Saturday, October 23, 2010

The circularity of atheism and the argument of irrefutable testimony

There is a huge amount of circularity in much atheistic thinking.

It goes something like this.

1. It is fair to assume that there is no God because there is no compelling evidence [though they often prefer to use the lower case 'g' - perhaps we should refer to "richard dawkins"]
2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not compelling evidence for the existence of God because it is not from reliable sources
3. The sources are unreliable because they believe in the possibility of the miraculous
4. Miracles can only happen if there is a God.
5. Therefore the miraculous cannot happen because it is fair to assume that there is no God

Thus the assumption that there is no God a priori rules out any evidence to the contrary.
Dawkins, for example says "‘accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are about as well documented as Jack and the Beanstalk’.'" Yet, I have never heard of him seriously interacting with those accounts. I would love to hear Dawkins attempt to try to refute the historicity of the gospel accounts.

One of the things I find so compelling about the gospel accounts of the resurrection is that the disciples are not presented as people who think that things like resurrections happen! As D.A. Carson points out, they are not sitting in the upper room on Friday evening saying, "I'm so excited, I can't wait until Sunday." They are despondent, disillusioned and fearful. They were as surprised by the resurrection as I think Dawkins would be. So much so that when 10 of them try to persuade the one who wasn't there that Jesus is alive, he says that  he will not believe unless he not only Sees Jesus, but puts his fingers in the nail marks and his hand in Jesus' rather unique wound in his side. As it happens, seeing is enough.

Through history there have been many who have said that they would not believe unless they saw with their own eyes: but then for them, in the end, hearing has been enough: hearing about Thomas who should have believed on the testimony of 10 eyewitnesses, but didn't.

As much as we can, let's start moving our conversations with Non-Christians away from the details of irreducible complexity and intelligent design to irrefutable testimony.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First two preachers' classes outlined

Here are the outlines of the first two preachers' classes. The first is pretty much 9Marks material.

Session 1: What is expository preaching

  1.  Introduction to the Class
  • What is the format of the class?
    • Reading a sermon from a well-known preacher
    • Seminar
    • Workshop
  • Why have the class?
    • What is preaching?
    • Why is preaching so important?
    • What’s missing from much preaching?
2. Defining Expositional Preaching

"An expositional sermon is a sermon in which the point of the Scriptural text is the point of the sermon applied to the life of the church today."

3. What expositional Preaching includes
  • The Bible
    • Books of the Bible
    • The Whole Bible
    • Testaments and Genres.
    • Scope.
  • The Bible’s Storyline
  • The Gospel
    • God
    • Man
    • Christ
    • Response
    • Seeing the Gospel through the lens of the text and the text through the lens of the gospel
  • Systematic Theology
  • Worldviews
  • Evangelism
  • The Preparation of the Saints

Session 2: Why Expository Preaching?

Intro: The alternatives seem so appealing!
  • There are basic truths that need teaching
    • Better to have Doctrinal sermons?
    • May seem to “teach the whole counsel of God” more quickly and thoroughly
  • There are obvious issues that need addressing
    • Better to have Topical sermons?
    • May seem more obviously relevant to people
    • May seem to deal with issues in the church quicker
  • The difference between food and medicine
    • Expository preaching tends towards a balanced diet; doctrinal / topical preaching may have quicker effects, and is therefore sometimes useful, but provide a bad overall diet.
Five reasons to make expository preaching the main diet of a congregation.
A. Expository preaching preaches the whole bible
  • 2 Tim 3:16-17
  • Acts 20:17-31
B. Expository Preaching understands the limits of the preacher
  • Preachers are ignorant, God is omniscient
  • Preachers are foolish, God is wise
  • Preachers are sinful, God is perfect
  • Preachers are under authority, the bible carries God’s authority
C. Expository preaching encourages Berean listening
  • Acts 17:10-12
D. Expository Preaching models faithful bible reading.
  • We read the bible
    • To understand it
    • To have it ask us questions as much as we ask it questions Job 38:1-3
E. Expository Preaching keeps the church healthy
  • the testimony of church history

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Pray for gospel witness in Fulham after stabbing outside our church

    There have been a series of stabbings in Fulham over the last year. On Sunday night, during our evening service, a 15 year old boy was stabbed right opposite our Church building. He's now fighting for his life. Pray for him and pray that the gospel would shine brightly in Fulham

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Great quote from Augustine on variation in style in preaching

    51. But we are not to suppose that it is against rule to mingle these various styles: on the contrary, every variety of style should be introduced so far as is consistent with good taste. For when we keep monotonously to one style, we fail to retain the hearer's attention; but when we pass from one style to another, the discourse goes off more gracefully, even though it extend to greater length. Each separate style, again, has varieties of its own which prevent the hearer's attention from cooling or becoming languid. We can bear the subdued style, however, longer without variety than the majestic style. For the mental emotion which it is necessary to stir up in order to carry the hearer's feelings with us, when once it has been sufficiently excited, the higher the pitch to which it is raised, can be maintained the shorter time. And therefore we must be on our guard, lest, in striving to carry to a higher point the emotion we have excited, we rather lose what we have already gained. But after the interposition of matter that we have to treat in a quieter style, we can return with good effect to that which must be treated forcibly, thus making the tide of eloquence to ebb and flow like the sea. It follows from this, that the majestic style, if it is to be long continued, ought not to be unvaried, but should alternate at intervals with the other styles; the speech or writing as a whole, however, being referred to that style which is the prevailing one.

    Read more here

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Preaching class at Twynholm Baptist

    Next Wednesday sees the second of our monthly Preachers' Classes here at Twynholm.

    Here's the outline of the course we are planning

    Year 1
    Expository Preaching I: What?   
    Expository Preaching II: Why?
    Expository Preaching III: Imposters
    Sermon Preparation: Overview
    Sermon Preparation: Understanding the Text I
    Sermon Preparation: Understanding the Text II
    Sermon Preparation: Biblical Theology
    Sermon Preparation: Key Sentence
    Sermon Preparation: Outlines

    Year 2
    Sermon Preparation: Explanation and style
    Sermon Preparation: Application I
    Sermon Preparation: Application II
    Sermon Preparation: Illustration
    Sermon Preparation: Introduction
    Sermon Preparation: Conclusion and Prayer
    Self Preparation: Prayer
    Self Preparation: Fear
    Sermon Delivery: Passion and Exhortation
    Sermon Delivery: Use of Notes

    Year 3
    Sermon Delivery: Face, pace and space.
    Sermon Delivery: Ten ways to be boring.
    Sermons within the life of the congregation
    Preaching as a sinner standing in the place of God
    Planning an Expository Series
    Doctrinal Preaching
    Evangelistic Preaching
    Topical Preaching
    Conversational or Narrative Preaching?
    Concluding Reflections

    Make-up of each session
    Reading An extract from a great sermon
    Workshop (One person presents short sermon or outline. We all give feedback)

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010