Theology Thursday: Dr. James White’s Four Keys to effective debating.


Today’s Theology Thursday comes from The Cripplegate’s Clint Archer.  He had the chance to interview Dr. James White and ask him how to effectively debate an opponent.

1Seek to be consistent. (Use equal scales)

This is mandatory in a serious debate: you can’t use unequal scales. You need to apply the same level of respect and understanding of how they employ their source material as you would want them to apply to how you employ yours.

Rookie debaters attack aspects of their opponent’s system that they would dismiss with an exasperated eye roll if the favor were returned. He offered a smattering of examples. Here’s some of his riff on this point, transcribed from a recording and cleaned up a bit…

A lot of arguments used against Islam or Mormonism will involve picking on their writings…..eg the Book of Mormon says Jesus was born in Jerusalem and apologists will say “see, Joseph Smith did not know what he was talking about.” But when we defend the Old Testament we often point out that that there are places where the author has used a very specific geographic term referring to a wider region. We defend against these alleged errors using that methodology—so we must be consistent and allow the Mormon the same methodology; i.e. they would say that Bethlehem is very close to Jerusalem, in the same general area.
There are a lot of arguments that I would not use when attacking the Qur’an because I realize that when defending the Old Testament I am going to have to utilize very similar responses from what I would expect from a Muslim. So we need to be very careful.
A lot of people attack Joseph Smith’s false prophesies – and there are false prophecies – but Mormons allege that there are false prophecies in the Old Testament too. So your argument saying that Joseph Smith was giving a false prophecy might boomerang and they will say that Jonah was giving a false prophecy, or Ezekiel when prophesying against Tyre (referring to Ezekiel 26:1-14).
Most Christian apologists are better at attacking the other side rather than defending the best arguments made against Christianity.

2.   Strive for accuracy in representation of the other side (use original source material)



How much attention would you pay to a debater who learned what they know about your faith from watching a YouTube video posted by an “ex-Christian” who “suddenly realized” the Bible was full of contradictions and that his church leaders didn’t have answers? Probably zero.

You need to examine and familiarize yourself with your opponent’s original source material. When you explain their view on an issue, they should nod in agreement with everything you are saying before you explain why you disagree. If they don’t believe you understand their position or if they think you have misrepresented their beliefs, they will dismiss any argument you proffer against the faulty position you have presented.
So, when you engage a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness or a Muslim, make sure you have read Joseph Smith, C. T. Russel, or the Qur’an.

It is “Absolutely vitally important to use original sources, to know their version.”

Some people disagree with this point because they say you are exposing yourself to false teaching. But you know what: Paul quoted from Aratus the Greek philosopher and when he wrote Colossians he uses the very language of the proto-gnostics and the Docetists. The writers knew that those people believed and actively refuted them. We have nothing to fear, true Christianity has nothing spiritually to fear from Islam.

Jot down chapter and verse to show your counterpart that you have taken the time to actually read and understand what they actually believe. Interact with that. Do not erect straw men and throw fallacious darts at them. You will only make yourself feel superior while getting no closer to winning the argument or the soul for Christ.

3.  Show love for your opponent. (Win souls not just arguments)

Speaking of winning, you need to decide if your goal is merely to win an argument or to win a soul.
Sometimes those two go together. By convincing them of what the Scriptures actually say, you win the person over to the truth by winning the argument. But sometimes your words might be true, while your attitude belies your lack of concern for the person you are debating and the people who hold their view.

Apologetics – especially electronic apologetics – is a very dangerous skill because it allows you to say things to other people you would never say to their face. It allows you to sit there and think that you are glorifying God when the reality is that you are just trying to get your sword bloody – you don’t care what damage you do in the process.  If you don’t love the people you are dealing with, if you don’t really believe that you are going to be praying for them, if you wouldn’t reach out to them in a meaningful fashion, then don’t even do it. You’ll end up doing more damage than anything else.

The easiest way to show love to a person is to actually love them. Jesus said to do this, so if you don’t you are being a poor debater and a bad Christian at the same time.

4.  Stay in the context of a local church.

Apologetics is not a balanced field. You spend your time immersed in error. If you are doing that divorced from a ministry in the local church you are missing the point of your gifts, you are stunting your own spiritual growth, and you are neglecting your responsibility to the local church in favor of the Universal Church.

I found this to be the most surprising and encouraging of Dr. White’s insights. He is an elder at his church, teaches a Bible study (from the Bible, not the Book of Mormon), and ministers alongside Christians. His apologetics and debating is his career, not his only ministry.

Apologetics must be done within the context of the church. The vast majority of apologists I know are not churchmen. They go from church to church each weekend and give their presentations but they themselves are not churchmen.
Apologetics is not a balanced Christian ministry, you’re always in defense mode. I jokingly tell my audience – I listen to the heretics so you don’t have to – and there is an element of truth in that. And that is not good in the long run if that is all you do. So if you are a churchman you will be forced to have balance.

This is just the main points of the article to read the entire article go here: The Cripplegate

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Catechism 


What do justification and sanctification mean?

    Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.

    1 Peter 1:1–2

    To those who are elect…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

    Catechism 


    Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?

      No, every sin is against the sovereignty, holiness, and goodness of God, and against his righteous law, and God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them in his just judgment both in this life, and in the life to come.

      Ephesians 5:5–6

      For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

      Thanksgiving


      George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

      A NATIONAL THANKSGIVING

      Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

      Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”:

      Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

      And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplication to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. 

      Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789 George Washington

      Frenetic Friday


      Okay let’s get this out of the way this is December 5th there are twenty more days, understand?

      And now from the subtle to the not so subtle.

      Understand that I am not in any way a fashion maven.  My sense of style leans toward comfortable jeans and cotton shirts.  So when I saw these photos I was gobsmacked.

      {Pictures from Daily Mail Online}

      And of course this started in Seattle in a Salon called Vain.  Do I really need to say anything more?  No I didn’t think so.

      On to more serious subjects.

      Pastor Voddie Baucham posted this at the Gospel Coalition:

      Thoughts on Ferguson

      In early August my wife and I, along with seven of our nine children, left for a month-long ministry tour in Africa (Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa). It was a couple of days before we got settled and had any access to media. As such, I was taken aback when I began to receive Google alerts, emails, and Facebook and Twitter messages either demanding that I comment on “Ferguson,” or condemning me for failing to do so. The only problem was, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Who, what, or where was Ferguson? Why was it such a big deal? Why was I being condemned (along with other “high-profile” evangelicals) for “failing to speak out on such an important issue”? (read the rest here)

      Pastor Baucham makes excellent points I suggest you read it carefully.  However, since that writing there has been at least two responses worth your consideration:  Tom Chantry’s post What Voddie Said (and Didn’t) which in my opinion is an excellent commentary regarding Voddie’s article.  And there is Alan Noble’s article Sin’s Part in the System (And Vice Versa): Thoughts on Voddie Bauchman’s Thoughts on Ferguson in which Mr. Noble takes Voddie to task and writes about his disappointment in what Pastor Baucham wrote.  I don’t agree with everything that Mr. Noble says however that is not to say that he doesn’t make some telling points.

      It has been awhile since I posted on the war against boys so let me point you to this article:

      The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up On Women And Checking Out Of Society

      My co-author pointed this to out me. Be aware that there is some profanity in the article but in it, and this is part one of two, the author gives reasons why young men have given up on relationships with young women.

      And this from Pastor Rick Warren:

      I don’t have the time nor the words to express how wrong what Pastor Warren said mainly because I start seeing red.  However, cooler heads have prevailed here is Dr. Whites’ response:

      And now keeping with the season

      HT: Robin

       

       

       

      The Invitation: Why Altar Calls Are Offensive


      Not that long ago, I would have refused to join any church that did not give an invitation during some point in every service, for people to respond to the gospel by going forward or raising their hands to publicly receive Christ as their Savior. I considered the use of an evangelistic invitation (or “altar call” as it is often called) to be a mandatory mark of any true gospel church. I still remember being shocked to learn that many evangelical churches refuse to offer an invitation, despite being strongly evangelical and gospel centered. I could not imagine why any true Bible believing church would not do it, and concluded for years that such churches must be either “liberal” or steeped so deeply in tradition that they had come to place evangelism lower than it belongs on their list of priorities.

      A crisis of faith later forced me to re-examine everything I had been taught in churches all my life. Determined to believe only the Bible and nothing else; and to practice only what the Bible commands and nothing else, I put aside any belief and doctrine – no matter how precious – that I couldn’t find in the Bible. But it meant more than just being able to quote a chapter and verse here and there to “prove” a doctrine. I needed desperately to know what the Bible teaches as a whole, and what my duty to God really is according to His word – all of it – not just scattered verses to be quoted in support of some dogma.

      preacher

      This fresh look at the Bible led me, for the most part, almost right back to where I started. But there are exceptions that I certainly did not anticipate. One of the most poignant for me is a surprising sense of indignation at altar calls, since for so long I considered them a vital characteristic of any true church! I was frankly surprised and even frightened by my own new disdain toward altar calls. Yet I remained determined to be true only to the Bible and not bound by the traditions of men – and altar calls fit into the latter category! Still, I needed to discover why altar calls, once so precious to me, now became such a stumbling block. Had I backslidden? Had I lost my salvation? How could I be offended by something as wholesome as a gospel invitation?

