Category Archives: Apologetics

Book Review; Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Ooookkaayy… this should be interesting.  So, my philosophy is not to comment on something either glowingly or negatively unless I’ve read or watched it myself, especially if it is of a controversial nature.  It seemed like everywhere I turned in Christendom people were discussing this book, or warning others not to discuss the book…so I knew I had to read it and review it.  I have to be clear; this is my introduction to Bell.  I have no former gripe or praise for him, no angle to work for or against him.

Hopefully, I’m going to do something a little bit different in this review, as other reviews have already rightly attacked the factual flaws in Bell’s work.  If you want that style of review,  you can get one here: God is Still Holy and What you Learned in Sunday School is Still True: A Review of  “Love Wins.” I don’t agree with everything in the review, but it gives a good overview of many of Bell’s problems.

No, I want to approach this a bit differently and talk about implications.  First, let me say…I can’t believe this book, Love Wins, was actually published…I mean, I get why.  It’s going to make a ton of money, but it’s content is illogical, and its style is unpolished.  I’m really struggling with this review because I can’t believe that people would change their view on God, Heaven, or Hell based on this book.  The “gotcha” questions Bell proposes in the first bit of the book are easily answered by anyone versed in Apologetics, not just well-versed, just versed.  They are “milk” type questions…and are eerily reminiscent of the list of “questions” found on fundamentalist atheist websites.

For example, Bell asks, “What saves someone?”  I answer, and the Bible answers; Grace through Faith.  Bell asks, “Well, isn’t faith an action, and hence a work.”  I answer; No, something can be an action without being a work.  The Israelites were not allowed to work on Sabbath, were they allowed to think?  Sure.  Were they allowed to love?  Sure.  Where they allowed to trust (that’s faith)? Sure.  So, the big answer to all Bell’s rhetorical style questions is; we make it in by grace through faith, and faith is not a work.  QED.

So, moving on, what do I mean that I want to approach this review by implications?  I mean, what are the implications IF Bell’s thesis is right?  The implication of Bell’s thesis is that God is a monster…in fact He’d be the very monster Bell decries.  Bell clearly says that love can’t be forced, but the logical implication (reading Bell) is that it can be.  In the end, says Bell, everyone will succumb to God’s love and turn to God willingly.  That is a logical contradiction.  To be free will there must be true choice, but in this case, just by looking at Bell’s title; Love Wins, one can see there isn’t.

“Love wins.”  I didn’t know love was in a competition.  I didn’t know it was out to beat me.  But, I guess I was wrong.  Bell feels that God will so smufficate a person with love, they WILL respond and turn to Him either in this life in the next.  I resent the implication.  I resent his maligning of God’s character and God’s love.  God is not a rapist, nor is He a brainwasher.  Bell’s thesis is creepy in the extreme.  If you want to debate Hell, fine.  Annihilation vs. punishment, fine. Universalism, fine.  I even love to discuss the possibility CS Lewis raises that Hell is locked on the inside. But by claiming that God “wears you down” over long periods of time til you cave…why would anyone think that is acceptable from a Holy Loving God?

Bell’s implication is that God is neither Holy nor really Loving in any true sense, nor Just; He’s just interested in making sure every human being can be put on some Heavenly tally sheet.  Bell’s implication is also that evangelism is pointless, and so is suffering in this life.  What I mean by that is that everything winds up the same for everyone given enough time in the life to come.  A rapist that rejects love and God in this life gets an infinite series of chances to accept God’s gift of salvation, and in fact, will indeed come to accept it because nothing can stand up to God’s love.  We call that brainwashing.  A brainwashed individual is not acting under free will.  Jesus suffered when He observed that He had tried and tried to get through to the Jewish people, but “they would not.”  Why so upset if they were all going to be A-OK through all eternity?

Now, I completely understand someone being frustrated by evangelists trying to scare the crap out of someone to get them to believe in a loving God.  Fortunately I wasn’t raised that way.  For me, it has ALWAYS been about love and choice; true love and true freedom in choice.  I trust God to be just while still believing that Hell is real.  If we want to talk about Him giving every human an equal and fair chance at Heaven, I’m there.  If you want to point out that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, that they choose it, I’m there.  If you want to point out the Devil is not in charge in Hell, and that it may not be all physical torture and pitchforks, I’m there.  But I draw the line at clearly maligning God, Our Father’s, character.

