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Elgin’s Books


  • Christianity and Secularism

  • Evidence for the Bible
  • Global Christian Perspectives

    Thursday, July 9th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Global Christian Perspectives is a new weekly show on Google Hangouts discussing world events from a broad Christian perspective. It will be hosted by Chris Eyre from England who is more to the left politically, and myself an America who is more on the right. So while we are both Christians, there is very likely to be large areas of disagreements.

    Each week we will be joined by one or two guests so there should be no shortage of differing perspectives as we discuss the issues in the news. In addition we will have an in-depth section to get behind the current event and explore some of the factors that leads us to reach such different conclusions, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

    While subject to change, currently we are planning to discuss

    News Segment:

    Greece: What should we do?

    The Pope’s Encyclical: Are Climate Change and Capitalism really the most pressing problems facing Christians today?

    In-Depth Segment:

    Is there such a thing as a Christian economics?

    We are looking to have a good, and lively discussion. So be sure to join us Fridays at 2:00 ET

     

    The Reliability of the Gospel stories on Google Hangout

    Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Join me tonight from 7:00 – 8:00 PM CT as I will be discussing the Reliability of the Gospel stories with Thomas Hudgins (translator, Aprenda a leer el Griego del Nuevo Testamento),  and missionary Rev. Mike Bradley, just in time for Advent!

    Testimony V

    Friday, April 25th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3  

    Last time I described how I learned about Mormonism, and how, after a long period of discussions the Missionaries had suggested that I try prayer and fasting.   As I said, I failed miserably, but they were nice about it and suggested that I try again. And again I agreed.

    This time I took it more seriously.  Working on Minuteman missiles does not have a regular work week, so I picked a time where I could devote my three days to prayer and fasting. This time things went a lot better.  As I approached the end the fast, I found it was a much more positive experience than my first attempt because I was not rebelling against it. 

    I was reading the Bible, Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not the result of works, that no one should boast.”  That is when it happened. God spoke to my heart again, as clear if not clearer than the first time. 

    The best way to describe it is to imagine yourself in a darken room.  Your eyes have adjusted and you think you can see everything pretty clearly, and pretty much know what is around you.  Then somebody comes in and turns on the light.  Suddenly you can see clearly and you realize that nothing is what you thought it was. 

    This is what happened to me, the Holy Spirit turned on the light, and suddenly I could see clearly. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God; not the result of works, that no one should boast.” Suddenly in the light of the Holy Spirit, those words were very clear.

    Just as the Holy Spirit had touched my heart to confirming that God existed, He touched my heart to show me that the Bible was the word of God.  Also in that instant I knew that Joseph Smith was not a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon was not God’s word.  God had answered my prayer. It was at that moment that I accepted the gift of God spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9;  I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

    Being the sort of person I am, when the Missionaries returned to see how my prayer and fasting had gone, I did literally tell them, “I have good news and some bad news.  The good news is that I had an answer to my prayer.  The bad news is that it was not the one that you wanted.” 

    So we sat down and I began to describe what had happened. Quickly the discussion turned to salvation by grace.  Starting from Eph 2:8-9  we began to discuss the Biblical plan of salvation. Mormonism teaches that grace comes into play only after you have worked; that grace sort of makes up the difference between your works and what you need to be saved, but that the works are required for salvation.  This conflicted with Eph which say that salvation is not of works, but by grace through faith. 

    The discussion lasted several hours.  Eventually we came back to Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith” One of the Missionaries said “Yes, that is what we believe!”  But I said that it wasn’t and picked up one of the books he had loaned me on the writings of their prophets.  I read him the statement of a Mormon prophet that the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith came out of the pit of hell.  He got very quiet, and the discussion ended a short time later. 

    He was transferred out of the area later that week, which is what can happen when a missionary gets into spiritual or moral trouble, and I never saw him again. However, though a very strange coincidence I was talking to a friend of mine just after this and he mentioned how his wife was depressed because her brother was suddenly transferred.  It turns out her brother had been the missionary, and I was able to get his new address, and wrote him a long letter.

    Not too long after this my enlistment was up and I returned to California, losing contact with those who had played such an important role in my spiritual life.

    In some respects my spiritual odyssey was over. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I had finally become a Christian.  A week after my conversion, I led my wife to the Lord.  But in many respects this was not the end of my journey, but the beginning.   While I had accepted the Lord as my savior, there was still a lot of baggage left over from my life to that point that had to be dealt with.  There were also issues such as finding a church to attend, as clearly continuing to attend the Mormon Church was not an option.

    And while I have clearly come a long way since first becoming a Christian, I certainly wouldn’t say I have yet reached my destination of really knowing God and really seeking to follow him. That is, quite literally, I believe, an eternal process.  But through it all two things remain constant: God is not done with me, and He is very patient.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.    

    Testimony IV

    Friday, April 18th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3

    My first exposure to Mormonism occurred fairly early in my odyssey to find God, during the period that I was exploring the New Age Movement.  While on a trip that took my wife and me through Salt Lake City, we decided to stop at the Mormon Temple.  The visitors’ center was very nice and did a very good job of explaining the origin of this religion.

    I have to say that the story of Joseph Smith struggling with how to determine which religion was true; his asking God for guidance; and how God answered his prayer struck a cord with me, as at that point, it had only been a few months after my answer to pray, that God existed.  In addition, the whole story of the corruption of Christianity and the Bible, the aspects of secret knowledge, the history of central America as revealed in the Book of Mormon, and the account of how the book of Mormon was written on Golden plates that were discovered by Smith, fit in well with where I was at the time, as criticism of Orthodox Christianity, secret knowledge, and different views of history were very common in the New Age Movement.  And after all where would a poor boy get all that Gold.

    As such toward the end of the tour, I was beginning to think that the trip to the Temple was more than a spur of the moment stop, but that perhaps I had been guided here.   However, that did not last long as near the end of the tour, someone asked where the golden plates were now, and we were told that they had been taken up into heaven.  That just seemed all too convenient to my sense of evidence.  The one thing that really would have supported his claims, the one thing that he really could not have faked, was gone and could no longer be check. So as we left Salt Lake City to continue on our trip, while we had a generally positive view of Mormonism, the missing gold plates caused me to question all of their claims.

    My next encounter with Mormonism occurred while I was at Tech school in the Air Force.  There was no base housing for married people at my rank, so my wife and I lived in a rented small single wide trailer, in Rantoul Il. We became friends with Dean and Nancy, another young couple at the trailer park, as Dean was also in Tech school.  After Tech school I was transferred to Great Falls, Mt to work on the minuteman missiles, as was Dean, though after awhile he left to become and officer.  During the time we knew them, we learned a lot about Mormonism, not in a theological sense, but from watching a couple live out their faith.

    Last time I described my eventual disillusionment with the New Age Movement, and my discussion with Christians, including a key one with an officer. From time to time during this period we had some contact with Mormons, either through friends at work, or missionaries stopping by. But not much came of it, until shortly after my meeting with the officer. I was for the first time giving Christianity serious consideration.  I am not sure whether the missionaries just stopped by, or were if a Mormon friend at work offered to have them stop by, but they did start visiting our house on a regular basis.

    They started by going through their normal presentation, but I pretty much already knew all of that, so before long we were into my specific issues and problems. Some of these dealt with Mormonism, but most dealt with more general problems of God, good and evil, and salvation. In fact after a while Mormonism ceased to be an issue at all.

    At some point my wife and I started attending the Mormon Church and my wife became involved in church’s Relief Society a Mormon women’s group. In fact, except for the fact that I could not go to the priesthood meeting, we were effectively in the church.  We did not officially join because I never received and answer to prayer that the Mormons say you should have.  As I described in part one, I had had a clear answer to prayer before and thus knew what an answer to prayer was.

    After awhile, the Missionaries became more friends than missionaries, sometimes just stopping by just to talk, or to bring me a new book to read and I read a lot, not just the Book of Mormon and the Bible, but the Mormon prophets, writers, and books on thing like the Mormon view of archeology of Central America.

    After many months, I think the Missionaries were getting some pressure to get me to make a decision.  One day they suggested that I try three days of prayer and fasting, and I agreed.   However, I had never fasted before and failed miserably. Rather than focusing on prayer, all I could think about was food and how many hours or minutes I had left before I could eat again.

    But the missionaries were pretty good about it and suggested that I try again. And once again, I agreed.  Next Time I’ll describe how God, once again answered my prayers.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Testimony III

    Friday, April 11th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3

    I left off last time explaining how I had become increasingly dissatisfied with my exploration of the New Age movement, but I had picked up a whole range of arguments against Christianity, some from reading critics, others from the critical scholars I had read, mistakenly believing I was reading the other side, and a few I had come up with on my own.

    I had also gotten married and joined the Air Force.  After Tech school, I worked on Minuteman missiles which brought me in contact with a lot of different people.  Minuteman missiles were scattered across the country side, and so to work on them involved a lot of drive time.  My team member and I would load up a truck, pick up a guard and drive out to the missile site, driving 1-2 hours each way on average. As a result, there was plenty of time to talk.

    Most of the time the discussion was on more mundane topics such as sports, but from time to time I we would get a guard who was a Christian and the talk would turn to religion.  When that happened often the sparks would fly.

    Few of the Christians I would talk to actually knew very much about the Bible other than citing a few verses they had memorized.  When I would point out the contradictions  or problems from the list I had made, for the most part they had never even heard of these potential problems, much less did they have any answers, other than to say that the Bible was the word of God and was to be believed despite what might seem to be problems.

    All of this reinforced my belief in the error of Christianity, as it seemed a faith one could believe in only if one did not look too close, or ask too many question.

    Still, from time to time I would come across a Christian who knew something about their faith and the Bible.  I would run down my list of potential problems, and they would actually have an answer that could stand up to my questioning.  When that happened I was never too concerned, as there were many more items on my list and I would simply move to the next item.

    When someone did raise a serious objection to one of the things on my list, however, it would tend to stick with me, and I would seek a way around it.  While sometimes I would find some weaknesses in their proposed solution, there were also times when I had to admit, if only to myself later, that they had a point, and my alleged problem was not really a problem after all.

    As a result, over time, my list of problems and contradictions got smaller and smaller.  In addition two other things happened.  First, with each problem dealt with, the credibility of the critics correspondingly suffered.  After all, if the critics were wrong on these alleged problems and contradictions in the Bible, perhaps they were wrong on the others as well.  Second, my diminishing list of errors was being replaced by a growing respect for the reliability of the Bible. I did not yet believe the Bible was the word of God, but I could no longer write it off as simply a collection of myths and legends either.

    It was at about this point in my odyssey, that I had one of the more significant of these discussions.  I think this was the only time we had this particular guard, and unfortunately his name has long since been forgotten.  He was different than many of the other Christians I had met in the way he listened to my challenges without any confrontation in his responses. It was not that he knew how answer my remaining challenges all that much, but he did do something, none of the others did.  He offered to set up a meeting with someone who he said could better answer my questions and I agreed.

    This someone was an officer at the base, and we talked for several hours one evening. I explained my spiritual journey to that point and we talked about some the remaining problems I saw with Christianity and the Bible. He was able to provide some answers. On a few others, such as why would a loving god allow evil, I was not convinced.  But he did show me a different side of Christianity even when his answers were not completely satisfying.  He showed me that Christianity and the Bible were something an intelligent thinking person could take seriously.   Even if I did not agree with him, I had to respect him, as someone who had thought seriously about his faith.

    When I left that evening, he encouraged me to continue my journey and seemed oddly sure and confident as to where that journey would lead me even if I had not reached it yet.

    And I hadn’t.  In fact I still had a ways to go, and strangely enough, my path would next take me to the Mormons.  More next time.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Testimony II

    Friday, April 4th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3

    Last time, I detailed my transition from atheist to theist. But I was still a long way from form being a Christian.  In fact as I began my odyssey to follow God, I started by going in the wrong direction.

    Now at the time I did not really know any Christians, or if I did, they were inconspicuous enough in their faith that I didn’t realize that I did. However I did know some people who were involved in the New Age movement which was basically a hodgepodge of beliefs drawn from the Eastern Religions, Paganism and the Occult.  Most of these taught some form of spiritual progression, which fit in pretty closely with my belief in evolution in general.

    So I began to explore a whole range of beliefs, from reincarnation to astrology.  While many of these did conflict with my scientific outlook, with my change from atheism to theism I was giving things a second looks. And as I said last time, truth has always been very important to me, and I have never been afraid to explore ideas, even controversial ideas and ideas that are out of the mainstream.

    So I looked at both sides of these issues, and in the process, I learned something very interesting about scientists.  When scientists are attacking things they disagree with, they are at time so sure they are right, they get very sloppy.

    For example, I remember reading a book against astrology that mentioned a study on military recruits and the planet mars, the planet that supposedly governs war, as an example of a failure of astrology. But the study just didn’t make a lot of sense, and some of the points it made where hard to take seriously.   So I did what I normally did, and still do, in such cases; I checked out the source.

    The study was published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results.  I found this to be a puzzling name for a scientific journal, as science is built on the ability to reproduce the results of an experiment.  As I looked through the journal, however, the reason for my puzzlement became clear.  The Journal of Irreproducible Results is not a serious scientific journal, but a journal of scientific humor.  The study cited, was not a serious study refuting astrology, but was a joke, and many of the things that I found hard to take seriously in the study were meant to be funny.

    This was more than just sloppy research.  It showed that the scientist who wrote that book was so busy rejecting, that he did not really understand what it was he was rejecting.  The absurdities meant to bring a smile were completely missed. The study seemed to support his position, and that was good enough.

    Long after I had moved on from astrology to other explore and test other things, the lessons I learned about the fallibility of scientists remained. It is one of the reasons I find many of the arguments against the Bible, and creation to be so flawed, as the scientist putting forth the arguments have very often not take the time to really understand what it is they are trying to refute.

    Another thing that happened during this period, was that my general anti-Christian views were strengthen and deepened and given substance.   While there was a range of religious views in the New Age Movement, one thing most agreed on was that orthodox Christianity was at best false, and often evil and corrupt.

    For most in the New Age Movement, the teachings of Christ had been corrupted by the church fathers who rewrote the Bible at the councils so they could control the masses.  Now at the time this seemed plausible, as I still did not know very much about Christianity.  For example, I remember reading a book at about this time where the main character was betrayed by “a Judas kiss.”  But I didn’t know what “a Judas kiss” was, so I asked my future wife if she knew, and she explained it to me.

    So without anything to counter these views, I accepted them. When I went to the library to check out the “Christian” side of the story, the books I came across were from liberal scholars who also were critical of the Bible. While checking out the “Christian” view of Genesis, for example, the books I read rejected the authorship of Moses.  So while I thought I was getting both sides, in reality I was only getting two versions of the same side.

    So what had been a uniformed rejection of Christianity, over time became a much more informed rejection.  Vague reasons began to be replaced by specific arguments.  Eventually, I became committed enough in my rejection that I thought I needed to become better informed and so I bought a Bible and began complying a list of contradictions and errors.

    But at the same time, I was becoming increasing dissatisfied with the New Age Movement as a mass of conflicting and often incoherent beliefs, and was beginning to look elsewhere.  I still believed in God and I was still seeking him.  Thankfully God was still not done with me and thankfully He was and is very patient.  More next time.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Testimony Part I

    Friday, March 28th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3

    I was recently asked about how I came to Christ and after writing a brief summary was asked for more details. So here goes. I reached my teenage years as a fairly committed atheist. My family was at best nominally Christian, and church played virtually no role in my childhood. In fact, the only time I can remember going to church was, when as a Cub Scout, I need to attend once to get a merit badge.

