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June 01, 2007

Comments

Raises his hand. I am guilty of trying to use every arguement I can think of to defend and share the Gospel message. I know in my head that there is nothing I can say, do, or act that is going to change someones heart. It is the power of God's Word and the Holy Spirit, nothing more and nothing less.

I personally need to remember this and keep pouring it into my brain that God uses me but it is Him who calls the person. As christians we need to be equiped to be good amabassadors for Christ. I really think of 1 Peter 3:15

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Also Colossians 4:5-6

5 Behave wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of your time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

We need to remember that sharing the gospel message is a "win win win" situation. First off we are doing what Christ has called us to do. Amen to that, but if we think of the 3 possible outcomes when we share our hope and faith in Christ it is a good outcome no matter what. We have planted a seed, God calls them to Himself or they insult us. All those outcomes have their blessings.

You may ask if they insult us we have blessings? Yes, in 1 Peter 4:14 it says

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

I like the idea of our goal is sharing and clarifying the gospel message. Thanks for the reminder Amy.

Wes, thanks for your comment. I don't think you need to apologize for trying to use every argument you can think of to defend the gospel. I firmly believe, as I said above, that we ought to present the truth about God, and I do think that apologetics is a valuable part of that. Here's why: part of our message of what Christ has done is the idea that this message about Christ is actually true about reality. When we give apologetic arguments, this is what we're proclaiming--we are merely going into detail about the idea that the gospel is true, and that is a key part of the message (though not everyone will go into detail about this part of the message). Not everyone has knowledge of apologetics, and that's okay. They'll flesh out and make clear other aspects of the gospel (as I mentioned above).

But if apologetics is what God has given us to do, this we need to do--using every argument we can think of, as you said, and bringing the gospel "to the notice of the whole world," as Packer said.

The only thing we need to stop doing is thinking we need to achieve "results." We need to trust God and be okay with nothing happening and just continue to be faithful in presenting the truth.

I hope that distinction helps! I wouldn't want anyone to stop using whatever arguments they can to present the gospel as truth. Arguments contribute to clarity and are the responsibility of those to whom the knowledge and ability have been given.

I don’t think most people come to God (or leave God for that matter) for the above mentioned reasons “theology, historical facts, tactical/analytical skills, or philosophy.”

To increase your proselytizing yield, you really gotta present an image of a socially calibrated attractive human being – one who is physically and mentally healthy, and actively participating in a positive organizational social hierarchy – with rules and goals and the possibility of advancement.

When you’re out there in the secular city, remember that your target consumer will receive your product message (in this case the word of god and a subscription to a church membership program) via many sub channels. It’s 10% what you say. It’s 90% how you say it. Body language, vocal tonality, and grooming should be your three primary concerns. Your pitch content is much more likely to be accepted if these three are in order.

Some quick tips: When proselytizing to women, you must foster a belief in serendipity at every turn in the conversation. i.e. “My gosh I feel that there was a purpose in our meeting today.” Women are much more likely to confabulate reasons for circumstantial coincidences or chance meetings than men are. Also humans are more likely to listen to and receive authority messages from individuals who are taller (about 4 inches). Try to pitch to targets who are shorter than you. If you are shorter than your target, try to venue change from standing to sitting as quickly as possible – so you can be at eye level. Also, experiment after experiment shows that people are more likely to listen to or follow a man in a suit. You don’t have to wear Armani but always be dressed a bit more formal than your target. People remember the first and last couple minutes of your meeting the best. So you’re approach has to be rock solid. And for the end of the meeting, your CTA (Call To Action) should also be practiced and polished. Try to emphasize the notion that your target would be foolish or unwise for not taking the time to find out more about what you have to say. Don’t forget the “You want fries with that?” principle – most people need a final nudge at the end. Be sure to ask if they want to “super-size” at the end. And be sure that when you leave your target, you use an anchor – a physical object to place in your target’s hand. This technique has long been in use at trade shows the world over. Christians often use small crosses, prayer cards, rosaries, or little rocks. Such objects are subconsciously placed in the target’s pocket once received. But they leave a cognitive impression that follows the target home. The brain is a big association network and feedback loop. If your meeting went well, they will associate the good feeling with the object every time they see it later in the week. They are hence more likely to react to such feelings and remember to get in touch with you. If you can somehow merge your contact information with the anchor, even better – because people are too used to getting business cards these days. If you must use business cards hire a professional graphic designer – as business cards have become status indicators.

