C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    15 replies to "The Apostles Confront Modern Atheists and Postmoderns"

    • James-the-lesser

      Let’s stop demonizing the opposition!

      I am sure it will come as a surprise to some of you that recently I have been revisiting some of the theology that our opposition holds, like for The Death of God controversy fermented by Thomas J. J. Altizer and others back in the 60’s. And, of course, as some of you may also know I have reading a whole lot about the use of analogy—parables, scriptural narratives; particularly as this relates to the incarnation.
      My conclusions? Well, to be honest with you about the same as William Barclay when he was asked what his greatest discovery was in all of his years of studying and teaching theology. He replied in response with: “Well, that would be that Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
      Friends, you cannot get any better than that!
      But now back to Altizer. Of course he is wrong not because he is a bad man but because he failed somewhere in his pursuit of truth to anchor his soul as well as his intellect in the everlasting arms of the only wise God, the King eternal who is immortal and invisible and worthy of honor and glory for ever and ever. [1 Timothy 1:17] Yes, Mr. Altizer, something did come out of nothingness, but Jesus adds an eternal commitment to that somethingness that it does not have to return to the nothingness. Life is not a cyclical process of birth followed by swimming upstream like a salmon to give birth and then die in an endless chain of life spawning new life and then return to the nothingness behind a veil of death.
      And, friends, that what faith is all about. We trust that this God lovingly made Himself known in and through His Only Begotten Son and thereby fully identified with our concerns by taking them on as His own. This is why we not only trust Him, but we feel free to go directly to Him in prayer, knowing all the while that indeed He did not just say He loved us, but that He also proved it on the Cross. Furthermore, His resurrection renews our confidence that He continues in His great love towards us and thereby gives us hope for a better tomorrow, now and for always. Yes, Mr. Altizer, Christ is alive forever more! And, because He lives, we too have eternal life.
      By-the-way, Altizer is in my opinion is basically a Hīnayāna Buddhist disguised as a want-to-be Christian that believe that since something came out of nothing, then something must return to that nothingness; and, of course, that nothingness is about as close as he can get to the concept of God. Thus, Altizer sees the Son as God becoming flesh will be absolved back into that nothingness.
      However, we get absolutely nowhere demonizing those with whom we disagree—be that either Barth or Christopher Hitchens (of God is not great fame) or Jerry Falwell (God rest his soul).

    • Actually, would that WE 21st century Christians might confront todays Atheism and Postmodernism! (Not so much people, but sometimes that simply cannot be avoided.) But to do so, WE must have both a biblical and something too of a systematic theology, which modernity and postmodernity has surely squeezed down upon!

      And “the Death of God theology” surely stands in with modernity!

      So in general, I would have to disagree, much of todays so-called theology has certainly demonized itself! But, can we see that, in the so-called historical churches today? That is the great question! One only needs to look at what is happening in todays sexual mores and values, homosexuality and homosexual marriage are upon us! If this is not a great change, and even spiritual apostasy, I don’t know what is! But one is surely NOT popular to stand against it! But in reality, what could be more important in moral doctrine and theology today, for real Christianity and Christians!

      Has St. Paul’s statements in Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Cor. 6: 9-11, etc. changed? Quite obviously not! And let us not forget Christianity is really Judeo, as Jesus said: “for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4: 22)

      This subject has become the White Elephant in the room of Christianity!

    • Eric

      Unfortunately, we can’t check the tomb. Additionally, the writings claiming that he was seen are not very confidence-inspiring. The apostle’s testimony would be best before the ascension when they can take you directly to Jesus.

      Receiving the testimony of the apostles, “We have seen the Lord” and “The tomb is empty”, even one of the 12 said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” If, to one who knew them well, their testimony was not sufficient, how can it be believed (even if it did exist) by one who does not know them at all.

    • Anthony

      Eric you speak of John 20:25
      But go on to
      John 20:21-31
      21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
      Jesus Appears to Thomas
      24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    • staircaseghost

      Ok, so we know where the body isn’t

      What do you suppose the next question in this sequence would be?

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Eric and Staircaseghost–
      I think you have both raised a legitimate question. What you are really asking (as I understand it) would be: Is Christianity real, and if it is, how can I be sure it is? It’s OK to ask those questions, so long as you’re prepared and willing to find the answer.

