Apologetics and Ecclesiastes, By Doy Moyer

“Vanity of vanities,” says the preacher. All is vanity.

How can life seem any less meaningful? “What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” Everything just keeps happening over and over. One generation comes, another goes, and the cycle of life starts over. “All things are wearisome…”

But Koheleth was determined to find meaning in life. He sought out many avenues through which he thought he might find happiness. He tried wisdom, only to discover that “in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.”

He tried pleasure. He withheld nothing that he desired from himself. Yet, at the end of the day, he realized that it was “vanity and striving after wind.” There was “no profit under the sun.”

He looked at the world and saw oppression, ugliness, grief, and death. Riches did not live up to its deceitful promises: “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.” Power is not what it is cracked up to be. In the end, whether a person is rich, poor, good, bad, or anything else, we all end up going back to the dust. As is the fool, so is the wise man.

Looking at life from such an earthly perspective can lead to terrible despair. Koheleth looked at it all; he tried it all. He found nothing ultimately satisfying or meaningful – until he turned back to God.

Once this life is over, there is no coming back: “they no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.” From the outside, it appears that man and beast are the same; they both die just the same and it seems as though there is nothing else. As far as an earthly existence, this is true. However, it is there where the likeness ends. What we cannot see with our eyes is that we have souls that do continue beyond the body. And it is this understanding that affects our grasp of the meaning of life.

“The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

Knowing that God gives us life both physically and spiritually helps us to better appreciate our existence on this earth. Through God, we can learn to enjoy the simple things of life: the eating and fruit of our labors. We can engage in our activities with a cheerful heart, putting away the grief and anger that characterizes those who have no sense of purpose. It is crucial to remember our Creator if we are going to appreciate and enjoy life here and now.

The apologetic value of the book of Ecclesiastes is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. People are still searching for meaning. They try all the avenues available to them: knowledge, riches, power, pleasure, and anything else they can think of. But they still come up empty-handed. It is when they turn to God that they finally realize that life is not just about the “here and now.” It is about that which cannot be seen. It is about God. It is about our souls.

One day we will go to our eternal home. We will face the judgment of God. Will your life on earth have meant something then? Or will it have been a hopeless chase after meaning and value only to find that nothing makes sense apart from God?

Doy Moyer – doy@dmoyer.com

Historical Authenticity of the Bible’s record

Have you ever had someone offhanded mention that the Bible isn’t really an accurate view of history…

I know I have.

Many times.

On that note, I offer you a slice of fact that should shed some light on the subject.

Sargon II, one of fifty Hebrew Bible figures identified in the archaeological record.

“In “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible,” in the March/April 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk lists 50 figures from the Hebrew Bible that have been confirmed archaeologically. The 50-person chart in BAR includes Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs as well as lesser-known figures.

Mykytiuk writes that “at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.” The extensive Biblical and archaeological documentation supporting the BAR study is published here in a web-exclusive collection of endnotes detailing the Biblical references and inscriptions referring to each of the 50 figures.”


via: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/

Why Christian parents get nervous about evidence, by Lydia McGrew

It’s been a while since we had a post on Christian evidences.

I’ve recently been led to reflect on the fact that there remains a Christian subculture that is somewhat uneasy with Christian evidences. Here I’m not referring to modernists or even postmodernists. I’m not referring to the unorthodox who don’t like evidence because they like to keep Christianity hazy so that they don’t really have to believe anything. I’m thinking of the fervent and utterly sincere, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians who nonetheless feel a bit…worried, somehow, if their young people start asking questions about the evidences for Christianity. Worried even if the young people are studying and reading and getting answers. Why might that be?

The reasons why that occurs (and if you aren’t familiar with the phenomenon, just take my word for it that it does occur) are varied, and some are better than others.

Here are a few:

1) The idea that faith is contrary to reason and that therefore it is bad for one’s faith if one has good reasons for believing Christianity. This premise is just plain wrong. It’s been discussed and addressed in many books by many people. Herehere, andhere are just a few of my own posts on the subject. (More posts tagged explicitly with the label “evidentialism” are also foundhere and here.)

