On American Motherhood
Apatheism Is More Damaging to Christianity Than Atheism and Antitheism
In our modern industrial civilization there are many and grave dangers to counterbalance the splendors and the triumphs. It is not a good thing to see cities grow at disproportionate speed relatively to the country; for the small land owners, the men who own their little homes, and therefore to a very large extent the men who till farms, the men of the soil, have hitherto made the foundation of lasting national life in every State; and, if the foundation becomes either too weak or too narrow, the superstructure, no matter how attractive, is in imminent danger of falling.
But far more important than the question of the occupation of our citizens is the question of how their family life is conducted. No matter what that occupation may be, as long as there is a real home and as long as those who make up that home do their duty to one another, to their neighbors and to the State, it is of minor consequence whether the man’s trade is plied in the country or in the city, whether it calls for the work of the hands or for the work of the head.
The Importance of Meta Apologetics
The greatest threat to Christianity is found not in the arguments of the atheist but in the assumptions of the apathetic. The “new apathy” is a more dangerous threat than the new atheism.
The “new atheism” fad of Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and dozens of other ornery antitheists created a lot of noise over the God Question, reaching its peak in the late 2000s. The loud, kaleidoscopic festival of fallacies served up by these commentators attracted a lot of media attention. Westerners had never had such a public and prominent debate on God’s existence, and millions were seduced by superficially intriguing yet ultimately facile questions like “who created God?” and “is a prime mover not equally as plausible as a giant plate of pasta floating in space?”
Western liberals bemoaned the crimes of the religious, dreaming Lennonishly of a world without fanaticism—as if Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Hoxha had not amply proven that extremism can exist among the atheistic. There were religious responses, but too often they were simplistic and unconvincing, like the infamous “crocoduck.” More nuanced and incisive rebuttals, such as Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition and David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions, somehow never quite achieved the same recognition.
A Special 2019 Apologetics Event
The need to explain the meaning of Christian apologetics is not uncommon in the classroom, much less, casual conversation. When introducing the term in the classroom or Bible study, I typically begin by asking about the modern use of our word “apology” to jumpstart a conversation about the older meaning of apology from the Greek word apologia. If I am in a philosophy class this helps clarify what to expect in the reading of the Apology of Socrates by Plato; and if I am in a Bible class it is a way to elaborate on the meaning of 1 Peter 3:15 and connect it to our modern meaning of Christian apologetics. After this simple introduction I typically jump into an overview of the major pillars of Christian faith: existence of God, the inspiration of Scripture, and the deity of Christ. However, the more familiar someone becomes with topics and writers in Christian apologetics, the more relevant another kind of inquiry becomes, that is, of meta apologetics.
Remembering Thomas B. Warren
Reflecting on the past and present event opportunities afforded Warren Apologetics Center should produce deep gratitude. The words of Paul strike a chord: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
The Warren Center, namesake of Thomas B. Warren, one of the greatest voices on behalf of Christian theism in the 20th century, challenges religious skepticism through the rich legacy of Warren’s classical (biblical) apologetics approach. He being dead still speaks (cf. Hebrews 11:4). His debate with Antony Flew, arguably the world’s foremost philosophical atheist in the 20th century, has been called the most significant debate on the existence of God during the last 100 years or more. From Warren’s flawless logical theistic argumentation, the great public interest generated by the debate, and all followed three decades later by Flew’s “conversion” to belief in God, it may very well be the time when atheism was handed its most devastating defeat since the earliest days of Christianity.
Is the Christian Faith Rational?
In 1994, or perhaps 1995, I was a student at East Tennessee School of Preaching. At the time I was having a dispute with my teacher, Al Simmons, on a logic matter. If I recall correctly, Al was teaching a hermeneutics class when the dispute arose; Al was a good student of Scripture and logical analysis. Before my enrollment in the school, I took some philosophy classes at Boise State University and one formal logic class. This was about 1990, while I was serving in the US Air Force. Since Al was the teacher of the class, I was on the short end of the dispute, but I was convinced I was right on the problem. All I knew to do was call someone of logical note, and I thought the best one to call was Thomas B. Warren. Not knowing how to get in touch with Dr. Warren, I called Garland Elkins at Memphis School of Preaching. I explained my conundrum and asked for assistance. After a few moments of conversation, he said I should call Warren, something which I was very much interested in doing. After having given me his number, I made the call.
Our Culture and Life
There are Christians who become troubled when they think about their faith and sometimes they wonder if their Christian faith is true. Too many Christians have accepted the facts of Christianity solely on the basis of trust and confidence in others (parents, friends). They have never given a close and careful consideration to examine the basis of Christianity (the Bible).
The age in which we live is both sophisticated and educated. It demands that we know what and why we believe something. Believing something does not make it true. A thing is true or not true regardless of whether anyone believes it. This is true of Christianity as of everything else.
There are those who reason that Christianity is at least non-rational if not irrational. They use Paul’s statement: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8, ESV). However, this is an abuse of Paul’s statement. Christianity is rational. The Bible is the ground of faith. Faith in Christianity is built on evidence. Paul wrote: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV). The Christian faith is reasonable and rational.
Someone wrote, “The culture around us has declared war on all biblical standards. . . . Some Christian unwittingly began following suit several years ago. That has opened the door for a whole generation in the churches to embrace postmodern relativism openly and deliberately.” No one will deny that our culture lacks a biblical basis and has a secular basis. To understand the “war on all biblical standards,” we mean there is no right and wrong, no true and false, no good and bad but only shades of gray. This is not the proper way of understating God’s truth. Stated above is what is called postmodern relativism. The confusion of the above concerning our culture is troubling. We believe the following observation is correct: “The United States is entering a post-Christian era and is rapidly becoming a foreign nation to committed believers” (Charisma Magazine). The question is: “How can we instill in our society a love for God’s truths.” Consider the following:
The Greatness of the Christian Life
On the evening of September 3, 1814, 35 year old Francis Scott Key was held captive on British warships while the British attempted to subdue Baltimore. On that rainy night Key watched as Fort McHenry was continually bombarded by cannon and rocket fire. When dawn broke on September 4, Key was so inspired to see the large flag still flying over the fort that he wrote a poem entitled, “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” The poem was later set to music and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” On March 3, 1931, by congressional resolution, “The Star-Spangled Banner” officially became our National Anthem.
Because of the debates like that which he had with the late Antony Flew, Thomas B. Warren is remembered as a great debater. However, Thomas B. Warren was also a great preacher. I recall listening to him deliver a masterpiece sermon a few years before his death in 2000. The sermon was on the Christian life, and the text was Philippians 4:1-23. In the introduction Warren observed that there are times when we need to take lengthy passages and “follow along” in the passage to see what it is telling us. In this case, he asked, “What is Philippians 4:1-23 telling us about the Christian life?”
A THANKSGIVING MEDITATION: What Do You Have that You Did Not Receive?
In an article titled “Insights for Apologetics from Other Disciplines,” I focused on a number of things, but essentially, the necessity of good questions so as to (1) gain information from our opponents, (2) expose weaknesses in their arguments, (3) better understand what their objections are, and (4) ensure that we are discussing the real issues involved rather than missing the point.
HONORING OUR VETERANS
I recall reading the following story as referenced by Jerrie Barber. While on a short-term mission trip, Jack Hinton from New Bern, NC, was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. There was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around. “It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’”
APOLOGETICS: A FLEETING FAD OR A PERMANENT PROPERTY OF CHRISTIAN FAITH?
“A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount up to and including their life.”
Christianity and the Work Ethic
The following significant statements are taken from an issue of the Gospel Advocate, many decades old (September 13, 1973). The statements were penned by the late Thomas B. Warren. He wrote: “The basic thrust of New Testament preaching is apologetic in its nature. . . . It is a grievous error to conclude that the study of ‘Christian Evidences’ [apologetics] is one extraneous to the study of the Bible. The two go hand-in-hand.”
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Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Warren
In a 2015 book, How the West Really Lost God, cultural critic Mary Eberstadt affirms that religion is like language—it is learned through community and the first community is the family. Rod Dreher, author of a more recent book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, agrees with Eberstadt’s conclusion. He says, “When both the family and the community become fragmented and fail, the transmission of religion to the next generation becomes far more difficult” (123).
Dr. Thomas B. Warren touched an untold number of lives through his knowledge of God's word and his ability to logically reason in its truth. It was my good fortune to sit at his feet on different occasions while I was a student at the former East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions which is now Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN.
At the time, Dr. Warren was preparing for a debate concerning the existence of God with Dr. Antony Flew, a renowned atheist. Warren had a team consisting of, but not limited to, Roy Deaver and Thomas Eaves who were assisting with the research, developing questions for the debate, and constructing the charts to be used. We students would sit for hours listening to bits and pieces concerning the upcoming discussion. Although the tone of these discussions was extremely serious, we were entertained by the humor of these godly men.
In one of Francis Bacon’s Essays, he wrote of truth. His opening lines are, “What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.” It is a classic illustration of the observation that men stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.
According to Oxford dictionaries, “Truth is dead. Facts are passé.” This is the opening line of Amy Wang, Washington Post writer, in her article titled “‘Post-Truth’ Named 2016 Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries.” Wang says the folks at Oxford say post-truth denotes “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential . . . than appeals to emotion . . . [creating] an atmosphere in which [truth] is irrelevant.”