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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. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

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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. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, 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!

Top 10 Videos of 2017

One of my goals since starting Coffeehouse Questions has been to take on speaking events. The blog started in 2015 and the podcast started in 2016. 2017 was very exciting because I started to get more frequent requests for speaking events. I was able to speak at school chapels, churches, a Ratio Christi club, and summer camps. Three of my events were with Stand to Reason at Hume Lake.

I am so grateful for each of these events. I already have one event on my Calendar for January 10th in Indiana, and I’m looking forward to booking more in 2018! Check out my Endorsements & Speaking page for topics or suggest your own!

Enjoy the most viewed videos from 2018!

10. Discussing the Resurrection of Jesus on Truth Matters TV

9. What It Looks Like To Follow Jesus – Luke 10:1-24

8. Are Science and Faith Compatible?

7. World Religions: Are they all true?

6. Is Jesus the only way to God?

5. How Relativism Undermines Your Student’s Faith in Christ

4. Who created God?

3. How do I share God with someone who rejects Christ?

2. How can God be loving when he commanded killing in the Old Testament?

1. Will we have free will in heaven if we can’t sin?

I hope you enjoy this list of videos from 2017. I am still trying to catch up and have more videos to post, so follow the blog and look for those in the future! Finally, in case you missed it, you can check out the top blogs and top podcasts from 2017.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Top 10 Blogs of 2017

Another year is coming to an end, and there is so much to be thankful for. I didn’t get as many articles written in 2017, but that didn’t stop you all from reading and supporting my work. I was able to publish 48 different articles addressing different questions about Christianity, science, ethics, religion, and culture. These posts were seen in 113 countries!

CoffeehouseQuestions.com isn’t the only place featuring my writing. This past year I also started writing at SeanMcDowell.org and apologetics.com. I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for my readers. You all have encouraged me so much. Thank you for another great year!

Here are the 10 most read blogs in 2017!

10. 10 Self-Defeating Ideas You Should Probably Stop Believing

9. Does God just want us to be happy?

8. Does God send good people to hell?

7. Is belief in God a rational position?

6. How is an eternal hell an example of a loving God?

5. What is the evidence for evolution from the fossil record?

4. If God created Satan, does evil and sin come from God?

3. What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?

2. Can Christians claim to have the One, True God?

1. 10 Creation Essentials: Old Earth or Young Earth?

Be sure to check the top podcasts and videos of 2017. You can also look back into the past with the top 10 blogs of 2016, and subscribe to get future posts.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Why doesn’t everyone believe in Jesus if he came to earth?

I often get the question, “Why doesn’t God do something that would just make everyone believe in Him?” I often ask, what would that be?

Students respond by saying things like:

“He could give everyone a dream!”

“He could stand right in front of me and tell me He is God.”

“He could do miracles!”

To this I respond, He has already done that. This Christmas, we celebrated the fact that Jesus, God incarnate, came to this earth, lived, and did miracles in front of many people. However, many did not believe in Him after this. Why not? Listen to this week’s podcast.

Why do you think people don’t believe?

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, watch live, 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 on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Making the Case for a Forensic Faith with J. Warner Wallace

In my time working with students, I have found that many students have a passion for God yet few could defend Christianity. They often know what they believe, but they don’t know why they believe it! It is for this reason that Coffeehouse Questions exists. I want to be able to help students understand why they believe what they believe and help them answer difficult objections to their faith. This is also the reason that J. Warner Wallace has written his newest book, Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. Forensic Faith is a fantastic book that is easy to understand and will help you

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  • embrace your duty to defend the truth;
  • devise a training strategy to master the evidence for Christianity;
  • learn how to employ the techniques of a detective to discover new insights from God’s word; and
  • become a better communicator by learning skills of professional case makers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it. It includes insight that will deepen your faith and give you the confidence to talk with your family, friends, and strangers.

J. Warner Wallace’s other books include Cold Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. He is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, serves as an adjunct professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. Jim also made an appearance in God’s Not Dead 2 which you can see here. Listen below to my two-part interview with J. Warner Wallace as we discuss the importance of being a Christian case maker.

Part 1:

Part 2:

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Is it wrong to reinterpret Scripture?

How should we interpret Scripture and what should we use to do it? Should we use science to help better understand the Bible or should theology help us better understand science?

I think it is necessary to start with a very important point. There is a difference between data and interpretations. God has revealed two “books” to us. He has given us the book of nature and the book of the Bible. The words of the Bible and the record of nature is the data. This data does not change. However, our interpretation of this data, which is theology and science, might change and may be wrong.

So I want to suggest that it is possible to reinterpret Scripture without changing the words of the Bible. Instead of reinterpretation changing the Bible, it is us correcting our theology and something we misunderstood about Scripture.

But isn’t science man’s knowledge and the Bible is God’s word? Doesn’t this mean that God’s word is always right and science is the one that is wrong?

It is common for people to raise objections to the record of nature and the words of the Bible being in agreement. They say that these two records are contradictory because at the surface we see two different messages. Two reasons are generally given as to why these two records seem to contradict. First is the fact that Genesis 3:17-19 and Romans 8:20-22 teach that the ground has been cursed. Since the fall of man in Genesis 3, the world has been broken, groaning, and corrupted. The second reason is that man is fallen. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful and wicked. We also see in Ecclesiastes 7:20 that there is no righteous man who never sins and always does good. So, the argument is made that sinful, deceitful, and fallen men cannot correctly understand a broken world. The Bible is the uncorrupted, true, and eternal word of God. Therefore, the record of nature cannot compare to the perfect, inspired word of God.

3 Ways Science and Theology Relate

The first view called compartmentalism. This view teaches that science and theology are completely different areas of knowledge and that they need to stay separate.

A second view is called Biblicism. This view teaches that the only source of reliable knowledge is the Bible. This is usually argued for based on what I mentioned before about the world being broken and man being corrupt. In this view, we have to study the world through the lens of the Bible.

The third view is dual revelationsim. This view teaches that both God’s word and God’s world are consistent and complementary revelations when properly interpreted. These two revelations are also referred to as general and special revelation.

Image result for dual revelationWhen we recognize that both nature and the Bible are revelations from God, then we need to understand that each one should be taken with equal weight. By equal I mean
that we have to recognize that the two revelations are different and that we have to understand each one the best that we can. Both revelations are used to understand God more because they are two different ways that God has revealed himself to us.

There are many things about nature that the Bible doesn’t speak about and there are theological issues that we could never discover in nature. We will never learn that Jesus is the Messiah or the doctrine of sanctification from nature. Also, the Bible doesn’t speak about other planets or scientific discoveries like atoms. God didn’t reveal everything to us in the Bible. Therefore, it is important to understand where each revelations is limited.  So if general revelation gives us insight into special revelation, then it should be considered and inform our interpretation Scripture. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about how creation took place. So if we know things from general revelation that align with Scripture, then we should be able to us it to correct our interpretation.

Understand that we are not changing God’s word with general revelation but only our interpretation of God’s word. If fallen man can get correct interpretations of Scripture, then we should be able to get correct interpretations of nature.

Which view do you hold to when it comes to God’s revelations and our interpretations?

Rethinking the Hiddenness of God

Over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about the hiddenness of God. It is usually one of the main questions that I get from students and skeptics. They say something like “If God wants us to believe in him, then why doesn’t he reveal himself to us?” Now, I have written on this topic before. You can check out my previous blog titled “Why is God so hidden?,” where I talked about the difference between belief “that” and belief “in.” I also looked at how much evidence would be necessary to convince us of God’s existence. However, I want to answer the question in a little different way for this post.

God is hidden because he wants us to look for him.

Now, before you get on me for giving some pat Christian answer, I want you to really think about it and hear me out. I think there is something to think about here. We tend to be people who are really excited about new stuff but then we get bored really easy. I was excited when I bought my first car, but now it is just a normal part of my life. It is rare when I am really thinking about it when I used to. I do remember the day very clearly when my phone notified me that my car had been broken into. I sprinted to the parking lot only to realize that I had hit the panic button in my pocket. The point is that unless something crazy happens, I don’t really think about my car because it has become a normal part of my life.

The same is true for anything that isn’t lost. I could just go down the list. If something isn’t lost, then you have no need to look for it or really even think about it. The moment your cell phone or wallet goes missing, then it begins to consume our thoughts. Panic takes over when we notice something is missing, and it usually remains at some level until the object is found.

I think that the same can be true about God. He reveals himself to us enough so that we should know that he is there. However, he remains hidden so that we will look for him. God doesn’t remain so distant that we never encounter him, but there are always things that we won’t know. This is explained by God being both transcendent and eminent. The bottom line is this. God should be someone who consumes our thoughts all day because we want to discover him. We wouldn’t have a need to seek after him and discover him if he wasn’t hidden.

What do you think?

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