In this special anniversary episode, Kurt answers questions from Veracity Hill viewers ranging from topics covering Islam, Kurt’s favorite notable Christian influencers, and more.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining me here on another episode of Veracity Hill, where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here yet again, week after week, here, well, I’m not actually at the Defenders Media offices in West Chicago. Right now I am here at Crescent Lake Bible Camp where we are spending the week on vacation, but I figured I’d still come to you, not miss an episode, and Chris, of course, is not with me so I’m running solo here. I’ve got the livestream presently going. The stream is looking good and hopefully everything is going well here online and so if you’re listening live I want to encourage you to submit your questions because today is a very special episode. It is the 52nd episode of Veracity Hill, which means we have been coming to you for a full year every Saturday at roughly about 1 PM Central time. This week we’ve got some questions we’re going to be taking either live or some that were already presubmitted so we’ve got a lot to get to today, but before I get to the questions, there are a couple news items that I wanted to take care of and to handle so let me start with that.
The biggest piece of news I guess as it pertains to the state of Illinois is that a budget was actually passed by the state government and it was initially voted upon and passed. I should say it was voted on the legislature but vetoed by the governor, Governor Rauner, however, they overrid his veto so the state of Illinois finally has a budget after a couple of years. My worry, however, is that it doesn’t do enough to meet the demands that Illinois has been faced with, the debt and unfunded liabilities, so since we’re just talking about issues let me talk briefly about this. I read in an article here, an opinion piece by Eric Zorn from the Chicago Tribune. His column “Is Illinois A Big Spending State? The Evidence Says No.” I’ll be sure to provide this link at our website after today’s show. Basically, Zorn here is arguing that when you compare state spending to other states, Illinois is actually not that big of a spender. Here’s the problem though. If we’re not spending that much then we also have a revenue problem because we’ve taken on debt, loads and loads of debt and so there clearly is a fundamental problem here if Illinois is having trouble paying its bills. Let me also say this. Even if Illinois is not a big spending state yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t be, because of these liabilities, these promises made to numerous people. For instance, there’s a great article here on Forbes by Adam, he’s got a difficult last name here. Adam Andrzejewski, “Mapping the $100,000 plus Illinois teacher pensions costing taxpayers nearly $1 billion.” It’s fascinating because he writes here, “It takes the equivalent of all income taxes paid by 330,000 individual Illinois taxpayers to fund the nearly $1 billion for the 7,500 highly compensated six-figure retirees. By any estimation this is unsustainable.” Illinois only has 6.2 million people with jobs.” And the problem is this. In the coming years, that number of retirees who will receive pensions in the six figures is going to increase and increase drastically, so this is really, the cliff is coming moment here. My worry is that the state of Illinois has not done nearly enough to solve the problem, to figure out why we can’t raise enough revenue or why we simply just can’t cut spending on various programs. Against Eric Zorn’s article, I think it’s very shortsighted, whether we’re a big spending state or not, the state government will become a huge massive spender in the next couple of years, and that’s not even to point out other forms of taxation, so property taxes for instance which are local. That’s something that also concerns a lot of Illinois citizens, especially Chicagoland residents within the suburbs where we have higher property taxes.
That’s enough that I’ll say about that. For those that are trying to convince you that Illinois’s not in such a bad situation after all, I want to tell you, no, that’s not the case. It is in a bad situation, and it remains so. This budget does not deal with these long-term problems. I think the budget that has passed is just another kick of the can down the road.
Lastly, another news article that stuck out to me this week was a piece in USA Today and it’s called “Born This Way? It’s Way More Complicated Than That,” and it’s an article on human sexuality, specifically homosexuality, and I was taken aback that a main media news outlet such as USA Today would publish this piece which talks about how more complicated human sexuality is and even lend some arguments in favor of the traditional view because for years now, people have been bombarded with this message that well, people that have homosexual attraction are just born that way. For example, you’ve got Lady Gaga had that song, Born This Way, and you’ve got the Born This Way Foundation, and it’s just been something that’s been touted for the past 5-6 years or more. The problem is the science doesn’t back that up at all. It was really surprising to have this USA Today article, which I’ll share this at the website if you’re interested to check this out and read this article about it.
Okay. So let me get to your questions here for this Ask Me Anything episode. I’ll mix it in, I’ve got a couple of other announcements, but I want to make sure I get to some of these questions here that were submitted throughout the past couple of weeks actually from Facebook. We had an email. We’ve got some texts. We actually got numerous questions from our texting plan. If you don’t subscribe to our texting plan, let me quickly tell you about that. It’s really simple. The texts are free. All you have to do is text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888, and you’ll get a text every once in awhile from me and it’s a way for you to engage with me as well, to ask me questions on the show. Any questions really. I know this show is devoted to asking me anything, but I’m happy to entertain questions of all sorts, week after week, so I hope you’ll subscribe to that.
