. So I ran back downstairs and I’m just tidying up in the kitchen. He walks through the back door, he kind of smiles ay me muttering under his breath, „Good times. Good times.” So that night, after he had had his bath, he was in bed and we said our prayers. I said, „Christian, now tell me about today. Did you enjoy your adventure?” He said, „Yeah, I did mom. But, I think I would have liked it better if my bag wasn’t so heavy.” It made me think.

Wouldn’t it be sad to live this blood bought life, make it all the way home, and for God to say, „Did you enjoy the journey?” And us, to have to say, „Well, I did, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if my bag wasn’t so heavy.” What would it look like, if when you walk in through the doors this morning, all your stuff became visible? Not your backpacks and your books, your stuff- the internal baggage that you carry through every day: the disappointment, the shame, the fear. What would that look like? And if you had to drag it to your seat, some of you would be surprised by how much you are carrying, perhaps, disappointed by how long you’ve been carrying it. But my question would be this: If you saw it, would you want to take it home, would you wanna take it back to your dormitory room? Or, would you want to take up Christ on that ridiculous glorious exchange: „Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke union you and lean on me, because My yoke is easy and my burden is light.  I could stand here for a million years and never begin to touch the depth of the love of God for YOU. To be able to go out into this world, ….whatever you do, if you learn to become a daughter of the King of Kings, a son of the King of Kings, who tells the truth, you have to, first of all, make peace with what is true, and that is that we are not the good news. Jesus is. It’s actually a bit of a relief.

VIDEO by Liberty University

Gary Habermas: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism

steps to atheism rodiagnusdei

Gary Habermas is Chair, Department of Philosophy Distinguished Research Professor at Liberty University, author of 36 books (with contributions to 60 other books) and expert on the facts surrounding the Resurrection of Jesus.

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – A Christian apologist presented 10 reasons for the fall of atheism during the Southern Evangelical Seminary’s 20th annual Christian Apologetics conference on Saturday, an argument which he is also set to deliver before the Swedish parliament, one of the most atheistic societies in the world.

Gary Habermas, who is the distinguished research professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, divided his 10 reasons into two groups: those which argue for theology in general as opposed to naturalism, and those which support specifically a Christian worldview.

„Both categories are important. God exists, naturalists are wrong, there is some kind of theism or deism, something to do with God, and then there are things saying Christianity is true,” the apologist explains.

„Virtually no religion, and no philosophy, tells you why their beliefs are true,” he added of belief systems outside of the Christian faith. „Christianity has something that no other religion has.”

A number of recent surveys have suggested that the number of non-believers in America is on the rise. According to a 2012 poll by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life in conjunction with PBS’ Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, one-fifth of Americans said that they are religiously unaffiliated. That number rises to 32 percent when dealing specifically with young adults between 18-29 years of age.

Similarly, an extensive General Social Survey report from earlier this year also found that the number of people who do not identify with religion is on the rise, and has jumped to new levels in recent years.

„This was not happening really for decades, until around 1990 when it started to take off,” Claude Fischer, one of the researchers with UC Berkeley, shared with The Huffington Post. „One thing striking is the trend in terms of renouncing religious affiliation you might say continues to move up at a regular pace, while there is hardly any perceptible trend in the percentage of people who express atheist or agnostic beliefs.”

The decline in religious views has also been felt throughout Europe, and especially in Sweden, where Habermas will be presenting before the parliament this month.

According to a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, only 18 percent of Swedish residents believe that there is a God, 45 percent believe that there is some sort of spirit or life force, while 34 percent do not believe in any kind of God or spirit.

Habermas argued, however, that despite cultural trends, belief in naturalism, which states that the world operates without any kind of divine or supernatural influence, is losing ground in academic circles.

„The naturalistic argument is starting to break,” the research professor said, bringing up a number of examples of atheists who have turned to theism, or non-believers who have admitted that naturalism doesn’t hold as much weight as previously thought.

The four theistic arguments that Habermas listed against atheism were as follows: Cosmology, Intelligent Design, Fine Tuning, and Near-Death Experiences.

For cosmology, which explores questions about the Big Bang, the beginning and eternal nature of the universe, he brought up a quote from C.S. Lewis, where the famous Christian author said: „If there ever was a time that nothing existed, then nothing would exist now.”

While Habermas only mentioned by name the two other reasons, he noted that next to the resurrection, he has done more work on near-death experiences than on any other topic.

„I have been working on this topic for 40 years, and I am a reviewer for a secular peer-reviewed journal on the subject,” he revealed, adding that near-death experiences have been written up in almost 20 different medical journals.

The apologist explained that this reason falls in the general theistic field, because it deals specifiaclly with people who had lost heart and brain function for a while, and been able to see or understand things through their experience that they could not have come to otherwise.

„But these are non-worldview specifics, meaning that it is religious data in general and that any religion can be right,” he noted.

Next, he presented six reasons that people can use for believing specifically in the Christian faith, listing them as follows:

  • Recent documentations of miracle claims: referring to thousands of cases around the world of documented miracles, including those where medical doctors witness prayer healing people with severe physical disabilities.
  • Double-blind prayer experiments: where people pray for others with terminal illness. Habermas admitted that most such experiments have not worked, but the three that he knows of that have indeed worked were cases of orthodox-Christians praying for the sick.
  • Jesus as a miracle healer: the research professor noted that when he went to graduate school, most people did not believe that Jesus was a miracle healer, but that has changed and many scholars now believe in the real miracles presented in the Bible.
  • Jesus proclaimed the resurrection beforehand: meaning that Jesus did not simply rise from the dead, but revealed beforehand that he would be resurrected. „It’s one thing to rise from the dead, but you claim double the significance of it if you told everybody what was going to happen ahead of time, which shows that you’re in control and know what’s going on,” the apologist argued.
  • Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Habermas said that „we are on the strongest grounds up here on the resurrection argument. Today, there are more scholars who believe that something happened to Jesus than there are those who believe that nothing happened to Jesus.”
  • Shroud of Turin: the apologist referred to an hour-long session he led on Friday about recent discoveries surrounding the Shroud, but admitted, „It deserves to be put on the board, at least now. It could be proven wrong tomorrow.”

Habermas concluded: „We have got to get the world out there, because the challenge is there, naturalism is losing, and we need to see Christianity ascend, because we have the data.” SOURCE: http://christianpost.com

John Piper – Don’t do God’s will like an atheist

5PIPER12xx.jpgThis post is also available in Simplified ChineseKoreanPortuguese, and Spanish at Desiring God.

A Liberty University student asked John Piper for clarification, after Piper’s speech there, on September 16, 2013 (see video here or read it here). The students question: So you don’t believe that altruistic acts are possible or desirable?

Piper asked the student for his definition of altruism, which the student defined as “Doing a good deed for others with no view to any reward.”

Here is Piper’s answer:

…whether or not it’s possible, I don’t think it’s desirable, because it’s not what the Bible teaches us to do; and it’s not what people experience as genuine love. Because it isn’t genuine love.

