The Apologetics Group's Weblog (TAG)

April 6, 2010

The Great Debate – Predestination vs. Free Will

How can sinful men become acceptable in the eyes of a perfectly holy God? Jesus famously gave the answer in John 3:3 when he declared that unless a man is “born again” he cannot ever see − much less enter − the kingdom of God.

Simple enough, right?

Well, apparently not. There may be no more controversial issue in the annals of Christianity than how exactly this process of being “born again” works. Is it a monergistic act − meaning a sovereign and unilateral operation on the part of God as He shows mercy on particular sinners? Or does man play a part, working with God synergistically? And, of course, all manner of other questions spring forth from this dichotomy: Does saving grace extend equally to all men? What part, if any, does man play in the process? Once you are born again, can you lose your salvation? The list goes on.

There may be no better way to consider both sides of these profound questions than to listen to skilled apologists for each side challenge and rebut each other’s perspectives. And so we welcome you to The Great Debate: Predestination vs. Free Will as four gifted theologians square off along what is commonly termed the Calvinistic/Arminian divide.

“I’ve always enjoyed a good debate; the point/counterpoint exchange can be an interesting and very efficient way to crack open and understand an issue. “The Great Debate” does just this with the transcendently important issue of just how man is saved from sin.” Jay Rogers, President of Media House International

Hosted by Brian Marshall of Appleseed Ministries, the four scholar/debaters are:

Dr. Bruce Ware: Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Joe Dongell: Professor of New Testament Studies, Asbury Seminary
Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner: Professor of New Testament Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Jerry Walls: Professor of Philosophy, Asbury Seminary

You can get your copy here:

The Great Debate – Predestination vs Free Will

(c) The Apologetics Group

The Apologetics Group – through its parent company Reel to Real Ministries, Inc. – is a non-for-profit educational ministry.

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March 17, 2010

Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism

Just what is “Calvinism?” Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists deny the Arminian definition of free will and label it heresy? Why did the Roman Catholic Church condemn the Reformed teaching of predestination and election and embrace free will theology? And why do so many Protestants, perhaps unwittingly, agree with Rome on this issue?

“Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism” is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. This fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Part One explores the history of the debate. It begins with the pivotal dispute between Augustine and Pelagius and continues through the semi-pelagian controversy; focusing particularly on the debate between Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. Many viewers will be shocked to discover that free-will theology was NOT the doctrine of the Reformation but instead the teaching of an increasingly apostate Roman Catholic Church. The history section ends with a definitive historical explanation of the issues that arose during the Calvinist/Arminian controversy. By examining the five points of Arminianism and the Synod of Dort’s response, the viewer will clearly see that the Protestant Church understood how the Gospel would be compromised if Arminianism prevailed.

Part Two opens the Word of God, our ultimate authority for life and faith. The five points of Arminianism are put on trial as what would later come to be known as the “five points of Calvinism” are clearly and forcefully presented.

Part Three asks and answers the provocative question: If Calvinism is true, if God is absolutely sovereign; then why should we evangelize? It also explores the vital issue of how to and to whom the gospel should be presented so as to be faithful to the great doctrines of God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity, and the miracle of amazing grace.

Rich in graphics, dramatic vignettes, and biblical analogies, Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism also features many of the finest reformed thinkers and pastors of our time: Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. George Grant, Dr. Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Thomas Ascol, Dr. Thomas Nettles, Dr. Roger Schultz, Pastor Walt Chantry, Dr. Joe Morecraft, Dr. Ken Talbot, Pastor Walter Bowie and Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Come learn what the great Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon meant when he said,”…to deny Calvinism is to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“This video series boldly, clearly, and winsomely sets forth the glorious, saving grace of God in its splendor and will help thousands to understand the gospel better and so to be filled with praise for their Savior.” Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, Associate professor of historical theology and social ethics, Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

