The SAS Academies

Academy 2    Academy 3   Academy 4   "Academy 5   Academy 6
SAS Academy 1
What is Biblical Faith?
Presented by Adam Tucker
Adam Tucker of Southern Evangelical Seminary gave an excellent two hour presentation on What is Biblical Faith at our first SAS Academy. The first hour of the presentation, Adam explained the two extremes of blind faith and pure reason. When a person claims that he doesn’t use his reason to back up his faith or belief, but just ‘knows’ or has faith that it is true, this is blind faith. People hesitate to disagree with this assertion because it sounds so holy and pious. Conversely, when a person states that he cannot believe anything except for what can be demonstrated through the five senses, he is relying on the other extreme of pure 'reason'. This is the same as saying that Science can tell us everything about everything.

In the second hour, Adam explained how faith and reason can be distinct from each other, but not separate. We should not discount a personal witness, but knowledge should precede conviction or belief. It is illogical to believe in something unless we believe that that something is true. We need some basis such as a reliable authority for believing that something is true. Beyond that, even if the individual is convinced that the belief he or she holds is true, that individual needs to be able to answer another who asks, “Why are you a Christian?” with more that just, “You just know…”

The problem with saying the Science can tell us about everything is that the even the question of God is not a scientific, but a philosophical question. Additionally, the assertion that the only reality that can be trusted is that which is experienced and proven through the five senses is a self defeating statement. The statement itself cannot be proven through the five senses. Certain tenets of the Christian faith such as the Trinity and even the Gospel message are only known through special revelation of the scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. We need to be able to trust those scriptures when we use them as our authority and the basis for our beliefs. This is where reason comes in. Nothing in reality past or present will contradict truth nor, if the Bible contains the truths of the Christian faith, will contradict the Scripture if the data is interpreted correctly and it is indeed true. Science and History do not tell us anything, Scientists and Historians do, interpreting the data from their own biases and set of beliefs. Christian apologetics focuses on proving the trustworthiness and the reliability of the authority of the Bible as our revelation for the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Paul says faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. More and more evidence both scientific and historical (through archaeology) is coming to light, which confirms the Bible’s accuracy and trustworthiness as our authority. Christians, let’s base our faith on evidence which we will explore in the coming months at SAS Academy and be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us.

SAS Academy 2
Can We Know Anything For Sure?
Presented by Adam Tucker
Rene Descartes once questioned whether we are able to know things from our senses because they sometimes deceive us. Descartes and other philosophers of his time believed that an ‘Idealist Gap’ existed between what we know in the mindand the thing itself. David Hume asserted that we only know the world as it looks to us, not as it really is. These philosophies have led to subjectivism. In other words, what is true for you is not true for me or what you believe to be true only appears that way to you, but not necessarily to me. In light of this, we must answer the basic question, “How can we know anything for sure?,” before adding beliefs to our worldview.

To answer this question, presenter Adam Tucker replaced the Idealist Gap theory with the Moderate Realism theory asserting that knowledge, the first act of the intellect, occurs when the form of a thing exists both in reality and in the mind. Judgment, the second act of the intellect, makes a statement that the thing already known to exist IS or IS NOT in some way. Tucker acknowledged that sometimes our senses are deceived due to diseased sensation, insufficient evidence, incomplete consciousness, drive of the will towards the good, and necessity to act without compelling evidence. According to Etienne Gibson in Thomist Realism, “Dreams, illusions, hallucinations, and deliriums are only upsetting to the Idealist because he does not know how to prove they are illusions.” He further asserts that the Realist has no reason to be upset by them, since for him they really are just illusions.

Following knowledge, and judgment, the third act of intellect is reasoning. Etienne Gibson further asserts that the human mind in and of itself does not hold God as its natural and proper object. It cannot deduce reality from God, but must, on the contrary, reason from reality in order to ascend to God. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life…what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us…” John 1:1-3 HCSB

SAS Academy 3
“Does God Exist”
Presented by Ramón Margall
If we argue God’s existence from the Bible, we engage in circular reasoning: “How do we know God exists?” “From the Bible…” “How do we know the Bible is true?” “God says it is true.” We can know the truth of God’s existence from our what our senses tell us about creation. An indisputable law of science is the Principle of Cause and Effect. If something exists, something caused it to exist. But who or what caused the first cause? In other words, if God is the Creator, who made God? Four possibilities exist: 1. Nothing caused the first cause 2. The Cause caused itself 3. The Cause had another cause that had another cause…..back to infinity 4. The Cause is uncaused (not made). Answering each of these possibilites in turn: 1. Nothing caused the first cause-Problem-If ‘nothing’ cannot cause a blue ball to exist, it cannot cause God who created the universe to exist.’ Nothing cannot create or cause something. 2. The Cause caused itself-Problem-God could not exist prior to His own existence. 3. The Cause had another cause that had another cause…..back to infinity-Problem-Imagine you are walking from infinity past, would you ever arrive here? 4. The First Cause is uncaused-Bingo! The First Cause had no beginning! The First Cause is eternal! “…from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” Psalm 90:2 If God is uncaused, He is also infinite. Everything He has created has boundaries, but He has no boundaries. “…can you probe the limits of the Almighty?...” Job 11:7-8 And He is immutable or unchanged, unmoved. Everything He has created changes, but He is unchanged. Things do not change or move by their own accord, but by an outside influence or agent. I the LORD do not change.” Malachi 3:6a And He is immaterial (spirit) because all material has potential for change. God is, therefore, the uncaused cause, the unmoved mover, the infinite Creator of all things.
SAS Academy 4
“God’s Preservation of the New Testament Text”
Presented by Andrew Webster
God's Preservation of the New Testament Text is a fascinating presentation on an unusual topic. Andrew skillfully equips his audience with four key categories of how to think about the text: autographs (original writings), manuscripts, critical editions, and translations. His focus was on manuscripts, gripping stories of manuscript discoveries, and various ways manuscripts are divided.

Today we have access to a vast quantity of manuscripts and some date close to when the Apostles penned their letters. Over the years variances have crept into manuscripts. Ninety-nine percent of the variances are easily dealt with. When an alternate reading is plausible, the alternate is included in your Bible’s footnotes. Andrew presents major textual variances along with compelling reasons how we can be confident that the text we have today is what the authors originally wrote. As a bonus, he looked at evidence that some autographs existed for hundreds of years. Finally, Andrew gave persuasive reasons why we can believe the New Testament authors recorded the truth.

SAS Academy 5
“How Should We Talk About God?”
Presented by Prem Isaac
We were all blessed by Prem Isaac’s very good presentation on “How Should We Talk About God?” We know from Scripture that God is both Creator and Sustainer of everything. But He is even more than that. His is GOD in every sense of the word. What does this mean and how should we then “talk about God?” He is more than loving, He IS love. He is more than eternal, He is the “I am,” meaning that He has uniquely always existed. When God caused Jesus to be born of a righteous virgin, Jesus was both fully God and fully Man. In this life, we may not fully comprehend that nature, but it is what caused Jesus to be uniquely qualified as our Savior and Lord. He paid our sin-debt to God the Father by His sacrificial death on the cross. For that, we are eternally grateful.
SAS Academy 6
“How Should We Talk About God?”
Presented by Thomas McCuddy