Anyway, I suggest these books:

How to Win Friends and Influence People By Dale Carnegie

Influence By Joseph O'Conner

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists By Neil Strauss

You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen

Art of Seduction By Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power By Robert Greene

Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming By Joseph O'Conner

Cold Reading and How to Be Good at It By Basil Hoffman

And you absolutely must watch every single thing you can find on Darren Brown
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=darren+brown

Tony,
how'd that frontal labotomy workout?

Thanks for the chuckle - good piece of creating writing!

Tony,

Do you have any idea how ridiculous your comment sounds. You make light heart of a life and death decision for people.

If you went to the Dr. and he found out you had cancer do you think the Dr. wants you to like him and be his friend?

Is he worried about how he is going to make you feel when he tells you that you are very sick? I don't think so he is going to tell you the truth whether you like it or not because your life depends on it!

I am not here for you to like me per-se but I am here to let you know about the truth of Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. I find it curious that you deny Christ and the resurrection. You never provide any evidence why you don't believe it besides your own made up ideas and you keep coming back. Very strange to me.

Amy,
even when I consider your hard reformed position here it sells your side short. I believe people have clearly been "debated into the kingdom". You CAN convince a hardened heart that Christ is the way...I just think a sovereign God is big enough to also use our arguments to draw men to him.

I've seen God use the good arguments of STR, the bad arguments of Benny Hinn, the inability for atheism to properly account for ANYTHING and even missionary dating.

I also think you have to walk waaaay around Bible passages that imply individual decisions to resist or accept grace, "Behold I stand at the door and knock, even if a man doesn't let me in I will knock the door down".

Is Calvinism the official STR position because Greg being an evidentialist instead of presupposionist seems to open the door to a lot of different ways that a man might come to God.

Calvin 3:16 For God so loved the preveniently chosen that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever God causeth to irresistably believeth in Him should be forced to persist and participate in the limited, chincy atonement of the few.

For God doesn't wish that any man should perish...he just doesn't seem to irresistably wish it.

>>I just think a sovereign God is big enough to also use our arguments to draw men to him.

Doug, I don't disagree with that statement. As I said, we're God's instruments, and I think our arguments are valuable and are used by God. (If that didn't come across then I really failed to make myself clear.) I know plenty of people who have come to God after hearing good arguments, and I don't see that as conflicting with the idea that God called them.

Wes,

Au contraire mon pussy cat. I am being deadly serious here. If more Christians utilized the above mentioned marketing principles, then there would be more people saved and less people burning in the fires of hell.

Pragmatically speaking, this is just an explication of how one might develop the third pillar of STR’s mission statement – “Character – an attractive manner”.

Skills like conversation, working a crowd, public speaking, and the ability to engage in warm hearted discourse are very difficult arts to master. But learning these tips will help.

If you don’t believe me I propose a contest. I challenge any Christian here to meet me in a public place (say, the Venice boardwalk on a Saturday afternoon). We’ll pass out church literature and contact information and I bet, by the end of the month, more people will have called my number seeking Christian guidance than your number.

: )

Hah that would be fun. But no I couldn’t proselytize anymore - it’s too dodgy and I’d feel sorry for the people who called me. Still think I’d win though : )

"Hah that would be fun. But no I couldn’t proselytize anymore - it’s too dodgy and I’d feel sorry for the people who called me. Still think I’d win though : )"

Tony, you still do proselytize, you just have a new world view to push. It looks somewhere between agnosticism and nihilism with enough Christian flavah' to ignite the gullible.

A freind of mine read that "How to make friends" book in college and said it was full of great principles for the socially retarded. I think we can all benefit from that, and it could be just another tool that God uses for sure. I certainly imagine atheistic evangelists like Shermer have read and practice the principles you mention. Why should the devil have all the good music?

LOL you are a funny guy Tony.

I agree just like Joel (slick willy) Osteen gets 10,000 people to show up on a sunday morning and John MacArthur gets only a thousand. One preaches the truth and the other loves to "tickle" the ears of the congregation. You can tickle all you want I will be more than happy to preach the truth.

Wes,

No no no - even if the message was the exact same, the person who used the above skills would still get a higher yield than the person who didn't.

You can get humans to walk on glass if you ask the right way.

Doug,

I dont want people to agree with me. The world would suck if everyone did. In the words of Jack Nicholson "[They] can't HANDLE the truth."

According to your criteria above it would be impossible for us to give the same message. I would be telling them the Gospel message and you would be sugar coating it with your slick Binny Hinn $4000 suite that you would be wearing.

All things could never be equal because He who is in me is greater than your father in this world, the father of lies.

You would be like the little girl in Acts 16:17-18

17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

You might be saying the right thing but in the end you are not a follower of Christ and your message would be about as meaningful as the gospel according to Tony. We know where this gospel was concocted. In your imagination without any facts or reasons behind it.

This reminds me of the preacher who asked how many people Billy Graham had saved. After getting several very impressive numbers, he ended the discussion by saying: "Zero. It's the Holy Spirit who saves anyone. But the Holy Spirit uses us as instruments, and Billy Graham is a very good instrument!"

My name was not attached to the above Billy Graham story-sorry.

I have heard this point of view often, especially from James R. White. Since God is sovereign over salvation, our arguments don't actually pursuade people. God is the one who pursuades people. So we are to give our arguments merely out of obedience to God, not for the purpose of pursuading people.

The difficulty I have with that is that not only is our choice to embrace the gospel determined by God, but ALL of our choices and actions are determined by God. God is sovereign, not just over our salvation, but over absosmurfly everything.

Does it follow that we should never try to pursuade anybody to do anything? Does it follow that none of our efforts count? I think it's a false dichotomy to say that "because God does x" that therefore "we don't do x." If God has his hand in everything, then he also has his hand in the arguments we use to defend the gospel. None of this makes us passive agents.

Jonathan Edwards wrote a section about "striving" in his book on The Freedom of the Will that's worth reading. He basically argues that God's sovereignty over all of our actions does not remove the need for us to strive. I think his argument equally applies to apologetics.

Sam, you articulated what I was trying to get at. The most robust understanding of free will means we can't pick which parts of life God chooses to use or not use. God is sovereign over every aspect of reality and even the classic Calvinists understood this, given they were often the most robust evangelists and apologists.

I know of a few street preachers who have a less robust attitude toward convincing people and they just preach, with no real effort to meet the audience half way. They drop the gospel like a bomb and just assume God will either choose a person and they'll listen or God will render the vessel for destruction and harden their hearts. The preacher can smugly walk away thinking he did his job, when I actually think God gave us many more subtle, human tools at our disposal to fascilitate drawing people to the Lord.

So while I agree with Amy that we should clearly present the Gospel and unravel confusion wherever possible, we should encorporate other tools that are part of embracing and changing the minds of the fallen. God clearly uses heretical jerks like Benny Hinn as well as those who properly share the Gospel. That's proof if any that it's the Holy Spirit and not the evangelist that draws people in.

Hey Tony,

>>I dont want people to agree with me. The world would suck if everyone did. In the words of Jack Nicholson "[They] can't HANDLE the truth."

Then why post such challenges as you do here, in a public place, populated mainly by Christians? Why have a public website called gregiswrong.com? If you really meant what you wrote, then you'd crawl in a hole and stay quiet (not saying I want you to do that, but you should if you want to be consistent - that, or change your above claim).

Sam,

I more or less agree with your larger point, but I think you have some misconceptions regarding the nature of God's sovereignty - which is important to understand correctly because of the broader theological implications. You wrote:

"The difficulty I have with that is that not only is our choice to embrace the gospel determined by God, but ALL of our choices and actions are determined by God. God is sovereign, not just over our salvation, but over absosmurfly everything."

Classical reformed theology, much less classical Christianity (and classical theism in general), does NOT teach that all of our choices and actions are determined by God. As far as I am aware, none of the Reformers believed or taught this. God being sovereign simply means that there is nothing ultimately out of God's control - he either *decrees* or *allows* all that comes to pass. One of those things he chooses to allow is a measure of freedom on the part of man, but that was within his sovereign authority and power to allow or not allow. The picture of a divine puppet master who controls our every action and thought is an incorrect one and betrays a flawed understanding of the concept of sovereignty. God' sovereignty does not obviate man's ability to make real choices. It does, however, obviate man's autonomy. To quote RC Sproul:

"Reformed theology indeed insists that a real measure of freedom has been assigned to man by the Creator. But that freedom is not absolute and man is not autonomous. Our freedom is always and everywhere limited by God's sovereignty. God is free and we are free. But God is more free than we are. When our freedom bumps up against God's sovereignty, our freedom must yield...If God never violate human freedom [please note he is saying "if"], it is not because of any limit on his sovereignty. It is because he sovereignly decrees not to. He has the authority and power to do it if he wants to. Any limit here is not a limit imposed on god by us, but a limit God sovereignly imposes on himself."

Hope that made sense! God bless.

Doug T
just an FY - the "Behold I stand at the door and knock" is in the context of fellowship and return to first love, a reinvigoration of faith. This is not a salvific passage, though you are correct to remind that there are passages that need careful explication and that LOOK like they promote some form of synergism.