Alright. So the first question here comes from Seth and Seth writes here on Facebook, “I’d like to ask why Kurt has not embraced the truth of Molinism.” Of course, Seth, the truth of Molinism. There might be a little bit of begging the question there when you are assuming the conclusion of a contentious point. Now for those of you unfamiliar with this, Molinism is a camp, is a position, it’s a model of how God knows the future. We’re dealing with the issue of divine foreknowledge here and there are four main camps in divine foreknowledge. The first camp, typically in a spectrum and sometimes spectrums can be designed certain ways. The first camp is what we’ll call Calvinism. It’s the idea that God knows what will happen because He ordains, He orchestrates it, He makes it happen. That’s how God knows these things. The second camp is often Molinism, but let me save that until the end, to get to your point Seth. The third camp is typically Arminianism, and it’s the position that God knows all things, specifically all future things, but Arminians sometimes don’t provide a model for how that’s the case. They want to affirm, they think the Scriptures support the notion that God does know all things, but may not provide a model for how that is the case. Some of them do. Some Arminians do. One who has written on God and time and divine foreknowledge, his name is Kevin Timpe, and he’s currently at I believe Calvin College, and if you search Google for him, Kevin Timpe, you’ll come to his website where he’s got various articles for how God can know the whole future. The fourth camp is called open theism, and open theism has a number of subcamps because some of the open theists disagree on exactly how this is the case, but basically, it’s the idea that God does not know at least some future truths. Some open theists that He can’t. Some just simply say that He chooses not to or that there just aren’t future truths to be known and so actually those are the three subcamps there if you’re following along with me, so that’s open theism, that God does not know some future truths.
Now let’s get back to Molinism and to Seth’s question. Molinism is the idea that God knows all possible truths and some of what’s possible is not, some of what is logically possible just isn’t feasible. It wouldn’t work out according to God’s purposes. God has sort of feasible worlds from which He can choose to actualize. God has feasible worlds from which He chooses to create. He picks one and says “I’m going to create this one,” and that’s the world that we live in. Okay? So that middle knowledge is His knowledge of those feasible worlds and so that’s essentially what Molinism is, pertaining to God’s middle knowledge of His divine foreknowledge. The way that God knows what will happen is because He’s actually decided which world He will actualize. For many, this helps bridge the gap between sort of a Calvinistic view of divine sovereignty, with a robust understanding of libertarian freewill, which you often see it in the Arminian camps, so many like to embrace this position on divine foreknowledge called Molinism. So why have I not embraced the supposed truth of Molinism? I have a number of concerns.
One of the most famous objections is called the grounding objection. That is to say how would God know what I do if I were offered chocolate or vanilla? What makes that thing true? That’s the grounding objection. My main concern honestly is this. I am concerned that Molinism doesn’t do enough to salvage or retain libertarian free-will. I’m not a philosopher. I did my undergrad in philosophy, but I haven’t done any graduate work. My graduate work has been in theology so I know I’m getting into philosophy of religion here which I do enjoy talking about and thinking about, but let me explain it this way. If God sort of has a logical step where He’s evaluating these feasible worlds from which He wishes to actualize only one, the world we live in, then God has the choice to bring about a world where I choose chocolate or to bring about a world where I choose vanilla if I’m presented with two ice cream choices. The question remains, “How would I be free if God still has that choice to pick one feasible world or another?” This objection has been raised, believe it or not, by a Calvinist named James Anderson. I think it’s James N. Anderson. I will provide the link that explains this concern against Molinism. In a nutshell I find Molinism to be too deterministic. I don’t think it can salvage libertarian free-will, so I personally embrace the Arminian camp, that I believe God does know all things, but a model for how that’s the case? I think divine foreknowledge can be quite mysterious. Let me say this too. Theology is a pick your poison game. Whichever camp you want to affirm, on most any issues, there are going to be shortcomings. There are going to be difficulties. There are going to be some quandaries or even Biblical passages that need to be reconciled, and sometimes you want to pick the camp that you think has the least amount of difficulties, but you still have to reconcile some things, so as it presently stands, and I’m open to changing my mind on this, as it presently stands I am comfortable with affirming the Arminian position on divine foreknowledge. I’m open to exploring how God knows those things, but I find that the Calvinist, Molinist, and even open theist models don’t quite match up with how I interpret Scripture or a number of theological positions I hold. Our ideas and beliefs are kind of like a web and they intertwine and touch with each other and they affect how we think about say, God and time, that’s one of the issues very closely related to divine foreknowledge. Just something we need to be careful of.
