The Apologetics Group's Weblog (TAG)

May 9, 2010

Eric Holmberg of The Apologetics Group to air War of the Worldviews on the NRB Network

The Apologetics Group is happy to announce our new television program, “War of the Worldviews”, hosted by Eric Holmberg, founder and National Director of The Apologetics Group. The show will air beginning on Monday, May 17th on the NRB Network, and will feature many of The Apologetics Groups most well known productions such as Hell’s Bells 1 & 2, The Real Jesus, Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism, and more, as well as commentary from Eric. If your service provider doesn’t carry NRB Network, please call or write them to ask them to carry it. There will be some great ministries featured during the prime time hours – We’ll be on at 9 pm Eastern Time/8 pm Central. Hope you will join us!

Info Link:
NRB Network Press Room – Apologetics in Primetime

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April 7, 2010

Answering A Fool According to His Folly – Pt. 1

By Eric Holmberg

(This article was previously posted on our facebook page in August of 2009.)

I went to Amazon.com today to order another copy of Skousen’s seminal work, “The 5000 Year Leap.” (Written almost 30 years ago and once out-of-print, Glenn Beck has almost single-handedly resurrected it and turned it into a best-seller.) While there I took a moment to read some of the reviews that had been posted. I wasn’t at all surprised to see a majority of 5 Stars sprinkled with a handful of 1 Stars. This is one of those love it (if you’re a thoughtful Christian) or hate it (if you’re a committed materialist/secularist) books. I took the time to read one of the later postings and found that old prophetic bile rising up in my throat and decided to take a moment and respond.

If you’re interested:

R. Denton (Tulsa, OK USA):

“Like books of this type, don’t waste your time on this. It’s another one of those “Founding Fathers created a Christian Nation to glorify God” fantasies. Despite the well-documented facts that many of the founders were either agnostic or at most deists, the myth persists that somehow this was a Christian nation, blessed by God from the beginning. I’m as patriotic as anyone and a Marine vet and would still fight for this country I love, but I am sick of this myth.

The first people that came here were largely trying to escape state-religion, but then set about to create their own in each colony or settlement. I’m very big on religious freedom, freedom of thought and conscience, as well as speech, but am sick and tired of this same story. It’s not much different than a Christian Taliban. I’m quite sure some of those that founded the nation did indeed think that they had been given this continent by God. That’s why they had so little problem moving and removing the “savages” that were already here not to mention the various witch hunts.

The main message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to love one another as He loves us! Not just the others like you that are in the same church, but ALL of the others. All the rest is dogma, footnotes and the apostles’ efforts to try and understand this while figuring out how to build a new church/faith.

My Response (Nashville, TN): ”

Shut your eyes and repeat after me, “There is no place like home. There is no place like home.” Except now you don’t want to go back to Kansas (reality) but rather remain in Oz. Wishing that America wasn’t founded overwhelming by Christians and intended to be a Christian nation doesn’t make it so. And cherry-picking from the handful of contrary evidence and ignoring the avalanche of facts that support the “Christian nation” premise is manifestly disingenuous. My favorite example of this insanity (and proof that God has an interesting a sense of humor) is Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter to the Danbury Baptists. This “founding document” (if you tilt your head and squint a little) is the source for the infamous “wall of separation” between church and state. (By the way, this is a completely Christian notion when properly understood – something that statists/secularists are loathe to do.) Now without question this letter and phrase are the holy grail for the ACLU and their ilk. The irony? The letter was written on New Year’s day, 1802 – a Friday. Just two days after penning it Jefferson attended Christian church services held — drum-roll please — in the Supreme Court chambers; at that time located in the Capitol building. H-m-m-m-m-m-m.

The simple fact is that there were only a handful of deists among the Founding Fathers – and maybe one or two agnostics. The vast majority were Christians. And even more to the point, the few deists – like Jefferson and Franklin – were heavily influenced by Christian thought. It was Franklin, for example, who called the assembly to Christian prayer – invoking the words of Jesus – when the Constitutional convention threatened to blow apart.

