Orlando Terrorism and the Seeds of Anger

While I do not know the whole story surrounding the Orlando act of terror, I am acquainted with the human story and our propensity for evil. I am grief-stricken and horrified that this is how mankind continues to use the gift of life: by robbing others of their own gift. The Orlando tragedy is part of a historical thread of destruction that has been and will be the way of mankind. I’ve read only a few different responses to the tragedy and it saddens me further that we humans are not simply grieving, but we are finger pointing. “It’s the problem of religion.” “It’s the problem of gun control.” “It’s the problem of certain kinds of sin.” No, it is indicative of the overall problem of mankind. Jesus addressed the problem through his teaching.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he explained that though an action has not yet been taken, the thoughts of malice and anger are already working towards an end action. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:20-22) The seed of anger gives birth to works of evil. Sometimes, the evil born is a great tragedy, such as in Orlando. Sometimes, the evil born is a massacre, such as Joseph Stalin’s starving of the Ukrainian people. Sometimes, the evil born is simply how we treat other humans in our daily life, robbing them of a loving community. And still further, sometimes the evil is the thoughts that we have towards one another that ultimately inform how we engage our world. 

Advice for Future Apologists

Christians are commanded to be apologists. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

What a high and worthy task! So, how do we go about doing this? In this video, Mary Jo, along with six other experienced Christian apologists (Douglas Groothuis, Gary Habermas, Craig Hazen, Mike Licona, Nabeel Qureshi and Frank Turek) share their thoughts.

Special thanks to Acts 17 Apologetics for this video!

Q & A: Were the Laws of Logic Created by God?

We’re excited to launch a new Q & A series featuring questions submitted by readers and conference attendees. Without further ado, here is the our first featured question, followed by Mary Jo’s answer:

Q: Do you think that the laws of logic were created by God? In other words, if God wanted to, could He have created a totally different set of logical laws?

A: The laws of logic must be grounded somewhere. If God simply created them, it would seem he could simply create any laws. However, if the laws are a natural outworking of God’s own rationality, then:

Resurrection Sunday, Hope Eternal

photo-1458593140930-1f9049c952c1There is only one way to defeat death, and that is through life.

In writing to a group of persecuted Christians, the apostle Peter offers this encouragement:  “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”  

Peter instructs that part of honoring Christ as holy entails that we should always be prepared to make a defense (a case) for the reason of the hope in us. What is the hope that Peter describes here? Is it wishful thinking; as in, “Wouldn’t it be nice if money grew on trees?” Is it akin to our dreams for something we desire to come true; as in, “I hope I get to be an astronaut someday?” or “I hope my team advances in the NCAA basketball tournament?” No, this is a different hope. It is the hope found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A New Kind of Apologist, Part Four

Here’s the fourth and final part of Mary Jo’s chapter in “A New Kind of Apologist,” a new book featuring various essays by renown apologists and edited by Sean McDowell. If you missed the first three parts, catch up here,  here and here.

The book is now available to order.

Change Lives

Over the years, when I’ve discussed apologetics with other women, they tend to put apologetics into a category of strictly intellectual inquiry. I’m asked, “How could arguments possibly relate to my spiritual life?” However, the study of apologetics is not strictly an intellectual endeavor; it’s also a part of being transformed into Christlikeness. For a woman to know what she believes and why she believes it can have a tremendous impact on her life. How so? The truth we are investigating is the truth about a person we are in relationship with, the person of Jesus Christ. Our engagement in apologetics always goes back to relationship with Christ. As I grow in my relationship with Christ, I am growing in my spiritual life.

A New Kind of Apologist, Part Three

Here’s part three of Mary Jo’s chapter in “A New Kind of Apologist,” a new book featuring various essays by renown apologists and edited by Sean McDowell. If you missed the first two parts, catch up here and here.

The book is now available to order. Stay tuned for the last part of her chapter later this week!

Build Confidence

While we looked previously at what causes doubts, it is worth mentioning a few more influences that tear down confidence in God. Women are constantly barraged with imagery and sound bites from our culture that attack the Christian worldview. Some of the most infective sound bites emanate from the new atheist movement.

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

“Faith is a lack of critical thinking.”

“Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.”  

A New Kind of Apologist, Part Two

Here’s the second part of Mary Jo’s chapter in “A New Kind of Apologist,” a new book featuring various essays by renown apologists and edited by Sean McDowell. If you missed the first part, catch up here.

The book will be released on March 1, 2016 and is currently available for pre-order. Stay tuned for parts three and four of her chapter next week!

Answer Doubt

“A friend once caught me off guard by asking, “Why would a woman want to attend a session on apologetics?” Actually, it had never occurred to me that my gender would be a factor in whether or not I should seek and discover answers to foundational questions about belief in God. Why wouldn’t a woman who had been given a rational mind, as made in the image of God, want to know what she believes and why she believes it? After all, I had come into the field of apologetics through my own doubt about God’s existence. And yet, the question was laid out before me.

A New Kind of Apologist, Part One

We have exciting news! Mary Jo recently teamed up with Sean McDowell and many other well-known apologists and wrote a chapter to the forthcoming book, A New Kind of Apologist. Holly Ordway, a colleague of Mary Jo’s at HBU, is also a contributor.9780736966054

This book is the new go-to resource for effectively defending the Christian faith in our changing culture. In it you’ll discover important topics often ignored by apologists, such as transgender issues, religious freedom and the intersection of economics and apologetics. McDowell introduces a new kind of apologetics that is relational, gracious, and holistic. It will be released on March 1, 2016 and is currently available for pre-order.

Pre-order your copy today and read the introduction from Mary Jo’s chapter, titled “Why More Women Should Study Apologetics,” below:

“I had just finished a talk on conversational apologetics when I noticed four women off to the side of the platform, apparently wanting to discuss the topic further. As soon as I gave them the word, the anxious questioning unfolded.

“What do I say to my son?” one woman began. “He was an active church member in junior high and high school. After a year in college, he’s now proclaiming himself an atheist.”

“My spouse is doubting that God exists,” the second woman said. “He thinks the church may be a cult. How should I respond?”