Friday, December 30, 2011

But truth is relative, and Jesus is just YOUR truth

Does it make sense to say that, "truth is relative"?  Of course not, but people are often well-meaning when they say this, so be nice when you point out their error.

Where is the error?  If we say that truth is relative, we are making a non-relative statement.  An absolute or objective truth claim that we expect people to take seriously.  This means that by saying "truth is relative" we are also implying that truth is not relative.

If that was a bit of a mindful, look at it from the negative point of view:  It is an absolute truth statement to say "there is no such thing as absolute truth".

If all of that fails to make an impression, try this response: How do you know that truth is relative?  What if Jesus is really YOUR truth too?  What then?

If there is any absolute or objective truth (objective is usually a better word to use) then God is in the best position to know what it is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas started as a pagan festival. Why is is now Christian?

As the meaning of words change, so changes what is culturally acceptable to say. When was the last time that "gay" was used the same way as in the Flintstones cartoon? (We'll have a gay old time!)

It is the same with cultural traditions.

While the origins of Christmas may be debatable, would it have been okay to celebrate with the pagans if a Christian festival was merged with a pagan one?  As long as it was clear to unbelievers and brothers with weaker consciences that you did not follow pagan practices.

What about now, in the year 2011?  I don't think the answer has changed.  Except in place of the pagans, consider the works of the flesh that are typical of the world.

If you are honouring God in all that you do, there will be no problems with the cultural traditions in which you participate.  You will be offended at the thought of ungodly compromise!  If you are consistently faithful, there will be no confusion about who you serve this Christmas!

May it be a merry and God-blessed one!

What about Evolution?

A lot can be said.  

Some parts of Evolution are compatible with the scriptures but some very crucial parts are not.  Apologetics doesn't mean that we are apologising for our position disagreeing with someone's "scientific" opinion.

Natural Selection clearly occurs - this process is in keeping with the "natural" operation of the universe, i.e. The faster dog will have a survival advantage, meaning more faster dogs will survive under conditions that require that speed for procreation (directly or indirectly).  This is obvious, but doesn't explain origins, and doesn't guarantee permanent change in a gene pool.

Mutation also occurs - no problem here either.

The big question is: Can mutation provide enough change for natural selection to act upon in a way that leads to vastly different species, e.g. dogs and bananas.  The scriptures do not allow the time for this to occur.  I don't even think the age of the universe allows time for this to occur (that, and the absence of truly transitional species is why the idea of punctuated equilibrium exists - a theory to fill the gaps that are usually denied)

Another big question: Even if the answer is yes, does this explain origins?  

This is a huge topic (hence the longer than usual post) and will no doubt be one to come back to.  More reading at for now.

Quarreling and Patience

In your debates and arguments, remember to be polite and reasonable.

It is easy to think that the natural course of a debate or argument is to become loud and angry.  If this happens, you will be very unlikely to convince someone to adopt an alternative position - even if you are perfectly reasonable and right in your position.

Instead, we are called to be patient and gentle (though gentle does not mean you can't be firm).  It is God who will grant repentance, if that is to come.  A person will not "get it" unless His Spirit acts on them to open their eyesAnd again.

Homosexual behaviour - focus on the behaviour

"I can't help feeling this way.  I'm going to hell for feeling something I can't help!"

We can offend and argue needlessly if we focus on the wrong issue.

The issue is not the feelings.  Everyone, Christian or not, has evil impulses that are a sign of our fallen nature.  What we do with those feelings, whether we act on them or not, is what condemns us.  We can either ignore them or follow our impulses.  If we fall we can either repent of our evil ways, or we can try to justify our actions.

Even homosexuals can repent and turn from homosexual activity.  God gives strength to those who ask.

Homosexual behaviour - natural or not, it doesn't matter

"But I was born with these feelings.  That means it can't be wrong!"

There is a lot that could be said but lets keep it simple.  

"If I'm born with the natural inclination to lie or steal, does that make it okay?"

The truth is that we are all naturally inclined towards evil from birth.  Whether something is right or wrong is independent of what is "natural".  Perhaps this is what David is talking about in Psalm 51:5 

The Weight of an Argument

Arguments have to be grounded in something solid and lasting.  If they are not, they will eventually fail.

The best arguments come from: "God has said..." because God is eternal and He knows the beginning from the end.  He is sure to be right.  He is the only one who has all knowledge.  He is the only one who can tell us what is right or wrong, true or false.

That doesn't mean there is no place for arguments that don't come directly from God.  These arguments help to build a wider picture that is appealing to those who are not Christians.  This could even be a draw-card to saving faith.  God has given each of us a conscience, and certain other things are self-evident (obvious to all) in a similar way.

Use all arguments to His glory, but remember where you should place the greatest weight of faith, and which arguments carry the strongest weight in a debate.

Why believe the Bible? Archaeology

Not just stories.  Real people, real events, real places, real physical evidence left behind.

Thousands of years later, discoveries continue to take place that confirm aspects of the narrative.

Is this alone enough to convince someone to have faith?  No way, and there are many who believe in the bible as a guide in their archaeological treasure hunts that show this by not believing the gospel.  This does, however, add to the bigger picture that builds evidence, authenticity, and leads to greater trust in the bible.

Some useful links for further exploration (vague pun intended!)

Why believe the Bible? Fulfilled Prophecy

An account of the crucifixion of Christ was written hundreds of years before he was born.  The account of that event, of fulfilled prophecy, is recorded in the four gospels.

How do we know that prophecy was really written before Christ?  In the second century BC the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek.  This was a big enough deal that this is recorded outside of the Bible itself.

