Which Revelation is True?:Is Religious Experience a Test For Truth?

For the follower of Jesus, there is the call to “make disciples of the nations” (Matt.28:19). Any attempt to reach out to a lost and needy world will result in several encounters with people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds. Many Christians can be surprised to find out that many people from non-Christian backgrounds are incredibly sincere about their faith. Unfortunately, sincerity is not a test for truth. Many people have been sincerely wrong about many things. What about the question, “How do you know your faith is true?” In other words, if a Mormon and a Christian ask each other this question, they both may assert that the test for the truthfulness of their faith is a religious experience. In this case, the confirmation of the Mormon faith happens through the heart confirming through what is already true in the mind. In other words, the Mormon appeal to a religious experience sounds a bit like the Christian appeal to the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Religious experience should not be taken lightly. After all, biblical faith is not simply about adhering to a set of objective, historical, propositions. Biblical faith involves a commitment of the whole person.

However, the issue of religious experience brings up an interesting point in apologetic dialogue. Which revelation is true? What god is the individual encountering? Mormonism claims to be founded on divine revelation. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed to have received personal revelation from God on the basis of two visions, (the first allegedly given to him in 1820, the second one in 1823). The Bible asserts that Jesus is that He is uncreated (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17) while the Mormon claim is that Jesus is a created being. The apostle Paul uses the Greek word “plerophoria” which means “complete confidence, full assurance,” to indicate that the believer has obtained the knowledge of the truth as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work (2 Cor. 2:2; 1Thess. 1; Rom. 4:21; 14;5, Col. 4:12). (1) But what epistemological rights does the Christian have in saying their faith is true? While we do not want to discount the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, critics object that several other religions that are not compatible with Christianity lay claim to a self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit. Do not all existential experiences need an external test for truth? In appealing to the Book of Mormon the Mormon says:

” And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (2)

And so we see with the Mormon, all that is required for truth is the subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit. How does the Christian explain the Mormon’s confidence that the burning in their bosom is really not an authentic experience with the Holy Spirit? Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed an angel appeared to him and directed him to what are called the golden plates. Smith then showed them to eleven others. Smith is supposed to be responsible for translating these plates into The Book of Mormon. Like the apostles of Jesus, Smith suffered and died for his beliefs. However, there is a major difference between the eleven witnesses to the gold plates and the apostles of Jesus. (3) While six of the eleven witnesses left the Mormon Church, we have no record of the apostles of Jesus (Paul, James and John, others) even leaving the early Christian movement. (4)

Continue reading: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/which-revelation-is-trueis-religious-experience-a-test-for-truth/

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Why Do People Completely Misunderstand the Word “Faith?”

Anyone who has been engaged in talking to people in our culture about the Christian worldview knows that many people misunderstand the word “faith.” I could go ahead and blame the media, pop culture, and the university for this widespread problem. But the reality is that it is incumbent upon pastors, apologists, and ministry leaders to teach and instruct Christians about the proper definition of the word “faith.” Yes, many Christians don’t know how to explain the word “faith.”

Some theologians and apologists have suggested that it might be a good idea to substitute the word “trust” in place of the word “faith.” This has some merit to it. Joseph Thayer says the following:

“To believe” means to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit, [to] place confidence in. [And in] a moral and religious reference, pisteuein [from pisteuo] is used in the N.T. of a conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul. “ (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 511).

Read more: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/why-do-people-completely-misunderstand-the-word-faith-3/

The Resurrection of Jesus and Historical Knowledge

~ Chab

Here is a chart on apologetic issues and the resurrection of Jesus. As you can see in many of the objections here, many of them deal with historical methodology.  I expand on several of these issues in my book  “The Resurrection of the Jewish Messiah.”  It is available on Amazon. 

