Posts Tagged ‘evil’

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/2/2014: Clay Jones

July 31, 2014

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! Evil is a favorite playing card of many an atheist on the internet as well as prominent atheists in public debate. If there is a God, why is there so much evil in the world? In fact, many times, isn’t God the cause of all this evil in the world?

Of course, this is a serious objection for many to theism and in order to help address it, why not talk to a serious authority on the issue? That’s why I’m having Dr. Clay Jones of BIOLA come on my show this Saturday to talk about the problem of evil.

So who is Clay Jones?

cbj

According to his bio:

Clay Jones holds a doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is an associate professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University. Formerly, Clay hosted Contend for Truth, a nationally syndicated call-in, talk-radio program where he debated professors, radio talk show hosts, cultists, religious leaders, and representatives from animal rights, abortion rights, gay rights, and atheist organizations. Clay was the CEO of Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law and Graduate Schools) and was on the pastoral staff of two large churches. Clay is a contributing writer to the Christian Research Journal and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil. You can read his blog at clayjones.net and find him on Facebook.

So what are we going to be talking about when it comes to the problem of evil?

There will be four parts to this. The first one is why is it that we suffer for the sin of Adam. Why is it that because one man and woman ate a piece of fruit so long long ago that the rest of us have to suffer for it today? How can it be that a good God would allow this? Why put us in a situation where already we’re in a deficit?

Second, what about the nature of humankind. What does it mean to be a human and what difference does this make to the problem of evil? Why is it that we see human beings as moral agents but we don’t tend to view animals in the same light?

Third, free-will. This often comes up in these debates but what about the nature of free-will. Does it make a difference? Why should God even allow free-will if it will lead to all this evil? Could God not have created a world where we would be free but there will not be all this evil?

Finally, what about the after-death? Does Heaven play any role whatsoever in what we are experiencing in this life? What about the fact that some people will not make it to Heaven in fact?

All of these are important aspects of dealing with the problem of evil so if this is a question that interests you, be listening to the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday, and please leave a positive review of the show on ITunes! I would greatly appreciate it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: In Search of Moral Knowledge

June 25, 2014

What do I think of R. Scott Smith’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I wish to thank IVP for providing a copy of this book for a review first off. I find the moral argument to be a highly interesting argument. Now my own variation of it is that I prefer to use the fourth way of Aquinas and have it be the argument from goodness of which morality is a subsection of that. Yet insofar as it goes, the moral argument works fine and Smith has given an impressive tour de force on this.

Smith starts off with the history of how we got to this point in understanding morality today. He starts with the Bible and what is found in both testaments. He then goes on to look at the work of Plato and Aristotle and takes us through the medieval period and then through many of the great philosophers of the Enlightenment period and beyond and even goes up to interacting with postmodern looks at morality. At this point, there can be no doubt that Smith has done his research and done it well.

Smith also seeks to be as fair as he can with those whom he is dialoguing with. He admits that he has made errors in understanding past opponents at times and tries to read their works in light of all that they are saying. Smith indeed shows impressive scholarship in the field. At this point, I do think it’s important to let the reader know that I think he will need more than a layman’s understanding of the field to get the most out of this book.

Smith in the end concludes that naturalistic theories not only do not account for moral knowledge, but that they do not account for any knowledge whatsoever. This is true in whatever case he looks at as each position begs certain questions. There is also the problem that many of them deny essences and for Smith, a physicalist explanation of the nature of man is just incapable of being able to provide knowledge. We have to have essences of some sort.

Smith then roots the knowledge that we have in God. The book ends in the last chapter with a more apologetic approach looking at various issues such as the case for the resurrection of Jesus and the problem of evil. No doubt, each of these is brief and I would have liked to have seen even more in some areas at least in terms of other works that were cited since these would be out of the field that Smith is normally writing in which is fine. There were a few points on each section that I would disagree with, but they do not detract overall as Smith does provide excellent sources still in each case, though as I said I would have liked still more.

One main problem I would have liked to have addressed that rarely is is that I do not often see a definition of good given. It is as if we assume when we get together and debate what is good and what is evil that we all know what these terms really mean. In fact, this is the first question I usually raise when I debate moral issues with someone. I agree with Smith of course that love and justice are good and that murder, rape, and torturing babies for fun is wrong. Yet when I say “X is good” what do I mean?

Still, in the end, I think Smith’s work is an excellent one that will certainly leave much food for thought. For anyone who is wanting to deal with the moral argument, mark this down as essential reading.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus Wept

May 29, 2014

What do I think about Bruce Marchiano’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife’s an artistic person and likes images much more than I do. In our marriage, I like to tell people that I am the head and she is the heart. I’m a largely rationally driven person. She’s an emotionally driven person. We both have Asperger’s which makes it an interesting combination. We’re also both Christians and when she watched The Gospel According To Saint Matthew, she started looking up Bruce Marchiano who played Jesus in it, also known as “Smiling Jesus.”

When she found out that he had some books out, I was immediately going to the library web site and saw only one listed, Jesus Wept, which I decided to order to surprise her. I’m always encouraging her to read after all.

And she did. Only took a day.

She also wanted me to read it.

So I did.

First off, I’m thankful that someone like Marchiano is in the acting business who actually cares about serving Christ. If only we had more like that. I’m also thankful that Marchiano is out there wanting to make films for a Christian audience and in fact engaging tough issues, such as one coming out called Alison’s Choice about trying to counsel a young woman out of getting an abortion. One other movie, The Encounter, I was pleased to see even referred to the slaughter of the Canaanites as an issue for Christians to deal with.

Now to get to the review, I will say that being the rational-based person, I found myself not being affected the way my wife was, which was something that had me wondering for awhile. Marchiano writes with a lot of passion and writes with a lot of word pictures and such to get one to feel the situation that he is talking about. His book is meant to help us work through the problem of evil and find solace in times of suffering. Now personally, I’m terrible with empathy. If someone comes for counseling, I prefer to let them talk to my Mrs. as she is the much better listener.

Marchiano places an emphasis on September 11, which has become equated with evil in our culture, and who can blame him? If anyone wants an example of evil in our time that really grips us, it’s September 11. Most of us can remember that day. While I am not a person known for empathy, I do remember that day as well. I could tell you where I was when I first heard the news and remember being in Bible College watching on TV when the second tower fell.

The situation for me as I read a book that has anything to do with theology in any way is to go through and check and make sure the theology is right and make sure the historical claims are accurate and all the ducks are in a line. There is a place for that and it is needed. For the most part, I think it is for Marchiano. There are of course a few places that I would have liked to have seen something different said and something made more clear, but that’s okay.

The light didn’t really click until I got to the last chapter and something in there got me to think about how it would be to picture my own wife reading this book, thinking about what she has gone through recently in her life and the change that Christ has brought. Then I realized “Why yes, if someone is hurting and they are someone who accepts the Christian worldview, or if they want to have a greater appreciation for Jesus while already being a Christian, then this would be a good book for them.” As someone who emotionally connects in that way, I then realized why it is that she cared so much for this.

Same effect on me? No. That doesn’t say anything about Marchiano as a writer necessarily however. I think it says more about me. I get much more excited about the things of God if I read a good book on Christian apologetics or the historical Jesus or something of that sort instead. My spouse would not have her eyes light up to get an insight into the culture of Jesus through historical studies that I would. That’s okay.

Yet at the same time, it is important to not eliminate either side from the picture. Yes. I am the more logical thinker of the two of us with a stronger rational side, but it is important to realize that there are people from a more emotional bent and recognize that some works are written for them as well. I as the one with the rational bent can appreciate then on my wife’s level something she’d like and she in turns does recognize the importance of my emphasis on the life of the mind and learning about that as well.

So in the end, I think that a lot of people could be comforted by Marchiano’s book. For those who are just struggling with some suffering and want to know how Jesus can relate, I can recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters