Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is Belief In Divine Action Only a Matter of Faith?

I’d like to make a couple comments about an article that recently appeared in USA Today. It appeared in section A on the very back page, in a section called The Forum. The article is entitled “The God Choice” written by Barbara Hagerty. She writes, “A few years ago, I witnessed two great British scientists in a showdown” John Barrow, on the one hand, and Richard Dawkins on the other. John Barrow, who is a Cambridge mathematician, asserted that “the astonishing precision of the universe was evidence for ‘divine action.’’ When he made that remark, Richard Dawkins, Oxford Biologist nearly leapt from his seat. “But why would you want to look for evidence of divine action?” he demanded.[1]

She goes on to write how today there is some evidence of divine action. One of the anecdotes that she writes about is Pam Reynolds. The story of Pam Reynolds is that she was in an operating room, having a procedure done on her brain. When she awakened from the operation, she began to describe the operating theater exactly what it “looked it and how many surgeons were there. She could describe the unusual-looking bone saw that cut open her head, as well as the drill bits and blade container. She heard conversations.” Barbara Hagerty points out that from the surgical records—everything even in the smallest details—was confirmed. She then says, this “story raises the question: Was Reynolds’ consciousness operating separately from her brain?” Her conclusion is then this, “In the end, we could learn that we are nothing more than nerve cells and molecules,” or we could come “to believe that our brain activity reflects an unseen reality… Either way, whether you are Richard Dawkins or doctor and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, what you believe is a matter of faith.”[2]

I would say that in that she is dead wrong. It’s not merely a matter of faith. From the perspective of logic we can demonstrate that the mind is not identical to the brain. We can prove that the mind and brain have different properties. For example, “the feeling of pain…is different from anything that is simply physical. If the world were only made of matter, these subjective aspects of consciousness would not exist.”[3]

Furthermore, from a legal perspective, if human beings were merely material, they could not be held accountable this year for a crime committed last year, because physical identity changes over time. Of course a criminal who attempts to use this line of defense wouldn’t get very far. Legally and intuitively, we recognize a sameness of soul that establishes personal identity over time.

One other point, liberation freedom (freedom of the will) presupposes that we are more than mere material beings. If I am merely material, my choices are merely a function of such factors as genetic makeup and brain chemistry. Therefore, my decisions would not be free, they would be fatalistically determined. The implications of such a notion are profound to say the least. In a worldview that embraces fatalistic determinism, I cannot be held morally accountable for my actions, because reward and punishment only make sense if we have freedom of the will.

While the logical, legal, and libertarian freedom arguments are convincing in and of themselves; there is an even more powerful and persuasive argument demonstrating the reality of life beyond the grave—in other words, demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are more than mere nerve cells and molecules. The argument, of course, flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the resurrection, Christ not only demonstrated that He does not stand in line of peers with Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius but also provided compelling evidence for life after death.

There is so much evidence we have today that we are not mere molecules in motion. We have the origin of life, fine-tuning in the universe to support life, information in the genetic code, irreducible complexity in biological systems, and the phenomena of the human mind. They all collectively pose intractable difficulties for merely natural explanations. Bottom line is that we’re going to never wake up and find out that as Barbara Hagerty, who by the way is a correspondent for NPR, put it, “we are nothing more than nerve cells and molecules.”[4]

It doesn’t matter if you multiply Richard Dawkins by a thousand, philosophical naturalism, is dead in an age of scientific enlightenment. The philosophical naturalist are beating their drum and asking us to march lock step with them because it is an ideology that is now so rampant in the universities that unless you embrace it without question, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty getting tenure. This is not about science anymore, it’s about being in step with the times, and being in step with the times means being in step with what is politically correct as opposed to what is demonstratably true.


[1] USA Today, 6/22/09, page 9A, The Forum, “The God Choice” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty ( Accessed 6/23/09

[2] Ibid.

[3] Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland, Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence For Immortality (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 52.

[4] USA Today, 6/22/09, page 9A, The Forum, “The God Choice” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Truth, Urban Legends, and “Isms”

I’d like to take just a minute to discuss the topic of truth.