I had said in the convocation message: Doing right for right’s sake is atheistic. Christians should do what’s right for God’s sake; because the Bible teaches us to do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). But God is not glorified if we leave him out of account, and say that doing a right deed is its own justification. Nothing is its own justification, if God is left out.

Christians should do what God says is right because in doing it we enjoy more of God. Jesus was motivating us to be generous to others when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I’m simply saying that this motivating, promised “blessedness” is not mainly more money, but more God. God delights to reveal more of himself to the generous than to the stingy (John 14:23).

This motive glorifies God. God is glorified when he is desired as a treasure. If we want a deeper fellowship with him because he makes us happier than anyone else, we glorify him. So to be motivated to do right by the desire for more of God glorifies God.

Piper, then goes on to explain how Jesus motivates:

Jesus said that when we are slandered as Christians we should rejoice (Matthew5:12) and love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) “for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12), and “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). The motivation he appeals to is that the path of sacrificial love leads to an increase of joy in our relationship to God as Father.

and, finally, Piper explains the joy obtained when loving others:

Finally, I said to the student’s good question: Not only does trying to do right for right’s sake dishonor God, it doesn’t show love to others. People don’t experience it as love. But why would they experience the good we do for them as love, if we are seeking our greater joy in God? Aren’t they just being used?

No. It’s because part of the greater joy we seek in God, by doing them good, is the inclusion of them in our joy. Our joy in God would be expanded by their joy in God. We are not using them for our greater joy. We are wooing them into our greater joy, and desiring that they become part of it.

Click here to read the entire article – http://www.desiringgod.org/

John Piper at Liberty University September 16,2013

Story, video and Photo credit http://www.liberty.edu

Theologian and Pastor John Piper speaks at Liberty University for the first time, kicking off the university’s biannual Global Focus Week during Convocation.

Liberty University’s biannual Global Focus Week kicked off at Monday’s Convocation with messages from theologian and Pastor John Piper and Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedin who is imprisoned in Iran.

Piper is the founder of desiringGod.org and is the chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. He also served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., for 33 years and is the author of more than 50 books. This was his first visit to Liberty.

Piper spoke on Hebrews 10-13, challenging students to embrace the opportunity to suffer for Christ and emphasizing the importance of being satisfied in Christ.

“Confidence in fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in the presence of Jesus on the other side of this so-called dying is the root of love that is willing to lay down its life for the sake of the nations,” he said. “This confidence that you cannot die but only have increased pleasures produces martyrs who die in love, not martyrs who kill from hate.”

Piper also reminded students that loving their heavenly home is more important than loving their earthly one.

“All the students at Liberty aiming to pour their life into the city of man for her good will serve her better if they love the other city (Heaven) more. If you love the city that is to come, and the world that is to come more than this city (earth) you will serve this city better,” he said. “You will go to the hardest places and peoples on the planet in order to make plain the value of the other city and the other king.”

Filling Naturalism’s Void – Gary Habermas, PhD (video & transcript)

This is a lecture on world views, given by Dr. Gary R. Habermas at Liberty University in 2012.

Naturalism has been the predominant world view in western civilization universities throughout all of our lifetimes. There has never been a time, in all of our lifetimes when that has not been the case. It runs the western university. It does not run the whole world university system. Other places in the world are not like that. But in western North America, western Europe, Australia, and in other places as well, in China, in the old Russia- the University system encapsulates a naturalistic world view which says: The natural world is all that there is. There is no supernatural world and what we know, we usually know by sense experience. That has dominated education philosophically, it’s dominated western education since at least the 1930’s.

But, for the first time in our lifetime, there’s a new phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the western world right now. I wrote about it in 1988, in a journal article. You can find it on my website garyhabermas.com. But, the name of the article was ‘Changing Paradigms- A Challenge to Naturalism‘.  This was 1988, and I said there were some signs that naturalism was going out. Now, we have secular philosophers and other saying: naturalism’s dead. Now, I think that’s a little premature, but something does seem to be happening.

A lot of you know that I became a good friend of Anthony Flew‘s before he passed away. He came to Liberty University in 1985. He was the best known philosophical atheist in the world, and by the way, naturalism is the world view from which atheism…. I think of atheism as a subcategory . Naturalism is the philosophical Father of that sort of thinking. And Tony Flew was the best known philosophical naturalist (he was an atheist) in the world. He came to campus and we debated the topic of the resurrection of Jesus in 1985. It became a book with what was then Harper & Rowe. Over the years, Tony and I got to be very close. We used to talk about a lot of things. One day we did our last debate, in 2003. We debated 3 times, soon afterwards, a year later I heard that Tony’s view was changing. I called him one day on the phone and I said, „I heard that you don’t consider yourself an atheist anymore. He said, „Well, sort of, I don’t, but, I’m in a state of flux right now,” and he said, „about a month ago, I thought that was my view, but, now, I think I’m still an atheist, but, with really big questions.”

We talked in between, but I called him a year later, and he said, „This time I’ve made the switch.” I’m no longer an atheist. I believe in God. This book came out in 2004, and notice the word NO crossed out- And There is a God. The subtitle is ‘How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind’. Now, this was huge and it really bothered the atheistic community. If a Christian deconverted, I would be very sad about it , but I don’t think it affects the truth of Christianity. Somehow, the atheist group has acted like this has been … they tried to explain it other ways: He’s senile, he’s getting old… Jay Leno said in a joke on his show, „Hey, this well known philosophical atheist, he’s 85 years old. I guess if I was 85 years old, I’d get right with God too.” Well, the thing is that Tony Flew didn’t believe in an afterlife. So that was not his motivation, for doing this. (Photo via www.npr.org Order from Amazon here – http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception)

Here’s a more recent example. Thomas Nagel, University Professor at New York University, in both philosophy and law. He published this book: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Now, you have to know how influential of a person he is. He’s not Anthony Flew, but, he’s extremely influential. I should tell you that Anthony Flew wrote more material defending atheism than anybody whoever lived. What a moniker. But, Thomas Nagel is hugely influential, and yet he is saying, „Looks like we’re losing.”

To me, this is the one that really caught my eye. I know a person who knows David Brooks, and I understand He is not a Christian. He wrote an article in the New York Times called ‘The Neural Buddhists‘. Basically, he says: Some people think atheism is center stage in this country because of New Atheism. He says, „I’ve got news for you: Atheism is dead. Atheism is dead in the western world. Something else has already taken its place. And, he defined the 2 main takers, (which) he calls ‘Neural Buddhism’- which he says is made up of a number of sciences, but this is later brain research that is now allowing for supernatural areas, at least religious areas, he says, That’s one group.” And, he says, „The other group is the Judeo-Christian heritage. They are the 2 takers for filling naturalism’s void.” Look at some of these comments/quotes:

  • The cognitive revolution- you might think it’s good news because atheism is dead and religion is coming back in, but it’s gonna challenge Christianity, if we’re not careful.
  • The momentum has shifted from hardcore materialism (which is a species of naturalism). He says it shifted. Now, when he says this may not be comfortable for Christianity, what he says is: The 2 big views- Neural Buddhism, what we would probably call the New Age Movement (which is backed up by a number of empirical science studies), (so,) Neural Buddhism vs. some revelatory religion.- he uses the Judeo-Christian heritage. He keeps talking about the Bible.   Here’s what they both have in common. They’re both open to God because naturalism’s dead, they’re both interested and open to religion They’re both okay with prayer, general prayer, general worship, afterlife; that’s okay. But he says, here’s what Christians believe that Neural Buddhists don’t believe. He says, Christians believe that there are specific revealed doctrines that are true. Now, he doesn’t say that, but we would with things like reincarnation, deity of Christ, a God of the universe who reveals Himself to a people- the Israelites, and is concerned that people come to know Jesus Christ. He says, „Those specific doctrines are not shared by the Neural Buddhists. He says, „They’re gonna say that that’s your addition to evolutionary views of spirituality. And you can be spiritual. You can believe in God, you can worship. You can pray. You can believe in an afterlife (sort of, don’t be too adamant about it) . But, if you believe in particular doctrines, prove it!” That’s what David Brooks says in his article. „If you believe in particular articles of faith, show why those doctrines are true.” Because the other group doesn’t believe that, so the biggest rub is gonna be to show your specific religious views are true.
  • „We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution and it’s gonna be having huge cultural effects. It’s going on now.” What he’s saying is naturalists don’t know they’ve lost. They’re losing, but he says, „They’re not losing, they’ve lost. The world’s passing them by.”

How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism?

  1. New Atheism – My question is: How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism and this battle with such things as The New Atheism? They still have some influence, although numbers show that atheists are very small. One recent survey said that only 2% of Americans are atheists. I think it’s higher than that. But the New Atheists are having real influence with our young people (ages) 18-25.
  2. New Age 
  3. Postmodernism

Those are forms, minus the atheism, those are the forms that this is coming in. And David Brooks, whom I understand is Jewish, David Brooks says, „If you’ve got specific doctrines, prove it. If you wanna say what Neural Buddhists say, but more, tell us what more and why? Why are there more doctrines? Why should we believe it? (13:00)

I’ve been starting to work with a concept in the last 10 years, that basically says this: When I talk to you about apologetics in the area of philosophy or theology, which talks about evidences. Every religion has apologetics, but, Christian apologetics are: How do we know some of these general areas like God, and morality, and afterlife are true? And how do we know the specific areas, areas like incarnation, deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Jesus, things that are central to our faith, how do we know these things are true? That’s the subject of apologetics. When I say apologetics, most people think – Bible. We think of it as largely defending a body of doctrine that closed about 2000 years ago. But, what I’m gonna argue is that apologetics is a contemporary aspect and there are many, many new subjects that we have not had research on, at least the kind of research I’m talking about, more recently than the last 30 years. When you think apologetics, you might not just think New Testament anymore, you might think some additional research today that evidences what we believe. (Transcript continues below video)

2012 – Lecture by Gary R. Habermas VIDEO by religionphilosophy

Consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body

On the subject of near death experiences- these have now been written up. My last count of 5 years ago, the subject of near death experiences has been written up in at least 15-20 different medical journals. Now, why would peer reviewed secular medical journals run articles on these. Now, first, when these came out, everyone was talking, „Yeah, it’s interesting and we’ve got some interesting cases there. I’m not talking about people who died and saw a light, went down a tunnel, and ‘wow’, doesn’t that prove that it’s true? No, it doesn’t. It might just prove common physiology, or common neurology. But, in over 100 cases, I and another individual, who is the editor of the only peer reviewed near-death journal in the world (I’m a reviewer for that journal- in fact, it’s secular, it’s largely eastern, and marginally Neuro Buddhist. The two of us, between us (I’ve not seen her list), but, we both have a list of over 100 well evidenced near death experiences. They are incredibly evidential, where a person sees something while they claim to be in an out of body state. Some of them are incredible, the person reports things that happen miles away. This has very much surprised a lot of people. And, these have been written up in a lot of journals, but, what does it show?

This indicates for a lot of folks that consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body.  You say, „Well, yeah, because the brain doesn’t die right away, and you might still see something for 2,3 or 4 minutes. Well, there are reports of these things going on for hours when the person is dead. Here is one of the evidential stories and according to a Gallup survey 20 years ago, 8 million Americans have claimed to have experienced near death phenomenon of some sort. Maybe they didn’t die, but, they’ve watched someone else describe this sort of thing. How about blind folks who have never seen anything in their whole lives until their near death experienceThey report something that happens down the road, they come back and correctly report it, and now they’re still blind, but they saw something during the experience. Some of these reports come with flat EEG and flat EKG’s. This is a general category. (19:25)

How about specific Christian categories? All in the last 20 or 30 years. You say ‘Resurrection’, that’s a New Testament study. I mean it is, but the latest New Testament research that is turned… I often give a lecture at universities called „The Resurrection that Changed a Generation of Scholars”. Today, more critics than not believe something happened to the risen Jesus. And that evidence is only about 30 years old. You might think the shroud of Turin is dead. Not so. A new round of experiments are being done right now, they’re not telling you much about them, but it could either make it or break it.

Documented miracle claims

Some of us have thought, „I’ve got a few cases like this in my family. I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but 3 things have happened in my family and I think they qualify as a miracle. And I think, for the most part, Christians have been very much influenced by this naturalistic mindset , and when things happen to us that are miracles, we very frequently, just like the naturalists, maybe not as radically, but we’ll just as frequently say, „Ah, crazy things happen, and we sweep it under the carpet and we forget about it. We don’t really count is as miracles, cause we just really doubt that miracles happen, so we don’t tell anybody. We sort of think miracles occur.

A New Testament scholar, Craig Keener, phD from Duke University in New testament, and a minor in classics, and this is amazing because the classics come into this study. Craig was doing a commentary on the Book of Acts- 3000 pages. Craig is famous for this. He wrote a book ‘The Historical Jesus’ 400 pages and the end notes were 400 pages. Well, his book on Acts has 100,000 parallels with classical studies. So, he’s going through the book of Acts and he comes across these miracle accounts. So, he decided to start collecting evidence for miracle cases. The result is a 2 volume work , that, if you’re interested in this topic, you’ve got to see it, it’s a masterpiece. It has come out in 2 volumes. It’s from Baker Academics, it’s entitled ‘Miracles’. It is 1,200 pages of evidenced miracle claims.

Many of these (miracles), and I know we have a lot of medical people here, if I told you some of these cases you would say, „Mmm, no this doesn’t happen.” Let me tell you one. A fellow who had a spleen removed for medical reasons and when he got out of the hospital, they took him to the church post-op, getting ready for his post-op checkup and they laid hands on and prayed for him. He went back there and he’s got a spleen. He’s got another spleen. No way. What do you do with it? Here’s the before, and here’s the after. They do have cases of where bones have grown on the spot. They do have cases where heart valves have been replaced on the spot. You say, „That can’t happen.” Well, the guy who spread that story- an MD, phD, professor from UCLA School of Medicine, who spent 4 years at Mayo Clinic.

