Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Heart Whisperer

"What do you feel God is leading you towards?" "Pray and wait for God to give you an answer." "What is God speaking to your heart?" Do these sound familiar? These are popular jargon within Christian circles and they are all mostly based on the idea of God speaking to one's heart. However, this speaking of God is rarely ever loud, clear and precise; rather, it's tiny, gentle whisper done by God that can be missed by the hearer if he isn't completely in tune with the Spirit. Many have characterized this notion as a "tugging of the heart." Sincere believers have bought into this notion and they all face the same problem: this idea is not biblical.

Greg Koukl put forth a thought provoking question on his radio show one day. He asked, "Does God ever try?" That is, if God wants to accomplish anything, can he make an attempt and ever fail? Most Christians would say no (I realize this relates to theological issues, such as limited atonement but that's a different issue I won't address). So if it is the case that God accomplished whatever he desires, could it be possible he's trying to speak to any particular person and he's not able to get through to him? Definitely not.

All throughout Scripture, God has spoken clearly and precisely to all of those he wanted to communicate with. None of his spokesmen needed to be spiritually in tune with God or have quiet daily devotions in order to "hear the still small whisper." If God had a message, he would get it through to the person(s) he wanted to communicate with. He even got through to individuals who were killing Christians.

The Apostle Paul wasn't searching for Christ. He wasn't having his morning quiet time, praying and asking God if Christ was indeed the way, the truth and the life. The man was actively seeking Christians in order to execute them. What happened? God wanted Paul to become his messenger to the Gentiles and spread the gospel throughout the nations. Did God whisper to Paul and hope Paul would feel the gentle tugging on his heart? Absolutely not! The Lord knocked him off his horse and struck him blind. Then he audibly communicated with Paul so that there was no confusion regarding what Jesus wanted.

Many today are sadly mistaken when they think they need to "hear" from God in order to make decisions. This idea is not only misleading, it's potentially harmful for those who buy into it. I know of one man who had devoted years of his life to becoming a missionary to China. He spent years trying to learn the language and prepare to head over there; however, it never happened. Even though he "felt" Gd calling him to go there, he had too much difficulty learning the language and never went. Others have put themselves and their families at risk because of the supposed "still small voice."

God can speak to anyone he so desires to choose from; however, I don't believe it is the norm and it ought not be expected. Read God's word. Learn from it and live according to it. In all other areas not addressed, there is liberty.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Richard Dawkins? .....Who Cares?

When many Christian Apologists are discussing contemporary issues relating to unbelief, Richard Dawkins seems to be the most widely and frequently mentioned individual. Articles, lectures and books are presented and his name is so often mentioned. One must think he is THE champion of unbelief and its most capable and intelligent proponent. As I've listened and read various Christian scholars and pastors talk about this man and the assertions he makes, I couldn't help but constantly think........who cares?

This man may be an expert in his area of expertise (biology?) but he's a buffoon when discussing topics which are completely out of range of his expertise. It's not uncommon for non-believers to do such things. I'm reminded of the debate Dr. Greg Bahnsen had with Gordon Stein in which Dr. Bahnsen mentioned during the debate that "...for some reason Dr. Stein has, over the last decade, left his field of expertise and given his life to a campaign for atheism." Dr. Stein and Dr. Dawkins both made the same move by leaving what they know and attacking that which they know very little.

Dawkins' comments regrading Christianity are shallow and ignorant and don't deserve to be treated seriously. I believe it's only because the man has such a wide following and his book was so popular that many Christian scholars felt the need to render a response. The man is a disrespectful, rude, indecent, inconsiderate and loathsome individual whose weightless claims and assertions regarding Christianity are childish. Please stop allowing this man to believe he's actually doing any damage to the faith than he really is. His foolishness has been addressed numerous times and most likely nothing more substantive will be forthcoming. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Talbot School of Theology (MA Philosophy): Is It Worth It?

I attended Talbot right after I completed my undergraduate degree. I took off one semester, worked full-time then flew across the U.S. to begin my MA Philosophy studies there.

The reason why I chose Talbot was mainly because of my love for apologetics and since one of the most intelligent and formidable proponents of Christianity is a professor there (i.e., William Craig), I believed I would receive the best training in order to engage in apologetics.

After completing two semesters, I decided to withdraw from the program. It was a difficult decision but I honestly wish I had made it sooner. I would like to share some important factors for those of you who are considering entering the MA Philosophy program so you can make a wise decision.

First, be aware that Dr. Craig only teaches at Talbot during the summer and winter breaks and his courses last around two weeks; they're intensive seminars. I, along with other students, believed Dr. Craig taught at Talbot more often than he actually does.

Next, is graduate work in philosophy really for you? This is a critical question you should ask yourself. If you're not at all familiar with contemporary philosophy then go to the library and read as much as you can before deciding to attend Talbot. Just because you enjoy apologetics does not mean you'll enjoy reading academic philosophy. I made the mistake of entering the philosophy program with very little exposure to contemporary philosophy and discovered that I really had very little interest in it. It was extremely boring and difficult to even begin to understand what an author of an article was even saying. I recall having to read one scholarly article at least ten times before I even began to slightly understand what the author was saying.

Something else which you should consider is the cost. Talbot is part of Biola, which is an expensive private university. Tuition has increased since I attended and it's now at $538 PER CREDIT! The MA programs require students to complete 64-66 credits. Do the math! That's A LOT of money for a degree which is virtually useless in today's job market. Are you willing to drop almost $40k for a philosophy degree which most likely won't increase your job prospects or salary? That's crucial to consider.

The cost and low interest in contemporary academic philosophy are the two main factors with contributed to my withdrawal; however, I realize there are others out there who love that sort of stuff. As a student at Talbot, many of my classmates seemed to greatly enjoy the philosophy classes and readings. I certainly didn't.

The program is great for people who want to possibly go on for a PhD in philosophy or for anyone who truly enjoys contemporary philosophy. The professors I met were great and helped me a lot but even if I actually enjoyed the subject, I couldn't get over spending so much money for such a degree. The return on your money, in most cases, will be terrible.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions.