I. The Biblical Worldview
God has wired us for a worldview! In this seminar, we learn that a worldview consists of the answers we give to certain fundamental “questions of life.” The most important are:
- What is the ultimate reality?
- What is the origin of the universe, life, and man?
- What went wrong: Why are evil, suffering, and death in the world?
- What, if anything, can be done about them?
- What is the meaning of life?
- How shall we live?
- What happens when we die?
- Where is history heading?
- How can we find trustworthy answers to the questions of life?
All religions and philosophies propose answers to these questions; all try to assemble their answers into an intellectually and spiritually satisfying picture of reality as a whole. But as this seminar shows, only the God of the Bible has done so in a way that is intuitive, reasonable, ethically sound, thrillingly hopeful, and utterly mind-boggling!
II. The Test: A Fresh Perspective on the Meaning of Life
This seminar is a unique, biblically based introduction to Apologetics, or the defense of the reasonableness of the Christian faith. Here, I set forth a new “paradigm” or way of looking at life. In a world full of religious and philosophical confusion, we are often tempted to think that life is a “mess.” However, there are actually many good reasons to believe that it is something much more hopeful; that it is a test, a challenge from the “Unknown God” to seek and find his spiritual truth.
And there is more. For as we probe deeper, we find that the Unknown God is not only testing mankind’s love of the truth, but also that he has personally stepped into history to help us find it! In particular, he has granted us an astonishing array of supernatural signs, signs meant to direct us to his appointed Teacher, the one whom he has himself has authorized to supply us with the true answers to the questions of life.
Will we follow the signs his Teacher’s feet? Will we listen to him if and when we get there? What will happen if we do? What will happen if we don’t. Only one group knows for sure: those who decide–at whatever cost–to take and pass the test of life
III. The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Key of Biblical Eschatology
As the title indicates, this material was prepared in the conviction that American evangelicals are confused and divided about eschatology because they have lost sight of the Master Key that opens it up to be seen in all of its glory. That key is the biblical doctrine of the Kingdom of God, and in particular, the doctrine of the heavenly, mediatorial reign of the Messianic Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After discussing this exciting theme at some length, use it as a key to examine and critique the five major eschatological options: Historic Premillennialism, Amillenialism, Postmillennialism, Dispensationalism, and (a new-comer on the block) Preterism.
Along the way, we also uses the key to resolve a number of vexed questions: the structure and purpose of the Revelation, the meaning of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks, the proper interpretation of the OT prophecies of the Kingdom of God, and the true character of Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, it sounds like an impossible task. But with God–and the Master Key–all things are possible!
IV. Thy Word is Truth: How We Can Know the Bible is the Word of God
This short seminar (4 or 5 one hour sessions) is based on an article that I published in the Journal of the Christian Research Institute, (December, 2004). In it I argue that the unity of the Bible is the single most powerful evidence for its divine inspiration. After exploring this many-faceted and highly supernatural unity at some length, I show how it supplies a firm foundation for all that Christians believe about their Bible: that it is inspired, inerrant, complete, trustworthy, authoritative, sure to be recognized and preserved, and infallible in the purposes for which God sent it forth.
Enhanced by helpful handouts and power-point slides, this memorable teaching should enable thoughtful Christians confidently to answer one of the most important questions they will ever be asked: Why should I believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Does your church have youth in the public high schools or headed off to secular colleges? This is the seminar they need to equip them to fight the good fight of faith!
V. Salvation is of the Lord: Understanding the Doctrines of Grace
Sometimes referred to as the five points of Calvinism, the doctrines of grace lay at the heart of Reformation theology. Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, the Puritans, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon and many other heroes of Protestantism all agreed that the Bible teaches pervasive human depravity, unconditional election, particular atonement, efficacious grace, and the final preservation of the saints.
Until recently, most American Protestants have neglected or actively opposed these doctrines. Today, however, Reformed theology is the object of renewed interest. Teachers like R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and the late James M. Boice contend that “the gospel of grace stands or falls with the doctrines of grace.” Many younger leaders, concerned about the theological fuzziness of modern evangelicalism–and its future as well–are listening hard to what they say.
In this seminar, we irenically examine the five doctrines of grace, clarify their meaning, and carefully looking at the biblical evidence, both pro and con. We also discuss the practical implications of Reformed soteriology for prayer, worship, evangelism, and cultural engagement. In addition to the lectures, students will be encouraged to read The Doctrines of Grace, by James Montgomery Boice, (Crossway, 2003).