Tony,

I should mention, subsequent inconsistencies aside, that I think you bring up an interesting point that maybe Amy or Melinda could comment on. STR advocates (rightly, to my mind) cultivating practiced and strategic tactics and an attractive personal manner in presenting the Christian message, with an aim to be faithful stewards of the meessage we've been given and the means at our disposal to communicate it effectively. Viewed correctly, this is a very different paradigm from that of a salesman trying to sell something for gain, but perhaps can, on the surface, look similar.

I guess my question in relation to Tony's comment is: where does one draw the line? If we are supposed to subject all things to Christ, and put the most effective tools at our disposal into his service, why not follow Tony's suggestion - and why do I cringe at the thought? Foundationally and philosophically, what is the difference between what Tony is suggesting and what STR (myself included) advocates? Where is the line between the tactics STR trains people to use and the methods Tony lists?

Aaron,

You said, "Classical reformed theology, much less classical Christianity (and classical theism in general), does NOT teach that all of our choices and actions are determined by God. As far as I am aware, none of the Reformers believed or taught this."

I suppose I could have misunderstood a lot of things I've read, but it's been my understanding that Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, (and even Norman Geisler though he's inconsistent on this point)support the idea that all of our actions are dermined by God. I also get the impression that this idea of sovereignty is Biblical.

" This is not a salvific passage, though you are correct to remind that there are passages that need careful explication and that LOOK like they promote some form of synergism."

Patrick, I think there's a far greater need to give a careful explication on the verses that LOOK like they promote monergism.

WES,

>> “You might be saying the right thing but in the end you are not a follower of Christ”

Right well that’s when I’d hand them off to you. I would only be the “door man”. Actually, now that I think about it, that might be a good business. Church’s could pay me for getting new followers in the door…..I’ll have to think about this… God that would be fun. I could put the encounters on youtube too. Hmm…

- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -

JOJOTOM,

I actually read an article in which they asked Billy Graham how many of his alter calls were legitimate saves - and he himself I think answered only half.

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DOUG T,

>> “I actually think God gave us many more subtle, human tools at our disposal to fascilitate drawing people to the Lord.”

Exactly!

- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -- - - -

AARON SNELL,

>> “why post such challenges as you do here, in a public place, populated mainly by Christians?”

It’s just for fun. Like playing chess.

>> “Why have a public website called gregiswrong.com?”

Oh ya I wanted to mention to everyone that I cancelled gregiswrong. I’m moving back to Thailand soon and I wanted to consolidate my accounts and this website wasn’t as trafficked and didn’t generate as much revenue as my others. And I spent way too much time on this blog to ever work on my own. But I’ll try to make a gregiswrong philosophy section on my homepage in the future – just for fun.

>> “Foundationally and philosophically, what is the difference between what Tony is suggesting and what STR (myself included) advocates?”

Yeah. I’ve sat in my share of conference halls, or church strategy meetings, or how to proselytize meetings, or how to argue for prolife meetings, or how to stay Christian in college meetings. And the only difference I have found between these meetings, and any other corporate marketing presentation, is at the end of the church meetings, they say a prayer.

That’s it.

Other than that, they are eerily similar.

And I want to stress that I really don’t mean this as a joke. Again, if more Christians practiced such techniques (found in any marketing book really) then there would be MORE people in paradise and LESS people in hell. Assuming Christianity is true of course.

Sam, I believe that you are correct in your statement on "the reformed" understanding. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states in questions and answers 8 and 11 substantially what you say. In fact it's more stridently stated by ordained reformed commentators who say that even the evil acts are in fact decreed by God. The origination and responsibility for sin still lying with man. I dont think it's dealt with by most laypersons to it's end, but it is definately logically consistent thinking to see God's hand even in the evil acts of men. See 2 Chronicles chapter 18 where God asked in the heavenly realm "who will go and entice King Ahab to go up and fall in battle". Directly from God's courts an angel said I'll go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of the kings prophets.

This view and acknowledgement of God's right over His creation, which can be easily supported scripturally, in no way mitigates the duty for striving to be faithful, obedient, pious, salty servants to the Master who bought us. Else why would we be guaranteed hard times as believers if striving weren't part of God's crucible and His scourge of discipline which He is faithful to dispense upon those sons He loves.

Brad

Senior Montano,

Ah, so it's fun for you to try to make the world suck by attempting to convince people that Christianity is false? Why is it fun, if it produces a result that you don't like? Seems to me sorta like having a phobia about toothless people, then passing out hard candy to everyone you meet and stealing toothbrushes whenever you can. I don't get it.

