Apologetics

Astrology: A Proper Use or Flagrant Abuse of the Stars?

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-astrology-and-biblical-use-of-starsMy Christian friend and pastor occasionally posts his horoscope on Facebook. I was trying to remember biblical verses to support my concern that he was in error. Can you help me with that?

Scripture clearly condemns astrology as a practice that is detestable to the Lord in Deuteronomy 18:9-21. Isaiah goes so far as to say that the council of the astrologers and stargazers who make predictions month by month not only wore out the Babylonians but did not save them from their future ruin (Isa. 47:12-15).

Despite the clear condemnation of Scripture, there are still those who maintain that there is a biblical precedent to use stars to chart the future. What they do is they mistakenly cite passages, for example the Magi (Matt. 2), but if you look at the context, it reveals that the star that the magi followed was not used to foretell the future but to forthtell the future. In other words, the star of Bethlehem did not prophesy the birth of Christ, it pronounced the birth of Christ.

One other point is that astrology has been debunked as a pseudo-scientific paradigm that based on the odd predilection that galaxies rather than genes determine inherited human characteristics. Not only so, astrology cannot account for the problem posed by mass tragedies and twins. For example, people with a wide variety of horoscopes all perished on 9/11 and twins born under the same sign of the Zodiac frequently end up with widely diverse futures.

Remember Daniel 2. Even King Nebuchadnezzar’s astrologers recognized the impotence of their craft. When Nebuchadnezzar asked them to remind him of his dream then interpret it? Well, they responded in terror saying no man on earth can do what the king asks. In other words, when Nebuchadnezzar—recognizing they were gaming him—put their lives on the carpet, they exclaimed the truth. They do not know the future nor could they tell the future. They could not as so much be able to tell the dream much less what it portended for the future.

I think what you have with astrology is the subverting of the natural use of the stars, which is of course ordained by God, for a superstitious use of the stars, which God clearly distains. Genesis 1:14-19 points to the natural use of the stars to separate the day from the night, to serve as signs, to mark seasons, days and years, to illuminate the earth. Of course, they can also rightly be used for all kinds of purposes ranging from navigation to natural revelation (Psa. 19:1-6). Therefore, sailors could use astronavigation to chart their course but we as Christians should not use astrology to chart our careers. This is something clearly spoken out against in the very first text that I cited from Deuteronomy 18.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you (Deut. 18:10-12, NIV).

For further reading, please access the following equip.org resources:

Matthew and the Magi: A Case for Astrology? (Gregory Rogers)

What is the Occult? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Witnessing to People in the Occult (Marcia Montenegro)

This blog adapted from the November 13, 2012 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Luck and Chance: Can they Account for the Origin of Life?

cri-blog-nelson-paul-origin-evidence-beliefHow does a guy like Richard Dawkins, who probably is the most famous scientific materialist on the planet today, how does he get away with saying such things as “the universe could so easily have remained lifeless, it’s an astonishing stroke of luck that we’re here”?

I think if you imagine the logic tree where at the top is a single cell, and Dawkins is well aware of the complexity of single cells. You work your way down that logic tree, and you end up at a bifurcation where one alternative is design and the other alternative is chance. For all kinds of reasons Dawkins does not want to turn off on that branch that goes to design. The only thing remaining to him is what he calls luck.

Years ago when I was working in England with Bill Dembski and Steve Meyer on intelligent design, we realized that ultimately anyone who wants to can leap into the arms of mother chance. She’s always there waiting with her irrational arms wide open. Frankly, I think in the mystery of faith and in the mystery of the human will, there are plenty of people, very bright people included, Richard Dawkins is no dummy, who will opt for chance when confronted with design. They will say, “Look, we just got lucky, and we’re here.” This is a case of not listening to reason, and in fact turning your back on her, turning your back on wisdom, and saying, “I’m going to choose luck, if the alternative is I have to acknowledge that there was a designer or creator of this universe.”

There is a great scene at the end of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, book number seven in The Chronicles of Narnia series. There is a circle of dwarves. They are sitting and arguing amongst themselves. Aslan is trying to persuade them to listen to him to keep going up into heaven. Finally, Aslan says to the children I cannot do it, their will, I cannot override their will and their will is so strong that they will not listen to me. It was a terrifying scene when I read it as a kid because I realized that even confronted with Aslan himself, the perversity of the human will can choose something like chance.

It is a puzzle to me because I want to say science ought to be open to all the possibilities no matter what the consequences. Luck is not an explanation. You cannot teach luck in a biology class. Write the word on the blackboard, the class is over.

In essence what you are saying Paul is this: It is not that you cannot believe, it is that many people simply will not believe. I’m reminded of Blaise Pascal who said that God dwells in enough obscurities that if you do not want to find Him you will not, and He dwells in enough light that if you want to find Him you will (Pensees, 7.430).

That’s right. For me one of the most sobering lessons in the New Testament is to look in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and the Gospel of John at how the Pharisees responded to the miracles that they saw right in front of them. You could not ask for better sense data, better evidence that Jesus Himself healing people or casting out demons. But, between what they saw, their heart, and their mind, for the Pharisees, for many of whom there was a disconnect. They would say illogical things like he cast out demons by Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24). Right? Even the direct witness of one of God’s miracles in the person of Jesus healing someone was unable to persuade those Pharisees that this man was who He claimed to be.

I think there is a mystery to faith and there is a mystery on how we respond to evidence. I think scientific evidence is very powerful. It is very compelling. Ultimately, the nature of the human will enter in. I will tell you, after three decades of working in this field, my devotional life matters a lot more to me, because much of the relevant action persuading somebody occurs where we cannot see it. Out of sight in their heart. I love giving people evidence but ultimately I realize there is a lot more to it than just evidence.

—Paul Nelson

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20, NIV)

Learn more on the evidence supporting intelligent design in Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth by Illustra Media.

This blog adapted from the November 7, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Proverbs, Wisdom and Blessings turned to Curses

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-proverbs-reflectionsI had heard the personification of wisdom mentioned in the Book of Proverbs is a reference to the Holy Spirit. They are one and the same. Is this true?

The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit inspired the words of Proverbs; therefore, they are useful for faith and practice. This is what Paul tells Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).*

When you look at a book like Proverbs, you have the principles and maxims for living life in a way in which you can be successful. Not in a hedonistic worldly sense but in a sense in which your success is directly tied to your relationship to the Spirit that lives within.

There are so many wonderful proverbs. Every enterprise becomes wise through planning, common sense, and staying abreast of the facts. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord” (Prov. 21:30-31). You look at Proverbs 3, which is one of my favorites. “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Prov. 3:13-15). Go down a few verses: “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew (Prov. 3:19-20). The Book of Proverbs is just rife with wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.

One thing I recommend people do is to read one chapter of Proverbs every day and you work yourself through the book once a month on average. Again, all the maxims and principles for successful daily living are encapsulated in the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 27:14 states, “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” Why is blessing your neighbor early in the morning considered a curse?

Remember that proverbs are truisms. They are generally true. What is being communicated in Proverbs 27:14 at this point by Solomon is this: If a man loudly—the emphasis is on the word loudly—blesses neighbor early in the morning it will be taken as a curse. Why would that be? Well, think about it? Timing, we might say, is everything. The wrong time for a wonderful action is still a woeful thing. You do not want to curse someone loudly, nor do you want to bless someone loudly, particularly if it’s early in the morning. If you are doing something loudly in the morning it’s going to be taken as a curse.

I think this is related to what you read in Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace (Eccl. 3:1-8).

There’s a time for everything. All of that of course has to be contextualized. For example, you can lie but only if it’s a greater good. In other words, Rahab purposed to lie to save the Israelites from certain destruction. So the greater good was the saving of life. There’s a time for everything, if you do something at the wrong time, it still would be considered a curse, that’s the point.

What is probably going on in Proverbs 27:14 as well has concerns suspicious motives. It’s probably a hypocrite, someone going to great lengths to create the impression of friendship when in reality there is no real friendship intended. There’s a lot we can read into the possible meaning of that proverb.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, please see the following:

Who is Wisdom in Proverbs 8? (Leland Ryken)

Blog adapted from “In Proverbs 27:14 why is blessing your neighbor early in the morning considered a curse?” and the April 5, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

*All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984 unless noted.

Apologetics

Are Earthlings Really Extraterrestrials?

 

cri-blog-nelson-paul-panspermia_1

Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth.

How? I have no idea.

—George Whitesides, professor of chemistry Harvard University

Is there anything in chemistry that scientists hope will actually account for life apart from design?

Well, they are looking. They have been looking for well over a hundred years. But, the point of looking, the point of investigating, is to listen to nature. If I can personify her, to listen to what she is telling us. I think that the clear message from cell biology over the past several decades is this: If you want a cell at all, you need a cell to produce it. All life comes from life is the most reliable generalization that biology offers us.

Really the program of origin of life research is predicated or rests not so much on the evidence because I think the evidence points completely in the other direction, but predicated on the assumption of materialism, or what the film (Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth) calls “scientific materialism,” which is the view that to explain anything in biology you can only use natural processes and chance. It is that underlying philosophy that drives origin of life research, and the signal from nature herself is saying, “Hey, maybe it didn’t happen that way.”

One of the things that Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth deals with is the whole idea of panspermia. It is dispensed in different varieties the basic notion being that life came to earth via aliens or meteorites. Richard Dawkins considers the notion an intriguing possibility but panspermia—literally seeds everywhere—does little to solve the naturalistic conundrum concerning the origin of life, which were dealing with in the film. While Dawkins is moving in the right direction by entertaining intelligent design, he has not yet arrived at an answer for the origin of life nor can he and this seems like quite a stretch. Your perspective?

In 1981 Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize with James Watson, for their discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, Crick published a book called Life Itself (Touchstone) that I recommend. It is a beautifully written not very long serious sober proposal that life on earth did not originate here but was rather sent here by an alien intelligence.

Now Crick was an atheist. In fact, he was motivated to go into science by his atheism. Although I think he was a far better biologist than he was an atheist.

The thesis of Life Itself is this planet was not hospitable and was never hospitable for the formation of the first cell and maybe there was a planet elsewhere in the galaxy that had better geological or geochemical circumstances. But, portions of that book could have been written by an intelligent design advocate. Crick recognized that the origin of life was a deep puzzle for his materialist worldview but he was unwilling to let go of that materialist worldview, so he looked for what appeared to be a kind of solution strictly within physical universe having life start somewhere else and be sent here looked like it could do that.

This does not really solve the problem at all. Let us go to that other planet and all the same problems crop up again. You still have to explain the origin of information, you still have to explain how all these proteins got together, hundreds of them to get a cell up and running. It is a solution that ultimately is really no solution at all.

—Paul Nelson

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, NIV).

For further related study, please see the following equip.org resources:

Can Aliens Account for the Origin of Life? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Would Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life Spell Doom for Christianity? (Guillermo Gonzalez)

Did Ancient Extraterrestrials Visit Earth? (Robert Velarde)

Learn more on the evidence supporting intelligent design in Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth by Illustra Media.

This blog adapted from the November 7, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Answering Accusations about Genocidal Gods

cri-blog-copan-paul-god-and-genocideThere are atheist philosophers, who say they love to believe in a God, but they cannot abide the God of Christianity, and so often they see no difference between the God of Christianity and the Allah of Islam. Talk about the distinction between the two.

With regard to the Old Testament, we see that war is geographically limited to the land that God had promised to Abraham, whereas within Islam there is no such geographic limitation. Anything that is outside of the world of Islam is considered the abode of war; therefore, justifiably take-able to be put under the rule of Islam.

There is also something that is in God’s plan for bringing judgment upon the Canaanites. Of course, it is a twofold thing, to drive out the Canaanites and those who remain behind leave themselves vulnerable to attack. It is primarily driving them out (Exod. 23:27-31; Deut. 7:20-24; Josh. 24:12-13).  Then you have a certain time limit here, this is part of God’s unfolding purposes giving the land that is inhabited by the Canaanites to the people of Israel but not until the Canaanites have reached the sufficient low point in their wickedness and then can judgment fall (Gen. 15:12-16). There is a historical length or time limit here that is involved, whereas in Islamic jihad there is no historical or temporal limitation.

We also see that in the history of Islam the oppression and war is indiscriminate. Islam attacks Christianized lands and overruns them, whereas with the Canaanites they were a wicked people basically engaged in activities such as infant sacrifice, bestiality, and so forth, acts that would be considered criminal in any civilized society. I can go down the list and talk about a lot of other differences but that is just a sampling of some of these sorts of differences that exists between the Old Testament and Islam.

