In ‘Street Smarts’, Koukl teaches the kinds of questions that are most effective while also providing sample conversations on the most common topics, which is another very important contribution of this book. In addition to answering the misconceptions about faith that people often have—from God’s existence to the divinity of Jesus—Street Smarts helps believers engage others on the moral and social issues at the center of our cultural discourse, such as abortion and gender and the many topics related to human sexuality. Koukl provides the questions, the talking points, and the examples that can open up significant conversations, invite skeptics in, and challenge presuppositions. In the process, Christians will develop confidence in what is true.
For over 30 years, my friend Greg Koukl has taught Christians how to engage with people across worldview lines by asking questions. His first book Tactics has equipped thousands of Christians to communicate with wisdom and passion. This month, Koukl is releasing a follow-up to that book, entitled Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Christianity’s Toughest Challenges.
Among the goals of the book is to make evangelism a less intimidating and more successful endeavor:
There are few things that cause more nagging guilt for Christians than sharing their faith. They feel guilt because they don’t witness enough. They don’t witness enough because they’re scared. And they’re scared for good reason. Sharing the gospel and defending it—apologetics—often feels like navigating a minefield these days. For most of us, engaging others on spiritual matters does not come easy, especially when people are hostile.
Koukl helpfully distinguishes what he calls “harvesting,” and “gardening.” Because God brings the harvest, our goal is simply faithfulness to what is true about the world and about people. According to John’s Gospel, some Christians harvest and others sow, so “that sower and reaper may rejoice together.”
A singular focus only on “harvesting,” Koukl argues, leads to a number of problems. For example, the very important “gardeners” are encouraged to sit out the evangelism process, in favor of the “harvesters.” This is often the case when Christians fail to understand the power of the cultural forces shaping the worldview of non-believers, one reason our Gospel seeds seem to only bounce off “hard soil.” Christians, therefore, must also commit to “spadework,” or digging up the faulty preconceptions about life, God, and humanity that people hold, often unknowingly. One great way to do this “spadework” is by asking questions.
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By T. M. Suffield — 10 months ago
Written by T.M. Suffield |
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
We can judge from creation, that the division that comes by saying the truth leads in time to order, which leads in time to unity. How do we know? Because Genesis 1 is eventually leading to the reconciliation of all things in God (Colossians 1). Division leads to order leads to unity.
God creates by dividing, that’s the pattern begun in Genesis 1. He continues to create that way today. I’ve written before on how the Lord makes order from chaos in the first Creation narrative, and how that work which is begun but not completed becomes our work. Adam was meant to create order in the garden by slaying or expelling the serpent, doing God’s works after himself: ruling over the dragons of chaos.
Let me show you what I mean. On the first three days of creation, God forms things: Light or Day, the Sky and the Sea, and the Land. On the next three days of creation, God fills those things:
Light. Day and Night
Sky and Sea
Land and Trees
Day is “filled” with the Sun, and Night with the Moon, powers to rule over them so that we can tell the right time for the festivals.
Sky and Sea are filled with animal life and dragons.
Land and Trees are filled with animal life and humans.
On the seventh day God rested.
So, where’s the division? Well, let’s look at how God creates on each day. On the first day he creates light by separating it from the Darkness, making two defined ‘times’ that did not exist before: Day and Night.
On the second day he creates the heavens and the sea by separating the waters above from the waters below. Where before there was one water, there is now water below (the sea, where chaos and evil dwell) and the water above (the sky or heavens, where order and angels dwell).
On the third day he creates the land by separating it from the water below, and then all the trees by separating them into their kinds. The phrase “according to its kind” begins to occur frequently.
On the filling days we find categories multiplying: heavenly bodies, birds, fish, dragons (have I ever mentioned that there are dragons here and we just skip over it? I have?).
Creation is an act of breaking things down into kinds. When we meet humans we then immediately find them divided into male and female. God creates by dividing.
By Jim Hughes and Shaun Doyle — 6 months ago
Jesus is the last Adam, not the second Adam. Moreover, this only makes sense if there really were other “Adams”—other people who were given the priest-king vocation of the first Adam to subdue and rule, and through whom the world would be blessed with God’s presence, such as Noah, Abraham, the nation of Israel, and David. Jesus was not just the fulfilment of myths; He was the fulfilment of what God made man to be, and always wanted him to be. Jesus is the climax of salvation history; a history that began with the creation of the first Adam.
Jesus is the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). But did any other ‘Adams’ came before him? At least one, of course: the first Adam. But were there others who filled the Adamic role laid out in Genesis 1–2? In 1 Corinthians 15:45–47, there is an important contrast. Drawing on Genesis 2:7, Paul calls Adam ‘the first man Adam’, but he refers to Jesus in two different ways: Jesus is ‘the last Adam’ (v. 45) and ‘the second man’ (v. 47). Some think, therefore, that ‘second man’ is a synonym for ‘second Adam’,1,2 since as a ‘second Adam’ Jesus is the firstborn of the new creation.3 However, we must respect Paul’s precision—he calls Jesus ‘the last Adam’, not the ‘second Adam’. The term ‘second Adam’ does not appear in the Bible. Moreover, a review of biblical figures central to the history of redemption shows that the first Adam was not the only person given the Adamic commissions before the last Adam. We find that Jesus was the last in a series of ‘Adams’ whom God commissioned in much the same way as He commissioned the first Adam.
Adam: God’s first priest-king
Genesis 2:7 neither names Adam nor calls the ‘man’ God made from the dust the ‘first’ man. However, Paul makes that connection clear by adding the two words ‘first’ and ‘Adam’ to his quote of Genesis 2:7 in 1 Corinthians 15:45: “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being [emphases added]’” (figure 1). Paul clearly believed that the ‘man’ made on Day 6 of Creation Week in Genesis 1:26–27 was the same man God made in Genesis 2:7. This is perfectly consistent with how Jesus, according to Mark 10:6–8, read Genesis 2 as an expansion of specific events on Day 6 of the Creation Week.4
Adam was a special man. He was the first ever human, and he is the father of us all: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).5 As such, he was given a special role. God gave him, with Eve, dominion over the earth: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28). Though this applied to Adam and Eve together, Adam was given the first task of exercising dominion over the earth by naming the animals (Genesis 2:19–20). Adam thus was given rule, and had a primacy of authority even among humans, since he is the one from whom all other humans have come. This all suggests Adam was the first king over creation.
The Garden of Eden was also special. God’s special meeting place with Adam was like the later tabernacle and temple.6 The golden lampstand in the tabernacle and temple likely symbolized the Tree of Life.7 The eastern gate to the Garden was guarded by cherubim (Genesis 3:24) just as the tabernacle entrance faced East (Exodus 27:13–16, Numbers 3:38) and both the tabernacle and temple were guarded by cherubim (Exodus 25:18–22; 26:31; 1 Kings 6:23–29). Furthermore, Adam was commissioned to ‘serve and obey’ God (Genesis 2:15–16). The same sort of commission, using the same words, was given to the priests and Levites who served in the tabernacle and temple (Numbers 3:7–8; 8:25–26; 1 Chronicles 23:32; Ezekiel 44:14).8,9 These points indicate Adam met with God and served Him in the garden ‘tabernacle’.10 They indicate Adam mediated God’s presence and blessing in creation. This suggests that Adam was the first priest.
… we suggest Adam was a priest-king: he ruled as a king over creation and served in God’s garden in Eden as a priest served in the tabernacle and temple.
Thus, we suggest Adam was a priest-king: he ruled as a king over creation and served in God’s garden in Eden as a priest served in the tabernacle and temple. But He failed in his role. He sinned by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God told him not to eat from. And so, sin, decay, and death came into the world and infected the human race (Romans 5:12).11 And the whole world was subjected to futility (Romans 8:20–22).12 Man had made himself futile, so God made the world he was set over futile and thrust Adam from His special presence in the Garden.
Noah: A new Adam for a new beginning
After Adam, things only got worse as his corrupted ‘likeness’ (Genesis 5:3) spread. His first son murdered another son (Genesis 4). All but the best of his sons was beset with death (Genesis 5). And the earth eventually became full of violence and evil (Genesis 6:5, 11). So, God decided to destroy the earth with a Flood. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).
Judgment would come on the old world, but a new world would arise afterwards. God would start again with Noah as a new ‘Adam’ for a new world.13 So, as God brought the animals to Adam for him to name (Genesis 2:19–20), He brought them to Noah to save on the Ark (Genesis 6:19–20). And after the Flood, when Noah came out of the Ark, Noah took up a priestly role and offered up acceptable sacrifices to God (Genesis 8:20) (figure 2).
In response, God reiterated to Noah the blessings he gave to Adam (Genesis 9:1–7). God told Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply”. God gave them the kingly role of dominion over the animals. Although this time they were not commanded to take dominion; they were promised dominion. And this time the animals were given to them to eat, as plants were in Genesis 1. And, in light of the violence that existed before the Flood, new commands were given: no eating blood, and no shedding the blood of man.
But a new promise was also given: God would never again send a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow reminds us of God’s promise. Indeed, this promise indicates that, whatever floods have happened since, none have been so severe as to “destroy all flesh”. And only a global flood could destroy all flesh. Thus, Noah’s Adamic role reminds us that the Flood must have been global. The promises God gave after the Flood show that it was a new beginning for all creation.
Indeed, there are many literary parallels between Noah and Adam that suggest that Noah is a ‘second Adam’:
Each is a father from whom all mankind is descended.
God’s bringing the animals to Noah for transport in the Ark (Genesis 6:19–20) is reminiscent of his bringing them to Adam for naming (Genesis 2:19–20).
Once the animals were on board the Ark, Noah was responsible for their preservation, fulfilling an element of man’s covenantal sovereignty originally assigned to mankind through Adam (Genesis 1:26).
God made a covenant with each of them—the Covenant of Creation14 with Adam and the New World Covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:9-17)—and each acted as a human mediator who represented all of mankind.
Each was given an earth, devoid of humans, and a command and a blessing to multiply and fill it with inhabitants (Genesis 1.28; 9:1).
Both had a relationship with the ground. Adam was created of the ground, and his name is derived from the Hebrew word for ‘ground’. In Noah’s case, the word ‘soil’ (Genesis 9:20 where he is called ‘a man of the soil’) is the same word translated elsewhere as ‘ground’ or ‘land’ (e.g. Genesis 6:7, 20).
Both had duties related to tending plants from which they could consume the fruit (Genesis 2:15; 9:20). Adam tended the garden that God had planted (Genesis 2:8) and Noah planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20).
Both committed sins related to consuming fruit. Adam ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:7). Noah became drunk consuming a by-product of the fruit of the vine (Genesis 9:21).
The shame of nakedness was associated with their sins (Genesis 3:7, 10–11; 9:21).
Their nakedness had to be covered by others (Genesis 3:21; 9:23).
Both had to toil to maintain their livelihoods from the cursed ground.
Both of their personal sins introduced conflict into their families—Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8) and was banished from his brothers (Genesis 4:12), and Canaan (Noah’s grandson) became a slave to his brothers (Genesis 9:25–26).
Both had sons (Cain and Ham) who committed sins, which became defining sins for their age.
Both had immediate descendants who were cursed (Genesis 4:11; 9:25).
Both lived for almost a millennium—Adam, 930 years; Noah, 950 years.
The eventual death of each, as the result of the Curse (Genesis 2:17), is reported with similar words “all the days” (Genesis 5:5; 9:29).
Despite their sin, both walked with God (implied in Genesis 3:8, and 6:9) and both believed God and took Him at His word (implied in Genesis 3:20 and 4:1, and 6:22).
Even though Noah is not called a ‘second Adam’, he acted in such a capacity.
Both knew that God required shed blood and animal sacrifices as a type for the ultimate Atonement which man needs to cover sin (Genesis 4:4; 8:20).
Both were blessed by God, with the same blessing (Genesis 1:28; 9:1).
By Tom Hervey — 1 year ago
The suggestion that we should learn from the representatives of a communion that still binds men’s consciences and misleads them with false doctrine is highly objectionable. Such men are members of a communion that has spent most of the last 500 years saying that believing Protestant doctrine is damning sin, has regarded it as within its power and duty to curse Protestants for such ‘error’ by its anathemas, and that has readily abetted such spiritual coercion with physical persecution of the cruelest types when and where it has been within its power to do so.
There exists a certain method of argumentation in which someone who disputes a given position does not argue against it but instead implies that the position’s proponents are motivated by fear. Thus, for example, someone who thinks it imprudent to allow large numbers of immigrants into one’s nation is apt to be dismissed as a xenophobe, as if doubting the wisdom of allowing large numbers of foreigners to spontaneously immigrate without careful assimilation is some sort of clinical condition.
Craig Carter, in an article at Credo, does not go so far; though from a Christian perspective he arguably does worse by quoting Karl Barth’s statement that “fear of scholasticism is the mark of a false prophet.” Scripture gives certain criteria for how to identify false teachers. Some are methodological—false teachers are fond of “relying on their dreams,” Jude tells us (v.8)—while others have to do with their moral character, and with the nature and effects of their teaching (“you will recognize them by their fruits,” Matt. 7:20). Prof. Carter admits in his article that Barth’s teaching was sorely mistaken at sundry points and bore ill consequences. Indeed, he says that the last two centuries (which include Barth) were “disasters” and “among the most forgettable in the two-millennium history of Christian theology,” and that after them there is a need to “recover and revitalize classical orthodoxy”.
More importantly, by the standards of scripture Karl Barth was a false teacher himself. Such people are characterized by “sensuality” (2 Pet. 2:2) and “have eyes full of adultery” (v.14). It just so happens that Karl Barth maintained a long affair with his assistant, even having her move into his house over his wife’s protests and maintaining the relationship against the stern disapproval of his mother, her rebukes (“What’s the point of the very sharpest theology if it suffers shipwreck in your own home?”) going unheeded. (Comp. Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 30:17; 31:1.) You may be forgiven, dear reader, if you are inclined to think that Barth’s opinions about the nature of false prophets are therefore about as authoritative and useful as a pronouncement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on prudent monetary policies.
Turning to Prof. Carter’s essay we find a long analysis of Barth’s thought as it relates to various trends in theology after the Enlightenment, including concepts taken from Schleirmacher and Kant. I make no comment on the accuracy of this analysis as such. It may be a faultless exercise in historical and theological analysis that traces the development of Barth’s thought with perfect accuracy. That is an academic question which I do not presume to address here.
I must confess that the analysis seems somewhat oddly formed, however. The title of the section is, “Barth’s Rejection of the Scholastic Doctrine of Election,” yet in the second sentence we read that Barth “was particularly critical of the reformed doctrine of election” (emphasis mine), which suggests that “reformed” and “scholastic” are synonyms, when in fact they are not. Also, this section is not merely about Barth’s rejection of election (be it Reformed or scholastic), but about his fundamental metaphysical framework and its sources, and of how it lead him to a more apparently Christocentric but in fact still anthropocentric theology; and in fact discussion of his method, sources, etc. makes up the larger part of it, hence it seems somewhat misnamed. Something like “Barth’s Rejection of Common Scholastic Metaphysics” would seem a more accurate title given the actual content.
Elsewhere in the section Prof. Carter does speak of “the scholastic doctrine of election.” In one case he presents it as a question and follows it with a sentence about how, though Barth engaged “with Protestant scholastic theology, he never felt it was possible to take on board its metaphysical framework.” The second case is after he discusses the Thomistic proof for God’s existence and before he begins the next section with a discussion of a recent “Thomistic Ressourcement movement.” It is therefore unclear what he means by “the scholastic doctrine of election.” It would seem it means something along the lines of ‘Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of election as it was received and developed by the later Protestant Scholastics, especially those that were Reformed,’ but this is not certain given Prof. Carter’s failure to define it more clearly.
This notwithstanding, Prof. Carter is right in his broad assertions. The last couple of centuries in Protestant theology were not merely strained but, as he asserts, disastrous. Philosophy did indeed wreak havoc on theology in a variety of ways, the application of its concepts to divinity causing strange developments that came at the expense of historic orthodoxy. Barth too was sorely mistaken in his thinking and would have done far better to return to more reliable sources and to break free from the erroneous concepts which formed so much of his thought.
But where Prof. Carter is right in diagnosing the problem, we must differ in his suggested solution and in the argument he pursues. He begins the next section with the statement that we must “reject nineteenth century historicism and the flawed metaphysical assumptions on which it rests” and mentions four people in the Thomistic Ressourcement movement who “are providing the impetus for doing this.” All four authors are members of the papal communion, as was Thomas, yet Prof. Carter does not hesitate to say that “confessional Protestants need to learn from them,” as if there are not other sources that might give one good grounds to reject historicism.
The suggestion that we should learn from the representatives of a communion that still binds men’s consciences and misleads them with false doctrine is highly objectionable. Such men are members of a communion that has spent most of the last 500 years saying that believing Protestant doctrine is damning sin, has regarded it as within its power and duty to curse Protestants for such ‘error’ by its anathemas, and that has readily abetted such spiritual coercion with physical persecution of the cruelest types when and where it has been within its power to do so. Theirs is a communion that believes, further, that it is infallible in its official pronouncements, so that it can never confess it has erred in past or repent its sins, and which has in some ways taken a strange twist since about Vatican II and now asserts that, while all previous pronouncements declaring Protestant beliefs anathema still stand, nonetheless they can also be regarded as estranged brothers who are really members of Rome because of an implicit but unknown desire to be part of her. Contemporary Rome says that the canons of Trent, which curse us unambiguously, are still in force as infallible declarations of the truth about our beliefs; it also says that we (or at least some of us) are really members of itself, but that we are just ignorant of that fact and mistaken when we refuse formal participation with her.
