Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Example of Dr. Gary Habermas

Dr. Gary Habermas is a recognized authority on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has twenty-five books to his credit and has also authored over one hundred articles in journals and magazines across the nation.

Some of Habermas's more well-known works include The Case for the Resurrection (pictured), co-authored with New Testament scholar Mike Licona, The Historical Jesus, and The Risen Jesus and Future Hope.

Dr. Habermas has debated unbelievers such as former atheist Anthony Flew, skeptic Tim Callahan, and even more recently, atheist Kenneth Humphreys. Each debate and/or discussion (depending on the format) dealt with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As impressive as Habermas's credentials and accomplishments are, it's his kind and gentle attitude that is the subject of this post.

Dr. Habermas's friendship with former atheist Anthony Flew is well documented. Further, skeptic John Loftus, in a blog post, said of Habermas after meeting him at an apologetic conference:

"Probably the most interesting friendship I struck up was with Gary Habermas. He is unlike what I expected, although I don't know why I expected anything different. He was warm, witty, funny, and genuinely friendly toward me. He does not think he has any kind of notch on his belt for helping Antony Flew change his mind, and he openly admits Flew is a long way from Christianity. He says they talk all of the time. I believe he really is a great guy and enjoys people with no ulterior motive."

Additionally, while listening to the debate between Dr. Habermas and Kenneth Humphreys, Habermas commented on his friendship with skeptic Robert Price.

Admittedly, Christians to many times forget just Who they are representing while sharing their faith with those of different worldviews. I believe that Dr. Habermas's example of loving people were they are is one that all Christians should aspire to follow.

Dr. Habermas and Mike Licona, in their book The Case for the Resurrection, remind us of how we should approach those with questions and objections:

"The Bible teaches us about the attitude we should have while sharing our faith. Consider the following verses:


  • "A gentle answer turns away wrath. But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable (Prov. 15:1-2a).

  • Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person (Col. 4:6).

  • And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

  • But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).

  • Have mercy on some, who are doubting (Jude 22).

Notice that God urges us to be kind, gentle, and merciful toward those who hold views other than our own.)" [1]

It has been well said that the only Bible some will ever see, is the one being lived out in front of them.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross


1. Dr. Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, p. 192-193.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What to Say to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses When They Knock on your Door


As my wife was preparing a wonderful (she made me write that) dinner yesterday, I heard a knock on our front door. I walk to the door and opened it to find two Mormon gentlemen who had come to share the message of the Church of Latter-Day Saints .

Upon sharing with them that I had, in the past, studied the doctrines of Mormonism and found Joseph Smith's vision account to be unsupported historically and that I had also found the Book of Mormon to be completely without historical support, the conversation quickly turned to the value of experiential evidence. One of the gentlemen shared that he had prayed the prayer suggested in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:4-5) and received "confirmation that it was true." I, in turn, affirmed the value of experiential evidence, but explained that if someone has what they believe to be an "experience" of God, that their experience must be confirmed by logical, coherent evidence to some degree. Meaning, I personally have experienced the saving power of Jesus Christ in my life and believe He rose from the dead, however, if there existed no evidence to confirm this claim from history, I would be foolish to continue to believe it. I would need to go back and re-evaluate my experience. In other words, the objective needs to work together with the experiential, otherwise, what you are believing most likely has no bearing in reality.

The conversation ended respectfully and I was able to give them a copy of a sermon on Mormonism by the late Dr. Walter Martin. I also directed them to this blog. I encouraged them to study critiques of Mormonism (what they call "anti") as well as Mormon literature, and urged them to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Upon reflecting back on this conversation, I couldn't help but feel that I could have been better prepared. One evidence of this is when I mistakenly said that the Mormons used the New World Translation of the Scriptures, full knowing that they use the KJV Bible, as interrupted through the Book of Mormon, as well as The Pearl of Great Price; Doctrine and Covenants.

As a result,
I wanted to offer the following resource by apologist and scholar Mike Licona entitled, What to Say to Mormons & Jehovah's Witnesses When They Knock on Your Door (52 pgs.) Here, Mike offers a free e-book that provides a:

" a concise yet meaty resource that goes right to the point concerning why the Mormon Church and the Watchtower are terribly mistaken."

Check it out here and let us not forget the words penned by the Apostle Peter:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15, KJV).

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

IDEA: Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center

Few debates are as intense as the one that exists between those who advocate Intelligent Design and those who hold to Darwinian Evolution. Regardless of where you stand in this debate, it's important to understand what those who advocate Intelligent Design actually hold to or believe. The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center (IDEA) seeks to "promote intelligent design theory by educating people about intelligent design in a non-threatening and non-dogmatic manner." The IDEA center is a wonderful place to get answers about Intelligent Design and the science behind it. We encourage you to checkout the following:

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Evolution News and Views


Strong scientific evidence suggests that there is a purpose behind our existence and that a Designer is responsible. The Discovery Institutes's blog, Evolution News & Views, looks at the current debate between Intelligent Design and Darwinian evolution.

 Check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross


Related Posts

Video: Doubts on Darwinism by J.P. Moreland

Alvin Plantinga explains "The Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism"

Book Preview: Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation? Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and Biologos

Monday, October 20, 2008

Common Objection #2

Objection: "(Religion is) the most potent source of human conflict, past and present." [1]

Whether it be your next door neighbor or one of the popular "New Atheists," the claim that religion is the main cause of humanities ills is becoming more and more common and the non-believer seems all to anxious to bombard the believer with such accusations as, "What about all the violence religion has caused?"

If those who attack Christianity continue to insist that the ordinary follower of Christ, who has never done anyone harm, must answer for the crimes committed by self-proclaimed Christians in history, then likewise atheists do not get to turn a blind eye to the brutality caused by their beliefs in recent world history.

In Dinesh D’Souza’s book, What's so Great about Christianity?, he demonstrates that while religion has been guilty of violent acts, its the atheist who has much more to answer for:

“Even taking higher population levels into account, atheist violence surpasses religious violence by staggering proportions. Here is a rough calculation. The world’s population rose from around 500 million in 1450 AD to 2.5 billion in 1950, a fivefold increase. Taken together, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch burnings killed approximately 200,000 people. Adjusting for the increase in population, that’s the equivalent of one million deaths today. Even so, these deaths caused by Christian rulers over a five-hundred-year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler, and Mao in the space of a few decades.” (2)

When one truly gives their life to Jesus Christ and accepts His invitation to follow, the fruit that results is love, peace, forgiveness, giving, etc.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted that the “death of God” movement would lead to the bloodiest century in history and a universal madness. Nietzsche was willing to admit that atheism is devoid of conscience.

Authors Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, who continue to preach the “moral superiority” of atheism, would do well to reexamine the history of godless governments.

But wait! Wasn't Hitler a Christian? To get an idea of how Hitler really felt about Christianity, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources:
1) Sam Harris, The End of Faith.
2) Dinesh D'Souza, What's so Great about Christianity, p. 215.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Convoy of Hope


Yesterday was a humbling, emotionally exhausting day. I was one of the hundreds of followers of Jesus Christ who showed up at the Convoy of Hope that took place at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown, Maryland. Our goal and mission was to provide for hurting families in the area and share the blessed hope that we have in Jesus Christ with whoever needed to hear it.

Reflecting on the day, I remembered the lady who asked for prayer for her husband who is dying of diabetes and has no health care.

Or the gentlemen who shared that his kidneys were failing and that he was on a list for a donor; upon finishing a prayer with him, he fell into my arms and wept. I could tell he had not felt loved in quite sometime. As I walked him out to where he could get his free groceries, he continued to thank me, tears rolling down his face.

I recall the young lady and her 1 1/2 year old son who were on there own. She shared about her past drug addiction and about how God had used her little boy to "straighten her out."

And the dear lady who accepted Christ as her Savior and with tears in her eyes, hugged me. She was a "New creation" (2 Cor. 5:17).

Upon returning home, and scooping up my oldest daughter into my arms, I could not help but weep for those whom I had met and prayed with that day. I could not help but admit to being spoiled. I remarked to my wife, "The last time I had to go to the doctor, I complained about how long I had to sit in the waiting room. Today, I met people who were dying and didn't have health care."

I was challenged by many of the things I had seen and heard at the Convoy of Hope and a few observations really stayed with me:

1) I met people that were hungry, poor, cold, sick, and/or broken, yet they longed for one thing more than any other: God. They longed for His comfort, His strength, and His provision. Their situation, in most cases, did not lead them to curse God, but to cry out to Him.

2) With all that the guests received that day- food, entertainment, haircuts, medical checks, and job opportunities- they seemed to appreciate one thing more than any other- that someone cared for them and took the time to show them love.

I was told, by a fellow worker, of a lady who had 9 to 10 of her family members with her and was able to get a free, professionally done, family portrait taken. As she walked into the prayer tent she was crying and remarked, "We (her family) have never had the chance to have a picture done all together, professionally like this." I wonder if she is still looking at the picture at this very moment.

Even more so, I wonder if God was watching and smiling because His church was together, being the body of Christ to those in need.

I was honored to be a part of the Convoy of Hope and sincerely hope that the guests gained as much from the experience as I did.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Common Objections

In an effort to provide answers for those desiring truth, I am starting an ongoing series entitled Common Objections. In this series, I will be providing thoughts of my own, scholarly articles, and/or quotes from credible sources, addressing some of the more common objections to the Christian faith.

It is impossible for Truthbomb to cover every topic that is brought to our attention, therefore, this is a way in which readers can benefit from our work, as well as the work of other apologists and thinkers.

For our first objection in the series, we take a look at the growing claim made by atheists that they simple "lack belief in God." I myself have been entertained in the past listening to atheists in debates, defending the atheist position, but then are unwilling to admit that they should have to provide positive evidence that atheism is true!

Apologist Matthew Slick at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, takes a look at the claim more and more atheists are making: "I lack belief in God."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Is Ignorance Bliss?

Recently, while listening to a debate between Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig and humanist atheist Dr. John Shook, I was surprised to hear Dr. Shook ask Dr. Craig if any extra-biblical evidence existed for the life of Jesus Christ. In other words, does any evidence exist for Jesus outside of the Biblical narratives? Dr. Craig, a veteran of numerous debates, rightly pointed out that indeed sources for Jesus do exist outside the Bible (he offered a few resources), but that even if they didn't we still have good reasons to trust the New Testament documents.

The following week I listened to a debate between atheist Sam Harris and journalist Chris Hedges. In Harris' opening remarks he made the absurd claim that "no extra-biblical evidence describes the miraculous events recorded in the four gospel accounts." Harris went on to say that "all scholars agree that the gospels were written decades after Jesus's death." I find these statements troubling because: 1) The first one is false. 2) the second one is very misleading.

For anyone who has studied the historical evidence for Christ, this certainly is absurd and speaks volumes as to how little Sam Harris and John Shook know about the available historical evidence for the life of Jesus Christ. I find that interesting simply because they both seem to believe they are informed enough to speak publicly on the topic.

Is there any extra-biblical evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ outside the gospels? And if so, what can we learn about the life of Christ and the accuracy of the NT from these sources?

We briefly addressed the extra-biblical evidence for the life of Christ in our January Newsletter as follows:

"Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist:

"Just how many non-Christian sources are there that mention Jesus? Including Josephus, there are ten known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life.

By contrast, over the same 150 years, there are nine non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus. So discounting all the Christian sources, Jesus is actually mentioned by one more source than the Roman emperor. If you include the Christian sources, authors mentioning Jesus outnumber those mentioning Tiberius 43 to 10!

Some of these non-Christian sources-such as Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud- could be considered anti-Christian sources. While these works do not have any eyewitness testimony that contradicts events described in the NT documents, they are works written by writers whose tone is decidedly anti-Christian.

What can we learn from them and the more neutral non-Christian sources? We learn that they admit certain facts about early Christianity that help us piece together a storyline that is surprisingly congruent with the NT. Piecing together all ten non-Christian references, we see that:

1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
2. He lived a virtuous life.
3. He was a wonder-worker.
4. He had a brother named James.
5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

Clearly, anyone willing to consider the data can see that the non-biblical evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ indeed exists.

For an exhaustive look at the ancient non-Christian Sources for Jesus Christ, please see here.

Perhaps before his next debate, Mr. Harris may want to brush up on his research...or maybe think about starting it.

Also, the historical reliability of the NT documents is very well attested. As Douglas Groothius writes:

"the documents were written just a few decades after the events they describe by eye-witnesses or those who consulted eye-witnesses (see Luke 1:1-4; John 21:24; 1 John 1:1-3). It is very likely that the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) were written before 70 AD. The Gospel of John was probably written about 90 AD. The Epistles of Paul were written even earlier than the Gospels, probably from the late 40s to the early 60s. Contemporary readers may deem the gap between the writing of these documents and the events themselves as being too long, but this ignores two pertinent facts. Historians generally trust ancient documents that have far longer gaps. Moreover, Jewish teachers of that day taught in very memorable styles and their disciples were known for great feats of memorization. This was common in a largely oral culture (unlike our own). Therefore, a gap of several decades between the writing of a document and what it describes provides no reason to distrust it. [1]

For more on the credibility of the NT documents, see here and here.

To explore how the New Atheist camp has sought to misrepresent the reliability of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the existence of God, please see Douglas Groothuis's thoughts here and here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Self-defeat of David Hume


Historian and philosopher David Hume’s impact upon modern philosophy and theology is undeniable. Hume, a devote skeptic, believed that all meaningful ideas were either true by definition or must be based on sense experience. He believed that propositions could only be meaningful if they met one of the following two criteria:

 1) the truth claim is abstract reasoning such as a mathematical equation or a definition (Examples: “3 + 3 = 6” or “all triangles have 3 sides.”)

2) the truth claim can be verified empirically through one or more of the five senses.

 Logically then, if Hume is correct, claims about anything beyond the physical (including God) should not be believed- because they are meaningless. It is not hard for one to imagine why Hume himself said:

"If we take in our hand any volume - of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance- let us ask, ‘Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?’ No. ‘Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?’ No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing by sophistry and illusion.”

 It is not uncommon to run across an atheist or skeptic who still attempts to invoke Hume’s principles in an effort to render any discussion of God and His existence meaningless. Nearly two hundred years later, philosopher A.J. Ayer converted Hume’s two conditions into the principle of empirical verifiability (POEV). The POEV claims that a proposition can be meaningful only if it’s true by definition or if it’s empirically verifiable. Apologist Dr. Norman Geisler provides a story from his college years that demonstrates why the POEV sinks it’s own ship: 

 “On the first day of that class (Logical Positivism), this professor gave the class the task of giving presentations based on chapters in Ayer’s book Logic, Truth, and Language. I volunteered to do the chapter titled, 'The Principle of Empirical Verifiability.' Now keep in mind, this principle was the very foundation of Logical Positivism and thus of the entire course. At the beginning of the next class, the professor said, 'Mr. Geisler, we’ll hear from you first. Keep it to no more than twenty minutes so we can have ample time for discussion…'  I stood up and simply said, 'The principle of empirical verifiability states that there are only two kinds of meaningful propositions: 1) those that are true by definition and 2) those that are empirically verifiable. Since the principle of empirical verifiability itself is neither true by definition nor empirically verifiable, it cannot be meaningful. That was it, and I sat down.'2

In one sweeping statement, Geisler demonstrated the obvious flaw in the principle; it is self-defeating! The POEV excludes itself because it is neither empirically verifiable nor true by definition. Obviously, claims that are empirically verifiable or true by definition are meaningful, but they do not encompass all meaningful assertions. The skeptic who continues to invoke the POEV in an effort to explain away the evidence for the existence of God is merely attempting to present a tired objection to avoid critically examining the available data. 

One can investigate the existence of God by studying His effects, much like we study the human mind by observing its effects. We cannot observe the human mind directly, but we can observe its effects. From those effects we make a rational inference to the existence of a cause.3 The existence of the universe itself, it’s fine-tuning, and the complexity of information within living things alone point to, and even seem to require, the existence of a pre-existing cause outside of nature i.e. God. 

Courage and Godspeed, 
Chad A. Gross 

 Footnotes:
1) Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 57-58.
2) Ibid., p. 58-59.
3) Ibid., p. 65.

Related Posts

Science Philosopher John Earman on David Hume's Essay "Of Miracles"

Why Believing in Miracles is Not Illogical

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Resurrection Verdict


When a Bible critic asserts, “The Bible is an ancient book; full of myths” he must present evidence to support his claims. “I said so” is not sufficient evidence.

When a skeptic proclaims, “The Bible is myth” he is attempting to avoid critically evaluating the evidence for himself. If he were in a court of law, the evidence of, “its just superstition” or name calling would not hold-up under investigation. However, would the Biblical account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the New Testament documents hold-up under legal scrutiny?

Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled A Treatise on the Law of Evidence considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Greenleaf believed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, in which he emphatically stated: (For more, click here: http://christjesus.us/greenleaf.html)

"it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . ."

Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of antiquity! And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!

So let us stop brushing aside the evidence and confront it. I challenge anyone reading this to give the resurrection of Jesus Christ an honest study, consider both sides, with an unyielding desire to discover the truth. Are you willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources
:

1) Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p. 29.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ye Have No Definition of Faith?


Biologist and neo-atheist Richard Dawkins is brilliant when it comes to misrepresenting the Christian position. Dawkins many times presents the Christian worldview in a light that most likely is not even recognizable to the educated Christian.

One such case with Mr. Dawkins is his complete and utter failure to understand the meaning of Biblical faith.

Dawkins writes:

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."(1)

Really? Perhaps if Mr. Dawkins were to actually investigate the matter, he would find that the Greek word for faith is pistis, which means "evidence" or "moral conviction." It is derived from the primary verb pietho, which means "to convince by argument" or "to assent to the evidence."
The Biblical concept of faith is that it is reasonable and rational. Biblical faith is and should be grounded in reality. It is open to discussion, objective inquiry, and critique.

Richard Dawkins and his zeal for preaching his atheism is to be admired. However, his knowledge of the Bible and it's history is not.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resource:

1. Richard Dawkins, Lecture from 'The Nullifidian' (Dec 94), http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/89.

Fear Not


I believe that many times, we as Christians do not engage in the battle for ideas because we are simply afraid. We are afraid an objection will come up that we can't answer. We are afraid we will be made to look foolish. Or perhaps we are afraid that a challenge will be presented that calls into question what we believe and everything that we hold dear.

