Winter Prayer

Winter Trees by Sharron Beg
Winter Trees by Sharron Beg (www.threadpaintersart.blogspot.com)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

I praise you for your loving kindness,

which you demonstrated on Calvery with the sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ,

and your goodness,

which we witness each and every morning in the warmth of the rising sun.

I confess that my own kindness flags too often for mention

and I am neither warm or bright in the morning and sometimes all day.

Thank you, Lord, that I am not the center of the universe and

I am not reminded constantly of my weaknesses and cold disposition.

Thank you, Lord, for the warm house that I live in and the warm people that keep safe.

I pray for warmer weather and the new life of spring,

which heals the body and refreshes the soul.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Continue Reading

Chapter 19 of Revelation: Praise, Fine Linen, and Truth

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns (Rev 19:6).

Why do brides wear white?

Three great themes of the Book of Revelation come together in chapter 19: the destruction of Babylon, the marriage feast of the Lamb, and Satan’s army at Armageddon.

Babylon is not directly mentioned here, but the apostle John describes the celebration in heaven over her destruction. In v 2 God’s judgment is praised; He has judged the great prostitute; and the blood of God’s servants has been avenged. The smoke from her goes up forever and ever (Rev 19:3).

The immorality of Babylon (v 2) is contrasted the righteous deeds of the saints (v 7).

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints (Rev 19:7-8).

The wedding feast is contrasted with a less-inviting feast. An angel calls out to the birds:

Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great (Rev 19:17-18).

The feast of the birds is prepared by the death of the Satan’s armies slain by the sword of truth from the mouth (v 21) of the one described as the Word of God (v 13; John 1:1).

The beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire (v 20). The psalmist asks: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (Ps 2:1). Revelation 19 gives a word-picture of what plotting in vain looks like.

But what is John saying to the church? Two lessons stand out. First, the army of God is led by Christ who is the Word of God (v 21). God’s enemies are defeated with the sword of truth. Second, we are reminded that God is the one who clothes us with righteousness (v 8; Ezek 16:1-13). We are blessed to be invited to this wedding party; blessed to be clothed in white (v 9).

Questions

  1. What is the response in heaven to God’ judgment? (vv 1-3).
  2. The word, hallelujah, is used nowhere else in the NT (vv 1, 3,4). What does it mean? Where else in the bible is it found? (Hint: Psalm 104:35)
  3. Three major themes appear in Revelation 19. What are they?
  4. Verse 10 has an interesting lesson. What it is it?
  5. Verses 11-12 have a number of symbols. What comes to mind?
  6. What is the significance of the name in verse 12?
  7. In verse 8, what color does the bride wear? How do we know? (Hint: v 14)
  8. What is the weapon used to defeat Satan and his armies? (vv 15, 21)
  9. What is for dinner and by whom? (vv 16, 17, 21)

Chapter 19 of Revelation: Praise, Fine Linen, and Truth

Also see:

Chapter 18 of Revelation: Babylon Revisited 

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

C.S. Lewis’ Faith Journey

C.S. Lewis MemoirC.S. Lewis. 1955. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. New York: Harcourt Book.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Memoirs often challenge reviewers because they are not easily summarized. An analytical book often argues a single idea by breaking it down into supporting ideas while a synthesis builds up related ideas to form a conclusion. While a good memoir is more the latter, oftentimes the path through life can be serendipitous in its living and can read more like a mystery in its telling. Thus, even a deep read may not reveal the structure in the author’s mind, leaving the reviewer in a pickle as to what pieces to highlight.

In his memoir, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis writes: “The book aims at telling the story of my conversion and is not a general autobiography, still less ‘Confessions’ like those of Saint Augustine or Rouseau.” (vvii) This description pegs Lewis’ work as a memoir which differs from an autobiography primarily in having a theme (“my conversion”). The conversion of C.S. Lewis to the Christian faith interests many because Lewis ranks among the most persuasive of Christian apologists of the twentieth century owing to his skill as a fiction writer and vast knowledge of modern and classical languages, and philosophy. While others might resort to penning a memoir out of vanity or desire for reflection, Lewis writes at the urging of his readers (vii).

The Question of Joy

When I purchased Lewis’ book back in 2013 during seminary, I was attracted by the title, Surprise by Joy, and paid no attention at all to the subtitle: The Shape of My Early Life. I hoped for a study of joy, perhaps as a biblical theme, but did not initially identify the book as a memoir. When I began reading in earnest this fall having just completed a memoir of my own, Lewis’ memoir posed an immediate interest. Lewis does not study joy extensively perhaps because his early life displayed so little of it.