It does this because on its view nothing – be it scripture, tradition, or previous church councils or papal pronouncements – means anything other than what the present church says it means. ‘The church is the official interpreter’ of all such things, so that Trent’s anathemas meant ‘those who believe thus are doomed to hell’ up until about Vatican II, but have since apparently come to mean something along the lines of ‘those poor, silly Protestants are mistaken, but we should pity them for they mean well and we hope for them to come to their senses.’ What anything means, in short, is what Rome finds it advantageous to mean at any given time, an obvious violation of “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matt. 5:37 NKJV). Such double-tongued tendencies are no less reprehensible in an institution than in an individual, and the discerning reader should recognize what they reveal about the Roman communion. And yet many Protestant theologians, as Prof. Carter here, have no qualms about commending members of such a communion as reliable teachers.
Prof. Carter then moves quickly to his point: because of the failure of Barthianism “the time has come to re-visit scholasticism.” Prior to this he had just spent over 1,200 words describing how Barth had allowed philosophy to ruin his theology — and his response is to return to another movement that was conspicuous for allowing philosophy to dominate theology!
Perhaps it will be objected that the historic understanding of scholasticism as melding theology and philosophy is wrong. But why then did Pope Leo XIII, in an encyclical in which he declared Thomas’ excellence and recommended his restoration to a place of preeminence, speak of “that philosophy which the Scholastic teachers have been accustomed carefully and prudently to make use of even in theological disputations,” and say that “since it is the proper and special office of the Scholastic theologians to bind together by the fastest chain human and divine science, surely the theology in which they excelled would not have gained such honor . . . if they had made use of a lame and imperfect or vain philosophy”? Unless we wish to say that Leo did not understand the method of his own favored school, his testimony seems an accurate description of the nature of scholasticism, and it is abetted by John Owen, who described the scholastics as “the men, who out of a mixture of Philosophy, Traditions, and Scripture, all corrupted and perverted, have hammered that faith which was afterwards confirmed under so many Anathemaes at Trent.”
For his part Prof. Carter asserts that the “rediscovery of the value of the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas does not necessarily lead back to Roman Catholic theology” and that it “can just as well lead us back to the post-Reformation, Protestant scholasticism.” Perhaps; but in practice it often does lead to Rome, a road which even a president of the evangelical theological society has traveled. Also, it is a somewhat strange method that would go to Thomas in order to wind up in the Protestant scholastics. Why not just read the Protestant scholastics themselves, especially if they are, as Prof. Carter asserts, “the sources of the classical expressions of the Reformed faith that would emerge over the next two centuries”?
He asks “who is afraid of scholasticism?” but does not directly answer his own question, states “nobody should be afraid of it,” and answers with a strange disquisition on John Webster’s contribution to a book called The Analogy of Being: Invention of the Antichrist or Wisdom of God. Note the movement. He starts with a question about a broad school of thought and transitions to a technical question about a single scholastic concept in a single recent theologian. An odd movement, surely.
There follows a brief account of the late career of the English theologian John Webster, the relevance of which to the question of evangelical readers embracing scholasticism is not at all clear. ‘Because a single Anglican theologian in recent memory moved in an opposite direction from Barth and ended by studying Protestant scholastics appreciatively, therefore evangelicals should read Aquinas seriously’ is a strange argument, but it seems to be the one Prof. Carter makes here. As for the rest of his suggestions, we will consider them and offer a rejoinder in the second and final part of this series.
Tom Hervey is a member of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Simpsonville, S.C.
 Any discussion of Rome’s beliefs is difficult owing to the wide array of beliefs and practices that exist within her. My statements here are an attempt to take Rome at its official word and at the practical consequences of the principles of her polity. They do not deny that in practice many individuals and groups within Rome might differ in their opinions: hence I recently found a Roman laywoman calling Pope Francis the antichrist, which is really impermissible by Rome’s belief that the laity form the ‘listening church’ whose duty it is to obey and uncritically assent to the clergy (or ‘teaching church’), at whose head is the pope.
 Aeterni Patris
 Animadversions on Fiat Lux, 122
 Francis Beckwith
 There are some practical difficulties, however, since many of them have not been translated out of Latin.