Research Papers (10)
The following papers were written by Mike Penninga en route to a Masters of Arts in Christian Studies, focusing on contemporary apologetics. Mike has a passion to write about real life issues in a way that is faithful to both the Bible and the nature of God, as well as the reality of our human experiences. Feel free to read, respond, and pass on to others. May these help encourage you in your spiritual journey as you love God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength!
There is a battle being waged today as modern society seeks to ward off claims of religious exclusivism. Often times, Christianity finds itself on the defensive because of its “Jesus is the only way” belief. Such comments are seen as exclusive and narrow-minded in a world where “all paths lead to God.” Modern media portrayals of God go out of their way to avoid putting a stamp of approval on one particular religion, in a bid to avoid offending followers of other faiths. The word on the street is; “It’s okay to hold your beliefs to be true, as long as you don’t hold them to be any truer than mine.”
Mike Penninga looks at this important topic in this paper, entitled "The Uniqueness of Christ in a World full of Religion"
Ask most people what they think of when they hear the word “apologetics”, and they will probably respond along the lines, “Does that mean you’re apologizing for something?”
The truth, of course, is the opposite. Apologetics means providing a rational defense for something, and in this case, that something is the Christian faith. As a pastor and former journalist, my passion is to engage the mind when dealing with the things of God. I take great joy in inviting people to consider what it means to love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength. Far from being outdated and ineffective, apologetics, when understood for its strengths and limitations, can be a powerful tool of spiritual discovery in a culture that still wants answers to their life questions.
This paper is the culminating work of my Masters program in contemporary apologetics, laying out a picture of what modern day apologetics might look like in our churches and neighborhoods.
Download the paper here: Grad-Essay-Penninga-Incarnational-Apologetics.pdf
The dawn of the 21st century has brought with it a new outlook on faith and spiritual journey. Postmoderism is firmly established and is affecting culture at a profound level. So what does that mean to those who have a heart to see God clearly presented and responded to? How do youshape Biblical faith in today's postmodern climate? Join the dialogue in this paper between a retiring pastor and one on the front side of ministry. It will hopefully help you think clearly about the unique issues we face and the unchanging nature of truth that cuts through it all.
With more countries and states going down the path of physician assisted suicide, have you ever discovered where you stand and why? Does your faith factor into the equation? How do you draw the line between natural death and aiding one's death? This important paper unpacks the subject as it comes to the inherent value of life. No matter what stage in life you find yourself, you will be impactedby this issue.
One of the key hot topics (no pun intended) of Christianity is that of life after death, heaven and hell. People are okay with the former, but the latter seems to have fallen out of favor in recent days. Part of the discussion has to deal with the nature of God, and whether he would allow people to really go to hell. Shouldn't he stop that? And is he good if he doesn't? This paper looks at all sides of this important issue, and comes to a conclusion that may surprise you.
One of the most often quoted statements when it comes to morality or faith choices is "That's good for you, but not for me." Moral relativism has become a pervasive attitude in our culture. But does it hold water under closer scrutiny? Is it really a matter of personal opinion? This paper is a dialogue between two college students who are wrestling with this very subject.
It’s midway through an afternoon baptism class, and a hand slips up near the back. The woman in her early 40’s has been listening intently to the pastor explain the meaning and significance of baptism. But she feels her situation is unique, and wants to ask some advice. “I was baptized when I was 14 years old in another church. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and mainly did it because a bunch of my friends were going through it. It didn’t mean much to me, and I’ve spent the last 20 years running away from God actually. But now I’m back, and really want to get re-baptized to indicate my love for Jesus. Is that okay?”
That’s the issue I want to address in this paper. What does the Bible say about being baptized a second time, even if the first baptism was as a believing youth or young adult?
Why in an era of Costco cards and gym memberships, of reward programs and air miles, are people running away from the concept of church membership? The plethora of membership cards in my wallet alone suggest it’s not because we are unwilling to sign our name on the bottom line. So why are so many people choosing to live common-law with the church? What is keeping them from committing to membership of a local church? How has membership changed in our churches, and what is it going to look like in the next generation of churches? And can we do anything to change the tide? This paper looks at these important questions, and provides some potential solution that are worth a shot.
The internet revolution of the last 10 years has provided a great new medium for Christians to help fulfill the great commission. However harnessing the internet as a means of evangelism is far more than building an online database of information and hoping people come visit. It’s about creative means of connecting with people in their area of needs so as to build authentic community and relationships that can lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
How can God be a good God and still allow evil? this question has haunted people through the centuries, and seems to come to the forefront whenever horrific tragedy unfolds. This paper looks at one aspect of that question, natural evil; evil that occurs independent of human intervention (earthquakes, tsunamis, diseases, etc.) If you've ever wondered where God is when the storms come, and whether he has the power to change anthing then this paper is for you.