This lunchtime (1245 in the UK) William Lane Craig will give a lecture entitled "The Evidence for God." You can watch it live here. His other engagements in the UK are listed here.
UPDATE: Apparently the video will be here in the next few days. In the end I didn't get to hear more than 5 minutes of it since I was called away. Another time!
I will be very interested to watch and I know I will learn plenty.
Just for the record I still hold these six convictions regarding what has already happened between God and man. In my opinion we must not argue as though these things have not happened - because their happening is the Gospel which we claim to stand on:
- Through Christ, the Triune God has already revealed Himself unmistakably in every aspect of creation so that humanity is without excuse. (Everything is evidence!)
- Against Christ, humanity has taken knowledge into its own hands and so barred the door against all claims from above.
- In view of Christ, God has handed humanity over to its chosen futility, locking the door from His side too.
- In Christ, God has entered this prison and manifested His eternal glory in time and space, even in human flesh. (So focus your seeking there - where He is given).
- As Christ, humanity now has a perfect mind with which to comprehend God (and everything else) – one that is not only human but also in God.
- Out of Christ, His Spirit has been poured to incorporate us into the Man who knows.
These convictions have implications for how we do apologetics. Read more here.
0 thoughts on “Evidence for God – William Lane Craig Lecture this afternoon”
What time does 'lunchtime' begin?
12:45 I believe :)
Whike evidence and apologetics might be helpful, I am a much bigger fan of trusting in that external Word to do it's job.
Enjoy the lecture!
Heard Craig speak today at the BeThinking apologetics day-conference. I feel very caught in the middle of these two approaches: yours and his (if you'll forgive me for personalising them!).
On the one hand, I find philosophical/rationalistic arguments e.g. from creation (cosmological, teleological etc)/logic (ontological etc) very dry. Sometimes, being honest, they make my heart hurt, and I find myself asking 'Where is Jesus in all of this?'. As you've argued elsewhere, they seem to add up to an evangelism to the God of Philosophy (Mike Reeves 'Unhappy Monad').
On the other hand, people *do* have logical barriers to faith. I know that these barriers are not their only - or for most people their *primary* - barriers to faith. And I've seen enough examples in my own life and in my friends' to be sure that a logical problem is never *just* a logical problem - as you/the Bible say, we have logical problems because both our minds and, more fundamentally, our *hearts* are darkened because of sin. Nonetheless, a lot of the time, logical barriers to faith don't need to exist, because we know they're fallacious. Failing to even address people's problems in this area seems a bit unfair, and uncaring.
Similarly, it seems that evangelism/apologetics always needs a 'point of contact' between Christians' and non-Christians' worldviews, otherwise we can't get anywhere, right? Jesus is not always a point of contact, so could we not say there's some validity in starting with things like the Universe?
Do you think it's legitimate to see a place for philosophical apologetic approaches in 'clearing the ground' for proclaiming Jesus by:
1.Dealing with objections that would otherwise mean people couldn't even *hear* the proclamation.
2. Showing that Christianity is reasonable (not necessarily logically, iron-clad, syllogism 'true').
And while writing the above I found that it's part of a wider issue, so here's a more honest assessment of where I'm at with this, apologies for it not being utterly connected with this post, it might be more relevant elsewhere:
I love your approach, it forces me back to Jesus when I've got diverted, it magnifies Jesus' worth, makes the OT come alive, all of that. But, honestly, I struggle, sometimes, with whether it amounts to applying a controlling paradigm to the Biblical text that isn't warranted by the Bible itself. I know that's a hefty claim, and one you'll probably feel is tremendously unfair (and you'll probably also be frustrated that despite all your effort on this blog I *still* haven't got it!). I apologise. It's not a comment that comes with an 'edge'; I'm genuinely struggling with this.
One of the areas where I have problems is how you (and Mike Reeves, actually) talk about the impact that the concept of the Trinity should have on our theology. Yes, totally agree. It’s foundational. But sometimes it seems like your conclusions are extrapolations from the Biblical testimony about the Trinity via quite a lot of relatively speculative philosophy (e.g. in a lot of Mike Reeves talks on the Trinity, where he doesn’t refer to the Bible much at all). And then you apply those conclusions as a controlling paradigm through which to interpret the Bible, e.g. in your God as Giver post…
…which I loved, and desperately want to be true, but can’t quite convince myself of.
Similarly, I find using verses such as ‘these are the Scriptures that testify about me’ and ‘and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself’ a bit of a proof-texty approach. Do these things necessarily mean we have a Biblical warrant for saying that we should be able to find Jesus in every single verse?
