Apologetics

Am I a Speck, Stardust, or Created in the Image of God?

I remember not that long ago Bill Nye the Science Guy saying, “I’m a speck, on a speck, orbiting a speck, among other specks, among still other specks, in the middle of specklessness;” therefore, “I suck.” Now Bill Nye the Science Guy has become enormously popular. These kinds of statements have made science cool.

Now we have astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was in Charlotte the other night. He was communicating something exactly the opposite and it was still cool. In other words, it does not matter what your premise is. You can say, “I suck because I’m just a speck orbiting a speck,” or you can say, as Tyson argued, that we are not insignificant, and the reason we are not insignificant is that our bodies are literally made of stardust. (The same idea about stardust is conveyed in “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Top Ten Favorite Facts about the Universe.”) Tyson thinks that we are one with the universe, that we share the same DNA as the bacteria that infest our intestines. The same bacteria that may cause infectious diseases. So, Neil deGrasse Tyson is now turning the tables on Bill Nye, and saying, “No, I do not suck, I am significant because I have the same DNA that a bacterium has, and therefore I am very, very special.”

Now what is interesting is you can have Bill Nye with his perspective and the crowds roar, or Tyson with his perspective and maybe they roar even louder. I still remember when evolutionists like Richard Dawkins argued that a boy had no more intrinsic worth than a banana because we all descended from a common ancestor and share the same DNA. He had more of the Bill Nye vibe; in other words, we are not special at all. We are utterly insignificant. But again, Tyson is turning the tables, yet either way, it is all sheer nonsense.

The reason we are special is not the composition of our DNA. We are special because we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27). It is this fact that ensures that a Down Syndrome baby is afforded the same dignity given a distinguished scientist. In any case, Tyson has long ago made the departure from knowledge into the dangerous world of antiknowledge, and people applaud. He has departed the world of science and waded into an illusory world of science fiction all under the guise of making science cool.

Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because it is high time that we learn discernment skills, which is precisely what this ministry is all about. Teaching you to discern between wheat and chaff, heat and light, so that when you hear these kinds of statements, and the roar of the crowd dies down, you do not just go on as though you got new information. You process, you think, you discern. Then you become always ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and with respect (1 Pet. 3:15).

There is another article in USA Today, and this article I was very, very pleased to read. The title of the article was “Womb with a View: Fetuses Can Recognize Faces While Still inside Mom.” This is an example of how fearfully and wonderfully we are made (Ps. 139:13–14). The findings come from the journal Current Biology, and they demonstrate “it’s possible to explore sight and cognition in babies before birth.” Kristy Dunn of Lancaster University says, “It turned out that [the preborn] responded in a way that was very similar to infants.” Think about this. You can take the picture of a mom and the baby is going to react to it differently if it is right side up or upside down. In other words, they are responding the image with cognition. They also discovered that the baby’s eyes are not tightly closed, there are times when the baby’s eyes are open and blinking. So, there is a lot we are finding out about human embryology. The more we find out, the more horrendous the crime is the sin of aborting those made in the image and likeness of God.

We must remember that embryos are not potential persons. They are actual persons with potential, as written in a fantastic article in the Christian Research Journal entitled “The Human Embryo: Potential Person or Person with Great Potential?” written by Clinton Wilcox. It is an article that took me a couple of times to completely process. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth mastering. The reason for this is because human embryology becomes more and more plain, average, and out of the ivory tower and into the everyday vernacular. We are learning that human beings made in the image of God in the womb are sacred, they are special, just like infants and just like old people. Just remember that embryos are not potential persons; they are actual persons with potential. “I am the same individual I was when I was an embryo and, as such, if it is wrong to kill me now, it was wrong to kill me then.”

— Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the June 13, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Authentic Christianity in a Post-Christian Culture

I want to talk about something really quickly, and then to our callers, which is the reality that we live in a post-Christian culture. As Rod Dreher says in the Benedict Option, this is not sheer hyperbole; it is sheer reality. He talks about the “deep cultural forces” that are disintegrating Christianity in the West, forces that have created a spiritual crisis that we have not seen — think about this — since the fall of the Roman Empire. Christian conservatives must read the signs of the times. This is not about losing the culture wars, or potentially losing the culture wars. The game is over, as far as the culture wars are concerned. That does not mean this is a defeatist message, because the real solution is in finding your all in the Triadic One. In other words, being brought into the life of the Trinity.

The reason I bring all of this up is that yesterday (June 7, 2017), I could not believe this, I was listening to this conversation between Bernie Sanders, who came very, very close to becoming President of the United States, and he was grilling Russell Vought, who of course is Donald Trump’s nominee to the deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget position. Vought had expressed his belief that Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. He did so in a very nonthreatening fashion. Yet, Sanders was quite literally excoriated. I mean, the transcript is one thing, but you’ve got to hear it. I mean, he is screaming at some point in the conversation. He was really, really upset. Sanders asked,

Let me get to this issue that has bothered me and bothered many other people. And that is in the piece that I referred to that you wrote for the publication called Resurgent. You wrote, “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.” Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?

During the same exchange, Sanders refrains the same question in various ways: “Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?” “I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that all those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned, too?” “In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?” “You think your statement that you put into that publication, ‘They do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned,’ do you think that’s respectful of other religions?”

The line of questioning bears a veiled accusation. You’re saying Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life! That’s Islamophobic! That’s anti-Semitic! Well, he did not use the word “anti-Semitic,” but that is what he implied, and he did use the word “Islamophobic.” He was being very Chistophobic, by the way, in his tirade. Then he said, “This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.” There is no room in his worldview for a Christian in an official government position in the United States who believes Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Now, I bring this up in light of what Russell Moore said. In other words, he commented on this episode. (Of course, we are promoting his book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel. That is a book I want everybody to get as a way to support the ministry.) Here is what Russell Moore said. Moore, of course, is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He said,

Senator Sanders’s comments are breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant — both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine. Even if one were to excuse Senator Sanders for not realizing that all Christians of every age have insisted that faith in Jesus Christ is the only pathway to salvation, it is inconceivable that Senator Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the United States Constitution. No religious test shall ever be required of those seeking public office. While no one expects Senator Sanders to be a theologian, we should expect far more from an elected official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

All of this is to simply underscore the fact that we have lost the culture wars, and with that, we have lost human anthropology. In other words, there is a distorted notion of what we are as human beings created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27–28). Now, this is a point that Russell Vought made very, very clear and calm as he was addressing Bernie Sanders. So, a lot going on in this country.

This is not the time to give up. This is the time to embrace authentic Christianity. Not a Christianity that is consumeristic, but a Christianity that is transformational. If we have that, we are not living in some kind of a mythological world where things are not what they used to be, and they probably never will. It is not about whining and pining. No! This is about recognizing that God and a human being are a majority. Think about what William Wilberforce did or Martin Luther King Jr. or Martin Luther or Athanasius. Remember contra mundum? He was saying, “Athanasius against the world.” I am going to stand no matter what. All of these kinds of stands produced great, great revolutions in society. This is not about defeatism. It is recognizing what is going on, why we lost the culture wars, and how the church itself has to change in the process.

— Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the June 8, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Addressing Feminist Porn

There was an article in USA Today on June 7, 2017 entitled “Can Porn Be Feminist?” It was written by Patrick Ryan. I will share a little of the article with you and make some comments. The reason I am going to do that is this is not some sidetrack. Some obscure kind of a problem that we are facing. No. This is a pandemic problem in the culture and the church. For example, “last year,” according to the article, “women accounted for 26% of all traffic worldwide” for a particular very popular pornographic site. The idea is that porn is for men but increasingly it is ruining anthropology in general.

The article goes on to say that “Porn made with feminist values ‘is about showing an authentic representation of human sexuality,’” and “Oh no,” says the author, it turns out that “women like sex just as dirty, kinky and exciting as men do.” Lane Moore, Cosmopolitan’s former sex and relationships editor, says that “There’s a huge market for (feminist porn).” I am going to get that cashed out for you in just a second. Feminist porn means porn according to feminist standards. She says, “I have friends who run a lot of sites…and have a huge audience.”

“According to a survey of 24,000 women,” a pretty big survey, “18% say they watch porn daily.” Then catch this statistic, “63% watch weekly or a few times a month. Eighty-nine percent say they watch it without their partners, while 34% say they tend to select videos featuring participants they can relate to.” Moreover, “TV comedies…are created by women, and feature empowered female characters casually discussing — or in the act of — masturbation and watching porn.”