People so often want to make a distinction between the God of the Old Testament who is a God of violence and cruelty, and the God of the New Testament who is often perceived to be a God of love. What is wrong with reading the Bible or thinking about God in that way?

What we see in the Old Testament is God showing both kindness as well as severity. Paul says this in Romans 11:22, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God” (NASB). Both of those continue through the testaments, but you see in the New Testament both the love of God intensified and the judgment of God intensified.

Yes, even from the lips of Jesus He talks about these things. Jesus does not shrink from identifying with the God of the Old Testament. He talks about capital punishment being exerted in the Old Testament (Matt. 15:4). He talks about judgment being poured out through the Flood (Matt. 24:38-39), or on Tyre and Sidon, warning His contemporaries in Bethsaida and Chorazin that if these signs have been performed to you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented and sackcloth and ashes, and warns them about the judgment that is to come (Matt. 11:21-24); namely, the destruction that falls through the Roman Empire in AD 70. You see Jesus’ language very full of this.

You see Stephen (Acts 7) as well as Paul (Acts 13) both affirming the driving out the Canaanites. We see in Hebrews 11 that God uses warfare to bring judgment and so forth. We see even in Hebrews 2 that if punishments were meted out in the Old Testament, everyone received a just compensation for his deeds, how much greater will the judgment be if we neglect so great a salvation.

I think it is just a total misreading to talk about a wrathful God of the Old Testament and of a loving Heavenly Father of the New Testament. This is just the heresy of Marcion (circa AD 100-165), who talked about two different Gods, one mean and nasty and the other kind and loving. No. The New Testament affirms and identifies with the God of the Old Testament.

—Paul Copan

Paul Copan (PhD, Marquette University is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has authored and edited thirty scholarly and popular books, including Is God a Moral Monster?

For further related study, please consult the books: Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God by Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan, and Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan.

This blog adapted from the June 29, 2015 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Helping Children Make Sense of Lucifer Sinning in Heaven

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-sin-heaven-fall-satanHow do I answer a child that asks, “If there is no sin in heaven, how did sin get into Lucifer?”

Well that is a good question. Here is how this works: God created angels and human beings with choice. God created perfect angels but he wanted them to love Him not because they were forced to love Him but because they wanted to love and obey Him, which is the same thing that your mom and dad want with you. They want you to love them not because they are forcing you to love them, but because you want to love them.

When you give your dad and mom a kiss before you go to bed, it is not because they say, “If you do not give me a kiss, I am going to beat you up.” They want you to give them that kiss because you love them. Then that kiss really means something to them.

That is the same way with angels. God created angels in such a way that they could love him and serve him or they could choose to disobey and rebel against Him. So they had freedom of choice, and without that kind of freedom of choice love does not mean a whole lot.

Now the angels did not all do the same thing. Some of the angels rebelled against God. They did not want to love and obey Him. They wanted to do what they wanted to do. They wanted to disobey Him, because they thought they knew better. And sometimes even kids think that they know better than their parents, but later on when they grow up, they think: my mom and dad knew what they were talking about. That is the same thing. Satan and the angels rebelled against God, but you know what, they knew what they were doing, because they had a lot of knowledge, and they were in the presence of God, but still they chose to disobey God. And that’s how sin comes into heaven and earth.

Adam and Eve did the same thing. God gave them the ability to choose, and they chose to do the wrong thing, and as a result we now have sin in the world. But the beautiful story of the Bible is that God has given us a way out of sin, and that way out of sin is Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ comes into our heart, then we have the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that covers us so that we can have a relationship with God again.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth …And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Rev. 12:3, 7-9, NIV).


This blog adapted from “If there is no sin in heaven how did Lucifer fall?

Apologetics

Eleven: Wake Up, Stand Up, Speak Up

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-wake-upI want to mention the number eleven. There is a reason for that. Eleven is the number of Christians killed every hour of every day or every year and that during just the time span of 2000-2010. If you just take that decade you already have one-hundred-thousand lives.

While a tragedy of unimaginable proportion, the problem with statistics is that they never tell the whole story. With clinical abstract precision, they mask the unspeakable suffering and horror of our brothers and sisters with just plain cold numbers. They fail to even remotely approach the reality of bombings of churches in Bagdad by Islamic militants, or the slaughter of Christians in India’s north eastern state of Orissa where as many as five-hundred Christians were killed, many hacked to death with machetes by Hindu radicals. Other than those who have personally survived such horrors who can really begin to imagine the suffering of the two-hundred-thousand to four-hundred-thousand Christians believed to be living in forced labor camps in North Korea.