      A Truer Version of God

      I had thrown out a lot of baggage that I couldn’t find in the Bible. But one of the things I had gained from it was a new sense of who God really is. I no longer could see Him, to put it as Michael Horton does in his wonderful book, Putting Amazing Back into Grace,  as “a frustrated deity who paces heaven’s floors wringing his hands and hoping that people on earth will ‘let him have his way.’” No, He is Lord! He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe who stands in no need of human love and companionship nor derives any glory from them. Rather it is His own eternal glory that is manifested in, by, to, and upon them (Job 22:2-3). Altar calls all too frequently depict the Lord Jesus as somehow “needy” or lonely, standing outside “the door of your heart” longing to be allowed in. But this is a reversal of the true picture! We are the needy, lonely ones standing outside and longing to be let in! And the human heart is not some warm, cozy place that the Holy One should desire to dwell there, either. The Bible says the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).” Even laying aside the Bible’s clear teaching about God’s sovereignty in election, that image of Christ “knocking at the door of your heart” is patently offensive all by itself, since it reverses the positions of sinner and Savior! Adding the further amazing truth of divine election, the picture becomes even more absurd. Where is the sense of the sinner’s impending doom before the righteous Judge? Why are sinners expected to feel sorry for “poor Jesus,” knocking at the door of their hearts, when they are the ones in grave peril?

      Grace and Works for Salvation?

      Another aspect of every gospel invitation is an open, public declaration of one’s faith. Even in those “every head bowed and every eye closed; no one looking around… yes, I see that hand” scenarios, an open declaration of faith is urged:

      “Jesus said, ‘everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33),’ ” the evangelist warns. “The bible says that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9-10).”

      But there is a major theological problem with how the evangelist has interpreted these verses. He has just added a new requirement to salvation which Christ did not appoint! Here is how:

      The whole of Scripture makes it quite plain that salvation is and has always been by faith alone. Rebirth, repentance, saving faith, and conversion are all the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart, resulting in confession and action.

      Confessing Christ before men is certainly a mark of the true Christian. One who has truly been born from above cannot help but share his or her faith. It is a defining characteristic of a Christian. But it is not a prerequisite action required of an unregenerate person as in order to become a Christian. Indeed, it is not even possible for a non-Christian to make any saving profession of faith at all (1 Cor. 12:3). Only a truly reborn Christian can say, “Jesus is Lord” by the Spirit.

      And if salvation is the result of a “saving decision” born in the heart and will of the hearer in his seat, why then, are they told, “Come forward to receive Christ”?! Going forward is not a necessary requirement unto salvation prescribed by Scripture. Yet it is added to Scripture by well-meaning preachers as though it was the commandment of God. Public confession and actions which reflect the work of Christ already in the believers’ heart are definitely marks of that person’s having been converted. But they are not commanded in Scripture as in order to obtain conversion!

      But that’s not the worst of it.

      Suppose someone goes forward because he was told that doing so meant that he had accepted Christ and had been accepted by Him. Yet in his heart he remains unconverted. Having obeyed the outward action, he may suppose that he is now saved. Walking down the aisle or not walking down it makes no difference to a person who has been truly born from Above. But to a person who was not awakened and given life and faith to believe the gospel, going forward may cause him to believe he is saved. By tying salvation to an outward act instead of God-breathed saving faith, the preacher adds a new prerequisite to the gospel. It is often impossible for a new convert – genuinely reborn or not – to tell the difference between carnal hope and saving faith. The new birth is from Above, not from within. Regardless of what a person who goes forward in the church service feels like, only time and obedience will distinguish between true conversion and human religion. Adding this extrabiblical requirement to the invitation is nothing less than a perversion of the Gospel of salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, and in Christ alone. Compelled to remain true to the Bible alone, I have been forced to abandon my former love for the altar call – and I have been further motivated to preach the gospel as Christ did, with nothing added.

       

      Frenetic Friday


      Just when you thought it was safe, just when you learned that adult stem cells would actually do more than embryonic stem cells but now it is learned that human embryos have been created in the lab and for what purpose you ask?  Why to destroy them and to harvest their cells.    By the way no one has ever proven that embryonic stem cells actually do the things that adult stem cells have actually accomplished.  Also take note that they have cloned a human by doing this.  Even though the embryo wasn’t allowed to come to full term. “O, brave new world that has such people in’t!”  as Shakespeare said or perhaps “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”  From the same play.  Either way can we stopper this bottle or will it grow to further monstrousness?

      You recall the UK hospitals that used the remains of aborted babies to fuel their facilities well now it has been learned that an incinerator in Oregon has been burning the bodies of aborted babies from Canada.   BTW that link will say abortion waste which is political correct speak for saying the bodies of aborted babies.  The company has stopped the burning saying they are going to get to the bottom of how long this has been going on.  But notice this:

      Brentano, however, noted that the county ordinance that sets the parameters for what can be accepted at the waste-to-energy plant allows for all human tissue.

      So the county government of Oregon doesn’t have any problem burning aborted babies or for that matter any human tissue at all,  Makes me wonder how the Jewish residents feel about that?

      Turning our eyes to music it appears that Dan Haseltine the lead singer of Jars of Clay has come out for gay marriage quoting from an article in Metro:

      “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… is there a non-speculative or non ‘slippery slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry? I don’t hear one.” He went on to write “I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage. I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?”

      By the way that is from his twitter feed.

      And frankly I think that James White has answered that statement the best here is his latest show where he discusses what Haseltine says:  The Dividing Line 

      I really can’t add anything to what Dr. White has said other than Mr. Haseltine’s ability to exegete the texts of scripture is called to question and perhaps the elders of his church should have a talk with him.

      And today’s Frenetic Friday shall end with News from the Christian Weird.  I have been to many different churches worship services has been held from barns to outdoors to homes.  But a strip club?

      Welcome to Guelph Ontario Canada where Jack Ninaber and his wife Sharon decided they would host a Christian fellowship service at the unconventional space.  Where did they choose?  Why the local strip club called the Manor.  Yes Easter service was held at the strip club because and I quote “The idea behind the service is to bring religion to those who don’t feel comfortable seeking it out. In particular, they are hoping to reach tenants of Sue’s Inn, a transitional house for people trying to get back on their feet.”  Yes and once again someone has decided to compromise with the world in order to reach the world.  Theology matters people.  Keep it in mind.

      an attempt to attract those who would feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.
      Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/church-hosts-services-on-stage-at-local-strip-club-for-easter-sunday-118484/#7bPURy1IKzYh5bpw.99
      an attempt to attract those who would feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.
      Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/church-hosts-services-on-stage-at-local-strip-club-for-easter-sunday-118484/#7bPURy1IKzYh5bpw.99
      an attempt to attract those who would feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.
      Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/church-hosts-services-on-stage-at-local-strip-club-for-easter-sunday-118484/#7bPURy1IKzYh5bpw.99

      Frenetic Friday


      Welcome to the first Frenetic Friday of the new year and away we go:

      Oh yes the year has started out crazy and it hasn’t gotten better case in point:

      New York  Satanists want to erect Baphomet statue next to the Ten Commandment statue in the capitol of Oklahoma.  Yes a New York group of Satanists have applied for a permit to build the seven foot tall seated figure of Baphomet which would have two smiling children on either side of it.  Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple said: “will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation”.  Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy? But that isn’t all no- no various other groups have asked also to put up statues of Hindu gods,  Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a animal rights group statue.

      And then there was this:  NameMyDaughter.com  Stephen, a father, has trouble figuring out what to name his unborn daughter so he has turned to the Internet and yes that has given the usual half wits a place to post stupid names.  At the time of this writing “Cthulu” is first place for the first name and All-Spark is first place for the middle name.  In case you didn’t know “Cthulu” is the name for a squid like demon-god that H.P. Lovecraft first created back in 1928.  And All-Spark is the soul or energy that makes transformers alive.  There is one caveat to this naming and that is the father gets to over rule any name and substitute one of his own.  I foresee a lot of therapy in this little girls life.

      Some of us remember atomic wedgies, yes nothing like having the back of your underwear dragged up the the top of your head by some lout with more muscles than brains.  But this is new: a step father and son were drinking and gotten into a fight where upon the step father was killed when the son gave him an atomic wedgie!  The elastic of the underwear served as a ligature upon the neck of the step father and killed him.

      Then there is this:

      I guess a notice in the newspaper would have been too blasé.

      And then to promote a film where a woman is giving birth to a baby conceived by the Devil we have this:

      I’d like to point out something here there is nothing in the Bible that teaches the Antichrist is a child that was physically conceived by Satan, nothing.  It is a complete work of fiction.  

      Speaking of kids here is another reason to homeschool your child.  A thirteen year old girl took a picture of a poster entitled “How do people express their sexual feelings.”  Can you guess?  Well I’m not going to list what was on the poster but if you want you can view it here.  And yes this was part of the schools sex education program!  Needless to say the father of the thirteen year old girl was upset, and I say good for him!  May his tribe increase!  He thinks what the poster describes is too much information for what a thirteen year old needs to know.  And I agree whole heartedly.  There is a difference between need to know and information over load.  Unfortunately that isn’t what is being taught in public schools no you have to get more information ever younger so that first graders know things that I never knew until I was an adult.  And yes that may be hyperbole but only just.

      And last but not least Cristina Odone , former deputy editor of the New Statesman has written a provocative article about how liberalism has become the new orthodoxy and that new orthodoxy doesn’t allow for the presence of Christians.  You can read the article here.

      And with that I wish you a good weekend.