A Legacy of Biblical Defense & Faith

Josh McDowell (left) is a former atheist and has been teaching the Biblical faith to teens and adults for decades.  His son, Sean, has followed in his father’s footsteps and is, himself, a gifted theologian and defender of the Christian faith. Sean presently serves on the faculty of Biola University in southern California.

Below are linked two recent, brief articles by both men on why Christianity is an intelligent, reasonable faith.

Josh, as usual, writes in an extremely intelligent, reasonable and articulate fashion – as he does here in this FOX News article. Read the article here.

Sean, equally intelligent and eloquent, offers evidence of the overwhelming reliability of the New Testament here.

May the words of these men encourage and strengthen you in your Christian faith.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Bible: Gospel, Guide or Garbage?

Linked for you here is a dialogue between New Testament scholar and theologian, NT Wright, and Harvard philosopher, Sean Kelly, as they discuss one of history’s most influential books – the Bible.

It’s an audio link only (no video) and is over an hour in length.  Whether you listen in “small bites” or “swallow the entire dialogue whole”, please consider listening and thinking deeply about what is said.

I have in my library Wright’s 700 page classic, The Resurrection of the Son of God. It is heady, but a rewarding read.

The audio clip is just below the photo at the top of the linked page.

You can access the link here.

Enjoy, nick

Teaching Christians to be Thinkers, and Thinkers to be Christians

The title of this blog has been championed by HBU professor, Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. It’s something I believe in deeply.

As I begin to take over the Biblical Learning & Literacy ministry of our church, the above axiom will be heavily employed as we create responsible and devoted “young theologians” who, as Paul commanded, learn how to “rightly handle the word of God.”

The biblical illiteracy of North American church culture is at an alarming and embarrassing level. However,…

It’s never too late to read, learn how to understand, and apply your Bible.   The Bible is a virtual treasure trove of truth, wisdom and hope.

It’s God’s love letter to mankind.

Further, someone wisely once said, “The easiest lessons to learn are from the mistakes of others.” The Bible is full of “failures.” Significantly, “failures” are who God chose to use – and that should make people like me feel pretty darn good. 🙂  So, the Bible gives us a storehouse of life-lessons from which to learn.

There’s a reason skeptics/atheists describe Christianity as a backwoods, uneducated mode of thinking: most believers don’t know how to think critically about hard biblical questions and, in turn, can’t dialogue intelligently where Christianity is concerned.

Michael Sherrard offers this stinging paragraph in his editorial, “How the Church’s Anti-Intellectualism Will Be Her Jailer“:

“The pursuit of the knowledge of God is replaced in many with a pursuit of something that merely works. And by works, often what is pursued is a version of Christianity that brings forth the American dream rather than the Kingdom of God.

This prosperity and selfish attitude has caused a slumber, a slumber in the proverbial classroom, and the church is now awakening to an exam for which it is not prepared.

There was a time in American history…when clergy were thought to have answers. And it was not just because people didn’t know any better back then. It was because many men and women of faith were intellectuals.

They knew their bible and their history. They could speak about theology and [science].

Now many believers are ill equipped to speak about anything that does not have a mascot…

And in that regard, society should place us at the kids table.”

Ouch.

Former atheist, Lee Strobel, was the legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and a Yale Law School grad.  Clearly, he’s no intellectual slouch.  The first time I heard him speak in person he said quite boldly and confidently, “Christianity is an intelligent faith.

Jesus commanded his followers to “love the Lord your God with all of your….mind.”

Paul told the Thessalonian believers to “test everything,” to see if it’s true.

Solomon wrote, “Search for [truth and wisdom] like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, Believe me, before you know it…you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.”

Join me – and let’s “pan for gold” together,

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Rise & Fall of a Nation

Solid (and prophetic quote):

These provocative thoughts were set down by Professor Alexander Tyler around 1770 – seven years before the birth of the United States.

May we, as a nation, be careful not to repeat this pattern of history:

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.  These nations have progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage.”

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,…” (Psalm 33:12)

Regardless of one’s political leanings, we must pray for our nation.

Prayer-Meeting

Nick

I Can Only Imagine (movie): Review

I encourage you to go see it for the following reasons, followed by a word of caution:

Unlike some Christian-themed films, this one is in no way manipulative, coercive or sensationalized.

Not once will you feel “preached to.”

