Saturday, September 29, 2007

Truth to Live by and to Fight With

Resist the devil.

Remember, he masquerades as an angel of light
and roars like a lion, seeking someone to devour.

That tells you how close at hand he is
and what his game is (deception).

Seek God in Christ.
See hard after God--prayer and fasting and worship.

Wait on God.
Wait for God.
Wait with God.

Draw near to God; God will draw near to you.

Repent of all that binds you to the devil and
separates you from God's presence and blessings.

Forget not God's benefits: forgiveness and healing.
Remember that Christians are beloved by God.
Remember the power of Christ's resurrection on our behalf.

Without God you can do only one thing--sin.
Through Christ, in his holy power, you can do all things.


Sermon on line: Finding Power Over Error (Acts 13:1-12)

My sermon called "Finding Power Over Error" (Acts 13:1-12) from September 23, 2007, at New Day Covenant Church in Boulder, Colorado, is now on line along with the sermon outline. It runs about 40 minutes. It provides seven principles for spiritual warfare found in the sacred text. Evangelicals are largely in the dark about the darkness around us. These truths are part of the antidote.

Apologetics Study Bible

The Apologetics Study Bible is now out. I contributed essays on The Baha'i Faith and Postmodernism, as well as the bibliography. I only had a few days to adapt the latter from a bibliography posted at Denver Seminary, so it isn't all I'd like it to be; but it should point people toward some rich resources.

The Bible features commentary and short essays. For example, Craig Blomberg provides the commentary on The Gospel of John. Essayists include Gary Habermas, J.P. Moreland, Paul Copan, Ravi Zacharias, and others. The essays cover a very wide range of apologetic issues. I have not worked my way through much of the material as yet.

Sadly, the translation used (The Christian Standard Bible) is self-consciously not gender-inclusive. The essay explaining the translation makes it seem like anyone who favors a gender-inclusive translation (of which the TNIV is one) is part of a secular feminist attempt to destory biblical teaching on gender. This is not true. For example, Craig Blomberg is not an egalitarian, but still supports the TNIV. Moreover, many solid evangelicals who are egalitarians, such as Gordon Fee, support the TNIV as well. For a short essay on Bible translations and gender inclusivity, see this treatment by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis.

Nevertheless, we have needed a study Bible of this sort for a long time. May God use it to glorify himself and equip the church to have a reason for the hope within (1 Peter 3:15).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Darwinists Closing Ranks Already Against an Unreleased Film Defending Intelligent Design

The New York Times reports that Darwinists are complaining that they were tricked into being interviewed for an upcoming film called "Expelled," featuring Ben Stein. The film will not be released until early next year. It will be the first major motion picture to challenge Darwinism and defend Intelligent Design. So, the Darwinian orthodoxy is already closing ranks and attacking the film before it comes out. (Think of the Democrats crucifying General Petraeus before he uttered a word.) Call it a preemptive strike. All's fair in love of Darwin and war against ID, it seems.

You may think that I should give the Darwinists the benefit of the doubt, but I have seen this strategy so many times that it seems unlikely that they truly were tricked. They probably have discerned that the film may be a big deal and they are rethinking their involvement. Dawkins called Eugenie Scott, and here we go... The details are hard to pin down, but the general strategy is typical: anything having to do with ID is perverted, retrograde, and positively Neanderthal. Kill it before it walks. Or if its gets hired, deny it tenure, as the Darwinian priesthood recently did with Professor Gonzalez at Iowa State, despite his impressive record of publications. (He did not even teach ID in the classroom, but never mind; he is "one of them").

I look forward to this film.

Review of The Philosophy of Jesus by Peter Kreeft

[This review was first posted at Denver Journal.]

Peter Kreeft. The Philosophy of Jesus. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine Press, 2007. 162 pages with index. Hardback. Reviewed by Douglas Groothuis.

Kreeft, a long-time philosophy professor at Boston College and a prolific author, claims to do what no one has ever done: address the philosophy of Jesus, including the categories of metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, and sexuality. He also takes up Jesus’ ethics, but grants that many have written on this previously.

Having written a monograph on Jesus as a philosopher (On Jesus [Wadsworth, 2003]), I had high hopes that this book might add solid insights to this under-explored and much needed area of study. However, the book fell well short of these hopes. Despite Kreeft’s considerable erudition in the areas of philosophy and religion, he fails to explore Jesus’ philosophy in much depth. (The book also lacks footnotes.) The very idea that Jesus was a bona fide philosopher with an integrated worldview is disputed by many, and needs some solid defense. For example, in The Case Against Christianity, philosopher Michael Martin claims that Jesus actively disparaged the intellect, calling his followers instead to have blind faith. While Kreeft quotes a letter of C.S. Lewis that briefly argues that Jesus was just as much of a philosopher as a poet, he lets the matter rest there. Instead of inspecting Jesus’ specific patterns of reasoning or attempting to codify his worldview on the basis of a sustained analysis of Gospel passages, Kreeft rather addresses broadly Christian (and specifically Roman Catholic) themes. The book is not without insight and wisdom, but it doesn’t take us very far into Jesus’ actual intellectual encounters, his particular modes of argument, or how his worldview differed from those of his interlocutors. In short, it does not tell us that much about Jesus’ actual philosophy—how he reasoned, interacted with intellectual opponents, and developed ideas.

Kreeft is a very clever writer, who sometimes seems to revel in his own wit. This becomes rhetorically tiring and philosophically exasperating at times. Kreeft also tends to philosophize at a brisk (if not reckless) pace, often avoiding needful nuances and qualifications. Some of his reasoning leaves one flummoxed. Consider this riff about Mary and Jesus, spoken by Jesus:

So the universe was a womb for humanity, and humanity was a womb for Israel, and Israel was a womb for Mary, and Mary was a womb for me [Jesus]. Thus, Mary is the point of the universe, and I am the point of that point (p. 90).

Kreeft exalts Mary far beyond what Scripture allows, since it never intimates that she is the point of the universe, nor can any valid pattern of reasoning lead to that conclusion. Rather, she was obedient to God and thus highly favored (Luke 1:28). All things have been created by Christ and for him (Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3). He alone is the “point of the universe.”

In passing, Kreeft refers to Muhammad as “a great moral teacher” in the same category as Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tze, and Socrates. However, Muhammad was nothing of the sort. Muhammad purloined some limited aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but denied the golden rule, reestablished polygamy (something Christianity banned), and advocated a theology of warfare (jihad) utterly at odds with the Bible. (For more, see Robert Spencer, The Truth About Muhammad [Washington, DC: Regnery, 2006] and Mark Gabriel, Jesus and Muhammad [Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2004].)

Kreeft subscribes to a troubling view of sexuality, one that over-sexualizes both God and humans. This view logically leads to the inferiority of women, although Kreeft would deny it. He thinks that God is male, because God initiates in creation and redemption. Thus, men mirror God as initiators and leaders in ways that women do not. The implication is that men are more like God than women are, thus rendering women ontologically inferior to men. But the Bible never deems women as inferior to men in their being. Both woman and man were given authority to rule the earth and both were made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).

The problem with Kreeft’s reasoning lies in granting God a gender at all. God is, of course, a personal being: “I am who I am” is God’s name forever (Exodus 3:14-15). God is not an impersonal force, principle, or substance, as pantheism teaches. We rightly refer to God metaphorically as “our Father” (as well as other biblical names and descriptions of God’s character) but this is not a sexual reference. This is because God has neither a body nor any need for a sexual partner in order to create. Rather, God creates out of nothing; but humans procreate sexually on the basis of what God has given them. Gender is a category of creation, not a category applicable to the Creator.

But Kreeft even sexualizes creation out of nothing, saying that God “impregnates nothingness” to create everything. Through this kind of reasoning, sexuality gains a theological significance it was never meant to bear, and women bear the brunt of the metaphysical blunder. (Moreover, nothingness cannot, by definition, be “impregnated,” since there is nothing there to be impregnated.) Kreeft does not explore Jesus’ radically affirming treatment of women, demonstrated by teaching them doctrine, never belittling them because of their gender, making them the first witnesses and preachers of the resurrection, and much more.

