"Apologetics helped rebuild my faith in Christ, and I became convinced of its absolute necessity for student discipleship. That's right, I said necessity. Apologetics is not optional in a post-Christian culture. It's not just for the nerdy youth group kid 'who's into that kind of stuff.' God is a rational God, and we are made in his image. Therefore, every student is rational by design, instinctively gathering reasons and evidence as they seek to make sense of the world around them and form a coherent set of beliefs about reality. As the church equips a new generation for the cause of Christ, we must begin with the conviction apologetics is an indispensable tool."1
The following trailer introduces a 10 episode TV/DVD series to be released in July 2016 by Olive Tree Media entitled "Jesus the Game Changer." This series features over 30 academics, authors, and researchers who share how the life and teachings of Jesus changed the world and why it matters.
I remember when I first made the decision to follow Jesus Christ. I was excited about the evidence I had discovered for the reliability of the New Testament and the resurrection. I went to church to discuss it with fellow believers, but to my surprise, most were unaware of it or just didn't care! I learned a difficult lesson that day- many within the body of Christ are unaware of the rich arguments and evidence that support what they believe and others would rather talk about the big game than think hard about their Christian convictions.
As a result of such attitudes, intellectuals or thinking believers can sometimes feel out of place in church. If you have ever found yourself feeling this way, you will be encourage by today's featured post by Kenneth Samples of Reasons to Believe.
In the post, Samples offers three ways intellectuals can fit in at church. They are as follows:
1. Read the Writings of Some of Christianity's Greatest Thinkers
2. Find Like-Minded Individuals Within the Church and Build a Community
Look, we have messy lives. Some of us have medical problems—even in the womb. Some of us develop coronary heart disease at 41 years old. Some of us are hurting mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But Jesus came that we might live, and live abundantly (John 10:10). And that right to life applies to all of us—inside or outside the womb. Let’s continue linking arms together, protecting all human life in honor of Jesus Christ, who honored us by His death and resurrection. Read the rest of Brian Fisher's (of Online for Life) thoughts on Easter here. Stand firm in Christ and stand firm for the preborn, Chase
We here at Truthbomb Apologetics just wanted to wish you a Happy Resurrection Day! For those interested in learning more about the claims of Jesus Christ and the historical evidence for His resurrection from the dead, we encourage you to visit our Resurrection Research Links.
This page includes articles, audio, debates, and videos dealing with numerous topics that relate to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Further, these resources include some of the top scholars in the field including Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, N.T. Wright, and Dr. William Lane Craig.
"Jesus was an apologist. He used logical reasoning to respond to criticism (e.g., Matthew 22:23-32) and he put forth various lines of evidence to demonstrate that he was the Messiah. Along with loving people, healing people, and proclaiming the kingdom of God, Jesus thought it was important to defend the truth of the Scriptures and to provide positive evidence in support of his worldview.
His goal was not simply to win arguments for their own sake. Rather, his greater goal was to see people follow him and to experience eternal life (John 17:1-5). And yet to accomplish this end, Jesus utilized apologetics as one important tool.
Jesus had a unique approach to apologetics, notes the late philosopher Dallas Willard: 'Jesus' aim in utilizing logic is not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in his hearers...He presents matters in such a way that those who wish to know can find their way to, can come to, the appropriate conclusion as something they have discovered-whether or not it is something they particularly care for.'"1
For an example of Jesus the apologist in action, see here.
Is a historian, as a historian, ever justified in inferring a miracle is the best explanation of certain historical facts? After all, "[h]ow can a historian infer that a miracle is the best explanation of historical data, given that supernatural phenomena are, by their very nature, extremely improbable?"1
New Testament scholars such as Bart Ehrman say historians cannot;however, in this featured post by Jonathan McLatchie, he contends otherwise. In the post, McLatchie explains that this type of thinking originated with David Hume and he demonstrates why this common objection fails.
Abortion survivor Melissa Ohden as quoted by Dave Sterrett in We Choose Life:
Abortion is a decision that has such a detrimental effect on so many, across generations. Sadly, we know that there is often little choice behind the decision, whether lack of knowledge about resources and support, coercion, and even force are the impetus for it.
Every decision has a consequence; every abortion has a ripple effect that impacts generations. That is the biggest reason why I came forward publicly in 2007 as an abortion survivor, to turn back the tide in the opposite direction, to bring truth and love to a world that has been devastated by abortion.
Lives like mine, stories like mine, are often unheard of in a world where abortion is still talked about as a simple choice or a woman's right. Thankfully, however, the truth about abortion and its consequences for children, women, men, families, and our communities as a whole is coming to light. The truth about abortion survivors is that I'm far from alone. Although we mourn the loss of nearly 57 million lives to abortion since Roe v. Wade was passed, we also celebrate the lives of those who have survived.
Stand firm in Christ and stand firm for the preborn,
It is my conviction that the modern church as a whole seems lost. In our attempts to remain relevant, in many ways we have become irrelevant. We have more tools available to spread the message of the gospel, but seem less effective. Young people are leaving the church and our congregations seem more biblically illiterate than ever before. Where have we gone wrong? What is the solution?
In Church History for Modern Ministry, Pastor Dayton Hartman believes the answer lies in our past. The author contends that "[f]or pastors, ignoring the past is both foolish and dangerous" [p. 4] and Hartman knows from experience. He begins this work explaining his own pilgrimage into studying church history and the impact it had on his worldview and personal ministry. He explains that a "multi-year journey into church history changed my view of the creeds, preaching, discipleship, pastoral care, and cultural engagement. I am a different and, I believe, better pastor because of church history."[Ibid.] His studies have convinced him that, "pastoral ministry is maximally effective only if carried out in light of lessons from our history." [p. 3] Hartman spends the remainder of this short work (90 pages) identifying "a number of dangers inherent to ignoring the past, as well as many benefits to knowing what has come before us." [Ibid.] Strengths of the Book
This reviewer found Hartman's suggestions thoughtful and extremely practical. For example, after arguing the benefits of introducing ancient creeds into a worship service, the author offers feasible ways that it can be done:
"Churches can begin to include creeds as part of worship through a number of strategies. I would suggest the following approach. First, recite the Hebrew confession of monotheism, the Shema (Deut 6:4), and Paul’s restatement of it in light of Christ’s revelation (1 Cor 8:6). Then, during Holy Week, your congregation could read the Christ-centered hymn in Philippians 2 (vv. 6–11), as well as Paul’s summary of the evidence of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor 15:1–11). Allow time in the service to explain these creeds. The congregation could then recite these creeds before learning others, like the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed." [p. 19]
Moreover, his pastoral experience and care for the body of Christ are evident throughout. For example, when discussing how to introduce creeds to a congregation, he writes:
"The key to introducing anything new into a church’s liturgy is patience and explanation. Don’t rush the process of explanation and implementation. Allow ample opportunity to explain the value of a creed and to connect it to specific passages of Scripture."[p. 21]
This reader was also thrilled to see Hartman's insistence that pastors incorporate apologetics into their weekly sermons. As he points out:
"...much of Scripture itself is written with an eye toward apologetic implications. The first chapters of Genesis are both a scriptural account of creation and an apologetic against ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies. Even many of the miracles recorded in Scripture are meant to serve apologetic purposes. These miracles range from the plagues in Egypt, demonstrating the futility of Egyptian gods, to the healing miracles performed by Jesus, revealing that he is the Messiah. The text of Scripture is so interwoven with apologetic elements that it is difficult to preach the whole counsel of God without noting those elements and incorporating them into weekly sermons." [p. 41]
Further, after offering examples of apologetics from church history, the author argues "[i]f pastors assume that their listeners know the foundation of a Christian truth claim, like Christ’s deity, their congregations never see those claims unpacked so that they, too, can defend them and build on them. We should not assume that our congregation is in agreement with whatever scriptural propositional claim we are addressing. Thus, in an effort to edify and build up the body of Christ, we must 'contend earnestly for the faith' (Jude 3) from the pulpit so that the pew will be a place of confidence and a place of preparation for cultural engagement.[Ibid.]
It was also refreshing to see the author argue that Christians must stop merely consuming and copying culture, but must once again become creators of culture. Hartman argues that this return to what was once normative Christianity must begin with pastors:
"Throughout history, the most culturally influential Christians have been pastors: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Abraham Kuyper, and Francis Schaeffer. Pastors are critical for progress in redeeming and producing culture. We must understand the culture around us, help build redemptive culture, and envision how to create culture." [p. 51]
Moreover, the layout of the book is both easy to follow and down-to-earth for church leaders desiring to implement the author's ideas. Each chapter ends with a short note to pastors, action steps, reflection questions and recommended reading. Further, throughout the book Hartman's convictions are supported by examples from the very history he argues we need to recover.
Church History for Modern Ministry is an ideal introduction to church history for anyone interested in learning more about the topic. Hartman's humor and concise explanations make his work easy to digest while not sacrificing depth or precision.
The shelves at Christian bookstores are filled with books that recommend new ways to preach, teach, disciple and worship; however, Dayton Hartman has successfully argued that the answers to the issues plaguing the modern church can be found in its rich history.
Sean McDowell is an assistant professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He has two Masters Degrees in Theology and Philosophy from Talbot Theological Seminary and earned his Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an internationally recognized speaker, best-selling author, and was 'Educator of the Year' for his hometown, San Juan Capistrano, in 2008.
A New Kind of Apologist, edited by Sean McDowell and with contributions from more than 20 leading apologists, is the go-to resource for effectively defending the Christian faith in our changing culture. In it you’ll discover:
- important topics often ignored by apologists, such as transgender issues, religious freedom, and the intersection of economics and apologetics
- a new kind of apologetics that is relational, gracious, and holistic
- interviews with both seasoned apologists and skeptics, providing insights into how to do apologetics effectively in today’s culture
A New Kind of Apologist addresses the latest issues, including:
“Connecting Apologetics to the Heart”
“Teaching Apologetics to the Next Generation”
“Apologetics in our Sexually Broken Culture”
“Apologetics and Islam”
“Apologetics and Religious Freedom”
and adopts fresh strategies for reaching those who are outside the church with the truth of the gospel.
Efthimiou and Gandhi “conclude
that vampires cannot exist, since their existence contradicts the existence of
human beings. Incidentally, the logical
proof that we just presented is of a type known as reduction ad absurdum, that
is, reduction to the absurd. Another philosophical
principle related to our argument is the truism given the elaborate title, the
anthropic principle. This states that if
something is necessary for human existence, then it must be true since we do
exist. In the present case, the
nonexistence of vampires is necessary for human existence.”
Joe goes on to explain what he calls the V-class principle,
the necessity that V-class objects, like vampires, do not exist if humans
exist. He then combines the V-class principle
with multiverse theory stating that “[any] universe created by the multiverse
generator would need to include both (a) the positive conditions necessary for
life (i.e., the fine-tuned laws of nature) and (b) the negative conditions
necessary for human existence (i.e., the absence of V-class objects). This in turn reduces the chance hypothesis to
a virtual impossibility, demonstrating evidence in support of the conclusion
that God exists.
What do you think?
Don’t take my word for it, read the article, don’t wait
for the movie.
"Apologetics may seem to fall outside the context of corporate worship, since many consider it part of personal evangelism. However, when the church gathers to worship through Word and song, this time is for the instruction and edification of the saints. We cannot expect that congregants are not influenced by our culture or that they do not battle with doubt. When the people of God gather together, they do so to have their confidence in God’s Word confirmed and strengthened. Moreover, regardless of whether we recognize it, most Christians adopt their pastor’s interpretation and application of Scripture as their own. Therefore, if we model an apologetic-free approach to the biblical text, that is what our people will practice. If pastors assume that their listeners know the foundation of a Christian truth claim, like Christ’s deity, their congregations never see those claims unpacked so that they, too, can defend them and build on them. We should not assume that our congregation is in agreement with whatever scriptural propositional claim we are addressing. Thus, in an effort to edify and build up the body of Christ, we must 'contend earnestly for the faith' (Jude 3) from the pulpit so that the pew will be a place of confidence and a place of preparation for cultural engagement."1
In this featured post, McDowell teams-up with William Lane Craig to offer a defense for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection and challenges believers to share this truth with others!
"Christianity is a falsifiable religion. Christianity makes objective claims about the real world – claims that, by the evidence, can be either confirmed or disconfirmed.
If the bones of Jesus were found, then Christianity would be false. Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17, NASB). Some religions may make untestable claims about reality, but Christianity makes claims about real events in history that can be tested. Let’s put it to the test!"
Craig and McDowell go on to offer a brief defense of 3 facts that point to the reality of the resurrection. They are as follows:
1. The Tomb of Jesus was found Empty
2. Jesus Appeared to People after His Death
3. The Christian Faith Began as a Resurrection Movement
Brian Fisher of Online for Life compiled what he considers the best sermons given on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday this year; sermons chosen to inspire us to carry on the fight to make abortion unthinkable in America.
I have listened to the message given by Ted Kitchens so far and it truly was inspirational. Additionally, it addressed the issue of abortion with clarity, compassion, and grace. As the leader of the largest pro-life organization in the nation, Fisher is on the forefront of the battle so I am sure the remaining sermons will do the same.
Stand firm in Christ and stand for the pre-born, Chase
"If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true, but rather because of a series of chemical reactions. Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else."
Many unbelievers and skeptics seem to think that you have to look to sources outside of the Bible to argue for it's reliability and if you quote the Bible some assert that you are quoting the Bible to prove the Bible. However, this misunderstands what historians do when they examine the documents of the New Testament, as philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig explains:
"They're not treating the Bible as a holy, inspired book and trying to prove it's true by quoting it. Rather they're treating the New Testament just like any other collection of ancient documents and investigating whether these documents are historically reliable."1
Craig goes to on to explain the error committed by someone who insists that evidence for the New Testament can only be taken from writings outside of it:
"The church chose only the earliest sources, which were closer to Jesus and the original disciples, to include in the New Testament and left out the later, secondary accounts like the forged apocryphal gospels, which everyone knew were fakes. So from the very nature of the case, the best historical sources were included in the New Testament. People who insist on evidence taken only from writings outside the New Testament don't understand what they're asking us to do. They're demanding that we ignore the earliest, primary sources about Jesus in favor of sources that are later, secondary, and less reliable, which is just crazy as historical methodology."2
As we have demonstrated here, we certainly have evidence for the reliability of the New Testament outside of it, but the earliest and most trustworthy sources about Jesus exist within the pages of the New Testament.
And for those who may say, "We can't trust the authors of the New Testament because they were bias," please see here.
Courage and Godspeed, Chad Footnotes: 1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 185. 2. Ibid., p. 186.
Many pastors shy away from discussing politics. Thankfully, Pastor Russell Moore is not one of those pastors. As one pastor put it:
"When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside..."1
In this featured article, Pastor Russell Moore addresses whether or not it is ethical for a believer to vote for the "lesser of two evils." He writes:
"For years, I have urged Christians to take seriously their obligations as citizens, starting with exercising the right to vote. In the public square and at the ballot box, we must be more engaged, not less.
But what happens in a race where Christians are faced with two morally problematic choices? Should voters cast a ballot for the lesser of two evils? This unpredictable election cycle could go in any number of directions, and I keep getting asked this question."
Are you a seasoned apologist looking to improve and sharpen your ability, and test your skills in debate against the best critics of Christianity? Are you a beginner apologist wanting to learn apologetics from some of the finest Christian minds in the world? Are you a Christian who is wrestling with doubts? Are you a non-Christian who has questions about Christianity and wants to honestly explore and find out more?
If you fall into any of the above categories, let me introduce you to my “Apologetics Academy” online mentoring program! Every Saturday, at 8pm GMT / 3pm Eastern / 2pm Central / 12noon Pacific, I run an online apologetics mentoring class using a webinar platform called “Zoom” (http://www.zoom.us). Each week, I bring in a guest speaker to give a short presentation on a given topic. In addition to bringing in Christian speakers, I often also bring in leading atheist or Muslim speakers to present their case.
The speaker’s opening presentation is immediately followed by a session of Q&A. Members of the audience indicate to me that they would like to ask a question or make a comment on the speaker’s presentation. I then promote them to be a co-panelist and allow them to literally go back and forth one-on-one with the speaker. Other audience members prefer to lurk in the background and simply listen to the back and forth interaction. Whatever your current apologetics background, my online mentoring program is designed to fulfil your apologetics needs. This is your chance to interact one-on-one with some of the brightest Christian intellects in the world, or with the leading critics of Christianity.
For a complete list of currently confirmed speakers, see this page on my website. New exciting speakers are being confirmed all the time. On popular demand, I have even started to record the audio for some of the Webinars (these are also embedded on the same page). If you would like to be considered to be a future speaker for my group (no matter what worldview you represent — whether it be Christian, Muslim, atheist, or other), please contact me at the email address provided on the contact page at my website. If you know someone who might make a good future guest, please also refer them to me. To be kept up-to-date with upcoming Webinars, please like my public Facebook page here and join the Apologetics Academy Group on Facebook.
