Tag Archives: Clay Jones

Brian Auten interviews Clay Jones on the problems of evil and suffering

More good stuff from Apologetics 315. (H/T Apologetics Junkie)

By the way, I notice that Brian is offering some FREE BOOKS to anyone who fills out a teeny, tiny little survey.

The MP3 file for the interview is here.

Topics:

  • about Clay Jones’ area of interest and publications
  • how did Clay become a Christian?
  • how did Clay get interested in the problem of evil?
  • what is the deductive (logical) problem of evil?
  • the popular version of it: why do bad things happen to good people?
  • what are some good books on the intellectual problem of evil?
  • what’s a good book for people who are struggling with suffering?
  • how can Christians defend against the problems of evil and suffering?
  • can God perform logical contradictions?
  • is God’s top priority for the world to make us have happy feelings?
  • what good reason is there for God to permit evil and suffering?
  • can God prohibit evil and still let us have free will?
  • can God prohibit evil and still prepare us for Heaven?
  • why do people even raise the objection from evil and suffering?
  • why do people find the slaughter of the Canaanites so troubling?
  • what kinds of sins were the Canaanites committing?
  • do people really understand how much God hates sin?
  • how much does suffering really matter on an eternal scale?
  • how can Christian apologists convince themselves that people really sin?
  • what is the “the banality of evil”? Are normal people capable of evil?

Two things that I got out of this lecture: 1) When people ask “why do bad things happen to good people?” you can ask them who is a good person? And ask them why they think that God would want “good people” to be happy in their own way instead of having a relationship with him. And 2) his advice that Christians should read about real evils like genocide and mass murder, to understand that ordinary people are capable of incredible cruelty, and capable of rationalizing it, too. It is very rare that anyone really stands up to their culture, like pro-lifers and pro-marriage people do today. It’s really hard to do! Especially when the bad guys make it harder to do the right thing.

Should Christians abandon changed-life evangelism?

Here’s a post by Biola University professor Clay Jones again.

Excerpt:

One of the most common approaches to witnessing is to tell people how your life was transformed from awful to awesome. You know what I mean. Something like “before I was a Christian my marriage was on the rocks, I was depressed, was on the verge of being fired from my job, and wondered whether life was worth living. Once I became a Christian, however, my marriage improved, I started getting along better with my boss, and I’m happier.” The idea behind this is that if you come to Jesus your life will get better here. I call it “improved lifestyle witnessing.”

Many Christians encourage this as a method of evangelism. After all, it is easy to do, it is something you can remember because it is about you, and it is irrefutable because you are telling people things that actually happened to you. As a method of evangelism then, what’s not to like? Right?

Wrong.

He then goes through a half-dozen or so problems with lifestyle evangelism.

Here’s my favorites.

First, consider that just about every cult and religion in the world does the same thing. How many cults or false religions say, “Come to us and your life will get worse”? Of course not! They promise a better life here.

Second, postmodern hearers, who believe that all truths are small “t” truths, will receive this approach as “good, I’m glad that worked for you.” And sometimes they will then add that what works for them is Baha’i, or Zen, or therapy, or Prozac, or “I get high on life” or “I don’t need a crutch,” and so on.

I don’t think we should be selling Christianity as a means to make yourself happier in this life. I don’t see many happy people in the New Testament – I see many joyful people suffering under harsh conditions. And if you substitute a changed life for apologetics, then I really think you’ve gone wrong. The gospel is always presented as a true solution to the problem of sin – never as a placebo to make us feel better. Either it’s true or it isn’t – whether it makes us “better people” or not is irrelevant.

Is having a burning bosom a good test for truth in religion?

Here’s a good post from Biola University professor Clay Jones.

He’s talking about how Mormons embrace Mormonism because of a burning in their bosom. (A subjective feeling) In the quote below, I reproduce the main thrust of the post – which he makes as part of his conversation with some Mormon missionaries. If you ever run into Mormons, this might help you.

Excerpt:

I pointed out that the Mormons base the truth of their religion on a subjective personal experience—namely, they base the truth of Mormonism on praying a prayer to ask God whether the Book of Mormon is trustworthy and if they get a warm feeling, which is described in some of their works a “a burning in the bosom,” then they conclude that Mormonism is true. They agreed.

I said that we evangelicals base our faith in historic Christianity on the evidence of Jesus being raised from the dead.

[…]But then I pointed out that the Mormons base their beliefs on a subjective personal experience that has led them to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that historic Christianity is mistaken, that there was a great falling away, that there are many gods, that Mormons one day believe that they are going to become gods (just the males, actually), and that the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods still function today (they didn’t disagree with even one word of this). I explained that you couldn’t get any of these ideas from the New Testament.

He goes to explain why subjective experiences are unreliable for determining truth.

When facing Mormons, and other cults, I also argue against subjectivism. But I supplement that with evidence. For Mormons, I use scientific evidence for the creation of the universe out of nothing. Mormons think that the matter in the universe existed eternally. They don’t accept the Big Bang theory! So you just roll through the scientific advances, show that the cause of the universe was non-physical, eternal, powerful and endowed with free will (to create an effect in time without antecedent conditions), and that’s the end of that.

I think that people in cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Science have similar ways of forming their beliefs. They just filter out evidence falsifying their religion. JWs made all kinds of silly predictions about the end of the world that are not true – they’re false prophets, in other words. And Christian Science thinks that Jesus didn’t actually die, which no credentialed historian believes. (Just like Islam)

UPDATE: ECM freaked out at me and he demands that I say that Mormons are my political allies on every issue. I just want to point out that this is true, although Mitt Romney is nothing but a big fat RINO.