Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Resources to Investigate the Reliability of the Gospels

In a recent Q and A question written to Dr. William Lane Craig at Reasonable Faith, a gentlemen wrote in questioning the reliability of the Gospels.  In his response, which you can read here, Dr. Craig included a list of books that would be useful for someone wanting to examine the historicity of the Gospels.  I thought it might be helpful to some to highlight that list here:

B = Beginner
I = Intermediate
A = Advanced

Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007. (B)

Carson, D. A., Moo, Douglas J., and Morris, Leon. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992. (I)

Evans, Craig. Fabricating Jesus. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2006. (I)

France, R. T. The Evidence for Jesus. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1986. (B)

Green, Joel, et al., eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity, 1992. (A)

Gundry, Robert H. Mark: A Commentary on his Apology for the Cross. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1993. (A)

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity, 1990. (I)

Hemer, Colin. The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1990. (A)

Johnson, Luke. The Real Jesus. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. (B)

Meier, John. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. 4 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1991-. (A)

Wilkins, Michael and Moreland, J.P., eds. Jesus under Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. (I)

I would also add J. Warner Wallace's book, Cold-Case Christianity. (B/I) You can find our review here.

Also, you may want to checkout our "Research Materials for the Old and New Testament" here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Highlight: Why Trust Jesus? by Dave Sterrett

Chapter Six:  Why Trust Jesus When There Is So Much Disagreement about the Identity of the “Real Jesus”?

Mentioning Jesus in conversation causes quite a stir. Everyone feels the need to address the question of who Jesus is when His name is brought up. This is a result of Jesus living, as Josh McDowell states and Sterrett quotes, “one of the greatest lives ever lived.”1 However, this mutual interest in Jesus does not create agreement about His identity. Even among the writings about the life of Jesus there is not agreement. The Gnostic gospels, discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, paint quite a different picture of Jesus than the biblical Gospels and so Sterrett details three basic reasons that scholars place the biblical Gospels on a higher level:

1. The biblical Gospels were written by Jesus’ disciples and close associates in the first century. The Gnostic gospels were written by second and third century Gnostic teachers.

2. The biblical Gospels were widely distributed (attested to by the fact that we have over 5,000 manuscripts of the Gospels and only a few of the Gnostic gospels) and determined authentic and authoritative by the early church leaders.

3. The Gnostic gospels are wacky! For example, The Gospel of Peter states that a huge talking cross came out of the tomb at the resurrection of Christ and The Infancy Gospel of Thomas  details Christ causing sickness and even killings in order to heal and resurrect.

Even with the Gnostic gospels ruled out, how can we know the real Jesus is portrayed in the biblical Gospels? Sterrett provides three sources of evidence to bolster our confidence in knowing the true identity of Jesus:

1. From non-Christian writings we are able to conclude that:  Jesus was a Jewish teacher; Many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; He was rejected by the Jewish leaders; Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; Despite a shameful death, his followers, believing he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by AD 64; All kinds of people from the cities and countryside worshipped Jesus as God by the beginning of the second century.2

2. The Gospels are eyewitness accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Additionally, the New Testament writers were either apostles who were eyewitnesses or gatherers of information from apostles who were eyewitnesses. This understanding of being eyewitnesses comes out in their writing. For example:
  • Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty”3
  • Luke wrote, “God raise this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”4
  • Paul declared that Jesus was seen after His resurrection by His disciples and “more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”5
3. Finally, we know who Jesus is by the prophecies He fulfilled. Sterrett writes:

God wanted us to trust in Jesus, His Son, so much that in one twenty-four-hour time period, at least two dozen specific prophecies were fulfilled in Him-all spoken at least four hundred years before his birth!6

Here are a few of those prophecies fulfilled in Jesus:
  • The price of His betrayal will be thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15).
  • His hands and feet will be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Luke 23:33).
  • His heart will rupture (Psalm 22:14; John 19:34).
  • He will be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).7
With all of this evidence we can be confident in who Jesus really is and confident that we can place our trust in Him.

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Page 105.
2. Page 109 referencing Michael Wilkins and J.P. Moreland.
3. Page 111 referencing 2 Peter 1:16.
4. ibid referencing Acts 2:32.
5. ibid referencing 1 Corinthians 15:6.
6. Page 113.
7. Pages 113 and 114.

Memorial Day: Heroes Remembered...

We at Truthbomb Apologetics just wanted to offer a sincere thank you to those men and women who have served, or are serving, in our armed forces.

In a society that so often elevates and glorifies so-called "celebrities," we are grateful for the lives that have been sacrificed and the time that has been willingly given by you, the real heroes.

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

-Joseph Campbell

We thank you...

May God Bless You Richly in Christ Jesus,

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Christians Should Be Involved in Politics

In this brief video apologist Frank Turek makes that case that if you don't think being involved in politics is important then you don't think preaching the gospel is important.

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, May 22, 2015

Article: The Future of the Church by Brett Kunkle

Where is the US church heading?  In this featured article, Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason uncovers some clues regarding where the church could be headed.  The picture he paints is not a pretty one and we foolish to ignore him.  Let us "contend for the truth!"

You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Debate Video: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? - John Loftus vs. David Wood

As I have shared before, Christianity is unique among religions because it offers a historic truth test. It was the Apostle Paul that wrote, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 15:14).  Here, Paul stacks the truth of Christianity on a historical event- the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  This can be investigated by any sincere seeker.

In this debate, John Loftus and David Wood debate the question, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?"  I have written about Loftus here and here.  

You can here David Wood's powerful testimony here.

Enjoy the debate and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chuck Colson on Practicing Apologetics

"If our culture is to be transformed, it will happen from the bottom up – from ordinary believers practicing apologetics over the backyard fence or around the barbecue grill."

Courage and Godspeed,

HT: Reasonable Theology

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Article: Three Paradoxes of Atheism by Neil Shenvi

I have found Neil Shenvi's work to be very helpful in the past and I read a another great article on his website entitled Three Paradoxes of Atheism.

In the article, Shenvi contends that "at the very heart of atheism are several extremely unexpected paradoxes, areas in which atheism is shown to be in tension with a commitment to realism and a life consistent with truth."

The paradoxes include truth-seeking, moral reflection and moral motivation.  

You can checkout the article here.

I also recommended Neil's article Do Objective Moral Values Exist?  

I have written on the moral argument in the past here and here.  You can also hear a talk I did on how to present the moral argument here.

Courage and Godspeed,


Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Highlight: Why Trust Jesus? by Dave Sterrett

Chapter Five:  Why Should I Trust Jesus When All I Need to Do Is Trust Myself?

Sterrett addresses pantheism when answering this question because a main tenet of pantheism is trusting in self.1 I think he also addresses it because of the great influence pantheism has had in Western society. He notes Star Wars, Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey as examples of this influence. He even writes of the seepage of pantheistic thought into the minds of Christians. So before Sterrett answers the question, he first details how pantheism contradicts what Jesus taught in order to demonstrate that Jesus cannot fall under the pantheistic umbrella. The contradictory teachings he lists follow:

  • Pantheism teaches that God is impersonal. Jesus teaches that God is personal.
  • Pantheism attempts to defy the simple laws of logic. Jesus holds that logic is undeniable.
  • Pantheism teaches that the universe is God. Jesus teaches that God made the universe.
  • Pantheism teaches that the universe is eternal. Jesus states that that the universe had a beginning.
  • Pantheism teaches that you are part of God. Jesus teaches that you are made in the image of God but separate from Him.
  • Pantheism teaches that sin is an illusion. Jesus states that dealing with sin is the reason He came to earth.
  • Pantheism does not emphasize absolute truth. Jesus emphasized worshiping in spirit and in truth.
Having made it clear that pantheism teaches trust in self and that Jesus teaches trust in Him, Sterrett answers the question of this chapter with the following truths:

1. We are limited in knowledge, but Jesus Christ is all knowing. We see evidence of the omniscience of Jesus in His encounter with Nathanel in John 1 and with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

2. We had nothing to do with our creation; Jesus Christ designed us and sustains us. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote of this in Colossians 1:15-17.

3. We are constantly changing, but Jesus Christ does not change. This is affirmed by Scripture. Hebrews 13:8 is an example.

In the light of these truths, and the truths of the previous chapters, I once again encourage you to…   

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Trust in self is needed to escape samsara; an endless cycle of death and rebirth. This escape happens when the realization that we are truly divine and that the divine is all there is achieved through our own merits. When this realization occurs we become one with the divine. This results in pantheism being contradictory because another main tenet is that the idea of an individual self is an illusion.

Forthcoming:  A summary of Chapter Six:  Why Should I Trust Jesus When There is So Much Disagreement about the Identity of the “Real Jesus”?