A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 3.17.2007

    Ligonier Conference: Entry #12

    Questions and Answers
    Saturday, March 17
    9:40 a.m.

    INCOMPLETE NOTES (I'm going to try to keep up.) I hope I've recorded the basic ideas of the responses without misrepresenting them... - JR

    Panel: Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul


    Many Questions about the Origin of Evil and God's Role in It:

    How is it possible to say that God is responsible for evil but not guilty for it?

    RC: References Joseph's quote. "You meant it for evil, God meant it for good." When evil comes, it is truly evil. But when God decrees it, it is good that it occurs. This means it is good that evil exists, or it wouldn't be here. Evil is evil, but it is good that it is here, or God wouldn't ordain it. That isn't difficult! (Laughter).

    Mohler: Rather than seeing God as essentially good. We abstract goodness and then measure God against it. But we don't know what good is. God defines what is good. Our human abstraction does not. We must have an eschatological view of this as well. J.M. Boice, "God's judgment in the end will be so absolutely perfect that the damned will agree with their damnation." We are dependent upon the eyes of faith on this. We cannot defend God against a human abstraction of good. His will is consistent with his character.

    Ravi: The whole anti-theistic moving ties themselves into knots on this issue. We kick God out of Christmas and then the tsunami hits, and we wonder where God was. You cannot deny absolutes without smuggling it in the back door.

    Is Evolution Compatible with Scripture?

    RC: Distinguish between micro and macro evolution. Nobody denies micro. But macro evolution is a philosophical view. It is not compatible with the Bible, and it is not compatible with science. RC asked students why they believed in evolution.

    They said "Science." But what is it that persuaded you?

    "Well... all living things are made of the same base materials. Common substance=Common Source."

    No other arguments were given. Finally, it came out: "That's what I was taught in my high school biology class."

    The question of the origin of life is not by analysis a biological question. It is a historical question.

    Mohler: The dominant model is naturalism/materialism. Let's remember that Darwin did not invent evolution. Darwin's grandfather was a notorious evolutionist. But evolution is really absolute naturalism. Evolution is not compatible with Christianity.

    Ravi: You're right. Your right. The irony of this is to risk being a an outcast in academia. Liberalism is the most bigoted philosophy around today. Some Congressman took issue with Ravi on this. "If you truly are a liberal, tell me why when the conservatives were in control, students were taught the counter-perspective." This is not so today.

    Ravi's friend did a dissertation on the Trinity, but the tribunal rejected it for publication because it was not gender-sensitive--referring to God in the masculine. When Oscar Wilde was dying, he asked for a minister. This stuff is not published.

    The emperor has no clothes.

    Mohler: ID is not the Christian doctrine of creation. The establishment should not be upset about ID, but as "fundamentalists," they cannot handle it.

    Why Did the Bible Say the Spirit Hovered Over the Waters if they weren't made yet. And who did Cain marry? (An 8 year-old asks....)

    RC: Cain married his sister. But the geneologies did not list women because they were not gender-sensitive. The prohibitions against consanguinity were not immediately given. They came in later.

    The reason why the Bible talks about the "hovering" over the waters was that Moses went to sleep and forgot..... (Laughter).

    The "deep" refers to abyss--the empty darkness. The Spirit hovered over it. The water was not the oceans and rivers and streams.

    Ravi: The water was there but not separated. God separated water already there. Whoever you are as an eight-year-old, write to us. We want you on our team quickly.

    Why Do Reformed Folks Seem So Gruff and All-Knowing? Is it possible that you may be wrong in your doctrinal positions.... (Laughter)

    RC: Ravi might be. You might be wrong, Al. For me it is a manifest impossibility. (Laughter)

    Mohler: The four of us are going to disagree on things, although we believe in the law of non-contradition. When I face judgment, I will no longer see through a glass darkly. We're embryonic compared to what we'll know and see in heaven.

    RC: How can you be a Christian or a reputable scholar and not be aware that you might be wrong. By the way, our certainty level is not constant. Some we hold with great certainty.... Others not. Write down the 10 things you know for sure. On my list would be my certainty that God hates abortion... Regeneration must precede faith... Now I could be wrong. A high level of certainty does not prove....

    Moderator: BIble-believing Christians are the last group who can have an honest disagreement.

    Mohler: One thing we as friends up here is to check with in another. Some things I had to be corrected about such as complemetarianism of men and women against egalitarianism.

    When Did Post-Modernism Start and By Whom?

    Mohler: Before long, people are going to call Plato the first post-modernist! This is difficult to clarify. In our culture, it rose after WW2.

    RC: It comes from the serpent in the garden.

    Ravi: I think the word was first used by Toynbee (spelling?) in 1941.

    What Are Diagnostic Symptoms of PM?

    Mohler: The truth issue. This is the central issue. Truth is absolute and unchanging and language is capable of expressing it. Post-modernists deny this.

    RC: And that's the collision course with the New Testament. The NT teaches there is a "real state of affairs."

    What Are Your Thoughts on the Emerging Church?

    Mohler: It can mean many different things: from merely a "mood" to the embrace of post-modernism. They react to the "overly cognitive." I would give strong warning, but the emergent brand is the hard-line form represented by Brian McLaren. He's right up front with rejecting law of non-contradiction and embracing relativism. The website named "The Ooze" is emergent. We need to be very careful about this because today's liberals were evangelicals yesterday. If you get the truth question wrong, you'll be abberant in the life of your church and personal walk with God. This is a new form of liberalism.