Please do me a favour by spreading the word on social media, email lists and on your personal blog pages. We only recently started to use Zoom to conduct these Webinars, as it is specially designed for conducting online meetings in a way that best suits our needs. Zoom, unfortunately, is not free, and I have to pay a monthly subscription fee. To enable me to continue to maintain these free-of-charge Webinars, I am dependent on contributions. So, if you feel so led, please consider contributing via my website.
"There is a common, worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough - a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice - which costs nothing, and is worth nothing."
I have written about what I have learned from blog comments here, but in this featured post, Bill Pratt of Tough Questions Answered shares "patterns of behavior that have led...[him]...to refer to some...skeptical commenters as hyper-skeptics. A hyper-skeptic is someone who will not ever consider any evidences, arguments, or reasoning given for Christianity."
He has even created a You Might Be a Hyper-Skeptic if...list that is as follows:
You don’t need to read anything actually written by Christian scholars, because you are just smarter than they are (and you’ve heard it all before).
You think it’s doubtful that Jesus ever lived.
You believe that Christian apologists are lying most of the time.
You actually think that the evidence for a flying spaghetti monster is as good as the evidence for the Christian God.
When you read a blog post written by a Christian, you aren’t reading for understanding; you’re reading to find isolated phrases or sentences that you can attack.
You believe that Antony Flew renounced atheism only because of old age and senility.
You don’t understand theology or metaphysics, but you’re certain it’s just a bunch of made-up mumbo-jumbo.
You almost never agree with anything a Christian apologist writes, even on the most uncontroversial subjects.
You believe that if you ever publicly agree with a Christian, you are contributing to the downfall of civilization.
You are 100% certain that people cannot rise from the dead, and no amount of historical evidence would ever be convincing.
You think that the strength of the historical evidence supporting the stories in the Book of Mormon is roughly equivalent to the strength of the historical evidence supporting the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.
You think that The God Delusion is a tour de force that annihilates all of the best Christian arguments for God.
You think that the Bible contains nothing of value.
If many of these describe you, Pratt offers you some friendly advice:
"...if you’re a skeptic and you find yourself fitting much of the criteria I’ve listed above, you need to step back and ask yourself why. Why have you become as dogmatic and fundamentalist as the religious folks you like to deride? If you are a hyper-skeptic, you are not reasonable and you are not thinking clearly when it comes to Christianity. Take some time off from the blogosphere and figure out why you’ve crossed this line. I sincerely doubt it is a purely intellectual issue."
It was with much excitement and anticipation that I began reading Sean McDowell's The Fate of the Apostles. As McDowell notes, many apologists, past and present, have argued that the willingness of Jesus' apostles to become martyrs suggests that they really believed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them. However, he notes that "despite the popularity and importance of this argument to historical Jesus studies, little scholarly work focuses primarily on evaluating the evidence for their martyrdoms."[p. 2-3] And so we find that McDowell's work is a search for answers. He notes:
"Questions naturally remain, then, which strike to the heart of the apostolic message: Were the apostles hopelessly biased? Did they really believe Jesus had appeared to them after his death, or did they fabricate the entire story? Do the deaths of the apostles provide positive evidence for the resurrection accounts? And perhaps most importantly, most fundamentally: How strong is the actual historical evidence that the apostles of Jesus died as martyrs? In offering this study, I hope to answer these questions."[p. 3]
From the onset, the author makes it clear that he will only concern himself with "the historical evidence for the martyrdom of the apostles...studying the earliest available sources, including New Testament documents, with particular focus on the book of Acts, the writings of the early church fathers, pseudepigraphical writings such as the Acts of the Apostles, Gnostic sources, and other extra-biblical accounts." [p. 5] Then, as McDowell goes on to explain, "The reliability of the historical evidence for each apostle will be analyzed individually and assessed based upon the quantity and quality of the available historical data."[p. 6]
McDowell makes clear that he will argue that "careful historical analysis revealed that the apostles were willing to die for their faith, and that in fact many did. The strength of their convictions demonstrates that they were not fabricating their claims about Jesus, but that they actually believed their claims that Jesus had risen from the grave." [p 19-20]
In Chapter 1 McDowell explains the layout of the book, the methodology behind the investigation and deals with some preliminary problems in investigating the historicity of the original 12 apostles and their fates.
In Chapter 2 the case is made that the Christian faith was a “resurrection movement” since its inception.
In Chapter 3 the author explains what is known about the apostles and provides evidence they were genuinely eyewitnesses.
In Chapter 4the historical evidence is presented for the persecution of Christians in the first century.
As McDowell notes, "Chapters 5 through 18 are the core of the book and the linchpin of the argument. The chapters begin with the most attested apostles, such as Peter and Paul, move to the moderately attested apostles, such as Andrew and Thomas, and conclude with the least attested apostles such as Simon the Zealot and Matthias. After the historical evidence is presented, each apostle is analyzed with a historical ranging from not possibly true—certainly not historical—to the highest possible probability—nearly historically certain." [p. 20-21]
Finally, in Chapter 19 the author "summarizes the evidence from the investigation and draws broad conclusions concerning the fate of the apostles regarding the evidence it provides for the resurrection" and further addresses, "Three pressing objections..." [p. 21]
Strengths of the Book
Skeptics and apologists alike have been guilty of overstating their case when it comes to the martyrdom's of the apostles. Some skeptics have been responsible for attempting to abandon every claim of apostolic martyrdom because admittedly some of the accounts are less reliable than others. On the other hand, some defenders of the Christian faith have been at fault for presenting all of the apostolic martyrdom's as equally well-attested. This reader is glad to report that you will find no such errors in McDowell's treatment of the subject. Throughout the book, the author strives to handle the data objectively and honestly.
For example, when discussing the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter, the author readily admits that "Scholars disagree significantly over the fate of Peter"[p. 72] and when explaining how to properly evaluate the evidence for the apostle's martyrdom he explains "we must evaluate each piece of evidence individually and then consider the overall strength of the case. This study focuses primarily on the literary evidence since the archaeological evidence is far less conclusive." [p. 73.] This is just one example of the author being honest about the scholarship surrounding his case and not attempting to stretch the data to bolster his conclusions.
This reviewer also appreciated the easy-to-follow layout of the investigation. The author's approach is both systematic and comprehensive. Moreover, throughout the inquiry both critical and non-critical literature is interacted with extensively.
In addition, apologists like myself who value the minimal facts argument for the resurrection will find this work a welcomed addition to their library and it will serve to help them strengthen their case that God rose Jesus from the dead. As McDowell notes, "The consistent testimony of the New Testament and the earliest sources shows that the apostles were witnesses of the risen Jesus and willingly suffered for the proclamation of the gospel. No evidence exists that any wavered in their faith or commitment. Of course, this does not mean they were necessarily right, but it does mean they really thought Jesus had risen from the grave and they bet their lives on it." [p. 337]
The author also does a commendable job of anticipating potential objections to his case and responding to them. For instance, when the fact of the apostolic martyrdoms is raised, some are quick to point out that throughout history individuals have died for their beliefs and this certainly doesn't make their convictions true. McDowell responses persuasively:
"In contrast to the beliefs of Buddhist monks and Muslim radicals and any other modern martyrs, including Christians, the beliefs of the apostles was not received secondhand, but from personal experience with the risen Jesus (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:5-8). They proclaimed what they had seen and heard with their own eyes and ears, not stories received from others (Acts 1:3; 2:22-24). Peter not only claims that he was an eyewitness but that the events took place in public and that his audience had full knowledge of them. The events were not done secretly in a corner. Buddhist monks and Muslim terrorists are certainly willing to suffer and die for a faith they received secondhand, but the apostles were willing to suffer and die for what they had seen with their own eyes.
If Jesus had not risen from the grave and appeared to his apostles, they alone would have known the falsity of his claims. In other words, if the resurrection did not happen, the apostles would have willingly suffered and died for something they knew was false. While people die for what they believe is true, it is a stretch to think all the apostles were willing to suffer and die for a claim they knew was false. The suffering and deaths of the apostles testify to the sincerity of their beliefs that they had seen the risen Jesus." [p. 338] Conclusion
For those interested in studying the historical Jesus and how the Christian faith began, Sean McDowell's The Fate of the Apostles is a must read. His investigation is precise and his conclusions are straightforward.
Furthermore, budding apologists, as well as seasoned apologists, can learn much from the humble and objective manner in which the author presents his case.
McDowell has succeeded in writing an unparalleled scholarly and highly readable study of the apostolic martyrdoms.
I highly recommend this book!
Courage and Godspeed, Chad
Many thanks to Sean McDowell for the review copy!