Or maybe you don't think you're all that convincing, so you don't worry about it :)

I dunno why it's fun. I just like analyzing arguments. I loved it when I was Christian and I still love it now that i've turned to the dark side of the force.

Yeah i'm deffinitely not worried about anyone listening to me.

: )

I mean, i wouldnt listen to me if i were you. As a nihilist, i'm the first to admit that nihilism sucks!

But, yes, unfortunately i do think it's also true.

What's funny is i've noticed that many of the same people who hate christians, also hate nihilists.

No love man...no love.

Tony?

Do you not care about anything?

Do you have nobody to love, or who loves you?

Do you have nothing that you would do no matter what, like say, taking care of a child?

What is it that you really care about? Nothing?

Tony?

Is there some great cause that defines you?

What defines you if not for the other people in your life that care about you and who you care for?

What defines you if not for your interests? How could you "not care" about anything?

"No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of." - Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski

"Wait, that's not fair!" - Nihilist Flea
"Fair? You're the Nihilist!" - The Dude

"Are they Nazis or Nihilists?" Donny
"Are we splitting hairs here? Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism but at least its an ethos!" - Walter

The Dude Abides...

No no no I care about a bunch of junk. But yes I know at some level it’s all meaningless. But I try to compartmentalize those thoughts. I have no problem adopting eclecticism here – no one ever promised that the world of philosophy and truth would be congruent with the human experience, or human happiness.

Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story?
Donny: I was bowling.
Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know...
- The Big Lebowski

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
- Stephen Crane

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly.
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
- Sara Teasdale

“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins”
- Bertrand Russell


'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. 'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?"

"Then you think there is no God?"

"No, I think there quite probably is one."

"Then why? …"

Mustapha Mond checked him. "But he manifests himself in different ways to different men. In premodern times he manifested himself as the being that's described in these books. Now …"

"How does he manifest himself now?" asked the Savage.

"Well, he manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren't there at all."

"That's your fault."

"Call it the fault of civilization. God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness."

- Brave New World

Tony,
I'm sure you've heard Greg point out before a debate that his opponent, though claiming not to believe in moral absolutes, will smuggle the language into his argument. It's pointed out because at that moment, the opponent lost the debate...not with words but with his actions.

You are afforded the luxery of claiming nihilism but as soon as you use words, communication, argument who practice anything but nihilism. Like the Christian who goes to church on Sunday and lives differently on Monday, you are a hypocrite in the same way.

You are a "whitewashed" Nihilist! A NINO (Nihilist in name only). This would only make sense in a world where absolute morality was present. You can't help but be a moral agent made in the image of God. The more you argue, the more you lose.

Here's what a Nihilist argument should look like: "AHODUHOJNSLKNlknsajkldl fanoiue0qu3ohjflanlnafljdopieuq0uoghafb".

Correspondence and internal consitency are owned by The Logos not the Russell. You can own the domain, "Gregiswrong" but in owning it you prove he's right about a great many things.

Tony,

I would love to discuss Huxley, but what is this "junk" you say you care about?

The two most intriguing lines in the Huxley passage you quoted are the "soma" and the "hidden-ness" of "God" or "the sacred" that hid itself at around the dawn of mass production, and what it was about this period that made the ontological background withdraw, or more precise, how the ontological background became psychological, regarded as one single agent, during the peak of the middle ages and the monotheisms.

My guess is the sacred is hidden in the "junk" you care about.

Unless it really is just junk...

Doug T

>> Greg point out before a debate that his opponent, though claiming not to believe in moral absolutes, will smuggle the language into his argument.

Yes I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this point. One thing here to note is that it only proves that the opponent is a hypocrite. That’s helpful in a debate with an audience who will laugh and clap. But it doesn’t attack the logic of the argument itself. Another thing to realize is that the language of human discourse is far removed from the language of deductive reasoning and the manipulation of logical forms. We would actually expect his opponent to make such errors in conversation.

Yes I am a "whitewashed" Nihilist as you say. I’m not really a “crusading” nihilist of course. I don’t even know if they really exist. And yes the epistemic challenges to nihilism (materialism) are deep rooted. In fact I think the only interesting problems remaining in philosophy mostly relate to epistemology – which seems heavily dependent upon consciousness – which we don’t have a grip on yet. So I’m in a wait and see stage on that one.

But I think it’s too early to conclude: “Oh well I know the nature of epistemology and consciousness – a thousand year old book told me that there is a ghost glued to my neurons and that God gave said ghost access to a realm of truths.”

Nah – I’d like to see more research on the matter first. Especially now that the tools to analyze neurophysiology are finally coming online.

