Apologetics, the study and practice of defending the Christian faith, has always been a part of the historical church. In fact, it dates back to the New Testament when the Apostle Paul entered the Greek city of Athens and debated the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (see Acts 17). The Apostle Peter even commanded his readers to always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15; NASB). Defending the faith continued on after the apostolic era with Christian theologians and philosophers developing arguments for God’s existence, defending miracles, and providing good reasons to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he was raised from the dead. Even today, especially in the last several decades, Apologetics continues to thrive as apologists like William Lane Craig and the popular Lee Strobel develop and write about the arguments and reasons for faith in God and Christ. Continue reading
In his little book Should We Use Someone Else’s Sermon? Preaching in a Cut-and-Paste World, Scott Gibson discusses the out-of-control problem of preachers plagiarizing their sermons. One minister, W. Banwell “Barney” Heyward Jr., lost his job after admitting to plagiarizing sermons from Tim Keller, minister of Redeemer Church in New York City. Another minister, Robert C. Hamm of Keen United Church of Christ, resigned when he was confronted with his plagiarism. In this case, Hamm had copied and pasted entire sermons from the internet and preached them as if they were his own. Example after example, Gibson relays how preachers are copying and pasting sermons, and then preaching them as if they are their own. The problem is clear: more and more preachers are plagiarizing their sermons. Continue reading
In my last post (found here), I reflected upon this year’s North American Christian Convention (NACC). In that post I commented upon “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of the convention, and concluded that the NACC was a mixed bag of philosophies, indicating that the NACC (and the Restoration Movement in general) has an identity crisis. Many left comments in response to my blog. One especially significant comment came from next year’s NACC president, Mike Baker. He stated, Continue reading
With the North American Christian Convention (NACC) concluding just last week, it is a good time to reflect upon the entire event while it is still relatively fresh in the mind. I was present for the entire week (except Friday), “manning” the Louisville Bible College booth, meeting and greeting old friends and new friends, and even taking in a session or two along with a few workshops. As any good philosophical theologian, I listened attentively to all the speakers and focused my attention on my surroundings. What were the messages being conveyed? Who was there? Why were they there? Overall, I found the entire experience to be a gallimaufry (look it up; it’s a great descriptive word) of messages. In the end, the NACC epitomizes the good, the bad, and the ugly of a Christian movement with an identity crisis. Continue reading
(This address was given on May 10, 2014 at the Commencement of Louisville Bible College by Dr. Peter Rasor. This address may not be used in part or whole without the permission of the author.)
Welcome parents, grandparents, children, relatives, and loved ones. On behalf of Louisville Bible College, I thank you for participating in this momentous occasion—this milestone of those graduating today. Congratulations, graduates.
It has been said that I am “scary.” I am not certain what this is in reference to. Perhaps it is because I tend to “bleed” on papers and exams. Whatever the reason, something more scary than myself exists in this world: it is the war that we Christians are engaged in. Continue reading
(This article was co-authored with Dr. Jack Cottrell, Professor of Theology at Cincinnati Christian University.)
In the March 2014 issue of Christian Standard, Matt Proctor, the president of Ozark Christian College, presented OCC’s attempt to set forth a Biblical case for allowing women to teach and/or preach in church meetings “on occasion.” (See Proctor’s article here.) Continue reading
“Many [colleges] have been captured by stealth and their guns deliberately turned against the citadel of God’s Word. We must with zeal and generosity support the schools among us that are true to teachings of our Master, and the sinews of war and new recruits must be withheld from the training camps where the order of the day is doubt instead of faith.” –R. C. Foster 
American history is littered with examples of progressives infiltrating fine Christian colleges and universities and then corrupting their sound theology and mission. Continue reading
Budding Theologian: I worry that, of all the analogies throughout the Bible, we overemphasize the “sacrifice as payment for sins” idea at the expense of the others. In chapter 6 of The Cross of Christ, John Stott even says the sacrificial system is the best way to understand the atonement, but he doesn’t give any reasons. He just assumes the reader will agree. So, I can’t help but ask, “Why?” Why not look at all the analogies and let them inform each other? After reading other views, especially some within the Christus Victor tradition, I now see them everywhere in the NT. Before, since I was only conscious of PS, I completely missed out on them. Continue reading
(Note: This is the second installment of an on-going dialogue about the Atonement. See the previous post for the first installment.)
Budding Theologian: Thanks for the response. I was glad to see you recommend John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. It’s actually on my very long “books to read” list. I just so happened to have a copy of the book’s sixth chapter, “The Self-Substitution of God,” so I read it after reading your post. Below are a couple of things I wanted to flesh out so you know where I’m coming from.
When you say the atonement is primarily about Christ’s death I think you’re right. But I still can’t separate it from the problem of sin and the incarnation. Without the problem of sin Christ’s death becomes unnecessary, right? Also, not just anyone could have died for our sins. A man could not have died to save us from our sins. This is where I get into cloudy territory in my ability to comprehend God’s nature–but even God, The Father, couldn’t have died to save us from our sins. It had to be Jesus Christ, The Son. Continue reading
(Note: the following is a dialogue that occurred between a budding theologian and me. I hope you enjoy the unique format here in this post. This dialogue will continue in at least two future posts. Enjoy!)
Budding Theologian: I read the article on the atonement you posted [on FB] yesterday. I found it intensely interesting because I’ve been reading up on different views of it all summer.
I judge atonement theories on how well they incorporate the problem of sin, the teachings/life/example of Christ, the incarnation, Christ’s death, and resurrection. If any one of those factors is absent in the theory, then it is inadequate. Funny enough, almost no theory alone incorporates them all by itself. For example, moral influence theories generally do not say anything about the resurrection or incarnation. Even after reading Jack Cottrell’s book Set Free! I get the feeling that the penal substitution theory isn’t good enough by itself either. It accounts for the incarnation, death, and half the problem of sin (hence, Cottrell’s double cure for sin). But to include the resurrection and finish the second part of the problem of sin, Cottrell has to bring in ideas from the Christus Victor (CV) model and the better moral influence (MI) models (some of the MI models are really terrible). Since I approach it this way, it seems to me there is no overarching theory of the atonement. We have to look at each one to see what is worthy of Christ and which ones are lacking. Continue reading