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Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 | 3 comments

How Should We Do Apologetics?

How Should We Do Apologetics?

Throughout my life I’ve been simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by apologetics. As a teenager I wanted to help people (including myself) who had sincere questions about the Christian faith. But many of the apologetics books I read seemed overly confident and simplistic in their approach. They gave the impression that their answers were conclusive and final, that nothing more needed to be said on the subject. If that was the case, then why did so many people find these answers insufficient? Should we even want irrefutable answers to every question? Furthermore, I grew up in an environment that often treated “faith without evidence” as a virtue, as if it was commendable to believe something without good reasons. To me, this seemed to obliterate the difference between Christianity and any cult that keeps control of its members by praising blind obedience and punishing honest doubts. But neither could I ignore the way the Bible praises faith as a virtue. What could it all mean? What follows is a three stage...

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Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 | 4 comments

There Is No “Evidence for the Existence of God”

There Is No “Evidence for the Existence of God”

One of my most intelligent childhood friends abandoned his Christian faith at age 20, telling me that he couldn’t find a single scrap of evidence for God’s existence. It would be an insult to both his friendship and his intelligence to call such a view ridiculous, and my friend is far from the only person I know who says such things. Besides, with religious belief (or its lack) a lot more usually goes on than rational weighing of probabilities. But it is probably worth something to show that the kind of God described by Christianity is not the kind whose existence “evidence” could ever prove or disprove – that it is rather like Othello demanding evidence for Shakespeare’s existence, or Harry Potter asking whether there is a magical spell so powerful it can reveal J.K. Rowling to him. The Christian definition of ‘God’ is not that he is an invisible spiritual being who is extremely powerful and has the ability to produce stuff out of nothing, who once produced the...

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Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 | 1 comment

The Difficulty of Reading

The Difficulty of Reading

Amidst switching between three different reading communities (undergraduate and two different graduate school settings), I have been faced with a certain kind of difficulty of reading texts. Likely, what I want to articulate in this post is self-evident to many, but for me it is only in this third reading community that the true issue-at-hand has presented itself. The difficulty of reading is that reading is always done within communities. Like our title Many Horizons, there are many horizons for reading texts and these readings are dictated both by the communities in which we have read and presently read. Within these communities there are subdivisions where different ways of reading—i.e. lenses for reading, a hermeneutic—are present. These lenses are defined by overarching theological and philosophical frameworks, be they overtly or subversively presented. So, for instance, reading texts in my undergraduate setting was done through the overarching framework that the way God speaks is through his Word and the way for that Word to speak presently to us today is...

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Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 | 2 comments

On Forgetting Our Many Horizons

On Forgetting Our Many Horizons

Sometimes Christians run the danger of creating too much of an epistemological gap between the “us” (Christian) and the “them” (secular). This danger is often done as a reaction to belonging to an intellectual culture that seeks to deny all mystery for the sake of clarity. To name the danger is to say that sometimes we deny what we share in our humanity when we try to make room for the divine in our midst. I want to argue that we see this not just in radical fundamentalist arguments that deny the intellectual pursuit in matters of faith, but also in intelligent arguments, say, about apologetics. This past week Many Horizons has posed and offered responses to the question “Is Apologetics Dead?” As Lance highlighted, the journey to faith cannot be understood simply as a logical progression. There are elements of encountering God that can be understood only experientially. These are aspects that fall outside of the intellect and fit best in Marion’s concept of “over-saturated phenomena.” These phenomena,...

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 | 6 comments

What’s the goal of Apologetics?

What’s the goal of Apologetics?

Lance’s recent post on “The End of Apologetics?” stirred up some controversy in the social media world. His assertion that “Apologetics that seek to provide analytic or scientific defences simply don’t work” sparked several reactions. Someone critiqued the use of “anecdotal evidence” Lance had used, claiming to have contrary anecdotal evidence. Another person agreed that “reason alone” is insufficient but insisted that reason “combined with heart approaches” was both effective and “biblical.” Some assumptions were challenged, e.g. “why isn’t dealing with ideas” itself considered “spiritual?” I don’t intend to set up a straw man, nor do I wish to be unfair to anyone, especially members of an organisation I esteem highly for doing excellent work (I also apologise if my language on Tuesday seemed more destructive than constructive). My concerns in what follows must be seen as just that: concerns about tendencies and possible dangers, not wholesale rejections of the apologetic project. Is the goal of apologetics to: (a) persuade non-Christians to become Christians? (b) give Christians satisfying reasons...

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