The list of atrocities can sadly go on endlessly; however, those of us in the West should be alert to very dangerous realities that go largely unrecognized by most Americans. The first is this chilling global war on Christians, but the second is a war on religion, which is characterized by increasing secular hostility to religion generally and to Christians in particular. It’s time for all of us to wake up. Maybe not just wake up but wake up, stand up, and speak up. For those sufficiently attentive, the danger signals of soft persecution in the West should alert us to hard persecution now being suffered by millions of Christians around the globe and quite possibly or should I say most certainly head our way.

To those who adamantly deny that such persecution could ever happen in the West, I would kindly extend an invitation to consult the instructive realities of history. Just a blink in time ago. Would the American audience watching Leave it to Beaver firmly convinced that marijuana was the Devil’s weed had taken you seriously if you said that in a matter of years, it would be legalized for recreational use in a growing number of states? Would those watching Ozzie and Harriet have taken you seriously if you told them that the Supreme Court will one day legalize same-sex marriage? Reality is full of surprises, and history is not always merciful, which is why we must wake up, stand up, and speak up.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorably put it, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Poignantly and hauntingly, he also realized that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

—Hank Hanegraaff

Find out more about hard persecution of Christians in The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution by John L. Allen. To learn more about soft persecution of Christians in the West, check out It’s Dangerous to Believe by Mary Eberstadt.

Blog adapted from the October 19, 2016 Bible Answer Man.

Apologetics

Death, Eternity, and the Armor of God

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-death-defeated

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph. 6:14-18).*

This morning I was thinking about the breastplate of righteousness as a spiritual heart protector, but the helmet of salvation is a spiritual head protector. It is the covering that protectors our minds so that we do not become disoriented in the throes of spiritual warfare. The helmet of salvation blunts the blow of death. It enables us to view our circumstances from the perspective of eternity.

How different is postmodern culture which seeks to deny death by driving death into the closet, or by trivializing death treating it irrelevantly, or circumventing it through the use of cleaver clichés. In such sharp distinction, Christianity demonstrates that death is defeated. Cultural thanatologists may urge us to accept death as a friend, but Christian theology sees death as the enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).

That’s the message that radiates from the lips of righteous Job. Satan had wielded the sword of death with devastating fury. He had butchered Job’s livestock. He had murdered Job’s legacy. If God had permitted him to do so, he would have snuffed out Job’s life. The Devil’s devastation was so complete that Job’s wife lost all perspective, and with her mind careening out of control, she cried, “curse God and die” (Job. 2:9).*

Job, however, saw his plight from the perspective of eternity. He had donned the helmet of salvation. He was empowered, therefore, to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me (Job. 19:25-27). That ultimately was the perspective of Job. The certainty of salvation not only assured him that in his flesh that he would see God but it assured him that in his flesh he would once again see his children.

Thinking about all of that and more as tomorrow morning I am doing the funeral for my son-in-law who died at age forty-seven. The whole idea that I am going to be communicating is that life afterlife, afterlife is not a crutch. It’s not a copout. It is a certainty. As Christians, we stake our lives on the hope that God will transform our lowly bodies so that they would be like His glorious body (1 Cor. 15).

Death is the enemy. There is nothing wonderful about death. But, the Christian does not grieve like the rest of those who have no hope, because we know that Jesus died and rose again, and so we know that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in the end (2 Thess. 4:13-18).

I was taught that the belt of truth is the Bible. Can you give me more insight on this sword of the Spirit, I thought it is something about prayer, but I’m not quite sure?

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. That is how the sword of the Spirit is defined by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.

As far as the belt of truth is concerned, it is like all the other pieces of the full armor of God. It is an aspect of the nature of God Himself. Therefore, to put on the belt of truth is tantamount to putting on Christ (Rom. 13:14). As the Bible points out, Christ is truth (John 14:6), and as Christians we are called to be the bearers of truth (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9-11; Zech. 8:16). The moment we drop the belt of truth our view of reality becomes seriously skewed. The belt of truth, therefore, is essential to a realistic worldview. I often say, “When it’s buckle breaks, the covering crumbles, reality is clouded, and the unthinkable happens.” We live in a postmodern culture that denies truth, and in many cases, it makes truth nothing more than a social or cultural construct. But, truth is ultimately rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ Himself.