When you read Craig’s accounts, 1,200 pages, after a while you think, Wow, there’s no more room for skepticism.” Or double blind prayer experiments. Not all have turned out very well. Some of the ones that are politically correct- the list of prayers, are from our viewpoint kind of odd, like witch doctors and medicine men. In one well known double blind prayer experiment , if you were prayed for, you were slightly more likely not to be healed. But, the only 2 that I know of double blind prayer experiments that have had statistical favorable healing results through prayer, both of the them, all the prayers were orthodox-Christian (not the orthodox denomination, but orthodox Judeo-Christian beliefs in God- ). I want to make this clear. I think God answers prayer for everybody. He did in biblical times. Jesus didn’t heal people by saying, „Are you a believer? If not, get out of line.” God answered prayer for everyone. Here’s the last line (in that report):

The findings of this double blind prayer experiment are consistent with prayer to the Judeo-Christian God.

This is in a medical journal. (26:00)

Conclusion

What are we doing to further the Christian message and let people know we have reasons to believe in these things?

  1. The best thing we can do to remedy this is to take David Brooks up (the guy from the New York Times), take him at his word, and to be able to show that theism is true, and to further the demise of naturalism. Or, why is theism true, and naturalism false?
  2. Let’s show that Christian doctrine, which no other religion has (we share some things with Judaism), but, for the most part, Christianity has some unique beliefs, Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, He died, was raised from the dead. Are we able to argue, not just the things that overlap with Neural Buddhism, but, worship and afterlife, but specific Christian doctrines, are we ready to do that?

In closing here, there is also an encouraging aspect. I love 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul ends 57 wonderful verses on the resurrection, the earliest most evidential resurrection passage in the New Testament. Paul ends by saying, „Therefore,” verse 58, ” be steadfast, immovable.” You’ve probably seen some of the reports, but between 60-90% of our young people, who go away to secular schools, they walk away from their faiths. Naturalism may be on the downslide, but they don’t know it. And Neuro Buddhism is not gonna be a lot nicer to us. It’s nice that we can believe in religion, but they’re not gonna be a lot nicer to us. Our young people are going away and sliding away from Christianity.

There’s a study that just came out that says many of them come back in their 30’s. But, first of all, many of them don’t, and those who do have lost 15 key years of from their lives. So, Paul says to be steadfast and immovable. But, why aren’t we the bastion of teaching our young people, that Christians have the best, the best possible message in the world? So many people write to me and say, „My professor attacked this, or that… What should I say?” I tell them over, and over again, there are good responses to these things. Read this, consider this. But I tell students, „Think about this, there’s a lot more to Christianity than what I’m gonna say. But, as long as the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus are true, Christianity follows. When someone attacks a periphery thing, I think we go after it 2 ways. We answer the complaint, and then we say to the young people, „That’s not a just reason for walking away form Christianity. Until someone can disprove the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the center of Christianity remains.”

Lastly, same verse, Paul says. „always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  First, he says, „Hang in there, be steadfast, immovable, and in his second point – your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Get out there and do something.”

David Platt – at Liberty University (NEW) with Spanish subtitles – a great message to share with Spanish speaking friends

 

platt

Someone has taken the initiative to do the hard labor of translating and captioning David Platt’s message from a commencement address at Liberty University in 2011. Please share this message with Spanish (only) speaking friends. They will be very blessed by it.

VIDEO by Franco Ronconi

Ravi Zacharias – Good and evil from back in the garden of Eden

RaviI’m a Christian apologist. Apologetics is a discipline that does two things:

  1. It clarifies truth claims
  2. It gives answers to the hard and the soft questions that people ask

So, we are surrounded, all around us in our ministry with questions. A few weeks ago I was doing an open forum at Princeton University, a gentleman stood up and he asked a very interesting question. And he said this, „What is the difference in the milieu, in the idea, in the original creation in the garden, over and against now?” I said, „Oh boy, that’s a long question, let me keep the answer brief.” I said 2 things:

  1. The presence of God
  2. If you remember, in the legal framework there was just one prohibition, and one temptation. Think about that. „You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just one caution, one warning, one law to bear in mind. What happens? The enemy of our souls comes and what does he say? „Did God really say that?” Is this a propositional statement from God? And then the seduction, „In the day that you eat from it you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”

I take that to mean: In the day that you define the one mandate of God- not to defy good and evil- everything wrong will ensue. So, all that happened in that garden was simply  the denial of God’s prerogative to be the definer of good and evil.  And when you look at the world now, I said to the student, you tell me, „What does the world look like now, with thousands of laws, thousands of footnotes, and even when you get on to the plane, they don’t just tell you ‘don’t mess with the smoke detector’, they have to tell you not to tamper, touch, disable or destroy.” Because you can have each word dying the death of a thousand qualifications. What’s really happened, ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a time in cultural history where our definitions have gone.

Malcolm Muckridge talked about this years ago, in the seventies. He said, „It is difficult to resist the conclusion that 20th century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet, that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

You know, the truth of the matter is, that when our definitions are gone, the minefield and the quicksand through which we walk is horrendous. Now you may say that Muckridge was on the verge of his own spiritual journey beginning. He was a humanist like Aldous Huxley: We are living today, not in the delicious intoxication  of the early successes of science, rather in the grizzly morning after, where it has become quite apparent that what science may have actually done is to introduce us to improved means, in order to obtain hither to unimproved, or rather, deteriorated ends.

In Moscow, last week, I told them the story of Natan Sharansky , who was a political prisoner there for many years, and went on to his homeland in Israel and became the Justice Minister. When he returned to Rusisia for the first time, he asked if he could go back to the prison where they kept him for so long. As he was about to enter that little cell, he asked his wife if she would please allow him the privilege  of being there alone for a few minutes. He went back alone and he came back with tears running down his face. He said, „It was here that I really found myself.” And he asked for the privilege to go and lay a wreath at the tomb, at the grave of Andrei Sakharov, the great Russian physicist, who gave to the Soviet Union the atomic bomb. And he quoted Sakharov, and he said this, „Sakharov told me before he died, ‘I always thought the most powerful weapon in the world is the bomb.’ He said, „It is not. The most powerful weapon in the world is the truth.'” Winston Churchill said the truth is the most valuable thing in the world. So valuable, that it is often protected by a bodyguard of lies.

Where do we go from here? What do we do, when those in their punditry have told us years ago where we were headed? Where is America now? Listen to Chesterton: Under the smooth, legal surface of our time, there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking point when we care only for what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions, with no rules, and there will be so many hard cases, that everything will go soft, unless we know the difference between what is lawful and what is legal. Where do we go?

I close with this thought: It was about 3 years ago, the first time I was given the awesome privilege of speaking at the opening day  of the United Nations, on the day of prayer. They asked me to speak on a very difficult subject: The finding of absolutes in a relativistic world. That’s tough on any given day. Even tougher for about 20 minutes at 7 o clock in the morning. What could you do when there is a plurality of worldviews sitting in front of you? So, I did this.I said, „We’re looking for absolutes in four areas.

