Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Article: Is Naturalism a Simpler Explanation than Theism? by Paul Copan

In this featured article, philosopher Paul Copan considers whether naturalism or theism better accounts for key features of our universe and key aspects of our human experience.

He writes:

"Naturalism is “simpler” in that it involves fewer entities within its system. But that does not help in accounting for the universe, its major features, and key aspects of human experience. To get rid of God means losing significant explanatory power. A theistic context helps us make sense of many important characteristics of the created order." 

You can checkout the entire article here.  It is well worth the time!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

C.S. Lewis on Miracles

"We know the experience against [miracles] to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false.  And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred.  In fact, we are arguing in a circle."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. As quoted by Mike Licona in The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 143.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Article: Christmas Notes, Part 1: Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem? by Tim McGrew

In this featured article, scholar Tim McGrew shares what the gospel writers tell us about Jesus' birth and further deals with some of the claims of bible critic Bart Ehrman.

You can check it out here.






Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, December 23, 2013

Books for Non-Christians: A Breakpoint.org Commentary



Are you still looking for some last minute Christmas gifts for your loved ones? This Breakpoint.org commentary by Eric Metaxas provides five books for the unbeliever that you may be trying to reach:

  • "The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt” by Joe Loconte
  • “The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming” by Rod Dreher
  • “Angry Conversations With God" by Susan Isaacs
  • R.A. Dickey’s “Wherever I Wind Up.”
  • “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions” by David Berlinski.

You can read or download the brief commentary here.


Daily_Commentary_12_13_13

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth to the Gay Rights Narrative

In a recent podcast, Alan Shelmon of Stand to Reason discussed the ability of same-sex attraction to change and how this truth dismantles the gay rights narrative. You can listen to this podcast here.

On the same note, I think the claim “people are born with same-sex attraction” is nonsensical. Are we born with attractions? For example, is a newborn female attracted to the lines and curves of the female form? Or even to the lines and curves of the male form for that matter? It seems silly to me to think so. It could be said that we have no way of knowing such things. But if that is the case, then how is the claim “people are born with same-sex attraction” able to be made?

It seems to me that attractions are developed and therefore attractions that correspond to reality, and for which it is of utmost importance that they do correspond with reality, should be cultivated. Same-sex attraction is not one of those attractions for it goes against the natural order of the male and female functional parts.   

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Article: A Brief Sample of Archaeology Corroborating the Claims of the New Testament by J. Warner Wallace

In this featured article, apologist and cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace demonstrates how archaeology has provided much corroborating evidence in support of the Book of Acts. 

In regard to the author of Acts, Luke, Wallace writes:

"Luke’s narratives include detailed and specific descriptions related to the locations, people, offices and titles within the Roman Empire. In fact, many of Luke’s claims were eventually confirmed by archaeological discoveries..."

Wallace also offers resources for those who want to learn more about the corroborating evidence for the New Testament provided by archaeology.

You can checkout the post here.

I highly recommend Jim's work!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Agnostic Thomas Nagel on Why There is Anything

"The existence of our universe might be explained by scientific cosmology, but such an explanation would still have to refer to features of some larger reality that contained or gave rise to it. A scientific explanation of the Big Bang would not be an explanation of why there was something rather than nothing, because it would have to refer to something from which that event arose. This something, or anything else cited in a further scientific explanation of it, would then have to be included in the universe whose existence we are looking for an explanation of when we ask why there is anything at all.  This is a question that remains after all possible scientific questions have been answered." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Find more great quotes and resources here.

Footnote:
1. "WHY IS THERE ANYTHING?" IN SECULAR PHILOSOPHY AND THE RELIGIOUS TEMPERAMENT (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS: 2009), P. 28.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Common Objection #21- "The Genealogies of Jesus Conflict with Each Other."

One of the supposed problems with the gospels is that the genealogy of Christ recorded by Luke (3:23-38) appears to conflict with the genealogy of Christ recorded by Matthew (1:1-17).

Sean and Josh McDowell offer a concise answer to this claim:

"At first glance, we may get the impression that both accounts are tracing the family line of Jesus through his legal father, Joseph, in which case there is an obvious contradiction. It is confusing because Matthew 1:16 indicates Jacob is Joseph’s father, while Luke 3:23 says that Heli is the father of Joseph.

A plausible solution is to recognize that Matthew is giving us Joseph’s family line, but Luke is tracing the genealogy of Mary. The reason that Mary is not mentioned in Luke 3 is probably because she has already been designated the mother of Jesus in several instances.

The usual practice of a Jewish genealogy is to give the name of the father, grandfather, and so on, of the person in view. Luke follows this pattern, and does not mention the name of Mary, but the name of the legal father. However, Luke makes it clear that Joseph is not, in reality, the father of Jesus, since Jesus had been virgin born (see Luke 1:26-35).

Luke is no doubt tracing the roots of Jesus through his mother, Mary, who was a descendant of Heli, and so on. Joseph’s name is mentioned, according to the common practice, but he is portrayed as the supposed father of Jesus, and God as the actual father.

Additionally the reason two genealogies are even given could be that one (Luke’s) demonstrates Jesus’ connection to all humanity since it traces his roots to Adam. And the other (Matthew’s) shows he is the rightful heir to King David’s throne and is the continuing fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. This emphasizes Jesus as both the Messiah to the Jews and the Savior of the entire human race." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. Text found here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Article: 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer by Natasha Crain

In this featured article, author of the blog "Christian Mom Thoughts" Natasha Crain lists 65 questions that every Christian parent needs to learn to answer.

You can find this excellent list here.

Mrs. Crain's blog is an excellent resource for parents who desire to train their children to know what they believe and why they believe it.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Hunters in the New Dark Ages


In the Fall edition of The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, Paul D. Miller discusses the importance of being a book hunter. He writes:

The times call for a new generation of book hunters. Like the book hunters of the Middle Ages, the new book hunters take it as their mission to uncover and salvage the best of what came before:  to cherish it; hold it up for praise and emulation; study it, above all, to love it and pass it on. The new book hunters sift the cultural artifacts of the world - in our era, not limited to books - to separate the wheat from the chaff, to weed out the unworthy and cultivate the fruitful and edifying, to recover the scattered, forgotten gems amidst the avalanche of trash. The new book hunters are not rescuing works from mold and decay but, what is sometimes just as dangerous, from obscurity, neglect, ridicule, and scorn. 

He goes on to describe the Bible as one of these great books:

The original and still-greatest of the great books is the Bible. Even atheists should recognize that it is the most influential and probably most widely-read book ever produced in human civilization. Familiarity with the Bible is a basic requirement for even a perfunctory understanding of history, literature, art, philosophy, religion, or society. Its removal from school curricula was the victory of barbarism. It need not - should not - be taught as God's truth in public schools, but it should be taught for its literary and historical value in every school on the planet. If you have not read the Bible cover-to-cover, you are not an educated adult and your understanding of every other book you read will be still-born.

This is a great article and it has caused me to create a reading list, which Miller also discusses in the article, which consists of books I might otherwise not have considered re-reading or reading to become well-rounded and better able to discover the "gems" from the "trash".

You can find the Fall edition of The City here. The article is on page 45.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase




Friday, December 13, 2013

Article: Is Fulfilled Prophecy of Value for Scholarly Apologetics? by Dr. John Bloom

In this featured article, Dr. John Bloom contends that "the best tool that God has given us to illustrate His influence of history is fulfilled prophecy."

You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Article: C.S. Lewis and the Argument from Reason by Jay W. Richards

In this featured article, philosopher Jay Richards explains the argument from reason (AFR) as put forth by C.S. Lewis.

Richards writes:

"The purpose of the argument is to show that naturalism and reason are incompatible, that believing in naturalism is self-defeating. That is, if naturalism is true, then we ought not to trust our capacity for reason, and so, ought not to trust arguments in favor of naturalism."

Further, as Richards notes, even Charles Darwin himself recognized this problem. It was Darwin who confessed:

"With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" 

You can checkout this excellent article here.  If you are not familiar with the AFR, this is a great starting place!

Further, for those who want to dig deeper, I highly recommend Victor Reppert's book C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea.  Our review of the book is here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jesus Argued Reductio Ad Absurdum

I recently had the pleasure of attending an apologetics conference with a friend of mine who is an atheist.  One of the speakers, J. Warner Wallace, pointed out that Jesus was an astute thinker that valued evidence and went on to  provided an example.  This took my atheist friend by surprise and he seemed to appreciate the fact that Jesus was an intelligent person who valued facts and evidence.  This is something that is evident when one begins reading the Gospels; however, the church has not done enough to cultivate this view of Jesus.  As followers of Christ, we are often quick to point out how loving He is or how humble He is, but most of us do not think of Him as the smartest man who ever lived, as the late Dallas Willard contented.  

