Monday, February 29, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Jesus’ Response to the High Priest

This series has identified sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus which demonstrate that He claimed the following three titles:  Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son of Man.  The series also provided the criteria these sayings meet that make it reasonable to think of them as authentic.  The series ends with an examination of the authenticity of Mark 14:60-64 in which Jesus claims all three titles.  The passage follows:

Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?”  But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

The following lines of evidence support the authenticity of this saying:2

1. Sitting at God’s right hand and coming with the clouds is only together on the lips of Jesus.
2. The idea of the Son of Man sitting at God’s right hand is found nowhere else in the New Testament.
3. The saying contains the same slight self-reference and high personal claims as other Son of Man sayings.
4. While Psalm 110:1 regarding sitting at the right hand of God is referenced in the New Testament, the substitution of “the Power” for “God” is found nowhere else in the New Testament.
5. It is unlikely that Mark created a prediction the Sanhedrin did not see fullfilled.

When you couple the authenticity of the sayings identified throughout this series with the evidence for the resurrection it is quite reasonable to conclude that God revealed Himself and His means of the redemption of mankind through the person of Jesus.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. The Holman Christian Standard Bible is utilized here.

2. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 318.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Did the Early Church Leaders Decided Which Books Would Be Included in the New Testament Canon?

The canon describes which books were accepted as official and included in the New Testament.

The early church had three sensible criteria for determining which books made it into the New Testament, as celebrated New Testament Scholar Bruce Metzger explained in an interview with Lee Strobel:

"First, the books must have apostolic authority-that is, they must have been written either by apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of apostles.

Second, there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith.  That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative?

And third, there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large."1

Metzger went on to point out:

"What's remarkable...is that even though the fringes of the canon remained unsettled for a while, there were actually a high degree of unanimity concerning the greater part of the New Testament within the first two centuries.  And this was true among very diverse congregations scattered over a wide area."2

New Testament scholar Timothy Paul Jones makes a similar point:

"From the very beginning, Christians embraced four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of Paul and at least one letter from John.  Even if this score of books had been the only documents that represented eyewitness testimony about Jesus, every vital truth of Christian faith would remain completely intact."3

To learn more about the NT Canon, see Michael Kruger's list of Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. Lee Strobel, The Case for Christianity, p. 55-56.
2. Ibid, p. 56.
3. Timothy Paul Jones, Misquoting Truth, p. 136.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Counterpoints: David Silverman vs. William Lane Craig on Objective Moral Truths

David Silverman: “There is no objective moral standard. We are responsible for our own actions….” “The hard answer is it [moral decisions] is a matter of opinion.”[1]

William Lane Craig: "Actions like rape, torture, and child abuse aren't just socially unacceptable behavior-they're moral abominations. By the same token, love, generosity, and self sacrifice are really good. People who fail to see this are just handicapped, the moral equivalent of someone who is physically blind, and there's no reason to let their impairment call into question what we see clearly." [2]




Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. David Silverman (Debate with Frank Turek: ‘Which offers a better explanation for reality -Theism or Atheism?’) as quoted by James Bishop here.  You can view the debate between David Silverman and Frank Turek here.
2. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 140-141.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Video: He is Risen Indeed by Ravi Zacharias


In this featured video from Ligonier Ministries, Dr. Ravi Zacharias offering a defense of the bodily resurrection of Christ and responses to skeptics both inside and outside the church.

For more from Ravi Zacharias, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Albert Mohler Offers Advice on How to Organize Your Reading

Prior to becoming a Christian I mainly read Marvel comics.  I rarely read for enjoyment and when I did, it was normally tennis or hockey magazines. Then I became a committed follower of Jesus Christ and my mind was almost immediately transformed.  I began to read philosophy, theology, history and more.  I couldn't get enough and that still remains true.  My books shelves are currently overflowing with books.  If I could read for a living, I would!

In this featured article, Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers 6 tips to help you organize your reading.

They are:

1. Maintain Regular Writing Projects

2. Work Through Major Sections of Scripture

3. Read All the Titles Written by Some Authors

4. Get Some Big Sets and Read Through Them

5. Allow Yourself Some Fun Reading and Learn How to Enjoy Reading by Reading Enjoyable Books

6. Write in Your Books; Make Them Up and Make Them Yours

In the article Dr. Mohler briefly unpacks each tip.  You can check it out here.

Happy Reading!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Article: Five Arguments for Theism by Peter S. Williams

Readers of this blog know I greatly appreciate the work of philosopher Peter S. Williams.  He has a gift for explaining things in an understandable and precise manner.

In this brief article, Williams explains 5 arguments for the existence of a theistic God.  The arguments included are:

1. The Kalam Cosmological Argument

2. A Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

3. The Fine-Tuning Design Argument

4. The Moral Argument

5. An Ontological Argument

For those new to apologetics, this is a great article to get acquainted with some of the key arguments for theism.