“I want you to know that ever since my wife and I bought our first copy when it was new and being mentioned in World Magazine, we have been excited about the product. We’ve ordered more copies for friends. This year my church asked if I would facilitate an eight-week discussion using your DVD. Week after week in our Adult Sunday school some twenty or thirty people have sat riveted by your presentation. The message and the abundant quantity of Scripture, the well-known and not so well-known speakers – all of them excellent communicators, as well as the extremely high production quality – camera angles, lighting, sets and sound, the humorous vignettes have captured everyone’s attention. The Doctrines of Grace are, of course, a wonderful gift from our Lord, but your production is an excellent instructional tool, and if others and their churches are benefiting the way we have been, then I think the Lord must be pleased.” Jack Blake, Charlotte, North Carolina

THIS DVD COMES WITH NEW, VASTLY EXPANDED AND IMPROVED STUDY GUIDE FREE! Over 220 pages of study notes, questions and answers, essays, historical notes, and the entire transcript of the video as a downloadable PDF. Get your copy here:
Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism

Product Details

Director: James Gelet
Producer: The Apologetics Group
Encoding: Region Free
Discs: 1
Format: Color
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.33:1
Audio Encoding: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Rated: Unrated (General audience)
Studio: The Apologetics Group
DVD Release Date: October, 2004
Run Time: 4 hours 17 minutes

http://www.theapologeticsgroup.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=219

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(c) The Apologetics Group

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

November 26, 2009

Check out our interview with TRFW! (The Reformed Faith Weblog)

Eric just did an interview with The Reformed Faith Weblog (TRFW) – go check it out!

The Reformed Faith Weblog Interviews Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group

June 2, 2009

TAG’s Product Recommendation for June, 2009

Guide to Christian Apologetics-b.jpg

Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics

Finding the right angle from which to approach an unbeliever can be tricky without guidance. Some people simply disbelieve God’s existence, some believe in a different deity (or more than one), and some think that who they worship and who you worship are the same when it is plain to you that they are not. Unbelievers have problems with the reliability of the scriptures, the historicity of Jesus or the problem of pain and suffering. Knowing the basics of these issues and their biblical solutions can greatly enhance your introduction of evangelistic basics, tailored to each person’s mindset. While apologetical arguments are not evangelistic techniques in the strictest sense of the words, the information presented here can go a long way in both your understanding of the worldview of the unbeliever and building your faith to accurately stand up to assaults of modern religions.
Chapters include:
1. What Is Apologetics?
2. The Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence
3. The Teleological Argument for God’s Existence
4. The Axiological Argument for God’s Existence
5. Which God Exists?
6. Where Did the New Testament Come From?
7. Is the New Testament Reliable?
8. ExtraBiblical Evidence for Jesus
9. Is the Old Testament Reliable?
10. The Fulfillment of Prophecy
11. What About Miracles?
12. Was Jesus Raised from Death?
13. Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Is He the Only Way?
14. How can God allow Evil, Pain, and Suffering?

About the Author

Doug Powell has a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He combines expertise in apologetics with professional skills in graphic design and music to create video and internet resources for discipleship and evangelism. His work also includes design of online medical education courses, corporate Web sites, flash animation, and more. Doug’s music is featured on record labels including Mercury and RCA. Rolling Stone magazine said, “Powell makes music that’s larger than life.”

“This guide is exactly what you would expect from Doug: clear, concise reasoning and rhetoric coupled with a flare for design and artistry…an invaluable resource.” Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group

For more great products like this, Go to our website, The Apologetics Group.

August 28, 2008

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 4)

By Eric Holmberg,
The Apologetics Group
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Note from the administrator: This is the 4th and final part of this series.
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I don’t have the space or even all the wisdom necessary to present an exhaustive game plan; but what follows should get us well on our way. First, we must begin with the great admonition and promise found 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Humble yourself. Reread the opening vignette. It’s easy to “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1) and roll our eyes at other people’s foibles. But how would you have done? (And please feel free to substitute ESPN’s Sportscenter for Friends.) Are you able to explain the difference between justification and sanctification? How would you fair in writing six essays on the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2? Don’t shrug it off as just theology. This is boilerplate stuff every Christian should know.

In an attempt to trap Him, Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. The Master asked for a coin and then raised a very profound question: “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22: 20-21)

Pray and ask God a similar question. Whose likeness and inscription has been pressed into the clay of your heart? The world’s? Or God’s? If the former is even an issue ─ if you see that the stain of popular media has done more to color your world than the Word ─ do what God expects of all who “fall short of the glory.”

