First, let’s take a look at what the Bible says in general about capital punishment, using this lecture featuring eminent theologian Wayne Grudem.
About Wayne Grudem:
Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.
Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.
Drew taught Dr. William Lane Craig’s Defenders class for two weeks in a row while Dr. Craig was in Australia. He chose to focus on secularism.
Note: Drew has some problems with the microphone for the first 2.5 minutes of part 1. Be patient.
Part 1 deals with how Europe and America became secular in different ways.
Part 1 topics:
Secularism: the attempt to take values based on religion (e.g. – Judeo-Christian values) out of the public square
Television programs that are targeted to more thoughtful viewers favor secular or liberal worldviews
Consider the sexual revolution – a new set of beliefs about sex are being pushed into the culture
Sex revolution includes: same-sex marriage, pornography, hookup culture, no-fault divorce
The effect of the sexual revolution has been to introduce widespread fatherlessness, which is very bad for children
The sexual revolution is being pushed in the popular culture, but also in the school sexual education programs
You can see where secularism has led to by looking at Europe, which has largely rejected its Christian roots
For example, Germany and Sweden are very aggressive about stamping out homeschooling
They do this because they are trying to push a government-approved set of beliefs and meanings onto children
How bad could it get? You can look at how Orthodox Judaism was persecuted in Russia after the communist revolution
How did Europe become so secular?
Wars in Europe between Protestants and Catholics caused people to think that theistic religion was bad
Secularists first attacked theism philosophically by trying to replace it with deism – the view that miracles do not occur
Secularists then pushed a radical empirism which attempted to reduce religious claims to meaningless irrationality
The Christian church responded by retreating from philosophical and theological claims and focusing on moral claims
That’s how Europe became secular, but how did America become secular?
America became secular because Christianity was transformed from a knowledge tradition to an emotional tradition
Pastors started to move away from presenting Christianity as true and instead presented it as emotionally fulfilling
Pastors emphasized personal experiences instead of philosophical theology and apologetics
European ideas arrived: deism, Darwinism, Bible criticism, etc.
Christianity responded to this by abandoning the centers of learning it had founded (universities) into pious isolation
As the universities became more secular, they turned out the next generation of influencers, including the media
This retreat from intellectual engagement was augmented by a fixation on end-times speculation (e.g. Left Behind)
(Drew talks to Jeremy, a philosophy student at Georgia State University, about whether Christianity is respected in his classes)
How politicians and the media used the Scopes Monkey Trial to marginalize Christianity as anti-science
The perception of Christians in the public square changed – they were viewed as ignorant, irrational and anti-science
Instead of causing Christians to work harder at science, they became even more fundamentalist, and less influential
Christians today are a tiny minority of influential groups, e.g. – scientists, media, etc.
In contrast, secular Jews, who tend to grow up in a culture that values learning, have a much greater influence
Even if Christians try to retreat to the country where they can homeschool, there is no hiding from the Internet
Which organizations are working against secularism today?
Example of what Christians can do: Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil
Example of what Christians can do: widespread use of ultrasound to move people to the pro-life view
Example of what Christians can do: Liberty University’s effort to produce Christians who can work in media
A story about William Lane Craig and a secular physicist who had lost her faith
People must have liked what they heard and saw in the first week, because he got a big turnout in the second week.
Part 2 deals with practical tips for engaging in the culture.
Topics in Part 2:
The real root cause of opposition to Christianity is from the sexual revolution
For example, moral relativism is so popular in the university, but it is almost entirely driven by sexual liberation
Evangelism and culture-shaping are not the same thing – each requires a different set of skills
Where do people get their information? Public school, news media, late night comedy shows, etc.
Two things for every Christian need to do: 1) Get informed, and 2) Get involved
First: you do not need to be smarter than average. Dr. Craig is a leading scholar because he studies 9 hours a day
Implying that people with influence are “smart” just provides us with an excuse not to try if we are not “smart”
Ordinary Christians need to be willing to give up fun more than they need to be naturally “smart”
Asks Cody: what about that Christian apologist who hung out mostly with internet atheists and then became one
Famous quantum chemist: you’re right, I am not much smarter than most people, I just work a lot harder at it
Drew: to get informed, you should follow good Christian blogs like Apologetics 315 and Wintery Knight
Drew knows Wintery Knight personally and WK is someone who knows apologetics but he also knows other things
WK connects the Christian worldview to lots different things, e.g. = marriage – he can find you the right people and books
(Drew holds up “What is Marriage?” book) This is the best book to argue the same-sex marriage issue
(Drew hold up “The Case for Life” book) This is the best book to argue the pro-life position
Slacktivism: don’t just send people links that you find on the Internet – read the articles and books and then talk about them
(Drew holds up the Lee Strobel “Case for” books) These are the best introductory books on basic Christian apologetics
Audio books are a great way for people to take in the information, and you can get them for free from the library
The Internet is not the best place for arguing about the things you learn – face to face conversations are much better
Biola’s apologetics certificate program is an excellent resource, and it’s all audio lectures so you just listen to them
You can get free apologetics audio from Apologetics 315 and Phil Fernandes
We also need to learn how to how to change the culture and how the other side changes the culture
To really make a difference, then a graduate degree might be for you – especially the M.A. in apologetics from Biola
The university is also very important – Christianity needs to be represented in the university
Influential people like Supreme Court justices come out of the university, which is why we need to be there
The Discovery Institute is doing the most to provide a credible rival to naturalistic science
They have a budget of $4 million dollars and they are punching way above their weight
If every evangelical sent them $20, they’d have a budget of $1.2 billion – what could they do with that?
(Drew puts a check for $20 for Discovery Institute in an envelope and seals it, to show how it’s done)
The Truth Project, which is put out by Focus on the Family – it’s another excellent training resource
When it comes to politics, focus on discussing policy issues, not on pushing particular candidates
If every evangelical Christian just pulled their own weight, it would make a big difference
It all starts by making the decision to take some leisure time to do things that really work
I could not agree with him more on his selections on the marriage debate and the abortion debate. I have bought at least a half-dozen of each of those for people. And I highly recommend getting the Strobel books on audio, especially the Case for a Creator. Love that book. Listen to it a bunch a times and you will start to talk like Lee Strobel.
I listened to all the Biola University lectures before they even had the certificate program, along with the Stand to Reason Masters Series in Christian Thought and about 60 Veritas Forum leture sets. Those things probably did the most for me to become a capable defender of Christianity.
The point he made about giving money to the Discovery Institute is important. In the last month, I sent out $300 to a Ratio Christi chapter for a lecture they gave, and $500 for a Christian group in Canada that put on an apologetics conference.
I think he’s right when he talks about everyone pulling their own weight. I spend about 2-3 hours a day reading and blogging. I donate a portion of my earnings to Christian scholars who study and/or speak at the university. I support Christian students who are doing degrees in philosophy, science and engineering. In church, I don’t anything yet, but I have a network of friends who do things in church, like organize lectures, debates and apologetics book studies. My current pastor is aware of my abilities, and he’s already asked me to help them with an evangelism program they are starting up.
I got started on apologetics by putting in the time on some of the things he mentioned in part 2 of his talk. The basic things to do are reading introductory books on apologetics, especially the ones on philosophy of religion, historical Jesus and physical sciences. If you can’t read, then at least get hold of lectures from Biola University and listen to those, along with Lee Strobel audio books, Brian Auten interviews, William Lane Craig debates. Just put them in the car and listen, and soon you’ll be sounding just like them.
A literal reading of scripture and faith in an interventionist God strengthen church attendance. According to a new academic study of what drives a mainline Protestant church to die out or succeed, preaching these two theological precepts makes all the difference.
The forthcoming article, entitled “Theology Matters,” confirms a truth universally acknowledged, or reasonably intuited anyway. The Christ-optional, Gospel-as-metaphor, liberal-progressive mainline Protestantism borne of our secular age keeps so loose a lock on wandering souls that they wander away—choosing boozy brunch, perhaps, over pew-sitting.
The authors, Drs. David Haskell, Kevin Flatt and Stephanie Burgoyne, used five years’ data gathered from 2,255 attendees of Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada parishes across the province of Ontario. (The United Church of Canada boasts an ongoing, unsurprising self-parody in an atheist minister no one seems to have ginned up the nerve to defrock.)
Approximately half of the authors’ subjects belong to growing parishes within these three mainline denominations, the other half to shrinking ones. Their most striking survey result finds churchgoers at shrinking parishes more doctrinally committed than their ministers.
That’s true about the atheist woman who is leading one of the denominations into decline:
An ordained minister with the United Church of Canada is resisting efforts to oust her from the pulpit because she is an atheist.
“I don’t believe in … the god called God,” Gretta Vosper told the Globe and Mail. “Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share.”
She said that she believes the Bible is “mythology,” and denies that Jesus is the Son of God.
The United Church of Canada has majored in progressive politics . Progressive politics is more important to them than apologetics and theology. From what I’ve read, their ministers are more likely to affirm the writings of progressive atheists like John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg as “infallible” than the Christian Scriptures. We have similar problems in the USA with ELCA, PCUSA, ECUSA, and other far left denominations.
Here’s a quote from the study that breaks down the theology by change in church attendance:
When asked to agree or disagree with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real, flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb” 93% of growing church pastors agreed, 83% of growing church attendees agreed, 67% of declining church attendees agreed, and just 56% of declining church pastors agreed.
When asked if “God performs miracles in answer to prayer” 100% of the growing church pastors agreed, 90% of the growing church attendees agreed, 80% of the declining church attendees agreed, and just 44% of the declining church pastors agreed.
I think the problem is that when a minister quotes the Bible and espouses traditional theology, people can sense that this teaching is from God, because it is at odds with their selfish desires. They understand the authenticity of it, because it calls them higher. Progressives like Greta Vosper tell people that their current sinfulness is just fine, since the goal of spirituality is to look inside yourself for guidance so that you feel good. But does sinfulness really deliver results over the long term? We were designed by God for righteousness, not selfishness. I am pretty sure that Jesus knows a little more about human nature than Greta Vosper does.
1 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.
2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king,
3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:
9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.
11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.
15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.
16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
24Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”
25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,
28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.
30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
People can see right through progressive “spirituality”. They see that this is man-made humanism designed to make people feel better. They know that this is just one person’s opinion, and not from God. The blind leading the blind, as the Bible says. Greta Vosper isn’t deriving her worldview from a truth-centered investigation of science, history or logic. It’s feelings all the way down, and that’s not useful to people who are looking for objective truth and purpose.