Tom,

Junk = u know - the daily affairs of driving to work and buying flowers for your mom on mother’s day. Or as Tom Cruise said in Vanilla Sky – “The little things, there’s nothing bigger is there…”

As for huxley – I don’t understand your question. Must parse more.

Tony,

"it only proves that the opponent is a hypocrite. That’s helpful in a debate with an audience who will laugh and clap. But it doesn’t attack the logic of the argument itself."

I hate applause and laughter during debates and I dont' think Greg does that to be funny. He's making a point, and he wins that point every time because while his opponents don't speak the way they believe, Greg does. They (and you) in fact, CAN'T speak the way they believe. That can'tness is perhaps the most powerful argument against a position, and though people can walk off living in blissful ignorance, they can't claim to believe something coherent.

Believing something you admit is incoherent must give you more than just a pause given what's at stake. It also starts to forcibly unpack verses in the Bible that predict that men would argue this way and those verses I once found really weird...but now I find them brilliantly accurate.

Deniers of the Christian world view flee from truth and cling to whatever position allows them to be their own master. The fact that the Bible predicts this behavior thousands of years before it happens only makes the Bible an even more robust (albeit strangely so) document. Hardly the mish-mosh of contradictions and superstition smart men claim it to be.

"We would actually expect his opponent to make such errors in conversation."

If it was just the epistemological norms of society to make such errors then Greg should be making them too. He doesn't during this one point in his debate. He never does and his opponents always do. That tells us something about the nature of the two positions presented. I'll remind you that you hold the position of those that are wrong. Do you hold personally uncomfortable truths in high regard?

"In fact I think the only interesting problems remaining in philosophy mostly relate to epistemology – which seems heavily dependent upon consciousness – which we don’t have a grip on yet. So I’m in a wait and see stage on that one."

This becomes a faith statement. It even breaks your materialist presup. It's the same kind of argument Shermer makes when he finds he holds a position with no evidence, "Give science enough time and it will confirm my preferred position."

The Bible and a robust history of philosophers demonstrate that Thomistic Substance Dualism has some weight to it. We've waited a long time for an empirical or even plausible scientific explanation for abiogenesis. Again, I think something else is at work in these discussions besides what science is or isn't finding.

"But I think it’s too early to conclude: “Oh well I know the nature of epistemology and consciousness – a thousand year old book told me that there is a ghost glued to my neurons"

Only one world view has the most robust explanation for man's origin, meaning, morality and destiny that appears to correspond to reality and remain internally consistent. The fact that it's in a 2,000 year old book is the strangest of all.

If you had to take a stab at these topics and cobbled together a book addressing these issues with a handful of your buddies would it ring just as true 2,000 years from now? Why haven't the most brilliant minds been able to break the Bible? It's not because people like me are stupid...or that we even want to believe it. It's because the truth is a difficult thing to break.

"Nah – I’d like to see more research on the matter first. Especially now that the tools to analyze neurophysiology are finally coming online. "

Surrender, Tony. God hunts you like a dog.

>>They drop the gospel like a bomb and just assume God will either choose a person and they'll listen or God will render the vessel for destruction and harden their hearts. The preacher can smugly walk away thinking he did his job, when I actually think God gave us many more subtle, human tools at our disposal to fascilitate drawing people to the Lord.

Doug, I agree with you that this is not the way to go. A big reason I wrote this post, believe it or not, was to counteract actions like the ones you described above. There are a lot of Reformed people who dismiss evidential apologetics--and even those who won't allow non-believers to ask questions about the truthfulness of the gospel, and I think this is the wrong move. This is because, since our job is to communicate, the person above is not doing his job. We need to communicate using concepts that can be heard and understood by others, and part of that includes communicating the idea that Christianity is true. This means we have to make the case for this and respond to their objections. If they don't hear that Christianity is true, then they're not hearing the message--the apologetics are part of the message since they testify to the truth of the gospel. I'm trying to counteract the idea that the apologetics are separate from the message, and therefore not valuable.

This is what I was trying to say in my post, but I fear that it did not come across the way I intended at all. My point was to say that apologetics/rationality/philosophy are all tools we use to communicate (and I think clarifying the truth in this way, and responding to arguments *is* persuasive), and that communication is what we're commanded to do. It's just that the Holy Spirit changes a person, and we can't force that, no matter how much persuading we do. I know of someone who is convinced that the resurrection occurred, but he still doesn't want to be a Christian. There's only so much we can do. In the end, it's between the person and God, no matter how you think that works out. We have to leave the results in His hands and not beat ourselves up if someone we're speaking to doesn't become a Christian if we've done all we've been called to do.

