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2018 Imperial Valley Apologetics Conference Recap

I had the great privilege of speaking at the 2018 Imperial Valley Apologetics Conference this past weekend in El Centro, CA. I feel bad that it came at the expense of my friend, Tim Barnet, getting sick. But when he asked me to cover for him, I was happy that my Saturday was open.

During the day-long conference, I gave three talks and had a Q&A session. My talks included: Does God exist? Are science and faith compatible? Is the New Testament reliable? IMG_4497

Thank you to Calvary Chapel Bible College El Centro and everyone in attendance. You all are doing an incredible work, and you made it a very special day. And thank you to the visual team for putting together this short recap video from my first talk on the existence of God. You guys were amazing!

If you are interested in having me speak at your church, camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page and email me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. You can select a topic from the list or suggest your own. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

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Should we love God with our heart or our mind?

While getting my undergrad in theology, I remember people telling me to be careful not to look at God and scripture only with an academic lens. It is common to think that studying theology and apologetics will cause someone to develop an academic approach to their relationship with God. It happens to people all the time, and it is something we have to be careful of. But because of this, some are afraid to learn more about God in order to maintain their emotional or relational connection with Him. Do we have to pick between these two? Listen here and find out!

Comment below with any questions!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

What is the key to discovering truth?

This blog first appeared at seanmcdowell.org

The topic of truth seems to be confused in our culture. Some think the truth is based on what makes you happy, and because God wants us to be happy, whatever makes me happy is true and good!

Others think that each person has their own truth. I saw an advertisement this past summer at UC Berkeley for voice lessons which give “vocal techniques to ‘free the natural voice,’ combined with gentle spiritual exercises empower you to SPEAK YOUR TRUTH” (emphasis theirs). This has become a popular phrase in our culture and was even used by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes when she said, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have” (emphasis mine).

Do we just have “your truth” and “my truth”? What happens when your truth contradicts my truth? What happens when someone’s truth hurts other people? We wouldn’t agree with someone speaking their truth when they believe that murder or racism is a good thing. Instead, we need to focus on the Truth. We should seek and believe the truth even if it doesn’t make us happy.

But how can we even discover the truth when people have different beliefs? Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, gives four worldview tests in his book, Understanding the Times. We are going to briefly look at the first two.

#1 Test for Truth: Reason

Is it reasonable? Can it be logically stated and defended?

It is important to start with these questions. If something goes against reason, we don’t need to look for evidence or think about whether it is true. Illogical statements are self-refuting and falsify themselves.

You don’t need to look for evidence of a married bachelor. If you’re married, you’re not a bachelor, and if you’re a bachelor, then you’re not married. You can’t be both! If I were to tell you about a square circle outside, you don’t go looking for it. It is logically impossible for square circles to exist. So, we need to begin by checking to see if the statement or fact is in accordance with reason. Once it passes the “test of reason,” then we move on to our second test.

#2 Test for Truth: External Support

Is there some external, corroborating evidence to support it?

First, one of the key words in this question is external. This is looking for something outside of a personal experience, emotion, or feeling. The fact that I feel good about believing I’m a millionaire doesn’t make me a millionaire. When you check the external evidence of my bank account you will see that my internal belief was false (in fact, really false).

Second, make sure the external evidence is actually corroborating the claim the person is making. I often see examples of people using evidence that supports a claim that is different from their original claim.

For example, I once read an article claiming to “prove” Darwinian evolution of how one animal kind is able to change into another animal kind. The evidence given was that a new kind of shark was discovered, but this evidence didn’t corroborate their view. Their evidence supported microevolution because when two different sharks breed you get a new type of shark. This is not a change from one kind to another but a change within a kind.

We have to remember that there is truth to be discovered in our world even if it is not obvious. Sometimes the truth is right in front of us, but people think it’s irrelevant.

Because of this, we might have to put in a little extra work. We must discover the truth, live by that truth, and help people around us see its importance. The truth is worth it. In reality, we all know this.

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

I find that our culture has a difficult time discussing controversial issues like homosexuality. We are quick to jump to conclusions and start calling people names. It is possible that we quickly jump to name calling because we don’t really know what to say. We may have not thought through our position, so we simply assume that the other side is ignorant or hateful for not seeing it our way. I could be wrong about this, but I have met people who admit to being much more calm in discussions after truly understanding what they believe.