You can checkout it out here.  PDF is here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, February 22, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: The Son of Man

Of the subject title Craig writes the following:

It is highly likely that Jesus thought of himself as and claimed to be the Son of Man.  This was Jesus’ favorite self-description and is the title found most frequently in the gospels (over eighty times). Yet remarkably, this title is found only once outside the Gospels in the rest of the new Testament (Acts 7:56).  That shows that the designation of Jesus as “the Son of Man” was not a title that arose in later Christian usage and was then written back into the Jesus traditions. Even in the Gospels, only Jesus uses this title; others may confess him as the Messiah or the Son of God, but never as the Son of Man. On the basis of the criterion of dissimilarity we can say with confidence that Jesus called himself “the Son of Man."1

Further, Craig notes that Jesus’ use of the definitive article “the” throughout the Gospels points to the son of man figure spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14.  Also it is multiply attested that Jesus believed in the figure (Mark 8:38; 13:26-27; Matthew 10:32-33/Luke 12:8-9; Matthew 24:27,37,39/Luke 17:24, 26, 30).  Some argue that Jesus was talking about and expecting someone else when using the Son of Man title. However, this would require deeming all of the Son of Man sayings of Jesus inauthentic and if Jesus held such a view His claims to ultimate authority would not make sense.2

This series has identified authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus which demonstrate that He claimed the following three titles:  Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. Next week the series will finish with a look at a passage in which Jesus claims all three titles.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1.  Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 315.

2.  Ibid. Pages 316, 317.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Book Preview: The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Taunton

About the Author

Larry Alex Taunton (born 1967) is an American cultural commentator,columnist, and contributor to The Atlantic. A frequent television and radio guest, he has appeared on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and BBC. Mr. Taunton has been quoted by Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, TIME, Vanity Fair, and NPR, among others. His book The Grace Effect offers a glimpse of what the world would look like without Christian influence. Mr. Taunton is also the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation.

In 2010 Mr. Taunton publicly debated friend and atheist, Christopher Hitchens. Taunton was born at Fort Benning, Georgia. He currently divides his time between the United States and Europe. He and his wife have four children.

About the Book

At the time of his death, Christopher Hitchens was the most notorious atheist in the world. And yet, all was not as it seemed. “Nobody is not a divided self, of course,” he once told an interviewer, “but I think it’s rather strong in my case.” Hitchens was a man of many contradictions: a Marxist in youth who longed for acceptance among the social elites; a peacenik who revered the military; a champion of the Left who was nonetheless pro-life, pro-war-on-terror, and after 9/11 something of a neocon; and while he railed against God on stage, he maintained meaningful—though largely hidden from public view—friendships with evangelical Christians like Francis Collins, Douglas Wilson, and the author Larry Alex Taunton.

In The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, Taunton offers a very personal perspective of one of our most interesting and most misunderstood public figures. Writing with genuine compassion and without compromise, Taunton traces Hitchens’s spiritual and intellectual development from his decision as a teenager to reject belief in God to his rise to prominence as one of the so-called “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism. While Hitchens was, in the minds of many Christians, Public Enemy Number One, away from the lights and the cameras a warm friendship flourished between Hitchens and the author; a friendship that culminated in not one, but two lengthy road trips where, after Hitchens’s diagnosis of esophageal cancer, they studied the Bible together. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens gives us a candid glimpse into the inner life of this intriguing, sometimes maddening, and unexpectedly vulnerable man.

You can get your copy here.

Honestly, I can't wait to read this book.  Some may find it surprising, but I actually miss Christopher Hitchens and still enjoy watching him online.  Although I obviously disagreed with many of his views, He was a gifted story teller and when he passed I experienced genuine sorrow.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why Science Makes Theism Likelier than Atheism by Saints and Skeptics

In this featured post from Saints and Skeptics, they argue that science makes theism likelier than atheism.

They write:

"Should we view the order of the universe, and our ability to comprehend that order, as evidence of God? As discussed in the article The Evidence for God, a fact provides evidence for God if God’s existence provides a better explanation (or helps us make more sense) of the evidence than would be the case if there is no God. So we need to consider the evidence in light of theism on the one hand and atheism on the other." 


You can checkout the entire post here.  

Further, I encourage our readers to checkout the excellent work being done at Saints and Skeptics.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, February 18, 2016

J. Warner Wallace on Bias

"Christians are often accused of being 'biased' simply because they believe in the supernatural.  This accusation has power in our current pluralistic culture.  Biased people are seen as prejudicial and unfair, arrogant and overly confident of their position.  Nobody wants to be identified as someone who is biased or opinionated. But make no mistake about it, all of us have a point of view; all of us hold opinions and ideas that color the way we see the world. Anyone who tells you that he (or she) is completely objective and devoid of presuppositions has another more important problem: that person is either astonishingly naive or a liar."1

You can find a post by Wallace on this topic here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, p. 27-28.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Featured Resource: FreeThinking Ministries

Yesterday I tweeted an article that I came across on CrossExamined's blog by Tim Stratton entitled "An OUGHT from an IS."  The article included a link to Stratton's ministry "Free Thinking Ministries" and I was very impressed by the content.  I wanted to highlight some of it here.



