Keith Brooks - How we can know and show that Christianity is true?



·        Richard Dawkins; Christopher Hitchens;  the new Atheism

·        The role of the Spirit in knowing Christianity is true

o   Romans 8:15-16; 1 John 2:20,27; John 14:26; 1 John 3:24

o   The witness of the Spirit = the basisof our faith

o   Arguments/reason support our faith

·        Reason vs. faith

o   Martin Luther:  incorrect vs. correct use of reason

·        Why do we doubt?

o   Not all are filled with the Spirit

o   Quenching the Spirit – sin and repressing his work in our lives

·        Alvin Plantinga’s experience

o   His experience of the witness of the Spirit

o   Arguments/reasons

·        Showing Christianity is true

o   1 Peter 3:15

·        The three angles of apologetics

o   Proof (John 20:24-31)

o   Defense (Phil. 1:7,16)

o   Offense (2 Cor. 10:5)

·        One argument, the moral argument for the existence of God

·        Discipline

o   "The mind is like a muscle. If it is not exercised regularly and strenuously, it loses some of its capacities and strength. We modern evangelicals often feel small and without influence in the public square. We must recapture our intellectual heritage if we are to present to our brothers and sisters, our children, and a post Christian culture a version of Christianity rich and deep enough to challenge the dehumanizing structures and habits of thought of a society gone mad. To do this, we must change our reading habits; indeed, we must alter our entire approach to the life of the mind as part of Christian discipleship."  JP Moreland, Love the Lord your God with all your mind


Alvin Plantinga extended quote:

"At Harvard I encountered serious non-Christian thought for the first time - for the first time in the flesh, that is ... I had read a lot of Bertrand Russell, for example his "Why I am not a Christian." I was struck by the enormous variety of intellectual and spiritual opinion at Harvard, and spent a great deal of time arguing about whether there was such a person as God, whether Christianity as opposed to Judaism (my roommate Herbert Jacobs was the son of a St. Louis rabbi) was right and so on. I began to wonder whether what I had always believed could really be true. At Harvard, after all, there was such an enormous diversity of opinions about these matters, some of them held by highly intelligent and accomplished people who had little but contempt for what I believed. My attitude gradually became one of a mixture of doubt and bravado. On the one hand I began to think it questionable that what I had been taught and had always believed could be right, given that there were all these others who thought so differently (and were so much more intellectually accomplished than I). On the other hand, I thought to myself, what really is so great about these people? Why should I believe them? True, they know much more than I and have thought much longer: but what, precisely, is the substance of their objections to Christianity? Or to theism? Do these objections really have much by way of substance? And if, as I strongly suspected, not, why should their taking the views they did be relevant to what I thought? The doubts (in that form anyway) didn't last long, but something like the bravado, I suppose, has remained.


The two events that resolved these doubts and ambivalences for me occurred during my second semester. One gloomy evening (in January perhaps) I was returning from dinner, walking past Widenar Library to my fifth floor room in Thayer Middle (there weren't any elevators, and scholarship boys occupied the cheaper rooms at the top of the building). It was dark, windy, raining, nasty. But suddenly it was as if the heavens opened: I heard, so it seemed, music of overwhelming power and grandeur and sweetness; there was light of unimaginable splendor and beauty; it seemed I could see into heaven itself; and I suddenly saw or perhaps felt with great clarity and persuasion and conviction that the Lord was really there and was all I had thought. The effects of this experience lingered for a long time; I was still caught up in arguments about the existence of God, but they often seemed to me merely academic, of little existential concern, as if one were to argue about whether there has really been a past, for example, or whether there really were other people, as opposed to cleverly constructed robots. 


Such events have not been common subsequently, and there has been only one other occasion on which I felt the presence of God with as much immediacy and strength. That was when I once foolishly went hiking alone off trail in really rugged country south of Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades, getting lost when rain, snow and fog obscured the peaks and landmarks. That night, while shivering under a stunted tree in a cold mixture of snow and rain, I felt as close to God as I ever have, before or since. I wasn't clear as to his intentions for me, and I wasn't sure I approved of what I thought his intentions might be (the statistics on people lost alone in that area were not at all encouraging), but I felt very close to him; his presence was enormously palpable.


The second event that semester at Harvard was as follows. During spring recess I returned to Grand Rapids to visit my parents; since Calvin's spring recess did not coincide with Harvard's, I had the opportunity to attend some classes at Calvin. I had often heard my father speak of William Harry Jellema, who had been his philosophy professor at Calvin in the late 20s and early 30s. Accordingly I attended 3 of Jellema's classes that week - it was a course in ethics, I believe. That was a fateful week for me. 


Jellema was obviously in dead earnest about Christianity; he was also a magnificently thoughtful and reflective Christian. He was lecturing about modernity: its various departures from historic Christianity, the sorts of substitutes it proposes, how these substitutes are related to the real thing and the like. Clearly he was profoundly familiar with the doubts and objections and alternative ways of thought cast up by modernity; indeed, he seemed to me to understand them better than those who offered them. But (and this is what I found enormously impressive) he was totally unawed. What especially struck me then in what he said (partly because it put into words something I felt at Harvard but couldn't articulate) was the thought that much of the intellectual opposition to Christianity and theism was really a sort of intellectual imperialism with little real basis. We are told that humankind come of age has got beyond such primitive ways of thinking, that they are outmoded, or incompatible with a scientific mindset, or have been shown wanting by modern science, or made irrelevant by the march of history or maybe by something else lurking in the neighbourhood. But why should a Christian believe any of these things? Are they more than mere claims? 


I found Jellema deeply impressive - so impressive that I decided then and there to leave Harvard, return to Calvin and study philosophy with him. That was as important a decision and as good a decision, as I've ever made. Calvin College has been for me an enormously powerfully spiritual influence and in some ways the center and focus of my intellectual life."