Bottom line, according to the article, here is the take away, “people are trying to normalize (watching porn)” and then three chilling words, “as they should.”

But, they should not. In reading the Benedict Option, this is one of the subjects Rod Dreher touches on. He points out that the moral and spiritual damage from porn is obvious. Porn dehumanizes. It destroys the image of God in the faces of its performers. It turns and it trains users to see others as depersonalized objects for sexual pleasure. It destroys the connection between sex and love. Lot of bad news.

What is news, however, is that neuro scientists have discovered that pornography use has devastating effects on the brain. Watching porn floods the brain’s pleasure centers with dopamine, and the more one uses porn, the more one has to use it, and the more extreme versions of it. Why? You got to get more and more extreme to get the same dopamine effect. Pornography literally rewires the brain making it very difficult for long time users to be aroused by actual human beings.

This is a pandemic issue in the culture today and I want to bring it to your attention. There are solutions and those solutions are thankfully available through the ministry of the Christian Research Institute. I wrote about this in The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated. We also did an article by Joe Dallas entitled “Darkening our Minds: The Problem of Pornography among Christians,” which should be up on equip.org. Do remember that Joe Dallas wrote a book called The Game Plan: The Men’s 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity. This is an issue that has to be addressed, because it is an issue that is destroying relationships not only outside the church but also within the church.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, please see the following:

What’s the Problem with Pornography? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain (William M. Struthers, Ph.D)

Darkening our Minds: The Problem of Pornography among Christians (Joe Dallas)

Sexual Sanity for Women in a World Gone Mad (Ellen Dykas)

Recommended books:

The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated (B2027) by Hank Hanegraaff

The Game Plan: The Men’s 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity (B827) by Joe Dallas

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (B1087) by William M. Struthers

This blog adapted from the June 12, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Top, Pop, and Slop Apologetics

Q: Please offer some insights into how you do research and study in order to discover the truths that you teach?

A: Well, that is a big question. I have often used three words to describe what I do here at the Christian Research Institute. There is “top,” “pop,” and “slop.” In order to be able to do what we do, not just individually but as an institute, it is important for us to engage in top apologetics. In other words, grapple with the deep issues on a deep level. But, to remain there would be a disservice for our constituency.

So, what I attempt to do is take the complex and make it simple and transferable. If you do not do top apologetics, you end up doing slop apologetics, which means all you are doing is regurgitating things that people have said, which may or may not be true. But, if you do top apologetics, then you can take apologetics and popularize that for your constituency. That is what we have been doing at the Christian Research Institute for many, many years, by taking the complex, making it simple and transferable so that you might not only hear but remember and then use what you have learned for God’s glory and for the extension of His kingdom.

We have two tracks that we run on. It is not just an intellectual track. It is not only the truth track. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6 NIV). He is the way and the truth, and He is the way and the life. There is a track that we run on that is very important — truth matters. If you are guided by the Book of Mormon, you are going to fall into the abyss. If you are guided by the Qur’an, you are going to miss the mark. You have to have a reliable authority. A reliable map, if you will.

But, the map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal, the cradle should not be mistaken before its occupant. There is, along with the truth line, as it were, there is a life line. That involves experiencing deification, what Peter spoke of when he said we are to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). I said on yesterday’s broadcast when I did an interview with Frederica Mathewes-Green, the Eucharist or Communion or the Lord’s Table — lots of different monikers by which you can describe this — is the principle means by which we experience the graces by which we can experience deification.

Now, we will never become what God is in the Godhead, it is an abomination to think that we would, be we are brought into fellowship with the Trinity. We are brought into union with God. We are brought into a state where we can live the Christian life not just by our own energies but by all His energies, which so powerfully work in us.

I look at primary resources when I do my research. I look at extrabiblical Christian sources. The writings of the church fathers. I look at ancient non-Christian sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Plinius, and the list goes on. I am very aware of historical and current scholarship. All of that is what we do at the Christian Research Institute so that the answers that you get are reliable and trustworthy.