FreeThinking Ministries features the work of Apologist and Pastor Tim Stratton and is devoted to strengthening the faith of Christians while rationally engaging and graciously challenging the faith of “non-believers.”

FreeThinking Ministries is devoted to helping all people see God for who He truly is so that they can fall in love with Him – and all people – as they were created to do. We will seek to rationally engage all people with truth (Philippians 4:5). We will be focused on strengthening the faith of the believers, and graciously challenging the faith of non-believers (2 Corinthians 10:5).

To learn more, go here.

Some of their resources include:
I encourage readers to checkout this helpful ministry!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Videos: The Kalam Cosmological Argument with Peter S. Williams

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

In this 3 part video series, you will learn:
  • The historical background of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
  • The evidence for each of the premises; both philosophical and scientific
  • Why has the "burden of proof?"
  • Is the argument logically valid?
  • Who created God?
  • What constitutes a valid argument?
  • Could the argument be improved?



Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, February 15, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: The Date of Consummation

When speaking about the subject event in which He will return and the final judgement takes place, Jesus stated the following as recorded in Mark 13:32:  “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows - neither the angels in heaven nor the Son - except the Father.”1  

Because this passage ascribes a limitation to the Son it is unlikely that it was added later by the church for it clearly fulfills the criterion of embarassment (awkward or counterproductive for the persons who serve as the source of information2).  This embarassment is evident by the fact that the passage is absent from Luke and it is only found in the best manuscripts of Matthew.  Finally, that we see Mark record the predictive ability of Jesus in other places (Mark 11:2; 13; 14:13-15, 18, 27-28, 30) speaks to the authenticity of this passage.3

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1.  Holman Christian Standard Bible is used here.
2.  Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 298.

3.  Ibid. Pages 312-313.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Video: Where Did Jesus Go Between His Death and Resurrection?


Please take a few minutes and checkout this video with "The One Minute Apologist" Bobby Conway and Dr. Norman Geisler.  You may learn something.  I know I did!

For more from the One Minute Apologist, go here.

For more from Dr. Geisler, go here.

You can learn more about this topic here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, February 12, 2016

William Lane Craig on Religious Pluralism

"Now this view, which one often hears expounded by laypeople and college sophomores, is rooted in ignorance of what the world's great religions teach. Anyone who has studied comparative religions knows that the worldviews propounded by these religions are often diametrically opposite one another. Just take Islam and Buddhism, for example. Their worldviews have almost nothing in common. Islam believes that there is a personal God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and holy, and who created the world. It believes that people are sinful and in need of God's forgiveness, that everlasting heaven or hell awaits us after death, and that we must earn our salvation by faith and righteous deeds. Buddhism denies all of these things. For the classical Buddhist ultimate reality is impersonal, the world is uncreated, there is no enduring self, life's ultimate goal is not personal immortality but annihilation, and the ideas of sin and salvation play no role at all. Examples like this could be multiplied."1

In other words, they contradict; therefore, the view that says all religions are true or equally valid is demonstrably false.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 150-151 as quoted by Aaron Brake in his excellent article, "Do All Religions Lead to God?"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Apostle Paul Answers the Question, "What about Those Who Never Heard?"

In his open-air address to the Athenian philosophers on the Areopagus, the Apostle Paul explained:

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and...gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'" (Acts 17:24-28)1

As philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig explains, these verses plausibly argue that those who would respond to the gospel, hear it:

"God in His providence has so arranged the world that those who would respond to the gospel if they heard it, do hear it.  The sovereign God has so ordered human history that as the gospel spreads out from first-century Palestine, He places people in its path who would believe it if they heard it.  Once the gospel reaches a people, God providentially places there persons who He knew would respond to it if they heard it.  In His love and mercy, God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if he heard is born at a time and place in history where he fails to hear it.  Those who don't respond to God's general revelation in nature and conscience and never hear the gospel wouldn't respond to it if they did hear it.  Hence, no one is lost because of historical or geographical accident.  Anyone who wants or even would want to be saved will be saved."2

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. Acts 17:24-28 as quoted by William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 281.
2. Ibid. p. 280-281.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Are the Laws of Logic? by J.P. Moreland

There are three fundamental laws of logic.  Suppose P is any indicative sentence, say, "It's is raining."

The law of identity: P is P.
The law of non-contradiction: P is not non-P.
The law of excluded middle: Either P or non-P.


The law of identity says that if a statement such as "It is raining" is true, then the statement is true.  More generally, it says that the statement P is the same thing as itself and is different from everything else.  Applied to all reality, the law of identity says that everything is itself and not something else.

The law of non-contradiction says that a statement such as "It is raining" cannot be both true and false in the same sense.  Of course it could be raining in Missouri and not raining in Arizona, but the principle says that it cannot be raining and not raining at the same time in the same place.

The law of excluded middle says that a statement such as "It is raining" is either true or false.  There is no other alternative.

These fundamental laws are true principles governing reality and thought and are assumed by Scripture.  Some claim they are arbitrary Western constructions, but this is false.  The basic laws of logic govern all reality and thought and are known to be true for at least two reasons: (1) They are intuitively obvious and self-evident.  Once one understands a basic law of logic (see below), one can see that it is true. (2) Those who deny them use these principles in their denial, demonstrating that those laws are unavoidable and that it is self-refuting to deny them.

The basic laws of logic are neither arbitrary inventions of God nor principles that exist completely outside God's being.  Obviously, the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature.  God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former.  Those laws are rooted in God's own nature.  Indeed, some scholars think the passage "In the beginning was the Word [logos]" (Jn. 1:1) is accurately translated, "In the beginning was Logic (a divine, rational mind)."  For example, even God cannot exist and not exist at the same time, and even God cannot validly believe that red is a color and red is not a color.  When people say that God need not behave "logically," they are using the term in a loose sense to mean "the sensible thing from my point of view." Often God does not act in ways that people understand or judge to be what they would do in the circumstances.  But God never behaves illogically in the proper sense.  He does not violate in His being or thought the fundamental laws of logic.1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. J. P. Moreland, "What are the Laws of Logic?," The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1854.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Counterpoints: Pro-Life or Partially Pro-Life?

Florida Senator Marco Rubio:

I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. 

In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.

And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.1

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

He made it clear on the issue of pro-life, Marco Rubio is not for an exception for rape, incest, or life of the mother. You know I think that’s the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would be really concerned about.

I’m pro-life but I believe that you know rape, incest, and the life of the mother, should be exceptions to that rule.1

Should we be concerned that someone thinks that every human being is worthy of protection no matter the circumstances of their birth?

Should we continue to allow abortion on demand for life of the mother cases that account for less than 1% of total abortions?

Is it possible to be partially pro-life?

Sound off in the comments below!

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnote:
1. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/02/04/chris-christie-attacks-marco-rubio-for-being-too-pro-life/


Monday, February 08, 2016

Jesus as God in His Parables

Chase's helpful series on the authentic sayings of Jesus will continue next week. This week, I encourage readers to checkout this post that demonstrates that Jesus claimed to be God through His parables.

Further, for those interested in researching the reliability of the Bible, checkout our our Old and New Testament Research Materials here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Video: Where Do Good and Evil Come From? by Peter Kreeft


This video features a great defense of the following moral argument:

1. Every law has a law giver.
2. There is a Moral Law.
3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Late Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow on the Origin of the Universe

“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.1

To checkout some of the scientific evidence for the origin of the universe, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1.    “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, emphasis added.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Difference Between Patriotism and the Kingdom of God


I thought this was a very timely video to share and topic to discuss during this time of intense campaigning. In the video, "Dr. Michael Brown explains the subtle danger of putting nationalism before the kingdom of God, especially as American Christians."

Of course another erroneous view, that many pastors unfortunately believe, is that politics has no place in the pulpit.  Pastor Michael Sherrard exposes the error in this thinking here.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Matthew 11:27

The subject passage, also found in Luke 10:22, records Jesus saying, “All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”1 Craig writes that from this passage “we may conclude that Jesus thought of himself as God’s Son in an absolute and unique sense and as having been invested with the exclusive authority to reveal his Father God to men.”2 But can this passage be deemed authentic?

This saying is a Q saying; it goes back to an original Aramaic version. It also has the criterion of dissimilarity because it would be unlikely for the church to say that the Son is unknowable or to refer to Him in such an informal way (i.e. not by a title like “Son of God”). For these reasons, it is reasonable to think that this saying is authentic.

Skeptics who deny the authenticity of the saying argue that it is out of place in the Synoptic Gospels. However, passages such as Mark 4:10-12; 12:1-11; 13:32 and Matthew 16-17-19; 28:18, which do give indication of the exclusive and absolute authority of the Son, assauge this concern.3

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase


Footnotes:
1.  Holman Christian Standard Bible is used here.
2.  Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 312.

3.  Ibid. Page 311.

Monday, February 01, 2016

21 Days of Prayer for Life

Truthbomb Apologetics encourages the use of the subject prayer guide published by the The Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  The authors of the guide are Scott Kulsendorf and John Stonestreet. You can download the guide here

Stand firm in Christ and for the preborn,
Chase