I've recently been preparing for speaking to the youth at our church about the book of Revelation. I had asked them previously for topic ideas to focus on. One of the students mentioned that they have a hard time reading Revelation.
One resource that I have found very helpful in my own understanding of Revelation and other books of the Bible is the Bible Project. They provide brief videos with interesting diagrams that break down the book to give the reader a high level overview of what it's about.
Below are two videos for Revelation that can be accessed via YouTube. You can also download "posters" as supplemental resources when studying the Bible.
You can learn more about the editors and the contributors here. About the Book
The debate about biological origins continues to be hotly contested within the Christian church. Prominent organizations such as Biologos (USA) and Faraday Institute (UK) insist that Christians must yield to an unassailable scientific consensus in favor of contemporary evolutionary theory and modify traditional biblical ideas about the creation of life accordingly. They promote a view known as “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creation.” They argue that God used—albeit in an undetectable way—evolutionary mechanisms to produce all forms of life. This book contests this proposal. Featuring two dozen highly credentialed scientists, philosophers, and theologians from Europe and North America, this volume provides the most comprehensive critique of theistic evolution yet produced. It documents evidential, logical, and theological problems with theistic evolution, opening the door to scientific and theological alternatives—making the book essential reading for understanding this worldview-shaping issue.
Today's featured article is from Mark Perez, a retired deputy chief from the Los Angeles Police Department who holds a master’s in philosophy of science from California State University-Los Angeles, a CSU certificate in critical thinking, and a master’s in public administration from American Military University.
Mr. Perez's piece offers a Christ-centered and practical response to this tragic and heart-wrenching issue. He writes:
"The recent string of mass shootings in the US and worldwide has understandably rattled people’s nerves. Many wonder what they can do to protect themselves and, more importantly, what they can do to make sense of such acts of terror. I spent 36 years in law enforcement, retiring last year from the Los Angeles Police Department as a deputy chief of police. I am also a Christian. As a police officer, I’ve been trained to engage in direct combat in the event of such attacks, and I’ve worked with experts in how mass-murderers think and operate. In light of my background, I want to offer eight tips on how Christians can be both shrewd and compassionate in our response to terrorism."
Checkout the entire article here. Many thanks to philosopher Ken Samples for sharing this helpful piece.
"The greatest delusion of modernity is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing."1 Courage and Godspeed, Chad
Footnote: 1. As quoted by John Lennox in his presentation, "Atheism Can't Account for This!." You can find it here.
In Socratic Logic, Peter Kreeft writes the following:
An enthymeme is a syllogism with one of its three propositions implied but not stated.
He then quotes Parker & Veatch, Logic as a Human Instrument:
The search for the tacit premise is excellent intellectual training . . . [for] most arguments are enthymemes, because almost all arguments entail unexpressed premises or assumptions. And in this broader sense the habit of searching for the tacit assumptions which are the silent determinants of one's htoughts takes on an extremely important aspect; it should be consciously cultivated.1
Stand firm in Christ, Chase
Footnotes: 1. Kreeft, Peter, Socratic Logic (South Bend, ID, St. Augustine's Press: 2014), p. 264.
When Natasha Crain started a blog in 2011, she was just hoping to meet "like-minded parents and exchange ideas about raising faithful kids" [p. 22]. However, as the popularity of her blog continued to grow, something unexpected began to happen. She started receiving comments from skeptics of the Christian faith. And these skeptics were asking questions that Crain, a lifelong Christian, found herself unequipped to answer. Then, the realization came. She realized that her kids were going to be facing these very same questions. As a result, she committed herself to the study of apologetics and became a Christian case maker.
Like Mrs. Crain, I believe most Christian parents possess a genuine desire to talk with their kids about their Christian faith, but many are afraid to do so for various reasons. Some are afraid to wrestle with the questions themselves. Others simply feel ill-equipped to deal with many of the objections leveled at the faith. However, we as parents must realize that we are the most important teacher in our children's lives and it is our high calling to teach them how to make a case for what they believe and how to defend it. As the author herself contends, parents are:
"...called to the all-important role of leading our kids to know Jesus, we can't afford to just 'give it our best shot' and see what happens, with a possible do-over next spring. Too much is at stake, and good intentions are not enough. We have to know what we're doing"[p. 20]
Crain's book is divided into five parts. Part I deals with questions pertaining to the existence of God. Part II addresses the topic of science and God. Part III bears upon questions about God's nature. Part IV answers questions on pluralism and Christian living. Finally, Part V tackles questions germane to the meaning of life, evil and biblical hope.