We’ve got a question here already in. “Can you amplify on the definition of middle knowledge?” Yes. Middle knowledge refers to God’s knowledge of these feasible worlds. God has knowledge of all possible worlds and He also has knowledge of course of the actual world, and so this worldview, this philosophy came from Louis De Molina who was a Jesuit theologian, a Catholic theologian, back in the 16th century. I know this a little bit because of my work studying the semi-Pelagians, because part of these Catholic debates, some of them were called semi-Pelagians, and it’s interesting that some of these debates get into my research there. Middle knowledge is a logical step between God’s natural knowledge of all possible worlds and His free knowledge, which is the knowledge that He has of this actual world, so there’s sort of this middle step. It’s not a chronological step. Philosophers call it sort of a logical step because God’s not sort of thinking here in chronological time if you will. At any rate, He has this middle knowledge of these feasible worlds because perhaps it’s the case that possible worlds, not all of them He can actualize. Maybe there’s a possible world where Adam and Eve don’t sin and God wants to create world where there’s no sin. Well then, there’s only two humans, because if there were further humans then they would sin, so if God wanted a world where there were no sin maybe there’d only be a couple humans. The problem with that of course is maybe God just wants a maximal amount of people to be in relationship with Him. Not for there to be a world where there’s ever no sin. Of course, God is still working now to bring about a world with no sin. I’ve got to move along here and maybe I’m already giving the impression that I’ll go over my hour time slot today because we’ve got a lot of questions here. Thank you for your question Seth. I do appreciate that.
Let me move on to the texting here because we had a number of people submit questions to the texting here. Texter 2265 asks this. “What has been your most interesting discovery in your study of the doctrine of original sin?” That’s a good question and thank you for that question because I haven’t yet talked too much about my research on the show. That’s been intentional because I’m still working on my dissertation and once I finish I’ll probably speak more about it, but let me say this. I would say my most interesting discovery, for those of you who don’t know I study the so-called Semi-Pelagians. These are monks from the 5th century southern France. John Cassian, Vincent of Lerins, and Faustus of Riez are three fellows that I’m looking at, and let me say this. For Vincent, I was a bit surprised because it seems that there is one place where he talks about the inheritance of guilt, and so I was a little bit surprised about that. Maybe that was the most interesting discovery in my study. Another aspect I’d say is this. Most reformed theologians have never read the Semi-Pelagians. They’ve never read their primary sources. They have either simply taken their view from Augustine’s writings and interpreted them and have formed that view and I say that as someone who has read the primary sources, and as someone who has read secondary and then even tertiary, if these reformed theologians would read tertiary sources, I see how they misunderstand these guys. That’s also interesting because to this day we have people are adamant that those guys believed one thing, but really they haven’t even read the primary sources to check on it themselves. So that’s the other thing, so thank you texter 2265 for that question.
Back over to Facebook here. We’ve got a couple that are coming in live here so I hope I can get to those here. Kyle’s got a question. After 52 episodes of very controversial subjects, how do you draw the line as a host between allowing space for a guest, with a differing opinion than you to talk freely and when to inform the listeners when to speak up and make distinctions. I think I’m getting the gist of your question there Kyle. There have been times when I do let some folks continue on even when I disagree with them. I remember, let’s see if I can think of one, I remember Gary Demar came on and I think I was sick that day too so I didn’t want to do too much talking and he was very heady as well. He had a lot of Bible passages memorized for that discussion, that topic, and it was an area I hadn’t really studied and so I was just going to let him talk. The combination of me being a little bit sick and me not having studied that area all that much. He’s obviously more well-versed, but I was going to just let him just talk a little bit more than normal I would say and sometimes some of the guests, they’re providing a lot of good stuff. I remember Paul Copan, if I asked him a question he could go for five or six minutes, but I liked what I was hearing and so I just wanted to keep him going, not only because I liked what I was hearing, but because I want the audience to hear those things too and when someone is very…[NP1] in an area, you know when they’re an expert, it’s nice to listen to experts, so yeah. Maybe that answers your question? I remember I had one time a caller, he was pretty passionate and I think I had to cut him off. In fact, I remember that my wife said I should I have cut that guy off…*laughter*…that would be a caller. Not so much a guest. There haven’t been too many times when I’ve cut people off and hopefully if there’s times you think I should cut off someone sooner rather than later, feel free to let me know.
Also here on Facebook we’ve got Phil, he’s got a question here. He writes, I’m super confused with Islam where one side promotes peace, the other likes to quote kill the infidel. There’s plenty of Christian knuckleheads in different sects out there that abuse Scripture for personal gain or only use Old Testament as their justification. Is there a better clarification on that stance and how would you deal with Christians and non-Christians who infuse their rhetoric, ranting against Muslims, generalizing terrorist acts, to the community as a whole? Great question Phil!
How do we understand Islam and why are there different interpretations here? In the past, I’ve staked my claim here and this is the way I understand it. Historically, if you understand the history of Islam, it is a joint relationship between the state government and the religion and the goal of Islam is to make everyone on planet Earth a Muslim? Same goal with Christianity. Right? We want to make everyone a Christian. There’s a key difference between Christianity and Islam though. It’s that there are numerous passages in the Qur’an that talk about subjecting the infidel ultimately to death if they won’t repent and if they won’t pay a tax. Islamic law allows for a tax to be paid for a Christian to continue doing what they’re doing, so if you don’t pay that tax and especially if you don’t submit, then that’s punishable by death. What about these terrorists that are performing sort of guerilla warfare? They interpret these kill the infidel passages and they go kill the infidels. However, I don’t think that they have the right interpretation of the Qur’an. The way I understand the Qur’an…Before I get to that let me explain this. The reason why terrorists attack other Western nations is because we are what they consider Dar Al-Harb, and Dar Al-Harb in Islamic theology is a house of darkness or a territory of war, because we do not have Sharia Law ruling in the land and so the ultimate goal is to make a Dar Al-Islam, or a house of submission, and because we are a Dar Al-Harb, terrorists think we need to attack them, but I think this sort of guerrilla warfare is not historically accurate as it pertains to Islamic theology. I think traditional historic Islamic theology has held to a traditional warfare model against Dar Al-Harb and this is why for over a century, sorry, not over a century, forgive me, over a millennium, Islam attacked non-Islamic countries. That’s how I understand Jihad in a traditional warfare sense, and this is a question that I have posed to a number of Islamic apologists, Muslims who defend Islam and correctly ward off against the American rhetoric against Jihadist terrorist attacks. I think their response to that is good, but it’s insufficient because ultimately America is a Dar Al-Harb and I’m wondering why it is that they can’t respond to my objection here that the armies of Islam should rise up and attack America. They have given insufficient reasons to this and I think they know historically that’s the reality. Others who are a bit more modern, a bit more Western, they now interpret the Qur’an differently than it had been interpreted, and I’m talking just a couple centuries here of difference. Let me move along because we’re already at 27 minutes here in today’s show. This is great. I want to thank everyone for their questions here, especially ahead of time because then I know I can see, but I know I’ve also got some people asking live here, so let me get to another one of those here.
Michala asks, if you could have any living guest on the show in the next year, who would you want it to be? I’ve already had Os Guinness on the show. I’m a big Os Guinness fan and appreciate all of the work that he has done. I’m pretty sure I said this on my show when he was a guest. He is America’s prophet. He is Alexis De Tocqueville today. I think more people need to pay attention to him. Alexis De Tocqueville. He came and visited the U.S. He made observations. He was a social scientist and made very astute remarks about the American experiment, about our democracy. In the same way, Os is a foreigner originally and he’s a social scientist making observations and I think people need to listen to him. I’ve actually made the decision, I mean I’ve read some of his books. I made the decision, after I finish my Ph.D. work, the first things I’m going to read are Os Guinness’s books, everyone of them. I’ve already read a couple but I’m going to go back in history and read other things that he said as well. But a living guest that maybe I haven’t had on the show yet? I would say….that’s interesting….I’d like to get like a politician like a U.S. Senator on the show. I think that’d be a lot of fun to get someone in government that high up so that’s something to aspire to, if I could get a politician on the show. Michala. Thanks for your question there.
Let me take one more question before heading to a break here. A texter here asks, this is 9853 texting in. By the way, if you want to text in your questions, just text the word VERACITY to 555-888. Let me load up the question. It is, what is the axiom of Christianity? What is the main proposition? What is the essence of Christianity? I would say, one of my favorite Christmas carols is Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, and that song, those lyrics really talk about the Christian message. I’ll give you a brief rendition here and forgive me if I miss a note.
Hark The Herald Angels Sing.
Glory to the newborn king.
Peace on Earth and mercy mild.
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise.
Join the triumph of the skies.
With angelic host proclaim.
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark, the herald angels sing.
Glory to the newborn king.
Further lyrics talk about veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity. Later on, sorry, peace on Earth, mercy mild, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. I just got the lyrics up now, and also in the following, the last verse.
Hail the Son of Righteousness.
Light and life to all he brings.
Risen with healing in his wings.
Now He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die.
What is the axiom of Christianity? I would say it’s there in Hark, The Herald Angel Sing. One of the distinctive features to Christianity is the Trinity. It is the three persons being revealed over time, three persons, one essence. Perhaps that’s something that isn’t so much talked about in this Christmas hymn, but otherwise Hark, The Herald Angels Sing is I think a really great song to get across the message, the axiom of Christianity. It is that God has come to us to save us and that’s the good news and so that’s what I’d say is the axiom of Christianity. Thank you for that question 9859. We’ve got to take a break here, but otherwise we’ve got other questions and I see other people tuning in here so thanks for that questions and I know those following on the livestream, you’re not going to be able to hear the break because I’ve got the makeshift studio at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in the north woods of Wisconsin, so now stick with me through this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Alright. Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. Today we are doing the 52nd episode here of Veracity Hill. We’ve been coming to you for a full year now, week after week, 1 PM Central time, bringing you fresh content about things happening in the news, theological issues we should be thinking about, but also political and economic issues, and this was something I wanted to do with the podcast because not many Christian ministries get into the political and economic issues. I’m not sure why it is. Perhaps they don’t want to alienate potential followers or even donors. Maybe they believe, and I hope this is not the case, maybe they even believe that there’s not much to be said by way of Christian theology there, and the reason why I hope they don’t think that is because all truth is God’s truth. Alright? If we can discover political truths such as men having inalienable rights, then that means a form of government should flow from that and protect those rights and regarding economic truths, if we can empirically verify and study say, minimum wage law, and see the effects, then we can see that minimum wage has counter-intuitive effects and how it doesn’t really help those that need it most. So we shouldn’t do that, those things, so these are sort of truths, even ethical truths, in economics that exist, and that’s why I wanted the podcast to touch on those topics and we’ve done a number of political and economic-themed episodes throughout the course of this year.
Which reminds me, if you’ve got something you want me to talk about or you have a guest that you want to come on, please let me know, I’d love to get your feedback. There are numerous ways to get in touch with me. While we don’t have the call-in system going today, you can call any time. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Please leave me a message. I’d love to hear it and let me know if you want that to be played on the show as well. You can also email me, Kurt@veracityhill.com or join the texting plan. Text the word VERACITY to 555-888.
Let me get back to your questions here. We’ve got numerous ones here now coming online. Thank you for those that are following the livestream. We’ve got James here. He has asked, Do I have to attend a church to be a Christian? I work and have no time to attend church on Sundays due to my schedule, but my faith remains strong.
James. Thanks for commenting and for following along here and glad to see that you are remaining strong in the faith, but I do want to encourage you to find a place of fellowship. It doesn’t have to be Sunday morning. It could be on a Saturday night. I know a lot of churches, they do a Saturday night service, but think about the early church. The early church didn’t necessarily meet in these big buildings and they didn’t have organs with huge choirs. They met in home churches and so what is the Christian community about? Well, it’s about fellowship. Not only is it about worshiping the Lord, which is what the early church did do, but it’s about fellowship with other believers, where you can be encouraged, where you can confess your sins to one another Galatians tells us. Paul also tells the church not to give up on meeting with each other. I do think that a regularly scheduled gathering is very important to the Christian lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be in a church building. I know some churches when they’re new, they meet in movie theaters or peoples’ homes. My wife for a portion of her upbringing was part of a home church and so people would come over to her house on Sundays and that’s where they would do church. So I would still encourage you to do church with people for all of the great benefits that come from that. Yes. I hope that answers your question and I hope you can fit it into your busy schedule. Try your best to just get an hour or two hours out of your week available where you can do that. I hope you can do that well and have that accomodated say with your work schedule. Thanks for your comment there.
Let me take another from the texting here. We’ve got someone. What is the best book to read to learn how to refute Calvinism? Here’s your cheesy answer. You ready? The cheesy answer is the Bible. There are so many times when I’ve had these discussions and someone would say “How do I know Calvinism is true?” “Just read the Bible.” That’s the cheesy answer. The real answer is it depends on what level you’re looking for. For a book to refute Calvinism, if you want heavy duty stuff, I’ve got some books where you’re going to be going deep into Bible backgrounds. You’re going to be going deep into theology and philosophy, but otherwise if you’re looking for sort of a starter, I would recommend a book that we actually did an episode on. The book is called The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology by Leighton Flowers. He is a former Calvinist, that for many years was a Calvinist, until it sort of clicked for him. What was it that clicked? He realized that Romans 9 is not about individual predestination for eternal salvation, and when that clicked for him, it really opened his eyes to what the historical context was pertaining to Jewish/Gentile relationships and that relationship is also seen in Ephesians 1 which is another big passage on election. I would recommend The Potter’s Promise to check out. You can get it on Amazon for probably $10-$12. Very good book if you’re sort of looking for that starter book.
Moving along here, Michael asks, what are Kurt’s top five Christian influences that shaped his views? That is a tough one actually. I would say when I was in high school, I really started to read and soak up Ravi Zacharias, when I was beginning to ask the deep questions of life, so I’m really blessed to have discovered him and his ministry, so I would say Ravi Zacharias is one. I would say William Lane Craig is second. When I got to college, I sort of advanced from that pop apologetics to studying these issues in a deeper way and Dr. Craig is very philosophical. He is a genius. He’s also very hard-working and so I would say that he was also another influence to me because he really showed me, wow, you can really be a smart Christian and really know your stuff and take on other philosophers so this isn’t something that we should shy away from as Christians, philosophy, that is. Philosophy is good and it helps us to think constructively and critically about things. It teaches us how to think and so when we know how to think we can go into a number of different fields and begin learning and evaluate certain claims because we know how to think well. I’d say Dr. Craig is the second one. That leaves me three more. Okay. I would say vocationally, I have liked Jay Richards, who’s another Christian apologist. He’s a Catholic fellow. While I’m not Catholic, but vocationally I liked who Jay was because of his mastery of different fields, including economics. He’s written a book Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is The Solution And Not The Problem, but also traditional Christian apologetic areas in natural theology. It was the first time I realized who this guy was, that he wrote books, he went around speaking and debating. I would say Jay Richards would sort of a vocational influence for me. That’s three. Maybe I’ll leave it at three for now Michael so I can get some others questions, but thank you for that.