— Hank Hanegraaff

Discernment in an Age of Information Overload (Hank Hanegraaff)

In Essentials Unity: E-Q-U-I-P The Mission of the Christian Research Institute (Hank Hanegraaff)

Becoming a “Seasoned” Apologist (Adam Pelser)

The Ten Commandments of Apologetics (Dan Story)

When Salt Loses Its Flavor (Doug Groothuis)

This blog is adapted from the June 6, 2016, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Bad Hermeneutics Playing Fast and Loose with Essential Christian Doctrine

Q: I believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. If God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), why do you think there is so much confusion around hermeneutics*?

A: The answer is that we have so many different expressions within the Protestant tradition right now. I am not suggesting that Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy are singularly monolithic, but you look at the expressions within Protestantism today, they have some thirty thousand or more. Anyone today seems to be able to hang up a shingle whether or not they have any theological or hermeneutical acumen.

You have people today who are popular on radio and television in the Christian world. They are coming up with brand new ideas, and those ideas do not come out of the careful examination of Scripture, applying the art and science of biblical interpretation. Rather, they come out of a predilection in a particular direction.

So, someone hangs up their shingle and says, “Now, I got a brand new teaching, and this new teaching is going to undo everything you read in the Scripture because you have been reading the Scripture in the wrong way. Let us, by the way, get rid of all church history. No longer am I a pigmy standing on the shoulder of giants, but I am a giant and historical characters of the past are simply pigmies.”

This person now says (this is just one example), “You can never ever, as a believer, ever, ever confess your sins, because if you do, you are spitting in the face of God.” This is one of the most pernicious — I will even call it heresy, which I have seen arise in the modern-day church, and popular people are communicating this.

“So, let us dispense with the Lord’s prayer,” say false teachers, “because the Lord’s Prayer is an Old Covenant prayer, and it really does not apply to us today. It had some value at the time it was given but it really does not apply to us today. By the way, we have to dispense with it for any reason or every reason because if we do not, then our paradigm no longer will hold up under scrutiny. Get rid of that, and we will simply have this new paradigm.”

This is what happens to people that are unstable and unlearned. They are taking essentials of the Christian faith and playing fast and loose with it. I think that is at the bottom of the problem. There is so much confusion because hermeneutics is not playing a role, history is not playing a role, people are simply good with the gab. And if they are good with the gab, good enough, they can start a new expression, a new fissuring within Protestantism. This also can happen in many different constructs of Christianity where you come up with a brand new idea. This happens in Catholicism where the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, goes against everything the Catholic Church taught before, or what the Church historically has taught. I think these are problems that elevate the person over proper perception of Scripture.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

What is the Significance of Biblical Typology? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Practical Hermeneutics: How to Interpret Your Bible Correctly (Part 1) (Thomas Howe)

Practical Hermeneutics: How to Interpret Your Bible Correctly (Part 2) (Thomas Howe)

Discerning the Times: Why We Lost the Culture War and How to Make a Comeback (Donald T. Williams)

JAF7382 – Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8-9 and the Forgiveness of Sins (Steven Parks)

JAF5362 – Joseph Prince: Unmerited Favor (Warren Nozaki)

Check out our e-store resources:

Memorable Keys to Understanding What God Has Said: L-I-G-H-T-S On Your Path to Reading the Bible For All It’s Worth by Hank Hanegraaff

How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart

*Hermeneutics is the art and science of biblical interpretation.

Apologetics

Søren Kierkegaard: To Understand and to Understand

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37–40).

Hank Hanegraaff: I’ve invited my son-in-law into the studio. This may seem like a bit of a gratuitous gesture, but he is not just any son-in-law. First of all, he is married to my second-oldest daughter. I have three grandchildren as a result of this marriage — Caleb, Naomi, and Luke. They are extraordinary children because Katie and Adam are extraordinary parents, raising their children in the fear and nurture of the Lord, but also with a biblical worldview that is not just focused on truth but a biblical worldview that is focused on life. I want to start this broadcast in a little different way by talking to Adam about two words. Those two words are understanding and understanding. The two words do not have a whole lot in common. Adam, by the way, is a professor, a PhD; he is presently a professor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Again, I am very, very proud of him. I want you, Adam, if you would, to just give us a sense of what Søren Kierkegaard was talking about when he talked about those two words.

