Is it Okay to Prove the Bible by Using the Bible?

Christians are often accused of circular reasoning. Those who level these accusations say that it is improper to argue that the Bible is God’s Word by using the Bible as evidence for that. This argument may appear strong at a surface level, but it neglects the real issues involved in epistemology (the study of how we know things).

How do we know anything?

Most people will acknowledge these three possibilities for how we know things as human beings:

1. Authority

2. Rationalism (reason or thought)

3. Empiricism (observation or experience)

Which of the three options is most reliable? Either someone has the authority to tell us what is true (God), or we logically figure it out (reason with logic), or else we are able to observe or experience it (i.e., observe it through a scientific process).

What most people fail to realize is that in questions of ultimate authority, each decision is self-referential and circular. For example, if one believes that science has the answers and provides the ultimate authority, how does he explain his belief in science as the ultimate authority? Well… because the practice of science demonstrates it is reliable.

Science circular reasoning

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13 Practical Steps to Improve Self-Discipline

It seems to me that self-discipline is the forgotten fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Yet all the great men and women of God seem to be marked by it. On that point, I am often reminded of the importance of discipline by this quote from Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones:

I defy you to read the life of any saint that has ever adorned the life of the Church without seeing at once that the greatest characteristic in the life of that saint was discipline and order. Invariably it is the universal characteristic of all the outstanding men and women of God…. Obviously it is something that is thoroughly scriptural and absolutely essential (Spiritual Depression, 210).

kettlebell and dumbbellSelf-discipline is such an essential part of the Christian life that Paul’s specifically instructs older men (Titus 2:2), older and younger women (Titus 2:5), and younger men (Titus 2:6) all to be “sensible” (“self-controlled” in the ESV). Just in case someone felt left out (even though he covered every age group), Paul summarizes by saying the grace of God trains all of us to live sensibly (Titus 2:11-12, same word). Clearly this is something important enough to Paul that he instructed everyone in the church to be working at it.

I have collected a list of helpful ways to work on self-discipline which I have found particularly helpful in my own life, and I would encourage you to give some (or all) of them a try.

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An Important Primer on Dispensationalism

Over the last month, I have blogged a bit about what Dispensationalism is, and what it is not. Because I know it may be of interest to some, I wanted to write a brief review of a primer on dispensationalism by Dr. Mike Vlach, entitled Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths. I have really enjoyed this work, and it was just updated this past March (the previous edition is dated 2008). The updated version includes some additional material, including a significant discussion on the differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology (Chapter 5). What follows is a brief review, and I hope it will be helpful.

The biggest complement that I can give the book is that it is easy to read. Both times I read it (2012 and 2017) I read it through in one sitting. It is short and concise, which is a mark of its well-written nature. It will not waste your time. Rather, it will give the reader an important foundation for understanding dispensationalism.

The outline of the book is as follows:

  • Chapter one deals with the history of dispensationalism.
  • Chapter two talks about the beliefs that are essential to dispensationalism.
  • Chapter three addresses common myths concerning dispensationalism.
  • Chapter four talks about the concepts of continuity and discontinuity and how they relate to dispensationalism.
  • Chapter five talks about the key differences between dispensationalists and covenant theologians. Chapter six addresses common questions about dispensationalists.

Mike Vlach states in the introduction that he does not want this book to be viewed as an encyclopedia about dispensationalism. Rather, he aims this book as a “fast facts” reference about dispensationalism. I think he has ably accomplished his purpose. The book is very well organized, and easy to reference. Plus, I would add that Mike Vlach is somewhat of an authority on dispensationalism, having written quite a lot on the topic, and having partaken in conferences on the subject. So the reader is not getting “crazy” dispensationalism, but an academically respectable presentation of dispensationalism.

I had the privilege to having Mike Vlach as a professor for a couple classes, and one of his best qualities is that he is very logical and thorough in his presentations. His writing is no exception. This primer on dispensationalism ought to be the starting point for those interested in the subject as it represents a well-thought out viewpoint of dispensationalism.

Red-Letter Christians

There is an official website called www.redletterchristians.org, with the stated purpose as follows:

The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.

large_3750120163I think I understand the intent of this group. However, the premise is mistaken and it leads to the ultimate question:

Should we treat the words of Jesus differently than the rest of Scripture?

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