The director has done a masterful job of making this a film simply about the story of one boy’s painful childhood – and how God can use the pain and dysfunction in our lives on this messed up planet to create something extraordinary and, dare I say – joyful.

It’s not mentioned in the movie, but several times I reflected upon Joseph’s words to his brothers, “What you intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” (God transformed Joseph’s crippling pain into purpose and joy.)

In my opinion, Christianity wasn’t even the primary theme of the movie. Again, the director did a superb job of telling a story, allowing the audience to absorb the story at their own pace, and then, only if they want to, consider the spiritual implications.

What was the primary theme of the movie?

Forgiveness.

Bart Millard suffered deeply at the hands of his dad while growing up. When Bart was grown, his soul beaten and bruised, he had a choice to make – (1) live the rest of his life out suffering psychological bondage, driven by his hate for his dad, or (2) forgive his dad, regardless of how much pain he had endured.

And the director never once portrays forgiveness as easy. It’s a war in your mind and soul. The director gives complete respect to this truth.

All of that said, i offer this one caution:

If, like me, you suffered years of abuse as a child at the hands of a physically violent and verbally abusive father, the movie will most certainly be triggering. You will find yourself, like I did, weeping, gripping your chest and, at times, experiencing very real and traumatic flashbacks. You will want to have someone you love – and who loves you deeply (scars and all) – next to you.  My wife, Michelle, held my arm the entire movie.

As I left the theater (emotionally exhausted), I told Michelle, “I’m so glad I forgave my dad.”  (Read me story here.)

I can only imagine what my dad is doing now in heaven. Free from addiction. Free from anger. Free from his own pain.

And, because I’ve forgiven him, I’m free too.

“What (the stuff of life) intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” Christ wins.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Discipleship of the Mind

Theology

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he purposefully made it clear that God was to be loved with the mind as well as the rest of our human faculties. (cf. Matthew 22:37)

In his book, “The Passionate Intellect,” former atheist, Alister McGrath (Oxford; Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics), calls the intellectual pursuit of God “the discipleship of the mind.” To anyone who would dismiss theological study as boring, uninteresting and dry, he offers the following:

“Christian theology is one of the most intellectually stimulating and exciting subjects to study, rich in resources for our lives.”

He continues,

“It has the capacity to excite, inspire and illuminate the human intellect , giving it a new passion and focus.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But, modern day believers (not all, but the vast majority) are, biblically illiterate and intellectually lazy, allowing their minds to be slowly consumed by mind-numbing social media.

C.S. Lewis, former atheist and one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, said,

“God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of being a Christian, I warn you: you are embarking on something that is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.”

Writing a blog he titles, “How the Church’s Anti-Intellectualism Will Be Her Jailor,” Michael Sherrard agrees:

[The intellectual laziness that characterizes much of North American Christianity] “has caused a slumber – a slumber in the proverbial classroom, and the church is now awakening to an exam for which it is not prepared… Now many believers are ill equipped to speak about anything that does not have a mascot. And in that regard, society should place us at the kids table.”

Ouch.

Love the Lord you God with all your…mind,

Nick

The Joy of Helping the Hurting

Relief-Slider-2

The most familiar biblical image is most likely from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.

Helping the hurting.

I cannot begin to estimate the number of people my wife, Michelle, and I have counseled since the suicide of our son, Jordan. Countless people who have, themselves, suffered the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

The first one to contact us happened within the first week after Jordan’s death.

Recently, I was counseling yet another precious individual who is suffering from what psychologist refer to as “complicated grief” (grief associated with suicide).

And I am, dare I say, grateful that I can.

My friends, Jesus didn’t pull any punches when, on the night before he would be crucified, told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble (complicated grief, unspeakable suffering, depression, pain, etc.); but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  (emphasis mine)

Michelle and I have, over time, found that, after Jordan’s death, we had a choice to make: (1) live in despair, crawling up in a ball of pain and simply count time until we die, or (2) dump every last ounce of our pain on Christ, allowing him to take our pain and use it to give others hope which, in turn, gives purpose to our pain.

We chose “option 2.”

Every one of your reading this has experienced tremendous pain in your life. Never ever underestimate the power of your story to give hope to those who come behind you.

Paul encouraged the hurting Corinthian believers, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, there is hope.

As Billy Graham once said,

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out all right.”

The psalmist wrote, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Love to you all, Nick