Briefly; other problems.  Horrible hermeneutics, flawed logic, sloppy writing, and whoever set up the actual book format…well, they shouldn’t win any prizes.  Plus, Bell dances around any reference to eternal contempt for some alongside eternal life for others, and ignores bulk passages that clearly indicate that faith in Christ is required to enter Heaven, that we die and then the judgment happens, etc… Not to mention he tries to describe Heaven, and it’s implications…he should’ve left that to Alcorn’s book “Heaven.”

I love books that make readers consider things from a new angle…this wasn’t one of them.  I’ve read another book recently that I guess I should’ve reviewed instead; “If Grace is True: Why God will save every person” by Gulley and Mulholland.  I didn’t agree with them either, esp. since they deny Christ’s sacrifice was necessary; however, their book was set up logically enough to review in a succinct way.  I feel Bell is theologically and intellectually dishonest, either unconsciously or on purpose.  He seems to be the type trying to “out moral” God…it just won’t work, and this isn’t the reference I’d turn to if I were to try.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Ministries, Reviews, Theology, Uncategorized

Quit mourning your faith…

I’ve found that where there is a group of Christians who are gathered together to discuss things such as salvation, sanctification, etc… with outsiders to the faith, that there is a tendency to grow very very serious indeed, not just over the subject matter (which is indeed serious), but also in manner, and word, and countenance.  I think that can very easily give outsiders the wrong impression of what it is like to be a Christian.  After all, Christ came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.

When there is a group of believers that have become used to singing the old tried and true hymns, but have…grown old with them, oftentimes the singing becomes more of a dirge.  There remains no overflowing of joy or even realization of what the words are actually saying, or their implications of the GOOD NEWS of the gospel.

Why do Christians tend this way, when it is a very very joyous thing to be a Christian?  God is not some cosmic killjoy, nor do we earn extra brownie points the more we walk around with a frown on our faces.  To many outsiders this is a poor witness.  I don’t mean to imply we should be walking around with big silly grins on our faces (if that calls to mind a certain highly popular motivational speaker in the Christian world *cough*Osteen*cough* it is unintentional), however, one of the fruits of the Spirit is Joy.

One problem is that there is a certain fringe segment of the Christian population who has perverted that aspect of the Spirit into some dog and pony show with people laughing and rolling around on the ground/in between the pews.  The joy that scripture speaks of is a calm assured hope and happiness, not some flashy, extremely weird, occurrence.

So, that being said…lighten up people.  If you are a believer, your sins have been forgiven you, you have a whole eternity of joy and peace and fellowship in front of you, Jesus has freed us from the law, we are now enjoying a personal relationship with God Himself.  Smile a little.  There is a time and place for solemnity and also mourning, but there is ALSO a time and place for joy, laughter, hugs, praising with happy, excited voices, jokes, and just flat out enjoying the life that God gives us, not in a worldly way, but in a way full of grace and peace.

Often atheists especially have a dim view of what it must be like being a Christian, well, let me tell you about my life.  I’m surrounded by friends and family who I know will be with me through eternity, I laugh, watch TV, watch movies, lift the occasional glass of alcohol of my choice, eat what I want, listen to what I want, dance, sing, live my life with the assurance that I’m loved by the Creator of the world, not only that, I have a personal relationship with Him that is very fulfilling and life-giving, esp. when I get to work for Him in some capacity here on Earth.  I go hiking, admiring the work of His hands, I make jokes, and use Facebook, I play XBOX, and write science fiction, and on and on and on.

This world is indeed corrupt and flawed, there are rough times and times to mourn and cry…my family and friends, and God Himself are there for that too.  However, God is truly good, and the news of the gospel is truly good…let’s not be so slow to show the relief and joy and happiness that God brings.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Humor, Uncategorized

Building Noah’s Ark…

The folks behind The Creation Museum are building a full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. It looks to be an awesome undertaking, and you can follow all the news about it, as well as their progress at this site: Ark Encounter.

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Filed under Apologetics, Ministries, Of Interest, Uncategorized

2 Adams, 2 Gardens, 2 Examples…

The Lord seems to love patterns, and order, and what I call “bookends.”  Bookends are ideas, teachings, people, places, etc… that are set up in such a way to show God’s plan, and to communicate important ideas to us.  Certain things just “seem to work out” in order to convey to us important truths and also, as always, to point us to God.  The bookends I’m interested in today are the two Adams; Adam and Jesus, the first Adam, and the Last Adam, and also the two gardens; the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the beginning we have Adam.  Adam was given charge over the earth, and placed in the Garden of Eden.  The Garden of Eden is where we witness the first act of putting our own wills, the human will, over the will of God, and we witness the outcome of committing that sin.  The first Adam, in the Garden, had a chance to follow God’s will, he had the chance to faithe in God and to trust that when God tells us His will on a matter, we’d better listen.

