Made for another world

If you believe in an immortal and immaterial being beyond our ability to measure, it's not such a stretch to believe there is such a thing as immortaity.  To put it another way, if you have good reasons to believe that an immortal God exists, then you also have good reasons to believe that immortality exists.

The arguments from God's existence (which we considered in our last column) are great if you already believe in God.  But what if you don't buy into Christian theism?  Or what if you just have doubts about an eternal life with God in heaven beyond this mortal life?  Is there any empirical evidence for such a belief?

In their book, Beyond Death, J.P. Moreland and Gary Habermas consider several pieces of evidence, moving from experiential to philosophical to empirical evidence.  In the category of experiential evidence for immortality, Moreland and Habermas cite documented cases of near death experiences (NDEs), such as the vivid description offered by Don Piper in his book, 90 Minutes in Heaven.  Honestly, we're not big fans of this category of evidence because it's based on the experience of the person having the NDE.

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Apologetics Study Bible for Students

In February 2010, we will be releasing one of the most powerful youth products I have seen in awhile--The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. This has been a long time coming! This video briefly captures why this Bible is unique and how it can help you in your ministry. Check it out here. If you are a student or youth worker, please link to this video to help get the word out.

SM

Evidence for Immortality?

Immortality is in the news this week with the release of Dinesh D'Souza's newest book, Life After Death: The EvidenceEveryone from Rick Warren to Dallas Willard is endorsing the book, which attempts to build a case on empirical grounds for life after death.  Even the atheist Christopher Hitchens, who has debated D'Souza, calls him a "formidable opponent." 

D'Souza directs his arguments to the skeptic, who generally has trouble believing that God exists.  Discounting the existence of God pretty much gets you off the hook in terms of immortality, because if God doesn't exist, then there's no such things as life after death.

But if immortality doesn't exist, then why do we think about it so much?  Why do even the most skeptical people like to think there's a heaven, especially when someone they love bites the dust?  Christians have a fairly straightforward explanation for this preoccupation, and it's found in the book of Ecclesiastes:  "I have seen the burden God has laid on men," the writer of Ecclesiastes observes.  "He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Eccl. 3:10-11).

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James Bond and Bible Software (004)

As the Editor-in-Chief of Bible Study Magazine, people regularly ask me, “How should I study the Bible?” I answer this question differently nearly every time. Why? Because there is no simple answer. There are hundreds of ways to study the Bible. (You can listen to my answer on the Debbie Chavez Show here.) Nonetheless, I always come back to two points: Ask questions of the biblical text and get good resources. Let’s talk about the second point.

Me, Myself and I (oh yeah, and the Spirit) Bible study is one of the great assassins of biblical interpretation. We need the community of God and good resources. If you have been a long time reader of my blog, you know I regularly try to bring context to the passages we discuss.

Who's Waiting for Your Kids?




In a few short years, students will leave our homes and graduate from our churches. They'll head off to college. Who's waiting for them? What kinds of people will they meet? And are they ready?

We Live at the Mercy of Our Ideas

I recently spoke with a youth worker who told me he was not teaching theology and apologetics to the students in his youth group because he was focusing on “practical Christian living.”  Certainly he’s well-intentioned but with this approach, I have no confidence much practical Christian living is going to happen in the lives of those students. This dichotomy between beliefs and behavior represents a profound misunderstanding amongst Christians and not only does it harm our young people but the church-at-large.  Here’s why.

We are what we think.  Recent discoveries in neuroscience make this clear.  Change your thoughts and you can change your brain chemistry.  In turn, these brain alterations affect how we deal with things like anger and anxiety.  False ways of thinking lead to destructive patterns of living.  When young people have false ideas about God, His requirements, the authority of Scripture or the meaning of life, certain behaviors follow.  We live at the mercy of our ideas. 

Of course, before neuroscience came along God had been telling humanity this from the beginning.  His Word is filled with instruction about the relationship between thought and action: 

  • Hosea 4:5 & 6 – You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you...my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
  • Romans 1:28 & 29 – Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness...
  • Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
  • Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  • Colossians 1:9 & 10 – For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God...
  • II Timothy 2:25 – Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
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The Greatest Show on Earth (Richard Dawkins)

I love a good challenge. I would much rather read a difficult book that makes me think deeply about my convictions than one that provokes little thought. This is why I eagerly anticipated the release of The Greatest Show on Earth, by Richard Dawkins.

With The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, River Out of Eden, and many more, Dawkins has established himself as one of the foremost contemporary defenders of Darwinian evolution. As soon as a copy of his book arrived at my doorstep, I enthusiastically opened the Amazon.com box and jumped right into the book, hoping to be challenged to take another hard look at the evidence for evolution.

With this background information in mind, it’s difficult to express how disappointed I was at the demeaning rhetoric and lack of substance that characterizes The Greatest Show on Earth.
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why I respect Atheists

Radio interviews are almost always enjoyable, especially when the host permits call-ins. I love the raw nature of a live q&a; it's energizing.

But one call-in this year caught me off-guard. Frankly, I was stunned and couldn't fill the space fast enough for air time, so the comment went unanswered except by the host who thanked the caller for taking the time...

The interview was on my book, Finding an Unseen God: Reflections of a Former Atheist. Many have commented on how I treat Atheists and their belief system with respect throughout the book. I thought the reasons were obvious--but that is my error.

In response to the interview, the sincere, non-belligerent, concerned caller said, "You should not honor the Atheist, because the Bible says that, "the fool says in his heart that there is no God.'" Then he went on to make another point...which I honestly don't remember because I was a bit dazed.

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Missing Link a Dead End

Every so often some new fossil discovery is heralded as the "missing link" that will finally corroborate Darwin's theory.  A few months ago the fossil "Ida" was released to the public (it was actually found years ago) and heralded as the "eight wonder of the world" that would finally silence Darwin-doubters. Ida was proclaimed in major newspapers, covered in a cable-TV special, and the feature of a new book. However, new discoveries are showing that it's a complete evolutionary dead-end. This should not come as a surprise to those of us who are skeptical of Darwinism, but it is surprise how strongly the media has come out against it.

Check out this link!

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Upcoming Apologetics Conference

In case any of you aren't yet aware, there is an amazing apologetics conference coming to New Orleans in November. This is the annual "lay" conference during the Evangelical Theological/Philosophical Society.  Speakers include William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Greg Koukl, Gary Habermas and me (doing the youth section!). There are some general sessions on the Bible, the existence of God, comparative religion, current "hot" topics in apologetics such as Bart Ehrman as well as some practical workshops on doing apologetics in the local church. Check it out here (http://www.epsapologetics.com/). If you can't go, it would be well worth getting the CDs."

Sean M

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