In their book The Apologetics of Jesus authors Norman Geisler and Patrick Zukeran demonstrate that Jesus was a master logician and very adept with making arguments.  For example, they point out an example of Jesus arguing reductio ad absurdum in the gospels:

"Reductio ad absurdum (reduction of absurdity) is an argument that demonstrates that if something is supposed to be true but it leads to a contradiction or absurdity, then it cannot be true.  It works this way: The argument begins with the premises your opponent holds.  Then you reveal how this leads to a contradiction, and thus your opponent's view is reduced to absurdity.  This is a powerful way to reveal the false nature of a view, for if we can show that it leads to a contradiction, then it cannot be true.

Matthew 12:22-28.  Jesus uses the reductio ad absurdum argument to respond to the Pharisees' accusation that he is exorcising demons by the power of Satan.  Jesus demonstrates that their premise leads to a contradiction: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself.  How then can his kingdom stand?  And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?" (vv. 25-27)

Jesus begins with the Pharisees' premise that he drives out demons by the power of Satan.  He points out that if he is empowered by Satan to drive out demons, Satan is casting out his own servants.  This would mean Satan is divided against himself, and any kingdom, city, or household that develops internal strife will destroy itself.  Jesus goes on to point out that there are contemporary Jewish exorcists who also cast out demons.  If they believe these men cast out demons by the power of God, why do they not believe that Jesus does so by the power of God?...Thus, Jesus uses the reductio ad absurdum argument to show that the claim that his authority to cast out demons is from Satan creates a contradictory and absurd conclusion." [1]

Further, in his excellent article, Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist, thinker Doug Groothuis points out another example in the gospels of Jesus arguing reductio ad absurdum:

"Consider Jesus’ apologetic use of reductio ad absurdum in defending His identity as the Messiah.
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The reply was, “The son of David.” Jesus responded, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” By quoting Psalm 110:1, Jesus appealed to a source that the Pharisees accepted. He concluded with the question: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” which, as Matthew recorded, silenced the audience (see Matt. 22:41–46). The argument can be stated as follows:

1. If the Christ is merely the human descendent of David, David could not have called him “Lord.”
2. David did call the Christ “Lord” in Psalm 110:1.
3. To believe Christ was David’s Lord and merely his human descendent (who could not be his Lord) is absurd.
4. Christ, therefore, is not merely the human descendent of David.

Jesus’ point was not to deny the Christ’s ancestral connection to David, since Jesus Himself is called “the Son of David” in the Gospels (Matt. 1:1), and Jesus accepted the title without objection (Matt. 20:30–31). Jesus rather showed that the Christ is not merely the Son of David. Christ is also Lord and was so at the time of David. By using this reductio ad absurdum argument, Jesus expanded His audience’s understanding of who the Christ is and that He himself is the Christ." [2]

Jesus was very comfortable with using logic and sound arguments; therefore, so we His followers should be.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. The Apologetics of Jesus by Norman L. Geisler and Patrick Zukeran, p. 75-76.
2. Doug Groothuis, Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist, see here.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Why It's Sometimes Smart to Agree With An Atheist

In this article taken from Dear Friend:  Letters to Christian Ambassadors, Greg Koukl writes:

When a naysayer raises an objection, it is meant to push us off balance and put us on the ropes in a defensive position. In some cases, stepping forward instead of backwards changes that dynamic and the objection goes dead in the water.

This tactic can be used for example with the challenge, "There is no intelligent designer because the design is imperfect." Agree that the design is imperfect but state that it does not logically follow that there is no designer. Koukl uses the unreasonableness of denying a watch that runs 3 minutes slow is designed as an example.

He also uses the oft repeated saying, "You are an atheist towards many gods. I just believe in one less god than you do", to demonstrate the use of this approach. Once again, agree with the charge and then simply say, "What is your point?" Koukl uses the example of bachelors having one less wife than married men. 

The article can also be found here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Was Charles Darwin a Confident Evolutionist?

In the December 5, "Today's New Reason to Believe," RTB scholar Kenneth Samples discusses "Darwin's Doubt."

It may be surprising to learn that the father of modern evolutionary theory had doubts about his proposed explanation for life’s diversity. In an article entitled “Darwin’s Doubt,” I address Charles Darwin’s worries about the philosophical implications of his biological theory. For example, he wrote:

"With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"1

Consistent with Darwin’s original uneasiness, a growing contingent of theists think it is irrational to believe in evolutionary naturalism in particular. I outline three reasons for this skepticism.

1. Naturalism Postulates a Non-rational Source for Human Rationality

According to the presumptions of science, an effect requires an adequate and sufficient cause, and the effect cannot be greater than the cause. But in the case of evolution, the effect of human intelligence is magnitudes (exponentially) greater than its supposed cause.

2. Evolution Promotes a Species’ Survivability, Not Its True Beliefs

Evolution functioned only to enhance a particular organism’s adaptation to its environment—thus promoting that species’ continued existence. What a particular species believes about its environment is nonessential to the process. Evolutionary naturalism appears to lead to inevitable insecurity concerning the truth of one’s beliefs.

3. False Beliefs Illustrate Evolutionary Naturalism’s Epistemological Unreliability

Attributing humanity’s false religious convictions (from the naturalist perspective) to the evolutionary process only adds suspicion to Darwin’s original doubt. If evolution is responsible for humankind’s virtually universal religious impulse—which from a naturalistic point of view is patently false (and even pernicious, according to Dawkins)—then history shows that false beliefs about reality have promoted human survivability more than true beliefs.

But again, if evolutionary naturalism can cause a person to believe that which is false (such as religiously oriented beliefs) in order to promote survivability, then what confidence can evolutionists muster that their own convictions are reliable and true?

For the full-length article, visit http://www.reasons.org/blogs/reflections/darwin-s-doubt.




Kenneth R. Samples, “I believe deeply that “all truth is God’s truth.” As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity’s truth-claims.” Read more about Kenneth Samples.

References

1. Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; repr., Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.

That you may know,
Roger

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Twelve Questions of Christmas: Resource for Children

The Christmas season is in full swing.  Our Christmas tree is looking great in the living room, many people on our street have adorned their houses and yards with lights, blow-up figures of Santa and Frosty, etc.  My children have attached themselves to the excitement of this time of year.  And I will admit I'm enjoying every moment of it, for the most part.

But it's also an opportunity to teach them why we celebrate Christmas.  Instead of focusing on what Santa will be bringing them, it's a great time to share how this day is for celebrating God's plan to come to us in the form of a baby. 

One resource that my kids really enjoy is the "What's in the Bible" series that was created by Phil Vischer (the Veggie Tales guy).  He has a specific DVD for this time of year entitled "Why Do We Call it Christmas?"  It's a great resource to teach your children about the origin of the Christmas celebration, how Santa fits in, and more.

You can find out more about the video here.

There is also the free resource on You Tube entitled "The 12 Questions of Christmas."


Enjoy!




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Article: The Apologetics of Jesus by Eric Chabot

It was J.P. Moreland that originally challenged me to think of Jesus Christ as the smartest man who ever lived.  Sadly, many people, whether believer or not, don't even think of Jesus when pondering the great thinkers of history.

In this featured article, Director of Ratio Christi at Ohio State University Eric Chabot demonstrates that Jesus was indeed an exceptional thinker and apologist.

You can check it out here.


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Question: "If God Cannot Change, Why Should We Pray?" by Bill Pratt

I am often asked this question by followers of Christ.  Blogger Bill Pratt on his blog, Tough Questions Answered, offers a nice, concise answer to this common inquiry.

He writes:

"The Bible teaches, and theology argues, that God cannot change. This is called divine immutability. But if God cannot change, then why do we pray to him? After all, when we pray, aren’t we trying to change God’s mind?

Norm Geisler answers this question in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation.  Listen to what he says:

God is omniscient . . . , and an all-knowing Being cannot change His mind. If He does, He is not really all-knowing. Therefore, God cannot change His mind in answer to prayer.

When we pray (or have prayed), God not only knew what we were going to pray, but He ordained our prayer as a means of accomplishing His purpose. Prayer is not a means by which we change God; it is a means by which God changes us.

Prayer is not a means of our overcoming God’s reluctance; it is a way for God to take hold of our willingness. Prayer is not a means of getting our will done in heaven, but a means of God getting His will done on earth."

You can read more here.

I highly recommend Bill's blog for short, concise answers to tough questions about Christianity and how it relates to science, ethics, philosophy and history.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad 

Monday, December 02, 2013

"What Do You Believe? Does God Exist?"


 John Mark Reynolds and Dan Barker recently debated these questions at Houston Baptist University. You will find the video of the debate, and John Mark Reynolds thoughts on the debate, here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Saturday, November 30, 2013

God of love or God of judgment?

It is often claimed that the God of the Bible is schizophrenic, that the Old Testament depicts a God of judgment and the New Testament depicts a God of love.  It is also claimed that if God is loving, then it is incompatible with the idea that He is also a God of judgment.  But is this really the case?  Can true love exist in the absence of judgment or does it only exist in the presence of judgment?

Using the narrative of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh along with illustrations as diverse as James Bond, Pride and Prejudice and the Black Eyes Peas, Michael Ramsden explains the compatibility of God’s love and judgment.

You can listen to Part 1 of his message here and Part 2 here.

That you may know, Roger

Article: An Examination of the Life and Teachings of Joseph Smith by Charlie Campbell

In this featured in-depth article, Charlie Campbell of Always Be Ready examines the life and teachings of Joseph Smith.

An outline of the article is as follows:

  • The Origin of the Mormon Church
  • Four Unbiblical Teachings of the Mormon Church
  • Evidence the Book of Mormon Cannot be the Word of God
  • Sharing the Truth with Mormon Missionaries 

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Friday, November 29, 2013

Article: Reaching Those Who Are Disinterested by J. Warner Wallace

Sometimes it is difficult to persuade fellow Christians of the importance of apologetics.  I myself have had to make an "apologetic" for the discipline of apologetics to believers.  In the past, I have even given a talk entitled, "The Case for Apologetics."

In this featured article, author and speaker J. Warner Wallace gives some tips on how to get those who are disinterested in Christian case-making interested.

You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jesus Valued Evidence and So Should You

When John the Baptist was in prison (Matt.11:2), he sent two of disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"  In other words, "Are you the Messiah?"

Before we look at how Jesus did answer, consider what he didn't say:
  • "Tell John he just needs to believe because I said so."
  • "Tell John that he needs to have more faith."
  • "Shame on John for asking questions."
Jesus answered as follows:

"Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." (Matt. 11:4)

In other words, Jesus was saying, "Tell John to look at the evidence."

Is this true of us?  When people ask us questions about our Christian convictions are we able to "make a defense" (1 Peter 3:15) or do you simply tell them to have more faith or believe because the Bible says so?

Jesus valued evidence; therefore, so should we His followers.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Video: Are People Born Gay or Not? by Alan Shlemon


This past weekend I attended an apologetics conference hosted by Mt. Airy Bible Church.  One of the speakers was Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason.  His talk was entitled, "Homosexuality: Truth and Compassion."  Simply put, Shlemon's talk was the best I've heard from a Christian apologist on the topic and I told him so afterward.

In the video above, Alan answers the question, "Are people born gay?" and also provides some resources for those who want to learn more.

I also would want recommend Alan's article Homosexuality: Know the Truth, Speak It with Compassion.  You can find it here.

Finally, Truthbomb team member Chase Deener has highly recommended Shlemon's small book The Ambassador's Guide to Understanding Homosexuality.  

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Video: Is Jesus Really the Only Way to Heaven? by Chad A. Gross




On November 17, 2013, I had the opportunity to speak at my home church Faith Christian Fellowship.  I am grateful for a pastor that is willing to give me these opportunities to learn.  

What I have learned as I have spoken at few different area churches is that there is only so much information you can pack into 50 minutes and I always wish I had more time.  Further, when I go back and listen to my own messages to critique them (I am my own worst critic), I find myself wishing I would have clarified a statement or pointed out a resource.

So, above you will find my most recent talk, Is Jesus Really the Only Way to Heaven?, and I encourage you to take the time to read the footnotes as well.  In them I plan to point listeners to some great resources and clarify or expound on a few comments I made.  Finally, I will provide references for those who want to dig a little deeper or checkout some of the materials I refer to or used.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. Charles Templeton, Farewell to God, p. 27
2. For more of Ravi Zacharias's work, see here.
3. Survey as quoted by Doug Groothuis in Christian Apologetics, p. 567; also see here.
4. The paper by Dr. Norman Geisler that I refer to can be found here.  In it, he writes:

"A. T. Robertson said the real concern is with about a “thousandth part of the entire text.” So, the reconstructed text of the New Testament 99.9 percent free from real concern."

Here, admittedly, the estimates of the NT reliability range from 98.33%-99.9%, but regardless of what percentages one holds to, the reliable of the NT is incredibly high and the variants so often referred to have no impact on any one central Christian doctrine.

5. Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, p. 252.
6. Regarding my point that "Ehrman believes that we have what originally written down," I should have been more concise.  The point I was making is that Ehrman believes that the NT has been accurately preserved.  He writes in Misquoting Jesus, regarding Professor Bruce Metzger, whom he refers to as "one of the great scholars of modern times" the following:

"If he [Metzger] and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement...." [p. 252]

Obviously, Metzger believed that the New Testament had been accurately handed down and so by inference we can conclude that Ehrman does as well because he admits that his position in this area differs little from Metzgers'.  However, this surely does not imply, nor am I trying to do so, that Ehrman believes what is recorded in the NT.

A great article that supports my position can be found here.

7. A great book that deals with many of Ehrman's claims is Timothy Paul Jones's book Misquoting Truth.  Further, you can find some great online resources here and here.
8. For an outstanding book on the reliability of the Gospels, see Jim Wallace's work Cold-Case Christianity.  Our review is here.
9. For examples of how the Bible is confirmed by archaeology, see here or here.
10."Taking the Roof Off" is one of the many tactics Greg Koukl teaches in his book Tactics.  This book should be required reading for all of those that want to learn different tactics to use when discussing their Christian convictions.  Our review of the book is here.  Finally, you can find a lecture here by Greg Koukl on how to discuss your Christian beliefs without sounding defensive.
11. You can order your own "Contradict" bumper sticker here.
12. My point when I said I wanted to ask the atheist gentlemen how he knew what was right and wrong was not meant to imply that atheists are not moral.  My conviction is that atheism itself cannot ground objective moral truths.
13. My goal in this talk was to address a broad type of religious pluralism.  I was operating under the assumption that most people who claim that "All religious lead to God" believe that God is in heaven.  Surely, some of the religions mentioned don't even believe in a heaven; however, pointing out to folks that religions all teach things that contradict is a great way to shake their confidence in the idea that "all roads lead to the same place."  Were I addressing pluralism in a more academic manner, I would surely be a bit more precise, but my goal in this talk was practicality.  Further, here I am indebted to Aaron Brake and his excellent article The Six Blind Men and the Elephant: A Case for Religious Pluralism? 
14. Norman Geisler, If God Why Evil?, p. 115.
15. Ibid.; p. 116. (Problem in Logical Form)
14. I believe I heard Frank Turek make a comment like this in a talk he did at Hood College years ago; however, a similar point is made on p. 46 of his book I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
15. One of the many articles that tell of some of the accounts former Muslims are reporting can be found here.
16. The Greg Koukl video can be found here.
17. You can read Strobel's interview with Charles Templeton in Strobel's book The Case for Faith, p. 7-18.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Do Young People Become Atheists?

In this brief ten minute podcast, William Lane Craig reviews an article written by Larry Taunton for The Atlantic entitled "Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity."

The podcast and article review commonalities of  young people who are members of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) and Freethought Societies (FS). These groups are basically the atheist versions of Campus Crusade. They were asked to participate in a study via the Fixed Point Foundation website.

The article and podcast discuss that these young people in most cases:
  • Attended church
  • Saw the mission and messages of their church as vague
  • Were given superficial answers to life's difficult questions
  • Expressed respect for ministers who took the Bible seriously
  • Ages 14-17 were decisive
  • Their decision to embrace unbelief was an emotional one
  • The Internet factored heavily in their conversion to atheism
The article can be found here.

WLC's podcast can be found here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Should You Think For Yourself? - Redux

John Mark Reynolds and Holly Ordway of Houston Baptist University revisit this question on the podcast of The City Online, a publication of the University.

You can listen to the redux here.

You can listen to the original podcast here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Preview: "Noah"


Here is the trailer for the upcoming Paramount Pictures release "Noah" starring Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins.  What do you think of the trailer?  I certainly have many questions!  Sound off below!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Note to readers: This post is by no means an endorsement of the film.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Didn't Jesus Reveal Scientific Facts to Demonstrate His Deity?

J. Warner Wallace answers this question he encountered during a recent speaking engagement by examining three things:
  • The Nature of the Gospel Accounts
  • The Nature of the Ancient Audience
  • The Nature of the Miraculous Evidence
You can read the full answer here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Article: Undesigned Coincidences- Part 6 by Tim McGrew

Here is Pt. 6 of Tim McGrew's series on "undesigned coincidences" found in the pages of scripture.

Part I is here.

Part II is here.

Part III is here.

Part IV is here.

Part V is here.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Video: Why is Jesus the Only Way to Salvation? by Greg Koukl


In this brief video, Greg Koukl gives an illustration that demonstrates why it is reasonable to claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, November 18, 2013

Theologian R.C. Sproul on the Uniqueness of Jesus

"Moses could mediate on the law; Muhammad could brandish a sword; Buddha could give personal counsel; Confucius could offer wise sayings; but none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world...Christ alone is worthy of unlimited devotion and service." [1]




Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

1. R.C. Sproul, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Lamplighter Books, 1982), 44-45.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Killing Jesus - Thoughts for Apologists

“You are about to enter the no-spin zone.”  So states Bill O’Reilly at the start of the O’Reilly Factor airing each evening on the Fox News Channel.  Following the success of his previous books Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, he and his co-author Martin Dugard decide to apply their no-spin, fact based take on the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth in Killing Jesus.  They state in the introduction that “…we have the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but they sometimes appear contradictory and were written from a spiritual point of view rather than as a historical chronicling of Jesus’ life.”  They claim to be interested in telling the truth and that this is a fact based book, not a religious book.  They want us to understand what was going on in the world around Jesus.  Rome dominated the world, tolerated no dissent and “human life was worth little.”

When I first picked the book, I immediately turned to the back to see if the authors cited their sources.  And what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Recent works by scholars whose names will be very familiar to students of apologetics and the historic Jesus.  The recommended readings from the Sources for the Historical Jesus section included:

     ·         Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, Edited by Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland
     ·         Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, by Darrell L. Bock
     ·         Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan, edited by Paul Copan
     ·         The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, by Craig S Keener
     ·         The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Michael R. Licona
     ·          “A more theological take on Jesus can be found in C. S. Lewis’s insightful and dense Mere Christianity

The book is divided into three sections: Book 1, The World of Jesus, Book 2, Behold the Man and Book 3, If You Are the Son of God, Take Yourself Off This Cross.  Readers who may be squeamish need to be aware that there are some graphic descriptions of the brutal atrocities and depravity of the cultures at the time.  Chapter one describes Herod’s murderous record and physical ailments as the facts begin with the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem.

The next two chapters chronicle the rise, warfare, affairs and assassination of Julius Caesar, who is posthumously deified as Divus Julius, god Julius, and the Roman civil war that follows which results in the victory and rise to power of Caesar Augustus.  Following Divus Julius, Augustus affects the title Divi Filius, son of god.  This is an important point to keep in mind as the the context is set for Jesus' own claims.

The remainder of Book 1 completes the picture, detailing the rule of Herod Antipas’ and the difficulty of life in Galilee setting the scene for Jesus and the message he is about to bring.

Book 2, Behold the Man, is a harmonization of the historical accounts of Jesus’ teachings and ministry from his entry into the public realm to his preparation to enter Jerusalem.  The authors are quite clear about who Jesus claims himself to be.  When he goes back to Nazareth and reads from the scroll of Isaiah, he boldly declares that what he has read refers to himself.  He “has issued three pronouncements about his identity: one to the public in Jerusalem, one to Nicodemus the Pharisee, and the third in the intimate setting of his own town synagogue…he has declared himself to be the Son of God”, Divi Filius.

While the majority of the narrative is consistent with the facts of which we are familiar, there are several moments in the book where I found myself scratching my head asking, “Where did they get that fact come from?”  Such moments include the following:

·         The message of John the Baptizer is described as, “Wade into the water and be cleansed of your sins, or this newly anointed ruler – this ’Christ’ – will punish you in the most horrible manner possible.”  
·         When Jesus comes to John the Baptist, it is stated that a dove suddenly lands on his shoulder.  The authors exclaim, “the dove changes everything.”  Furthermore, the people who are present and witness this suddenly “drop to their knees and press their faces into the earth.  Jesus does not react to this sign of worship.  He does nothing to discourage it, either.”  John then declares when he baptizes Jesus that “this is the Son of God.”
·         It is reported that Jesus calls Simon (Peter) a second time.  “He knows Jesus from their previous meeting during the summer, as he and some others were fishing…  At the time, Jesus had called upon Simon and his brother Andrew to join him as he preached his message throughout Galilee and to save souls by becoming ‘fishers of men.’  While Simon had initially accepted that call to evangelism, he also has a wife and mother-in-law to care for. The task of being one of Jesus’s disciples and spreading the word about his message is difficult to balance with his need to make a living.  His commitment to Jesus has flagged.  But now Jesus is back…”
·         The authors claim that, “Whether knowingly or unknowingly, Jesus has led a life that is a continual fulfillment of Jewish prophecy…if Jesus chooses to ride into Jerusalem at Passover astride a donkey, he will be sending a powerful message…Jesus is clever enough to act out any prophecy…But Jesus would be a fool to ride a donkey into Jerusalem.  That would be a death sentence.” 
·         When Jesus is convicted by the Sanhedrin, “the verdict is passed by simple consensus.  The only voices of dissent come from Nicodemus and a wealthy Sadducee named Joseph of Arimathea.”

However, there were also a few moments when I found the authors presenting context and detail that caused me to consider, “That’s an interesting thought”.