  1. Evil, how to define evil.
  2. Justice, how do you define what is just.
  3. Love, how do you find the source of love and the absoluteness of love.
  4. and when we blow it, we look for the grounds of forgiveness.

These are the areas that govern our lives, for which we want definitions: evil, justice, love, and forgiveness. I said, „Ladies and Gentlemen, can I ask you this: Do you know of the one place in history where these 4 converge? The one place in history, where evil, justice, love and forgiveness come down to the end of that funnel – there is in the Christian worldview, it happened on a hill called Calvary. The evil that is in the heart of man, the justice that God has,  the love that He portrayed to the very end- ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing’, the forgiveness that we found.” At the age of 17, I was on a bed of suicide in New Delhi, India, having lost all hope. Total failure. When a man brought me a Bible in my hospital room, something I had never opened in my own life, and he opened it to John chapter 14, I won’t go into details. He gave it to my mother, whose English was not that good, reading from the King James version cause he had to leave. Jesus said to Thomas, „Because  I live, you also shall live.I committed my life to Jesus Christ, and the Grand Weaver has drawn a great pattern in the life of somebody who had lost all hope, lost meaning, lost purpose.

You see, when you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created. „You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in Him.” Can I close with this quote? In 1939, the world was on the brink of a lot of darkness. King George VI went to speak to the world, and he said, „I said to the man at the gate of the year”Give me a light, that I may walk into the unknown.” He said to me, „Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you better than the light, and safer than the known.” Graduates, you’re going out into a pretty dark world. Put your hand into God’s hand. Know His absolutes, demonstrate His love, present His truth and the message of redemption, and transformation will take hold. The story is to be told to many. And the experience and joy of transformation is unique. The Gospel alone has that story.

The Old Testament prophets: „Does Biblical Prophecy Fail?” Prophecy 101

Bio from here – http://www.tms.edu/FacultyIntroduction

Michael Grisanti is Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary where his scholarly interests include Deuteronomy, Old Testament theology, biblical ethics, the prophets, and the history of Israel. He has been actively involved in ministries around the world, which have brought him to Colombia, Honduras, Albania, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Russia, and Ukraine. For several years, he taught at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

 Grisanti has contributed to The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis,Eerdman’s Dictionary of the BibleBible Knowledge Key Word Study Set, and the Baker Handbook to the Bible. He wrote the forthcoming commentary on Deuteronomy in revised The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, and the forthcoming volume on the prophets in the Handbook on Old Testament Exegesis series.  He co-authored The Word and the World: An Introduction to the OT (B & H). He has also served as editor or co-editor of The Bible Version Debate: The Perspectives of Central Baptist Theological Seminaryand Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts. He has written numerous articles on Old Testament topics which have been published in Bibliotheca SacraThe Master’s Seminary Journal, and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
  • Professor of Old Testament
  • B.A., Pillsbury Baptist Bible College
  • M.Div., Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Th.M., Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary

Biblical Studies Symposium with Dr. Michael Grisanti

A lecture that helps us understand some of the more difficult parts of the Old Testament- The prophets. The points Dr. Grisanti answers are:

  1. To get a better understanding of prophetic passages, a part of the Bible believers find difficult to understand
  2. Not all statements of biblical prophets about the future are going to find fulfillment in the way it’s stated
  3. To understand why some prophetic predictions are not fulfilled and why nonfulfillment does not deny anything about God’s character as the all powerful God. It is not a question about His ability.
  4. To better handle the word of truth in prophetic literature through some of the key issues discussed

Published on Oct 3, 2012 by  The Liberty University School of Religion’s Biblical Studies Symposium hosted Dr. Michael Grisanti on September 17th, 2012. Dr. Grisanti, co-author of The World and the Word, joined us from the Master’s Seminary for the day. He addressed students and faculty in the Towns Alumni Lecture Hall on the topic of „Does Biblical Prophecy Fail?”

Here are some extensive NOTES from the Symposium:

I. Some basic issues in prophetic literature.

Of all the sections of the Bible, many believers struggle with understanding prophetic passages. It is also a section of the Old Testament where the debate rages. Since we live in challenging times and we have a biblical anticipation of God’s plan for the future, we want to understand God’s intention for the end times. Tonight I want to focus on only one primary issue that affects our understanding of the message of the prophets. And that is the issue of conditional predictions.

A. Key terms – Conditional and Contingent Predictions

Here are some key terms I want to talk about. In general, something that’s conditional is not guaranteed. Conditional love, for example is love that is dependent on  what someone else does. Unconditional love, like God’s love is not impacted by conduct. So, conditions introduce an „if” or a „maybe” to a statement, or a promise. The ideas „contingency” or „contingent” are near synonyms of conditional. If it is contingent, it depends on something else for it to take place. So, in what way do these terms „conditional” or „contingent” play a role in the prophetic statements? After all, don’t all prophetic promises or predictions find fulfillment? If a biblical prophet is speaking on God’s behalf, then, what’s the question? Aren’t all predictions either pointing to the Messiah, or providing information about an event on a prophetic calendar? As much as I am grateful for God bringing history to pass, through predictions made through Old Testament prophets, which I am totally confident in, a careful study of Old Testament predictive passages actually demonstrates that the function of these predictions is not just to affirm promises that God gave that these will happen, although that’s an important part of it.

B. Important Distinction: Forthtelling and Foretelling

Forthtelling – For years scholars have recognized a key distinction in prophetic writings between forthtelling and foretelling, or preaching and predicting. A majority of prophetic passages involve the biblical prophet addressing his immediate audience. The forthtelling, or preaching, which is often future oriented, the forthtelling or preaching by a prophet usually falls into two categories:

  1. First, he indicts God’s people for committing covenant treachery. They have betrayed their covenant Lord from the inside out. 
  2. Second, the prophet exhorts his fellow israelites to repent, or face covenant judgment, or cursing. Then finally he looks to future restoration after Israel experiences the promised judgment and repents of the rebellion.

The prophets are preaching to change lives. They are not just preaching to provide eschatological data. That’s part of what they do, but not all that they do. In a much smaller number of passages, the prophets provide detailed statements about what God will do in the future. Scholars have offered various estimates of how much of what a prophet declares involves long range predictions- 5% to, I would suggest 20-30% of the Old Testament prophetic passages deal with a more distant prediction. Just as an example: Think about the prophet Amos. Amos 1:1-9:10 focuses primarily on Amos’s immediate audience and the issue of their covenant disloyalty promises judgment. Only the last five verses (Amos 9:11-15) give attention to the distant future. And, we need to keep that in mind as we understand the prophets.

In addition to revealing God’s future intent, these predictions also give weight to God’s call for repentance. The idea is that it wasn’t just a hortatory (encouraging) function, that what God predicts isn’t just taking up space. What God predicts is meant to drive God’s people to repentance. While prophetic predictions can function i what’s called performatively, that is referring to something that God will unilaterally bring to pass, they can do that. A lot of predictive discourses are dynamic in tending to change the hearer’s personally. So, oracles of salvation present good news, providing incentive, motivating change. And then, judgment oracles presented the bad news are deterrents to refusing change.

