Sean McDowell: How Do I Motivate Students Who Don’t Seem to Care?

One of the most common—and frankly one of the toughest—questions I receive is how to motivate students who are apathetic. How do you make students care? If you are expecting an easy answer, then you might as well click away now. Students are not robots and so we can’t force them to care about anything! But there are a few things I have learned from my experience and research that may help you motivate students who don’t seem to care about spiritual issues:


David Lane, Wellington NZ – Editor APOLOGIA – Focus on James Veitch

David H. Lane M.Sc. (Hons.), Dip. Tchg. Apologia Editor

[Author of The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1996)].

James Veith Apologia


Apologia Volume 7 (1/3) 2000 ISSN 1171-5863

Published by The Wellington Christian Apologetics Society Inc. (“WCAS”)

Copyright © 2000   48 pages.

Focus on James Veitch has been republished by the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society (“WCAS”) to mark 25 years since the Society was founded and commenced publications of its journal Apologia. This work is a major critique of a booklet published by Presbyterian Minister and academic Dr James Veitch – and deals with the man and his message. In his booklet “The Birth of Jesus: History or Myth? – an expanded version of public lectures he delivered in Wellington – Dr Veitch espouses a very liberal theological perspective on Jesus and the Gospel. The Apologia critique involving a range of theological scholars,  thoroughly strips away the intellectual façade surrounding this provocateur who has bamboozled audiences with his rhetoric. He was once a darling with the liberal secular New Zealand media for his espousal of a redefined version of Christianity which jettisons all traditional understanding of the Faith, including the doctrines of God as Creator and Man made in the image of God.

A range of thought-provoking scholarly essays are provided by contributors including: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Th.M, PhD; the late Dr. George Duggan SM, one of New Zealand’s leading Catholic theologians, Dr Derek Tovey and Dr Christopher Marshall, both New Testament scholars. There are also other articles by scholars addressing other theological aspects of the debate.

How to purchase your copy Focus on James Veitch

For orders from outside New Zealand, please contact “WCAS Publications” – C/- The Editor – Apologia”  by e-mail – ( providing your postal address and number of copies required. Our administrator will quote you a price taking account of postage rates and negotiate payment details etc via email.

For orders from within New Zealand please send a cheque for $29.95 NZ (per copy ordered) made out to “Wellington Christian Apologetics Society” and send it to “WCAS Editor” C/- P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville 6440. Please provide your postal address and number of copies required.

The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age – Book Review

Book Review by Professor Murray Rae PhD (London) [see ref 1].

The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age (Macon, Georgia, Mercer University Press, 1996). 189 pages. ISBN 0-86554-498-0 MUP/P131

by David H Lane, Hataitai, Wellington, New Zealand.

The French Jesuit palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who died in 1955, has attained, at a popular level, a quite remarkable status as a prophet delivering a vision of a new spirituality which unites human beings with one another and enables them to recognise their evolutionary destiny as participants in a divine cosmos. Although Teilhard himself claims continuity between his vision and Christian tradition, there is with only a few exceptions, very little enthusiasm for his work amongst academic theologians. His prominence is largely at a popular level, amongst post-Christian New Age sympathisers.

While a great deal has been written about Teilhard and his work, most published critiques have been written by those who are largely in agreement with his philosophical position. In contrast David Lane offers a critique of the inadequacies and errors of Teilhard’s thought, outlining both the nature and extent of its divergence from orthodox Christian faith, and giving insight into the degree to which many New Age philosophies claim inspiration from the works of this populariser of the notion of spiritual evolution.

It is a moot point, as Lane himself makes clear, whether New Age thinkers are deliberately reflecting on and extending Teilhard’s thought or whether instead they are simply calling upon his name in order to give some academic respectability to their own work. Nevertheless, Lane’s book critiques the extent to which Teilhard’s attempt to graft Christianity onto evolutionary theory issues in the kinds of pantheism, monism and gnosticism favoured by New Agers. There can be little doubt, as Anne Roche Muggeridge has observed and Lane abundantly confirms that, despite his retention of the language of Christian dogma, Teilhard’s reliogio-philosophical writings empty that language of its traditional content. His appeal, amongst Christians as well as New Agers, can be attributed as much to the power of his poetic expression as to the mistaken perception, encouraged by Teilhard himself, that his work takes Christianity to the next step of its evolutionary development.