Remember, proof, evidence, and knowledge are important terms that need defining. First, ‘proof’ is specifically a logical term, but people often use it as a synonym for evidence. A logical proof is a series of assertions listed as premises which provide a conclusion, whether deductive (certain) or inductive (probable). Second, evidence’ is related to induction in that it gives us knowledge of things that are probable. There are two types of evidence that are important for our discussion: direct and circumstantial. In a court of law, both are considered viable in establishing a case for a particular claim. If you have proof something is real, this means you are satisfied with what the evidence tells you. This brings us to our third term, ‘knowledge’. The theory of knowledge, epistemology, is part of a discussion in philosophy which reaches back thousands of years, and we have no space for delineating its meticulous varieties here.

How many times have we committed to things with neither exhaustive knowledge nor absolute certainty? When people take a job, pick a spouse, move to a city, or vote for a specific candidate, they all have limits to their knowledge. Despite this, they say, “I know this is the right job for me” or, “I know this is the right spouse for me.” Philosopher Paul Copan has wisdom here: “We can have highly plausible or probable knowledge, even if it’s not 100% certain. We can know confidently and truly, even if not absolutely or exhaustively.[1]

Find chart and rest at: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/the-resurrection-of-jesus-and-historical-knowledge/

What atheism cannot deliver

https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/book-review-atheist-overreach-what-atheism-cant-deliver-by-christian-smith/

The Problem of Anti-Intellectualism in the Church-Problems and Possible Solutions

https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/the-problem-of-anti-intellectualism-in-the-church-problems-and-possible-solutions/

The Attempt to Find Purpose Without God

This  past year we had a family member suffer a stroke. As this 83 year old elderly person lost their ability to fully walk and do the things they once did, it caused me to ponder the issue of purpose. I even asked the family member what they think their purpose is in life. I even asked them what their purpose was before the stroke. Like most people, they said their purpose was to be a good wife or good mother. Their family was the main purpose in life. Now they also admitted they are just existing now. Thus, because they can’t go out and drive and go to places and do what they once did, they are not really ‘living’ anymore. What I notice in this situation and in  many situations is that people need a function. Thus, people seem to really struggle without a specific ‘function’ or ‘purpose’ in life. It should be noted that the ‘functional” and ‘essentialist’ view of humans is what is at the center of the abortion debate as well.  Anyway,  I asked the family member the following: perhaps you have been missing your overall purpose in life which is to know God (John 17: 4)?

Continue at: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/the-attempt-to-find-purpose-without-god/

A Look at the Apologetics of Paul

In this post, I want to examine some of the methods and apologetic approaches that Paul used in reaching his culture for the Gospel. There has been a lot of debate on the topic of apologetic methodology.  Which approach should we take in following Paul’s example? Presuppositional or Evidential? We need to look at various approaches Paul used before declaring there is only one approach to use in our present culture. I have noted elsewhere about the educational background of Paul.

Paul’s use of General Revelation

General revelation serves to explain the worldwide phenomenon of faith. Many people are religious, because they have a type of knowledge of God. All people have knowledge of God although it may be suppressed to the extent of being unrecognizable or unconscious. It is still there, and there will be areas of sensitivity to which the message may be effectively directed as a starting point.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. ;For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.;For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”-Romans 1: 18-21.

First, Paul says God’s “divine nature” should be evident to all. This means we can see the non-moral attributes of God in creation such omnipotence in the created order. “Perceive” means to “perceive in the mind.” “What has been made” means God’s workmanship can be seen. The created order is more than a physical act, but the work of design, or art where the craftsman brings his will, thoughts or emotions, love and skill into it.

Remember, the Greco-Roman religious world which Paul is addressing would have assumed that only the wise were the ones who had knowledge of their gods. Also, being that Paul was Jewish, he knew that Jewish people would have seen the pagans as having no knowledge of the one true God. So Paul is turning things upside down here in saying that knowledge of the true God is  available to all. Paul says that God’s existence and attributes can be “clearly seen” (Romans 1:18-20) since they have been “shown” to the unbelieving world through “the things that are made” (nature).

When we observe the effects in the world, we can infer there are two kinds of causes—natural and intelligent. In other words, there are really two general kinds of explanations for events: intentional accounts (which demonstrate signs of value, design, and purpose) and non-intentional accounts (which lack values, design, and purpose).

Read more: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2019/06/22/a-look-at-the-apologetics-of-paul-2/