Each chapter begins by addressing a question about Christianity or some other worldview. This reviewer was very pleased to see the questions addressed by the author in this work. The questions are not simply current atheist "meme-like" claims like 'I just believe in one less God than you do," but substantive questions such as "Do science and religion contradict each other?" or "Why does God seem so harsh in parts of the Old Testament?" By discussing these issues, with Natasha Crain as their able guide, parents and children will not only be prepared to make a case for what they believe, but they will also better understand their own convictions. The truths learned and acquired therein will ground both the parent and children's faith with an evidential confidence. As a result, their convictions will be grounded in what they have good reason to believe is true.
The question section of the chapter is followed by a "Conversation Guide" that has three sections: "Open the Conversation," "Advance the Conversation," and "Apply the Conversation" [p. 24].
Crain's explanation of each section offers an outstanding example of how helpful this work can be and how thoughtful her writing is throughout:
"In 'Open the Conversation,' you'll find one or two questions intended to get your kids thinking about the subject. Resist the temptation to dump a chapter's worth of knowledge on them at this point. Instead, listen to your kids' answers and ask follow-up questions to learn more about their thoughts. In 'Advance the Conversation,' you'll find two or more questions to help you probe the key ideas from the chapter. These questions will not cover every detail you read. They'll give you the opportunity to highlight the most important points, then it will be up to you to decide how deep to take the conversation. Discussion tips are offered with most of these questions. In 'Apply the Conversation,' you'll find a quote from a skeptic of Christianity that pertains to the subject. Most are taken from conversations between Christians and skeptics online. They're the kinds of comments your kids are most likely to run into on their own eventually. After reading the quote together, ask them to respond to it based on what they learned from the chapter. Don't shy away from doing this, no matter how old your kids are. If you help your kids apply their learning by responding to these quotes, I have no doubt you'll find this activity to be one of the most valuable parts of this book" [p. 24-25].
The statistics are clear. As Mrs. Crain reports, "Research has shown repeatedly that at least 60 percent of kids from Christian homes turn away from faith by their early twenties" [p. 21]. Various authors and thinkers have offered reasons why they believe this "exodus" from the church is occurring. I believe Natasha Crain is absolutely right- we parents need discipline and direction so that we can be confident when discussing the truth of the Christian faith with our children. The answer to the so-called "youth exodus problem" begins with parents training their kids in the Christian home. We will never be perfect; however, we are called to be faithful. And Crain has done much of the preparation for you. She has provided the tools. Now it is up to us to wield them.
1. Archaeology confirms the use of stone water jars in New Testament times [John 2:6].
2. Given the early Christian tendency towards asceticism, the wine miracle is an unlikely invention [2:8].
3. Archaeology confirms the proper place of Jacob's Well [4:6].
4. Josephus [Wars of the Jews 2.232] confirms there was significant hostility between Jews and Samaritans during Jesus' time [4:9].
5. "Come down" accurately describes the topography of western Galilee. [There's a significant elevation drop from Cana to Capernaum.] [4:46, 49, 51].
6. "Went up" accurately describes the ascent to Jerusalem [5:1].
7. Archaeology confirms the proper location of Bethesda [5:2]. [Excavations between 1914 and 1938 uncovered that pool and found it to be just as John described it. Since that structure did not exist after the Romans destroyed the city in A.D. 70, it's unlikely any later non-eyewitness could have described it in such vivid detail. Moreover, John says that this structure "is in Jerusalem," implying that he's writing before 70].
8. Jesus' own testimony being invalid without the Father is an unlikely Christian invention [5:31]; a later redactor would be eager to highlight Jesus' divinity and would probably make his witness self-authenticating.
9. The crowds wanting to make Jesus king reflects the well-known nationalist fervor of early first-century Israel [6:15].
10. Sudden and severe squalls are common on the Sea of Galilee [6:18].
11. Christ's command to eat his flesh and drink his blood would not be made up [6:53].
12. The rejection of Jesus by many of his disciples is also an unlikely invention [6:66].
13. The two predominant opinions of Jesus, one that Jesus was a "good man" and the other that he "deceives people," would not be the two choices John would have made up [7:12]; a later Christian writer would have probably inserted the opinion that Jesus was God.
14. The charge of Jesus being demon-possessed is an unlikely invention [7:20].
15. The use of "Samaritan" to slander Jesus befits the hostility between Jews and Samaritans [8:48].
16. Jewish believers wanting to stone Jesus is an unlikely invention [8:31, 59].
17. Archaeology confirms the existence and location of the Pool of Siloam [9:7].
18. Expulsion from the synagogue by the Pharisees was a legitimate fear of the Jews; notice that the healed man professes his faith in Jesus only after he is expelled from the synagogue by the Pharisees [9:13-39], at which point he has nothing to lose. This rings of authenticity.
19. The healed man calling Jesus a "prophet" rather than anything more lofty suggests the incident is unembellished history [9:17].
20. During a winter feast, Jesus walked in Solomon's Colonnade, which was the only side of the temple area shielded from the cold winter east wind [10:22-23]; this area is mentioned several times by Josephus.
21. Fifteen stadia [less than two miles] is precisely the distance from Bethany to Jerusalem [11:18].
22. Given the later animosity between Christians and Jews, the positive depiction of Jews comforting Martha and Mary is an unlikely invention [11:19].
23. The burial wrappings of Lazarus were common for first-century Jewish burials [11:44]; it is unlikely that a fiction writer would have included this theologically irrelevant detail.
24. The precise description of the composition of the Sanhedrin [11:47]: it was composed primarily of chief priests [largely Sadducees] and Pharisees during Jesus' ministry.
25. Caiaphas was indeed the high priest that year [11:49]; we learn from Josephus that Caiaphas held the office from A.D. 18-37.
26. The obscure and tiny village of Ephraim [11:54] near Jerusalem is mentioned by Josephus.
27. Ceremonial cleansing was common in preparation for the Passover [11:55].
28. Anointing of a guest's feet with perfume or oil was sometimes performed fro special guests in the Jewish culture (12:3); Mary's wiping of Jesus' feet with her hair is an unlikely invention [in easily could have been perceived as a sexual advance].
29. Waving of palm branches was a common Jewish practice for celebrating military victories and welcoming national rulers [12:13].
30. Foot washing is first-century Palestine was necessary because of dust and open footwear; Jesus performing this menial task is an unlikely invention [it was a task not even Jewish slaves were required to do] [13:4]; Peter's insistence that he get a complete bath also fits with his impulsive personality [there's certainly no purpose for inventing this request].
31. Peter asks John to ask Jesus a question [13:24]; there's no reason to insert this detail if this is fiction; Peter could have asked Jesus himself.
32. "The Father is greater than I" is an unlikely invention [14:28], especially if John wanted to make up the deity of Christ [as the critics claim he did].
33. Use of the vine as a metaphor makes good sense in Jerusalem [15:1]; vineyards were in the vicinity of the temple, and, according to Josephus, the temple gates had a golden vine carved on them.
34. Use of the childbirth metaphor [16:21] is thoroughly Jewish; is has been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls [1QH 11:9-10].
35. The standard Jewish posture for prayers was looking "toward heaven" [17:1].
36. Jesus' admission that he has gotten his words from the Father [17:7-8] would not be included if John were inventing the idea that Christ was God.
37. No specific reference to fulfilled Scripture is given regarding the predicted betrayal by Judas; a fiction writer or later Christian redactor probably would have identified the Old Testament Scripture to which Jesus was referring [17:12].
38. The name of the high priest's servant [Malachus], who had his ear cut off, is an unlikely invention [18:10].
39. Proper identification of Caiaphas's father-in-law, Annas, who was the high priest from A.D. 6-15 [18:13]-the appearance before Annas is believable because of the family connection and the fact the former high priests maintained great influence.
40. John's claim that the high priest knew him [18:15] seems historical; invention of this claim serves no purpose and would expose John to being discredited by the Jewish authorities.
41. Anna's questions regarding Jesus' teachings and disciples make good historical sense; Annas would be concerned about potential civil unrest and the undermining of Jewish religious authority [18:19].
42. Identification of a relative of Malchus [the high priest's servant who had his ear cut off] is a detail that John would not have made up [18:26]; it has no theological significance and could only hurt John's credibility if he were trying to pass off fiction as the truth.
43. There are good historical reasons to believe Pilate's reluctance to deal with Jesus [18:28ff.]: Pilate had to walk a fine line between keeping the Jews happy and keeping Rome happy; any civil unrest could mean his job [the Jews knew of his competing concerns when they taunted him, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar," 19:12]; the Jewish philosopher Philo records the Jews successfully pressuring Pilate in a similar way to get their demands met [To Gaius 38.301-302].
44. A surface similar to the Stone Pavement has been identified near the Antonia Fortress [19:13] with markings that may indicate soldiers played games there [as in the gambling for his clothes in 19:24].
45. The Jews exclaiming, "We have no king but Caesar!" [19:15] would not be invented given the Jewish hatred for the Romans, especially if John had been written after A.D. 70. [This would be like New Yorkers today proclaiming "We have not king but Osama Bin Laden!"]
