The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas

indexThe CAA read The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak, as part of Apologetics 315’s weekly Read Along program. This took place August through October. Each week, an audio introduction from Paul Copan was provided for that week’s chapter, along with a brief synopsis and study questions. We were also able to connect with other readers in the comments on Apologetics 315, or on the Christian Apologetics Alliance Facebook page/group.

After having given it some time to blend flavors, I am now prepared to give my thoughts on the book. These were my initial thoughts before starting the Read Along. Note that this review does not go through the book by walking through it from beginning to end, due to its reuse of or expansion on the same material at different parts of the text, rather than keeping similar topics together. We will let the reader decide if that is a format they prefer to read. For me, it felt kind of scattered.

Read Along Index: The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas

Copan and Litwak begin with a nice sketch of our current cultural landscape as being multicultural, relativistic, secularized, and post-Christian. They define a worldview as a philosophy of life that reflects a deeper heart commitment and answers questions like Why am I here? Why does anything exist at all? What am I to do or think? How can my life have any meaning? Later they define worldview as “an articulation of the basic beliefs embedded in a shared grand story that are rooted in a faith commitment and that give shape and direction to the whole of our individual and corporate lives.” They lay out the problem: Most people today, even those calling themselves Christians, only know a caricature of Christianity, so that if ever they come into conversation with a knowledgeable Christian, a lot of what the Christian communicates is filtered through a faulty worldview and so is lost in translation. The first hurdle to overcome is to make sure we know what their worldview is, including their view of Christianity, so that we speak their language and nothing is lost in translation. We are the ones with a message to deliver, and so we are the ones who need to learn how to speak their language—not the other way around. Continue reading The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas

Does The Moral Argument Reify Subjective Morality?
The prisoners in Plato’s parable of the cave reified the shadows. Does the moral argument do the same to subjective morality? Image source:

Matthew Lawrence wrote in this question and gave permission to blog it and my answer below:

Hello Christian Apologetics Alliance. I would like to first off say thank you for the resources that you’ve given to me. This has helped me boost my faith up greatly.

Also I was wondering if you can please help me with an objection to the moral argument. I was talking to a skeptic online about certain arguments that can help prove God’s existence. Another skeptic came in and accused the moral argument of being fallacious. The skeptic says that it “asserts necessarily subjective concepts (all concepts are subjective and relative by definition) are in fact real things, which is the reification fallacy.” 

Now I know something is fishy about his objection to the moral argument, but I can’t spot out where. Can you please help me?

Thank You Very Much!

~Matthew Lawrence.


Here’s my answer:

1. If all concepts are merely subjective and none of them correspond to reality, and if all assertion relies on our ability to conceptualize, then all assertion is reification and nothing is actually (known to be) real. That is an extreme skepticism that fails to explain scientific progress. Ask him if he thinks there are any “real” conclusions that are reached without employing conceptualization, and without reifying in the process.

2. The divine command theory, if the commands are not grounded in God’s essential nature, does in fact commit the fallacy of reification. The commanding is the reifying.
Continue reading Does The Moral Argument Reify Subjective Morality?

Initial Thoughts: Copan & Litwak's "The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas"

UnknownThe CAA is participating in Apologetics 315’s weekly Read Along program. We are reading “The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World” by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak.

See the first announcement on the CAA Facebook page.

These are my initial thoughts:

This “context” topic has come up recently in my own circle of apologetics buddies, in terms of the tension between speaking German (“Christianese”) to someone who speaks Chinese on one extreme, and whispering sweet nothings to tickle the ears of the seeker on the other extreme.

We need to communicate the Gospel in a meaningful way without:

  • coming across as a resounding gong or clanging cymbal, or
  • watering it down

How do we do that?

This book zeroes in on Paul’s Mars Hill address in Athens, recorded in Acts–and I’m predicting that I’ve read something similar in Don Richardson’s “Eternity in their Hearts”–but Richardson covered many different cultures. I’m looking forward to a more in-depth treatment.

Continue reading Initial Thoughts: Copan & Litwak's "The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas"

Apologetics youth leader Q&A: What works?!

youthgroup_t_nv.220114305_stdI asked members of the CAA and subgroups: “If you lead a youth group that successfully incorporates apologetics, I need to know as soon as possible. I want to brag about your success to other youth pastors who seek info. on this. I need to know your style, as well.

This is what some of them answered—and this is just a small sampling of those who could have answered…I didn’t give them much advance notice!

[Note: At the end of this post you will find an invitation to do some Q&A with Brett Kunkle on how to equip youth!]

‪Mark S. Phillips‪ I lead a new high school apologetics group, ‪Maryann. We’re finishing our first half-year of existence. They seem really interested in what is presented; one student commented that all he ever learned in church was “Daniel in the lion’s den and Noah’s big old ark.” The students I have don’t know much in the way of doctrine, but they seem to be more interested in knowing they can use their brains in the faith. My main focus to-date has been the resurrection. But because the kids I have all seem to have grown up in church, I have taken time to present video testimonies of atheists who converted to Christianity and why they did so. They really enjoy the videos from and also the Case for Christ. I’ve covered a bit on logical fallacies, arguments for the existence of God, understanding a world view that includes metaphysics, helping them to know they don’t have to be intimidated when someone challenges their worldview, and the exclusivity of Christ. Hope this helps. Continue reading Apologetics youth leader Q&A: What works?!

Who needs answers when nobody's askin'?

By Maryann Spikes. This is written to those of you who consider yourselves Christians but think you don’t need answers to tough questions because you don’t ask them and nobody asks them of you. I am thinking a lot about this and I’d love to hear if you think I am fully understanding where you are at. I want to know why no one is asking you questions, and here are my guesses:

If no one is asking you tough questions about what you believe, maybe it is because you aren’t telling many people that they are loved by God unconditionally*? There are a number of reasons people keep the gospel to themselves. Can you find yourself in the list below?

  • Unaware of your duty. You don’t know that you are unconditionally accepted by God, and you don’t know that the natural result of enjoying that acceptance is wanting to share it with others–and that we are commanded not to keep it to ourselves**. If this is you, find out more about God’s unchanging love for you and, once your cup is running over with it, share it around. There will be questions! Continue reading Who needs answers when nobody's askin'?

Poem: Does God allow evil and suffering?

img1367Does God allow evil and suffering?

Can you look me level in the eyes
and tell me what some people do
to hurt little kids is not evil?

Evil is real, but
how can someone
who doesn’t exist
allow anything?

If evil is real,
then good is real.
But if good is real, what being
do you know
who is always good?
But here we are again.
Would a good God allow
evil and suffering?

Continue reading Poem: Does God allow evil and suffering?

Does the evidence matter, or is it mere distraction?

if you love me wordleJPGWhat miraculous event would remove all doubt that God exists? I spent some time as an atheist in my early-to-mid twenties. I knew there was no convincing evidence for God’s existence. I didn’t buy the “God says it, I believe it, that settles it,” mantra, or the “Faith takes over where reason leaves off” stand-by. I still don’t, even after becoming a Christian.

Now I know the faith of the Bible is just trust. I know everybody in the Bible trusted a God who makes himself evident and keeps his promises. I know that believing without seeing is about believing before fulfillment, that God will fulfill his promise. I know, as C.S. Lewis knew (knows, really), that “Faith… is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” We humans too quickly forget what sort of God we are dealing with, and our faith falters, even in the midst of avalanches of evidence. Faith is not mere belief…even the demons believe.

Continue reading Does the evidence matter, or is it mere distraction?

Defining the good: The Golden Rule

GR pic

A major argument for God’s existence is that, if there is no God, there is no “true” good, because truth is that which corresponds to reality, to real being. A common counter-argument heard from atheists, agnostics, and skeptics is that this does not account for the definition of moral goodness. If God is the source of goodness, does he define what it means to be good via his commands (hence, it is fiction, not truth), or is it a standard he himself follows (hence, he is not the highest absolute)? In other words, theists cannot define goodness just by grounding it in God’s nature. True, but we don’t claim to.

When we do attempt to define goodness (a separate issue from its grounding), the skeptic’s counter-argument becomes that our definition of goodness would be true whether or not God exists. For example, a successful argument in favor of the Golden Rule means that the Golden Rule is true on its own two feet and does not need to be grounded in God. However—if God does not exist, to what is the Golden Rule true? What being in reality does it describe? So we need both—we need moral truth to be grounded in real being, and we need to know what it means to be good. Those more experienced in philosophy might recognize this is Plato’s “justified true belief,” Hume’s “is ought distinction,” and the resolution to Euthyphro’s dilemma.

Many apologists I come across claim that we don’t need to define goodness, but many skeptics view this as a cop-out. Therefore, this essay, rather than centered on grounding goodness, is centered on defining it (while also insisting it is not true unless grounded in real being). The Golden Rule will be stated out front, referred to throughout, and finally defended. Continue reading Defining the good: The Golden Rule

Is #Gosnell #INHUMAN?

945232_10151620624918728_1112862758_nHappening now is the #INHUMAN TweetFest, from 8am-8pm in whatever timezone you happen to inhabit. The goal of this event is to raise awareness about late-term abortion.

A legitimate question was raised on the event page by Sandra: “Is this supposed to be ‘Inhumane’? It just seems a little strange to call another person inhuman when he is indeed human. It is his behavior that is not human.”

“Tolerance applies only to persons and never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles and never to persons.”~ ~ Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

I had the same feeling when I first heard that, in closing statements, the prosecution asked Gosnell if he was human (WhoIsGosnell?). Gosnell giggled. Hearing that felt like hearing the anti-story to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Continue reading Is #Gosnell #INHUMAN?

Did the concept of monotheism socially evolve?

UnknownThis post gives a glimpse of “Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson, who is recognized for his anthropological and linguistic work among the Sawi people of Irian Jaya.

Edward B. Tyler’s theory that monotheism evolved has been refuted for a long time.  The theory goes like this:  Belief in the soul emerged from pondering dreams, etc.; spiritism/animism emerged when they applied the belief of a soul to other entities; the stratification of classes in developed societies suggested an aristocracy of “gods” ruling over run-of-the-mill souls and spirits; and the monarchies suggested monotheism.  Andrew Lang, Tylor’s favorite pupil, found out about the refutations from the work of A.W. Howitt, Mrs. Langloh Parker, and others, and published “The Making of Religion” in 1898. He was virtually ostracized and ignored. Schmidt’s “The Origin of the Concept of God” by 1955 had over 4,000 pages of evidence, but Tyler’s theory is still perpetuated to this day by people who either are uninformed or ignore the refuting evidence.

Continue reading Did the concept of monotheism socially evolve?