In terms of the sword of the Spirit—as I mentioned earlier—it is defined by Paul as the Word of God. I’ve often talked about the ultimate spiritual battle where the Creator was alone and hungry and the most powerful creature in the universe poised and ready to strike. Remember Jesus had fasted forty-days and forty nights and sensing His vulnerability, the tempter seized the moment. The words are epic, the Devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matt. 4:2). Well, Jesus could have responded by unveiling His divine glory, but He did not. He took up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I have often thought how that ought to be the template for us as well. What does that mean? It means that we should memorize the Word of God. We should meditate on the Word of God. We should mine the Word of God for all its wealth. The Word of God ought to be central in our life because ultimately we know what is true. We know that which corresponds to reality because we have a test for truth and it is the Word of God. Again, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

—Hank Hanegraaff


This blog was adapted from the October 24, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Apologetics

Should Christians Vote in General Election 2016?

election-2016As has been well said, “If we don’t legislate morality, someone else will legislate immorality.” Thus, as Christians, we ought not to abdicate our responsibility to vote. It is so important for us to seize every opportunity that our voice might be heard, offering a clarion call to a culture that is devolving before our very eyes.

Western civilization was built on the DNA of the Bible. But we now stand in the shadow of the Bible. Indeed, we stand on the cusp of a civilization that is either poised for ruin or ready for revival. And you, not pagans, are the deciding factor.

Pagans adequately exercise their job description—that of being pagan. The question is, are you exercising your job description—that of being an ambassador for Christ? “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,” said Paul, “as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Truth is, most of us have failed in our ambassadorial commission. We remain secret agents who have never blown our cover within a lost and dying empire.

Our challenge is to build a lighthouse in the midst of the gathering darkness; to be change agents in the culture rather than a microcosm of the culture; to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) rather than conformed to the culture.

Make no mistake: we will either drift into the spiritual malaise of a biblically bankrupt Europe, or we will experience revival like that of the persecuted church in China. You will ultimately be the difference-maker—not as an individual but as a member of the body of Christ.

And tomorrow, in General Election 2016, because the reality is that someone’s morality will be legislated, we have the opportunity to help ensure it is legitimate morality, grounded in the Christian worldview.

For further study, see the articles at equip.org, “The Christian Citizen” and “Is Legislating Morality Biblical?

Christian Research Institute

Apologetics

Eggs, Embryos, and Third Party Contributions to Having Children

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-in-vitro-fertilizationWhat is your opinion of embryo and egg donations as an option for infertile couples?

Good question. I think that the introduction of third parties through sperm or egg donation, or through surrogate motherhood is inconsistent with the biblical pattern of continuity between procreation and parenthood. Here is the point: if in vitro fertilization is actually used, the sperm and the egg should come from the husband and the wife that are committed to raising the child.

If you look at the Bible you see the potentially disastrous consequence of third party involvement. (For example, the account of Sarai having Abram sire a child through the maidservant Hagar in Genesis 16.) That is a very significant point.

I think another significant point would be that if in vitro fertilization is used no more eggs should be fertilized than the couple is willing to give a reasonable chance at full term life. The reason is that from a Christian perspective when a woman conceives, she’s not conceiving merely a body, she’s conceiving a body-soul unity, that’s what it means to be human. Therefore, if you extinguish the life of a fertilized human egg, then you are extinguishing the life of a human being. That is the equivalent of an abortion. I think that is a major moral concern.

One other thing that comes to mind is the fertilization of an egg in a glass dish can in some cases lead to viewing children as products rather than gifts from God. You have heard about the whole issue of designer babies being in the offing’s so that people can get exactly what kind of product they want. I think all of that leads to significant moral concerns.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Should Christians use in vitro Fertilization? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Brave New Families? The Ethics of the New Reproductive Technologies (Scott B. Rae)

Compassionate Adoption for the Most Helpless (Richard Poupard)

Snowflake #94 (Hank Hanegraaff)

An Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the Way of Wisdom (IVP) by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan

How to be a Christian in a Brave New World (Zondervan) by Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel Cameron

Blog adapted from “What does the Bible say about In vitro fertilization?