The following quote from Christian author J.I. Packer exposes the fallacy of this type of thinking:

“The Evangelical is not afraid of facts, for he knows that all facts are God's facts; nor is he afraid of thinking, for he knows that all truth is God's truth, and right reason cannot endanger sound faith. He is called to love God with all his mind; and part of what this means is that, when confronted by those who, on professedly rational grounds, take exception to historic Christianity, he must set himself not merely to deplore or denounce them, but to out-think them. It is not his business to argue men into faith, for that cannot be done; but it is his business to demonstrate the intellectual adequacy of the biblical faith and the comparative inadequacy of its rivals, and to show the invalidity of the criticisms that are brought against it. This he seeks to do, not from any motive of intellectual self-justification, but for the glory of God and of His gospel. A confident intellectualism expressive of robust faith in God, whose Word is truth, is part of the historic evangelical tradition. If present-day Evangelicals fall short of this, they are false to their own principles and heritage.”

As the Bible says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7, KJV, Emphasis mine).

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resource:

1) J.I. Packer, quoted in Fundamentalism and the Word of God.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An Opened Letter to Dinesh D'Souza

Dear Mr. D'Souza,

First off, let me say that enjoyed your current book, What's So Great about Christianity, and your debates with both Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. I appreciate your willingness to stand on the side of theism and challenge the many unfounded arguments presented by the so-called New Atheist Camp.

The purpose for writing you is to present a challenge. In reading your book and your current article, The Failure of Intelligent Design, I must say that I was and am surprised by the "hand wave" nature in which you simply brush-off the arguments put forth by those in the Intelligent Design(ID) Camp.

Please do not misunderstand my intent. I am not insisting that you must believe that the world was created in 6 literal, 24 hour periods to be a Christian. I am, however, challenging you to provide some evidence for some of the blanket statements you have written in reference to the ID camp and to the theory of evolution. If you simply dismiss me as an ID'er or "bible-thumping" creationist, you only serve to prove my point. I don't care who is presenting the evidence for or against the positions, I want to examine the evidence itself.

For example, in your latest article, The Failure of Intelligent Design, you make the bold comparison between Darwinian evolution and Einstein's theories of general and special relativity, implying that both are "supported by a wide body of data." [1] However, as usual the case, we are not given any of the "data," but only assured its there. Isn't this the same type of argument that you would mock Mr. Hitchens for?

Now, you may reply, "it seems improbable that the small group of intelligent design advocates is right and the entire community of biologists is wrong." [2] Maybe so, however, I need evidence and a group of unnamed persons does not provide that. I could easily point out the growing list of scientists whom question the theory of evolution found at http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/, but what will I have proved? Nothing. I have only served to prove that it is not universally accepted, however, the question still remains, "What is the evidence?"

Simple put, I would encourage you to write your next book on the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate and actually critique and challenge the arguments from both camps. I believe that you will be challenged and surprised by what you find.

From the statements made in your book and article, it's clear that you have only examined the debate at a surface level. If ID isn't science, tell us why. Why isn't the Cambrian Explosion better explained by a sudden creation? What about the holes in the fossil record you refer to? It's simply not enough to say, "Well, there may be problems, but since most folks believe it, so do I." Yikes! I'm glad that the 12 disciples didn't think that way! They didn't go by a majority vote, they went by what they KNEW to be true!

To simply brush aside the credible arguments and objections put forth by the ID camp appears to be more of a political maneuver than a scholarly one. Perhaps following the example of former atheist Anthony Flew would do you well: "I just followed the evidence wherever it lead."

Respectfully,
Chad A. Gross

Resources:

1) Dinesh D'Souza, The Failure of "Intelligent Design," http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/DineshDSouza/2008/04/07/the_failure_of_intelligent_design, April 7,2008.
2) Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity, p. 146.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Our Reassurance In and Through Suffering

In my February 27, 2008 post I mentioned that I had preach a sermon dealing with the topic of suffering. Here is a podcast of that message:

http://fcfpodcasts.com/2008/03/08/suffering-by-chad-gross.aspx

Be sure to checkout the messages preached by Faith Christian Fellowship's Senior Pastor, David Vance.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross


  • Correction: The gentlemen I refer to in the sermon was not the valedictorian of my senior class, but the class president. I apologize for the error.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Debate Update

In a few previous posts I have mentioned two debates: 1) Jay Richards vs. Christopher Hitchens, ID vs. Atheism 2) Bart Ehrman vs. Mike Licona, Can the Historian Prove Jesus' Resurrection?

While neither debate, to my knowledge, has become available via audio and/or transcript, I have run across a few items of interest that I wanted to share for those that are curious:

"Hitch" vs. Richards- ID vs. Atheism


http://www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory/Religion-and-Spirituality/Christianity/Stand-to-Reason-Weekly-Podcast/18891#- Here is an audio link of Stand to Reason' s Greg Koukl interviewing Jay Richards after the debate had taken place. Richard's insights are interesting and he mentions a few backstage comments made by Mr. Hitchens that I found interesting.

http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2008/1/28/hitchensKnocksIntelligentDesign- Here is the article mentioned by Richards in the interview which appeared in The Stanford Daily.

Licona vs. Ehrman- Can the Historians Prove that Jesus Rose from the Dead?


Here are some comments by Mike Licona that are posted on his website:

March 19, 2008
"I thought my debate with Bart Ehrman went very well. Prof. Ehrman was a pleasant opponent. The event at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) in Kansas City was well attended. The chapel was packed at capacity as was an overflow room. A second overflow room was opened. I had an unexpected challenge that evening: I lost most of my voice and was barely able to make it through the debate. I've been told that MBTS will be posting the entire debate on its website for free viewing (http://www.mbts.edu/) and will also make it available for purchase on DVD." [1]


I am also hoping that the transcript will be available, especially considering the fact that Licona lost his voice.

While we are awaiting the release of the above mentioned debates, here is a great one between Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig.

http://www.holycross.edu/departments/crec/website/resurrdebate.htm- Here is the transcript

http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2008/01/william-lane-craig-vs-bart-ehrman.html- An audio link posted by a fellow blogger.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feb/March Truthbomb Apologetics Newsletter

A Ministry of Faith Christian Fellowship (explorefcf.com)

Introduction

As those who follow Christ, we must be able to provide the unbeliever with evidence that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and that His tomb was empty on that first Easter morning.