If this is true, then we only have to establish whether Jesus, through the crucifixion, deliberately set out to fulfill this prophecy, or whether the gospels set out to copy it.  Neither of these options makes sense when you understand that a crucified Messiah was not what anyone was expecting.  All of the Jewish leaders, and even Jesus's close disciples, expected the Messiah to take power from the gentile nations and return ruling power and land to the Jews as God's people.

This is only one of many prophecies that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Try reading Psalm 22 (written 1000 years before Christ) and picking out the parts that were also in the gospel accounts.  If you get stuck, start at verses 16 to 18.

Why Believe the Bible? Internal Consistency

Remember that the Bible is really a collection of smaller books and letters written by around 40 different authors.  These were written over a period of about 1500 years.

The only way that such a span of writing could maintain internal consistency is by being a supernaturally guided production.  Every author was moved by the Spirit to write what was written.  As such, the whole Bible makes sense with every other part of the Bible.  When it doesn't seem to match up, it usually means the reader has missed something.

Some claim that there are too many contradictions in the Bible for it to be supernatural.  If only they would take the time to understand the fullness of the context in which their "contradiction" was written.  Then they might see their objection melt away.

Introduction to Bible Difficulties and Bible Contradictions 
(follow the links on the left to find how specific contradictions are resolved at

Tactics, by Greg Koukl

Recently I read the book "Tactics - A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions" by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

I summarised the book in three parts on my personal blog and it occurred to me that this is a good resource to share here.  Feel free to discuss these in the comments below.  I thoroughly recommend reading this book.  My summary is a simplified reference but there is benefit from going slowly through the entire book, especially to get dialogue of discussion examples.  Enjoy!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Why Trust the Bible? Manuscripts

If you have a lot of early copies of some documents, and those copies match up with each other, you can know with a lot of certainty what the original documents said.

Put it this way: We have less than 700 copies of Homer's Iliad and they were from an era about 400 years after he first wrote this famous work.  This is considered good in historical literature, but the New Testament is far better.

The New Testament of the Bible has over 5000 manuscripts that were from less than 100 years of the originals.

Check out the table from for more info on this.

This puts to an end any foolish notion that the manuscripts of the New Testament were corrupted (as Islam claims).  To ensure this corruption you would have had to gather up all of these 5000+ documents and change them.  If you missed just one it would be obvious what had happened.

Why Trust the Bible? Wisdom

Because of the wisdom contained within, we should trust the Bible.

Nowhere else can you find wise words to cover every aspect of life's challenges that you might find.  Nowhere else is there a complete system to explain everything that you might need to know about anything (and that actually makes sense).  

Unfortunately, not everyone has eyes to see or ears to hear.  Fools despise wisdom.  How do you respond to the pearls below?

Pearls from the Bible:
Blessed is the man (and woman) who takes no advice from wicked people (Psalm 1:1)
Men can "sharpen" each other (proverbs 27:17) [two of similar minds/character reinforcing]
It is nothing special to love those who love you back.  Even a bad person does that.  Instead, love those who hate you (Matthew 5:43-46)
Man has an innate sense of eternity and morality (Ecclesiastes 3:11Romans 2:15)

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Once again, the trinity is denied.  Jesus is not God, but instead they say he is "a god" (small g).

The Bible (and the protestant Christian faith) teaches us that Jesus is equal with the Father, that he and the Father are one.

JWs (Jay Dubs) twist scriptures to suit their perspective rather than informing their perspective by the scriptures.  Be wary of any group that does this, but remember that many who belong to such groups are manipulated to believe for many different reasons.

Here is a heap of resources.

JWs in a nutshell (from


Mormons have the Bible, but they also have other books which they follow if the Bible contradicts them.  This means that Mormons and Protestant Christians can't be the same and don't serve the same God.

The God of the Bible is Triune/Trinity in nature.  Mormons have multiple Gods.  On this one aspect alone there is a serious difference but there are many.  Mormons believe that their good deeds count towards their salvation but for Christians salvation is by faith alone.

Mormonism in a Nutshell (video from

What about all of the different denominations - how to choose?

This is both hard, and easy.

Hard because there are so many that claim to be Christian.  Easy because when you have a principle to follow there isn't a problem.

Here is/are the principle(s):  Before committing to any group, make sure they believe the Bible, are willing to change when they see their errors, and are not so fast in making decisions that they forget what is important.

With a foundation in the teachings of the Bible, it won't matter what denomination.  All of the core principles of Christianity come from the Bible, so you can be sure you'll be okay in a place where they look to God's Word.

If in doubt, you can search for the denomination name on the cultwatch website to see if they are dodgy.  Another resource of Cults and Religious groups is here.

Why Christianity and not Judaism?

Christianity is the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies of Judaism.  Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Judaism.

Read about an account of the crucifixion of Jesus that was written at least 2 centuries before he walked the earth.  This is a part of the Jewish scriptures:
"But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his stripes we are healed."

Read the entire passage here

Why the God of the Bible?

One god is simpler than many.  That leaves Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as the only major world religions of one God (mono-theism).

Judaism and Christianity both start at the Bible which makes that a book worth checking out (even Islam allows for a bit of the Bible).  Judaism believes the Old Testament up to the time of Jesus and Christianity believes both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Koran of Islam came on the scene pretty late (7th century) and does not compare well with the Bible.  Muhammad, the prophet of Islam who brought the Koran, is also a bit of a disreputable character.

How do you know that God exists?

We see cause and effect in action all round us.  Going back to the start of the universe, what caused it?  It makes no sense to have no cause and it is clear that the universe had a beginning.

Read more here: