Truth Tribe with Douglas Groothuis
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Truth Tribe with Douglas Groothuis

Douglas Groothuis
Truth Tribe with Douglas Groothuis is a podcast dedicated to finding the truth through reason, and evidence about what matters most. Our subjects include how to defend the Christian faith (through apologetics), biblical ethics, and social issues.
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3 Lessons My Love of Jazz Has Taught Me about Being a Philosophy Professor
March 11, 2024 - 18 min
I am a jazz aficionado as well as a philosophy professor. Being in front of a classroom teaching is my favorite place on earth, second to a good jazz club with hip friends. In the midst of a philosophy class, I may wax enthusiastic about the transcendent qualities of a John Coltrane saxophone solo or the preternatural swing of Buddy Rich’s timekeeping or the song-writing and band-leading genius of Duke Ellington.  These comments are not merely idiosyncratic. They reflect something of a philosophical theory of pedagogy that is steeped in jazz sensibilities. After over thirty years of teaching philosophy in various settings, I have come to realize that my pedagogy has developed in ways that reflect the sensibilities and philosophy of jazz. This has much to do with my long-time love of jazz: the music, the history, the culture, and the players.  The classroom should swing; students and their professor should spend time in the woodshed; the class will jam on philosophical themes deeply rooted in tradition, but be open to new chops.  Some of my students learn these terms, incorporate them into their vocabulary, and start using them in relation to whatever subject we are addressing—and not just about jazz. Three elements of jazz to appropriate for the classroom. Jazz works from and creatively appropriates a revered and rich tradition, the origins of which are not entirely clear and are a matter of scholarly dispute. Jazz is, at its best, highly creative in composition and in performance. Although jazz virtuosi are steeped in tradition, they must find their own voice in order to perpetuate that tradition in new forms—that is, to refract jazz through the prisms of their own unique personalities. Finding that voice requires moving from imitation to creation. Third, jazz is, according to the master jazz writer Whitney Balliett, “the sound of surprise.” A well-played piece of jazz music—even the most well-known standard—summons new ideas from jazz performers. The well-known need not be the well-worn, since the musical form—tied to the discipline of the musicians—can always yield something fresh and inspiring—or disastrous.  Swinging in the Classroom There are many more chops to develop and traditions to fathom and appropriate in order to draw out the connections between the artistry of jazz and the artistry of the philosopher’s professorial pedagogy. But if we attend to the jazz sensibilities of mastering and extending a tradition through a strong work ethic; if we labor to find our own philosophical and pedagogical voices; and if we savor “the sound of surprise,” we will be well on our way to swinging in the classroom—and beyond. Resources1. Douglas Groothuis, “The Virtues of Jazz,” All About Jazz: 2. Douglas Groothuis, “How Teachers Can Swing in the Classroom” All About Jazz, 3. Douglas Groothuis, “John Coltrane and the Meaning of Life,” All About Jazz:  4. Douglas Groothuis, “Whiplash and Philosophy.” Film review at And Philosophy:  5. Douglas Groothuis, “Jazz, Suffering, and Meaning.” All About Jazz:  6. Douglas Groothuis, “Jazz and Philosophy” at All About Jazz:  7. Douglas Groothuis, “Jazz and Moral Theory: Swinging the Right Way: All About Jazz: Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at <a href="
What Does "Test the Spirits" Mean in the Bible and How Do We Do It?
March 4, 2024 - 20 min
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. I.    My Life of Testing the Spirits II.    1 John: Truth for Life: Review III.    Our Society of Testing A.    We need reliable test to find truth. The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him (Proverbs 11:1). B.    Test other religions, cults, and new religions, progressive Christianity by Scripture C.    We must measure spiritual maturity by testing the spirits. Biblical standard for right judgment. a.    False apostles 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). b.    False teachers (Matthew 7:15-16) Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. c.    False angels preaching false gospel (Galatians 1) 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  d.    False doctrines (of demons) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1). IV.    We Must Test the Spirits  A.    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (4:1). B.    Don’t be naïve or gullible—don’t be a sucker C.    You must test, evaluate, assess, because of counterfeits; counterfeit money; hacking, scammers D.    Many false prophets out in the world; not rare, but commonDear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come (1 John 2:18). V.    The Standard for the Truth Test (v. 2-3) A.    2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (4:2-3). B.    Test by the standard of Jesus Christ, who he is, what he taught 1.    Either/or resulting in a pass/fail; no middle ground; no gray zone; no mist, haze, fog or bog. Not grading on a curve.It is a categorical test; a universal test; and a necessary test. 2.    Test counterfeit money by knowing the real thing, the genuine—the genuine and authentic Jesus in the Bible 3.    Consider five statements in 1 John about Jesus 1.    He came as a flesh and blood man who was seen and touched (1 John 1:1-3) 2.    “Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). 3.    He appeared to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8) 4.    Jesus’ work of love: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16). 5.    “He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). C.    This test is sufficient to identify spirit of error; there are other errors wrought by the spirit of error. Get this one wrong, everything else is wrong. Christological test. D.    Two test cases 1.    Islam: denies Jesus is God incarnate; denies that he died to atone for our sins. 2.    New Age: denies Jesus is the one incarnation, says he was one of many gurus, masters, swamis, yogis, mystics. I wrote two books that addressed this, Revealing the New Age Jesus and Jesus in an Age of Controversy. E.    Three tips on testing from a veteran 1.  