      Over and above the facts of history bearing witness to the claims of Christianity, and beyond the witness of archaeology and geography and the logical necessity of intelligent design to grasp creation and the continuation of creation, there is also a certain amount of actual “subjective” evidence which we may or may not experience at given times in life.

      When I became a Christian, (we often use the words “new birth” for that event), God became very real to me at that juncture of life, there was no doubt that what had happened to me was that God Himself had actually done a work in my “insides.” This may be the evidence you want to see, to authenticate Christianity.

      Now, having become “captive” to God, I can never really get “free” from Him, and that’s how I would have it. I sometimes am not fully obedient to Him, often there are doubts, certainly there are struggles; but I have never been able to say “so long God, it’s over now.”

      Apparently all Christians do not begin the journey with this kind of authenticating presence, and that is OK, God is big enough to handle that. But if you feel that is what it will take for you to join in, why don’t you just begin seeking and asking Him to become real in your life?

    • @Eric: WE call it Faith! (Heb. 11: 1), which is also part of the “Apostles Doctrine/teaching” (Acts 2: 42), which is also as Paul says, “a/the gift of God” (Eph. 2: 8). And by such as the Hebrew writer says: “For by it the elders obtained a good report (approval).

      See 1 Cor. 15: 1-11, also! As Paul too: “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (Verse 10)

    • If this great “evidence” of Faith, is not “in” us (hope), then “we are of all men most miserable”. (1 Cor. 15: 19) And sadly this really IS where many people who call themselves Christians actually are in, that place of misery and really no faith! And this is simply NOT that place of Christian Discipleship, apologetics go to blazes!

    • James-the-lesser

      Fr. Robert (Anglican) Looks like we have a disagreement then. Each human being is a person of worth and dignity, and has the inalienable right to the pursuit of truth, happiness, and religious and political freedom. God is their judge, not I. Yes, the scripture is proscribes homosexulaity and so-forth, but they are still tender souls that need Jesus and I am afraid that demonizing them, including those who disagree with us theology is simply unacceptable. Allow them into full membership of our Christian fellowships (churches)? No! Absolutely not. I suppose that if one were to take the position that God has willed them to eternal damnation with or without a chance to repent, then your position might make sense. But as the saying goes: “Where there is a will there is a way.” God’s grace is bigger than our demons. Sorry.

    • theoldadam

      We don’t “demonize” gays.

      But we sure are NOT going to affirm their sin, or anyone else’s sin for that matter.

      Homosexuality is sinful. So is gluttony and lying. So is being angry with your brother or sister (Jesus said that is akin to being a murderer).

      We have all types in our pews. And gays amongst the rest of us full blown sinners. But whenever one demands that we affirm their sin, we tell them, “Nope. You’ll have to go elsewhere for that.”

    • James-the-lesser

      Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not. As far as I am concerned this is much ado about nothing. This is precisely the Biblical position. I did think it was interested that in response to a question about whether there was a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

      “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”

      Again, Pope Francis was not refering to God’s judgement, but rather His.

      Certainly the Bible proscribes homosexuality in no uncertain terms, but a careful reading of the surrounding context of 1 Corinthians 6: 11 clearly illustrates the all evasive power of God’s unrelenting grace towards those caught in the web of immorality of all sorts including sexual sin and the true meaning of “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

      Fighting the urge to commit adultery when confronted with a lurinng invitation is no different than fighting that same urge otherwise.

      God forbid that we should restrict someone from ministry simply because of a past life of lustful sin.

      Demonizing gets us absolutely nowhere that God’s grace is not there. That’s my point. My only point. 🙂

    • theoldadam

      Ministers are sinners. But ministers should not be unrepentant practitioners of sin.

      We in the church not ever affirm or make excuse for sin.

      But admit it. Repent of it. And cling to the cross of Christ.

    • James-the-lesser

      I am not sure what you are saying. What I am saying is that there is no sin to big for God to forgive, including homosexuality. No, a practicing homosexual does not qualify for ministry but if left unrestrained is doomed to Hell.

    • theoldadam

      Of course He forgives homosexuality.

      But we don’t need unrepentant sinners in the pulpit, telling everyone (by their presence) that some sin is ok. Well…it’s not ok.

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