As Peter wrote many years ago, it is our job to, "always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15b, CSB).

Our prayer is that this newsletter will equip you to share God's message of salvation using the evidence for Jesus' life, death, and resurrection from the dead. Then, next month we will focus on some of the objections skeptics have raised against the historical resurrection account.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Part One

In the Apostle Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth, he summarizes the "gospel" beautifully:

"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NKJV, Emphasis mine.)

Here, Paul makes clear the heart of the gospel message, but he also goes on to explain that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very fact that Christianity rises and falls upon:

"And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses or God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, who He did not raise up- if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!" (1 Corinthians 15:13-17, NKJV, Emphasis mine)

Paul makes two things very clear in these verses: 1) If Jesus Christ was not resurrected from the dead, the Christian faith is empty or futile, and 2) If Jesus Christ did not come to this earth, die for the sins of mankind, and defeat death by rising from the dead, then we are still in our sins and dead to God spiritually.

The Verification Factor

The role of the Holy Spirit in one's salvation is critical and necessary. The Bible itself confirms:

"The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children" (Romans 8:16a, CSB).

When someone puts their faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit will confirm in their heart that they are saved. This is experiential evidence for the believer that Jesus is who He said He was/is.

However, we must address the fact that other world religions claim to possess so-called "tests for truth" that can be apparently experienced as well. For example, the Muslim will tell you to follow Islam because only God could have written the Qur'an:

"An if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witnesses beside Allah if ye are truthful. And if ye do it not-and ye can never do it- then guard yourselves against the fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones" [1]

Further, the Book of Mormon tells us:

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” [2]

So how does one handle these conflicting truth claims? Can a sincere seeker of truth really discover what is correct?

It's imperative to understand that a believer's experience must correlate with the external evidence available through history, archaeology, and other observable facts.

For example, the test for truth presented in the Qur'an is highly subjective (based on feelings/opinions) when one considers that a Christian could easily claim that Psalm 19 is far superior in literary form to the first Sura in the Qur'an, even though both contain a similar message. [3]

Further, the Book of Mormon proves inadequate under critical inquiry due to the virtually non-existent archaeological evidence to substantiate its lofty claims.

Surely these facts raise critical questions that need answered: How should a Christian challenge the sincere person who believes an alternative religion and claims to have the assurance of God's Spirit to substantiate what he or she believes? What about the person that doesn’t believe in Jesus at all? What about the atheist?

Here, the resurrection provides an objective test for truth as Dr. Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, in their book, The Case for the Resurrection, explain:

"We have the external test that, if Jesus actually rose from the dead, it appears the truth of Christianity is confirmed and all adherents to conflicting beliefs must reassess whether their assurance came from a spirit other than God's or was the result of self-delusion." [4]

Our beliefs must be grounded in reality and in truth, otherwise, they are, as Paul wrote, "empty."

As a Matter of Fact…

Dr. Gary Habermas has compiled a list of more than 2, 200 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present. He has identified minimal facts (12 total) that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by the large majority of scholars, including skeptical ones.

In an interview with author Lee Strobel, scholar Mike Licona explains the "minimal facts" approach to presenting the evidence for the resurrection:

"Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject- including skeptical ones- accept these as historical facts…Lets face it: there's a greater likelihood that a purported historical fact is true when someone accepts it even though they're not in agreement with your metaphysical beliefs." [5]

This set of facts is based upon viewing the Bible solely as a set of ancient, historical literature. One does not need to appeal to the Bible’s inerrancy or inspiration to set forth a compelling case that Jesus rose from the dead.

Layin’ the Facts Down…

In The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, Gary Habermas reports that virtually all scholars (believing and unbelieving) agree that the following events concerning Jesus and Christianity actually took place in history:

1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2) He was buried, most likely in a private tomb.
3) Soon afterwards, the disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent, having lost hope.
4) Jesus' tomb was found empty very soon after his burial.
5) The disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
6) Due to these experiences, the disciples' lives were thoroughly transformed. They were even willing to die for their belief.
7) The proclamation of the Resurrection took place very early, from the beginning of church history.
8) The disciples' public testimony and preaching of the Resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and buried shortly before.
9) The gospel message centered on the preaching and on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
10) Sunday was the primary day for gathering and worshiping.
11) James, the brother of Jesus and a skeptic before this time, was converted when he believed he also saw the risen Jesus.
12) Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus (Paul) became a Christian believer, due to an experience that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus. [6]

While all these facts are agreed upon by a large majority of scholars, we will focus on the five that are most evidenced. They are as follows:

Fact #1- Jesus was killed by Crucifixion

Unless you are Michael Baigent, author of the sensationalistic The Jesus Papers, virtually no one disagrees with the fact that Jesus was killed by crucifixion. Roman soldiers were professional executioners and they were very good at their job. As Licona comments:

"This first fact is as solid as anything in ancient history: Jesus was crucified and dead as a result." [7]

Fact #2- Jesus' Disciples Believed that He Rose and Appeared to Them

The testimony of the Apostle Paul about the disciples, oral traditions, and the written works of the early church all prove to sustain this second fact.
The information found in Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth (15:3-7) can be dated back to within 2-5 years of Jesus' death and resurrection. [8]

Here, Paul writes:

"For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James then to all the apostles."

Due to the minimal amount of time between the death of Jesus and Paul receiving these messages, the resurrection of Christ cannot be simply dismissed as a legend that develop over time.

Evidence such as this has led even skeptics such as Gerd Ludemann to conclude:

"It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ." [9]

Fact #3- The Conversion of the Church Persecutor Paul

It is sufficient here to say that there exist six ancient sources in addition to Paul that record Paul's conversion and his willingness to suffer persecution for his transformed beliefs. These include:

1) Luke
2) Clement of Rome
3) Polycarp
4) Tertullian
5) Dionysius of Corinth
6) Origen [10]

Paul would have had no reason to fabricate his conversion. He would have done so only to gain punishment, beatings, and imprisonment

Fact #4- The Conversion of the Skeptic James, Jesus' Half-Brother

History tells us that James began as a skeptic and even mocked Jesus at one time (Jn. 7:3-5), but later became the leader of the Jerusalem church and both Christian and non-Christian sources record that he died a martyr for his belief in Jesus. [11] This fact is also recorded in the above mentioned passages received by Paul within 2-5 years after Jesus' death. Again, legend did not have time to creep in.

Fact #5- Jesus' Tomb was Empty

Although this fact does not share the same acceptance among scholars as the other four, there is compelling evidence that indicates that Jesus' tomb was indeed empty on that first Easter morning.

Consider the following 3 points:

a) The Jerusalem Factor- Simply put, if Jesus' tomb was not empty, Christianity would have never made it off the ground. Jesus was publicly murdered and buried in Jerusalem, the very same place the disciples began to preach that Jesus had risen from the dead. If you are the Roman or Jewish authorities, and Jesus had not risen from the dead, all you would have to do is produce his body and drag it through the streets for all to see. That would have stopped the movement almost immediately.

b) Skeptics Testify to the Empty Tomb- Not only were those who were skeptical unable to produce a body, they actually admitted an empty tomb!

In Matthew 28:12-13, the Roman guards come to the chief priests and explain to them that the tomb is empty. Notice their reply:

"After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money and told them, "Say this, 'His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping."

The chief priests were forced to pay the soldiers to lie because they knew the tomb was indeed vacant!

Further, this falsehood put forth by the chief priests is also recorded by Justin Martyr and Tertullian. [12]

c) The Testimony of the Women- In all four gospels, we find that the women were the first to discover the tomb was empty. Why is this significant? In first century Jewish and Roman cultures, the testimony of a woman was not held in high esteem. If someone were going to make up the story of Jesus' resurrection, surely they would not have made women the first to find the tomb empty simply because this would have been devastating to the credibility of their case. The only reason they would have reported that women were the first to find the tomb empty is because it really happened!

The Best Explanation

The power of the minimal facts argument is that it does not allow the skeptic/unbeliever to simply brush aside the resurrection. A skeptic not only is forced to provide alternative theories to the resurrection, but they must also be able to present first-century evidence to substantiate their conclusions.

Clearly, with the facts that have been collected from the earliest available data, the best and only explanation is that God rose His only begotten Son from death to life so that "everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Many may reject the resurrection on theological grounds, naturalistic grounds, and even philosophical grounds, but one cannot, when the evidence is considered with an open-mind, reject it on historical grounds.

The minimal facts approach provides the believer with a simple, easy to remember method, in which to communicate the gospel message.

Remember, belief in Christ, His death for our sins, and His resurrection is what is critical to salvation, which must be our ultimate goal. Let us remain on the most important topic, the one in which Paul reminds us validates all we believe, Jesus died, rose again, and defeated death. There is not other message like it…

Movie Recommendation

The Case for Christ: The Film
by Lee Strobel

New York Times Best Selling Author, Lee Strobel, puts forth The Case for Christ: The Film, an offspring of his 1998 best-selling book, The Case for Christ.
I was very impressed with the quality of the movie and the "Mission Impossible/James Bond" approach it takes to examining the validity of the historicity of Jesus Christ makes it a fun view.

Scholars such as Dr. Gary Habermas, Dr. William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Ben Witherington, III, and J.P. Moreland, among others, explain why belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is grounded in historical evidence.

I loaned this video to a seeking friend of mine and upon viewing the video, she called my house and said, "I need to study the existence of God now because I believe Jesus existed." I can think of no better recommendation than that.

Although some of the language was a bit technical, overall The Case for Christ: The Film is a great faith builder and/or witnessing tool.

Book Reviews


The Case for the Real Jesus
by Lee Strobel

In Lee Strobel's latest book, The Case for the Real Jesus, he sets out to investigate six new challenges that have emerged from modern skepticism regarding the historical Jesus since Strobel's first book was published, The Case for Christ.

True to form, Strobel hunted down some of the top scholars in the world and challenged them with some of the following claims:

1) Scholars are Uncovering a Radically Different Jesus in Ancient Documents just as Credible as the Four Gospels.
2) The Bible's Portrait of Jesus Can't Be Trusted because the Church tampered with the Text.
3) New Explanations have Refuted Jesus' Resurrection.
4) Christianity's Beliefs about Jesus were copied from Pagan Religions.
5) Jesus was an Imposter who failed to fulfill the Messianic Prophecies.
6) People should be Free to Pick and Choose what to Believe about Jesus.

Strobel questions prominent scholars Dan Wallace, Craig Evans, Paul Copan, Mike Licona, Michael Brown, and Edwin M. Yamauchi and in the process tackles the above objections head-on.

While I enjoyed the entire book, I found the interview with Dan Wallace worth the price of the book alone. Wallace does a masterful job in debunking skeptical scholar Bart Ehrman, explaining biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility, and explaining why the biblical text we have today is reliable.

Further, New Testament Scholar,Craig Evans, approaches the popular Gnostic texts that liberal scholars tend to drool over and shows why they serve only to tell us about those who aligned themselves with the Gnostic movement, but little, if anything, regarding the historical Jesus.

I highly recommend this book to the believer who is looking to combat the various attacks on the historical Jesus and to the unbeliever who is seeking truth. This is a great starting place!

Article of the Month

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/apol-eva.html- This article, by the founder of Probe Ministries, Jimmy Williams, explains the relationship between Christian apologetics and evangelism and also offers some practical tips on how to share the gospel more effectively.

Website of the Month

http://www.alwaysbeready.com/- Home of the Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry led by Charlie Campbell, this site offers a wealth of material on various topics. This a great tool to add to your apologetics arsenal. We'll be adding it to ours!

Explorefcf.com Apologetics Update

-An article from the Truthbomb Apologetics blog entitled The Christian, Apathy, and Apologetics, was featured on one of the top apologetics sites on the internet, http://www.tektonics.org/ by J.P. Holding.

***See here: http://www.tektonics.org/newstuff.html and scroll down to February 7, 2008 to check it out.

-We added a few articles to our blog including Barack Obama's Theology, the Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Moses: Dazed and Confused?

- My wife and I found out that our second child is going to be another girl! We are going to name her Lily Opal. Praise the Lord!

Apologetic Verse for the Month

"The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him."
- Proverbs 18:17, CSB

Many times an unbeliever can present an objection to the Christian message or "state his case" and at first can seem very compelling. Don't be intimated. Let them know you have listened and that you plan to study out the claim, then return for your "cross-examination." This shows the inquirer that you really listened and care enough to look into their question(s). Also, if we are honestly seeking that which is true we have nothing to fear. We serve the truth (Jn.14:6) others seek.

Next Month

We take a look at the various objections skeptics present in an attempt to discredit the historical record of the resurrection. You will see the power of the minimal facts argument in action.

For those who object to the evidence presented above, hang in there until next month or email me! :-)

Prayer Requests

1) My Dad- Please pray for my dad. He is having numerous health issues and family difficulties.

2) My unborn daughter, Lily Opal- We found out that our unborn daughter has a little bit of fluid resting in her kidney so please pray for it's removal.

3) Faith Christian Fellowship- Pray that God will continue to shape us into the church He desires and teach us to get out of His way!

4) Truthbomb Apologetics- Pray that God would lead us to the topics He desires us to tackle and allow us to manage our time effectively so that we can have more opportunities to write and study.

5) Impact Thursdays (First Thursday of Every Month) - Pray that God will bring forth laborers to share the gospel and visit those who have been to the church.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources

1) Sura 2:23-24, The Glorious Qur'an, p.7; Text and Explanatory Translation by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.
2) Moroni 10:4-5, The Book of Mormon, p. 529 by Joseph Smith, Jun.
3) Gary R. Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, p. 27.
4) Ibid, p. 28.
5) Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 112.
6) Gary R. Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, as quoted by Norman Geisler and Roman Turek in I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 299-300.
7) Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 114.
8) Gary R. Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrrection, p. 52-53.
9) Gerd Ludemann, What Really Happened to Jesus? trans. John Bowden, p. 80. 10) Lee Stobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 119.
11) Ibid, p. 122.
12) Ibid, p. 123.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Moses: Dazed and Confused?

According to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Moses was actually on "psychedelic" drugs when God revealed Himself in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and when he (Moses) received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:1-21).

Speaking on Israeli public radio, Shanon said:

"As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't' believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics." (1)

Shanon's "theory," however, crumbles under critical thought. Even if we are gullible enough to believe that Moses received the greatest moral code ever given to mankind by way of a drug induced haze, how does one explain the rest of the people of Israel experiencing the very same vision or hallucination? This is simple not what different individuals experience when under the influence of psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens, or other mind-altering substances. Hallucinations are understood to be private, subjective, and individual mental experiences (or projections) that do not correspond to objective reality. (2) So how does Shanon explain all the Israelites and Moses himself seeing the same "vision(s)?" Simple put, with the available data we have regarding the life of Moses and the Israelites, we have no logical reason to believe he or they were under the influence of any type of mind-altering substances.

Shanon's work only serves to prove once again how intelligent, well-educated people can become so non-nonsensical when they examine available evidence through the eyes of their own anti-supernatural pre-suppositions.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources
:

1) http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080304120710.ad7gm7i6&show_article=1, March 4, 2008.
2) Kenneth Samples, Without a Doubt, p. 144.

For those interested in investagating the life of Moses, please checkout the following links
:

1) http://www.biblicaldefense.org/Writings/old_testament_reliability.htm- Evidence of the reliability of the Old Testament.

2) http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1782- Did Moses Write the Torah and Does it Even Matter?

3) http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/thera.html- Evidence for the Exodus

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Qur'an and the Resurrection (Previously titled, "The Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ")

Introduction

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian Faith. The Apostle Paul himself knew this and wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14, ESV).

A Problem for Muslims

Muslims often claim, due to the teaching found in the Qur’an, that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but a substitute died in his place. Consider the following from the Qur‘an:

“They killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise” (Sura 4:157-158, Emphasis mine).

We can then conclude, according to the Qur’an, that it only seemed that Jesus was crucified, and Allah took him directly up to heaven.

Norman Geisler and Roman Turek in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, explain why historically and logically, this claim does not hold up:

“There are a number of problems with this theory, not the least being that there’s absolutely no evidence to back it up. This assertion from the Qur’an comes more than 600 years after the lifetime of Jesus. How can this be considered a more authoritative source for the life of Jesus than the accounts of the eyewitnesses? For this theory contradicts all the eyewitness testimony, and the testimony of the non-Christian sources.

Moreover, this theory raises more questions than it answers. Are we to believe that scores of people who witnessed some aspect of Jesus’ death- the disciples, the Roman guards, Pilate, the Jews, Jesus’ family and friends- were all mistaken about who was killed? How could so many people be wrong about a simple identification?…There are many other questions raised by this theory. If Jesus wasn’t killed, then why was the tomb of the man who really was killed found empty? Are we to believe the substitute rose from the dead? Is so, how did he do it? Are we to believe that all the non-Christian historians are wrong about the death of Jesus? And what are we to make about the Jewish admission of Jesus’ death? Was the Talmud mistaken for saying that Jesus was hanged on a tree on the eve of the Passover? In short, are we to believe that everyone from the first century was wrong about everything?

One has to question a theory that comes more than 600 years after the events and asks you to believe that all the first-century evidence is wrong. In fact, this theory contradicts most of the twelve facts virtually all scholars believe. (See our Feb/March Apologetics Newsletter) Like other alternative theories, this one is built on mere speculation without a shred of evidence to support it.” [1]

When the facts are weighed objectively, one who accepts the belief that God provided a substitute in Jesus' place, must do so without a shred of credible, historical evidence.

Conclusion

Other objections to the resurrection (swoon theory, disciples were lying, etc.) also fail to explain the know historical facts that are accepted by virtually all serious, reputable scholars today. So, the inquirer and/or non-Christian is left with the very same question Jesus asked Simon Peter:

“Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Before one can truly answer this, they must consider all the evidence and be willing to follow it wherever it may lead; even if the conclusion is not what they expected.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources

1) Norman Geisler and Roman Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 309-310, Emphasis mine.

For further investigation, please see:

1) http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html by William Lane Craig
2) http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html by Josh McDowell

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Barack Obama's Theology

As an aspiring apologist, I purposely try not to approach issues that are strictly political, however, sometimes a politician says something so false that it simply can't be ignored. Such is the case with Presidental hopeful Barack Obama and his comments regarding the Sermon on the Mount.

On Sunday, while speaking at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Obama made the following remarks regarding same-sex unions:

"I don't think it [a same-sex union] should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state," said Obama. "If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans." [1]

Perhaps it would serve Obama well to study his Bible more and possibly examine a few more "obscure" passages such as the following:

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV, Emphasis mine).

Of course, the passage that Obama was referring to we find in the first chapter of the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Rome:

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (Romans 1:26-27, ESV).

The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments so the logical conclusion would be that Barack Obama doesn't see the Bible as authoritative on all matters. He has the right to make that choice, however, a self-called Christian who doesn't shape his beliefs around the Christ Himself and His Word must be challenged.

Mr. Obama, I encourage you to continue reading the Sermon on the Mount and perhaps meditate on the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:15:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (ESV).

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources:

1) Terence P. Jeffrey, Obama: Sermon on the Mount Justifies Same-Sex Unions, http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=/Politics/archive/200803/POL20080303b.html, March 3, 2008.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Licona vs. Ehrman Debate


Hello everyone! It's been a while since my last post and I apologize for that. I preached a few times at my home church in the month of February and, of course, preparing a sermon takes some time. One of the messages was entitled, "Our Reassurance In and Through Our Suffering" and I'm told will be available online at a future date. When it is, I'll be sure to post it.

For now, I wanted to let everyone know that Mike Licona will be debating Bart Ehrman on the question, "Can Historians Prove that Jesus Rose from the Dead" on February 28, 2008 in Kansas City at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (http://www.mbts.edu/).

Licona is co-author of The Case for the Resurrection and Paul meets Muhammad. Bart Ehrman is author of Misquoting Jesus.

Let's be sure to keep this debate in our prayers and ask that the truth be made clear. As soon as the debate transcript and/or audio is made available I'll post it here.

Coming soon:

- Truthbomb Apologetics February Newsletter
- Link to Jay Richards vs. Christopher Hitchens debate (transcript)

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Christian, Apathy, and Apologetics

Apologetics is derived from the Greek word apologia which means to “defend.” The overall purpose of apologetics is to not only to defend the gospel from attacks on the outside, but also to help believers in Christ see the need for defending what they claim to believe is the truth.

As someone who believes apologetics is vital in today’s culture, I continue to be taken aback when I receive as many, if not more, objections to apologetics from Christians as I do from non-Christians! How can this be?

After much thought and study, I have come to the conclusion that it is apathy that lies at the heart of these objections.

It is my purpose here to take a look at two of the most frequent objections I have heard from Christians regarding apologetics.

Objection One

“If someone has decided not to believe (the gospel) it doesn’t matter what you say.”

It is not our job to worry about how the person will receive the gospel, but to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, ESV). In this verse, Jesus makes no mention of only preaching to those who will hear. We have no control over the response of others. It is God’s job to prepare the soil of the unbelievers heart. Isn’t this clearly the message that Jesus Himself was communicating with the parable of the sower? Let’s take a look:

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:3-9, ESV).

It’s imperative to notice in this parable that the sower sowed seeds on all the ground because he could not tell what ground was rocky, lacked depth, or had no root. He could only plant the seeds and pray and hope they would grow.

Imagine if the farmer said, “Well, no matter what I do some of those seeds just aren’t going to grow so I’m not going to plant any!” That would clearly be ridiculous! So it is also when Christians attempt to use the above excuse to avoid planting seeds in the non-believers heart. These seeds can come in many forms: 1) the gospel message 2) A kind act 3) loving encouragement and/or support 4) an ear to listen 5) evidence that supports the Christian worldview.

Some will hear, some will not, but no one will hear if no one is sharing the message. Paul said it best: “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Romans 10:14, ESV).

When Paul addressed the Areopagus in Acts 17, he proclaimed the message of the one who “made all the world and everything in it” (v.24), to ALL who where listening and look at the reaction he received:

“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them (Acts 17:32-34, ESV, Emphasis mine).

Here we observe the following pattern: some mocked, some were willing to listen to the message again, and some believed. The same is true for us.

Let us stop creating excuses to validate our apathetic approach to evangelism and start planting some seeds.

Objection Two

“Oh, it’s just a phase. It will pass like everything else and God will still be God.”

When attacks upon the gospel come from sources such as New Atheism, The Da Vinci Code, or The Jesus Seminar, believers in Christ need to be prepared, equipped, and bold in speaking out against these false teachings.

While it’s true that attacks upon the Christian message come and go, I personally concern myself with those that may be deceived by falsehoods and when the latest trend is over and done with, the misled believer will “go” with it, turning from his or her faith.

As Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias writes:

“Malcolm Muggeridge once said that all new news is old news happening to new people. He was right; even as Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl.1:9). All that has happened before so often happens again. But in quoting that verse, we forget something very important. The people to whom it is happening are new, and the answers, however old, must never sound stale.” [1]

Someone may read The Da Vinci Code or The God Delusion twenty years from now and have questions; shouldn’t we be the ones giving the answer or making the answer available to them?

When the Apostle Paul heard of the struggles the church in Colosse was having with the false philosophy of Gnosticism, I’m thankful that he didn’t simply throw up his hands and say, “Oh, it’s just a phase. It will pass like everything else and God will still be God…” Paul attacked the “false philosophy” and exposed it for what it was: a lie.

He writes to the Colossians:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ“ (Colossians 2:8, NASB).

Conclusion

If you are a Christian and believe the Bible is a message from God, then you are commanded to defend what you believe, plain and simple.

Take into account the following few verses:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching… As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:1:2, 5, ESV).

“but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).

If we honestly believe the Bible and the gospel message, what could be important than communicating it in an intelligent manner to those who don’t believe? Rational people who honestly desire to know God, but have questions, deserve to be given answers that correspond with the reality they live in. A good apologetic should 1) meet the person where they are at 2) answer the person’s question or direct them to an answer elsewhere.

As followers of Christ, we must be able to practice empathy and view the gospel from the perspective of the questioner. We are telling them that God came to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, died on a Roman cross, and rose from the dead so that we can spend eternal life with Him, and then we wonder why they “just don’t believe?”

Rational answers to the questions of the seeker exist. That is what we started this blog for; to provide answers. However, it’s the job of every Christian to do so. It’s not easy, but since when has being a follower of Jesus Christ supposed to be? Let's get equipped and get in the battle.

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad A. Gross
Truthbomb Apologetics

Resources:

1) Ravi Zacharias, An Apologetic of Apologetics, http://rzim.org/resources/jttran.php?seqid=120, 2008.