3 Ways to Show Pastoral Care for God's Creatures Great and Small
February 26, 2024 - 20 min
Those of you who've read my book, Walking Through Twilight, know that my dog Sonny is mentioned numerous times. He was a gift from God for my first wife Becky and myself, as we suffered together through her dementia and through her death in 2018.  An old stanza from an old poem by Francis Alexander sets the tone for today's episode of Truth Tribe: All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Animals and humans were created by God to live together in harmony. Of course, the fall and the flood changed all that. But all the living kinds that God created remain good, as Genesis 1 teaches. Paul the Apostle, of course, agrees. "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4: 4-5 The Bible teaches us that humans alone bear the image of God, Genesis 1:26 and that this image remains after the fall. We see that in Genesis 9. Since man, since human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, that image cannot be denied. It cannot be eradicated. This heartbreak between humans and the rest of God's creation does not imply that men and women can treat animals any way they wish. Animals are not mere fodder for human whims. Today, without developing a whole theology of the animal world, I offer a few principles for how Christians can show pastoral concern to animals, whether or not they interact with them regularly and directly. Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
Freud’s Last Session: His Debate with C.S. Lewis & What Each Believed about Religion and Evil
February 19, 2024 - 11 min
Few people have shaped the twentieth century’s understanding of Christianity more than its opponent, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), and its advocate C. S. Lewis (1898-1964). Lewis, an adult convert from atheism, made his career as an Oxford don, but became well-known as a Christian apologist. Freud developed a revolutionary psychological theory (psychoanalysis), which established his career, started a movement, and ensured his titanic influence on Western thought. But he employed that theory against religion in general and Christianity in particular, dismissing them as neurotic. In 2003, Armand Nicholi published The Question of God. C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. Alas, the film does not reach its level of fairness or rigor. Freud’s case against Lewis hinges on two claims: (1) that religion is an illusion) and (2) the problem of evil. Religion is merely wish-fulfillment that represents one’s inability to face the evils of life without some supernatural consolation. First, the idea that Christianity is an “illusion” because it merely projects an idealistic idea of a father onto a godless universe has been refuted repeatedly. Simply because we desire X strongly is no evidence that X does not exist. Rather, it might be evidence that X does exist. In the film, Lewis is not given adequate room to develop the idea. C. S. Lewis developed his argument from yearning in his famous essay “The Weight of Glory.” We all experience a deep sense of yearning or longing for something that the present natural world cannot fulfill—something transcendently glorious. In his autobiography he recounts several experiences of this throughout his life, in which he sensed something wonderful beyond his grasp. These were fleeting but invaluable moments, which he called the experience of “joy.” They were not encounters with God and did not directly result in his conversion. Instead, they were indicators that the everyday world was not a self-enclosed system; a light from beyond would sometimes peek through the “shadow lands.” This thirst, which is intensified by small tastes of transcendence, indicates the possibility of fulfillment.[i] Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my early pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly desires were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.[ii] Second, Freud’s attack on Christianity through the problem of evil has been met in various ways by Christian philosophers and apologists over the ages. Lewis’s approach in the film was muted, but a careful reading of The Problem of Pain does much to address the matter rationally, although I part ways with Lewis understanding of “free will,” given that I am a compatibilist on human agency—something he did not even consider as a possibility.[iii] Nevertheless, a basic argument for Christianity in light of the problem of evil should look something like this. One can construct such an argument by using material only from Lewis, but his can be supplemented by many other sources.[iv] There is good evidence for the existence of a personal, moral, and infinite God from natural theology—a God who is (a) all-good and (b) all-powerful. God’s goodness, specifically, is known through the moral argument for God (a version of which Lewis gave in Mere Christianity) and through God’s saving actions in Jesus Christ (the historical dimension). There is objective evil in the world. Therefore (given 1 and 2), for any evil God allows, there is a sufficient reason for that evil to occur—whether we know what that reason is or not.[v] Freud’s projection objection to theism fails, not only in its intrinsic logic, but because of the objective case for God’s existence based on evidence outside of human desires. [i] This paragraph is taken from Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (pp. 367-368). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition. [ii] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1944; reprint, New York: Simon &amp; Schuster, 1996), 121. I develop this idea, with help from St. Augustine and Blaise Pascal, in Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 366-368. [iii] See Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, “The Problem
