Showing posts with label Dr. William Lane Craig. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dr. William Lane Craig. Show all posts

Friday, October 6, 2017

Do We All Need to Become Scholars?

This is a response to Richard Bushey's post here. I highly recommend you read his post first. Here I'll give you a few minutes.



Okay, ready? Let's talk about why I disagree with him. Here's the first sentence wherein I think Richard has really gone awry, "A possible resolution to this problem is to start doing real scholarship." Particularly the wording, "real scholarship." What kind of career are you involved in right now? If you regularly read my blog you'll know that I'm in the military. When I read "real scholarship" I think consistent, long-term studies. I think reading original sources in the original languages of those sources. I think there's no way that I have time to seriously devote myself to "real scholarship" at this time except in small chunks when I'm taking a college class. I would rephrase this as, "A possible resolution to this problem is to start being more scholarly." I have no problem with the conclusion being, let's work hard to be smarter on a particular subject (particularly when one enters the arena to defend that subject). In order to illustrate why I think Richard is wrong I made some graphics about how I see the world of Christianity divided up:

I realize there are definitely more subdivisions that this, but I feel like I captured all the relevant sections in this. There are certainly LOTS of Christian scholars, and I do honestly have a goal of someday being a professor and being considered a scholar. Authors, I think, are often more keenly aware of this distinction when they write. If you go to a bookstore and pull a book off the shelf on _____ topic. More than likely you're reading a popular-level book on _____ topic. If you go to a college bookstore, the opposite is true; you'll more than likely be reading a scholarly text on _____ topic. This graphic is what I feel Richard is trying to push:

And here is a more balanced proposal that I'd offer:

Now, before Richard rips my head off I want to point out an important distinction (one that I feel Richard didn't deal with at all). If we change our triangle to be behaviors as opposed to people it will look very different, and it'd be one that I'd be more inclined to agree with.

I think all Christian apologists would agree that the bottom tier is something people shouldn't do. In fact, it denies some biblical instructions "... always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you ..." (1 Pet 3:15b). And, I agree with Richard that merely memorizing answers to skeptics' questions or giving generic, basic arguments for the Christian faith is not the best. However, I'd argue that not everyone is cut out for true scholarly studies. As I started this off with, for many of us scholarly studies runs secondary to the rest of our busy lives. Let's look at a prominent scholar who also works tirelessly in the field of Christian apologetics. Dr. William Lane Craig has been a scholar since 1971 (that's ~46 years, longer than I've been alive!), he has a B.A. two M.A.s, a PhD, and a D.Theo. He's been published over 234 times (only about a third of which would be considered "popular level" [source])! Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for Dr. Craig and all the great work he does as a scholar and as a Christian apologist. But do I really think that ANY of my readers can get to that level? Maybe one of you but certainly not all of you, not me, and probably not Richard himself (though he might be on track). This is the sign of life-long devotion to scholarship. We would do well to emulate him. But, if you're shooting for and expecting that, you're probably going to be disappointed. I'm aiming for a much more modest goal. I want to become a military chaplain and then retire to a small college philosophy professorship (or associate professorship).

One other key point that I disagree with Richard on is this: thinking purely from a practical perspective with regards to apologetics. In fact, I completely agree with Greg Koukl's points in Tactics (available on Amazon) that there is not enough focus on the practical perspective in the field of Christian apologetics. He says, "These three skills — knowledge, an accurately informed mind; wisdom, an artful method; and character, an attractive manner — play a part in every effective involvement with a nonbeliever." He goes on to say this and it's something that I think Richard seems to be completely missing, "The second skill, tactical wisdom, is the main focus of this book." A practical perspective is what many are missing!

What do I think we should do? I think we should all study harder. We should all study arguments from people with whom we'll (probably) disagree. We should devote more time than we already are doing these kinds of scholarly activities. All in all, I don't really disagree with Richard, we need more Christian scholars. But, as Koukl says, I think we also need more, better diplomats -- ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Upcoming Events and Club Involvement

There are a few upcoming events in my life that I want to talk about.  I've been thinking about this for a while and I'd like to air my ideas here.

First, (not in precedence in timeliness) is another trip to Korea.  I was privileged to visit Korea some years ago for a language class, and I'm slated to go back in late January.  Of course the timing could be better, what with it being winter and all my winter clothes are stored with all the rest of the stuff I didn't think I'd need living on a sub-tropical island.  So, I'll be spending about a month in Korea where the average high temps in Jan-Feb is between 34°F and 40°F so, yeah, chilly.  Oddly enough, last time I went to Korea it was in January.  I'm excited though, I had a good time the last time I went and I'm sure I'll have a good time again.  It'll be nice to be in a place where I'll be able to read the street signs.  I know a few Kanji (漢字, pronounced hanja 한자 in Korean) and some but not all of the kanas, so I can read some of the street signs here but the vast majority are a mystery to me.

Secondly, I've been looking into Focus on the Family's introductory apologetics program, The Truth Project, and I'm going to host a small discussion group that'll be going through the program when I'm back from Korea.  I've asked around and watched the promos and taken the host training program and I'm excited for this also.  I've enjoyed my own personal studies (and the one introductory college course) in apologetics and it will be neat to get a chance to discuss these topics with fellow believers.  The program is twelve lessons, each video about an hour long followed by discussion time.  That's the only downside to it, the time consumption.  Assuming some time to mingle and chit-chat, then an hour-long video, then discussion time.  In order to keep the total time for each session only two hours I'll have to limit the fellowship time and the discussion time.  I don't think everyone will want to sit around for hours discussing these things (I don't understand that, but I know it's common), but I'm sure there'll be enough good conversation that it'll be difficult to limit the discussion so people will be able to get back to their lives.

Third (and related to the second), I've been invited by a former coworker to start a Reasonable Faith apologetics group here on Okinawa.  There aren't any in Japan, so that's kind of a cool idea, to be the first group in Japan and the first in Okinawa.  I like Dr. William Lane Craig's apologetics lectures and his podcasts, though honestly his lecture voice is kinda dry, not unlike my own (main reason I don't do a podcast here, though I've thought about it).  His logic is pretty clearly stated though at times a bit high level.  This kind of group would be a great encouragement to deepen my own studies in apologetics.  Which brings up two final points.

I'm thinking about two or three other potential groups in which I'd like to participate.  I am always reminiscing about my high-school days when I ran with a cross country team and I was much faster and I think that if I could somehow get involved in a running club again, I might have more motivation and camaraderie to get some of my old speed back.  I've also been thinking about finding a language club to practice teaching English, while at the same time practicing Korean and Japanese.  And, I've recently discovered a chess group that meets on Saturdays.  It's only three older gentlemen right now, but my boys enjoy(ed) playing and I could use some over-the-board chess experience to improve my overall chess skill.  Maybe it's just rose-colored glasses but I've always felt that a group setting with encouragement and mutual support is the best place for training in a variety of disciplines.  Are any of you involved in similar clubs that have really made your life/studies/hobbies/etc. that much more enjoyable?  I've been in a variety of clubs and I hope that I can find/start some good groups while I live here in Okinawa.

Being a hippo is a rough life, especially at the zoo.