Do We Need Another Youth Conference?

"Do we really need another youth conference?"

Well, our Rethink Student Apologetics Conference preregistration numbers suggest we do. With over 400 students, youth leaders, and parents already signed up, we have further evidence that youth are hungry for this kind of conference.  Why? Because it's not the typical youth camp or conference, where students may be entertained, may have alot of "fun," may be wowed with bells and whistles, but who may not walk away equipped with anything more than a temporary hyped-up experience. 

Students want parents and church leadership to step up their training.  The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding (CPYU) conducted interviews with students who had grown up in the church and were now in college. This is the kind of thing CPYU heard again and again:  

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Do Christians Worship Three Gods?

The idea that God is three in one has confused many people. Just what does it mean that God is a Trinity?

 

The Bible teaches there is but one God. This is called monotheism. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 niv). Jesus quoted this scripture in Mark 12:29, confirming that there is just one God. So how is it that people call God a Trinity—how, some people ask, can there be three Gods, yet one?

 

God being a Trinity does not mean there are three Gods. God exists as three persons, yet he is one being. Each person of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—has a separate identity while yet possessing the full nature of God.

 

Jesus is the divine Son of God. This does not mean that Jesus was created by God. In fact, Scripture tells us plainly that he has always co-existed with God (see John 1:1-3). Jesus himself declared he had eternally co-existed with his Father. And on the basis of that declaration the Jewish leaders plotted to kill him, saying, “He called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God” (  John 5:18). Paul the apostle declared Jesus to be deity. “Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise!” (Romans 9:5). The writer of Hebrews says, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (Hebrews 1:3).
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Most Parents Aren't Ready to Train Their Own Kids

I’ve never had someone cry after my atheist role-play.  Until now.

In September, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents from Village Academy Christian School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Earlier in the day, I taught the junior and senior high students at chapel and spoke to three different twelfth grade classes.  I role played an atheist with the seniors, to give them a glimpse of the intellectual challenges awaiting them at college, and decided to give the parents, who had come out for an evening lecture, a glimpse in the same way.

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May the Force Be With You

When we think of God, we may imagine the powerful Creator sitting on his throne in heaven. We may think of him in human form as Jesus, the Savior of the World. But do we view him as the Holy Spirit? Just who is God in the person of the Holy Spirit?

Some people believe the Holy Spirit is simply the influence of good—like the “good force” of the universe. But the Holy Spirit is actually a person—the third person of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Jesus referred to the Spirit as a person when he said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” (  John 14:16-17).

The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God. He has a mind and feelings. He makes choices. Scripture says, “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit” (Romans 8:27 niv). Scripture also tells us that the Spirit can feel. We are not to “bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live” (Ephesians 4:30). He makes choices as to who will receive what spiritual gifts. “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes these gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Also, the apostle Peter told a man named Ananias, “You lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). Ananias wasn’t lying to an influence; he was lying to a person. Peter added, “You weren’t lying to us but to God” (Acts 5:4).

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Is God Male or Female?

To ask the question, “Is God male or female?” is somewhat like asking if God is right- or left-handed. Or is his first language English or Spanish? Truth is, he is not confined by our human or material world. He created us in his image, but he is unlike us in many, many ways.

Jesus said, “God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (  John 4:24). It is true that God took on human form in the person of Jesus, who of course was male, yet God does not exist as a material or physical being. So in that sense he is neither male nor female as we know the human sexes.

At the same time, God has chosen to create and use imagery of himself that is both masculine and feminine. Of course he refers to himself as Father and Jesus as the Son of God, which are both masculine imagery. Yet Jesus spoke of himself in feminine imagery when he said, “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Matthew 23:37).

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Book Review: Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Let me put my cards on the table.  J. Warner Wallace (Jim to those who know him personally) is one of my best friends.  For almost 10 years, we’ve been invested in each other’s life.  We’ve done ministry together.  We’ve served in the local church together.  We’ve led student mission trips together.  Our families have spent time together (my teenage daughter regularly crashes at his house and gets spoiled by Jim’s wonderful wife, Susie).  And now we’re speaking together, as colleagues at Stand to Reason.  Jim is a close friend, partner, and ally.  

So yes, as I offer a review of Jim’s book, Cold Case Christianity (CCC), you could argue that I’m biased.  However, if you dismiss my book review as unreliable on the sole basis of bias, then you need to read Jim’s book!  In chapter 14, he deals with a similar charge of bias against the disciples.  And had you read it already, you’d know bias does not preclude one from being reliable, as Jim’s “Mark Hillian” illustration demonstrates (see page 246).  So, don't dismiss this review before you consider the reasons why I think you need to read Jim’s book. 

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My Debate on the Grounding of Morality

Was I nervous? Yes, absolutely. Of course, this wasn't my ordinary speaking event. On April 5, about 170 people packed a room at Weber State University, to watch my formal debate with professor of philosophy Dr. Richard Greene. The question: Can there be objective moral values and obligations without God? Each debater had 20 minutes for opening arguments, a 10-minute rebuttal, about 40 minutes of joint Q & A from the audience, and a 5-minute conclusion.

Dr. Greene had home field advantage. He has been teaching classes at Weber State for about eight years and a number of his students came out for the debate. About 65% of the attendees indicated on a pre-debate survey that they held Dr. Greene’s view, that morality is best explained without God.

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The Genetics of Adam and Eve, The Difficulty with Genesis 1:27-28

Passage:

God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it” (Genesis 1:27-28).

Difficulty: Doesn’t the science of genetics refute the concept that the entire population of the world came from just one couple?

Explanation: Over the past couple of decades researchers have used “population genetics” to estimate initial population size of the human species. By studying human genetic diversity in the present day, they have tried to extrapolate back to determine the minimum size of the original population of humans necessary to produce the diversity we observe today. Some have argued that it is impossible for civilization to have come from one human couple.

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The Difficulty with Genesis 2:1-4 - Creation

Passage:

The creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:1-4).

Difficulty: Did God create the world in six 24-hour days, or is the world billions of years old as the standard scientific dating suggests?

Explanation: There is a wide variety of theories Christians have presented and understood for the duration of creation in Genesis. Here are a few of the more common explanations:

The gap theory postulates that eons passed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2—possibly leaving plant and animal remains in the fossils we now find. Part of this theory postulates that Satan was cast down to earth and destroyed it, rendering the earth “formless and empty” as described in Genesis 1:2. This is partially based on the assumption that God would never create something as chaotic as is described in the second verse of the chapter. The time then between verses 1 and 2 could have been millions of years. This view has grown out of favor in scholarly circles.

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The Difficulty with Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

 

Difficulty #1: Doesn’t science claim the universe is eternal? If so, how can it have a beginning?

 

Explanation: The First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. For centuries scientists believed the universe was uncaused and eternal.

 

In the early part of the twentieth century the scientific community was confronted with the ramifications of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Like most scientists of the day, Einstein assumed the universe was static and eternal. Yet his mathematical equation of relativity pointed strongly toward a universe that was either expanding or contracting. While this seemed to unsettle him, Einstein later accepted that the universe had a finite past. Why did he change his mind?
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