2) The rather vaguer idea that one will be distracted from a “real relationship with Jesus Christ” if one is focusing on intellectual matters such as evidence. Now, the Devil is real, and he can, of course, use any good thing for a bad end. C.S. Lewis once wrote that he never felt less convinced of a Christian doctrine than when he had just finished defending it. (Words to that effect.) It is no doubt true that, for certain personality types, the intensity of one’s feeling of commitment to God will be lessened if one is thinking of God more prosaically–whether in terms of systematic theology, natural theology, or historical evidence.

But then again, heaven knows that there are plenty of “dry” passages in the Bible, too. And no, I don’t just mean the genealogies. I mean, for example, all that heavy doctrine in the Pauline epistles. I imagine that most of the same people who would get nervous if their college-age kids were reading, say, Butler on natural theology and Christian evidences don’t mind at all if their pastor preaches exegetically through every verse of Ephesians. Unless, I suppose, they are Pentecostals who don’t like exegetical preaching either. (With apologies to my Pentecostal brethren.)

My point here is that God Himself doesn’t seem to be too worried about our thinking about Him in a sober and unemotional fashion. Apparently He thinks that our having a good grounding and understanding of meatier matters is worth the danger that some of us might find intellectual thought a bit dampening to our emotions. Emotions, even the emotional part of our love for Jesus Christ, come and go. Facts and theology, once understood and grasped, remain and can tide one over dry periods. And emotionally dry periods in one’s spiritual life will come, from one cause or another, even if one is as uneducated as a rock when it comes to either theology or Christian evidence.

3) The concern that their young people might read some really pernicious material that will lead them astray, perhaps in the attempt to read the opposition in order to answer it. Now, I think this worry has something to it. That can indeed happen. No wise Christian mentor will just hand a 17-year-old a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and say, “Go for it, kid. Heh. Let me know if you can answer him.”

So what does that mean? It means that, if one is going to read atheist apologists, one should read them with guidance from people who really do know how to answer them.

Nor should one think of teaching young people Christian evidences as being primarily about reading “the other guys.” The highest priority should be showing how much good evidence there is for Christianity. There is a wealth of material available. See this post for a tiny sample. More material in the posts tagged here and here (these tags were mentioned above). See also this page at Apologetics315.

4) The idea that, if a young person gets deeply interested in Christian evidence, he will go out on the Internet (or at his public high school or secular college) seeking giants to slay and will get overwhelmed. Again, this worry has merit as a sociological matter. That can certainly happen.

That is why we should say loud and clear to Christians interested in this topic: Don’t do that! What do I mean? Just this: Being committed to investigating the evidence for Christianity does not mean that one has to find out every possible thing that anyone has ever said about or against Christianity and know the answer to it. That would be impossible because of the sheer bulk of (ultimately unpersuasive) objections which skeptics can bring up as though they were real problems.

In this context the words of George Horne, an 18th century bishop, from his Letters on Infidelity, are wise and helpful. (Emphasis added.)

In the thirty sections of their pamphlet, they have produced a list of difficulties to be met with in reading the Old and New Testament. Had I been aware of their design, I could have enriched the collection with many more, at least as good, if not a little better. But they have compiled, I dare say, what they deemed the best, and, in their own opinion, presented us with the essence of infidelity in a thumb-phial, the very fumes of which, on drawing the cork, are to strike the bench of bishops dead at once. Let not the unlearned Christian be alarmed, “as though some strange thing had happened to him,” and modern philosophy had discovered arguments to demolish religion, never heard of before. The old ornaments of deism have been “broken off” upon this occasion, “and cast into the fire, and there came out this calf.” These same difficulties have been again and again urged and discussed in public; again and again weighed and considered by learned and sensible men, of the laity as well as the clergy, who have by no means been induced by them to renounce their faith.


Many and painful are the researches sometimes necessary to be made, for settling points of that kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject.

Think about the approach you take to other issues. There is a theory that men never walked on the moon and that the moon landing was a hoax. Do you investigate every detail of the argument given on the “hoax” side of that issue? What about Holocaust denial? (No, I’m not inviting a discussion in the combox of Holocaust or moon landing denial.)

The Internet is in some ways antithetical to the well-balanced operation of man’s mind. The man with a well-balanced mind gets firmly in place the bulk of the evidence on some subject and then realizes that everything does not hinge on whether he can, right now, answer this or that objection which he happens not to have heard before.

So if I tell you that Christianity is faith founded on fact and that you should find out those facts and ground your faith in them, I am not suggesting that you trawl Internet Infidel sites to test your evidentialist biceps by trying to answer every objection that atheist “pertness and ignorance” have raised, often have raised repeatedly over the centuries. Far from it.