Despite these shortcomings, Kreeft levels many strong arguments against secularism and Eastern religions, using the teachings of Jesus as his point of departure. For example, he avers that India never developed a deep sense of human dignity and human rights because the largely pantheistic philosophy of Hinduism never strongly emphasized the personality of God or the unique, individual personalities of human beings (13-14). This may cut against the grain of multiculturalism, but it rings true. About 250,000,000 million human beings are still deemed “untouchables” (or Dalits, as they call themselves) in India today. (Many are now leaving Hinduism.) I was also struck by Kreeft’s short but compelling argument that the best reason to believe that God is love is the reality of Jesus Christ (24). Neither nature, nor human nature, nor history can provide enough evidence for this conclusion. But Christ can. (Moreover, it can be added that since Christ alone provides the necessary and sufficient evidence for God as loving, to dispute Jesus’ teachings or actions on the basis of some nebulous and non-biblical idea of God’s loving nature is illogical. That move would illicitly presuppose something (God is love) that only Jesus himself can verify as true.)

Despite the strong points of The Philosophy of Jesus, we still await the definitive treatment of the philosophy of Jesus, the greatest thinker who ever lived.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Apologetics Book

Crossway Books will soon release an edited collection called Reasons for Faith, edited by Norm Geisler and Chad Meister, which contains a chapter by me called "A Christian Apologetics Manifesto" (previous versions of this have been published elsewhere, but this one is longer.) There are some noteworthy contributors such as J.P. Moreland and Doug Geivett.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Year of Missing the Point of the Bible

A. J. Jacobs has written a memior--his second--called The Year of Living Biblically. He previously wrote a book on reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. The book is not yet out, but he gave an interview to Newsweek.

A less informed and more stunt-oriented performance cannot be conceived. He reads and tries to apply everything in a wooden way: not cutting his beard, building a "hut" (for the feast of booths?), etc. He claims it was difficult to not covet, lie, and so on. But his year of living biblically is over, and he is back to the world of endless American choices. This shows he did not obey the most important biblical commands of all:

1. "God now commands everyone everywhere to repent"--Acts 17:30 (Apostle Paul).
2. "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest"--Matthew 11:28 (Jesus)
3. "Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."--John 6:29.
4. "Repent and be baptized" (throughout The Book of Acts).

Jacobs missed the very heart of the Bible: Through the works of the law no one shall be saved. Faith in God's work for us in Christ is the door to true freedom. Postmodern fabulists can make even the Bible into an autobiographical spectacle. God help us.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Protesting Prison Library Censorship

The New York Times has run this article on the protests against the new federal policy of only allowing 150 religious books in prison libraries. Criticisms are coming from the left and the right. It confirms that the Koran was not one of the banned books. How ironic.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Christian Books Banned in Prisons

Mark Earley of Prison Fellowship has a disturbing post about how the Federal government has censored prison libraries of important Christian books. This was a strange reaction to a legitimate concern that Islamic chaplains were spreading dangerous beliefs in US prisons.

Only 150 religious books are now allowed in prisons. This is absurd, especially since I'm sure the Koran, the most violent and dangerous religious book in history, is one of the allowed books. If it was not, we would have heard from all the Islamic organizations by now. On-going jihad is fine, but Malcolm Muggerridge and others are out. Please read Earley's post and act accordingly. I wrote Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado about it just now.

If you question my assessment of the Koran, read Robert Spencer's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades and The Religion of Peace: Why Christianity Is and Islam is Not. See also Mark Gabriel, Islam and Terrorism. Gabriel is a convert from Islam who used to teach Islamic history in Egypt. That is only for starters...


Fumigating gossip from American popular culture would shut down about 90% of it. Remember, according to the Bible, gossip is a sin. As Jesus said, what is highly valued among people is detestable to God (Luke 16:15).

Francis A. Schaeffer on Reading Too Little and Too Much

Perhaps if people today were to take good reading course, they would be better off. Americans don't read enough (that's true) and Americans read too much (that's true too). What I mean is that many don't read enough material to really be informed, and yet they read too much because what they do read they often do not stop to assimilate and think through. They whiz through it and get what I call a first-order experience, a sort of mystical feeling, not a genuine understanding. I urge you, with all my soul, in such a day as ours to really, truly learn to read--Back to Freedom and Dignity (InterVarsity Press, 1972), p. 18.

