Should Christians go to war? In one of my current seminary classes we have spent a good amount of time discussing the answer to this question. My teacher and textbooks have all leaned toward a view that is dubbed within theology as ‘Just war Theory’. The title gives you the general gist. But this is not supported by all Christians. I have on my bookshelf one book that has eight different theologians explaining their own viewpoint, a few of whom adopt a pacifist stance. One of those with the pacifist stance has been one of my favorite seminary teachers. So although I adopt a just war theology myself I can understand why pacifist christians take the approach they do. But in the end, I simply do not think their arguments hold up and in some recent conversations that I have had with some pacifist friends of mine it has made me realize pacifists often misunderstand the just war view.
We had amazing speaker early this semester at Ratio Christi. Father Even Amaritas shared with us a bit about Orthodox Christianity. I found his explanation of the history of the Church particularly interesting. Check it out!
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A view that I often hear taught or believed by some is that Monotheism was not the original viewpoint of Judaism. They contend that Judaism slowly moved away from polytheism into monotheism almost in an evolutionary movement of the religion.
Those who take this view bring up scriptures where other gods are mentioned in a way that seems to acknowledge that other gods actually do exist. One example they might use occurs in my favorite Bible story of all with Elijah.
Elijah is in a stand off with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, he tells the priests of Baal to set up a sacrifice and pray to Baal to burn it up. In this instance Elijah could be seen as acknowledging that other gods actually do exist because he tells them to ‘call out to their god’ or ‘call out to your god’. I am sure many adherents of ‘evolutionary monotheism’ would see this as acknowledgement that multiple gods exist, but there is one huge problem to this. . . Baal never does anything.
Instead of Baal maybe burning part of the sacrifice and Yahweh burning up the whole sacrifice to show he is the supreme God, Baal does absolutely nothing. In fact Elijah the mocks the priests saying ‘if Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!”. Clearly, though Elijah called Baal a ‘god’ he never really believed Baal even existed.
Furthermore, adherents to this evolutionary monotheism view have ignored passages that blatantly preach against it. For a Jew the most glaring example would be Deuteronomy 6:4 which is known as the Declaration of Judaism or the Shema says: “hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Other verses also make it abundantly clear in Isaiah 45:5 ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.’ or Isaiah 43:10 “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me”.
Clearly these verses teach that there is simply one, monotheistic God, and no others exists, nor will ever exist. Anyone who denies a strictly monotheistic view of God while accepting these verses must go through some theological gymnastics to come to such a conclusion.
Evolutionary monotheism ignores the obvious teachings of scripture as well as the clear history of Judaism as a whole. There has never been any other God and there will never be any other God but him.
It’s been a long while since I have written an article, for that I apologize. I am hoping I can jump back into the swing of things in this next week.
One of the things that has been consuming a huge amount of my time is studying Mormonism. I’ve been reading through the Book of Mormon, meeting with some Mormon missionaries, and reading some books on Mormonism and the Book of Mormon.
One thing that has completely stood out to me in the midst of this has been the clear contradictions within Mormonism about God.
We’ve talked about this issue a few times, but more an more I see that having a clear understanding of the Trinity is necessary. In this video Nabeel answers a typical objection to the Trinity in that the term Trinity does not appear in the scripture. Check it out:
In light of the horrors that happened in Virginia, both with the white supremacists and the attack by one of the members, I think it is important for people to know the churches stance on those issues. Let’s take a quick look at history. Continue reading
For the longest time I used to think tracts were a horrible way of evangelizing and reaching out non-believers. To me it seemed confronting and ineffective. In fact I had never heard of a person that had come to Christ from reading a tract, I only heard stories of people being annoyed even angered by the flyers. That all changed when I was in Nepal and I met pastor Meg. Long story short, Meg was at the end of his rope and found himself digging through trash for food. He found a tract and after reading it over he dedicated his life to Christ and now is a pastor in Nepal.
The reason I start with this is I know there are a lot of people who believe that apologetics is ineffective in reaching people and perhaps even more damaging than helpful. Thinking of Meg I would first offer to say, God can work in ways that you may not think are ineffective.
Furthermore, I would challenge the belief that apologetics is ineffective. I’ve been a part of a apologetics ministry called Ratio Christi for only about six months and we have one student who has already come to the Lord from the work we are doing. Many very well known Christians have come to the Lord as the result of apologetic related conversations, C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowel, Lee Strobel, and others. Granted many of these many are champions of Apologetics so it may seem this argument is circular, but I would say they are champions of apologetics because it was the way the Lord reached them, and perhaps they would have never known the Lord otherwise.
I know many object to apologetics because they feel that it is confrontative or combative, and as a result unloving. My question ‘where does this non-confrontive, non-combative evangelism play out in the Gospels and Epistles?’ Frankly, I don’t see it. Jesus is very combative with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Paul also doesn’t shy away from some argument and confrontation. I know argument and debate is uncomfortable for a lot of people but just because it isn’t comfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In fact some of the best and most important things in life are uncomfortable. In fact our greatest leaders are the ones that were doing apologetics for what they believed in. Martin Luther King argued and debated with others, he reasoned with them. Gandhi, William Wallace, Winston Churchill, they all lived lives of confrontation. It was because of that confrontation that they are the leaders that we look up to now.
Think of you’re greatest heroes, where would they be without defending what they believed in? Would you really call them your hero anymore? Apologetics is the Greek word for defense. So anyone that you look up to that has defended something, verbally, physically or otherwise is an apologist. So if you have this problem with apologetics perhaps you should think over what you really have a problem with a bit more. Just a thought.