Adam was told not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  He did it anyway.  The world was affected by his lack of faith in God.

In the beginning we have The Word.  The Word became flesh and came and dwelt with us; Jesus is His name.  We have a variety of scripture recording Jesus’ faith, and His following of the will of His Father.  However, the clearest picture we have, the clearest model we have for the Faith of Jesus, is what occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus is talking with His Father, and asks that if there is any other way of completing His mission of saving us and restoring the universe to it’s proper state, that His Father would take away the cup of what was to come.  And then He gave us the clearest picture of what Adam should have said, but didn’t, “not My will, but Thine.”

Jesus came here to give all for us; to fix our mess that started in Eden.  In the Gethsemane we witness a decision to follow the will of The Father, no matter what, the world was also affected by that decision.  Perfect faith in God.

2 Adams, 2 Gardens, 2 choices.  We can choose to be as Adam in Eden and have a lack of faith in God.  Or, we can choose to be as Jesus in Gethsemane and put our faith in God.  The choice is ours, and the outcomes are serious depending on which role model we choose.  As for me, Gethsemane is not an easy place to be, faith isn’t easy…but it’s worth it.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Musings, Uncategorized

Feedback; The Bible…

I had a recent question on my stance on the Bible; here is the link to a previous article on my blog: The Reliability of The Bible.  I encourage all the new readers to my blog (hello, BTW!) to utilize the “search” function on the side of the page when looking for certain topics.  As always, comments welcome…

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, The Bible

Feedback; What evidence is out there?

I had some feedback awhile ago, and the email contained a question about evidence.  What evidence is out there that someone can read or know that would support that idea that Christianity is “it?”  Meaning, evidence that supports the idea that Christianity is true.  Obviously, for this site, find the “apologetics” link off to the side, and you can review what I’ve posted so far in that section.  I always welcome questions, so if there is something you’d like me to covers, feel free to comment.

First, I have to make a couple of things clear.  Christianity’s job, as a religion, is to point to Christ.  Christianity is only true because it is based on Truth, and Christ is Truth.  Religion doesn’t save you; Jesus does.  So, anything and everything that is presented as evidence ultimately points to Christ.  Anyone who wants to understand Christians should learn of Christ, and further, He invites everyone to do just that.  The sign we are promised is the sign of Jonah, in Christian terms, it is Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

If non-believers (and even believers) would keep that fact in mind, a lot less confusion would occur in my opinion.  One of the things that can contribute keeping non-believers in a state of non-belief is their cries of “hypocrisy!” when it comes to Christians.  Well, sorry, Christians solid in their faith will admit we are nothing but a bunch of sinners who slip and stumble and fall…but we have a Shepherd that forgives us, and picks us again.  It’s the Shepherd you need to be examining, not the flock.  Look to Christ; He’d the only human who lived a perfect life, and who is not a hypocrite, including everyone reading this (that includes me in case anyone was wondering).

This same idea hold true for anyone who has either been hurt by a certain church, or another person claiming to be a believer.  Unfortunately not everyone who claims to be Christian is, and again, even those that are can and do slip and fall and sin.  Mere humans will disappoint, there is no doubt about it, but Christ never will.

So, that’s issue number one; Christ.  Who do you say that He is?  If you are one of those people who tries to convince themselves that Christ never even existed, well, you have to be honest enough to really, truly look at the evidence of His existence (just as in introduction, Tektonics has an article discussing this idea of the Christ-myth).  If you are one of those people who tries to paint Christ as a good and wise teacher, you have to be honest enough to admit that He didn’t leave that option without you also believing His other teachings; that He’s “it,” and there’s something wrong with the world and all of us that only He can fix.  One good source for this idea, including the evidence for the resurrection can be found here:  The Resurrection by Dr. Gene Scott.

Second, we have the Bible.  Before anyone jumps on me about “circular logic” and using the Bible to prove the Bible, please read my post on Biblical Reliability.  In that post you will find other links, and also different books you can research.  There are many reasons why you can trust the Bible, take some time to study them; historical reliability, archaeological reliability, prophetic reliability, its internally consistent, etc…  This is were evidence for Christ, and evidence for the Bible intersect, for example; all the Messianic prophecies that are contained within the Bible, and Jesus fulfillment of a substantial number, and His future fulfillment of the rest.  Fulfilled prophecy in other areas is also very interesting and enlightening to study.