·         When the authors discuss the Sermon on the Mount, which they say “may be the most important speech in history,” they also raise an interesting consideration about the context for the Lord’s Prayer: “It’s all there.  Everything that a peasant in Galilee can relate to as a part of life under Roman rule: the need to rely on God, the worry about daily nourishment, the constant struggle to stay out of debt, and, finally, a reminder that in the midst of this cruel life, succumbing to the temptations to lie, cheat, steal, or sleep with another man’s wife is a false act that will only lead people farther and farther from God.”
·         When Jesus is addressing the crowd about John the Baptist, he asks the crowd, “What did you go out into the desert to see?  A reed swayed by the winds?  A man dressed in fine clothes?  No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.”  Why did Jesus mention a reed?  A footnote points out that Herod Antipas’ personal emblem of rule was a reed.  This makes sense in the context of the questions.
·         As an apologist, I couldn’t help but smile when I read, “Jesus is not a prince like Moses or a warrior like David.  He is an intellectual.  He deals in logic.” 
·         The authors also give a tip-of-the-hat to C. S. Lewis when they state that “to claim he is the Son of God would make Jesus one of three things: a lunatic, a liar, or a divinity who fulfills Scripture.  Few in the crowd believe that Jesus is deranged or a charlatan.  But will they make that incredible leap to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh?”
·         When Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers, a footnote points out, “It was a widespread belief at the time that vipers were hatched inside their mother, then ate their way through her skin to get out.”  From this, it is inferred that Jesus is essentially calling the religious authorities murderers of their own parents, a loathsome distinction in Jewish society.
·         When Jesus is buried by Nicodemus and Joseph, the book states that “a criminal’s presence in a tomb desecrates it…for a member of the Sanhedrin to touch a dead body on Passover makes him unclean and disqualifies him from eating the Seder.  By law, Joseph and Nicodemus will be declared impure and must undergo a seven-day cleansing ritual.”

As Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem at the close of Book 2, it is clear that the disciples think he will one day rule the land, but he tells them he will be killed and raised on the third day.  They have no idea what this means.

Book 3, If You Are the Son of God, Take Yourself off This Cross, gives the account of the events of Passover week that end ultimately in his crucifixion.  “He has been very specific with the disciples that he is more than just an earthly Christ.  They don’t understand.  He has told them again and again that he is a divine being, the Son of God.  They cannot comprehend that concept.  Jesus has made it clear that he is the Christ but that his kingdom is not of this world.  They don’t understand what he’s talking about.  Three times, Jesus has told his disciples that he will die this week.  But his followers refuse even to contemplate that.”

Then, Judas makes his deal with the high priests. The authors seem to believe that Judas thinks that “Jesus will be arrested and then declare himself to be the Christ.  If the Nazarene truly is the Messiah, then he will have no problem saving himself from Caiaphas and the high priests.  However, if Jesus is not the Christ, he will die.”

Finally, he is executed and “…Jesus is clearly dead.  The spear rupturing the pericardial sac around his heart left no doubt.”

So what do we make of this “fact” based account of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth?  It is well-researched, but it is by no means a scholarly product.  The absence of citations within the text will be frustrating for those readers interested in digging deeper and verifying certain “facts”.
However, the author’s purpose was to write a novelized account to a popular level audience.  It seeks to harmonize the historical evidence of the four gospel accounts while using broad brush strokes to paint a picture of the ragged and often brutal life in first century Palestine under Roman rule.  In this respect, I think the authors are successful, describing Jesus’ life and teachings in the context of the world at that time.  I found it an enjoyable read with the narrative progressing at a quick pace.  Though the authors expressed that it was not their intention for the book to be a religious treatise, I found some of what I read causing me to think a little deeper about my understanding of Jesus life and teachings.

Apologetically, the authors are clear about why Jesus didn’t make his proclamations openly and publicly that he is the Jewish Messiah, the Son of God.  To do so would have resulted in immediate execution by either the Jews for blasphemy or the Romans for treason.  The authors are also clear that Jesus did make such claims both implicitly and explicitly.  He clearly understood that his mission was not to establish a new kingdom for Israel, free from the oppression of Rome and its puppet potentates.   His purpose was to teach the truth about God in a world crushed by brutal and debauched men of power.  To this the religious leaders were blinded by their self-righteous pride. He rode into Jerusalem, in complete control of his faculties and allowed himself to be humiliated and killed.

In conclusion, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God in a culture in which it was blasphemy, in an empire in which it was treason.  For this he was executed and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  But Mary Magdalene and some of the other women found the tomb empty and “[to] this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found.”  These are the facts.  This is the evidence.  Presented to the reader “fair and balanced.”  “We report, you decide.”  Let the conversations begin.

That you may know,

Roger (Col 3:23)