Keep in mind that a number of prophetic statements concerning the future are not guaranteed to take place. They may have a built in conditionality, or contingency. We’ll spend more time at the end of this session to study how to sort out what might be conditional  and what is sure to find fulfillment. And also be sure to recognize that not all predictive statements involve predictions about the distant future. Prophets focus a great deal of their preaching in waiting and charging their current audience to repent from their rebellion and embrace the covenant relationship that the Lord offered them.

II. Where does the Bible Talk about Conditional Language?

Let’s examine some biblical passages that offer these conditional passages of contingency or conditionality  in prophetic literature(8:40):

Jeremiah 18:7-10 is a primary one: If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. In Jeremiah 18, the Lord sent the prophet to the potter’s house to  provide an object lesson, for Jeremiah’s audience, then and now in verses 1-2. As the prophet was forming the clay into a certain kind of a jar, it didn’t meet his expectations. So, he shaped that same clay into a different jar.

The Lord’s object in this lesson was that just as the potter had the authority to reshape the clay in the kind of a jar the potter wanted, the Lord was able to carry out His will with Israel- directing their steps, demanding their allegiance, punishing their treachery, or blessing their obedience. Just like the potter who determines the shape of the clay will take, as the Creator and as the sovereign of Israel, Yahweh has absolute authority to determine the destiny for His chosen people, as well as any nation.  That brings us to the verses that describe God’s freedom to change the direction of intentions for His subjects- see above Jeremiah 18:7-10. I will relent occurs twice in the passage. The net Bible translates this verb as ‘cancel’. Scholars are reluctant to translate it „changing My mind”, because some see that as contradicting Numbers 23:19- God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Remember that Jeremiah 18 is given under the Mosaic covenant, which connects blessings with obedience, curses with disobedience)

photo via http://www.faughnfamily.com

via http://www.faughnfamily.com

So, if we’re going to interpret biblical prophecy correctly, it’s important to understand that God’s intention sometime depends or is contingent upon the behavior of mankind. Not all prophetic predictions will come to pass. That understanding and realization raises a couple of other important points (12:00):

  1. While some predictions have explicit conditions, and there are a handful of them in many predictive passages- conditions are either implicit or totally unstated. In these cases, where there is no explicit statement on condition, one cannot assure from the form of the statement  whether it’s conditional or unconditional. For this reason, the recipient of such a message, at times does what is appropriate, declaring, „Who knows? The Lord may be gracious,” like in 2 Samuel 12:22 and in some other passages. In the book of Jonah, for example, there is no indication of God’s pronouncing judgment on Niniveh had a „maybe” clause. On the other side of the coin, Nathan’s announcement on the impending death of the child born to Bathsheba is an example of one that turned out being unconditional. The child, despite David’s repentance and grief passed away. But, still he acted as if there was hope. He prayed as if there was hope, but God’s will was for the child to pass away. As you can see, the conditional nature of a prophetic prediction  is not always clearly signaled in the passage. And that makes it challenging for us. 
  2. This is very important: The issue of conditionality’s or a contingency of  predictive statements never, NEVER represent a debate about what God CAN do. The biblical prophecy never questions God’s ability or power to bring to pass what they predicted. However, in many cases, they left room for a different outcome, especially if the conditions that had provoked the prophecy in the first place to change. In other words, it indicates the outcome of a prophecy is conditioned by the response of the people to the prophetic word. This does not indicate nay kind of failure on the part of God’s word. Indeed, God indicates in Jeremiah 18 that this conditionality is part of His sovereign will and relates to the sovereign right to do such things. And, I would suggest to you that a biblical prophet, when he announced a prediction, knowing that there’s this built in conditionality, would have regarded that as a word from God, and the listeners would have been challenged to accept it as having divine authority behind it, and something to be taken very seriously. (16:00)
  3. There’s some other indications of contingency in these verses. These are passages that have the word ‘perhaps’ in them: Ezekiel 12:3 there is this unknown feature, sometimes ‘perhaps’ was offering a condition. Since most of the Old Testament predictions take place against the back drop of the Mosaic covenant, they draw on that paradigm of blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience Leviticus 16, Deuteronomy 28. So, consequently, outside of certain bedrock predictive realities, prophetic declarations of judgment and blessing that drew on the authority of the Mosaic Covenant possesses an element of built in contingency. If God’s people repented, God would spare them from promised judgment.If they rebelled, He would change blessing to cursing. The fact that a prophet of God declares a prediction does not bind God to bring about the fulfillment. Whether or not He fulfills a predictive statement ultimately depends on His character and will, and expectation of the subjects, and whether they choose to obey.

photo via http://www.ubdavid.org

So, while recognizing presence of  contingency or conditionality in almost all predictive prophecies that are couched against the backdrop of the Mosaic Covenant, let’s clarify some terms:

  1. A conditional prophecy represents a scenario that may or may not take place, depending on the response of the people. When I talk about conditional prophecy I am not saying that every predictive statement should have a „maybe” at the beginning- a significant degree of question.
  2. With unconditional prophecy, however, the fulfillment depends exclusively on the character of God, the basis of its realization.

How do we determine if a given prediction is conditional and will not take place, or it has some kind of unilateral nature, and can be expected as something that will happen.  Some predictions will come to pass exactly as predicted and I hope you will see that this prophetic conditionality is a biblical idea. God Himself leaves room in His intentions for mankind, depending on human conduct. Having said that, recognizing the issue of conditional prophecy leads to another passage we need to understand correctly. The issue of contingency and prophetic conditions written about in Jeremiah 18, and some other passages, may look like it comes into conflict with a true or divinely authorized prophecy, given in Deuteronomy 18.

Deuteronomy 18:21-2221 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

In this passage, Moses provides a simple two fold test when trying to determine whether or not a prophet spoke with God’s authority. (1) His message cohered with the rest of scripture and (2) any predictions he made came to pass. Whenever a prophet made a prediction, the failure of that prediction to come to pass was an absolute verdict about the prophet’s lack of  divine authority. While the fulfillment of the prediction, by itself did not prove the authenticity of the prophet, failed prophecies served as an unmistakable occasion of his treachery.

Critical scholars resolve this tension by regarding the Deuteronomic traditions as contradictory to the later biblical traditions. Deuteronomy 18 is out of place, and so, they get rid of it that way. Evangelicals generally view this prophetic criterion as a rule to which there are only rare exceptions. Some evangelicals would suggest that one should assume that Moses and his audience realized that unqualified predictions had implied conditions. If this dynamic was well known, then He would not have to repeat it explicitly when he offered his criterion in Deuteronomy 18. The point is, they would assume this conditionality is present. They would have understood that that whole idea of conditionality was assumed in the conversation. On the one hand, it’s quite clear that Moses’s prophetic test winds up taking into consideration the concept of conditional language, as we see in Jeremiah 18. And the fact that Yahweh was known as a God who relents from promised punishment in dozens of OT passages, that fact would provide the theological rationality to this understanding. It’s based in the character of God.

