Posts

Showing posts from October, 2013

Explaining the Trinity to a Ten Year Old (Mere Trinitarianism?)

Sometimes I'm asked to try to explain the Trinity simply -- sometimes for the humor of watching me try it! {wry g} And sometimes for the perceived apologetic value in my acknowledgment that the doctrinal set of trinitarian theism isn't simple, as if simplicity of a doctrinal set was itself evidence of truth (tell that to an astrophysicist of any flavor), or as if the complexity in itself should be regarded as evidence of unnecessary (and thus false) over-complication.

There are only distant analogies to the Trinity in Nature, and that doesn't help, although that ought to be expected since we're supposed to be talking about the one and only self-existent ground of all reality. The Latin phrase sui generis is sometimes used here; that just means it's one of a kind and so every analogy to it for illustration will bring built-in differences from it.

But one of my nieces (not yet ten years old) started catechism training this year, with some portions of doctrine (regard…

The Most Common Mistake when Talking with Skeptics

Over at the great Apologetics 315, Donald Johnson has posted a very good piece of advice entitled The Most Common Mistakes when Talking with Skeptics which a Christian may ust to better address or approach his or her skeptical friends. Donald's most basic piece of advice is that the Christian should not immediately launch into a response to the doubts or accusations expressed by his or her skeptical friends about Christianity. Rather, he argues that it is better to ask questions to learn more about the skeptic's own worldview as it deals with matters of religion. In other words, a cold, sterile, logical argument is not nearly as effective as responding to the individual's underlying concerns. 
Instead of jumping right in to address some objection or present an argument, Christians would be much better served by asking a few important questions and then listening carefully to the answers.What Donald is suggesting is, at least in part, based on Greg Koukl's "Columbo …

Apologetics Advice from George MacDonald

Those who are familiar with C.S. Lewis (and who in the area of apologetics is not familiar with C.S. Lewis) may know that one of his favorite authors was George MacDonald. In fact, George MacDonald serves as the guide to heaven in The Great Divorce. Recently, I started reading a collection of three of MacDonald's novels entitled The Parish Papers. I understand why Lewis appreciated MacDonald because I wasn't even thirty pages in when I came across a nugget of wisdom on how to approach apologetics. 

In chapter four of the first novel, A Quiet Neighborhood, the protagonist, a pastor to a small church, runs across a carpenter who doubts that God may not have created the earth because it is so flawed. The pastor makes a point by referencing a coffin that the carpenter is constructing that the coffin is not well made either -- at least, not until the carpenter has actually finished the coffin. Something that is being made but not yet completed will naturally not work as well as the …

Some Observations about Atheist Books

The other day, my wife asked me why I have so many books written by atheists on my nightstand where I keep my reading material. I told her that I like to read through the atheist materials to better understand what they think. After all, I reason, how can one counter an argument effectively if you don’t understand it?
Yet, the opposite is exactly what I find on the atheist side. I’m not saying that they haven’t read the Bible. Many have read the Bible. Many are well versed in what the Bible verses say. They can sometimes find Bible passages quicker than I can. The problem with these atheists isn't that they are not reading the Bible, it's that they lack understanding of the material.
For example, one of the atheist books I am presently reading (although I am about to put it down because it is so bad) is a book by David Mills (who has no accomplishments in his bio other than authoring atheist books) entitled Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamenta…

Dalmanutha -- more likely south of Tiberias, not north (thus not near Magdala)

A few days ago, Bill posted an article here on the Cadre (or just beneath this one if you're reading this on the index page) discussing the claim announced by some archaeologists earlier in June this year that they may have found the site of Dalmanutha on the shore of Lake Galilee, one of the few remaining Biblical references for the region that doesn't have at least a plausible archaeological identification.

Bill (BK's) article wasn't mostly about the details of this tentative possible identification, but about the subsequent rejection by a radical hypersceptic who thinks GosMark was merely literary fiction so there's no reason to go looking for Dalmanutha to begin with. Details of all this can be found (with further links) in Bill's article.

While we're on the topic, I thought I'd write up a slightly expanded (and corrected) version of a couple of footnotes I supplied to that scene in my "To The Puppies!" harmonzation entry in March of 2008,…

Has Dalmanutha been Discovered? Is it Okay to Simply Reject the Claimed Discovery as Wrong?

In Mark 8, Jesus feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves and a few small fishes. Then Jesus climbs into a boat and goes to...Dalmanutha?
And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:10)
There is a problem with this: no one seems to know where or even what Dalmanutha is. According to Jamieson, Faussett and Brown's fine Commentaries on the entire Bible, “Dalmanutha may have been a village, but it cannot now be identified with certainty.” 
The parallel verse found in Matthew 15:39 gives us a bit of an idea where and/or what Dalmanutha may have been when it says, “And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.” Now, the coasts of Magdala must be close to the city of Magdala, and this city has been pretty positively identified. According to the Jewish Virtual Encyclopedia,
MAGDALA (Migdal), a city on Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) in Galilee, about 7 km. north of Tiberias. It is overlooked by…