It is still true today. Practice textual immersions regularly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Protocol: Deletions (corrected)

[Note the correction. I originally said, Ed Darrell, but meant John Stockwell. Sorry Ed.]

Given their incivility, insults, and annoying tone, Kevin Winters and John Stockwell are barred from this blog. Anything they post from now on will be deleted as soon as I see it.

I am the editor, and I don't want their contributions, although I have put up with them for years. They certainly have other venues to express their ideas. Mr. Winters has his own blog, which presents the ideas of a Heideggarian Mormon.

The Abortion Stronghold

Charles Colson nails it in this editorial about some barbaric "doctors" finding a loophole in the law against partial birth abortions. See Proverbs 8:36.

Only One Sonny (Rollins)

Ben Ratliff, as astute author on jazz, has written an excellent article in The New York Times on saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who will perform a concert with only the support of bass and drums at Carnegie Hall, just as he did fifty years ago.

Now, some wealthy Curmudgeon reader (if there are any) needs to buy me tickets, both airplane and concert, so I can witness history in the making.

Friday, September 14, 2007

John MacArthur and Doug Pagitt on Yoga

I was asked by CNN to be a part of this exchange, but I declined because I was told that I would be one of four people and have only a total of five minutes. That form is not adequate to say much of anything constructive. This segment is a total of seven minutes with a two minute intro, mostly filled with shapely women in plunging necklines doing yoga. Yes, it is television. And many of the scenes are repeated during the dialogue. (This is one of the strange things about TV that you notice when you almost never watch it: the same images are repeatedly shown.)

MacArthur hammers home his points clearly against yoga (it is Hinduism!) and presents the gospel. Hurray for him. Pagitt, an emerging church "guru" (perhaps in more ways than one), fumbles around and misuses Scripture (Philippians 4). He uses a terrible experiential argument that no Christian he knows has been adversely affected by yoga. Well, the demons can be nice to you at first. This helps them get a grip. Or, people are so oblivious that they don't even know what is happening to them. Satan and his ministers pose as "angels of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Feeling good and seeming to get benefits from a practice does not make it godly or even safe. We live in a fallen world.

Much of the emerging church takes culture to be more normative that Scripture and has no clear sense of truth or antithesis: Christianity really and radically opposes some ideas and practices. This defect seems evident in Pagitt, but television is the worst possible medium to discuss anything. However, that Pagitt would take the pro-yoga side in any format shows that he has little spiritual discernment and is oblivious to the realities of spiritual warfare. Although it is out of print, my book, Confronting the New Age (InterVarsity Press, 1988) has a chapter called "Developing a Strategy" what warns of the spiritual and physical dangers of New Age practices, including yoga.

I have posted a challenge to Pagitt on his blog. Added on September 17: Pagitt deleted my comment. It was not insulting or meanspirited.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bumpersticker Exegesis and Critique

In Pursuit of That Which is True offers some hearty and curmudeonly exegesis and refutations of popular bumper stickers. We should not be inured to everyday absurdities.

Crisis of the University

I will be speaking on Intelligent Design at the secular university at a conference sponsored by the CS Lewis Foundation called The Crisis of the University. I am not listed as a speaker because I am not giving a plenary talk, but they assure me I am slated to speak (for 30 minutes). It is held at the University of Colorado at Boulder and held on October 5-6.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What Do Christians Read?

Sarah Scott has an astute essay on the intellectual crisis of Christian reading on her blog: In Pursuit of That Which is True. I commend it to you. Philosopher Tim McGrew, who humbly goes by "Tim," has an excellent response as well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Law, Apologetics, and Worldview Symposium

Denver 2007
Law, Apologetics & Worldview Symposium

This event has been approved for 9 hours of Continuing
Legal Education Credit, including 2.4 hours of Ethics

Where: University of Denver Sturm College of Law, 2255 E. Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80208, Room 165

When: Friday, Sept 7: 7:00 - 9:30 pm
Saturday, Sept 8: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Sponsor: Christian Legal Society

Cost: Free ($25 suggested donation for practicing attorneys)
Questions: David Hyams,


