Posts Tagged ‘IVP’

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/4/2014: James Sire

October 2, 2014

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

To begin with, for those who have not been able to hear the podcast lately, it’s through no fault of our own. The one who hosted our show decided that their ministry needed to be more focused towards youth and for some strange reason, Deeper Waters didn’t fit in with that. (We’ll see how much of that changes when these youth go to college and meet a Bart Ehrman type.) Fortunately, we have recently found a new host for our shown, the Universal Pentecostal Network. (Not affiliated with the denomination)

Anyway, what is coming up? Well this Saturday, we’re going to be interviewing one of the members of what has been called the first wave of apologetics and has been doing apologetics long before a number of us were even born. Many of us doing apologetics today owe what we do in part to my guest if not directly, then indirectly, seeing as he probably helped many others find out about the field. My guest is Dr. James Sire.

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James W. Sire has retired as senior editor and campus lecturer for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri (1964), an M.A. in English from Washington State University (1958) and a B.A. in Chemistry and English from the University of Nebraska (1955).

He served as an officer in the U. S. He has taught English, philosophy and theology at a number of universities, serving as associate professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Northern Illinois University. Over the past thirty years, he has taught short courses at the University of Delaware, Regent College (Vancouver), Wheaton Graduate School, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Biola University, University of the Nations, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, (Croatia), Biblical Theological Seminary, Wroclaw (Poland) and many other academic institutions in the U.S. and Europe.

Dr. Sire is the author of several books including The Universe Next Door,(now in its 5th edition; adopted as a text on worldviews in over 200 universities and seminaries; over 350,000 in print; translated into eighteen languages), Scripture Twisting,  Discipleship of the Mind, Chris Chrisman Goes to College, Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling, Václav Havel: The Intellectual Conscience of International Politics, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept,Learning to Pray Through the Psalms, Why Good Arguments Often Fail, A Little Handbook on Humble Apologetics, Praying the Psalms of Jesus,Deepest Differences: A Christian-Atheist Dialogue with Carl Peraino, and Rim of the Sandhills (eBook). His most recent publications are Echoes of a Voice: We Are Not Alone (May 2014) and Apologetics Beyond Reason: Why Seeing is Believing (August 2014).

He has lectured on over 250 university campuses in the U.S., Canada and Europe. During  one typical academic year, Dr. Sire spoke on over 20 campuses in the U.S. and several in Croatia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands. His most recent lectures were sponsored by his Bulgarian publisher and given in June 2012 in Sofia. He has addressed groups of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty with talks that range from pre-evangelistic and evangelistic to academic and analytic on topics of interest to students and faculty in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and technical fields.

He counts among his current interests (1) the application of worldview thinking to the integration of Christian faith and the academic disciplines (2) the critiques of worldview analysis as a major form of Christian critical thought and of understanding modern and ancient cultures and (3) the nature of signals of transcendence and their relation to Christian life, especially apologetics.

My first introduction to Sire came in Bible College when I was recommended to read Scripture Twisting and later for a class we were assigned as our textbook The Universe Next Door. That latter book has often been a textbook used in classes and is still to this day an excellent introduction to the subject of worldview thinking.

We’ll actually be talking about three books of his this time. We’ll be looking at the past with Rim of the Sandhillsthen we’ll see why he still believes in Christianity today with looking at his book Echoes of a Voice, and finally see what he thinks we should be doing in the future with Apologetics Beyond Reason.

This is an interview I’m looking forward to to hear someone we could all see as a great mentor in apologetics. I hope you’ll be listening in. I will be recording from 3-5 PM EST this Saturday.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rim of the Sandhills

September 23, 2014

What do I think of James Sire’s autobiography? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

James Sire has been a name in apologetics for quite a while and was one of the premier apologists in our modern age of apologetics. We all owe a debt to him. This can be especially so due to his work with IVP where he was responsible for providing us with many excellent books to have over the years. As one who reviews books regularly for IVP, I am grateful.

Rim of the Sandhills is about his life growing up where he lived in an area of Nebraska known as the Sandhills. Seeing as I have my mother-in-law being from Nebraska, I did ask her about it and she was familiar with the Sandhills. Sire describes his life there as he grew up on a farm (Not too uncommon I take it in Nebraska) and his education, particularly his love of books.

Of the books that I’ve read by Sire recently, I have to say this was the most enjoyable one. It was easy to picture many of the scenes going on. One in particular describes Sire working at the projection booth of a movie theater and reading at the same time and when something went wrong with the picture they would shout out his name and he’d jump up from his book and have to fix the problem. Anyone who is a reader understands that scene.

Sire also describes how he went through his educational process which was a quite revealing one and probably like many readers of an autobiography, I was noticing places I could connect with. Sire talks about how he changed his dissertation for instance because he didn’t want to have to learn Latin due to his difficulty with learning languages.

There’s a chapter in there about his romantic relationships as well and this is a chapter I would have liked to have seen expounded on some. What was it like for Sire when he was dating? How is it different from today? As one who proposed to my own wife after just a few months (We were married within a year of our meeting), I am always surprised to meet someone who proposed sooner than I did.

The military section describes what is likely the most difficult time period of Sire’s life where he had to work at a job that he hated and where he was ultimately expendable. This is not to say anything negative about the military. I’m sure Sire would agree they supply an invaluable service and we should be thankful for them, but the military is not for everyone.

From there, the book focuses on his career with IVP and how he wanted to keep a toe in academia. A most revealing chapter is when he talks about his experiences in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where Communism reigned for so long and one authority over there told him that the east was afraid to engage with Christian philosophy because they knew that they could not handle its challenges.

Also important is how Sire presents many of his own failures and challenges in life even on day to day issues that we can all relate to, such as bad grades he got in school or lapses in moral judgment that seem small at the time but are really much greater. Another one was his own struggle with his salvation, something that many a Christian can relate to.

Sire’s autobiography is a look in his own words from one who we owe a debt to in the apologetics community and in fact, something I’ve thought more apologists should be doing. It is a quick read that one will find readily enjoyable.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/20/2014: Rick Mattson

September 18, 2014

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

To begin with, for those concerned my guest had to cancel last Saturday and I chose to just cancel the show due to situations going on here that I thought needed my more urgent attention. That means unless you check my blog page, you’ve been wondering who’s going to be on the show this Saturday? Wonder no more! My guest is going to be Rick Mattson, author of the book “Faith Is Like Skydiving.”

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His bio describes him as:

“Rick Mattson serves as a traveling evangelist/apologist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, appearing at 50 campuses the past five years. The most common event he holds on campus is called “Stump the Chump,” where students can come and ask the “Chump,” Rick, any question about Christianity. His home base is Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where he serves as the InterVarsity Staff worker. When not on the road, Rick enjoys times with his wife, kids, and grandkids, golf, and writing.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have call-ins to the show anymore so we won’t be able to play a game of Stump The Chump, but we will be able to have a good talk about an excellent book.

Mattson’s work serves as a fine usage of analogies to help someone better understand the deep ideas of Christianity and relate them to students. Through years of college ministry, he’s got to have that interaction that involves the answering of questions and the spreading of the Gospel through apologetics endeavors.

The book is a result of all of that. If you want to know the kinds of arguments that he uses while on the road, then all you need to do is pick up this book. In it, you will find a wonderful conversational approach that can be used whether you’re a chump being quizzed on in the center of a college campus or whether you’re at the water cooler at work or just caught in a Facebook or internet debate of some kind.

His style is easy to learn and you will find insights that will help you explain matters and the analogies I find to be quite revealing. To this day, I have not yet shook the analogy that Hell is like an empty pub. While I do not necessarily agree with the view on Heaven and Hell, I certainly can see that this is a way to better explain it to people rather than using terminology that is highly misunderstood today and will bring to mind more Dante’s inferno than anything else.

Also, if anyone is interested, we will be recording this podcast on the road as well. As it turns out, I will be in the nearby Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area tomorrow to give the premier talk at a conference where I will be speaking on the importance of apologetics and the people running it have been nice enough to pay for a hotel room for Allie and I on Friday and Saturday night. (To boot, tomorrow happens to be my 34th as well and what better gift is there than getting to give a talk on a topic I am so fascinated with.) Please be praying that this goes well.

I hope you’ll be watching for a new link to show up in your ITunes feed. Again, don’t worry about missing one last week! Just be prepared to tune in and enjoy this week!

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Faith is Like Skydiving

June 30, 2014

What do I think of Rick Mattson’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I don’t really like a lot of books on popular apologetics. Many of them claim to have a lot of facts that are rather simplistic. They can also often be quite dry to read. Fortunately, a book like Rick Mattson’s is not like that.

Mattson writes from his experience as a traveling apologist for InterVarsity Press. That’s a bonus side of the book as you get a very human side of the apologetics that he does. When he meets someone who’s suffering for instance, it’s not giving a philosophical answer to the problem of evil. Instead, it’s a much more pastoral approach. You also see Mattson admitting that many times, he does not give the perfect answer and has to think of analogies and such to use over time to get the message across.

His analogies, however, are excellent. Most of the chapters are about how X is like Y. My personal favorite one that stuck in my mind the most was that Hell is like an empty pub. In this chapter on the nature of Hell, Mattson describes people who think Hell will be a big party where they will get together with all their friends and celebrate into all eternity.

Enter into this a person who dies without Christ and goes to Hell and comes to a pub there expecting to meet his friends. He goes in and finds that there is no one else there at all. No big deal. They’ll be there soon enough. But then days go by and then weeks and months and years and decades. Before too long it is apparent that no one will be there.

Analogies like this exist throughout the book so that you can better visualize the matters that Mattson is writing about and this one I found extremely fitting. I am not a socialite at all and really prefer my alone time, but even I would not want to be stuck in a place like a pub for all eternity and have it be no one but me.

The chapters are also relatively short and will be able to be digested quickly and be fitting for group discussion. This is the kind of book that a good youth pastor can go through with a youth group to equip them for the challenges that they have ahead of them. Mattson will not go over your head at all.

There were two areas that I would like to have seen more improvement on, but while I think these are areas for future editions to improve on, I still think the work as a whole is highly readable and important.

First, I would have liked to have seen a chapter on just the resurrection. This is the central tenet of the Christian worldview after all and it would have been helpful to have seen Mattson’s take on it in the face of objections.

Second, Mattson rightfully lists resources, but many times I found myself wishing there had been more higher level and scholarly resources. Apologetics books can be good, but they are meant to be the gateway. For instance, in the chapter on miracles, I would have liked to have seen a reference to a book like Craig Keener’s “Miracles.” Apologetics books should point to the books that they are built on after all.

Still, Mattson’s book is an excellent edition to your library and if you are starting out in the field, this is a good one to learn the conversational basics that you need to have to address the challenges that you will meet. I highly endorse it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters