Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Doug Groothuis on Apologetics

My interview with "Point of View" is here.

Jim Hall in Denver

Jazz guitarist Jim Hall will be in Denver in late October at the famed Dazzle Lounge. It is worth the $40 cover charge, to be sure.


The move from
sound into
can be beautiful--
especially in music.

The wondrous note
fades into nothing and finds its home
in the quietness surrounded by

Monday, August 29, 2011

Duke: Alone

In all my years of listening to, savoring, and comparing jazz pianists, my ears and soul have never heard anyone play the instrument as did Edward Kennedy Ellington. Yes, his orchestra was his instrument, but so was his piano--and no one could touch his touch, his humor, his spacing, his quirky perfections. I marvel and am thankful to you, Duke Ellington wherever you are.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Against Efficiency

A friend of mine is a checker at a grocery chain. When she is working, I always go to her line, since I want to talk with her. Today, I chose her line even though several other checkers had shorter lines or no one at all checking out. Three different people asked me to switch lines, since they would be faster: two checkers and a roving manager. Every time I said (politely) that I wanted to talk to my friend.

I felt herded. A central screen tells you which lines are the most efficient, and the managers and checkers are obligated to herd you into the most efficient line.

This is yet another case of technology trumping humanity. We are not allowed to self-sort ourselves into the lines we chose, as has been done for thousands of years in various marketplaces worldwide. An old line from an old song "In the year 2025") comes back to me, "Some machine is doing that for you..." The screen commands obedience, and we must obey.

Refuse it--when necessary. Never let machinery dominate humanity.

Yes, sometimes speed is of the essence, but not always. Remember, not always.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"The fact that the market is not doing what we wish it would do is no reason to automatically assume that the government would do better."--Thomas Sowell.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Outline for a Talk at the Denver Seminary Orientation.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., 2011

Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary




A. Christians thinking in college

B. Critical thinking: the practice of carefully evaluating ideas in a way that highly values rationality as a tool for finding, defending, and applying truth in every area of life.


A. The mission of God: to make himself known and worshipped in all the earth. See Christopher Wright, The Mission of God

B. Creation Mandate requires critical thinking (Genesis 1:26-28)

C. Christ’s Great Commission requires critical thinking (Matthew 28:18-20)

D. Christ’s Great Commandment requires critical thinking (Matthew 22:37-39)

E. Culture development and Christian proclamation require critical thinking for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17)


A. Come let us reason together (Isa. 1:18)

B. Apologetics (1 Peter 3:15-16)

C. Jesus’ use of careful argumentation in theological and ethical disputes

(Matthew 22:23-33); see D. Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003)

God was “well pleased” with Jesus in all things (Matthew 3:17)


A. Intellectual virtues: Loving God with all your mind (Matthew 22:37-39)

1. Reason as a divine gift. Be thankful for it (James 1:18)

2. Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Intellectual patience required for godliness

(Galatians 5:22)

3. Put truth first in everything (Matthew 6:33; John 14:1-6)

B. Intellectual vices to avoid

1. Sloth: intellectual impatience, unwillingness to work, think, grow,

struggle (“the fool” as described in Proverbs)

2. Dangers of video technologies: wasting time, dumbing down, image over reality,

intellectual impatience. See Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death.


A. Do not fear hard intellectual questions; ask them; pursue good answers

(Matthew 7:7-12). Nietzsche quote: courage to challenge your own


B. Have solid and sufficient reasons for your deepest beliefs (apologetics): 1 Peter

3:15-16; Jude 3.

C. Be transformed through the renewing your mind to know God’s

will and to make it known to the world (Romans 12:1-2)

D. Take time for silence and solitude before God. Think well for God and

for others. Time “in the woodshed” (jazz phrase for practicing)


1. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. InterVarsity Press, 2000.

2. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus. Wadsworth, 2003. Looks at Jesus as a philosopher and critical thinker with a well-developed and pertinent worldview.

3. Douglas Groothuis, The Soul in Cyberspace. Wipf and Stock, 1999. Addresses how cyberspace affects our view of truth, community, religion, and more.

4. Douglas Groothuis, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis web page: Much material on apologetics, ethics, philosophy, evangelical egalitarianism, and culture.

5. Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War Between Traditionalism and Feminism. Wipf and Stock, 1997. Award-winning book that examines the logic of the gender debate.

6. Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds. Baker Books, 1994. Addresses the problem of anti-intellectualism and what to do about it.

7. J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind. NavPress, 1997. Cogent apologetic for an active and world-changing Christian mind by a leading Christian philosopher.

8. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth. Crossway, 2004. How to apply a Christian worldview to all of life.

9. John Piper, Think, Crossway, 2010. Exegetically, pastorally-based defense of the life of the mind for the glory of God.

10. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Penguin, 1985. Best assessment of the nature and power of television to dumb-down public discourse. Truly a “must-read” book.

11. Christopher Wright, The Mission of God. InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Christian Apologetics: Kindle and Beyond

My new book, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Christian Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011) is now available as a Kindle book.

If you would like to support the ministry of the book, you can do the following:

1. Buy it and read it!
2. Click "like" at Amazon and write a review (after you have read it).
3. Mention it on Twitter.
4. Note it on Facebook.
5. Write a review of it on your blog or elsewhere.
6. Give a copy to your pastor.
7. Have me do a seminar on the book at your church or elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Michele Bachmann as a "Dominionist." The Straw Man Strikes Again

One may expect attacks on presidential hopefuls to increase in volume, frequency, and audacity the as primary season draws near. The time is short; the stakes are high; the pundits pounce on their prey. One recent barrage against Congresswoman Michele Bachmann impugns not only her integrity as a political leader, but also questions something fundamentally and luminously American—the right of religious people to participate according to their deepest principles at every level of political life.

There is a buzz in the political beehive about the dark dangers of Bachmann’s association with “dominionism”—a fundamentalist movement heaven-bent on imposing a hellish theocracy on America. In the August 15 issue of The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza asserts that Bachmann has been ideologically shaped by “exotic” thinkers of the dominionist stripe who pose a threat to our secular political institutions. The piece—and the much of the subsequent reaction to it the media—is a calamity of confusion, conflation, and obfuscation.

Lizza notes that Bachmann was influenced by the writings of Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-84), an evangelical minister, theologian, and philosopher. Schaeffer, along with the contemporary writer Nancy Pearcey and others, are “dominionists.” That is, they believe that “Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy secular institutions until Christ returns.” Worse yet, Schaeffer, in A Christian Manifesto (1981) supposedly “argued for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe vs. Wade isn’t reversed.” Lizza also writes of the influence of the prolific author Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001), who advocated “a pure Christian theocracy in which Old Testament law…would be instituted.” Bachman is allegedly thick as thieves with all these “exotic” subversives—and should be exposed as such.

Having read reams of books from all these authors (and every book by Schaeffer) over the last thirty-five years, as well as having taught many of these books at the graduate level, I assign Mr. Lizza the grade of “F.” Consider four reasons.

First, Rushdoony argued for a position he called reconstructionism (not theocracy), which would have made biblical law the civil law of the land. However, neither Rushdoony nor his followers desired to impose this system through violence or illegal activity, but rather see it come to fruition through a long-term change of minds and institutions.

Second, Rushdoony’s devotees make up but an infinitesimal fraction of Christian conservatives. The vast majority of those who have been influenced by certain aspects of Rushdoony’s writings emphatically reject his understanding of biblical law, as do I.

Third, the key Christian influences on Bachman are not Rushdoony and his followers, but Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcey. Schaeffer referred to Rushdoony’s views on mandating biblical law as “insanity,” and never sanctioned any form of theocracy. (The name “Rushdoony” does not appear in the index of Schaeffer’s five-volume collected works.) Schaeffer explicitly condemned theocracy in A Christian Manifesto (p. 120-1). Nor did he call for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe V. Wade were not overturned. Schaeffer rather explained various ways of resisting tyranny according to a Christian worldview and in light of church history. He saw “civil disobedience” (his phrase) as a last resort and did not stipulate any specific conditions under which it would be advisable in America. In fact, Schaeffer worried that speaking of civil disobedience is “frightening because there are so many kooky people around.” Further, “anarchy is never appropriate” (p. 126).

Fourth, Nancy Pearcey has extended and further applied Schaeffer’s thought. Like him, she does not endorse theocracy, but rather the participation by Christians as good citizens in all areas of life.

Those who tar and feather “dominionists” are confusing their readers by conflating Rushdoony’s reconstructionism with the thinking of Schaeffer and Pearcey. Worse yet, Lizza and company may believe that any Christian influence in politics is dangerous and un-American. If so, they should reread and ponder the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom and the freedom of speech. Christians are free to be active members in the public square—along with those of other religions or of none. Erecting “dominionist” straw men does nothing to advance this noble cause of freedom.

Douglas Groothuis is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of Christian Apologetics.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Tramp stamped,
a body beautiful,
but marred
by being for sale.

Beautiful Ugliness.

The call girl,
prayed for,

lamented over.

Someone's daughter,
a creature,
so far
east of Eden,
yet still
under Heaven.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Giants cower at the sound of a bird.
Amnesiac clowns march unafraid.
Demons laugh.
Angels cry.
The world groans and heaves in the impossible present
awaiting its ineluctable future.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Groothuis on Bell

Here is my "Bible Answer Man" interview on Love Wins by Rob Bell.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.--Proverbs 29: 18 (NASB)
Will America end up looking like Greece and London if the benefits run out? How much character do we possess? How deep do we run?

The Soul in Cyberspace

Reflections on my book,The Soul in Cyberspace, 14 years later.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The March of the Clowns

I watch
the march of the clowns,
who began as soldiers,
who became clowns--and
that they were once soldiers,
and even...
that they are now

A Sentence

"In the end, hope without truth is pointless."

--Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Prager's Confusions

This morning, I heard Denis Prager claim that his Jewish beliefs were non-rational, otherwise there would be no room for "faith." He said that these religious beliefs didn't do anyone any harm and had no public policy implications. His example was God's parting of the Red Sea. But, on the other had, secular liberals hold many non-rational non-religious beliefs that are deleterious, such as the idea than men and women are alike.

Prager's position is deeply confused. I agree that secular liberals hold much in (bad) faith without evidence; but the Bible never pits faith against reason or religious belief against knowledge. These are false dichotomies. When religious people accept these terms, they intellectually marginalize themselves. I just completed a large work, Christian Apologetics, arguing that Christianity is true, rational, and pertinent to life. Further, the Exodus is a key event in the Hebrew Bible, with tremendous significance for Jews and Christians. Through the release of God's people from Egyptian bondage, God makes himself known as the liberating Lord of the nations.

Ironically, later in the program, Prager had a guest arguing that God was the best explanation for the origin of the universe, life, humans, and human meaning. As much as I like Prager, this was one confused radio program.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Poison of Selfishness

Insensitivity is no virtue, since love patient kind and is not rude (I Corinthians 13). Being callous to people's pain only hurts them more. Some insensitivity is rather minor: it hurts a soul's feelings or frustrates the one who is not understood. The chronically ill face this repeatedly, since so few of the healthy can put themselves in their place. They lack the moral imagination for it.

Yet in some cases, a lack of empathy can have dire consequences, effectively ruining a human being's life. Consider Jane (not her real name). Jane is extremely and dangerously sensitive to a common household product. If her neighbor uses it, Jane cannot go outside and becomes imprisoned in her own home. Further, her family has had to buy expensive air filters simply for her to survive in her own home.

Jane and her family have kindly asked--not demanded--that the neighbor change brands, even offering to buy a life-time supply of a similar product that Jane is not sensitive to. Instead of believing Jane, the neighbors called the police and put a restraining order on the family, claiming that Jane was lying about it all. One with even modicum of empathy would listen and respond with concern, not wrath.

This kind of selfishness is not merely rude; it is criminal. Yet the law (thus far) has done nothing to stop the ruination of a chemically-sensitive person's life by an emotionally-insensitive and calloused neighbor. Please pray for Jane all those who suffer in a similar way. Also, look into your own heart to see if you, too, may be callous to the suffering of others. I must do the same, day after day.

Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to treat others as we would like to be treated by them. This demands empathy and special concern for "the least of these." Without this, those insensitive to the chronically ill may sentence them to an even more horrible life than what they have previously experienced. We are called to be our brother's keeper, not our brother's enemy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

Groothuis Sermon on Line

On July 10, 2011, I preached a sermon at Scum of the Earth Church in Denver called, "Why do Good Things Happen to Bad People and Bad Things Happen to Good People?" (they gave me the topic and title). You can listen to it here. It is about an hour and I get quite cranked up.