VI. Holy, Holy, Holy: Meditations on the Tri-unity of God
The biblical doctrine of the Trinity is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith. It distinguishes Christianity from Eastern religions, Judaism, and Islam, as well as from a host of non-trinitarian Christian sects. If orthodox Christians hope to evangelize these groups, they will have to be able to understand, explain, and defend the something of the great mystery of the Holy Trinity.
It is clear, however, that the importance of this doctrine goes far beyond evangelism. The Lord Jesus reckons trinitarian faith as a mark of salvation and a source of Christian assurance. He understands eternal life as life within a “Holy Family” –life in everlasting communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He teaches that prayer is a trinitarian act, offered to the Father, through the Son, and in the power of the Spirit. And he teaches that healthy human relationships conform to relationships existing within the triune godhead. Clearly, understanding the Trinity is of vital importance for many facets of practical Christian living.
The purpose of this seminar is to mine the depths of NT trinitarian teaching, and to discover its usefulness for our day-to-day life in the Lord. To this end, we examine:
- The deity of each of the three Persons
- The unity of the three Persons in the one Godhead
- OT texts giving us a glimpse of the triune Yahweh
- Extra-biblical evidences for the Trinity in nature and society
- The principles governing the relationship between the three Persons
- The works peculiar to each Person
- The place of the Trinity in prayer and worship
- The implications of the Trinity for our own inter-personal relationships.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that the Spirit loves to search the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10). The mystery of the Holy Trinity is certainly one of those deep things. In this seminar, we will let the Spirit come alongside and help us to plunge in!
VII. The Gist of Islam
It will come as news to no one that the world is experiencing a resurgence of militant Islam. Less commonly known is the fact that many Muslims–some of whom now reside in the U.S.–are actually quite open to hearing about Christ and the gospel. The purpose of this short seminar is to equip Christians to minister to such people in a thoughtful, gracious, and effective manner.
The seminar is divided into two main parts. In the first, Dean gives an overview of the history of Islam. The focus here is upon the life of Mohammed, the birth of the Qur’an, the worldwide expansion of Islam, the Crusades, and the resurgence of militant Islam in our day.
The second part offers a Christian critique of Islam. Here we compare the Christian and Muslim worldviews, showing why the Christian is so much more reasonable to believe. In particular, we ask:
- Whose prophetic credentials are superior: Christ’s or Mohammed’s?
- Which book has the better claim to being the Word of God: the Bible or the Qur’an?
- What are the main differences between the Christian and Muslim worldviews?
- Why would Muslims naturally WANT the Christian worldview to be true?
In bringing this seminar to a close, we consider some helpful tips for the effective evangelization of Muslims. Also, we think together about what kind of public policies might best protect American society from the dangerous Islamicization that we see throughout Europe today.
Helpful handouts and a bibliography of outstanding books on Islam will be available to all who attend.
VIII. The Case for Cosmic Geocentricity
This four hour seminar seeks to answer a scandalous question that, believe it or not, serious creationists all around the world are asking once again: “Is it possible that the Earth sits at rest in the center of a finite, rotating universe, just as the Bible seems to teach, and the Medieval Church once affirmed?”
The short answer is: It sure looks like it! In the two parts of the seminar, you’ll find out why. The first explores the biblical and theological case for cosmic geocentricity, the second the scientific. When both are carefully and honestly considered, the arguments and evidence turn out to be provocative indeed!
Oriented towards curious, open-minded laymen who love to dig deep, The Case for Cosmic Geocentricity is sure to surprise and delight–and also to make you stand in awe at the wisdom and power of the Creator of the Cosmos, who appears to regard l’il ‘ol Earth as the very Apple of His Eye!
IX. Precious Keys to the Kingdom of Joy
Our Lord told us that he came so that his joy might in us, and our joy might be made full. He also assured us that once we have come to know his joy, no man can take it away!
Is that your experience? Mine neither . . . or at least not until I began meditating on the great NT theme of the joy of the Lord. As I did I saw afresh some amazing truths:
God is a joyful being, always!
His joy–just like His Spirit–is an abiding presence in our hearts; an underground aqueduct or river. Do we know how to access it day by day?
Though his joy is indeed an abiding–and accessible–presence, it is also a fruit of the Spirit; it grows as we come to understand, believe, and obey certain key principles spelled out in Scripture, especially in the Epistle of Joy, Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Finally, this world is filled with killjoys; and like the tar baby in Uncle Remus’ story, those killjoys can tangle us up real good! But if we know how to discern the killjoys, and know how to shake them off when they try to glom on, we shall know the joy of the Lord as never before.
In this short seminar we’ll look at all these great truths. And my hope and prayer is that when it’s done, you will walk in the joy of the Lord as never before!