Friday, October 14, 2011

Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch06

Today we continue with chapter six of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 6 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] - Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 6 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Six: Truth Defined and Defended
(pages 117-138)

Groothuis points to the culture and notes the erosion of truth. This poses a significant threat to our communication of the Gospel, as Christianity makes particular truth claims about reality. The author notes that the Apostle Paul stakes everything on the objective truth of the resurrection of Jesus. So in order to argue for the truth of Christianity, one may first have to argue for truth itself.

The author investigates and answers a number of false theories of truth. These include a description and critique of postmodernism, coherentism, and pragmatism. Groothuis makes the case for the correspondence theory of truth, and argues that the view implicitly and consistently advocated in scripture is the correspondence theory of truth.

Notable quotes:
To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false. (Aristotle Metaphysics 4.7; Christian Apologetics, pp. 123-124) 
Many have misinterpreted the meaning of certain aspects of Christianity and so have attributed to it claims of wrongdoing for which it is not guilty. By failing to discern the meaning of Christianity's claims, some have thus rejected it unfairly. In fact, any worldview that is caricatured and then criticized on that basis has not been fairly interrogated.  (Christian Apologetics, p. 123)
Christians, of all people, must strongly affirm the notion that truth is what corresponds to reality-and must do so unswervingly, whatever the postmodern (or other) winds of doctrine may be blowing in our faces. (Christian Apologetics, p. 138)  
  1. Give the most concise definition of truth you can.
  2. Are there any benefits of the coherence theory of truth?
  3. How big of a threat is postmodernism?
Next week
Chapter Seven: Why Truth Matters Most


Mark said...

Five pages, twenty seven questions - many open ended - in this week's study questions. Looks like another excellent guide to study topics. These work well to keep focus while reading through each chapter. Need to make time to start this week's early!

Brian said...

Yes, the chapters thus far have been relatively easy... But now we are starting to get into deeper material and lengthier chapters.

Meg Cusack said...

Brian- one other helpful thing is if you could add links at the bottom of each week's post that would directly link us to other weeks' posts in this study- or at least one link that took us to a page with each weeks' links listed? :-)

Brian said...

Sure, Meg! Will do.

Mark said...

The American Family Radio archives now have the correct link to Frank Turek's interview with Dr. Groothuis. The interview was on the Cross Examined program from two weeks ago. The primary focus of the interview is this book. A good opportunity to get perspective on the book directly from the author, in addition to the audio introductions posted here each week.

The archive can be found at

Brian said...

Thanks for linking to that Mark. It is a good interview.

The Atheist Missionary said...

I have a couple comments.

First of all, I commend a read of Stanley Fish's NYT op-ed Condemnation Without Absolutes which Prof. Groothuis refers to on pg. 130. You can find it online by googling the title.

This was another very well written and engaging chapter. The one passage that I would highlight is the following:

The statement "Adultery is wrong" is true because the statement corresponds to the objective, universal and absolute moral law revealed by God, which is in accordance with his eternally stable character and the character of his creation. It therefore applies to all of reality - to all marriages.

Adultery was a curious choice for this example. There are several cultures who permit, and even encourage, adultery. I'm not sure if Prof. Groothuis is aware of the "walking marriages" of the matriarchal Chinese Mosuo. In any event, there are many cultures that have permitted (and a few which have even encouraged) adultery. Prof. Groothuis' suggestion that adultery is wrong is a bare assertion supported only by his scripture. The strange part is that his scripture also supports polygamy: "God does not condemn polygamy, never calls polygamy adultery, wickedness or a fleshly perversion" - 2 Samuel 12:7-8 unambiguously blesses a polgamous union. So, according to Prof. Groothuis, it is objectively "wrong" for an abused wife (assume that the husband has been imprisoned for life for her attempted murder) to seek romantic solace from another while it is "right" to a man to enjoy a harem of 20 wives.

As an atheist, I would like there to be some objective moral truths such as the absolute wrongness of sexually molesting a child. However, my desire for such an absolute standard does not make it so. That doesn't stop me from supporting the incarceration of child molesters (in fact, I'd happily throw away the key). See Fisher's article referred to above.

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