46. The crucifixion of Jesus [19:17-30] is attested to by non-Christian sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, and the Jewish Talmud.
47. Crucifixion victims normally carried their own crossbeams [19:17].
48. Josephus confirms that crucifixion was an execution technique employed by the Romans [Wars of the Jews 1.97; 2.305; 7.203]; moreover, a nail-spiked anklebone of a crucified man was found in Jerusalem in 1968.
49. The execution site was likely outside ancient Jerusalem, as John says [19:17]; this would ensure that the sacred Jewish city would not be profaned by the presence of a dead body [Deut. 21:23].
50. After the spear was thrust into Jesus' side, out came what appeared to be blood and water [19:34]. Today we know that a crucified person might have a watery fluid father in the sac around the heart called the pericardium. John would not have known of this medical condition, and could not have recorded this phenomenon unless he was an eyewitness or had access to eyewitness testimony.
51. Joseph of Arimathea [19:38], a member of the Sanhedrin who buries Jesus, is an unlikely invention.
52. Josephus [Antiquities 17.199] confirms that spices [19:39] were used for royal burials; this detail shows that Nicodemus was not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead, and it also demonstrates that John was not inserting later Christian faith into the text.
53. Mary Magdalene [20:1], a formerly demon-possessed woman [Luke 8:2], would not be invented as the empty tomb's first witness; in fact, women in general would not be presented as witnesses in a made-up story.
54. Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener [20:15] is not a detail that a later writer would have made up [especially a writer seeking to exalt Jesus].
55. "Rabboni" [20:16], the Aramaic for "teacher," seems an authentic detail because it's another unlikely invention for a writer trying to exalt the risen Jesus.
56. Jesus stating that he is returning to "my God and your God" [20:17] does not fit with a later writer bent on creating the idea that Jesus was God.
57. One hundred fifty-three fish [21:11] is a theologically irrelevant detail, but perfectly consistent with the tendency of fisherman to want to record and then brag about large catches.
58. The fear of the disciples to ask Jesus who he was [21:12] is an unlikely concoction; it demonstrates natural human amazement at the risen Jesus and perhaps the fact that there was something different about the resurrection body.
59. The cryptic statement from Jesus about the fate of Peter is not clear enough to draw certain theological conclusions [21:18]; so why would John make it up? It's another unlikely invention. 
When one considers these above historically confirmed or historically probable fact and details, how reasonable is it to doubt that the author of John's Gospel [who I believe was John] was an eyewitness or at least had access to eyewitness testimony?
For more from Dr. Blomberg on the reliability of the Gospel of John, see here.
Our thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing us with a copy of Blomberg's important book.
1. the natural crossing between correctly named ports [Acts 13:4-5]
2. the proper port [Perga] along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus [13:13]
3. the proper location of Lycaonia [14:6]
4. the unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra [14:6]
5. the correct language spoken in Lystra-Lycaonian [14:11]
6. two gods known to be so associated-Zeus and Hermes [14:12]
7. the proper port, Attalia, which returning travelers would use [14:25]
8. the correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates [16:1; cf. 15:41]
9. the proper form of the name Troas [16:8]
10. the place of a conspicuous sailors' landmark, Samothrace [12:14]
11. the proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony [16:12]
12. the right location fro the river [Gangites] near Philippi [12:13]
13. the proper association of Thyatira as a center of dyeing [16:14]
14. correct designations for the magistrates of the colony [16:22]
15. the proper locations [Amphipolis and Apollonia] where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey [17:1]
16. the presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica [17:1]
17. the proper term ["politarchs"] used of the magistrates there [17:6]
18. the correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient way of reaching Athens, with the favoring east winds of summer sailing [17:14-15]
19. the abundant presence of images in Athens [17:16]
20. the reference to a synagogue in Athens [17:17]
21. the depiction of the Athenian life of philosophical debate in the Agora [17:17]
22. the use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul [spermologos, 17:18] as well as for the court [Areios pagos, 17:19]
23. the proper characterization of the Athenian character [17:21]
24. an altar to an "unknown god" [17:23]
25. the proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection [17:32]
26. Areopagites as the correct title for a member of the court [17:34]
27. A Corinthian synagogue [18:4]
28. the correct designation of Gallio as proconsul, resident in Corinth [18:12]
29. the bema [judgement seat], which overlooks Corinth's forum [18:16ff.]
