Saturday, April 28, 2007

Schematic diagram of the human eye -- click for details ---Irreducible complexity (IC) is the argument that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or "less complete" predecessors, and are at the same time too complex to have arisen naturally through chance mutations. An "irreducibly complex" system is defined by the term's originator, biochemistry professor Michael J. Behe, as one "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning". These examples are said to demonstrate that modern biological forms could not have evolved naturally. The argument is used in a broader context to support the idea that an intelligent designer was involved, at some point, in the creation of life, against the theory of evolution which argues no designer is required. In a manner of speaking, the IC argument is a definition of the "designer", or at least "what was designed", a definition that has proven elusive in the past. The most common examples used in argument are the complexity of the eye (right), the Blood clotting cascade, or the motor in a cell's flagellum.

The examples offered to support the irreducible complexity argument have generally been found to fail to meet the definition and intermediate precursor states have been identified for several structures purported to exhibit irreducible complexity.


Theological Dictionary word of the day: William Lane Craig
William Lane CraigWilliam Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist. He is a prolific author and lecturer on a wide range of issues related to the philosophy of religion, the historical Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, and Intelligent Design. He is married and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California. Craig is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, which is the hub of the Intelligent Design movement.

Craig became a Christian believer in high school at the age of 16. His vocation and academic studies reflect his religious commitment to Christian beliefs within the Protestant Evangelical tradition.

In theological commitments he holds to an Arminian (specifically, Molinist) view concerning the grace of God and the role of the human will in conversion. He has had friendly connections with para-church ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Christian International Ministries (Europe).

In his early reading and studies, Craig was influenced by the writings of Francis Schaeffer and Edward John Carnell. He studied philosophy under Stuart Hackett.


Friday, April 27, 2007

BELOIT, WI (Sat April 21, 2007)

Please pray for a fellow pastor, Rev Greg Decker and his family, of Countryside Christian Church, Wisconsin, who has a temporary paralyzing disease.

His congregation has been a growing, solid evangelical group with whom we have good ties.

Please pray for Larry and Susan's safe travel and a clear mind and spirit to speak for the Lord and share, intelligently and effectively, His word with several hundred people over the next 10 days. They will be stopping in the Pontiac area to try to be an encouraging counselor for a minister having dark days in his church work, too. Pray for wisdom for us as we try to help him and his wife. Larry asnd Susan will be attending a 2-day retreat this weekend, then after church on Sunday, off to Detroit and back to Wisconsin to speak at a second retreat on 27-28 April.
Theological Dictionary word of the day: F. F. Bruce
Frederick Fyvie BruceFrederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990) (more commonly known as F. F. Bruce) was a Bible scholar, and one of the founders of the modern evangelical understanding of the Bible.

He was born in Elgin, Morayshire and was educated at the University of Aberdeen, Cambridge University and the University of Vienna. After teaching Greek for several years first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. In his career he wrote some thirty-three books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from teaching in 1978.

Bruce was a dedicated member of the Open Plymouth Brethren, though he did not affirm the dispensationalism usually associated with that movement.

Bruce was a distinguished scholar on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul, and wrote several studies the best known of which is Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit. He also wrote commentaries on several biblical books including Acts of the Apostles, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.

His work New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? is considered a classic in the discipline of apologetics.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Justin Martyr
Justin MartyrJustin Martyr (Justin the Martyr a.k.a Justin of Caesarea) (100 – 165) was an early Christian apologist. His works represent the earliest surviving Christian apologies of notable size.

Most of what is known about the life of Justin Martyr comes from his own writings. He was born at Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus) in Palestine. The city had been founded by Vespasian in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Justin suffered martyrdom at Rome under Marcus Aurelius when Rusticus was prefect of the city (between 162 and 168).

He calls himself a Samaritan, but his father and grandfather were probably Greek or Roman, and he was brought up a pagan. It seems that he had property, studied philosophy, converted to Christianity, and devoted the rest of his life to teaching what he considered the true philosophy, still wearing his philosopher's gown to indicate that he had attained to the truth. He probably travelled widely and ultimately settled in Rome as a Christian teacher.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Christian apologetics
Title page for the 1582 Douai-Rheims New TestamentChristian apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of Christianity. The term "apologetic" comes from the Greek word apologia, which means in defense of; therefore a person involved in Christian or Bible Apologetics is a defender of Christianity. Someone who engages in Christian apologetics is called a "Christian apologist". Christian apologetics have taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul of Tarsus, including renowned writers such as Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, and continuing today with the modern Christian community through authors such as Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin. Apologists have based their defense of Christianity on favoring interpretations of historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, and other avenues.

This Classical Greek term appears in the Koine Greek (i.e. common Greek) of the New Testament. The apostle Paul employed the term "apologia" (a speaking in defense) in his trial speech to Porcius Festus and Agrippa when he said, "I make my defense" (Acts 26:2). In the English language, the word apology, derived from the Greek word "apologia", usually refers to asking for forgiveness for an action that is open to blame. Christian apologetics are meant, however, to argue that Christianity is reasonable and in accordance with the evidence that can be examined, analogous to the use of the term in the Apology of Socrates, written by Plato.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Presuppositional apologetics
Image of Gordon Haddon Clark  ©John W. Robbins, 1989.Presuppositional apologetics is a school of Christian apologetics, a field of Christian theology that attempts to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and attack the alleged flaws of other worldviews. Presuppositional apologetics is especially concerned with the third aspect of this discipline, though it generally sees the trifold distinction as a difference in emphasis rather than as delineating three separate endeavors. Presuppositional apologetics developed in and is most commonly advocated within Reformed circles of Christianity.

The key discriminator of this school is that it maintains that the Christian apologist must assume the truth of the supernatural revelation contained in the Bible (that is, the Christian worldview) because there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian. In other words, presuppositionalists say that a Christian cannot consistently declare his belief in the necessary existence of the God of the Bible and simultaneously argue on the basis of a different set of assumptions (presumably those of the non-Christian) in which God may or may not exist.

Presuppositionalists contrast their approach with the other schools of Christian apologetics by describing them as assuming the world is intelligible apart from belief in the existence of God and then arguing exclusively on (purportedly) neutral grounds to support trusting the Christian Scriptures. Specifically, presuppositionalists describe Thomistic (also "Traditional" or "Classical") apologetics as concentrating on the first aspect of apologetics with its logical proofs for the existence of God. Aquinas himself insists that many crucial truths can only be known through scripture, and none of his arguments are intended to show the entire Christian picture. Presuppositionalists, however, consider his arguments unglorifying to God, because they ignore even a part of revelation for the sake of argument. The goal is to argue that nonbelievers' assumptions require believing in some things about God that they don't believe (e.g. that an eternal, perfectly good, designer created the universe), but presuppositionalists consider any argument that stops short of the full biblical revelation is dishonoring to God.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Christian worldview
Christian WorldviewChristian worldview refers to a collection of distinctively Christian philosophical and religious beliefs. The term is typically used in one of three ways:

  1. A set of worldviews voiced by those identifying themselves as Christian;
  2. Common elements of worldviews predominant among those identifying themselves as Christian;
  3. The concept of a single "Christian worldview" on a range of issues.

There are some rather startling statistics, based upon the following definition of "worldview," including a firm belief in six specific religious views.

  1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life;
  2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today;
  3. salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;
  4. Satan is real;
  5. a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and
  6. the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Based upon the above definition, Barna and other polling organizations have observered a decline in Christian beliefs. A recent study indicates that only 4% of American adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making -- while at the same time "spirituality" has been on the rise.


Theological Dictionary word of the day: Kalam cosmological argumentM 17 Omega Nebula,  © NASA / Hubble
The Kalam cosmological argument is a version of the cosmological argument derived from the Islamic Kalam form of dialectical argument. It attempts to prove the existence of God by appealing to the principle of universal cause. Similar arguments are found in the theologies of Judaism (for example, in the work of Maimonides) and Christianity (for example in Thomas Aquinas), where it is known as the "uncaused cause" or "first cause" argument.

The origin of the word "kalam" (علم الكلم) is Islamic and is one of the 'religious sciences' of Islam. In Arabic the word means "discussion", and refers to the Islamic tradition of seeking theological principles through dialectic. A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallam (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallamin).

The original scholars of kalam were recruited by Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (d. 873) for the House of Wisdom under the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. They collected, translated, and synthesised everything that the genius of other cultures had accumulated before undertaking to augment and expand it. From their translations of Greek, Iranian, and Indian works, they formed the basis of Muslim falsafa (philosophy) in the 9th and 10th centuries.

The word means "speech" or "doctrine," however "kalam" came to identify the entire movement of highly academic Islamic theology of the Middle ages, which later faded away.

The origin of the Kalam cosmological argument dates to fourth century Egypt. John Philoponus of Alexadria, Egypt, argued that the universe had a beginning. This view was contrary to that of the Greek philosopher, Arisotle, who believed that Godwas not the creator of the universe, but rather He interspersed order into it. Aristotle believed that God and the universe were eternal. Arisotle's view was/is contradictory with the Hebrew and Christian belief that God is the creator of the universe.