There are also personal evidences.  I don’t go into them very much on my site, or on other forums because most non-believers want “external” evidences, or claim they do at least.  Evidence that can be researched by them that is more “objective.”  However, the transforming power of Christ, and the Holy Spirit in our lives is some of the dearest evidences we Christians have, and are usually happy to share when asked.  I know that for me, my life would look and be totally different without Christ and the Holy Spirit interceding for me, guiding me, etc…

Which brings me to my last point in this particular post; no amount of evidence in the world, from fulfilled prophecy, to archaeological and historical evidences will sway you if you are not willing to have your heart softened.  All of creation screams out that there is a Creator behind it all…and yet, some people don’t like to retain God in their knowledge.  Looking into all of this is not time to cop an attitude, this kind of thing requires great thought, and a willingness to admit when one has been wrong.  Discussions happen between people, and it’s so much easier to cling onto a set of beliefs when you are dialoguing…but this type of research into the very truth of our world is something to be done soberly, and with true searching.  You don’t constantly have to talk to another human about it, but it’d be nice if you’d talk to Him about it, and ask Him to help believe in Him if He’s really there, ask Him for His grace; don’t do it on a website, don’t do it to try to prove a point, don’t do it to mock…go somewhere by yourself, be honest, and simply ask for help to believe in Him.

Recently I had the honor to “witness” an agnostic finally connect with God.  She said it wasn’t any one thing anyone had said to her, but rather, she woke up one night, and just knew.  After that realization that there was a God, and Jesus was Who He claimed to be, everything everyone had told her all fell into place and it all made sense, it all clicked; the Gospel message, all the apologetics, etc…  Seek Him diligently and honestly, you won’t be disappointed.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Conversion

A Common Atheist Contention…

I had to make a post about this, because it is something that amuses me, and it has come up once more in the past few days.  Just so everyone here knows, when I’m “absent” for a while from my blog, I’m usually carrying on apologetics elsewhere on the web.  This week I was dialoguing with two atheists simultaneously on another website.

When in deep discussion on topics such as Darwinian evolution, philosophy, psychology, etc… there is an assumption that many of the atheists I’ve dialogued with make.  That assumption (contention), especially when it comes to Darwinian evolution is that if you don’t buy into it, you obviously have never been exposed to any real educational or scientific material.  Translation; if you don’t swallow the Darwinist line, you are a poor ignorant wretch who doesn’t know any better.

And lest anyone think this is a personal issue; it isn’t.  I’ve seen this contention leveled against many many different individuals, not just me.  What is also amusing is that the atheists leveling this charge think they are being polite…because we all know if you don’t buy into Darwinian evolution and you actually do have a scientific education, then you have to be either a liar or suffering from delusions. Heh.

So, anyway, I politely explain that I’ve graduated high school, university, and grad school, and am now teaching at a college level, and that I assure them I’ve been exposed to Darwinist thought all through my educational career, and further, to toot my own horn since it is relevant; I’ve aced every class in which Darwinism is preached.  Can you guess the next contention?  “You had to have gone through a religious institution, and you have to be teaching at a religious institution.”  Seriously.  And, this isn’t limited to discussions of Darwinist evolution by any means; the latest instance of this was when I was discussing Pascal’s Wager.

When I point out that, in fact, I’ve never attended, nor taught at a religious institution, that I’ve had all of my education and employment at secular schools, there is a deafening silence from the other side.  It throws a kink in their thought processes, and that is sad.  Why is it sad?  Because they have this false impression given them by leading atheist proselytizers that Christians are a bunch of drooling idiots…which in turn shows the tendency of some leading atheists to resort to ad hominem attacks against believers.

So, what is the point of this post?  Don’t assume just because someone opposes things like Darwinian evolution that they lack the necessary exposure (kind of like a virus maybe?) to the Naturalists’ POV.  I shouldn’t have to assure anyone that at this point in our society, we’ve all been exposed, and it is starting now even prior to grade school in things like children’s cartoons.  If you doubt a person’s education (formal or informal), their experience with Darwinist thought or something similar, after checking your own biases, just ask if you truly want to know and aren’t being facetious or sarcastic.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Origins