Influence of Lewis’ Parents

Lewis begins his journey of faith describing his parents:

“I was born in the winter of 1898 at Belfast, the son of solicitor and of a clergyman’s daughter…The two families from which I spring were as different in temperament as in origin. My father’s people were true Welshmen, sentimental, passionate, and rhetorical, easily moved both to anger and to tenderness; men who laughed and cried a great deal and who had not much of the talent for happiness. The Hamiltons were a cooler race. Their minds were critical and ironic and they had a talent for happiness in a high degree—went straight for it as experienced travelers go for the best seat in a train.” (3)

One might expect a memoir to start with one’s birthday, not a season of birth—winter, especially in the first sentence. For a man of letters such as Lewis, this is unlikely to have been an accidental turn of phrase. If you think that I am reading too much into this one word, Lewis describes the Lewis family as having “not much talent for happiness”, while his mother’s family posed a “talent for happiness.” Again, this is unlikely to have been an accidental turn of phrase. This is true especially because we soon learn that Lewis’ mother died while he was yet quite young and just before he announces this fact to us he takes great pains to define joy (18).

Lewis’ Experience of Joy

Before defining joy, Lewis takes pains to outline his imaginary life as a child and cites a number of books that aided this interior life. He is especially attracted to “dressed animals” and “knights in armor” that live presumably in “Animal-Land” (13). After discussing three such books, he cautions readers not interested will find nothing further of interest in his memoir because books such as these are his joy (17). He then writes:

“I call it [a desire more desirable than any other satisfaction] Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again.” (18)

Lewis accordingly finds joy in reading and in his interior life, perhaps, because he experienced such deep grief on the loss of his mother (18-19) and found joy nowhere else in his exterior life. He concludes: “with my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life.” (21)

Boarding School

With the death of his mother, Lewis’ father became his chief influence and his father sent both Lewis and his brother off to boarding school, which Lewis describes as a concentration camp. Much of his memoir, with the exception of about fifteen pages devoted to his experience as a young British officer in World War One (WWI), focuses on his experiences in a variety of schools. While fascinating to read, in the context of the story of Lewis’ coming to faith, his education functions as a lengthy prelude to his conversion experience—there I was; here I am.

Returning to Faith

After WWI Lewis returned to school at Oxford and began to reassess his worldview as a college atheist. In conversations with a friend, he notes have been persuaded to give up his:

“chronological snobbery, the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” (207)

In my own experience, this “chronological snobbery” forms a cornerstone of atheism in our own time because it is hard to accept the divine inspiration the Bible when anything written before the Internet (Millennials) or before the 1960s sexual revolution (Boomers) is considered obsolete. Lewis clearly anticipated this larger problem having named and confronted it already in the 1940s.

Hounds of Heaven

Lewis writes using different metaphors about God’s pursuit of his soul. For example, he writes:

“But, of course, what mattered most of all was my deep-seated hatred of authority, my monstrous individualism, my lawlessness. No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word Interference. But Christianity placed at the center what then seem to me a transcendental Interferer…’This is my business and mine only.’” (172)

and

“And so the great Angler played His fish and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue.” (211)

But for Lewis the metaphor that he highlights most obviously is that of a divine Chess master in two separate chapter titles: check and checkmate (165, 212). What metaphor would appeal to a scholar and intellectual? Lewis writes of returning to faith in 1929, when he was 31 years old (228).

And what does Lewis make of joy? Once having rediscovered his faith, he lost interest and described it merely as a signpost which, having provided direction, posed little further utility (238)

Assessment

C.S. Lewis’ memoir, Surprised by Joy, is a gem that describes his early childhood, falling away from and return to Christian faith. This is a book of special interest to Lewis fans and those interested in Christian memoir.

C.S. Lewis’ Faith Journey

Also see:

Augustine’s Confessions, Part 1—Overview 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading

Confessional Prayer

Road closed
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

Forgive me for my many sins, iniquities, and trespasses.

For I have fallen short of your goals for my life,

I have failed to do many things that I should have,

and I have broken trust with your gracious laws.

Have mercy on my through the blood of your son, Jesus Christ,

who lived a sinless life yet was crucified on the cross,

that I might find forgiveness through him.

Hear my prayer. Have compassion on me though I am undeserving.

Fill my heart with your Holy Spirit,

that I might be saved and rest with you eternally.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Confessional Prayer

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

Chapter 18 of Revelation: Babylon Revisited

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Rev 18:4-5).

What exactly are the sins of Babylon?

The first thing to note is that v 5 uses two words for Babylon’s transgressions: sin and iniquity. Often the analogy for sin is the arrow that misses the target while the analogy of iniquity is a legal violation like adultery which breaks the seventh commandment (Exod 20:14).

