Friday, August 11, 2017

Apologetics Made Simple: Five Keys To An Unstoppable Apologetic [Review]

by Hiram R. Diaz III


While there are many academic apologists, the Scriptural command to "contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints" is given to all Christians. We all must contend earnestly for the faith - but where do we start?

In Apologetics Made Simple: Five Keys to an Unstoppable Apologetic, Jason L. Petersen presents a portable, accessible, and condensed introduction to the apologetic method of Gordon H. Clark called Scripturalism. These five keys serve to ground the Christian's thinking before he engages in discussion with unbelievers, as well guide his thinking as he contends for the faith.

In preparation for engaging with unbelievers, Petersen reminds his readers that all men are dogmatists. This truth exposes the impossibility of a truly "objective" (i.e. truly uninformed by presuppositions) approach to Christianity made by unbelievers. Our contemporary age is one in which this seems to be largely forgotten. Instead, we are inundated with a form of scientism that takes its own axiomatic foundations for granted and expects everyone else, including Christians, to do the same.

To quote Petersen:

"We are all dogmatists."
That is to say, we all begin with an indemonstrable axiom. This has to be the case, in fact, otherwise we would never be able to begin. So the Christian and the atheist, for instance, must both start in the same way - viz. by accepting an axiom which will serve to justify their claims to knowledge. If Christians and unbelievers do not begin by granting that each has his own starting point, discussion cannot move any further. In this way, Petersen's book focuses in on methodology, helpfully showing the reader how to engage in a fruitful discussion with unbelievers, and how to avoid fruitless disputes. 

Apologetics Made Simple, however, also helpfully draws attention to the need for clearly defined terms when engaging with unbelievers, properly representing an opponent's beliefs, doing apologetics in faith, and knowing when to walk away, making this short book an immensely practical tool to have at one's disposal. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Soul Sleep: An Unbiblical Doctrine [Pt. 5]

[Continued from Pts. 1, 2, 3, & 4.]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ 2. Literal Sleep [Continued]

D. Lack of EDC in Parabolic Representations of Literal Sleep

i. The Parable of the Seed Growing

Literal sleep, we should note, also appears in parables. For instance, in the Parable of the Seed Growing, Christ references literal sleep as daily activity in the life of man. Mark 4:26-29 reads:
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Though not explicitly spelled out in the parable, literal sleep as a lack of EDC is implied by the sower’s uninterrupted patterns of sleeping and rising night and day. The sower does not anxiously lose sleep over the progress of the seed. As Peter Rhea Jones notes:
The parable of the earth bearing fruit on its own contains a dramatic tension then between the sleeping man and the sprouting seed. The parable teaches that the kingdom has a power of its own, that it is God-given. No one need worry. It is a stiff rebuke to feverish trust in human hustle.[1]
In dealing with the Corinthian factions, the apostle Paul similarly notes that he
…planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.[2]
Paul, like the sower in the Parable of the Seed Growing, has only the power and calling to preach the Word of God. There is nothing Paul can do to cause growth in believers — only God can do that. The apostle’s analogy is not identical to what we find in the Lord’s Parable of the Seed Growing, but it does seem to follow the parable closely. Evidence of this close relationship, in fact, can be seen in the next chapter where Paul writes:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.[3]
Paul the sower expresses not laziness in examining his faithfulness to Christ as a minister of the Word, but trust in God to cause the seed of the Word preached to grow to full fruition, i.e. the end of the age. In the parable, there is an implied distinction between the sleepless toil mentioned above and the normal sleeping-rising schedule of the preacher, like Paul, who trusts God’s Word to accomplish that for which God has sent it.[4]

ii. The Parable of the Weeds

The Lord Jesus’ Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13:24-29, unlike the Parable of the Seed Growing, places emphasis on the sleeper’s lack of externally directed consciousness. There the Son of God declares:
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.[5]
The enemy is being depicted as stealthily sowing weeds while the servants of the master of the house are sleeping. This explains their surprise later, when they exclaim:
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’[6]
While these servants slept, they lacked EDC and, therefore, were unaware of the weeds wound up in their master’s field.

iii. The Parables of the Master of the House, the Wicked Servant, 
& the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

In this parable, the Lord Jesus uses sleep as a means of communicating the lack of awareness exhibited by truly regenerate believers as well as unbelievers. Some have understood the imagery of “falling asleep” in the parable to signify dying,[7] however, there is no evidence from the parable itself to support such an interpretation. Immediately prior to giving this parable, Christ notes that although “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only,”[8] it is nevertheless the case that “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”[9] And so he differentiates between two classes of living persons at the time of his return in vv.40-41, viz. (i.)those who are taken and (ii.)those who are left, commanding his listeners to “stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”[10]

Friday, July 14, 2017

Soul Sleep: An Unbiblical Doctrine [Pt. 4]

[Continued from Pts. 1, 2, & 3]
by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ 2. Literal Sleep [Continued]

C. The Lack of Externally Directed Consciousness During Literal Sleep in The Old and New Testaments

As the example of Adam clearly demonstrates, those who have literally fallen asleep lack externally directed consciousness. Thus, in keeping with this universal trait of man’s sleeping state the writer of Judges reports that
Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand…went softly to [Sisera] and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness.[1]
Sisera, in his sleep state, lacked EDC. Consequently, he was vulnerable to attack. Later in the book of Judges, we encounter a similar situation in which Samson fell asleep and, while he slept, suffered the loss of God’s power and presence. The writer informs us that while Samson slept
[Delilah] began to torment [i.e. began to wake him up with verbal and physical taunts] him [as he slept], and his strength left him…He awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.[2]
As Adam slept and was unaware of his rib being extracted and formed into a helpmeet, and as Sisera slept and was unaware the hammer and peg traveling through the air and into his temple, even so Samson slept and was unaware of Delilah cutting off his hair. Later in Israel’s history, the same testimony about sleepers lacking EDC is given when it is revealed that
David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, [and] no man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.”[3]
The deep sleep from the Lord made these men lack EDC, depriving them of knowledge of what was occurring while they slept.

1st Kings 3:16-28 testifies to the lack of EDC during sleep as well. In this text, we are given the story of two prostitutes denying one another’s maternity as regards a living child and a dead child.