"It's just that the Holy Spirit changes a person, and we can't force that, no matter how much persuading we do. I know of someone who is convinced that the resurrection occurred, but he still doesn't want to be a Christian. There's only so much we can do."

I still think your world view paints an anemic picture of how the Holy Spirit uses our efforts. To communicate and to persuade is to be the vessel of the HOly Spirit. If it's 100% the HOly Spirit and 0% our sound arguments then I could show a sinner a porno tape and the Holy Spirit would use that...after all, it's ALL Him and not me. But God doesn't appear to work this way.

He really does use history, facts, argument, tragedies to draw men to him. In fact, if there is no synergism then our lives are really pointless. All of matter and physicality gets shoved into some Gnostic bottom drawer.

Christ resurrecting bodily shows how God redeemed physicality, our culture, our bodies. Remember that Christ could have resurrected without a body and still accomplished salvation just the same...but He didn't want to abandon the physical world, He uses our arguments just as sure as Christ had flesh.

" In the end, it's between the person and God, no matter how you think that works out."

Again, I think God created communities, cultures and languages for a purpose. If it's just between an individual and God that leaves a whole lot of creation out of the picture. God doesn't make "junk DNA"...arguments aren't optional in salvation and that's why we are commanded to preach, teach, use our job, our family etc. to spread the Gospel.

"We have to leave the results in His hands and not beat ourselves up if someone we're speaking to doesn't become a Christian if we've done all we've been called to do."

I don't leave the results in HIs hands because He to some degree leaves the results in MY hands. I don't beat myself up for the free will decisions of another man. My CHristian mentor was one of the holiest, most Biblical men I ever knew...he left the faith shortly after I was out of college. That was his choice, not God's, not mine...so the blame goes back to my friend.

I know this teaching is an assault to the reformers but it seems self-evident. I can't force a man to sin or be saved, neither can God. This explains why God made physical reality and why he wrestles with men throughout the Bible instead of just zapping them with irresistable grace.

>>But God doesn't appear to work this way.

Again, I don't disagree. I think we do have some points of disagreement, but we're agreeing more than you think. Our communication is God's chosen instrument. The Bible says specifically that faith comes through hearing, so God does not save outside of someone receiving the message. So unless God sends someone a personal revelation (as with Paul), we are the instruments through which God draws people to Himself.

I agree with your objection about the porno tape. This is why I disagree with Reformed people who are against evidential apologetics. God reaches other people through us--the Bible is very clear about this. Our arguments for the truth of the gospel are as much an instrument used by Him as our speaking the core truths that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected. I'm saying that we're not communicating the gospel if we're not communicating the idea that this is true, and the use of apologetics fleshes out this claim.

Amy (and others),
Kim Riddlebarger lectures on Francis Schaeffer's position at this monergism site:

http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Audio-and-Multimedia/All-Speakers-Lectures-and-Sermons/Kim-Riddlebarger/

Go down to his series on Francis Schaeffer and click on "Taking the roof off"...it's a profound way of describing what we're talking about. Schaeffer was a student of Van Til's but he blended the Presuppositional with Evidential and came up with what I think most of us here strive for. I think the technique that Bahnsen actually practiced was more like Schaeffer's than Van Til's.

I'm a "Presuppositional evidentialist".

Doug T,

>> “… and though people can walk off living in blissful ignorance, they can't claim to believe something coherent.”

Right it proves hypocrisy like I said.

>> “Believing something you admit is incoherent must give you more than just a pause given what's at stake.”

It’s incoherent in the same way quantum mechanics and classical physics are incoherent. I assume the T.O.E. will be discovered someday, just as I assume a more accurate rendition of epistemology will be derived following an adequate explanation of mind. When quantum physicist and engineers put two contradictory sets of equations on the table, we don’t say either one is lying or behaving hypocritically.

They are two accurate and useful tools that both work and yet are only applicable to set domains.

Tony,
but I think you're dodging the larger issue...you believe in Christ to some degree. You admit many of your positions are hypocritical. You come back here to dump your stuff like a ball on the end of a pong-a-paddle...You are a sattelite around Christianity. Why not dive in with the rest of us and pee in the juccuzzi?

You're smart, you know the arguments, and you could easily choose this day whom you will serve and get right with God. Why fight it? I don't see the payoff to an allegience to nihilism. It looks suicidal to me. In a world where nothing matters why not choose Christ and allow for rampant doubt within that position? I reject that by becoming a Christian you have to suddenly become a young earth retardo fundi. There is room at the communion table for people JUST LIKE YOU.