Adam Pelser: Yes, Søren Kierkegaard says that to understand and to understand are two things. He is drawing on the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates when he says this. Socrates had this idea that if you really knew the truth, if you really knew the right way to live, that you would do it. Kierkegaard says, well, there’s a kind of understanding for which that’s true; there is a kind of understanding that if you really understand the truth, it makes its way into your life. You cannot help but live in accordance with it because to understand the truth is to see how good it is. Especially when that truth is an existential truth, a truth about how one ought to live, a truth about one’s life.

But, there is another kind of understanding. There is a kind of understanding that’s very shallow. That is only intellectual. That is purely cognitive. It does not make its way into your heart and into your life.

Kierkegaard was warning his readers, many of whom professed to be Christians but did not seem to be living a very rich or vibrant faithful Christian life. He was warning them about that kind of understanding that is purely intellectual. To understand and to understand are two things. He tells a great story about a pastor who stands up and preaches a sermon about helping the poor and immediately walks down from the stage on which he is preaching the sermon, walks by a poor man that is in need of his help, and does not even notice that he is there. He says that kind of understanding is not the kind of understanding that we ought to be interested in as Christians. That kind of life is not the one in which we ought to be interested. We ought to be interested in cultivating the kind of understanding that not only makes us want to live in accordance with the truth but also helps us to notice how to see, to open our eyes to the ways the world needs us. It opens our eyes to the needs of the poor. It opens our eyes to the needs of the suffering. It opens our eyes to the needs of those who do not know Jesus, and then ushers us into the kind of love of neighbor that Jesus calls us to.

Hank: He does that in so many beautiful ways. “If you give the cup of water, if give the piece of bread in my name, you have done it unto me.”

Adam: Right. You mentioned Katie and the way we parent our children, and I appreciate those kind words. They love their grandpa Hank and their grandma Kathy, and had such a wonderful time being with you this week, and seeing the model of Christian life that you give to them. I think, Katie and I have talked about this, sometimes we feel as though we do not do enough to teach our children about the doctrines of Christianity, the history of the church, and theology. You know, our oldest is eleven going on twelve years old, and we have had conversations about what we need to do to start increasing his intellectual exposure to the Christian faith, as it were. But, one thing we have always been committed to as parents, and first and foremost committed to, is we have said that the most important thing for us is that our kids learn to love God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind, and to love their neighbors as themselves. That is what we want them to do as followers of Christ. We are less concerned, especially at their young ages, that they dot all their i’s and cross all their t’s theologically and more concerned that they love God with their whole hearts and love their neighbors as themselves. We are trying to instill in them that kind of understanding, that kind of experiential knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ and the truth of the way He wants His followers to live that makes its way into the way they treat their teachers at school, their friends, their neighbors, those who are poor and suffering in our community, and so on.

Hank: This really ties into something that I know you are trying to teach them as well, not just them but the wider Christian community, and that is the connection between emotion and apologetics.

Adam: Yeah, I think this is something that has unfortunately been missed by a lot of Christians who are doing good work in Christian apologetics. I think one of the dangers in apologetics is the over-rationalization of the Christian faith, making the Christian faith a purely intellectual endeavor, where it is just about getting all of the facts right, getting all of your biblical knowledge right, getting all of your theology right. One of the things that I have been working on ever since I have been introduced to the idea of thinking about the emotions even as a discipline by my dissertation director at Baylor University, a man named Robert C. Roberts who has written a great book on the topic called Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues.

One of the things that I have been trying to do is trying to help those who are doing work in apologetics see the importance of engaging the emotions and appealing to the emotions in the right sorts of ways. Oftentimes in logic textbooks, they like to point out the different types of fallacies that you can use in sort of informal argumentation trying to convince somebody of something. One of the fallacies that shows up in almost every logic book is the appeal to emotions, the idea being that if you are appealing to someone’s emotions, well, that’s not a way to get them to see the truth. You have got to appeal to their purely rational mind if you want to help lead them to the truth. But of course, the best kind of preaching, the best kind of teaching, the kind that actually instills in us the kind of deep understanding that makes its way into our lives that Kierkegaard was taking about, that kind of preaching and that kind of teaching always appeals to our emotions and, in the process, helps to form in us the right sorts of emotions. It helps us to perceive the world rightly through our emotions, and I am trying to help folks to see the importance of that in apologetics and to not lose sight of the importance of the emotional side of life — not just the intellectual.

Hank: Form your perspective, talk for a moment about the significance of a ministry in a post-truth culture: standing for truth no matter what the cost but also leading people to that second idea of understanding not just the first but also the second notion of understanding, the experience of life.

Adam: It is so important today. You say we live in a post-truth culture. I think that is right. We live in a culture where many people are uncomfortable even talking about truth, at least in certain realms. They are comfortable taking about scientific truth, but they are not at all comfortable talking about religious truth or moral truth, and it is religious truth and moral truth that we most desperately need. Truth in the areas of religion and the areas of morality are not opposed to scientific truth but actually enhance it and come together with scientific truth to help inform our entire worldview. A ministry, like CRI (Christian Research Institute), that is reaching people with truth, communicating truth to people, both biblical truth (theological truth) but also historical truth, truth about the history of the church, and philosophical and moral truth, is so critically important today because there are so many people who are not sure that it’s even acceptable to say that they believe that something is true anymore. They are not even sure that is an appropriate thing to do, but of course, in not being sure that is an appropriate thing to do, they are recognizing that there are certain truths about what we ought to say, what we ought to profess, so everyone does have a deep recognition of objective truth, but we are afraid to talk about it, at least in certain realms, and CRI helps people to know how to do that.

It is also important to help people get beyond just knowing the truth. Right? Just having this intellectual grasp of what Christians believe, how Christians ought to live, but having that truth make its way into your life. The “P” in the E-Q-U-I-P acronym that CRI has used for its motto for so long stands for para-church, meaning that CRI comes along the church; it does not replace the church. It does not supplant the church, but CRI comes along the church to equip believers for evangelism and for education by providing research and providing resources that the church desperately needs in this post-truth culture. That is crucially important today. It is then in the church where that truth can be combined with the profound practice of liturgy and worship and right preaching and teaching and building up one another in love that makes its way into that understanding, that makes its way into our life, and helps to inform how we live in love of God and the love of neighbor.

Listen to the rest of Hank’s interview with Adam here.

For further related study, please see the following:

We Get to Carry Each Other: Kierkegaard and U2 on Authentic Love (Michael W. Austin)

Kierkegaard: Understanding the Christian Father of Existentialism (Michael W. Austin)

This blog is adapted from the June 2, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Where Jesus Christ Went after the Crucifixion

Jesus said to repentant thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 24:43 NIV); however, three days later, the Lord said to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father” (John 20:17). How do we resolve this apparent contradiction?

There are two entirely different scenarios going on here. You have the thief on the cross, on the one hand, who is going to die, and you have Jesus Christ, who also is going to die. When we talk about dying, we are not taking about ceasing to exist. (They were both dying.) Jesus is then saying to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Remember also Jesus saying to the Father, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). The thief on the cross and Jesus Christ were absent bodily but they were present with the Lord, as the Scripture communicates. They were in the presence of God.

Now, Jesus resurrected from the dead. The Lord Jesus Christ, who was Theanthropos (the God-man in the flesh), became Theanthropos, the God-man, once again, and He is forever that.

Mary Magdalene, remember, was communicating with Jesus during the time between His resurrection and His ascension. (The risen Lord had not yet ascended.) Jesus subsequently ascends to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9–11; 2:32–36; Rom. 8:33–34; Eph. 1:18–21; Col. 3:1; Heb. 12:1–2; 1 Pet. 3:22). All of these are anthropomorphisms, but it is a way of saying that Christ transcends time and space. Certainly, it is not a way of saying Jesus Christ was “ascending” in the sense of going up like a rocket ship. If that were the case, even traveling at the speed of light, He would not even be out of this universe yet! But the ascension is a transcending of time and space.

The thing all of us look forward to with great anticipation is the time when Jesus appears a second time to judge the living and the dead (John 5:28–29; 1 Cor. 15:1–58; 2 Cor. 5:9–10; Heb. 9:27–28; Rev. 20:11–12; cf. Dan. 12:2).

There is a different scenario with the thief on the cross because that is prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and with Mary, which is between the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus Christ.

— Hank Hanegraaff

Learn more this subject in Hank Hanegraaff’s book AfterLife: What You Really Want to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter, & Near-Death Experiences.

This blog adapted from the May 23, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Separating the Fact from Fiction about Islam and Manchester

On May 22, 2017, a great tragedy in England happened. It is almost beyond comprehension what happened there, but this is the new normal. It is going to continue to get worst as the days drag on, partly because of how Western leaders are reacting to these kinds of tragedies. You think of what Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said right after the tragic terrorist attack. She vowed to “defeat the ideology,” but she does not understand the ideology; she has a false narrative with respect to the ideology, and goes so far as to render what happened a function of a “warped and twisted mind.”

What is behind all of that? I am not going to get into a lecture on Islam right this minute, although I did do a Facebook live session on it. Let me say, all of Islam is segmented into two parts. Bifurcated if you will. One part is the house of Islam, and the other part is the house of war. If you are not part of the house of Islam, then inevitably you are part of the house of war.

Lest someone think this is hyperbole, all one needs to do is get out one of the legal books, the Sharia books. There are five schools that can be counted, four prominent schools. But, you look at a book like Reliance of the Traveler, a classic book on Islamic law, and you find that this very presupposition is not only communicated but underscored.

We need to know what Islam means with respect to women. Inequality is enshrined as a core value. We need to know what Islam portends when it comes to war. We need to know more specifically what it portends with respect to Western civilization.

My heart goes out, as the hearts of many of you, probably all of you, to those who suffered the horrific tragedy in Great Britain. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I can say that because this is a systemic problem. There is migration without assimilation, which is the python swallowing its prey with a long, slow digestion.

Recommended for further study:

MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest Growing Religion (Hank Hanegraaff)

Jihad, Jizya, and Just War (David Wood)

Will the Real Islam Please Stand Up? (David Wood)

Ambiguous Islam (John Ferrer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part One) (Charles Strohmer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part Two) (Charles Strohmer)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

This blog is adapted from the May 23, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Hell of Reincarnation in Hinduism and the Hope of Resurrection in Christ

I was at the oncologist’s office. This was a specialist who specializes in the particular disease I have, mantle cell lymphoma. While I was in the office, a pharmacist came in, and I thought, he is going to be short; he’s going to tell me what my prescriptions are. It will be over and done. Instead, a half-hour later, I was saying, “Please, please, I don’t want to know anymore.” In other words, he was giving me all the information of what I would go thorough in the next six to eight months, and some of it posed for me a very tall mountain to climb. Anyway, this guy now is my pharmacist. I never thought I would have to say, “I had a pharmacist,” but this guy is my pharmacist, and he happens to be a Hindu. So, I want to say just a little something about Hinduism.

Hinduism is interesting in that it is multifaceted. Hinduism is not monolithic; it is multifaceted. So, I’m going to make some general statements about Hinduism to inform you, if you do not already know.

In Hinduism, all of reality is believed to be a simplified whole. In other words, in Hinduism, you cannot make a distinction between, let’s say, morals and mice, something that is metaphysical and something that is physical. Everything is a simplified whole. All of what is, is believed in Hinduism to be a continuous extension of Brahman, which is believed to be the impersonal — note that word impersonal — the impersonal cosmic consciousness of the universe. Atman, they say, is Brahman, and Brahman is Atman.

The Hindu scriptures, the Vedas and the Upanishads, they hold the goal of humanity. If you read them in short, in sum, you will get the idea that liberation is the goal of humanity. What are you being liberated from? An endless cycle of death and reincarnation. Until then, the law of karma will dictate that our deeds in previous lives will determine what we do in the next incarnation. Karma is a big part of Hinduism.

The Hindu idea I often call the hell of reincarnation. The Christian idea is the hope of resurrection. On the one hand, you have the hell of reincarnation; you go around and around and around until finally you become one with Nirvana or one with the universe. On the other hand, in resurrection, this body will be resurrected.

As I sat in the office today, I could not help but wonder how I would feel if my hope was reincarnation as opposed to my hope being resurrection, and then recognizing that my hope is not a blind hope, a desperation hope, a fantasy, a panacea that I am painting with unreal colors. No! What I’m actually placing my hope in is something that can absolutely be substantiated. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and because He rose, we too: you, me, and everyone that faces his or her own mortality. You too, Christian, will rise immortal, imperishable, incorruptible.

To find out more about Hinduism, please check out the following:

What do Hindus believe? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is yoga? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Does the Bible REALLY teach reincarnation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Can reincarnation and resurrection be reconciled? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Witnessing to Hindus (Part One: Background) (Dean C. Halverson and Natun Bhattacharya)

Witnessing to Hindus (Part Two: Specific Suggestions) (Dean C. Halverson and Natun Bhattacharya)

Worse than a “Vale of Tears”: Karma in the Shadow of the Cross (C. Wayne Mayhall)

Reincarnation: Lifetimes for Enlightenment? (Robert Velarde)

The Yoga Boom: A Call for Christian Discernment (Part One: Yoga in Its Original Eastern Context) (Elliot Miller)

The Yoga Boom: A Call for Christian Discernment (Part Two: Yoga in Its Contemporary Western Context) (Elliot Miller)

The Yoga Boom: A Call for Christian Discernment (Part Three: Toward a Comprehensive Christian Response) (Elliot Miller)

This blog is adapted from the May 19, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Addressing a Christian Leader as Father

Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven (Matt. 23:9 NKJV).

Jesus said not to call any man “Father,” but in Paul’s writing, Timothy and Titus are called sons, and one can assume they would call Paul “Father.” Can you give me understanding on this?

You know what? The prologue to your question was brilliant, because that is exactly right. What you have done is instead of just taking a phrase of the Bible, you contextualized that phrase by testing Scripture in light of Scripture.

I think it would only be fair to our listeners to get an idea of what is going on in this context. Listen closely to what Jesus is saying. Jesus is talking to the multitudes as well as to His disciples, and He is saying,

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.” But you, do not be called “Rabbi,” for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:2–12 NKJV, emphasis added).

Now, what is interesting about reading the context — I flipped open my Bible to this very famous passage, Matthew 23, and I have not taken the time to memorize it — but I flipped this open, and I read it to you. I read it to you to give you context. The first thing you see in this context is false teachers, people who want the adulation of people. Don’t call them “Father.” Don’t even call them “Teacher,” because all they want to be is exalted in the eyes of men.

If I say, “I talked to Father Steve,” or “Father Steve said this,” or “Father John said this,” well, people immediately say, “But, does not the Bible say you are not supposed to call anyone Father? This is one of the problems with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. You have brought yourself into this web of deceit in which people are calling other people ‘Father’; this is just wrong. The Bible is very clear about this.”

The minute someone says that, you know they simply have something in their head. They have not ever gone to the Bible to examine this in context. When you do, you come up with exactly what you said in the prologue to your question. You find out that if this is really true, then the Bible must be wrong somewhere else. What is the idea here in Matthew 23:9? Context concerns the hypocrisy of false teachers puffing themselves up to be glorified by men rather than God.

Many people also like to cite this passage to say that you are in error in using this term (father), yet the passage also speaks again about teachers. That is why I put the emphasis there. If we are not supposed to call anybody “Father,” why is it that the same people complaining about those that are calling people “Teacher,” they have no problem with it whatsoever. I cannot count the number of times people have told me, “You should not call anybody Father.” But, they do not ever say, “You should not call anybody Teacher.” Well, the context here tells us both. So, you have to read Scripture in light of Scripture.

The reality is that “father” and “teacher” are applied to men many times within the New Testament, but you can never do that with people who are false teachers, or you cannot do this simply to puff people up and make them as exalted as your notion of God.

Let me give you a couple examples of the proper use of “father.” The apostle Paul refers to himself as a “father” to the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 4:14–15). If this is taken at face value without considering context, then Paul would be doing something that he should not be doing. In the gospel of Luke — one of my favorite passages, I have referred to it a few times on this show — Abraham is approvingly referred to as “father Abraham” (Luke 16:19–31). In the epistle to the Colossians, you have the approval of the term “father” as we normally use the word to refer to our own biological fathers (Col. 3:21). If you take this in a wooden literalistic sense rather than the sense in which it was intended, you would not even call your own biological father “Father” because that would be in conflict with Matthew 23:9. Obviously, it is not.

That is what I love about what you just did. When you asked the question, you also contextualized the answer to the question by reading Scripture in light of Scripture. That was a brilliant move on your part.

Blog adapted from the May 16, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.