Under the guise of truth, Christians have communicated such things as the legend of Darwin’s deathbed conversion,[1] defended the historicity of the Gospels through forgeries as the Pilate letter,[2] or argued for the inspiration of Scripture on the basis of imbedded Bible codes.[3] They’ve also employed sloppy journalism to circulate an endless variety of resurrection stories.[4]

This kind of creative story telling is pandemic, not just today in Christianity; it is pandemic in the broader culture. It runs the gamut from NBC and their report on exploding General Motors trucks[5] all the way to such things as Jane Roe and her fabricated story of rape, which by the way was encouraged by pro-abortion leaders and became instrumental in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision known as Roe v. Wade[6].

Look, in an age in which internet fabrications “travel halfway around the world before truth has had a chance to put its boots on,”[7] the Apostle Paul in his words in Ephesians ring through the centuries with urgency as we as Christians are called to “stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” (Eph 6:14). Your waist is the center of your body, so too truth is central to a biblical worldview.

So often we ask what is truth? The reason we are asking that question is postmodern people are staring at truth and yet failing to recognize its identity. Truth, in its final analysis is an aspect of the nature of God himself. In other words, to put on the belt of truth is to put on Christ because Christ is truth (John 14:6) and we as Christians are called to be witnesses or bearers of truth.

Christianity is not right because it work pragmatically, or feel’s right subjectively or because it’s “my truth” relativistically. It’s true because it’s anchored in the objective verity of Jesus Christ. The Christian faith as Os Guinness has once said isn’t true because it works; it works because it’s true. It’s not true because we experience it; we experience it because it is true. It’s not simply “true for you” it’s true for any one who seeks in order to find “because truth is true even if nobody believes it” and a falsehood is false even if everyone holds to it. That’s why truth doesn’t yield to opinion or fashion or about being politically correct.[8] It’s anchored in the very one who spoke and the limitless galaxies leapt into existence.

Truth is at its core essential to a realistic worldview. The moment we drop the belt of truth, our view of reality becomes seriously skewed. When its buckle breaks reality becomes clouded and the unthinkable becomes normal. We live in that kind of a milieu today. This is actually precisely why we’ve developed a little resource called What is Truth? The Best of the Christian Research Journal. You can pick up a copy at our Website of or calling us at 1-888-700-0274.

[1] For further information see my entry in The Complete Bible Answer Book, Question 127 Did Darwin Have a Deathbed Conversion?

[2] Still widely circulated through The Archko Volume, compiled by W.D. Mahan, which contains all manner of fictional documents purporting the perspective of Jesus’ contemporaries, including Joseph and Mary, Herod Antipas, and Caiaphas. For the classic refutation, see Edgar J. Goodspeed, Modern Apocrypha: Famous “Biblical” Hoaxes (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956).

[3] See Hank Hanegraaff, “Magic Apologetics” (

[4] For further information, documentation and discussion see my books, Counterfeit Revival and The Covering.

[5] Cited in Os Guinness, Time For Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 39. Guinness notes that these exploding trucks were later “acknowledged to be planned detonations” not accidents.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Adapted from quote attributed to Charles Haddon Spurgeon

[8] Guinness, Time for Truth, 79-80.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why is Apologetics Necessary Anyways?

I often get the question, “Is apologetics really necessary?” Too often people suppose the task of evangelism and apologetics is the exclusive domain of scholars and theologians but that simply isn’t true.

The defense of the faith is not optional—it just plain old basic training for every Christian and that means you. The Bible informs that apologetics isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity. Look, writing in a world steeped in mystery cults, you have Paul vigorously defending the Gospel (Acts 17:15-34; 18:4) and then charging Timothy and Titus to do the same thing (2 Tim. 2:23-26; 4:2-5; Titus 1:9-14).

Apologetics is necessary to preserve the faith. Not only must the church defend against objections that come to her from without, she must guard against false teaching that penetrate from within. Paul admonishes Timothy “preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage––with great patience and careful instruction.” He then says, “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.” Instead, they will “turn their ears away from truth and turn aside to mythology.” (2 Tim 4:2-4). Defending essential Christian doctrine against perversions by pseudo-Christian cults is a critical task of Christian apologetics.