(Digression: Has anyone else noticed that people seem to have forgotten the word “trawl”? They think it is “troll” and will use “troll” where it should be “trawl.” The word “trawl” is taken from fishing and, used metaphorically in a reading context, is a rough synonym for “browse.” End of digression.)

5) The unspoken fear that Christianity cannot stand up to scrutiny and doesn’t really have good evidential support.

Here I do not blame the parents, but not because I share the unspoken fear. I do not blame them, because in most cases no one has ever taught them otherwise. How many pastors and priests have really taught apologetics to their congregations, or even offered such studies as an option? Too few. How many courses on sharing your faith have explicitly taught people not to get involved in responding to questions and objections but just to “share their experience” because “no one can argue with that”? Too many. It’s no wonder then that the congregation comes away with the sneaking suspicion that our Christian faith is no better grounded than Mormonism and that we, like they, must depend chiefly on the burning in the bosom.

And one can always push the blame further back. Perhaps the pastors weren’t taught Christian evidences at their seminaries.

In fact, I would not be surprised if all too many theologians who give high-falutin’ rationalizations for being anti-evidentialist are actually making a virtue out of what they deem to be a necessity. Since they don’t think Christian faith is founded on fact, they might as well make up some profound-sounding theological theory that tells us that it shouldn’t be.

When Nathanael asks Philip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply says, “Come and see.” (John 1:46) And he brings him to Jesus. If you as a parent or mentor to the young are opposed to the study of Christian evidences partly because deep down you suspect that they aren’t very good, I can only say to you as well, “Come and see.”

by Lydia McGrew

find more @ http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2013/09/why_christian_parents_get_nerv.html

Thoughts on walking away from God, by Doy Moyer

walk away-764751We sometimes hear about “de-conversion” stories where someone who grew up being taught about Christ, or who had become a Christian, rejects God to become an atheist. There are a number of reasons this may happen. They all have a story. Some argue that they have now seen the light of science and are no longer going to allow themselves to brainwashed. Typically, all they have done is traded authorities. How many have actually seen firsthand all the evidence that they have been told about or read in some textbook? While they rail against what they’ve been “told” while growing up, they now accept, almost blindly, what someone else tells them. And they fail to see the irony of it all. They haven’t changed how they receive what they are taught (read it, hear it), but they have changed what sources they think are important.

Why do they de-convert? Some cite their inability to have an answer for something specific they have been asked. Unable to answer, and thinking there is no answer, they give up. Sadly, giving up in apologetics shows a shallowness that is not very flattering to those who think of themselves as intellectuals. Apologetics has both a breadth and depth that goes well beyond any cursory attempts to provide one-liner type answers. Hard work is necessary, and every ounce of work is worthwhile.

“Easy for you to say.” Not at all. I could, if I wanted, recount the troubles of my youth. I could tell you of my own faith that wavered and teetered in ways I am not proud of — my “faith” that failed so early on. I could tell the heartbreaking story of my brother who tossed his faith aside for many years, and the terribly difficult questions broached during those years. This drove me into apologetics. I could tell stories of my anger at God. I’ve had reasons to give up. I’ve had reasons to disbelieve. But at the end of the day, though my faith was not easy, none of those reasons were valid.

If you have doubts, I plead with you not to use them to turn from God. Do not use them to justify wrong-doing. Use them to seek, search, knock, and ask. Use them to make your faith your own.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity, by Larry Alex Taunton

“When our participants were asked to cite key influences in their conversion to atheism–people, books, seminars, etc. — we expected to hear frequent references to the names of the “New Atheists.” We did not. Not once. Instead, we heard vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.”

More at:


Christopher Hitchens, a man revered as a prophet by folks who reject the very idea of prophets…

I just finished re-reading “god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” I am firmly of the opinion that had he written on just about any other subject no one would care too much. He presents just enough fact to sound authoritative, but skews more than enough to bolster his flawed preconception.

I invite you to take a long read of

“Christopher Hitchens: My Response to god is not Great” by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Copyright © 2007, 2011 by Mark D. Roberts and Patheos.com


Mr. Roberts does a fine job of detailing just a small portion of the erroneous material in Hithchens’ book and will be well worth your time.