While Lane’s analysis of Teilhard is thoroughly documented and clearly establishes the main lines of his critique, not all aspects of the argument are equally convincing. While Teilhard undoubtedly enjoys some degree of influence upon Roman Catholic theology, for instance, Lane tends to overplay that influence. He relies rather too heavily on reactionary critics while ignoring the mainstream of Catholic theology represented by such figures as Rahner, von Balthasar. Congar and Kasper. Latin American Liberation theology is also a victim of some rather sweeping critique that does not accurately reflect the orthodox commitments of the vast majority of liberation theologians. Finally, the analysis of Teilhard’s work in terms of its alleged dependence on a modernist worldview is a little insecure. Again, the critique is somewhat overplayed.

Commonalities though there may be between Teilhard and some lines of Modernist thought, Teilhard’s divergence from Modernism in such aspects as his mysticism, for example, is surely quite substantial.

These criticisms should not unduly detract however, from the valuable study of Teilhard that Lane has presented. He promises us another book offering a more comprehensive critique of Teilhard’s theological and philosophical work. We can expect that work too to be carefully argued, thoroughly documented and to provide further evidence that Teilhard is a false prophet whose engaging rhetoric ought not to blind us to the erroneous nature of his theological vision. Lane is in the process of making a very important contribution to the literature on Teilhard.

Book Review Source: Originally Published in Stimulus: The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice Vol. 6, No. 4 (November 1998, p. 45). Republished with permission in Apologia: The Journal of the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society (Inc.) Vol. 1 (2000), p. 43.


1.  Professor Murray Rae B.Arch (Auckland) BD (Otago) BA (Otago) PhD (London), trained first as an architect, then studied theology and philosophy at Otago University, New Zealand. He completed his PhD at King’s College, London, on the incarnation in the thought of Søren Kierkegaard.

He is currently the chair of an International Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment and has continuing research interests in the work of Søren Kierkegaard, Biblical Hermeneutics, Christian Doctrine, and the development of Christian faith amongst Maori.


Bishop Spong shown as shallow, inaccurate – Book Review by John Mackey

FOCUS ON JOHN SHELBY SPONG (Apologia 1st pub. 2000) – Reviewed  

BOOK REVIEW: Reproduced from NZ Catholic – May 20, 2001, p. 19

Reviewer: The late Bishop John Mackey DD, CBE (d. 2014) was the Bishop Emeritus of Auckland.

Review Title: Bishop Spong shown as shallow, inaccurate

This is a difficult publication to review because it is a journal rather than a book, with almost 20 articles from a variety of authors. The presentation is attractive, the print clear and the photos and illustrations illuminating.

It is produced by The Wellington Christian Apologetics Society (Inc.), a body of Christians who defend traditional Christian beliefs against the more fashionable secular beliefs of people like Lloyd Geering, James Veitch and the American, Anglican Bishop Spong. This volume is devoted to a critique of Bishop Spong, his many publications and his lectures. There is also an article on Veitch, a follow-on from a previous volume, Focus on James Veitch.

The criticisms of Bishop Spong’s scholarship are really quite devastating. In almost every area in which he claims competence, and from which he draws his conclusions that Christianity is an outmoded proposition, he is shown to be either shallow or inaccurate, and often both. This is not surprising because the faith that Geering, Veitch and Spong expound is as much a faith as that of any other worshipper. The difference is that they have transferred their allegiance from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the worship of humanity. Such worship is hard to justify.

The essays are all very competently presented. Some are short and trenchant; others are longer and more meticulous in the exposition of Spong’s shallow erudition. This is especially true of three long essays by the editor, David H. Lane. He writes: “While there is sometimes a fine line between argument that is ad hominem and a rigorous critique, we have sought to avoid charges/accusations of dishonesty, stupidity, hypocrisy, and the like, even though the subject of our investigation regularly directs such barbs at his critics.”