This is the hard sell; that you know you can't adequately pay for the wrong things you've done. If you can, make your case. If you can't, submit to God and find peace through the Christ you can't defeat. People like you collapse all the time. You have no structure to stand. Just relax. Fall.

Doug T,

>> “you believe in Christ to some degree.”

Hmm. Believing in a possible sentient creator of the cosmos is far from believing in Jesus Christ. I take a bit after Antony Flew on this one – I possibly believe in the “God of Einstein” as Flew said.

>> “You admit many of your positions are hypocritical.”

Ok. Assuming that you’re not gonna address my previous point on the utility of eclecticism and its common practice in many disciplines. Moving on then…

>> “You come back here to dump your stuff like a ball on the end of a pong-a-paddle...”

A pong-a-paddle!!! What the...

>> “You are a sattelite around Christianity. Why not dive in with the rest of us and pee in the juccuzzi?”

That’s gross! And recall I used to be a Christian.

>> “You're smart, you know the arguments, and you could easily choose this day whom you will serve and get right with God. Why fight it?”

BECAUSE I THINK IT’S A FREAKIN LIE! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

>>”I don't see the payoff to an allegience to nihilism.”

There isn’t a human benefit to living in a universe with a passive or non-existent god. It’s just this little problem with the fact that I think it’s true.

>> “In a world where nothing matters why not choose Christ and allow for rampant doubt within that position?”

I do consider Pascal’s Wager to be an extremely powerful argument. I have often thought of how, if I was diagnosed with cancer, I could convince myself that Jesus Christ knew what he was talking about and was actually God. For indeed it would be quite beneficial at that point. For in a successful game of Pascal’s Wager it makes sense to put your chips on one of the exclusive religions – and I don’t like muslims cuz they blow stuff up. I think if I meditated and chanted on it long enough, I could eventually modify my thoughts to perceive the story as true. The new research on the brains adoption of a new belief is quite interesting actually. With a combination of a full press peer group, meditation and possibly a utilization of some techniques from hypnotism, I think I could do it. Other than that, I used to pray a lot, but I can’t see myself praying too hard to an invisible man whom, every fiber in my brain is telling me, is not there.

>> ”People like you collapse all the time. You have no structure to stand. Just relax. Fall.”

I hate it when Christians go goth at the end of their emails and use clichés, synecdoche, and flowery prose!!!

"I hate it when Christians go goth at the end of their emails and use clichés, synecdoche, and flowery prose!!!"

I was actually completely drunk on Ketel one when I wrote that so let me rephrase it now that I'm sober: "People like you collapse all the time. You have no structure to stand. Just relax. Fall."

There are no non-believers on this forum. If there was such a thing as a non-believer you sure as hell wouldn't be here arguing with me.

I keep waiting for an explanation, reason and examples of why the Bible is false and your claims are true.

I haven't heard a single reasonable argument against Christianity. When do we get the list of items that makes Christianity a lie Tony?

Doug,

Don't drink and blog!

Wes,

The idea of commenting on blogs is commenting on what the author wrote. People already accuse me of straying too far from the topic so i'm trying to keep it more focused. We'll just have to deal with the issues as they come up.

But if you seek a formal proof that Christianity is true or false, I don't think such proof exists either way.

Tony,
the empty tomb is the primary proof that Christianity is true. There have been volumes written on the subject and nobody has come up with a good explanation for why the most sought after body of two millienia would vanish before the watchful eyes of Romans, Jews and even early followers of Christ.

Your hatred of Christianity is the secondary proof.

I'm not on a Krishna site right now debate Krishnas...because I know it's false. Yet you're here and that's positive evidence of more than just a nihilist who likes to troll among duped people.

Ok let me beat the horse again with you.

Tony said,
Other than that, I used to pray a lot, but I can’t see myself praying too hard to an invisible man whom, every fiber in my brain is telling me, is not there.

So you are saying you don't believe becasue of what reason? The made up ideas in your head? Or do you have any evidence of this claim?

If you can't substantiate your claims then I guess I am done trying to have a battle of ideas with you. My claims are found in history, archeological evidence, prophecy, eye witness accounts and so on... You keep making claims like the one above without any evidence.

You have a lot of simularities with with the scientist in Greg's letter on the homepage who after studying single cell organism makes the declaration that there is no way they evolved. He has all the evidence in the world but chooses to say that aliens must have planted them here. I hope his assertion sounds silly to you because your assertions about your ideas on christianity and the resurrection sound about as silly as his to me.

You deny the truth. You love your sin more than you love Christ. Back to the real reason you don't believe. John 3:19.

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