Repent.

Stop lifting up your soul to what is false. (Psalm 24:4) Purpose to set no unclean thing before your eyes; to hate the work of those who fall away. (Psalm 101: 3) Commit Philippians 4:8 to memory and use it as a yardstick to measure everything before you allow it into the sanctuary of your mind, heart and home.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Next, purpose to obey the Apostle Paul’s admonition to not take part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Hate that which is evil but cling to and encourage what is good. (Rom. 12: 9) Cultivate an atmosphere of “reading” and “listening” rather than “watching” in your life and home. Fill them with good books and music. Tame the television, which for many people may mean getting rid of it for a season (see Matthew 5:30). The technology now exists to block certain channels. There are also devices that filter out bad language. Use them. Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom. Have a family movie night. Go online to research the content of a film before seeing it and then “vote” with your pocketbook by only buying tickets for those that meet the standard of Philippians 4:8. If a good movie is produced, go see it, and encourage others to do the same. Buy it when it comes out on DVD. Make sure that your internet access is filtered or that you install software that keeps track of the web sites that are visited. Create an accountability group within your church. Help your teens understand the nature of the battle and the reasons for your standards by watching and discussing a good teaching video on the subject and then absolutely forbid any music that celebrates sin from being played in your home.

These are just a few ideas. The Holy Spirit will no doubt give you more as you purpose to engage the enemy on what may well be the front in the warfare for our families and our nation. There is simply no way to exaggerate the importance of this battle for the hearts and imaginations of our children and our nation’s citizens.

Allow me to close this chapter by briefly recounting two great stories from our past; stories that can not only instruct but also inspire us to persevere in what may look at times like a lost cause.

Did you know that this is not the first time the motion picture industry has debased both itself and this country? Amid the profligacy of the “roaring twenties” and the growing influence of an increasingly nihilistic European film industry, studios began to experiment with everything from nudity to occult themes in the years leading up to the Great Depression. The Church in those days, however, was not willing to simply “swallow and follow.” As a result, millions of people stopped going to the movies. Faced with financial ruin, the studios asked some Christian leaders to step in and help make sure that their films passed muster. And so was born the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Office.

For over three decades (1933-1966), these offices reviewed almost every screenplay and unfinished film to ensure that Biblical standards of morality were respected. And thus began the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” when, as Dr. Ted Baehr likes to say, “Mr. Smith (went) to Washington, It (was) a Wonderful Life and The Bells of St. Mary’s rang out across the land.”

Now note something very important here. What happened? What brought this Golden Age to an end? Simple ─ the salt lost is savor! Influenced by the cancers of modernism and liberal theology, the National Council of Churches shut down the PFO. And how long did it take for the meat to begin to rot? Well, in 1965 the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. The next year, the one that saw the withdrawal of Christians from Hollywood, A Man for All Seasons ─ a film that virtually teemed with biblical themes ─ won the award. But within just three years (1969) an X-rated excursion into nihilism, despair and homosexuality (Midnight Cowboy) came out on top. And this film was far from being an anomaly. The same period also saw Oscar nods for Bonnie and Clyde (antihero, violence, sex), The Wild Bunch (violence) and Rosemary’s Baby (sex, occult).

As Pogo famously declared: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

A similar lesson – one with a happier ending – can be learned from the testimony of a brave monk who around 400 AD chose martyrdom over compromise with the spirit of popular entertainment. Throughout the previous century-and-a-half, the Roman Empire had begun to embrace the Christian religion it had once persecuted. But as the Church became socially acceptable, many people became members who were either not born again or were not prepared to embrace the disciplines of the Christian life. And so a great deal of compromise began to creep into the Church. By the end of the fourth century, many church-goers thought nothing of attending the gladiatorial games, celebrating the shedding of blood in the same arenas where Christians were once martyred for their faith.