Apologetics is necessary for the cultural relevance of the church. In a post-Christian society in which theism is no longer en vogue and belief in the possibility of miracles is viewed as simpleminded superstition, apologetics creates intellectual room for the acceptance of the gospel. In place of merely pontificating dogmatic assertions, Christian apologist are commanded to provide defensible arguments and do so with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

During our Listener Appreciation Week, we are thanking you for enabling this ministry to carry on the task of apologetics and evangelism. Please visit the Listener Appreciation Week section of our Website ( and also pick up a copy of my Complete Bible Answer Book to equip you to engage in apologetics and evangelism.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Whose Ethics? Whose Morals?

I would like to alert you to brand new resource we have here at CRI. It's a book entitled Whose Ethics? Whose Morals? The Best of the Christian Research Journal. At first blush, reading a book like this might seem to be a little more than an academic exercise. In reality, it is a matter of survival. Imagine living in a country in which members of Congress could mandate researchers to either destroy embryos or risk imprisonment. Imagine a nation that not only permits the killing of the most vulnerable among us but mandates such mayhem for the purposes of research. Imagine no further--that day has arrived. As the former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork has well said in a book by the same moniker, we have began inexorably "slouching toward Gomorrah."[1]

Truth is the founders of our Republic could only in their darkest nightmares have imagined relativism trumping objective moral standards in a free society. Maybe the credo of Nazi Germany of "might makes right" is something we should look at again. Ethics and morals were not determined on the basis of an objective standard but on the basis of raw power and blind bigotry. With no enduring reference point, societal norms were quickly reduced to mere matters of preference and power.

As smoke from crematoriums wafted over steeples in the German countryside, another evil reared its ugly head. Pastors and their parishioners remained strangely silent. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, however, was not among them. "If we claim to be Christians," he said, "there is no room for expediency."[2] Thus he stood not only against the evils of the Nazi ware machine but against the confessional church more concerned with survival than moral and ethical realities on the ground. "When Christ calls a man, "said Bonhoeffer, "He bids him come and die."[3] On April 9, 1945, just days before liberation, Bonhoeffer experienced the ultimate "cost of discipleship."

Thankfully, most Christians in the twenty-first century have not had to make a comparable sacrifice for truth. Without the leavening power of a biblical worldview, fascism might well again hold sway. There is a razor thin edge between fascism and freedom. As such, I want you to consider engaging in three essentials.

First, pray. Without God's blessing we are impotent in the battle to restore a biblical perspective respecting morals and ethics.

Second, share what you have learned on the Bible Answer Man broadcast and through our ministry with your family members and friends. Share this book with some of them also. One of the greatest blights of the twenty-first century is that we seldom engage in meaningful conversations. Instead we have become masters at entertaining ourselves to death.

Finally, stand with a ministry that is making an impact in the battle for truth. Through a variety of ministry outreaches the Christian Research Institute is making a strategic difference while there is yet time. Each year growing numbers of men, women and children around the globe are jettisoning relativism for a relationship with a moral law-giver who has loved them with an everlasting love. Such abundant, abiding fruit is not harvested by accident. Outside the walls of CRI an army of saints stand with us as co-laborers in a one-of-a-kind ministry. If you are ready to join the ranks, give us a call at 1-888-700-0274 or visit our Website at

[1] Robert H. Bork, Slouching towards Gomorrah (New York: HarperCollins, 1996).

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (Norwich, UK SCM Classic, SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1954), 25.

[3] Ibid. 44.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Biblical View of Wealth

I am persuaded that the Bible teaches a form of Christian capitalism—responsibility associated with wealth. It does not promote the possession of money for the sake of money, but instead encourages us to use money for the sake of the kingdom.

A Biblical view of wealth involves having an eternal perspective. It is crucial that we understand Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” God is the landlord; we are just tenants. We didn’t arrive with them and we won’t take them with us; they all belong to God. So it’s important for us to live with eternity in mind and live our life here below as responsible stewards. Whether we have a little or a lot, God at the judgment will richly reward us.

The Bible chronicles the very prayer of David who considered it a privilege to give to the work of the Lord. He said, “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand…And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.” (I Chron. 29:14, 17)

There’s no telling what we can accomplish in our generation, if we too can catch the joy of contagious giving. Not only would we be empowered to spread the gospel around the globe but we might yet leave an indelible mark on the 21st century. We can make a difference. During our recent Listener Appreciation Week, we thanked so many people who give sacrificially to our ministry.

To listen to these shows, please go Bible Answer Man tab on our website at and click on “Listen to the Bible Answer Man show”. To give to Listener Appreciation Week, please go to ( or call us at 1-888-700-0724. Also please check one of our newest resource What is Truth?

Critiquing Ehrman on the Signs of Jesus

I would like to deal with another supposed problem with the Bible that Bart Ehrman addresses in his book Jesus Interrupted. Ehrman states, “In John’s gospel, Jesus performs his first miracle in chapter 2, when he turns water into wine…and we’re told that ‘this was the first sign that Jesus did’ (John 2:11). Later in that chapter we’re told that Jesus did ‘many signs’ in Jerusalem (John 2:23). And then, in chapter 4, he heals the son of a centurion and the author says ‘This was the second sign that Jesus did.’ Huh? One sign, many signs and then the second sign?”[1]

Truthfully, what I have a hard time understanding is how a simple problem like this can stump a world class scholar like Bart Ehrman. In any case, let me try to present the solution to the problem as simply as I can. This isn’t something that should cause any of his students that are Christians to lose their faith.

To begin with, as clearly communicated in the Gospel of John, the first miraculous sign that Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee was to change water into wine (John 2:1-11). Once again class, the first miraculous sign, number one in Cana in Galilee was changing water into wine.

Furthermore, in the Gospel of John, the second miraculous sign Jesus performed while at Cana in Galilee was healing the son of a centurion (John 4:26-54). What was the second sign Jesus performed at Cana while in Galilee? All together now class: healing the son of a centurion while at Cana in Galilee.

As should be patently obvious to Ehrman, the fact that Jesus did many signs in Jerusalem is not a problem with the Bible at all. It exposes a problem with Bart. In this case, it appears to be the problem of obfuscation. So if you’re a Bartonian student, if your professor is Bart Ehrman, watch out for the obfuscation!

Theirs nothing wrong whatsoever with what is chronicled here in the Bible. The first miracle was changing water into wine; the second was the son of the centurion. Those two miracles happened in a particular place. So the obfuscation of the many signs shouldn’t be problem particularly when the Bible tells us that those signs occurred in Jerusalem.


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009), 8-9.

Brownsville Revival Revisited in 2009

I noticed in the news recently that over the Memorial Day weekend the Brownsville Revival leaders have reunited in Pensacola, FL. They’re celebrating what was supposedly one of the greatest and longest lasting Pentecostal revivals in history. It was called the Pensacola Outpouring and the leaders are reuniting to “remember, refresh and re-fire."[1]

I think it’s interesting to look back from the perspective of history as well, because there’s not a lot to remember. John Kilpatrick, who was the pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God, said that “millions, millions, millions, millions, millions” would come to faith in Christ as a result of the revival.[2] Steven Hill. who was the evangelist that started the revival once prophesised that the Senate would be ablaze for God.[3]

All the while in the Brownsville Assembly of God, they had people aping the practices of pagan spirituality. One of the most bizarre manifestations I witnessed in that particular scene was in the sanctuary as I watched in horror as women in the choir began to jerk her head spasmodically from side to side. An hour went by, then another. All the while the shaking continued unabated as intermittently she bent spasmodically at the waist. A church member, noting the look of concern on my face, quickly attempted to assure me that this woman was merely under the influence of the “Holy Ghost.” When I asked if she was certain it was the Holy Ghost, she seemed incredulous. “What else could it be?” she snapped. “We’re in church, aren’t we?’ She went on to report that this woman had been shaking wildly in the sanctuary for more than a year and a half. What was once practiced only in the cults is now present in our churches.

What heightens the danger is that Christians do not expect a counterfeit in church. While virtually the same methods employed in cultic communes can now be experienced in Christian churches there is a difference. At the altars of Pensacola the practices were cloaked in Christian terminology and were attributed to the Holy Spirit. Pensacola practices such as jerking spasmodically, laughing uncontrollably, falling backward into trancelike states were conspicuous by their absence in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. In fact, Peter warned them to be wary of such pagan practices, he said to be “clear minded and self controlled.” (1 Peter 4:7).