Babylon is described as intoxicated, sexually immoral, possessed with demons, and engaged in luxurious living (v 3). Babylon is proud (her sins are heaped high as heaven; v 5) and she has induced others to share in her sinning (the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her (v 9)). And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth (v 24).

Most striking, perhaps, is the flaunting of wealth. Verses 11-13 list 27 types of luxury goods. Last on this list are slaves—human souls (v 13).

What is Babylon’s punishment? The judgment on Babylon is repeated three times. We are told that it will be burned (v 18), laid waste (v 19), and thrown down with violence (v 21). The mighty angel throwing down a millstone in this last verse brings to mind a statement by Jesus himself: but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt 18:6). The term, little ones, is a euphemism referring to disciples. The judgment was directed at those who taught false doctrine that led to sin.

Who then mourns for Babylon? The kings (v 9), the merchants of the earth (v 11), and merchants of the sea (v 17)—all who shared in her sinning. This image of Babylon is like the heroin addict whose funeral is attended only by the pusher who supplied him.

Do you think God takes sin seriously? Should we?

Questions

1. What is the difference between a sin and an iniquity? How about a transgression? (v 5).
2. What are the sins of Babylon? (vv 3, 5, 9, 27). Why the list in verses 11-13?
3. Who lives in Babylon?
4. What is the advice in verse 4? Why?
5. What is Babylon’s punishment? What three ways is it described? (vv 18, 19, 21)
6. Who mourns for Babylon? (vv 9, 11, 17).
7. Does God take sin seriously? Why?

Chapter 18 of Revelation: Babylon Revisited

Also see:

Chapter 17 of Revelation: Babylon

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

Clark Rejects the Rationality of Evidentialism, Part 2

Kelly James Clark, Return to ReasonKelly James Clark. 1990. Return To Reason: A Critique of Enlightenment Evidentialism and a Defense of Reason and Belief in God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Go to part 1)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One reason that many people dismiss apologetics is influence of the romantic period (early nineteenth century) has led many Christians to focus on heart rather than head in their faith. Pastors have been known to say—“people won’t care what you know until they see how much you care.” While there is truth in this expression, head and heart cannot be separated.

After the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century, Jonathan Edwards observed that, if revivals were not followed by sound teaching, the formerly fervent new believers soon wandered off, never to be seen again in church. We witnessed this very same pattern in the weeks after 9-11 as the new faces in church after the attack soon disappeared again. Clearly, we need apologetic insights into the faith that we adopt with our hearts in order to remain faithful when our fervent hearts cool.

In part one of this review of Kelly James Clark’s book, Return to Reason, I gave an overview of Clark’s argument about evidentialism

“Evidentialism [according to Clark] maintains that a belief is rational for a person only if that person has sufficient evidence or arguments or reasons for that belief.” (3)

I will examine in part 2 three arguments for the existence of God laid that Clark critiques: the cosmological argument by Richard Taylor, William Paley’s argument from design, and a probabilistic argument outlined by Richard Swinburne. Clark describes attempts to prove God’s existence from facts known about the natural world at natural theology (15).

The Cosmological Argument

This argument begins with a question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (17) Citing Taylor, Clark appeals to the principle of sufficient reason:

“…for every positive truth there is some sufficient reason which makes it true. There are two ways that statements can be true. Statements can be contingently true, which means their being true depends on something else; and statements may be necessarily true, which means their truth is not dependent on the truth of other statements.” (18)

Taylor sees no reason to doubt that the existence of the world is contingent on something else that we do not know (the chain of causality must lead to something eternal and imperishable). This eternal and imperishable being is God (21-22).

While the conclusion from this argument that God exists is obvious to a theist (someone who already believes in God), a non-theist sees no reason to conclude that the world is contingent on anything (23). The theist stops when God is presented; the non-theist asks whether God is contingent (24). Thus, the pre-supposition that God exists renders the argument moot.

The Argument from Design

Clark summarizes Paley’s argument succinctly:

“The world shows design; design implies a designer; hence, the world requires a designer.” (27)

Paley arguments that the existence of a stone poses no evidence that anyone ever put it there, but if one found a watch lying on the beach, the precision and subtly of a watch begs the question of who made it.

Hume argued, unlike with a watch, we have no experience with how the universe was made and so it appears as a unique item. Our explanations are therefore by analogy, not direct knowledge. Suppose, for example, the universe were created by a committee, not just one person. Thus, we cannot intuit the existence of God from design, except perhaps through anthropomorphism (51). Darwin believed that instead of design, the extinction of species pointed to an absence of design and to evolution as the mechanism for the creation of complex animal features (33-34).

A Probabilistic Argument

Clark summarizes Swinburne’s probabilistic argument as follows: 

  1. “The existence and design of the world—including morality, free moral agents, religious experience—are extremely improbable without the hypothesis of theism.
  2. The hypothesis of theism significantly raises the probability of the existence and design of the world.
  3. The hypothesis of theism explains and unites under a sign hypothesis an otherwise disparate and unlikely set of phenomena—the existence and design of the world, religious experience, miracles, and evil.
  4. The hypothesis of theism has sufficiently intrinsic plausibility.
  5. Therefore, it is like that God exists” (38).

Mackie looks at the same evidence and concludes that a materialistic or naturalistic origin for the universe is more likely, particularly because we have never observed a person without a body (38-39). Consequently, once again we see that the probabilistic argument depends heavily on the fundamental beliefs that you hold, prior to the argument rendering the argument moot (40).

Clark argues that because each of the arguments for God’s existence (or non-existence) do not stand alone, independent of prior beliefs, experience from the natural world cannot be used to substantiate the existence of God. In statistics, we are taught that relationships among observe data cannot determine causality, a restatement of Clark’s conclusion. It is accordingly pointless to pursue the requirements for proof under evidentialism (43). He therefore proceeds to explore alternatives.

In his book, Return To Reason, Kelly James Clark examines the Enlightenment claim that insufficient evidence exists to believe that God exists, an argument that he describes as evidentialism. He reviews three arguments for the existence of God and their weaknesses. He then goes on to reject evidentialism as a standard for determining rationality and to discuss the rationality of belief in God. Clark’s concise presentation should interest anyone who cares about apologetics.

References

Darwin, Charles. 1958. Autobiography (Orig Pub 1887). Edited by Francis Darwin. New York: Dover.

Hume, David. 1980. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Orig Pub 1776). Edited by Richard H. Popkin. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Mackie, J.I. 1982. The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paley, William. 2002. The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (Orig Pub 1785). Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Online: http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/paley-the-principles-of-moral-and-political-philosophy. Cited: 18 November 2017.

Swinburne, Richard. 1979. The Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon.

Taylor, Richard. 1974. Metaphysics. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Clark Rejects the Rationality of Evidentialism, Part 2

Also see:

Plantinga Defends Merits of Confessional Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

Advent Prayer 2017

Nativity
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Most Merciful Father,

Draw me near to you, oh Lord, of joyful times!

Let me bless you and praise your name—

“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6).

For you have written your law on our hearts (Jer 31:33) and

given us a new song, a marvelous thing of your own creation (Ps 98).

In what other season have we so much joy?

For such, we give thanks through the power of your Holy Spirit and

in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Advent Prayer 2017

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

Chapter 17 of Revelation: Babylon

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods
he has shattered to the ground (Isa 21:9).

What do you get when you cross a false trinity and a pornographic goddess? The answer is clearly Revelation 17.

The woman named here is explicitly associated with a great city, Babylon (v 18), yet the images are of Rome. For example, a well-known coin of this period pictures the Emperor Vespasian (AD 69 to 79) on the front and the goddess Roma on the back straddling the seven hills of Rome. Adding the beast from Daniel 7 completes our demonic image.

The message here is to picture graphically the unholy alliance between politics and religion in opposition to God. The image of an unholy city as a prostitute doing business with the world brings to mind a prophecy against the city of Tyre (Isaiah 23:17). The religious corruption of Israel by a woman of Sidon (a port city closely associated with Tyre) brings to mind Queen Jezebel—the prophet Elijah’s nemesis (1 Kgs 16:31).

Babylon is a city with a reputation. In Genesis 10:8-10, we read about the first empire builder, Nimrod, whose capital city is Babel. Genesis 11:1-11 records the story of Babel where the people wanted to make name for themselves and started building a tower to heaven setting themselves in opposition to God. Babel latter became known as Babylon.

Picturing Rome as the new Babylon brings to mind the story of Babel and its opposition to God which is explicitly stated in verse 14: They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful (Rev 17:14). The religious focus of this opposition is suggested in the cup image (an anti-Eucharist image), in the phrase—it was and is not and is to come—(an anti-Alpha and Omega allusion; Rev 17:8; 1.8), and in the image of a prostitute used by the prophet Hosea to picture a disobedient Israel (Hos 9:1).

John’s prophetic imagery pictures a society obsessed with sex and money allied with secular religion. Sex: marriages were breaking down; a defective love dominated—Roma spelled backwards is amor! Money: Rome was unparalleled in its wealth as it policed and colonized the known world. Religion: the Emperor cult tolerated any religion that did not challenge the power of the Emperor. Rome persecuted Christians because they claimed to worship a jealous (exclusive) God who refused to admit competitors (Exod 20:3-5).