Enter Telemachus (also known as Almachius), an ascetic from the eastern region of the empire. Arriving in Rome, he decided to visit a stadium to see what had so captured the hearts and imaginations of the Roman citizenry. Confronted by the specter of two combatants battling to the death while the blood-drunk crowd roared their approval, Telemachus jumped into arena and sought to stop the contest, chastising the audience for their lust and violation of the Sixth Commandment. The spectators turned on him, surging into the arena and collecting stones as they went. Soon the brave monk laid dead, another blood-washed martyr for the cause of Christ.

The story does not end here, however. When the Emperor Honorius learned of Telemachus’ sacrifice, he hailed him as a hero and a true soldier of the cross. In 404 AD, Honorius issued an imperial decree outlawing the gladiatorial games throughout the empire. The monk’s intercession had carried the day and transformed the culture.

May God raise up from within the ranks of His Church today an army of Telemachuses.

We can be silent no more.

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Some related reading sources:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Neil Postman, Penguin Books, 1986.) This is a wonderful book every thinking Christian should digest. It is also worth noting here a distinction Postman makes in it: “amuse” (a-muse) means literally to stop thinking or reflecting.

W.B. Yeats “Meditations in time of Civil War”

Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (Vintage; September 1, 1992)

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Some Interesting Facts and Figures:

According to numbers crunched by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a New York-based investment bank that specializes in media companies, Americans spent 120 hours a person a year reading consumer books in 1998; by 2003, the number of hours had fallen to 106. By 2006, the projected number of hours we spend reading will be 103. In contrast, television-watching took up 1,551 hours of our time in 1998, and is expected to rise to 1,679 hours two years from now. Internet use is also skyrocketing, from 54 hours in 1998 to a projected 213 hours in 2006.

“Reading at Risk,” a new survey released in July of 2004 by the National Endowment for the Arts using data collected by the Census Bureau, shows that the percentage of Americans who read novels, short stories, plays or poetry — and, in fact, any sort of book — has steadily declined in the past two decades. The drop-off was especially noticeable among young adults, with literary reading among 18-to-24-year-olds dropping from almost 60 percent in 1982 to about 43 percent in 2002.

“The Dutch philosopher-historian Johan Huizinga, in his epochal book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, discovered that the word “fun” was of recent origin and that o other language had an exact equivalent to the English meaning, leading him to speculate that fun was neither readily understood nor fully accepted until the twentieth century.” (from Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (Neal Gabler, Vintage Books USA; February 29, 2000)
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From the Administrator:
Though the content is PG-13, I would recommend the DVD, Hell’s Bells 2 – The Power and Spirit of Popular Music.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, and has been involved in areas of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He is a writer, producer, documentarian and Christian cultural apologist, and has produced and directed dozens of documentaries and seminars that have touched thousands of lives around the world.

August 25, 2008

The Apologetics Group – A Little History Behind The Name

Greetings in Jesus’ mighty name! I wanted to give you a little background on who we are and a bit of the history behind The Apologetics Group and the media we produce.

Eric Holmberg founded The Apologetics Group (TAG) in 2004 as an arm of the ministry he also founded, Reel to Real Ministries. The Apologetics Group is located in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee just outside of Metro Nashville.

Some of TAG’s video productions include:

Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism

Hell’s Bells 1 – The Original Classic

Hell’s Bells 2: The Power and Spirit of Popular Music

The Massacre of Innocence: The Occult Roots of Abortion
The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity & Divinity of Christ

The Final Frontier:A Journey Through Life, Death…and Beyond

And many more…

We will be posting a lot more blog posts from Eric and others involved in TAG soon so keep checking back periodically.

Reel to Real/The Apologetics Group is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, educational ministry. We are supported in large part by the generous contributions of individuals and organizations who want to partner with us in spreading the Gospel (which includes evangelism, discipleship and reforming culture) through the use of modern visual media.

We have seen time and again how one DVD, in the right place and in the right hands, can impact many lives…even an entire nation.

You can sign up to receive more information about our products or upcoming project releases by visiting The Apologetics Group website. Eric Holmberg is the current CEO and National Director of The Apologetics Group. This is the official Eric Holmberg website and is not affiliated with any other group with similar names.Check it out HERE.

TheApologeticsGroup.com

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