On the other hand, the passage seems to suggest that more often than not , especially in a short or near term, prophetic predictions by a true prophet would come to pass. Also, the criterion for fulfilled prophecy that would be most appropriate for short range prediction, rather than for those of the distant future. It would be hard to apply the test of Deuteronomy 18 to something beyond a prophet’s lifetime.

Having talked about the idea of contingency, and having looked at Jeremiah 18 and Deuteronomy 18, that they’re not in conflict with one another, that they cohere with one another, to look at additional examples of conditional prophecy. (24:00)

IV. Commonly Cited Examples of Conditional Prophecy

What do we do with those passages that have no explicit conditions?

A. Implicit conditions in the ministry of Jonah. Jonah 3:4- „In 40 days, Nineveh will be demolished.. ‘ No condition given. On two separate occasions the Lord commanded Jonah to preach against Nineveh. Jonah’s message sounded something like this: The clock is ticking and you people are doomed for sure. However, the people of Nineveh, and including their king, listened to Jonah’s message and repented of wickedness, acting out that sorrow, by putting on sackcloth and fasting. In light of this development, Yahweh had compassion on them, and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened in chap. 3:10, where it says, the Lord relented from this prophesied destruction. Now, the absence of any conditions embedded in the decree that God made to Jonah, does not preclude the contingency or the conditionality of the declaration. The possibility of the contingency or conditionality are part of the prophetic condition. Jonah’s response to Yahweh’s original command to preach to the Ninevites seemed to indicate belief in the implicit conditionality of this function. One of the purposes of the book of Jonah is to demonstrate  that Yahweh was able to exercise  His sovereign will, and even to modify His fulfillment of a prophetic declaration in spite of His great mercy and the repentance of a people to whom He gave His message of judgment.

B. The prophetic denunciation of King Ahab. In 1 Kings 21 Naboth, an Israelite from Jezreel refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab. Queen Jezebel arranged for Naboth’s death, through deception and the King would have to go claim now his land, that had been a covenant stewardship, the land was a gift to Naboth from God. In the wake of that treachery, that involved land given by God Himself, Yahweh told Elijah, the prophet to tell Ahab in 1 Kings 21:19-22: 

 You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin.

However, when they had heard the prophetic denunciations, as he acted out his repentance by tearing his clothes and putting on sack cloth and fasting; in response to that the Lord told Elijah: “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”  Eventually, Ahab did die in battle and the dogs did lick up his blood- at a different place, in Samaria, not Jezreel. But, the Lord did not bring an end to Ahab’s dynasty with him. It happened with 2 kings, 2 sons later. This change in God’s promise of judgment on Ahab indicates that God is willing to make national prophecies conditioned on human response.

C. God gives Hezekiah additional years of life

2 Kings 20:1-6 = Isaiah 38:1-6 And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Fairly cut and dry. Hezekiah asks God to remember his life and reign that was characterized by faithfulness, and he wept bitterly in verses 2-3. But, even before Isaiah has left the building, the Lord sent Isaiah back to tell Hezekiah of his grace and provision, and of 15 additional years of life in vv.4-6. Hezekiah’s request that God give him additional years of life was the human occasion of God granting Hezekiah request. Isaiah’s original statement was not a false prophetic declaration. But, one that God in His wisdom changed. (28:00)

D. Huldah’s prophecy of Josiah’s death

2 Kings 22:15-20 – 18 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, 19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king.  Then we have the prophetess Huldah’s prophecy of Josiah’s death. Huldah said that Josiah would die in peace, but he died in a battle with the Egyptian army. Bob Chism contends that if we view Huldah’s prediction as performative- like a prediction, then we must conclude that Huldah’s prediction is an unfulfilled prophecy. If we regard the prophecy as implicitly conditional, and allow for human freedom, we can conclude that Josiah’s decision to become embroiled in international politics compromised God’s ideal. Even so, the promise was fulfilled i its essence for Josiah, for Josiah went to the grave without having to see Jerusalem’s downfall.

This is one of those examples that may not be, to me, a good example of conditional prophecy. After a lengthy announcement of the horrible disaster that would come upon Judah in chapter 22:15-19, Huldah tells Josiah he will die in peace. Huldah promises Josiah specifically that he will not go through this devastation. And, although there are predicitons that seem to be essentially other than totally fulfilled, Huldah’s prediction does not seem to be one of them. It makes good sense that Josiah’s death before the defeat of Jerusalem was the very privilege that Huldah had in mind. At the time of his death, Judah was still intact as a nation. Josiah did not have to experience the terrible tragedies to come upon the nation. In addition to this, Chronicles expands the incident and points out Josiah died in battle because he didn’t listen to those words from the mouth of God. We know that Yahweh sometimes uses foreign rulers to sometime carry out His plans. Apparently Josiah was rejecting the idea that Yahweh was sending the Egyptians or the Babylonians and jumped in the way.

E. Ezekiel’s Prophecy of the Babylonian Conquest of Tyre and Egypt

Ezekiel 26:3-14 – Three Panels.

In Ezekiel 26 God declares to Nebuchadnezzar that He will destroy and vanquish the city of Tyre, up in the land of modern Lebanon. However, 16 years later, Ezekiel receives another declaration in which the Lord promises Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar instead. Ezekiel 29:17-21. Did the first prophecy fail? That Nebuchadnezzar would utterly destroy Tyre? And, why doesn’t the penalty of Deuteronomy 18 apply to the prophet, because is happened in the near term? Now, although Nebuchadnezzar did beseech Tyre for 13 years, Chism suggests that his inability to conquer the fortress of Tyre- there was a mainland city and an island fortress. Nebuchadnezzar was predominantly able to conquer the mainland fortress, but the island fortress was untouched. Chism suggests that Nebuchadnezzar’s ability to conquer the island fortress of Tyre represents a non fulfillment of this prediction. In other words, the prediction in Ezekiel 26 was contingent, or conditional. Ezekiel himself writes, the Lord promised Nebuchadnezzar an abundance of spoils from Egypt, because of the siege of Tyre had not generated the expected plunder. Beyond that, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 568-567 B.C. there is debate considering the impact of that invasion.

In addition to the ideas that Ezekiel’s 2 oracles against Tyre demonstrate the conditional narrative of predictive prophecy, another possibility is the language of the oracle in Ezekiel 29 involves hyperbolic or stereotypical language. The idea is that the language of destruction is meant to talk about the demise of Tyre as a power, not through the art of destruction. If so, the language that refers to the demise of Tyre does not anticipate all of the details, but, a central idea essential for fulfillment. The problem with this suggestion is that the graphic language and instruction in Ezekiel 26 which at least anticipates, at least the demise of Tyre as an independent city- which did not happen as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege.

Another possibility is that Ezekiel 26:3-14 anticipates that other nations besides Nebuchadnezzar will serve as God’s instrument of judgment upon Tyre. As demonstrated in the text below, the first and third panels focus on „they”, the nations destroying Tyre with the middle section focusing on Nebuchadnezzar’s role and the destruction of Tyre. So we have these 3 panels.