Part of me wishes a wand could be waved and the world that this reviewer seems to want could be created – one where the Judeo-Christian worldview was locked out of the public square and every law, every economic and social policy was based on naked human reasoning divorced from all illumination from the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. I promise you it would make George Bailey’s “Bedford Falls” journey look like a walk in the park. Denton, our tough Marine, would be screaming for Christ’s mercy and presence AS WELL as His presence through the Church and through God-fearing magistrates within a microsecond of his immersion into hell on earth.

(c) 2010 The Apologetics Group/Eric Holmberg

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Eric Holmberg is the Founder and current President of The Apologetics Group. The Apologetics Group – through its parent company Reel to Real Ministries, Inc. – is a non-for-profit educational ministry.

The Apologetics Group

Answering A Fool According to His Folly – Pt. 2

Answering a Fool According to His Folly – Pt. 2

By Eric Holmberg



My response to an
Amazon review of The
5000 Year Leap (see“Answering a Fool According to His Folly – Pt. 1”)
generated this
response from another
reviewer. I then
responded to him.

Chris J. Miller says:

There’s a concept here you don’t seem to grasp. Saying that the United States was founded by a primarily Christian population is not the same thing as saying that it was founded as a “Christian nation.” The former statement is descriptive, the latter prescriptive. The founders of the country and framers of the Constitution were themselves a diverse group, certainly including many deists and skeptics as well as devout believers (of various stripes)… but their personal beliefs do not dictate how we can or should live today. Why? Because those founders were wise enough to establish a system grounded in principles that neither rely on nor privilege anyone’s religious beliefs. If you imagine otherwise, then you, not the reviewer, are the one who’s lost touch with reality.

Eric Holmberg responds:

Chris, thanks for your response. Two thoughts – one factual, the other
philosophical: While numbers are not the most important thing – the majority after all can be wrong – your phrase “including many deists and skeptics as well as devout believers” is akin to saying that among the founders were Italians and Croats as well as men of British, Dutch and German descent. The fact is that of the men that attended the Constitutional convention, for example, there were at most three who were not orthodox Christians. And even they (Franklin in particular; note his famous “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground” call to prayer during the convention) were more Biblically informed and Christian in their worldview than the majority of church-goers today.

More important, however, is your contention that America was founded on principles that did not “rely on nor privilege anyone’s religious beliefs.” If by that you mean that our founders didn’t want a state church or for any Christian denomination to have preference over another in the arena of public policy, taxes, etc., or that people would be in any way coerced to believe in God or a particular church, you are absolutely right. But if you are suggesting, as it appears you are, that our founding principles did not grow out of the seedbed of Christianity and don’t need a Christian consensus to sustain them, it is you who is not in touch with reality.

Our nation’s most foundational principle, codified in the preamble to our primary founding document – that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – is not a principle that can be grabbed out of the air, examined under a microscope and proven scientifically. It ultimately rests on faith, religious faith in transcendent truth revealed by God and hammered out over time uniquely within the Christian milieu. I could go on and on with other examples (the abolition of slavery comes immediately to mind.) The simple fact is that all men and all human activity are inescapably religious. We all have certain presuppositions that appear to us as self evident and upon which we then build our entire world and life view. And whatever we do, and that includes vocationally – digging ditches or passing legislation in the US Congress – will be informed and guided by that worldview. But if we backtrack and examine the foundation of our worldview – those “first principles” or presuppositions – we will find, if we’re honest, that they are received by faith because at their root they can not be empirically proven.

In this sense, all of life is inescapably religious. The Christian – at least the
thoughtful, epistemologically self-conscious Christian – is aware of this and wears that truth on his sleeve. Everyone can say “that guy is religious”
without thought of a rebuttal because the Christian will happily own up to it. But the same honesty doesn’t characterize people who profess to be more “secular” – who embrace, for example, materialism (all that exists is matter and its motion) or the more common deistic ethos (OK, there probably is a God but “he” is neither immanent or very mindful of and thus relevant to our everyday lives and so we need to figure out right and wrong and how to live and govern ourselves on our own.). Neither first principle can be proven. They are both received by faith. And they are thus both inescapably religious.

(Interestingly, there have been a few people in the atheistic/materialism camp that have owned up to this fact; most recently Dr. Michael Ruse at Florida State, an ardent apologist for atheistic, Darwinian materialism.) With this in mind, let’s engage in a thought experiment. Imagine a materialist, a deist and a Christian wading into the marketplace of ideas: public policy, law, ethics, education, etc. One of them, let’s say the deist, says “We need to be concerned about and work for the benefit of the less fortunate.” (The recently deceased Ted Kennedy supposedly made this his life’s calling and proudly identified it as the essence of liberalism – as if conservatives are thus left only with the opposite tack, “We need to ignore the less-fortunate.”) The Christian immediately agrees. His foundational presupposition (there is a God) and its secondary implications (I must follow His ways because He is God (and I am not); He has told me that the faith without works is dead and that He is very concerned with the less-fortunate, etc.) inform his agreement. The materialist, if he is epistemologically self conscious and has the nerve to stare unflinchingly into Nietzsche’s abyss, may well ask “Why should we be concerned for the less fortunate?” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, not only is there little or no need to; it may well even be counterproductive. But he nevertheless says, “Amen” because it somehow just seems to be the right thing to do. (You also can’t get elected if you don’t say such things.)

So all three agree, run for office and get elected to Congress and begin to
work on behalf of the less-fortunate. Few people – and I am sure that would include you – would object to their purpose and goals at this juncture. Even the ACLU would say, “AMEN!” (Well, maybe they wouldn’t use that word.) So far, so good. No one is accusing anyone of bringing their religion into the public policy arena and attempting to impose it on the rest of the culture – although clearly that is precisely what the Christian is doing. The other two, while equally religious, are less epistemologically self-aware concerning their efforts to help the less fortunate. In fact, the materialist could well be operating in a manner that is contradictory to his first principles.

Now everything goes along reasonably well – and there are no accusations of the violation of church and state or of any “Christian Taliban.” As long as the laws they pass – say, for example, a food stamp program – fall well within the moral and ethical consensus of the broader culture as well as within the deist, atheist and Christian cultural sub-sets, no one’s underwear gets in a knot and everything is hunky dory. Few people really see what is being done as necessarily “religious” because they are: 1. not very philosophical/epistemologically self-conscious, and 2. a consensus exists between the Christian and the less “religious” (they are actually equally religious, as stated above – but that is the popular perception) and so “religion” seems peripheral to the issue.

But now let’s introduce something that falls outside of this happy consensus.

Here I will draw from our actual history. Let’s say the materialist (it could
just as easily be the deist) says that the less-fortunate are in part that way
because they have too many children and should therefore have access to,
among other things, abortion. All manner of faith-based presuppositions are behind this position: that the developing fetus is not a person, or if it is a person, abortion is a form of justifiable homicide; that children are an
economic and social deficit; that there is no God who will be angered by this and in turn judge the persons responsible for the act as well as the culture who sanctions it (thus exacerbating the very problem the policy is attempting to address) etc. Their call for legalized abortion is thus a religious, faith-based action as well as an effort to impose a specific religious morality on the rest of the culture. (The abortion advocate here will say, “Nonsense, no one is making you have an abortion if you don’t want one.” True, but that ignores both the fetus – who is obviously having a moral system imposed on him or her – as well as the “judgment on the wider culture” component just mentioned. The skeptic (still either ignoring or denying the rights of the fetus) will likely say that no such judgment exists; that there either is no God or if there is “he” doesn’t operate in this way. They are free to believe that if they will. But such a belief again is inescapably religious, an article of faith. There is no way they can prove it.)

Now if we go back a couple of generations, the materialist’s religiously informed advocacy for legal abortion fell on largely deaf-ears. Why?
Because the cultural consensus of the time still leaned heavily towards Christianity. Abortion was seen as murder, pure and simple – so much so
that even leaders in the feminist, contraception, and gay-rights movements saw it as a moral evil. Had the Christian congressman gotten up and called abortion wrong and then referenced the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not commit murder,” almost no one – including members of the newly formed ACLU – would have called it a violation of the First Amendment.

Now fast forward 40 years to the sexual revolution and the increased unraveling of the Christian consensus. As free love was found to be not as
free as promised (creating the growing need for abortion to eliminate the
pesky by-products of fornication) and as the faith-based presuppositions of Christianity began to be replaced by the equally faith-based presuppositions of materialism, secular humanism, deism, Unitarianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, communism, etc. – gradually the pro-abortion position became more defensible in many people’s minds.

Aldous Huxley owned up to this in his work, Ends and Means, when he
observed that many people are concerned “to prove that there is no valid reason why (they) personally should not do as (they) want to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

A tipping point was finally reached. Abortion became legal and a “right” as more and more people embraced the religious system proffered by these alternative religious systems. And with this an interesting slight of hand took place, one that is very much with us today and is reflected in your comment. The pro-abortion position was defined – or at least perceived – as being somehow “secular”, “rational”, and “non-religious.” And as the Christian began to decry the position, using – like everyone else – the religious presuppositions that inform his world and life view – he was suddenly derided as a “religious fundamentalist”, a member of the “Christian Taliban,” and any effort on his part to pass pro-life legislation as a “violation of the separation of church and state,” or, to use your language, and attempt to “rely on or privilege one particular religion beliefs.”

I trust that you can see how disingenuous – and even more to the point, how philosophically absurd – this is. Culture truly is “religion externalized” and any effort to hide one’s own religious presuppositions while pointing out and then decrying another’s as a violation of the First Amendment is the worst kind of hypocrisy. And abortion laws are just one manifestation of this. Gay marriage, creeping socialism, government-controlled education, progressive taxation, universal health-care, on and on, the same dynamic is being played out over and over again.

Most of our founder’s understood the danger posed by any government that was not “under God” – that was not beholden to a higher Power and the inalienable rights that this Power had granted to all men. And so while they didn’t want a state-run church or to have religious tests for candidates for federal office (interestingly most had no problem with such tests at the state level – which, of course, was where most of the power once was) they nevertheless envisioned and created a system of government grounded in principles that relied heavily on and privileged – not the Baptists or the Congregationalists or the Roman Catholics – but Christianity. Pure and simple. And this is why founder Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, the father of medicine in America, and the third most well-known person at time of our founding, said in 1802:
“Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in
proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts,
they will be wise and happy.”

That, my friend, is called bumping up against the hard, working end of real
reality.

(c) 2010 The Apologetics Group/Eric Holmberg

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Eric Holmberg is the Founder and current President of The Apologetics Group. The Apologetics Group – through its parent company Reel to Real Ministries, Inc. – is a non-for-profit educational ministry.

The Apologetics Group

Answering a Fool According to His Folly – Pt. 1

August 27, 2008

The Enemy In Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 3)

By Eric Holmberg

Allow me to begin with story. In 1936, Spain was ravaged by a great civil war. Emilio Mola, one of the leaders of the Nationalist Army under the command of Francisco Franco, surrounded the capital city of Madrid with columns to the north, south, east and west. When asked from which direction he expected the city to be taken, Mola replied “le quinta columna.” This “fifth column” was made up of the spies and propaganda he had managed to plant within the city of Madrid itself.

Can I tell you that there is a civil war going on for the destiny of this nation and the planet ─ one that this generation will lose if the “fifth column” of worldliness continues to flourish in our hearts? Like it or not, God himself has set enmity between the “seed of the woman” (the Church) and “the seed of the serpent.” (Genesis 3:15) And when left unchecked, the spiritual “entropy” that characterizes the fallen world of man will always move towards great disorder and chaos – towards a place where the “imaginations of men’s hearts will be on evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And out of these imaginations, the “culture” will inevitably arise.

Now culture is a difficult thing to describe because it involves so many things. Taken from the Latin root “cultus,” it originally meant a system of religious belief and rituals. And while today it is commonly used to describe a lot more than this ─ things like aesthetics, ethics, language, etiquette, etc. ─ at bottom the Latin definition still serves us well. Why? Because each of these other aspects of culture flow from the religious presuppositions that form the majority report of a particular society. To use the phrase made famous by Henry van Til: “culture is religion externalized.”