The exposition of the mind of Bishop Spong reveals, I think, an attitude that a writer on Utopias, in a recent Time magazine, describes: “The Utopian state of mind indicates a yearning to be released from history, to shed the burdens of free will, failure and improvisation. Basically Utopia is for authoritarians and weaklings.” Bishop Spong is among the authoritarians undoubtedly.

The religion, if one can call it that, which Bishop Spong and his collaborators preach is unashamedly man-worship. Arnold Toynbee, in his own reflections on religion in human behaviour, said: “Every form of man-worship is a religious expression of self-centredness, and is consequently infected with the intellectual mistake and the moral sin of treating a part of the universe as if it were the whole… Man-worship of any kind is unable to satisfy Man’s spiritual needs.”

In the long run it needs to be criticised, as this volume does, rather than become the darling of the secular media, as it currently is.

Book Review: Reproduced from NZ Catholic – May 20, 2001, p. 19.

John Mackey - Emeritus Bishop of Auckland

The late John Mackey

Note: John Mackey DD, CBE, [Stuff News photo above] (11 January 1918 – 20 January 2014) was the ninth Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand (1974-1983). Prior to that he had been Professor of Church History at Holy Cross College and lecturer in Church History at the University of Otago.  He gained a doctorate in education and a Master’s degree in history  and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a Graduate Scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, studying there for two years before returning to take up the appointment of Director of Education for the Auckland diocese.


NZ Catholic, PO Box 147-000, Ponsonby, Auckland 1034. Website:

Focus on John Shelby Spong

Focus on John Shelby Spong has been republished by the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society (“WCAS”) to mark 25 years since the Society was founded and commenced publications of its journal Apologia. This work is a major critique of the published work of retired Episcopalian Bishop – John Shelby Spong – and deals with the man and his message. It thoroughly strips away the intellectual façade surrounding this provocateur who has bamboozled audiences with his rhetoric and become a darling with the liberal secular media for his espousal of a redefined version of Christianity which jettisons all traditional understanding of the Faith including the doctrines of God as Creator and Man made in the image of God.

A range of thought-provoking scholarly essays are provided by contributors including: the late Dr. George Duggan SM, one of New Zealand’s leading Catholic theologians; Dr Jonathan Sarfati, author of Refuting Evolution (1999); Michael Bott, former Vice-President of WCAS; David H. Lane, current WCAS President and author of The Phenomenon of Teilhard (1996); Prof. Gerald O’Collins, the late Archbishop of NZ Brian Davis; Dr Frank Mobbs; Kathleen Loncar;  David Mills; The Very Rev. Dr Peter C. Moore (Dean and President of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry); Dr Stephen M. Smith , Prof. of  Theology & Ethics, Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry; Wayne Jackson and others. The work includes a commentary on Spong’s 1997 lecture tour of NZ, a number of in-depth analyses of Spong’s theology and world-view, and reviews of Spong’s books: Resurrection: Myth or Reality?Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and Here I Stand. [Read more…]

The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age.

The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age (Macon, Georgia, Mercer University Press, 1996). 189 pages. ISBN 0-86554-498-0 MUP/P131

By David Lane, Wellington, New Zealand


In The Phenomenon of Teilhard, David Lane makes a thorough and well-documented case for the thesis that a relatively obscure Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), exerted a major influence on the evolving modernist theology of the church as well as the New Age movement within Western civilization. Teilhard de Chardin’s numerous writings of a philosophical or theological nature were considered so harmful by the Roman Catholic Church that they were banned in 1947. This only added to his prestige as Teilhard “seemed to delight in seeing himself as a modern-day Galileo” (p. 13). Throughout his life, Teilhard privately wrote a succession of essays and letters revealing his evolving synthesis of philosophy and theology with the theory of evolution. He wrote in a lyrical, evocative style laced with highly personalized neologisms and ephemeral imagery lulling his followers along a mystical pathway toward what he called the “Omega Point,” where allegedly all reality, consciousness, and mankind in general spirituality unite in perfect godhead. Chardin believed that: “Science, in all probability, will be progressively more impregnated by mysticism” (p. 83).