My transcribing ends at the 35:00 minute mark. There are another 45 minutes of the symposium left. To watch the rest of it queue the start button at the 35 th minute.

David Jeremiah – ‘God loves you; He always has, He always will’ at Liberty University

That comes to a great surprise for a lot of people, because, if we’re not careful, we believe that God’s love is like ours. How many of you know that our love has a lot of ‘ifs’ in it? I love you if… I love you if you treat me right. I love you if you’re handsome or if you’re beautiful, or if you achieve. God’s love doesn’t have any ifs in it. God loves you because it is His nature to love you. And it is true to say that God loves you, He always has and He always will. It is also true to say that nothing you can ever do will make God love you more than He loves you right now. And nothing you can ever do can make Him love you less than He loves you right now. Because, God doesn’t love you so much because of what’s in you, God loves you because of what’s in Him. And God is love  and love comes from God.

Whenever I say that and there are young people around, they always say, „Yeah, but what if I don’t love God? He still loves me?” That’s what I want to talk to you about today. I want to share a story from Luke 15.

  • God loves you even when you don’t love Him.

Published on Oct 4, 2012 by 

On October 3, 2012 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Dr. David Jeremiah, Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, shared with students the parable of the prodigal son and spoke about God’s love. He emphasized that, „God loves you. He always has, and He always will.”
Dr. Jeremiah is also the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries. His church, Shadow Mountain Community Church, is one of the largest churches in San Diego County. Dr. Jeremiah is also the author of several books, including his most recent, „God Loves You: He Always Has — He Always Will.”

Kirk Cameron’s personal testimony as a „recovering atheist” at Liberty University

 

Actor Kirk Cameron, at Calvary Baptist Church ...

Published on Oct 8, 2012 by 

On October 5, 2012 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Kirk Cameron shared his personal testimony as a „recovering atheist” with students and alumni during Homecoming Weekend.
Cameron is an actor/producer who first became famous when he starred as Mike Seaver on ABC’s „Growing Pains” in the 1980s. He is also well known for his role in „Fireproof,” the highest grossing independent film of 2008 that focused on the importance of Christian values in marriage, as a star in the „Left Behind” movies, created from the bestselling books by longtime Liberty supporter Tim LaHaye, and as producer of the new documentary, „Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure.” He continues to impact the world for Christ through marriage seminars and speaking engagements across the country, as co-host of The Way of the Master television series, and through interviews with major television news networks.
Read more about Kirk Cameron’s visit here: http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=66127

 

David Platt – Liberty University Convocation

At the conclusion of Luke 14 at verse 43 Jeuss says, „If anyone would come after me, he must give up everything he has”. So, there it is: Give up everything you have, pick up an instrument of torture (the cross) and hate your mom and dad. That’s a lot different than admit, believe, confess, and pray the prayer. You get to Luke chapter 18, an eager guy, a young guy with money comes up to Him. If anybody needs to be in, this guy needs to be in. Think of all that he can do for the kingdom. (If) this guy gets saved, you put him on the circuit…

Unfortunately, Jesus did not have the personal evangelism methods that we have today and He looked back at him and said, „Go sell everything you have. Give it all to the poor. Then come follow me”. And the man turned away. And Jesus, here’s what’s scary, Jesus seemed to be ok with that.

So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these people in the first century. What if Jesus said these things to us? Now, some people say, „Now Dave, you’ve got to be careful here, maybe we’re not all ready or mature enough to think about this”. Don’t miss it: This was the introduction to Jesus in the Gospels. So what if your introduction to Jesus- instead of repeating the words after me as you pray this prayer- what if your introduction to was: Go sell everything you have? And give it to the poor? and hate your mom and dad? or give up everything?

And this is where we come face to face with a frightening reality: Jesus HAS said these things to us. He has told everyone of us in this room to give up everything we have. He has told us to love Him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world, look like hate in comparison. And we don’t see in Scripture that He has commanded every single follower of His to sell everything they own. But the reality is that He COULD say this to any one of us in this room.
We don’t believe this. We take passages like this and we say, „What Jesus really means was…” And this is where  we need to be really careful because this is where we start redefining Christianity according to our own preferences. We start taking the Jesus of the Bible and saying, „Well, what He really meant was…” and we fill in the blank with the Jesus that we’re a little more comfortable with. A Jesus that fits our lifestyle a little better. A nice, middle class, American Jesus, who looks like us and thinks like us, a Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism, a Jesus who is ok with nominal and half hearted, lukewarm devotion. A Jesus who would not call us to dangerous extremes and for that matter, a Jesus who wants us to avoid danger altogether.

But here’s the real danger: Now, we’re taking the Jesus of the Bible and we’re twisting Him into our image, so He looks like us, and thinks like us and aligns with us and when we gather together in our churches and our worship services and we sing our songs and we lift up our hands, the reality is that we are not worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. We are singing to and worshiping ourselves. And we think we’re worshiping Jesus. So I want you to see in this text who Jesus is. He is the Savior who is worthy of all your trust.

Luke 9:57 – The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

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David Platt – Liberty University Convocation, posted with vodpod

Mark Driscoll’s message at Liberty University (April 20,2012)

Published on Apr 20, 2012 by 

On April 20, 2012 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Pastor Mark Driscoll spoke to Liberty University students from Luke 15:11–32, the parable of the prodigal son, on the topic of „The Rebellious and the Religious.” His premise was that sin and religion are equally contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He closed by challenging students to make the most of their time while studying at Liberty.
„Do not waste these years on rebellion. Do not waste these years on religion. Get to know Jesus, He loves you very much,” he said.

Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., and is one of the world’s most quoted pastors. He was named one of the „25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years” by „Preaching” magazine and his sermons are consistently No. 1 on iTunes each week for Religion & Spirituality, with millions of downloads each year. He is also the author of 15 books.

David Platt – Jesus is enough at Liberty University

There’s 6.8 billion people in the world. The most liberal estimate puts the world at about 1/3 christian, and that’s people in many contexts who claim christianity more as a social or political identification. But, even if we assumed that all of those people are actually followers of Christ that would still leave over 4 1/2 billion people who at this moment are without Christ and are on a road that leads to an eternal hell, everlasting suffering. That’s spiritual need; add on top of that physical need, the reality that today alone, while we enjoy all that we have here, today 26,000 children will die of either starvation or preventable disease. If this is true in the world around us, then we do not have time to play games with our lives and we do not have time to play games in the church. We have a master who demands radical sacrifice and a mission that warrants radical urgency and so in the next few minutes I want to call you based on the authority of God’s word. I want to call you to abandon your plans, your dreams, your ideas, your possessions, all of your hopes of living out a nice, comfortable, middle class American christianity. I want to call you to abandon it all to make the glory of Christ known to every nation in the world. I want to show you that there is no better way that you can spend your life than making His worth known among all peoples.

Luke 9:57  The Cost of Following Jesus

 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

On February 18, 2011 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, bestselling author and pastor Dr. David Platt commissioned Liberty University students to present their lives as „blank checks” and to surrender their gifts and talents to be used in ways that will advance the kingdom of God. Platt is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and author of the bestselling book „Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.”

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