Another thing we need to understand about culture today is just how powerful and almost omnipresent it has become. By faith and through the revealed Word we understand that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). But from a strictly temporal perspective, modern technology has been able to create a culture of entertainment that could easily cop this verse and use it as a sales slogan for potential advertisers. (I’m reminded here of the famous quote by Bob Pittman, co-founder of MTV: “We don’t shoot for the fourteen-year-olds. We own them!”) As ubiquitous as the air we breathe, digitized information is constantly bombarding us from every side ─ clamoring, cajoling, mesmerizing, titillating, propagandizing ─ threatening and very often succeeding in molding us into its image. (see Romans 12:2: “And don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed…”)

And it is not just the obvious things like violence, blasphemy and pornography that have seduced us. Perhaps even more destructive is something a great Russian writer predicted would happen. Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed that when untethered from the Christian worldview, art would begin by imitating life. But then life would start to imitate art and then would finally draw the very reason for its existence from the arts. Historian Daniel Boorstin sounded a similar alarm when he warned that Americans increasingly live in a world where fantasy is more real than reality. “We risk,” he said, “being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

I call this parallel universe in which our culture has come to live the “Great Substitution.” And the fallout from this substitution is among the most profound challenges facing the Church today.

“I” has taken the place of “We”. One need only consider the Army’s new recruiting motto: An Army of One. What an insane concession to the spirit of the age!

Art ─ which in the Christian tradition was to provide ekstasis; the opportunity to “stand outside ourselves” and gain insight into the wonder of life ─ has been replaced by entertainment (from inter (among); tenere (to hold) ─ something that draws us into ourselves; denying us new perspectives and the opportunity to grow.

The Image has been substituted for the Logos (Word). In the beginning was the Word, which was God and then became flesh and dwelt among us through the Incarnation. (John 1:1&14) It is no accident that we do not know what Jesus looked like or that the Ten Commandments forbid creating images of the invisible God. When it comes to the real business of knowing and worshipping the Trinity, the keys are the Word read and meditated upon, the Word sung (worship), and the Word signified in the sacraments. As images have more and more pushed the written word aside, the logos/logic centers of our minds have grown dull from disuse. The results of this substitution have been disastrous. Even the capacity for Truth (an enterprise that requires logic) has fallen in the post-modern public square. (Isaiah 59:15) And within the Church, the hard work of diligently training our senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:15) has been replaced by mushy sentimentality.

Character has been trumped by celebrity. Why are so many people more likely to spend time meditating on the dating habits of some Hollywood profligate than on the scriptural principles that will help them make sure that their own marriages will succeed?

Fun (a word with a very recent origin) has taken the place of happiness. It is no longer just teens who are willing to jettison the hard work and delayed gratification necessary to enjoy the truly “good life.” More and more adults are willing to sell their divine birthright for a mess of “ready-in-a-minute” porridge.

Sound-bytes have replaced discourse. MTV-style “bumpers” and jump-cuts can now be seen in everything from sports coverage to news broadcasts and children’s programming. We are fast becoming a nation of “watchers” with the attention span of a circus of fleas. What ill-wind blows through the body politic when the average network sound-byte from presidential campaigns dropped from 40 seconds in 1968 to under 7 seconds today?

Covetousness has been substituted for profitable stewardship with contentment. Think about it: millions actually pay extra money to buy name-brand clothing for no other reason than to advertise that they wear name-brand clothing!

Agape love (love reflecting the character of God and rooted in covenant commitment) has been pushed aside by eros ─ an obsession with our own erotic or emotional satisfaction. The late, great prophet to the 20th century, Malcolm Muggeridge perhaps said it best: “The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.”

These substitutions did not “just happen.” They were manufactured with the same satanic genius that gave us Babel’s Tower and Aaron’s calf. The serpent took what were good, God-given desires (we are, after all, called to help build a Holy City whose capstone (Christ) reaches into the throne room of heaven; we are supposed to have a “feast to the Lord”) and ─ like in the Garden of Eden ─ tilted those desires ever so slightly on their axis. Once the center of God’s will is compromised, the trajectory of the culture will move slowly but progressively away from the Sun of Righteousness. As with the proverbial frog in the kettle, the fires of spiritual deception will be turned up gradually so as not to catch our attention. And that’s how we find ourselves today, facing desires that have all but undergone the complete transformation into their satanic substitutes.

I’m here to tell you that the water is boiling! It’s time to crawl out of the acid bath of popular culture and once again be about our Father’s business; discipling nations rather than being discipled by them!

How can we fulfill this call?

(To be continued…)
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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the last part coming soon…

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. Check out his website at The Apologetics Group Official Website.

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