My concern for the women who was shaking spasmodically and many others like her prompted me to plead with Pensacola pastor John Kilpatrick to consider the physical and spiritual consequences. He did acknowledge that women I identified in his church “shakes like she has palsy” but then defiantly paraded her across his platform as a trophy of the “Pensacola Outpouring.” He then shouted, “If you don’t want your head to start shaking…come here a minute, girl. Come down here a minute. Hurry up. Hurry up. If you [referring to me] don’t want your head to do like this, you better lay your mouth off her.”[4] Of course this is the same person that predicted that in 90 days I would be dead.[5] As I previously mentioned, Stephen Hill made all kinds of dogmatic declarations from the platform, he said that “congressmen are weeping under the power of God”[6] but never provided a shred of evidence to support his claim.

Well, I suppose as we look back fifteen years, this is at best an unrealized fantasy. The problem in all of this and the reason for brining it up is that millions are looking on in amazement and dismissing Christianity as little more than a succession of hoaxes. They’re thinking: if Christians are willing to embrace current mythology, they must be just a prone to embracing mythology that’s 2000 years old. When Christian standards have more in the common with The National Enquirer than The New Testament, it’s time to examine ourselves all over again. When selling and sensationalism become more tantalizing than truth, the very foundation of our faith is compromised. Blaise Pascal was right when he wrote in his Pensees “Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established, that unless we love truth, we cannot know it.”

Again the revival has come and gone and now their celebrating it fifteen years later, but the truth of the matter is revival didn’t happen. In fact for revival to take place in the culture, for the senate to truly be ablaze with the power of God, reformation has to take place in the church, so that revival can take place in the land. Unless we get back to basics we’re not going to see revival. Unless we find the book of the law like Josiah and adhere to its words, embrace the glory of the gospel of grace, become ambassadors for Christ and not secret agents, and understand the difference between genuine and counterfeit revival, we are resigned to repeat the mistakes of the past.


[1] Brownsville Revival Leaders, Students Reunite by Felicia Mann, May 21, 2009, Charisma Magazine News (, Accessed 5/27/09.

[2] John Kilpatrick, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears” . This was number five of 10 proclamations that Kilpatrick gave about what would happen at Brownsville.

[3] Stephen Hill, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears”

[4] John Kilpatrick, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears”

[5] Ibid. It also should be noted that Kilpatrick did later publicly apologize for this.

[6] Stephen Hill, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears”

What Is Truth?

It will come as no surprise to even semi-alert observes that truth as we have known it is under siege. It is being assailed on multiple fronts by a seemingly endless barrage of isms; such as postmodernism, relativism, experientialism, hedonism, and philosophical naturalism to name, just a few.

To many Christians, truth has apparently become less and less defensible, either because they perceive that truth has become so deconstructed, relative, subjective, and vaporized that—like Humpty Dumpty—they don’t know if it can ever be put back together again, or they believe—perhaps tactically more than rationally—that objective truth exists, but they are simply bewildered and befuddled as how to defend their convictions and instincts.

This is where the Christian Research Institute and the Bible Answer Man broadcast come in. It’s where serious Christians can make a difference by knowing where you stand, by standing your ground and, I think perhaps more importantly than anything else, by standing together. Not standing on the perennial shifting sands of cultural and intellectual fashion nor on porous platitudes of politically correct secularists whose only God is tolerance. The Christian faith stands on the unshakeable rock of revelation.

What all Christians must grasp, while truth is under siege is that God hasn’t called us to sit for truth, he’s called us to stand for truth. Let’s make no mistake. With truth under siege, this isn’t time for impartiality, indifference or ignorance. This also is certainly not a time for cowardice. It’s a time for righteous revolutionaries or “sanctified saboteurs”[1] as C.S. Lewis said, for people willing to stand their ground because they’ve witnessed the deadly consequences when godless ideologies are not halted in their tracks.

The Twentieth Century alone witnessed the deaths of millions of people through Hitler’s “Final Solution,” Stalin’s bestial genocide, and Mao’s ruthless purges, revealing with painful clarity that when truth dies, countless millions of lives are often consumed in the wake.

As more and more of Western civilization moves precariously toward the brink of incoherence due to the slow death of objective truth, it is clear that we must not only know where we stand and stand our ground, but we must stand together. We must recognize the assaults on truth before we can resist them.

If you recognize that truth is under siege, and that heresy advances as orthodoxy retreats, there are some options. You can make a difference by first studying. Second pray, to attempt to stand against today’s assaults on truth without the power of prayer is sheer folly. Third, consider standing with the Christian Research Institute and the Bible Answer Man broadcast.