But before I get onto another point, it is refreshing to see this issue be discussed with clarity and compassion by two people on completely different sides of the debate. Sean McDowell, author and professor at Biola University, defended the position that biblical marriage is the exclusive union of one man and one woman for life. Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian and founder of the Reformation Project, defended the position that biblical marriage also includes monogamous same-sex relationships.

You know it is going to be a good conversation with two leaders discussing their positions. I hope that you watch the discussion below with an open mind and learn how to have a positive conversation on this issue. I learned so much from this and I hope you do too.

Comment below with your thoughts!

How can I start defending my faith? Interview with Dr. Craig Hazen

If you are reading this blog, then I suspect you realize how important it is for Christians to defend their faith. We live in a culture that is putting forth ideas that are contrary to Christianity, and we have people that are demanding for Christians to give reasons as to why they believe what they believe. These questions or issues may have driven you to study apologetics and the defense of your faith. I am excited to know that there are some of you who read this and fall into that category. However, the problem is that not everyone understands this need.

Some of you may have a desire to share the knowledge you have with others, but you don’t know how that is possible without a platform. You might be brand new to apologetics and worldview issues, and you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information to learn and don’t know where to start. What should you do?

Dr. Craig Hazen, the Director of the M.A. in Christian Apologetics at Biola, joined me this week to discuss how each person can turn the world upside down and stand up for Christianity. You don’t have to know all the facts or have degrees. You just need to know where to start and have a passion for sharing the truth. I hope that you are encouraged by this episode as you begin or continue your journey in defending your faith.

Comment below with any questions you have about defending your faith!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

What questions are high school students asking?

I was invited to speak at the Heartland Church Student Night in Indianapolis back on January 10th, 2018. They had me begin with a short 15-minute talk followed by 50 minutes of text-in Q&A. We were able to get through 20 questions during our time together and I have listed them below the video with the point in which they were asked. I hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to comment below!

  • 2:24 – Everyone Has To Start Somewhere
  • 15:25 – How do we know if our faith is real if other religions say otherwise?
  • 18:01 – What are your thoughts on evolution?
  • 22:58 – Is it okay to learn the ins and outs of other religions?
  • 24:29 – Are you a young earth guy or an old earth guy?
  • 28:11 – Can you describe the “no sin is greater than any other” concept?
  • 29:36 – There are stories of other living things before humans. Does this contradict Adam and Eve? Are the stories in the Bible fables?
  • 33:56 – God created us. Where did God come from?
  • 36:16 – Are ghosts and other paranormal things real?
  • 37:59 – How is it fair that people who have never heard about Jesus are eternally punished?
  • 41:30 – Is there a thing you struggle to believe about Christianity?
  • 42:55 – What do you think heaven is like?
  • 46:42 – How do you have a loving God and hell?
  • 49:43 – How do you get to know God and how do you actually give yourself to God?
  • 51:43 – Are aliens or life on other planets real?
  • 53:02 – How am I supposed to know that God is listening when I pray and feel nothing?
  • 54:42 – What do you think hell is like?
  • 57:21 – Is it possible that humanity created religion as a coping mechanism for the inevitability of death?
  • 58:54 – If God knew that we would sin, why did he create us?
  • 1:00:18 – What’s the purpose of grace?
  • 1:01:00 – What’s one last word you would give to any student still struggling?

If you are interested in me speaking at your church camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

Why does God allow evil? Interview with Dr. Clay Jones

This question is probably asked more than any other, and it is one of the most common objections against the Christian view of God. If God is all good and all powerful, why doesn’t he stop evil? Questions like these are frequently asked and it is important for Christians to respond well.

God Evil

Dr. Clay Jones, an Associate Professor of Christian Apologetics, joined me to discuss his new book, Why Does God Allow Evil? This book covers a wide range of questions helping you to have answers for some of the toughest questions.

What is evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why didn’t God create a world with free creatures who always choose good? How does eternity relate to our suffering here?

Listen and get answers to these questions and more!

What are other questions you have about the problem of evil? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

How can we understand the sexual confusion of our culture?

The topic filling the airwaves more than anything else right now is the issue of sexual harassment. There have been allegations against both politicians and Hollywood elite. However, how can we understand the morality of this in a secular culture? What makes sexual harassment wrong?

A few weeks back I did an activity with my students. I gave them this list of sexual acts and asked them to classify each one as being either morally permissible and morally wrong.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 9.55.25 PM

Listen to see what my students did and how this activity can help us understand the sexual confusion of our culture.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 11.03.25 PMWhere would you draw the line? Why is it drawn there? Is there even an objective line? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Are Genesis 1 and 2 contradictory creation accounts?

I remember the first time a Christian told me that Genesis 1 and 2 were contradictory. He seemed to say it as if it didn’t matter. It was like saying, “There are contradictions in Scripture, but don’t worry about it and just have faith.” This, I believe, is a huge problem. It seems to limit God’s omnipotence or His goodness. It becomes difficult to explain how God, the author of Scripture, would contradict himself. Does God error?

I agree that there are apparent contradictions in Scripture, but just like other apparent contradictions, they are cleared up when understood correctly. Christians can’t avoid this issue in Genesis 1 and 2 by saying they don’t contradict. Instead, we have to give reasons why.

What is the apparent contradiction?

It has often been said that Genesis 1 and 2 provide contradictory accounts of when man was created in relation to other created things. Genesis 1:26 puts the creation of man on the 6th day after all plants (day 3) and animals (days 5 and 6). Genesis 2:5-7 seems to say that man was created before the plants and animals. So the question becomes, were Adam and Eve created near the beginning or end of creation?

In order to answer this question, we must understand the context of Genesis 1 and 2. We understand this need for context in our lives every day. For example, “The lions destroyed the dolphins,” appears crazy on the surface. Why did the lions go into the ocean? Why didn’t the dolphins simply swim away? It then becomes very clear when you realize the person talking is on the sports channel and is covering a recent football game. The context in which the person is talking or writing makes all the difference.

So, we must look at the context and perspective of Genesis 2 in order to see if it contradicts the timeline in Genesis 1. With this understanding, we are able to see that there is a change of perspective. Dr. Hugh Ross, an astronomer and President of Reasons to Believe, explains the change in perspective from Genesis 1 and 2 in his book, Navigating Genesis. He writes,

“While Genesis 1 focuses almost entirely on the physical creation–what God made or made happen and in what order, Genesis 2 begins to elaborate on the why, or purpose, of creation. The Genesis 1 storyteller describes the unfolding scene of the six creation days from a vantage point somewhere just above Earth’s surface, but below the clouds, as God prepared a suitable habitat for humanity. Genesis 2 zooms in on a small portion of Earth’s surface (Eden) and what occurred from the vantage point of one human being (the first human) in that locale, walking and awakening to the sights and sounds all around” (p. 95).

Genesis 2 is no longer talking about the whole globe. Realizing the setting allows us to understand what is meant by the different descriptions. Just like the report about the lions and dolphins. Once you realize the context, we are no longer talking about the ocean but about football. Genesis 1 offers the big picture timeline and Genesis 2 focuses on what happened during the 6th day of creation in the garden. Dr. Ross continues,

“Genesis 1 presents the major physical creation events in a time-ordered sequence… In Genesis 2 God introduces the first humans to their setting, first to the misty land itself, then to the plants, then to the higher animals and, finally, to each other. That is, God sequentially lays out humanity’s authority over and responsibility to manage different components of His earthly creation but offers only a highly condensed, non-sequential summary of His physical creation activity. No contradiction can be inferred legitimately from differences between these two versions of the creation story” (p. 95-96).

Genesis 2 never says that man was created before plants or animals. The garden in Eden was planted after man was created, but this doesn’t mean that the whole globe was void of plants. We then see in Genesis 2:19 that “the Lord had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.” The language here is that God “had formed” the animals and then brought them to the man. Again, this is consistent with what we see in Genesis 1.

Conclusion

Understanding the context and change of perspective allows us to read these two accounts in harmony. They are not both offering a big picture timeline of the creation event. Instead, they are each describing a different aspect of creation. This apparent contradiction becomes clear when understood in this new way, and Genesis 1 and 2 become complementary creation accounts.

What are other apparent contradictions that you have a difficult time with? Comment below!

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