Archive for December, 2012

December 31st, 2012

Q&A 4: Studying Techniques?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Dear Mr Andrews

I just want to say that I appreciate you website and twitter account. I had looked on it in the past but only in recent months took more attention to it.

I am after some advice if at all possible. I pastor a small church in England, and also work full-time. I studied a BA in Theology at an independent college. I would like to further my education, but mainly due to time and finances am unable to enrol with a college, university or seminary institute.

Studying myself seems to be my current and only available option. I have seen you list of fantastic resources on iTunes. My only issue with that is my discipline!

Would you have any advice on to structure a self taught study?

I hope you don’t mind me asking!

Many thanks,

In Him,

Steve Davies

December 24th, 2012

Q&A 3: Why Get a Degree in Religion?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Hello there Max Andrews, my name is Brian Urias. I’m 19 years old, live in Virginia, and am planning on transferring to Liberty University, or to whatever school the Lord leads me to go. I have a heart and passion for Gods kingdom and seeing lives change for Jesus Christ. I’ve been particularly interested in theology and apologetics since my junior year of high school. I literally have a whole library of books on theology and apologetics in my house haha. My long term goal is to be a professor and publish my own work and continue to spread the gospel throughout the academia as you are. I know this is all random so let me get to the point. One day I decided to look up local Christian apologists on google and your website came up. I watched a portion of your debate and read some of your other material and I must say that God has given you a gift! It honestly inspired so much. I know this is all very random, but I have a question. I saw that you got your bachelors in Biblical studies, and I want to know what exactly you did from that point? I love Gods word and I feel that he might be calling me to major in Biblical studies as well. I don’t necessarily fear what people would think, I just fear what people say about “Bible majors.”

December 22nd, 2012

Dostoevsky and Theology

by Max Andrews

I understand very few, if anyone, would consider Dostoevsky to be a theologian; however, his philosophy has a tremendous impact on existential theology.

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, a story of four brothers in Russia is a grim description of the reality of what the world would look like if God were not to exist.  One brother, Ivan, an atheist, tells another brother that there are no objective truths, specifically that there are no moral absolutes.  Ivan’s brother then kills his father, an act that obtains no condemnation if God does not exist.

This can be understood as ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ),[1] also known as Karamazov’s Theorem.  It is necessarily true that if God does not exist then any action cannot be wrong.  It may also be true if a conjunct of rightness is inserted into the theorem.  This ultimately leads to moral nihilism—a nonexistence of value.  Without God, everything is permitted.  Nothing can be praised and nothing can be condemned.  This world, as Dostoevsky understands it, is a world of nothingness.

December 21st, 2012

How Can God Exist in Nothing?

by Max Andrews

This question was recently posed before me, and I wasn’t sure I was understanding the question. There are different facets to it, so I’ll address each one. First, I must make a few distinctions that may be lingering in the back of some minds. When the Christian refers to creatio ex nihilo it means creation out of nothing (material causation).  Then there’s creatio per nihilo which is what the atheist wants to affirm, which means creation through nothing (efficient causation). The Christian will affirm creation per (or through) God.

My first take on the question is, “How can God exist in nothing?” And by this I’ll mean ‘in’ refers to a spatiotemporal reality. Also, I want to be clear that by ‘nothing’ I’m referring to the absence of anything unlike some philosophically inept scientists like to do. I’m using ‘nothing’ as the negation of anything. Well, there is no metaphysical, logical, or physical necessity for God to exist in any spatiotemporal reality. God is a disembodied mind. (Three minds, actually.) This is a problem for the pantheist and panentheist but for the classical orthodox Christian the question falls moot unless the object can demonstrate a metaphysical necessity here.

December 19th, 2012

Reason: Nietzsche’s Savior

by Max Andrews

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols commences with his maxims and missiles, the wisest of proverbs Nietzsche embodies his thought in.  Initially, the maxims are not so clear and one may only speculate as to what Nietzsche really intends for them to mean.  His succeeding work is an exegesis of these maxims, an illumination of the text, and an expository revelation of Nietzsche’s assailment of the Christian church.

“The Problem of Socrates” was Nietzsche’s understanding of the life of the philosopher, or better yet, the death of life.  Socrates was the philosopher, one who embodied the reason, virtue, and happiness, one who understood the vanity of life.  Life was a sickness, as an individual philosophizing and as an aggregate society.  Socrates and Plato were the “symptoms of decline” for life.  Life’s sickness progressed as more reason revealed the sickness many covered.  This revelation was only known through the philosophers.  What then is the value of life?  Nietzsche’s response, a paradox:

A living man cannot [estimate the value of life], because he is a contending party, or rather the very object in the dispute, and not a judge; nor can a dead man estimate it—for other reasons.  For a philosopher to see a problem in the value of life, is almost an objection against himself, a note of interrogation set against his wisdom—a lack of wisdom.

December 17th, 2012

Ontology is Far Too Removed from Epistemology

by Max Andrews

God created both us and our world in such a way that there is a certain fit or match between the world and our cognitive faculties.  This is the adequation of the intellect to reality (adequation intellectus ad rem).  The main premise to adequation intellectus ad rem is that there is an onto-relationship between our cognitive or intellectual faculties and reality that enables us to know something about the world, God, and ourselves.[1]  This immanent rationality inherent to reality is not God, but it does cry aloud for God if only because the immanent rationality in nature does not provide us with any explanation of itself.[2]

In reality all entities are ontologically connected or interrelated in the field in which they are found.  If this is true then the relation is the most significant thing to know regarding an object.  Thus, to know entities as they actually are is to know what they are in their relation “webs”.  Thomas Torrance termed this as onto-relations, which points more to the entity or reality, as it is what it is as a result of its constitutive relations.[3]

The methodology of the epistemological realist concerns propositions of which are a posteriori, or “thinking after,” the objective disclosure of reality.  Thus, epistemology follows from ontology. 

December 17th, 2012

Q&A 2: The Ontological Argument, Logic, and… Aliens?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion 1:

I am interested in becoming a Christian apologetic but these couple questions are kind of a stumbling block for me. Do you think you could answer these questions for me so I could understand Christianity more?
1.What is the ontological argument? To mean it seems like a lot of lip service. Basically tell me if I’m wrong the ontological argument is that if you think something exists it does or if your mind can imagine something it exists? It doesn’t make sense to me.  A perfect concept does not prove a perfect being.
2. I was watching a philosophical interview with Greg Koukl who was talking about abstract uncreated beings. From what I got out of it uncreated beings do not exist and God created everything even Numbers But if that’s the case then how can God be bound by logic? Like the answer to the question can God make a rock to be he can’t lift? One would say that God can do anything LOGICALLY possible and since there are no rocks he can’t lift then the question is logically impossible. So how does this make sense? Do you know about created and uncreated abstract beings and can you explain more about the study of them and what they are?
read more »

December 17th, 2012

Toward a Theology of Pipesmoking

by Max Andrews

A friend of mine recently shared an old out-of-print book, Toward a Theology of  [sic] Pipesmoking, by a seminarian from the 1970′s by the name of Arthur Yunker. The subtitle is:

In which it is argued that worthy pipesmoking is one of the ultimate gifts of the Holy Ghost and brings its practitioners very close to the nature of the Kingdom of God, which arguments are diligently supported by unassailable proof texts and incontestable logic.

This is obviously a humorous take on pipe smoking. The content is not just hilarious, but it is certainly educational for the avid pipe smoker, connoisseur, and lover of all things good and righteous. I’ve taken the time to type up the table of contents to give you a quick perspective for what awaits you.

Chapter One: Dogmatics

Heresies Refuted:

That smoking involves risk and should simply be avoided
That the pipe is merely a high-church way of doing to the body what cigarettes accomplish more efficiently
That pipesmoking is bourgeois and has no place in relevant theology

December 15th, 2012

How Can the Slaughter of Children be Considered ‘Good Providence’ if God is in Control?

by Max Andrews

If everything God does is GOOD, and if God controls EVERYTHING, then it would be BAD had one less child been murdered in Newtown, CT.

This is the argument we find particularly among open theists but I would consider it an important existential question. It primarily focuses on the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. Here’s the argument in a formal depiction:

  1. If everything God does is Good [and]
  2. If God controls everything [by weak and strong actualization]
  3. Then, it would be bad had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
  4. It would have been good had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
  5. Therefore, either not everything God does is good or God does not control everything.
  6. God is good and everything he does is good.
  7. Therefore, God does not control everything.

It seems like we are posed with interesting dilemma (at least for the Christian who affirms that God’s means of providence is not exclusively causal, but that he controls all things).

December 15th, 2012

Pantheism – What Event Can be Ascribed to God?

by Max Andrews

Pantheism is the idea that God is immanent in all things. Modern pantheism rose from the transcendence vs. immanence debate in the 19th century. The closing of the age of Reason appeared to leave religion in a predicament. It seemed that the choices were to opt for the traditional Christian emphasis on human sin and divine salvation, maintained by appeal to the Bible and the church. Or one was forced to follow the modern skeptical rationalism that arose as the final product of the enlightened individual mind. Theologians of the pre-Enlightenment era agreed that one could not just return to pre-Enlightenment dogmatic orthodoxy, they refused to accept post-Enlightenment skeptical rationalism as the only alternative. Thus, they began to search for new ways to understand the Christian faith. Thus they sought to move beyond the Enlightenment while incorporating the advances it had made, which could definitely have been to the detriment of the Christian Faith. More specifically, they attempted to establish a new relationship between transcendence and immanence in the wake of shattering the medieval balance.