    Now perhaps I was sheltered, but I never received any of the harsh treatment the neo-atheist now claim befalls atheists to silence them. Sure people would disagree when I would express my atheism but that was about it. Some would try to tell me that I was not really an atheist, but rather an agnostic. But rather than feel threaten by such challenges, I would simply point out that I knew the difference. I was not claiming a lack of knowledge about God’s existence, but rather that God did not exist. I was an atheist.

    But then truth has always been very important to me, and I have never been afraid to explore ideas, even controversial ideas and ideas that are out of the mainstream.

    The roots of my atheist were not in any problem or bad experiences with religion, or any serious thought through position. Frankly I knew very little about religion. Nor was there anyone in particular who “led me astray.” Somewhere I did pick up a general rejection of Christianity, but that may very well have been because it was the most visible religion and thus suffered the most from my general rejection of religion.

    Instead my atheism was more an expression of my interest in and love of science. This was the 1960s when science and technological advancements were still seen as positive developments that were improving life rather than threatening the environment, though that was beginning to creep in. Early in the decade my father as stationed at Vandenberg AFB in California, which is the west coast site for launching missiles and I loved watching the missiles go up. Not too surprisingly I was very interested in the Space program, and 2001 A Space Odyssey was my favorite movie.

    For me God was simply what people believed in before science. Religion was simply and outgrowth of the belief in God. I do remember at some point saying the Atheists prayer – God if you are there show me. But that is about as far as it went. While I was an atheist, it was not that big of a deal with me, so I did not spend a lot of time on religion, it was not true, and therefore was a waste time.

    Exactly when I changed from an atheist to theist is unknown to me, and since I don’t know when, I also cannot say how. But I do remember very clearly when I realized I believed in God, as it came as somewhat of a shock. I was driving west-bound on I-10 between Redlands and Loma Linda CA. It was a beautify day with bright sunshine and billowing white clouds. I don’t remember date, but given the weather and the lack of smog, my guess is that it was the spring time in 1974. I was praying to God, when it suddenly stuck me what I was doing. I was praying to God. Not some abstract prayer, not some just-in-case-you-are-there prayer, but a real sincere prayer. That’s when I realized that I believed in God, and like I said it was a shock.

    Almost simultaneously with this realization something else happened, something that I really cannot put into words. What I now know to be the Holy Spirit let me know that this was an answer to my prayer about whether God existed. This was for me clearly a spiritual experience. It was not just a change of opinion; it was an answer to prayer where God touched my heart.

    Thus this was a double shock, for not only did I realize that I had ceased to be an atheist, I now believed in God, a God who was more than an intellectual concept, but real presence, a God who answer prayer.

    My first response was to tell God that I wanted to follow him. But I still had a long way to go for I can remember praying “Show me how to follow you, show me the true way, don’t bother with Christianity, I know it is false. I want to really follow you.”

    Looking back now I can see that I still needed a lot of work. While I saw God as a personal God who did answer prayers, my idea of ‘salvation’ was more a spiritual evolution toward the truth. And while my view of God had changed, my view of Religion had not. I still saw a distinction between science and religion with science being clearly on the side of truth, which by default placed religion on the side of errors.

    So I set off on my odyssey to find the true way to follow God by going in exactly the wrong direction. Thankfully God was not done with me and thankfully He is patient. More next time.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    A review of Evidence for the Bible

    Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck
    Christopher Smith,a Master’s student in Christan History at Wheaton College, has written a review of my book,  here is my response to his first installment:

    Let me first thank you for both your review, and for the kind introductory remarks. As for your more critical comments, I think they somewhat miss the mark, for a couple of reasons.

    First, writing any book involves a whole series of choices and tradeoff. One of the decisions I made was to make this a more popular book rather than a more scholarly one, aimed at the educated non-Christian, rather than the biblical scholar. Because of this I drew on more popular books and addressed arguments my target audience would likely have encountered, such as in an introductory class in religion at a secular college, or in a popular best seller, or magazine, etc.

    I knew at the time this would not satisfy the scholarly minded, but then that was not my audience, and space is limited. Granted, I may not have mentioned the particular scholars you wanted to see (part of which may be that these are expanded and updated versions of an early work). On the other hand, at least I do cite a number of critics, many scholars, and much of the book is dealing with their arguments, which is far better than most of the critics, who for the most part completely ignore all conservative opposition, or if they do mention it, do so only as an off handed dismissal.

    One particularly annoying comment in its pettiness, and one which I found to be at best somewhat misleading was when you commented “Hushbeck’s ignorance, of German, moreover, is painfully evident. In one place he refers to “the German scholar Frank” (meaning, apparently, Franz Hermann Frank) and spells two German words in the title of “Frank’s” book incorrectly. The omission of the author’s first name, the publisher information, and a page number makes it altogether evident that he’s relying on Josh McDowell’s partial citation of this work.”

    First let me plead guilty as charged to having no real working knowledge of German. In fact, there are a whole range of languages that I have no working knowledge off, and in some cases no knowledge at all. But then I never claimed otherwise. Considering that these two misspelled words appeared only in an endnote, they hardly are a substantial incitement against the book itself. As for relying on McDowell for this quote, again I plead guilty, though I am somewhat puzzled while you needed all of those clues you cited to make this “evident,” when the citation you mentioned included “quoted in Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict Vol. II (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Pub., 1975) p. 7”

    As for me not bothering to check these, you speak from ignorance. While, there was no way you could have know, the research for this book took me several years, and I went to great lengths to check out the quotes in the book. Now at the time, I was working for JPL and traveled across the country, to Europe and Australia and thus was able to visit libraries such as at Harvard, and the National Library in Australia. During this time was able to find almost all of the works cited. I believe that the quote you cited is the only quote in both books I was not able to verify, which is why I cited it the way I did. Hardly an unknown practice, even among scholars and certainly not worthy of criticism.

    Frankly of far more interest to me than the irrelevances of whether or not searching all these libraries constitutes “bothering” is whether or not the quote is accurate. If the quote is accurate it really does not matter how it came into the book. If it is not, then I would really like to know so that I can remove it. So is it accurate?

    As far as the sources tending to be from a conservative perspective, that is simply false. The general pattern for the book is to cite the critics and then deal with what they are saying. As result, I cite both critical and supportive works, and do cite scholarly critics.

    Much the same can be said for the two chapters on science, though you ignored most of both chapters to focus on the last section that dealt with evolution. But even here you seem to have missed the point. The focus here was not so much to argue that evolution is wrong, but rather to address the question why is it that so many Christians question evolution. Perhaps a few words on theistic evolution should have been included, though I would point out that my personal experience with my target audience is that while they are well aware of theistic evolution as an option, and I do say there is a diversity of opinion in this area, most have never seen a serious treatment of the arguments against evolution, for these arguments have been pretty successfully suppressed outside Christian circles.

    As for simply “parroting” Christian apologists, sure I cite some, where it is appropriate, just like I cite critics such as Carl Sagan, Robert Jastorw, and semi-critical scientists such as Steven Hawkings. I would point out that Dallas Willard, hardly someone uninformed in on these matters, told me that he had never encountered some of these arguments when I wrote them in a paper for him, which was why he encouraged me to publish. As such this charge is hard to see as anything other than slanting.

    In summary, I would say that your review so far has been long on accusation, and short on substance. Perhaps in later posts you will get into more detail, but so far you have demonstrated the academic’s over preoccupation with citations, rather than actual argument, at times drifting very close to ad hominem attack when you at least imply that certain sources are to be rejected While you praise me for dealing with so much in so few pages, (and length was a key consideration when writing the book, and much was left out or cut), you turn around and are very critical for not going into greater detail. Again I think the audience I was targeting address most of these criticism. More to the point, nothing you have said so far actually challenges the any of arguments I make in the book.

    BTW, while I thank you for the promotion, I only have two masters degrees, not a phd.