Sound familiar?

Questions

1. What does the angel invite the apostle John to see? (vv 1-2)
2. Where does the spirit carry him? (v 3)
3. How is the woman dressed? (vv 4-5)
a. What is on her head?
b. What does this remind you of? (e.g. Rev 13:17).
4. Why does John Marvel? (v 6)
5. What is the story told by the angel? (vv 8-17)
6. What city is in view? (v 18)

Chapter 17 of Revelation: Babylon

Also see:

Chapter 16 of Revelations: Seven Bowls and Armageddon 

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2jaUhI7

Continue Reading

Clark Rejects the Rationality of Evidentialism, Part 1

Kelly James Clark, Return to ReasonKelly James Clark. 1990. Return To Reason: A Critique of Enlightenment Evidentialism and a Defense of Reason and Belief in God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (After December 5: Go to part 2)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

For those of us that grew up believing in God at an early age, apologetics seems a bit unreal. How do you prove that your parents exist? The answer is that you do not prove their existence; you simply point to them. Still, the arguments give comfort that your own existence makes sense and includes continuity with those that went before, something like a genealogy study proves royal lineage.

Introduction

Kelly James Clark’s book, Return to Reason, focuses on a crucial critique offered during the Enlightenment:

“Evidentialism maintains that a belief is rational for a person only if that person has sufficient evidence or arguments or reasons for that belief.” (3)

This statement is an epistemological presupposition, which is an untested, presumption about how we know something, has intuitive appeal because we all want to believe that we are rational thinkers. However, as Clark argues, almost nothing that we believe actually meets this criterion which, particularly in view of the damage that it has done to the Christian faith community, leaves us wondering if a bias has been exhibited merely by posing this standard for belief.

Responses to Evidentialism

Clark points to three basic responses to evidentialism. The first response (theistic evidentialism) is that some people believe that sufficient evidence for God’s existence can be demonstrated. The second response (fideism) is to admit that sufficient evidence does not exist, but we must simply have faith that God exists. The third response is to reject evidentialism (reformed epistemology) and develop an alternative definition for rationality. Clark writes in support of this third response and argues that evidentialism is doubly flawed (6-8).

Outline of Book

Clark writes his book in four parts:

  1. “Proving God’s Existence: Problems and Prospects
  2. God and Evil
  3. The Irrelevance of Evidentialism: God—Hypothesis or Person?
  4. Return to Reason: The Irrationality of Evidentialism” (vii-viii).

In view of the importance of these arguments, I will write this review in two parts. Part one will focus on Clark’s argument. In part 2, I will examine Clark’s problems with the classical apologetics.

Background on Clark

Kelly James Clark (1956- ) is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute and Professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids Michigan. Clark received his Phd from the University of Notre Dame where his dissertation advisor was Alvin Plantinga. He has held professorships at Calvin College, Oxford University, University of St. Andrews, Notre Dame & Gordon College. He also served as Executive Director for the Society of Christian Philosophers from 1994-2009. Clark’s books include Religion and the Sciences of Origins, Abraham’s Children, The Story of Ethics, When Faith Is Not Enough, and 101 Key Philosophical Terms of Their Importance for Theology.[1]

Assessment

In his book, Return To Reason, Kelly James Clark examines the Enlightenment claim that insufficient evidence exists to believe that God exists, an argument that he describes as evidentialism. He reviews three arguments for the existence of God and their weaknesses. He then goes on to reject evidentialism as a standard for determining rationality and to discuss the rationality of belief in God. Clark’s concise presentation should interest anyone who cares about apologetics.

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_James_Clark. @KellyJamesClark.

Clark Rejects the Rationality of Evidentialism, Part 1

Also see:

Plantinga Defends Merits of Confessional Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading

Discernment Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father,

I praise you for your loving presence in my life during this year.

For you alone are holy and stand outside time and space,

and I cannot approach you on my own,

but only through your love, covered by the blood of Jesus and in your willingness to seek me out.

I confess that I have not been the perfect son–

my faith is weak; sins are many;  weaknesses seem limitless.

Forgive me; teach me to be a more perfect son.

Thank you for the many blessings of this year–

for work completed, relationships deepened, healings received,

and the opportunity for greater service.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, give me the mind of Christ,

that my heart will be opened, my mind touched, and my hands strengthened

that I may more perceive your will more fully and draw closer to you day by day.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

 

Discernment Prayer

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading
1 2 3 94