Category Archives: Apologetics

Are Mormons Christians?

On Beliefnet.com, Al Mohler and Orson Scott Card are debating whether Mormans are Christians.  This is an intriguing written debate for people who do not know the difference between a Mormon and a Christian.  Al Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Orson Scott Card is a well-known LDS author.

Here is a little peek at the discussion so far:

In any event, the question was framed theologically, and it was framed by Beliefnet in terms of “traditional Christian orthodoxy.” With the question structured that way, the answer is clear and unassailable – Mormonism is not Christianity. When the question is framed this way, Mr. Card and I actually agree, as his essay makes clear.

In his words, “I am also happy to agree with him that when one compares our understanding of the nature of God and Christ, we categorically disagree with almost every statement in the “historic creeds and doctrinal affirmations” he refers to.”

Stay tuned for more to come…

Alister McGrath and Richard Dawkins Debate

I have been meaning to post this debate for a few weeks now.  I listened to it some time ago and found it quite interesting.  Though I was familiar with both Dawkins and McGrath, I had not heard either of them lecture before this debate.  I have since listened to both of them several times on radio shows and in public lectures.  Alister McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.  He holds doctorates in historical theology and molecular biophysics.  McGrath’s background as a former atheist is certainly helpful in this debate.  Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.  Dawkins is one of the world’s most well known atheists.

McGrath vs. Dawkins Part 1
McGrath vs. Dawkins Part 2

A documentary called “Root of All Evil?” was also filmed recently.  In a portion cut from the documentary, Dawkins interviews McGrath and poses many questions concerning religion and science.

Christian and Muslim?

A recent article in the Seattle Times yielded an interesting and unique proclamation by the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest in the Seattle area.  The title of the story, “I am both Muslim and Christian,” speaks for itself.  In the article, Rev. Redding confesses to be both an Episcopal priest and a practicing Muslim.  She states that her conversion as a Muslim has given her insights into Christianity.  In essence her claim is that becoming a Muslim has made her a stronger Christian.  Redding says, “At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That’s all I need.” 

There are many issues concerning Rev. Redding’s confession of faith.  Contrary to her belief, Christianity and Islam are not compatible.  It is true that they share a few historical figures in Abraham and Jesus.  According to Islam, Jesus is merely a prophet, not the Son of God who was sacrificed for the sins of humanity.  To a Muslim, Jesus is not the only way to God the Father.  For Christians, Jesus is God in the flesh.  He came down and sacrificed himself to bear our punishment for sin and reconcile humanity to God.  He is the only way to God the Father.  This fundamental difference cannot be reconciled between the two belief systems.  The very core of their identity puts them at odds with one another.  Leaders in both religions have spoken out in the same manner. 

“There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different,” said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?”

“The theological beliefs are irreconcilable,” said Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. Islam holds that God is one, unique, indivisible. “For Muslims to say Jesus is God would be blasphemy.”

This profession by Rev. Redding is not a great work of logic, reason, or reconciliation between two opposing belief systems and worldviews.  Redding admits this herself.  “It wasn’t about intellect,” she said. “All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.”  How can you be two things that cannot coexist?  Naturally there is always something behind a statement of this sort.  Something has to give.  That something is often the person of Jesus, the character of God, or the view of God’s Word.  As the article reports:

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

To make matters worse, Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner (Redding’s bishop) says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.  There is nothing exciting about her profession.  It does reveal many things.  It makes clear the state of the Episcopal church in America.  It is a sign of the culture and world we live in today.  It also reveals the anti-intellectual attitude that some people take in regards to Christian faith (as if you can separate the head from the heart).  It also shows disregard for the Word of God.

It is a sad story.  Dr. Al Mohler has some great commentary on this issue as well.  As this article reveals, we must be prepared for anything.

Thoughts on a New Title

I have been pondering the idea of changing the name of this blog for a few weeks now.  For anyone who knows me, “The Pursuit of God” is a blatant shout-out to one of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer.  His writings, particularly The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, have a had a profound impact on my life.  In his time he wrote about the challenges Christians will be facing today in our American culture, and he was right.  He also writes in a way that really inspires me to consider how grand and marvelous God is.  I serve a God who cannot be contained within any box I construct.  I serve a God who is incomprehensible which strengthens my faith knowing that my life and eternity is in the hands of someone much bigger and more powerful than myself.  So for these things and many more, I thank you A.W. Tozer.

That being said, my desire with this blog is to honor the Lord in my pursuit of Him and to engage people of all types in thoughtful dialogue concerning God and Christian faith.  I recently listened to a debate on the Hugh Hewitt radio program between Christian author/scholar/pastor Mark D. Roberts and author/atheist Christopher Hitchens called the Great God Debate.  The debate was quite fascinating and both men did a great job of respectfully defending their positions.  I must also mention that Christopher Hitchens recently debated theologian Douglas Wilson over email concerning the question “Is Christianity Good for the World?“.  In listening and reading these debates, along with numerous other articles and lectures, I have found that the issue of truth is fundamental.  What a person believes is true will shape their entire lives and worldview.  There is no doubt that an atheist can do some good works and claim them to be moral acts.  However, what is the standard for morality?  Who determines it?  If not God, then who?  Who is the truth, the standard for life?  Obviously there is much more we could get into concerning this idea.

In light of this fundamental issue, I am changing the name of this blog to Pursuing the Truth.  As I think about this title, I find meaning in the use of each word.  The Truth is not just a concept or philosophical idea.  The Truth is a person by the name of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said it himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”  This person, the Truth, laid down his life in our place to take on the punishment due to us by our sin.  He was crushed for us and then rose from the grave in order that we could be loved by God and given eternal life with Him in heaven.  The definite article preceding Truth is also important.  Jesus is the Truth, not truth.  In a pluralistic and relativistic world, many people may claim that believing in Jesus has some value but no more value than any other religion or belief system.  It is a truth among many truths.  The verse above dispells this notion of multiple truths.  To believe in Jesus is to believe in nothing else as the truth.  His claim separates Christianity from all other religions, philosophies, and belief systems.  Finally, I love the word pursuit or pursuing.  It refers to the idea that we are continually chasing after the Truth, examining our lives in light of the Truth, and then changing how we look and how we live to match the Truth.  In all of this I hope and pray that this blog serves you well in drawing closer to the Truth.  I hope that you will come to know the Truth and proclaim it to your families, friends, communities and the nations.