I guess I'm coming at this with some baggage: as part of my degree I did a year of theology at an academic uni, collided with liberal Biblical criticism and ended up denying the reliability of the Bible for a few months before God, in His grace, sorted me out. Having been badly burned, I'm pretty passionate about making sure that how we handle the Bible is faithful. I really want to go with this approach, but sometimes I find myself asking 'if someone pulled the same manoeuvre, but in support of a heretical idea, would I be critiquing their method?'
Very good questions! Let me get Sunday out of the way and I'll have a go at responding.
Lots to deal with there. I wonder whether an underlying issue is Christ as *the* Word of the Father.
Christ is not simply the best Word, nor simply the seal of a series of improving words from God. He is *the* Word against which every other word is judged (Matthew 11:25-27; John 1:1-3,18; 5:37-46; 14:6-9; Col 1:15; 2 Cor 4:4-6). I would go so far as to say that the Bible teaches "Christ alone" in the matter of revelation, every bit as strongly as it teaches "Christ alone" in the matter of salvation. Evangelicals today insist on a soteriological "solus Christus", but we've lost the epistemological "solus Christus" we once had.
However, once we're convinced of "Christ alone" in *revelation* then a number of things follow...
1) It means the Bible is not true in some abstract, detachable sense. As though it's full of nuggets of true propositions that can be mined and then melted down and pressed into the service of some abstract epistemology. The Bible is not a more foundational word than Jesus - no Jesus is the Eternal Word of the Father and the Bible is the "Word-witnessing word." The Scriptures are the Word of God *as* they testify to Christ.
That is simply how I read the Bible as a Christian. I don't first think of the Bible as witnessing an abstract truth which then adds up to Christ-the-Truth. I think of the Bible as purely and simply witnessing Christ-the-Truth. And whatever other truths there may be - they are seen through the lens of Christ-the-Truth.
(Btw everyone's got presuppositions coming to the Bible. And every evangelical presupposes the BIble to be true. I'm just saying "Let's understand Truth the way Jesus tells us to.")
2) Therefore it's not so much that Trinity is some strait-jacket that I'm trying to force the Bible into. I don't "start with Trinity", I start with Jesus (because that's what the Bible tells me to do - see texts above). It's just that taking Jesus' divine identity seriously necessitates thinking of God as Trinity.
3) If the salvation revelation link holds (and the Bible is always linking them), then our epistemological approach to God will be as futile as our salvific approach to God. We can't ascend. Christ must descend. But He does descend. Incredibly graciously. Therefore making God known will be all about offering Christ.
4) Christ is definitely the point of contact. The sole point of contact (again, see those verses above). But He is not merely exclusive - the reason He's exclusive is because He's universal. He does meet and satisfy all the cravings of the world - but He does so in a way that utterly subverts them. Some look for power, some look for wisdom - He gives them a cross. The whole world trips over it and curses it. But if they really saw it aright they'd know just how powerful and wise it is. Apologetics (if you want to use the word) is placing that stumbling block in the way so that people, gazing up into the sky, might trip up and look down to the cross where God is *actually* given to us.
5) Therefore, I'm all for answering every question an enquirer might have. But I want to invite them to the foot of the cross to show them the surprising answer. To some it'll look ridiculous and foolish. But to those whom God has called they'll see Christ the power and wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1-2).
I'll leave it there for now...
Before I can be properly cogent I'll have to think some more, but given that this is a busy week, some initial reactions:
1) I agree, Christ as the sole Word of the Father may indeed be one of the main issues. I completely understand where you're coming from with those verses, but wonder if the Biblical picture is quite so simple as you make it.
For instance, what do you do with verses like:
'In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.' Heb 1:1-2
'my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith.' Rom 16:25-26
2) I'm aware we all come to the Bible with presuppositions, but I don't think that that means we inevitably have to be trapped by them. I have hopes that some sort of 'hermeneutical spiral' is possible where we allow passages that don't fit our presuppositions to mold and change those presuppositions. One of the things I guess I'm accusing you of (unfairly, I'm sure!) is that there doesn't always seem to be that flexibility within the way that you read the Bible, to allow openness to being challenged.
