Posts tagged ‘church’

March 14th, 2015

“So, You’re New Around Here?” A Beginner’s Guide to Christianity

by Max Andrews

Over the last few years of maintaining Sententias I’ve decided to start a very long series that may be used to assist the curious and the new believers. The material will progress from the most basic elements of theology and philosophy [as it relates to the faith]. Then it will progress towards other doctrinal issues and then on to more peripheral issues. All the while there will be intermittent points of reflection and Bible study material.

This will be designed for either a group of individuals (if someone is being discipled by a mature Christian) or by someone who happens to be alone (where this can help get them going until they can find someone to teach them one on one).

I will soon post an outline of what I intended to include. The general format will be that of the famous spider web example. In the centre of the web will be the essentials (e.g. the existence of God, deity of Jesus, atonement, repentance and faith, etc.). In the inner rings will be important but non-salvific and non-gospel issues (e.g. theories of the atonement [I will advocate substitionary], biblical inerrancy, etc.). Then on the more outer rings there will be tentatively held issues like dating, authorships, textual transmission, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.

February 1st, 2014

The Incoherence of Claiming to be an “Ex-Christian”

by Max Andrews

old churchA while ago I was listening to Dan Barker talk about how he knew that he was a born again Christian. He went to all these church events and was heavily involved with evangelism–all the Christian things Christians do. Well, Dan Barker no longer describes himself as a Christian. He, and many people like him, are very emphatic when they say that they were once Christians and they actually were saved or born again. However, if anyone is going to claim to be an Ex-Christian they’re going to have to say that they never were saved to begin with.

My concern isn’t with the doctrine of preservation or perseverance. (You can read about my position in my post, “Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective.”)

December 16th, 2013

Ergun Caner and The Great Evangelical Coverup

by Max Andrews

For the last 6 [or so] years Ergun Caner has buried himself in a controversy of lies. I was a Liberty University student who sat in during many of Caner’s false claims of debating several Muslim apologists, which he claimed were misstatements, and apparent falsities concerning his history. I was a graduate assistant during the exposure of these problems and whilst talking with some other GA’s who knew/worked with Caner I was told that he wasn’t “allowed” to defend himself. As a student who sat under dozens of his sermons I feel particularly invested in Caner’s restoration.

This has been [rightly] dubbed The Great Evangelical Coverup–and it’s true. The evidence is incredibly overwhelming with so much evidence falsifying his claims of history and experience (see this account, which has is several years old but still worth noting–more has since been uncovered). Unfortunately, Caner has resorted to suing a pastor in good standing with his congregation [Southern Baptist] over use of a publicly available talk of Caner speaking to US Marines that contain documented lies.

September 8th, 2013

What Does it Mean to Live the “Good Life”?—Counterpoints with PZ Myers

by Max Andrews

Summa TheologicaAtheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.

Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?”  Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.

One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness.  The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.

May 19th, 2013

Was Constantine a Christian or Pagan?

by Max Andrews

From the time that Constantine’s (AD 227-337) father died (306) until Constantine challenged Maxentius at Milvian bridge (312), he was consolidating his position of power in Gaul and Britain.  Even at this early date he showed the same military and political acumen that he would later exhibit as emperor:  He strengthened his defenses against the barbarians along the Rhine, winning the gratitude of his French subjects.  He did not impose onerous taxes on the people, and entertained the bloodthirsty among them with frequent shows in the circuses  He was deft in diplomacy and military strategy. Above all, he was a patient man, not playing his hand until the time was right.

At the Battle of Milan (312) Constantine prepared for his invasion of Italy by making sure that Licinius could not take advantage of it by seizing Maxentius’s territories to the East.  To that end, he offered Licinius his half-sister Constance in marriage, and waited until Licinius was militarily engaged with Maximinus Daia before launching his own campaign.  He committed only ¼ of his troops to the battle – the rest remaining in Gaul to ward off barbarian advances. Upon winning the battle and gaining control of the western half of the empire, Constantine moved to consolidate his power, entering into an alliance with Licinius in 313 (the “Edict of Milan”). 

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
www.kingsmeadbaptist.com

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).

September 3rd, 2012

The Problem with Ex-Christians

by Max Andrews

Earlier today I was listening to Dan Barker talk about how he knew that he was a born again Christian. He went to all these church events and was heavily involved with evangelism–all the Christian things Christians do. Well, Dan Barker no longer describes himself as a Christian. He, and many people like him, are very emphatic when they say that they were once Christians and they actually were saved or born again. However, if anyone is going to claim to be an Ex-Christian they’re going to have to say that they never were saved to begin with.

My concern isn’t with the doctrine of preservation or perseverance. (You can read about my position in my post, “Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective.”) This is a different issue, and you’ll see what I mean shortly. What interests me is when individuals who claim to be non-Christian (atheist, agnostic, Muslim, etc.) claim that they were actually Christians prior to apostasy.  What are the conditions for being a Christian? Well, there are many conditions such as divine election, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of the atonement, etc. Those are all important but what concerns the “apostate” is the sufficient and necessary conditions of believing the truth of the death, burial, resurrection and application of atonement to oneself.  When one apostatizes they must commit to the truth that the aforementioned conditions are actually false.  

April 17th, 2012

Why Every Christian Must Practice Epistemic Humility

by Max Andrews

There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm.  The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity.  Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice.  It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility.  What is that?  Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge).  Each of these virtues have a respective vice.  For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction.

The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others.  Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not?  Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it.  

March 1st, 2012

Theology Thursday: Constantine

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Constantine (AD 227-337)

General summary of Constantine and his theology: *I’m aware that Constantine isn’t a theologian per se but does have a huge impact on early church history and theology, which is worth noting.* From the time that his father died (306) until Constantine challenged Maxentius at Milvian bridge (312), he was consolidating his position of power in Gaul and Britain.  Even at this early date he showed the same military and political acumen that he would later exhibit as emperor:  He strengthened his defenses against the barbarians along the Rhine, winning the gratitude of his French subjects.  He did not impose onerous taxes on the people, and entertained the bloodthirsty among them with frequent shows in the circuses  He was deft in diplomacy and military strategy. Above all, he was a patient man, not playing his hand until the time was right.