A Critique of Educational Technologies in the Classroom
February 12, 2024 - 17 min
Too many educational innovations are, ironically, taking teachers out of their own classrooms. The age-old dynamic of a teacher instructing students in a dedicated setting (or often peripatetically, as did Jesus and Socrates) is subtly giving way to diverse “delivery systems,” such as entirely on-line courses, hybrid courses, and the glamorous and world of the MOOC (massive open-source online classes). The justifications for such innovations are many, but criticisms are needed as well. Educational technologies need to be critiqued and used wisely, given their ubiquity and much-vaunted status. But before that, we need to think about the goal of teaching and the nature of knowledge. Students need knowledge and knowledge needs students, according to Roger Scruton. The purpose of teaching is to inculcate knowledge that needs to be known. The inherited wisdom the ages should not be lost through neglect or poor pedagogy—or by students who not inclined or not inspired to learn it. The classic idea of the university is to shape students to have a unified perspective on life, to make them well-rounded and independent thinkers. Recommended Reading Douglas Groothuis, The Soul in Cyberspace Neil Postman, The End of Education Quentin Schultz, Habits of the High Tech Heart Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
Lessons from Churches in My Christian Life
February 5, 2024 - 19 min
I found my church home in Evangelical Anglicanism in early 2007. My denomination is The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). It is not part of the Episcopalian denomination. But as I reflect on my church life, I am grateful to several churches for their faithfulness to God. My list is not inclusive of all the churches I have attended. Having been a Christ-follower for over forty-seven years, I will recount a few ways in which God has led and sanctified me for worship and service through his church. Perhaps my reflections will edify you and stimulate you to enter deeply into the life of the church that Christ bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Please also consider reading my chapter called, “In Defense of the Church,” which is in Christian Apologetics, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity-Academic, 2022). See also Francis Schaeffer’s two books, The Church Before the Watching World and The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century. Key Scriptures And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18). Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
How the Holy Spirit Grounds the Knowledge of God Through Liturgy
January 29, 2024 - 31 min
God’s creatures ought to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that the nations may be glad and sing for joy. This is because God rules the peoples with equity and guides the nations of the earth (Psalm 67:4). God wants to be known, and, thus, to be properly worshipped as our Creator and Redeemer. Worship is the paramount issue for human existence and no small matter to the one to whom worship is due. God’s absolute and incorruptible worth demands our total allegiance. God beckons us to offer our all to him as our Lord. As the Westminster Larger Catechism states: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This cannot happen without a deep intellectual, emotional, and imaginative knowledge of the one true God. My thesis is that the knowledge of God can and should be grounded through the historic liturgy of the church in worship. This is but one way to grow in the knowledge of God, but an often-neglected way among Evangelicals. Put more formally, this is a paper that addresses one doxastic practice whereby Christians may deepen their knowledge of God intellectually and affectively. Liturgy defined:Liturgy is the historic Christian practice of richly orchestrated and theologically scripted religious services that employ particular symbolism—such as bread and wine, vestments, and crosses—to focus the worshippers’ attention on sacred meanings derived from the Holy Scriptures and developed by the historic orthodox church. In so doing, liturgical actions both honor God and edify those worshipping. The Formal Argument  1. Christians need to grow in the knowledge of God and to make him known and obeyed universally. This is a theological premise. Paul wrote that his readers so that “they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 1:2-3).  2. Knowing is multi-dimensional, involving heart, mind, and body. This is an epistemological premise backed by Jesus’ command to love God with all of our being (Matthew 22:37-39), since loving God requires that we know God truly, if not perfectly or exhaustively (1 Corinthians 13:12). 3. Liturgy provides a unique means to know with heart, mind, and body. This is a theological and epistemic premise. 4. Therefore: Churches should provide liturgy as a means for better knowing and serving God. This is a theological conclusion.Few Evangelicals will question premises (1) and (2). The rub comes with premise (3) which is necessary for the conclusion to be sound.   Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
Liturgy for the Low Church: Introducing Liturgical Elements in Non-Liturgical Churches
January 22, 2024 - 15 min
I came to love liturgy late, but I am not going to leave it. This is because God has worked these patterns of ritual meaning deep into my system. Liturgy is simply too good not to share with the wider church. Let me explain. Culture structures life through patterns and repetitions. We typically stand when the national anthem is played. I shake hands with a bookstore salesman who I know. Mark and I both know what it means—some level of friendship and appreciation. When I teach, the students sit and I stand or sit. My students do not stand to greet me or stand during the class sessions. These are all taken-for-granted rituals of everyday life. Together they form a liturgy, however pedestrian or unconscious. In order to not be out of place, we respect the rules of the places we occupy. When rules are broken, liturgies are upended, people blush, and the police may even be summoned. All church services are liturgical, given the set patterns that govern our assemblies—written and unwritten. I attended a charismatic church where the words liturgy or ritual were never spoken without the adjective dead. Yet this church’s meetings had its structure, its unspoken expectations—its liturgy. It would have been taboo, or at least odd, to see someone cross himself. There was no cross before which to do a reverence (a slight bow). God must be revered. All Christians agree. The Apostle exhorts us: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord (1 Peter 3:15). While I am committed to the historic liturgy of the church (I worship as an Anglican) and am developing a liturgical theology, my background, before the last ten years, only includes a sprinkle or two of liturgy. Christ followers from different traditions will worship differently, and I will not here make a case for all the elements of historic liturgy. I won’t even insist on a particular order (except where it is obvious). Rather, we should consider a few liturgical elements that may bring a deeper reverence for our God in our corporate worship. In this episode of Truth Tribe, Dr. Groothuis shares an article he wrote in 2017 titled "Liturgy for the Low Church." He recounts an experience where he had to lead the entire liturgy by himself in a non-liturgical church. He describes the lack of sacredness and inappropriate elements that he witnessed during the worship service. Doug shares how he tried to bring a sense of gravity and sacredness through a moment of silence and prayer. He reflects on the challenge of establishing a sacred atmosphere in a liturgical wasteland. Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
Advice to a Christian Apologist: How to Be Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves
January 15, 2024 - 15 min
Jesus exhorted us to love God with all our minds (Matthew 22:37-39). The project of explaining, commending, and defending the Christian worldview is not limited to experts. Rather, it is the call of every Christian as a Christian (1 Peter 3:15-16). Arguing that Christianity is objectively true, compellingly rational, and existentially engaging over the whole of life is essential to Christian witness. Our salt and light must not be hidden under a basket (Matthew 5:13-16).  Every Christian is a witness to God’s saving truth. But, what kind of witness? Do we demonstrate the reality of the Gospel in word and deed? Is our life an apologetic for the Faith? Some excel at apologetics and others do not, but all are called to be the best apologists they can be through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:13; 16:23; 1 John 4:6, 5:6; Acts 1:8). Further reading Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, 2nd InterVarsity Press, 2022. Douglas Groothuis and Andrew Shepardson, The Knowledge of God in the World and in World: An Introduction to Classical Apologetics. Zondervan, 2022. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. InterVarsity, 2000. James Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. InterVarsity, 2020. Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
Why Spiritual Opposition Happens (And 6 Key Principles for Ministry Effectiveness)
January 8, 2024 - 17 min
Discouragement, the Demonic, and Victory in Christian Ministry (Acts 13:1-12) Over many years of teaching and writing, I have noted a pattern with many of my students and one that I have experienced in my own life of ministry: The possibilities for great achievements often bring discouragement and even spiritual opposition. The Christian must press on and press through in order to mature spiritually and to increase his or her ministry effectiveness. Six Principles for Ministry from Acts 13:1-12:     1. We need the wisdom of the church to discern God’s call to mission and to receive God’s power for ministry.  2. We need a God-ward orientation to discern God’s call to mission and to receive God’s power for ministry and need to be led by the Holy Spirit for ministry. 3. We need to proclaim God’s word to find power over error. Through the Holy Spirit. 4. Behind-the-scenes helpers are vital for ministry. 5. The power of error opposes the truth of the gospel. Expect it and plan for conflict and struggle in ministry. 6. A Spirit-filled and biblically-informed Christian challenges error courageously and effectively.   Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary. He is the author of nineteen books, including Fire in the Streets (a critique of critical race theory or wokeness) and Christian Apologetics, A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.

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