For example, it feels similar to someone saying ' well, I know the Bible says that God *will* hold human beings to account for their sin, and that they *are* responsible for it...so God *cannot* be sovereign, even if there are other passages that look like He is' or,vice versa, 'the Bible says that God is *utterly* sovereign, therefore human beings can't be responsible for their actions'. It seems like it's a subtle, back-door triumph of logic over revelation when we say 'the Bible's witness appears to contradict itself in places by saying that both x and y are true. X and Y *can't* both be true, so I'm going to pick X (or Y)'.
3) One of my biggest issues is actually not about Jesus as the Word. My, perhaps biggest, issue is not that you choose always to look at Scripture from a Trinitarian point of view, per se - I think that's only good Bible study! God is trinitarian, therefore the Trinity is the necessary context for all our understanding of the Bible. My problem is instead that you and Mike Reeves both seem to define the *implications* of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity without a great deal of reference to the Bible. From what I've read of your stuff I assume you aspire to be more or less Barthian in your epistomology and hermeneutics, something I'd also be keen on. But the way your doctrine of the Trinity seems quite free-floating is what gets me: it seems to ignore the very concreteness and givenness Barth was so keen on emphasising.
Anyway, this post is long, and somewhat disjointed, and probably not as diplomatic as I intended. As I say, I'm working through these things and trying to understand, not arguing from a decided, opposing view.
1) Hebrews 1 cannot be speaking of a Christless OT revelation since he bases his argument on the superiority of the Son from the plain teaching of the Psalms ('about the Son he says... etc') The contrast between v1 and 2 is the contrast between the person(s) through whom the people received the revelation. Christ doesn't appear to the people en masse (only to patriarchs and prophets etc - who then give His word to the nation - e.g. Jer 1). These last days are ushered in when Christ appears as his own Prophet.
Whatever we claim the mystery to be in Romans 16, it can't be "the gospel promised before hand in the Holy Scriptures concerning His Son" (Rom 1:2-3; see also 3:21).
2) I'm sure you'll find me more flexible on some doctrines than others (same as everyone I suppose). But on the solas you'll find me pretty unyielding. The solas are not to be balanced by other mitigating factors, but pursued further. On the other side of an insistence on "Christ alone" I think we find the well-roundedness a good theology should have. But just as evangelicals would never dream of holding "faith alone" in tension with "faith plus human effort" so you will find me equally intransigent on "Christ alone" :)
3) By "implications", what do you mean? Affective theology? Something else?
I always want to be grounded in my trinitarian theology and concede that at times I have allowed Rublev to give me an icon of the trinity rather than insisting on Christ Himself as *the* Icon of God. I'm definitely open to being challenged here :)
Do you have a for instance?
Every blessing in Jesus
That understanding of Hebrews 1 makes a lot of sense to me: you're saying the author's point is made in relation to who was the messenger of God's revelation *to the people at large*, rather than to Moses/Jeremiah etc.
Also, would it be fair to distinguish between seeing Jesus as the sole *content* of revelation of God and as the sole *messenger*? (Even if you go for Him being both). I think I'm pretty happy with Jesus as the content of revelation, (the jury's still out, for me, on the sole messenger thing, I hope you'll forgive me, for example, because Jesus seems to talk about the Holy Spirit revealing truth to the disciples after His ascension. I'm sure the Truth is Jesus, but the HS seems to be the messenger. In that case, couldn't the HS have been the One revealing sometimes in the OT as well - isn't He mentioned as such in e.g. Joseph in Gen 41:38, Moses, Daniel etc.?). What I'm not sure about is exactly what we mean when we say that He's the *sole* content. It seems to me, for example that Jesus can tell us about the Father and the Holy Spirit. In fact, that's the whole point, isn't it? Jesus reveals God to us. Now God is not other in Himself than He is in Jesus, but doesn't that mean something slightly different from 'The Father is Jesus' or 'Jesus is the Holy Spirit'. (maybe this is a poor example, as the Trinity is a special case).
Equally, I agree that Paul isn't clear about exactly what is the mystery in Rom 16, and definitely in places like Ephesians he seems to be talking about e.g. the inclusion of the Gentiles, rather than the gospel itself. And you're right, he's happy to say that Jesus has been promised for centuries and the fulfilment of OT prophecies. I just can't quite work out how to fit that 'mystery' language into an idea that post-incarnation/post-resurrection Christianity is *identical* with the faith of the OT Jew.
My question with a lot of this is that if this is true, what's new about the new covenant? Would you go for something like the indwelling of every believer by the Holy Spirit? And Paul does seem to talk about Jesus' coming as though it changed everything: "*But now* a righteousness from God has been revealed, although the Law and the prophets attested to it". Would you just see it as him drawing a distinction between the *law* and faith, but faith was the underlying thing and law the interposition (i.e. Gal 3)? If so, how do we understand his understanding of the status of OT Jews post-Sinai? What's he arguing against if they were actually under the law of faith all along and some of them just hadn't quite 'got' it?
In response to (2), I would agree, I'm glad to hear that there are things you're inflexible on :) what I want to understand is what your *reason* for being inflexible on these is. I wasn't arguing for ungrounded inflexibility in my last comment, but just an openness to being challenged by scripture, i.e. my grounds for being inflexible on the solas have to be the testimony of the Bible itself, right? So my understanding of what the Bible means by sola Christus in revelation also has to be shaped by the Bible's own understanding of that. I guess you're saying that your grounds for believing sola Christus in revelation are the passages you quoted above. I think that that's reasonable, but I'm wanting to make sure I'm understanding those passages the way the Bible does, that's all. That's why I'm trying to make sure that some of these other things that don't seem to fit, can be understood within that framework. Another example for me would be Moses being shown God's glory and God's back. If that manifestation of God's glory was Jesus, why was it so different from how Moses met Jesus in the tabernacle? And if Jesus is the Person of the Trinity that we can meet without dying, why did Moses have to be covered by God's hand and then shown only His back, if Jacob wrestled with Him 'face to face'?
In response to (3) I want to believe everything you and Mike have said are implications of the Trinity (affective theology, God as primarily Father before Lawgiver etc) are true because they would make me very happy and, honestly, God would be as I hope He is :) It's precisely because I really, really, hope it's true and want to trust the safety of my soul to the fact that God is like that that I so need to think it through and why I'm sad that you don't refer to Scripture much. My worry is that sometimes you downplay the implications of passages like 1 Thess 5:1-11 (which I'm currently writing a sermon on, and therefore really struggling with because I don't want to preach in a way that isn't faithful), which seem to say that we've had an identity change, but we do also have to live things out. This may be just a problem with rhetorics, and you've just been being more one-sided in your posts than you actually are in order to get your point across, which is fine, but I can't quite work it out.
Anyway, I think blog comments probably aren't the best way of discussing things like this, past a certain point, because they matter too much. Blogs, because they're public and because they aim to persuade are better for winning heads than hearts.
i.e. I'm going to stop baring my heart in public places. Thank you for your responses, though.
Kirstin - your questions are exactly the ones that I ask/have asked, and are the same questions friends of mine ask when I raise points (to do with affective theology, union with Christ, Christ in the OT and the faith of OT saints etc.) with them. Which is by way of saying I've found your interaction with Glen edifying, though if you don't want to continue the discussion here I understand that! I might have to carry it on, if Glen doesn't mind. (I sometimes think writing this blog and responding to comments is close to a full time job, Glen - I don't know how you find the time :))
Hope you're going well with your 1 Thes 5 sermon. What a cool passage! We belong to the day, therefore pyjamas are a ridiculous choice of clothing. :)
On revelation - it's all from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit (as everything is). Revelation to the prophets in the OT or Apostles in the NT is like this - they communicate the Word of the LORD's message to the people by the Spirit and in this way we meet the Father (in the Face of the Son). In this way there are many messengers but what they tell us ought to be thoroughly Christ-shaped. "Sole content" might sound like you're only allowed to repeat the word Jesus like a mantra. That's not what I'm saying.
On Moses seeing the Face-to-Face LORD in the tent of meeting (Ex 33:7-11) and then encountering the unseen LORD on the mountain (Ex 33:12ff) - that's a great place to take Muslims or JWs. The LORD is not schizophrenic - there are two Persons called Yahweh - one is the Seen LORD, the other is the Unseen LORD who promises to send His Presence (lit. His "Face") with Moses.
On the newness of the New Covenant - *everything* is new about it because it is the actual accomplishment of all that was promised. It is the substance, the old covenant was the shadow. Romans 3:21 is wonderful on this - "But now" introduces a real hallelujah moment for those who have been following the promises of the law and the prophets. The newness is the effecting of what has been promised. Of course none of this necessitates the new covenant being an 'unexpected' fulfilment. I have more and more difficulty even thinking my way into the school of thought that insists on the newness being some different and unexpected fulfilment.
On the biblical groundedness of all this - I won't defend myself but I will defend Mike. There's only one person I know who's taken me deeper into Scripture and taken the written word more seriously in his teaching - Paul Blackham! Between Mike and Paul, I've never met anyone who comes close to Scripture-saturation - both in person and in their teaching. Perhaps you're comparing expository Sunday preaching with the talks Mike gives for UCCF events? That's not like-for-like. Check out his All Souls Langham Place sermons to experience some grounded biblical exposition that goes deeper than almost anything I've ever heard.
I really think it's a paradigm issue. We all come at the Scriptures with heavy pre-commitments. But a lot of the expository stuff I hear comes from some pretty heavy legalism. Unfortunately we tend to filter out their assumptions, because we all naturally share them. The different-ness of Mike's teaching, I submit, is not that it's in any way less biblically grounded, it's that he takes the solas with absolute seriousness, while many plough a middle ground which is, ultimately, untenable.
Gotta run - hope your Sunday's really blessed,
Thank you, a lot of that made eminent sense. Can I just make sure I'm understanding correctly?
1. Revelation is Trinitarian. It's not like Jesus is a letterbox that God (shadowy, behind-the-scenes figure) has to post bits of Himself through, otherwise He can't reach us, as we stand on the other side of the door. We are met by all members of the Trinity as we meet 'God in the face of Christ' by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. The content is always Jesus-shaped, but that doesn't mean we have to collapse down every different picture the OT gives us of God simplistically to something we can find word-for-word in one of the gospels. (I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well, sorry, I think your mantra illustration made sense)
3. You'd see Exodus 33 as an example of the contrast between the Unseen-Father and the Seen-Son, rather than feeling that 'No one has ever seen God (the Father)' means you have to take the LORD who showed Moses only His back as Jesus too.
4. The 'Old' covenant was old in the sense that the people of Israel *knew* what was coming, but also knew it hadn't come yet. So there is a material difference between the old and the new like there's a difference between *knowing*, the day before your birthday, what present your parents are going to give you, and the day *of* your birthday when you *have* the present you'd always known you were getting. What you don't agree with is arguing that the people of Israel didn't know what their birthday (or maybe Christmas would be a more apt example ;)) present would be.
5. Indeed, good point. I have repented :) poor Mike... his AS sermons are very cool.
6. And yes, we're very often guilty of living Col 2:20-23 rather than 3:1-11. It's hard though, it's so endemic that sometimes I start to wonder whether the legalists are the orthodox ones just because there's so many of them (or, should I say, us).
Thanks for answering so many questions in so much depth. Matt's right, I don't know how you have the time!
3. That's right. In just the same way that the Ancient of Days (Dan 7), or the One seated on the throne (Rev 4-5) is clearly depicted in a personal form - this doesn't violate John 1:18. It's about the "Face" not the "Form" - that's true in all these Scriptures and it's the explicit difference mentioned in Ex 33. My summary of Exodus traces through how I read it trinitarianly. Perhaps that'll give you a flavour of what I mean by 1. and 2. also.
4. Yes. I remember Vaughn Roberts' illustration as something like - a boy at the turn of the last century is promised a horse when he turns 21. But times change so he gets a car instead. But it's the same thing cos no-one knew what cars were when the boy was younger.
Of course no-one would begrudge those parents - unless the boy pinned his hopes on an actual horse (which is precisely what those promises led him to do). I can imagine the boy who took his parents at their word becoming a real equine enthusiast, spending all his time around stables because he loves the idea of relating to a living creature! Now imagine his reaction when he gets a lump of metal!
What's more the analogy assumes that Christ couldn't be understood in personal terms (because they were so primitive) and had to be given to the Israelites in sub-personal terms. I say that faith is always irreducibly in the Person of the Messiah. It's not good enough to only deal with the question of God's faithfulness to the promises. We must also consider those who trusted the promises and consider what they were clinging to. And, for my money, "Christ alone" demands that they were clinging to Christ.
6. Yes, on reformation day let's have the spirit of Luther! And anyway, if we went with the majority we wouldn't be Christians in the first place.
But more than this - the solas are never meant to be a strait-jacket for the Scriptures. They're meant to be the true pair of glasses that make the Scriptures clear. This has certainly been my experience. You *can* read the Bible as a legalistic primer. But it becomes less clear when you do so. To see it as testimony to Christ - and therefore about *His* work rather than mine - is when things fall into place. You *can* read the OT as a word about "God-in-the-abstract" - but actually so much of the OT becomes incomprehensibly weird when read uni-Personally (e.g. Ex 33). To read the Scriptures christocentrically is not to play a game or to choose one interpretive model among many equally good ones. It's just to treat the Scriptures according to their intention.
Pleasure to talk! :)