Let me get to some other ones here. Kyle has a quick question here. Have you figured out your new NBA team yet? I have not, so for those that are following along, I’ve been a Bulls fan my whole life. When you grow up watching Michael Jordan, how do you not be a Bulls fan? Okay. I was a Bulls fan, but it began, the Bulls began to sour on me. Believe it or not, during the Derrick Rose era. This is something that I can give you the sources for. After Derrick Rose won the MVP, I began to tell my friends that I thought the Bulls should trade him. There was something about him. Maybe it was just, while he was a really good basketball player, he didn’t have a lot of smarts or intellect. Remember, he did cheat on the SAT. He had someone else take it for him. At any rate, I thought they should trade him and get some value for him and they didn’t and look what happened, the injury. I said trade him. Injury again after they resigned him so they didn’t know what they were doing and these past few years they’ve just been floundering. They tried to sort of go all in last year which was nuts because they couldn’t do it. I’ve been getting tired of sort of these 8th seed finishes[NP2] . At any rate,…[NP3] they don’t know what they’re doing. No. I haven’t figured out a new NBA team yet. I’m leaning towards a couple teams though, thinking about it, so we’ll see so thanks for that.
Robert writes here, Kurt. Started following you on seminary as I listened to the ADC radio show, that’s apologetics.com. Here’s a question he’s got. Why do most media outlets lean left? Is it a reflection of the people watching and based solely on ratings? That’s a good question. Some of it can be just staff employees, which way they lean, and not even necessarily the reporters, but the higher ups as well. I know CNN has been in the news a lot recently because of numerous false reports and heavily heavily biased reports as well. New York Times just had something recently where they took it to Trump. Trump tweeted that China and North Korea, they increased their trade agreement almost 40%, something like that, and the New York Times took it to Trump because the precise figure was 37.5 and they didn’t know where Trump got that 40% from and Trump tweeted almost 40% so you can see here that they’re clearly out to get him, and that’s really a shame because they’re being uncharitable and even in that case just inaccurate so I’m not sure it would be a reflection of people watching. I think, believe it or not, if the mainstream media weren’t as popular, I think more people would be conservative, so I don’t think it’s necessarily that they’re trying to tailor it to their audience, but that’s a good question. I’m not sure I’ve thought as much about that.
Michael writes here, Os Guinness better make the top five. Yeah. In terms of political observer, yeah. He’s definitely been an influence for me and even on apologetic methodology. I like Os a lot on apologetic methodology, but I figure I already talked about Os and all you have to do is go listen to the Os Guinness episode. You can hear my fanboy mentality come out.
We’ve got some other questions here. Let me see what I’ve missed or haven’t missed here. Other than the Bible, what is one book every Christian should read? I’d say Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I think Lewis had a profound impact upon evangelicals, especially American evangelicals, which is fascinating because American evangelicals of fifty years ago, sixty years ago, didn’t share the same pious attitude towards drinking and smoking as Lewis, but Alister McGrath calls Lewis the patron saint of American evangelicalism, because Lewis had a way of explaining theological concepts to the masses that appealed to average Joes. I would say Mere Christianity is the book that every Christian should read next to the Bible, so thank you for that texter.
We’ve got some other questions here. Here’s a question. Was it surprising, and this is someone that has obviously done their homework, was it surprising to you to discover that a faulty Latin translation of Romans 5:12 led Augustine and others to embrace the concept of original sin? That is the belief that every natural conceived human is personally guilty in the womb of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden. This is something that I learned years and years ago, not even in my doctoral work. I’m not sure what it meant by surprising. I think what was surprising to me about this is that this mistranslation wasn’t discovered until the Reformation era, so for a millennium, Christian thinkers and theologians in the West were reading a poor and incorrect translation of Romans 5:12. What’s even more ironic is that Pelagius’s interpretation is actually the correct one that we take today, and that’s the one that all the translations have, well not all, most have fixed. Was I surprised to discover that? I’m not sure if surprised is the right term, but yes, so thank you for that question. Now let me say this. I have recognized that reformed thinkers will still try to salvage their doctrine out of Romans 5:12 and in another place in 1 Corinthians where Paul also does the Christ/Adam comparison. I think it becomes stretched though and I think it becomes really stretched in Romans 5 when you continue to read the passage woodenly because Paul talks about how just as one man brought death to all men, so one man brings life to all men and I’m pretty sure reformed folks are not universalists, so if they’re going to read the text woodenly in that way, in a strict way, then I think they’ve got problems for consistency’s sake. I interpret the passage loosely. Paul is making a loose comparison between the way of Adam and the way of Christ. The first Adam and the second Adam and so I don’t find my interpretation encountering those difficulties, so that’s why I’m not a universalist, but I know what Paul means there.
Moving along, let me check the time too. 51 minutes. This is flying by. Again, thanks for those that have submitted questions. I appreciate it, and for those that are watching, thanks for tuning in. Let me get here, Phil had another question here. He writes, he recently saw a post about what Jesus during his ministry would really say towards gays or transgenders. I don’t like the term gays. I would say people who have homosexual attraction, because when we get to the heart of the matter, because that’s really what it is. It’s a person and it’s a person who has an attraction toward someone of the same sex, what that does, it helps to separate the identity because for people, for many people with homosexual attraction, their sexuality is their identity. It’s almost identical to their identity and that’s a problem. That’s a big problem, even for Christians, our sexuality should not be at our identity. I’m straight, you know, shouldn’t be this all-encompassing thing. For some people, it is, because sexuality is their god, but the Lord is our God, not our sexuality, and our identity is in Christ, so let me continue on here. Phil asks, what do you think Jesus would say or use a parable on this topic? He writes, this person emphasizing Christians with a media posting Christians pouring out hate and negative connotations as opposed to maybe what Jesus might have said. So Jesus maybe would have been nicer is your question?
Here’s the thing. Jesus was a devout Jew and we need to recognize that in His social historical context. Jesus never talks about sexual orgies. Okay? One common line in pop culture is Jesus never talked about this. Jesus never talked about transgenderism. Jesus never talked about homosexuality. Therefore, it must be okay. Right? That’s implied. That’s also a problem because of course Jesus talked about many things which are clearly wrong. What would Jesus say? Jesus in this case might point to an Old Testament passage as it pertains to transgender. Let me quickly look this up here. It’s in the Old Testament, about a man wearing a woman’s clothing. It might be in Leviticus. Let’s see here. Deuteronomy 22:5 I believe. Thanks for bearing with me here. It reads, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” So here’s the concern. Well, clothes are just social constructs. What constitutes as this could be that. Here’s the point though. The point is that we have distinctive clothing. Alright? Whether we want females to wear ties, men today wear ties, that evolves over time. These I think are the distinctive traits to the genders and the idea is that they wouldn’t mix. So I would say Jesus might point someone, if He was talking about transgenderism, He might point someone to Deuteronomy 22:5.
Let me go off and talk about something that a lot of pastors bring up. There’s the passage about the woman caught in adultery. This passage, which is actually not in the earliest manuscripts, nevertheless a lot of Evangelicals think it’s still part of the canon, is about the woman caught in adultery and Jesus does not throw a stone at her. Right? He says he who is without sin throw the first stone. Here’s the problem. The Pharisees came to trick Him, and why were they tricking Him? Because Levtican law, Mosaic law, required that when someone would be caught in adultery that both of the adulterers would be brought forth to be stoned. I think the reason why this is unique and why this is in the Bible, why it’s a teaching that sticks out, is because even though the woman had sinned, she wasn’t punished for it. Now of course Jesus says go and sin no more. Why am I talking about this? The point is that Jesus, I think, had the other adulterer been included, I think He would have thrown, I think He would have brought about the stoning or would have people do that, and I know this does not fit with a lot of the perceptions that Americans have of Jesus, who’s their homeboy and their buddy, who’s kooshy-kooshy, and teaches about love. This doesn’t fit all that well, but it fits historically and accurately. What would a devout Jew do in that scenario? This is all to say even though Jesus doesn’t explicitly talk about some topics, what would He have believed? In order to answer that question, we need to go and study the backgrounds. What would a 1st century devout Jew believe and do? Philip. I hope that answers your question on that. Thanks for that too.
Okay. So I had another
question here from Magic Monty. Magic Monty here asks, why do Christians
disagree so much given the fact that the Spirit that abides in us guides us in
all truth? I’ll have to admit I struggle with this from time to time. This
question, thanks Magic Monty, this question deals with a passage from
John 16. John 16, we read here, Jesus is talking to His disciples and He tells
them, Jesus is talking about the work of the Spirit, John 16:4b. “I did
not say these things to you from the beginning because I was with you, but now
I am going to Him who sent me and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’,
but because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it’s to your advantage that I go away, for
if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I go I will send
Him to you and when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and
righteousness and judgment. Concerning sin because they do not believe.
Concerning righteousness because I go to the Father, and you will see me no
longer. Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. Also,
let me just quickly say the ruler of this world IS judged, so when Jesus
returns to the Father, the ruler of the world, Satan, is
judged. Interesting eschatological point there. Verse 12. I still
have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them down. When
the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth for He will not
speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will
declare to you the things that are to come.”
This guiding into all truth to Magic Monty’s question here, I believe this is a passage that is not presented to all Christians. It’s presented to His disciples. How do you especially know this? Well, continue reading on. Verse 32. “Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” Guess what happened at the Garden of Gethsemane. They all scattered. Okay? Jesus is talking specifically to the twelve here and I think the claim that the apostles had Christ’s teaching is certainly true and can be backed up through verse from the book of Acts which talk about the Apostles’ teaching and the truth that they have, so I think the idea of the Spirit is guiding us into all truth is not for all of these Christians for the present day. I sort of have a restrictive view here on that. Some might say, I’ve had this conversation with some people, some might say, I’ve got a buddy who’s Eastern Orthodox and he says, well look, this is for all Christians, and God the Father, the Holy Spirit is guiding His church, the Eastern Orthodox Church into all truth, because the church can never be wrong. Of course, this is also begging the question. Why can’t it just be all Christians? Even people that say aren’t part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But simply put, I don’t interpret this to be referring to all Christians, just some of them. More simply, why do Christians disagree? We have different assumptions about a text. We have different backgrounds and different ways of interpreting. Some of us think well, think critically, think accurately. Some of us don’t. We might end up coming to a different interpretation on some passage so that’s why some of us disagree. I know just a couple of weeks ago John MacArthur, reformed pastor, called out N.T. Wright for spouting heresy. It’s like, it’s disappointing to me because I wish that there was a greater sense of ecumenism amongst Christians and you just don’t get that which I think is sad.
Let me get along here to some other questions before finishing up here. Michael again asks, what are some books Kurt would recommend on faith, politics, and society? I know I’ve already mentioned a few here in today’s show. I would say for economics, I would read, if you know nothing and haven’t given any thought to economics before, check out Jay Richard’s book Money, Greed, And God: Why Capitalism Is The Solution And Not The Problem. I think that’s a great starter book for people on economics. For books on theology, it depends on how deep you want to get. The popular level, read stuff by C.S. Lewis. If you want to go deeper, if you want to get into like systematic theology, Millard Erickson has a good book on that. Let me say this, I like Wayne Grudem in his style of accessible theology. He makes it easy to understand. I don’t always agree with him on a number of points, but he’s written on a wide variety of issues now, not just on say theology proper, so he’s very accessible as an author and I think that’s important for helping people without that background get into that. Maybe Michael, it all just depends on what you’re seeking. If you want books on the resurrection of Jesus, Mike Licona’s the guy to go to on that. He’s been great on the resurrection argument. If you’re looking for apologetics stuff, even more popular in general, like say natural theology, J. Warner Wallace strikes me as a good author, Cold-Case Christianity. Michala here says Alister McGrath books. Yep. Alister’s good as well. Check out numerous books. He’s got some great stuff. I loved his autobiography of C.S. Lewis. I know that’s not sort of like that. Not autobiography! His biography on C.S. Lewis. There’s a lot of good authors out there and if you, I had a listener email me awhile back on a book for denominations, how to learn more about denominations, and I had a recommendation for that listener, so if you’ve got a question on which area you want to learn more about, just send me a message. I’d be happy to sort of point you in a book that I enjoyed reading or even if I haven’t read, I have heard good things about.
Michael asks books on politics. How about John Locke’s two treatises on government? I am a Lockean. That’s my political philosophy. That’s probably going to be too heavy-duty for people though. That’s a good question. There are a lot of good books out there, but where to start? I know this is going to kind of be simplistic. How about the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution if you want to learn about American politics? I’m serious here. I read the Constitution. It just takes like an hour or two. It really doesn’t take that long to read it and you begin to understand what it’s about. I liked a book called Founding Faith by Steven Waldman which talks about the relationship between faith and politics as it pertains to the founders of America. I think that would be a good starter book if you want to learn more about faith issues and how they related to the thought then. If you want another idea here, another short sit down book, a sort of book you can read in the afternoon and you can read it for free online, Frederic Bastiat’s The Law is a good book on economics. It might be too, shall I say, proper, because it’s older for people. If you’re looking for something more in common parlance, Jay Richard’s book would be good for that, but Bastiat’s pretty good on economics, well he’s great on economics. I could get more into it. He explains something today we call the Broken Window Fallacy, which I saw in Paul Krugman, who’s a liberal economist. Krugman thought, how do we get out of the recession? Why don’t we, there was a hurricane that was coming and he said something like maybe that would be healthful for the economy because people have to spend their money. But that’s called the Broken Window Fallacy because people could already spend their money on other things, so actually, they’re losing value when hurricanes and wars things like that happen. Bastiat’s great for learning how to respond to those things.
I know I had a couple other questions to get to. Unfortunately, I’ve already gone over this week so thanks for those that have sat in here on the live episode here and who have tuned in online and if you still have more questions, I’d be happy to take those and we’ll fill them out through the next couple of weeks at the end segments of each episode. Let me say this. I want to thank you guys for being, whether you’re a long-time listener or a new listener, thank you for tuning in. This is episode 52 so we’ve been doing this for one year now. We’ve got big hopeful ideas for the podcast and we hope that you’ll be a part of joining our team of supporters. If you want to learn more about that just go to our website, Veracityhill.com and click on the patron tab. Patrons are folks that just chip in a few bucks a month. $5, $10, $20 a month to help our podcast go, and also if you’re interested in sponsorship, if you want to have an ad on our website or if you want to have an ad in this show, 30-second ad, other ways you can sponsor the podcast as well, so that does it for the show today. Again, thanks for listening in and let me also thank the sponsors. I don’t have my sheet in front of me because I’m on location at Crescent Lake Bible Camp so let me see if I can do them off the top of my head. You’ve got Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and Ratio Christi. I hope I got them all there. Forgive me if I missed anyone there, to our sponsors. Thanks for all of your continual support with that and finally again I want to thank you for striving with me to discover these truths that can be known. For striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
[NP1]Sound check on 22:20
[NP2](Is seed the right term around 45:40? I don’t understand basketball so I’m unsure)
[NP3](Around 45:45 I don’t know the word. Sounds like Garpax)