Friday, September 7

6:30 Registration and Welcome

Session 1: The Lawyer’s Calling
Prof. Michael P. Schutt, Institute for Christian Legal Studies

8:15 Session 2: Introduction to Apologetics and the Law
David M. Hyams, University of Denver Law School

9:15 Reception

Saturday, September 8

9:00 Session 3: Truth
Dr. Douglas Groothuis, Denver Seminary

10:15 Session 4: The American Legal Academy
Prof. Michael P. Schutt

11:15 Session 5: Biblical Foundations of the Rule of Law
Prof. Craig A. Stern, Regent University School of Law

12:15 – 1:15
Lunch (Provided)

1:30 Session 6: Biblical and Constitutional Hermeneutics
David M. Hyams

2:35 Session 7: Natural Law
Prof. Randall Niles

4:00 Session 8: Justice and Jurisdiction
Prof. Craig A. Stern

5:00 Closing Remarks

SocietySymposium Faculty

Dr. Douglas R. Groothuis
Dr. Douglas Groothuis is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Denver Seminary, where has served since 1993. He is the author of Truth Decay: Defending Christianity from the Challenges of Postmodernism and The Soul in Cyberspace, among other books.

David M. Hyams
David Hyams graduated from Denver Seminary with an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion in 2003, and earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Georgia State University in 2004. He is currently earning his J.D. as a third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Randall Niles, esq.
Randall Niles is an attorney and educator whose passion is to spark critical thinking and truth-seeking in a new generation. He serves as director of operations at, where he's written and published hundreds of articles on comparative worldviews and Christian apologetics.

Professor Michael P. Schutt
Mike Schutt is the director of the Institute for Christian Legal Studies (ICLS), a cooperative ministry of the Christian Legal Society and Regent Law School. He is the author of Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession.

Professor Craig A. Stern
Craig Stern is a professor at Regent University School of Law. Mr. Stern earned his B.A. from Yale University where he graduated cum laude and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Mr. Stern has written numerous journal articles, notes, and monographs

The Obvious Strikes Again: Childhood TV viewing can cause teenage problems

Here is a short story claiming that TV watching by young children causes bad effects as they age. And the Pope is Catholic, too. But some folks need convincing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Groothuis Looking for Groothuis Recording

For many years, I have given a message called "Finding Power Over Error" or "Power Over Error," based on Acts 13:1-12. I tried to find a CD or cassette of this message to give a student and could not. I gave this message at Riverside Baptist Church in 2004 and it was on line for a time. If anyone can get me an MP3 of this sermon (or send me a tape or CD) I could appreciate it. Thank you.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Piano Jazz" with Pat Metheny

Jazz guitarist, song-writer, and arranger extraordinaire, Pat Metheny, is one of my favorite living musicians. He was recently the guest on Marianne McPartland's legendary, "Piano Jazz" radio program on PBS. (You may object to PBS's politics, but you cannot fault their respect for jazz.)

Pat is an intelligent fellow who understands the deep things of jazz. He is completely committed to his art. Pat plays several tunes with his trio and one with Marianne, the great "Turn Around," by Ornette Coleman (a piece I have played publicly on drums a few times with my friend David Dillon on guitar, believe it or not). Enjoy this rich program.

What Should Not Be Known

This curmudgeon has been bothered by two recent incidents: one involving a ditzy, blond, teen beauty queen contestant and the other concerning an older senator accused of soliciting homosexual sex in public.

The blond made a dumb remark in a beauty contest, and AOL has been featuring it for days, including parodies on YouTube. What does one expect from an event like this, especially from a teen? Beauty pageants are inherently vain, vapid, and stupid. There is no need to broadcast this further and further humiliate a young, clueless woman. There is no need to know.

The second situation is more serious, since it involves a high elected official and a deep moral offense. I make no pronouncement on the man's guilt or innocent. I do knot know. However, broadcasting the recording of his encounter with the policeman in a bathroom is worse than pointless. It appeals to our sinful craving for gossip and shows disrespect for the senator and the police profession. There is no need to know.

These two incidents represent a large and dark trend of broadcasting events that appeal only to our sinful curiosity, our penchant for gossip. In an age of increasing surveillance and publicity, expect more of it--and lament. Cultivate your ignorance about what you do not need to know.