    RC: This makes you wonder about the question, "Can you be wrong?" In Post-modernism, there is no category for right and wrong. And Post-mondernists are uncomfortable with a creedal posture. They have a built-in allergy to this.

    Ravi: Vance Havner, "When the tide is low, every shrimp has its own puddle." This is one of those puddles. These men and women---are they bored with God? What brought this methodology into a theology? When you write a book called, "The Secret Message of Jesus?" You've discovered it after 2000 years? The problem is that non-critical people are absorbing this stuff. Just what does McLaren believe? He's always postulating doctrine against doctrine.

    RC: This appeals to people who don't like doctrinal complexity and difficulties. If we disagree doctrinally, that 's a bad thing. But truth is too important to kill it in the streets for the sake of peace.

    Mohler: In Time Magazine, McLaren was asked about his stance on homosexuality. He said something like, "I don't want to answer that because it will offend something..." This is an abdication of Christian responsibility and courage.

    What About Seeker Sensitive Movement?

    RC: It is a very, very bad thing. A fundamental error: Unbelievers outside the church are desperately seeking for God. And the error of thinking that the purpose of corporate worship on Sunday morning is for evangelism. (More...) Fundamentally, Sunday morning is for believers to gather to worship, learn, take the Lord's Supper. Our primary concern should be "What pleases God?" Not "What pleases the unbeliever."

    Mohler: The language of this issue is dated. But the logic is not. Here's the logic: If you scratch where people itch, they'll be more open to the gospel. You'll earn their trust because you've met their needs and will be trusted for the Gospel. But this doesn't work. And we never get to preaching the gospel.

    RC: "It is a strategy for unbelief." (Talks about Luther's concern for people being addicted to relics--like the pants of Joseph. What people are looking for is power. in the relics. Our relic is the "program.") The power is in the Word! If you want a power in your church, be an expository preacher. Preach the Word! (Applause)

    Dr. Zacharias, Could You Share Your Experiences at the Mormon Temple?

    Ravi: It was a tough invitation. When I heard from the Mormon offices, I wondered what this was about. I wanted a face to face conversation about this. I said, "Why are you asking me to do this?" "We respect you?..."

    I wondered, "Am I going to be used here?"

    I considered it under 1 condition: I select the subject: The exclusivity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. And then 2nd condition, "I bring my own music---like Michael Card."

    Then all of a sudden, the attacks started coming. Now I said, "I'm going to get shot at from the back!" I can only fight on one front at a time--was going to decline the invitation. But then I got letters from Dobson and Colson: "Don't turn this invitation down!"

    Ravi's wife did not send the letter of declination!

    RC: Is your wife my wife's sister? (Laugther)

    Ravi: Others said "Go! Go!" 7000 people in the tabernacle. I got the whole hour. Faculty from Brigham Young was there. (Ravi describes the day...) The man who brought the World-Wide Church of God was there.... (He was used to bring the church into orthodoxy...)

    Some marvelous responses! Go rzim.org and order the CD. Michael Card sang "I'm Not Supposed to Be Here."

    Bloggers got busy... I just didn't read them. I'll go speak to any group that challenges orthodox Christianty.

    Was the Catholic Church Ever the True Church?

    RC: I assume you mean the Roman Catholic church... I would say so.... I think for many years the Catholic church was heroic in its defense of the truth...

    Mohler: Institutionally, the difference between the visible and invisible church has always been an issue. God has always had his people... Not all Southern Baptists are Christians... But there are a lot of Christians who aren't Baptists. There are many who are not in "Evangelical" institutions who are Christians...

    You can't look backwards and not be grateful for Nicea and elsewhere...

    Ravi: If the Pope were married, he'd know he's not infallible.... (Quoting someone else. Laughter...)

    Where Does One Start with Evangelizing a Muslim?

    Ravi: Tough question.... My answer may be a bit controversial. Basically, the Muslim denies everything the Christian cherishes at the root. Let me tell you how God is scaling the wall here... (Story: Call Me Joshua, in Iraqi army. I was taught to kill without feeling and make false passports. I dreamed that Jesus was calling me to himself. His mother said, "Don't tell your brothers. They'll kill you." For 7 years, he had the same dream night after night. He's in seminary and planning to go back to Iraq.

    God is working in those lands. What is reaching them is the love of God. The more you focus on the single distinctive between Allah and God, the more effective you can be: The Love of God!

    The muslims view the cross as a losing symbol--how can God be beaten up? (Illustration: Little Boy Bullying Joe Lewis.) But we must show that the cross is the love of God.

    Avoid criticizing Mohammed. That will come later. Focus on Christ.


    How Can Martyrdom Authenticate the Word of God?

    Mohler: It's not martyrdom in itself. Christianity centers on the fact that they were willing to be killed for Christ. They believed he was risen. The point was that lives were so transformed, it shows the power of the message.

    The Resurrection was seen and testified to by witnesses! It encourages people not to fear death. Many differences between Christian and Muslim martyrdom.

    Christian's must be willing to die for the faith, not kill for it.

    Martyrdom is not the first proof. It is listed as the last.

    RC: Ben Laden died, went to heaven. Was punched out by Washington and Lincoln... Spat upon by Patrick Henry. Ben Laden asked "What's this all about?" Peter told him, "It's 72 Virginians..." (Laughter)

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