As the Brookside Institute champions the value of biblical literacy, we don't do this in some abstract or indifferent way. We want to value biblical literacy so that we're transformed by the Bible.
If that's the case, that means there's a whole lot riding on whether the Bible is a trustworthy book. Some version of "Can I trust the Bible?" is being asked in lots of ways today, and so responding to this question is important. Here's why: The greater our confidence IN the Bible, the more we'll base our lives ON the Bible. We'll never base our lives on something we don't have confidence in.
This last weekend, I spent about 30 minutes responding this question, "Can I trust the Bible?" Check out the video below to see what I said.
Interested in more on this? Check out the following posts:
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - January 2017 through June 2017. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - June 2016 through December 2016. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
If you're new to the idea of Christian apologetics, this topic is basically talking about introducing and explaining Christianity to others who may have questions about or critiques of the Christian faith. In this sense, apologetics is best seen as a servant of evangelism - sharing the good news of what Jesus Christ accomplished and offers.
1 Peter 3:15 is a great biblical "go to" for the importance of apologetics:
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (bold emphasis added).
Obviously, explaining Christianity to others and answering their questions is a big category! (There are whole books written just on specific questions - like human origins, the existence of God, the problem of evil, the reliability of the Bible, etc.). And we don't want to give the impression that answering people's questions is ALL we need to be concerned with. Francis Schaeffer reminded us that the "ultimate apologetic" is Christians showing love.
With all that said, books on apologetics have their place and serve a valuable role. Here are 8 books on Christian apologetics I generally point people towards first. My challenge to you isn't to read all 8, but to choose the 1 or 2 that most resonate with you, and start there.
Here are my recommendations. Click on either the pictures or titles below to be taken to an Amazon.com site where you can learn a bit more about any of these books.
Last night, the Brookside Institute offered a seminar on "How We Got the Bible." About 50 people signed up for 90 minutes of overview on origins and preservation of the Bible - good stuff! The overarching goal of this seminar was to reinforce trust in the Bible (and its message!) by examining its origin and reliable preservation.
As the Institute seeks to build and reinforce foundations of the Christian faith in the areas of biblical literacy and theological formation, seminars like this play an important role.
Below I've included some things that will give you a taste of the seminar. Here's the "Table of Contents" for what follows in this post if you keep scrolling:
If someone were to ask me, "What influences have helped you grow most along the path of Christian discipleship?" it wouldn't take me long to answer. Easily, one of my first responses would be "time in the Bible." And not just time in the Bible, but time getting to know the Bible (and its Author!); working to understand and apply its message.
I've talked with others, and have found many that say similar things. Knowing and loving and applying the Bible is that important! This is so much of why I value biblical engagement and theological formation like I do.
And so as I work to help others get into God's Word in such a way that "God's Word gets into them," I understand that for people to spend time in the Bible, we sometimes need to help them first trust the Bible. We need to explain what the Bible is, and show all the great reasons we have to believe that this book is reliable. The Bible really is an authoritative word from God, that He graciously chose to convey through human authors.
I believe this sort of understanding can reinforce motivation to get into the Bible for followers of Christ, and create motivation to get into the Bible for those who are seeking. All of this is why I'm so excited about an Institute seminar I'll be teaching on Thursday evening, September 29 on "How We Got the Bible."
I recently ran across a 2009 article where Christian apologist, speaker and author Ravi Zacharias talks about "Defending Christianity in a Secular Culture." The whole thing is good, and I encourage you to read it.
In a few places throughout the article, Zacharias draws attention to the value of equipping the church, in the face of a secular culture that is increasingly hostile or indifferent towards Christianity. Below are some short quotes from the article where we see this:
(This is an updated version of a post I initially composed on July 22, 2014.)
I've recently gotten a few questions from people asking very specifically how they can get emails with updated posts from the Brookside Institute blog, without having to remember to check in periodically on their own. They want to stay in the loop, but they won't always remember to go looking for new content. And when they do remember, they may not be near a computer or it may not be a convenient time.
I love this question. I love it that people want to stay in the loop, and that we're providing valuable enough content that people want to stay engaged.
Here's how I respond to this question:
There's no way that I know of to get emails specifically from the Brookside Institute, providing updated content as new posts are published. (If I'm missing something on this, someone please let me know!) However that doesn't mean there's no way to conveniently stay in the loop. The solution is to subscribe to something called a "feed reader" that will collect the content (the "RSS Feed") you want from sites you subscribe to. Then, you simply monitor your feed reader and can conveniently stay up to date on the content you've chosen to subscribe to.
Below I've included some detailed steps on how to subscribe to an RSS Feed and have it collected into a feed reader. Before I get into that, though, let me briefly share WHAT an RSS Feed is and WHY subscribing to the RSS Feed can be helpful.
D.A. Carson begins his book How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil with these words:
One of the major causes of devastating grief and confusion among Christians is that our expectations are false. We do not give the subject of evil and suffering the thought it deserves until we ourselves are confronted with tragedy. If by that point our beliefs - not well thought out but deeply ingrained - are largely out of step with the God who has disclosed himself in the Bible and supremely in Jesus, then the pain from the personal tragedy may be multiplied many times over as we begin to question the very foundations of our faith" (p. 11).
In other words, there is tremendous value in thinking about suffering and evil even when our lives aren't directly touched at the current moment by these things. But let's be honest: For most of us, thinking about suffering and evil isn't an abstract thought-exercise. Thinking about suffering and evil brings real feelings to the surface, it revisits personal tragedy we've experienced or are experiencing, and it brings sin and the brokenness of our world to the center of our attention.
For all of these reasons, then, reflecting on a distinctly Christian perspective of suffering and evil is vital. Whether suffering "feels" distant or near, there's value in both embedding ourselves in Christian truth and surrounding ourselves with voices who can relate and speak to our struggles. As D.A . Carson goes on to say, "The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough, and we will suffer" (p. 16).
Certainly, the Bible should always take pride of place in providing perspective and coming alongside of us as we experience pain and suffering. Books like Job and Lamentations can be precious here. And learning that Jesus relates to our pain and suffering - that He himself experienced injustice, loss, tragedy, grief, and more - teaches us that Jesus is our ally and a shoulder to lean on as we endure and address our own suffering.
Other Christian books can also play a role here - at articulating biblical truth in a helpful way, and sharing personal experiences of suffering, grief, and pain. With this last comment in mind, then, below are six books that I suggest to those who are looking for resources to help them reflect on a distinctly Christian perspective on and approach to the reality of pain, suffering, and evil.
(One more quick, but really important, comment: Working through issues like suffering, pain, and evil should never be done with just you and a book - as helpful as books can be. Remember to also surround yourself with Christian community and consider the value of pastoral and/or professional counseling if appropriate.)
All right, on with the book recommendations:
I'm currently (and finally!) making my way through Richard Lints' The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology, and ran across this short quote by Peter Berger that's worth highlighting here (quoted on p. 29 of Lints' Fabric of Theology):
When churches abandon or de-emphasize theology, they give up the intellectual tools by which the Christian message can be articulated and defended. In the resulting chaos of religious ideas, the principal criterion left to the community as it seeks to find its way is, quite naturally, that of expediency" (Peter Berger).
In just a few words, Berger reminds us of an important VALUE of theology: theology helps articulate and defend the Christian message. Let's keep this value of theology in front of us!
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in "The Importance of Systematic Theology."
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