30. the name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions [19:9]
31. well-known shrines and images of Artemis [19:24]
32. the well attested "great goddess Artemis" [19:27]
33. that the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city [19:29]
34. the correct title grammateus for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus [19:35]
35. the proper title of honor neokoros, authorized by the Romans [19:35]
36. the correct name to designate the goddess [19:37]
37. the proper term for those holding court [19:38]
38. use of plural anthupatori, perhaps a remarkable reference to the fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time [19:38]
39. the "regular" assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere [19:39]
40. use of precise ethnic designation, beroiaios [20:4]
41. employment of the ethnic term Asianos [20:4]
42. the implied recognition of the strategic importance assigned to this city of Troas [20:7ff.]
43. the danger of the coastal trip in this location [20:13]
44. the correct sequence of places [20:14-15]
45. the correct name of the city as a neuter plural [Patara] [21:1]
46. the appropriate route passing across the open sea south of Cyprus favored by persistent northwest winds [21:3]
47. the suitable distance between these cities [21:8]
48. a characteristically Jewish act of piety [21:24]
49. the Jewish law regarding Gentile use of the temple area [21:28] [Archaeological discoveries and quotations from Josephus confirm that Gentiles could be executed for entering the temple area. One inscription reads: "Let no Gentile enter within the balustrade and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will be personally responsible for his consequent death."]
50. the permanent stationing of a Roman cohort [chiliarch]at Antonia to suppress any disturbance at festival times [21:31]
51. the flight of steps used by the guards [21:31, 35]
52. the common way to obtain Roman citizenship at this time [22:28]
53. the tribune being impressed with Roman rather than Tarsian citizenship [22:29]
54. Ananias being high priest at this time [23:2]
55. Felix being governor at this time [23:34]
56. the natural shopping point on the way to Caesarea [23:31]
57. whose jurisdiction Cilicia was in at the time [23:34]
58. the provincial penal procedure of the time [24:1-9]
59. the name Porcius Festus, which agrees precisely with that given by Josephus [24:27]
60. the right of appeal for Roman citizens [25:11]
61. the correct legal formula [25:18]
62. the characteristic form of reference to the emperor at the time [25:26]
63. the best shipping lanes at the time [27:5]
64. the common bonding of Cilicia and Pamphylia [27:4]
65. the principal port to find a ship sailing to Italy [27:5-6]
66. the slow passage to Cnidus, in the fact of the typical northwest wind [27:7]
67. the right route to sail, in view of the winds [27:7]
68. the locations of Fair Havens and the neighboring site of Lasea [27:8]
69. Fair Havens as a poorly sheltered roadstead [27:7]
70. a noted tendency of a south wind in these climes to back suddenly to a violent northeaster, the well-known gregale [27:13]
71. the nature of a square-rigged ancient ship, having no option but to be driven before a gale [27:15]
72. the precise place and name of this island [27:16]
73. the appropriate maneuvers for the safety of the ship in its particular plight [27:16]
74. the fourteenth night-a remarkable calculation, based inevitably on a compounding of estimates and probabilities, confirmed in the judgement of experienced Mediterranean navigators [27:27]
75. the proper term of the time for the Adriatic [27:27]
76. the precise term [Bolisantes] for taking soundings, and the correct depth of the water near Malta [27:28]
77. a position that suits the probable line of approach of a ship released to run before an easterly wind [27:39]
78. the severe liability on guards who permitted a prisoner to escape [27:42]
79. the local people and superstitions of the day [28:4-6]
80. the proper title protos tes nesou [28:7]
81. Regium as a refuge to await a southerly wind to carry them through the strait [28:13]
82. Appii Forum and Tres Tabernae as correctly placed stopping places on the Appian Way [28:15]
83. appropriate means of custody with Roman soliders [28:16]
84. the conditions of imprisonment, living "at his own expense" [28:30-31]1
With these facts in mind, it seems reasonable to conclude that the author of Acts [who I believe was Luke] was an eyewitness of the events recorded or at the very least had access to reliable eyewitnesses.
It is also of interest that in the Book of Acts, the author records 35 miracles.
The subject blog post is a transcript of a brief interview Sean McDowell had with Jeff Zweerink of Reasons to Believe. Alien life and its impact on Christianity, fine tuning, and the multiverse were discussed.
"The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics....Just as the eye was made to see color and the ear to hear sounds, so the human mind was made to understand quantity."1
To learn why God is the best explanation of the applicability of mathematics to the physical world, see here.
Courage and Godspeed, Chad
Footnote: 1. As quoted by Leigh A. Bortins, The Core, p. 129. Related Posts
Many have characterized the problem of evil as the most potent argument against the existence of God. Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig has recently released their newest animated videos that feature responses to the logical version of the problem of evil and the probability version of the problem of evil.
To check out their other excellent animated videos, go here.