Teilhard’s marked influence as an “evolutionary natural philosopher” was largely due to his degrees in geology and paleontology (p. 11). He wrote at a time in history when society was fascinated by all that claimed to be “scientific.” Teilhard was determined to reconcile the doctrine of evolution with Christianity, and Lane shows how he changed the Christ presented in Scripture into a universal redeemer, the “cosmic emergence of the Spirit” (p. 20).

[Read more…]

John Lennox Premier Lecture – Going Against the Flow

Professor John Lennox and the life and book of Daniel

This is an outstanding and challenging lecture by Professor John Lennox from Oxford University.  We highly recommend this lecture and Prof. Lennox’s book, both of which are highly relevant to Christians living in a post-Christian western world.  From the Premier website:

Mathematician and Christian thinker John Lennox gave the Premier Lecture for the 20th Anniversary of the Radio station on June 10th.

Drawing on his new book ‘Against the Flow’, Lennox draws lessons from the book of Daniel for the church today.

Get the MP3

For more info & the transcript of the lecture:

For Against The Flow (the book):

For more faith debates visit

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The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity by William Lane Craig

This is one of the best Islam-Christianity short talks we have ever heard, in which two different concepts of God are compared and contrasted.

Dr. William Lane Craig clearly shows how the God of Islam is morally deficient, while by contrast the God of the Bible is morally perfect. This perfection is brought into focus in particular within the trinity.

This last point about the trinity is especially interesting because Muslims are often quick to attack the trinity, while Christians are often reluctant to defend the trinity before Muslims. Dr. Craig shows that, in fact, the trinity is a great asset to Christianity as a cohesive and coherent set of beliefs.

The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity

Here is the podcast MP3, or go to the podcast page here.  There is also a full transcript of the talk on the podcast page.

“What ISIS Really Wants” — A major article from The Atlantic

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

The caption from one of the article’s photos:

Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says.

Yet Obama and his fellow demagogues assure the ignorant masses that ISIS is not Islamic. Another caption reads:

Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements.

Son of Hamas on the Religion of Peace

From “Son of Hamas” Mosab Hassan Yousef’s blog:

Wherever I go in the world, people ask me about ISIS. And I advise them to ignore the endless debates about the peaceful versus violent nature of Islam and take a long, hard look at the Islamic State. ISIS is Islam, exposed in all its cruelty and ugliness, unchanged since Muhammad.

The atrocities committed by ISIS are merely an extension of the atrocities committed by Islam’s prophet.

The true Five Pillars of Islam are: Slaughter, Intolerance, Oppression, Hatred, and Global Dominion, because Muhammad was a slaughterer, intolerant, oppressive, hateful, and drove his armies to destroy everything and everyone that stood in the way of his establishment of a world caliphate.

Muhammad said to the people of Mecca, “I have brought slaughter to you,” then he beheaded every male, young and old.

Choose Islam, and you choose ISIS, because they are indistinguishable. Reject ISIS, and you reject Islam, because they are one.

ISIS must be stopped, yes. But the Islamic State is not an international problem. It is an Arab problem. And the armies of Jordan, Egypt, UAE, and others are well equipped to deal with it. Western intervention will only create more chaos and reinforce the illusion of a Middle East/Western conflict.

Like Libya and Yemen, ISIS is a tribal conflict, not a political one. The Islamic State is the Sunni backlash against domination and persecution by minority Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and the ruling Alawite minority of Syria.

Islam hates everything that is not Islam. And just as fresh water and salt water cannot flow from the same spring, love and goodness cannot flow from a religion that is established on hatred and violence.

As long as Muslims refuse to take a strong and aggressive stand against terrorism, they must share responsibility for the continuing atrocities. The hour has come for every Muslim to choose to be human or inhuman, noble or criminal.

The Crusades, a Macbeth’s dagger to slash Christians

The Crusades are used again and again to slash at Christians, but according to scholar Rodney Stark (Amazon book), most of what we are told in popular culture about The Crusades is false. Here are some resources for the apologist from another scholar, Thomas F. Madden (website):