Friday, January 31, 2014

William Lane Craig on Jesus's "Son of Man" Title

"'Son of Man' is often thought to indicate the humanity of Jesus, just as the reflex expression 'Son of God' indicates his divinity.  If fact, just the opposite is true.  The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever.  Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,


1. William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 140.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Apologetics Press- The Resurrection of Christ as a Fact of Science

This brief article written by Kyle Butts describes how New Atheist Sam Harris' concept of a "fact" affirms the Resurrection of Jesus Christ-

Famed atheist and New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris published a book in 2010 titled The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. In the book he attempted to show that atheistic materialism can provide a standard by which to judge moral behavior. He failed to prove his point, as we have shown in other places (Butt, 2008), but he did make some telling admissions.
In the introduction, Harris provided an endnote that described his view of the concept of a “fact.” He stated:
For the purposes of this discussion, I do not intend to make a hard distinction between “science” and other intellectual contexts in which we discuss “facts”—e.g., history. For instance, it is a fact that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Facts of this kind fall within the context of “science,” broadly construed as our best effort to form a rational account of empirical reality. Granted, one doesn’t generally think of events like assassinations as “scientific” facts, but the murder of President Kennedy is as fully corroborated a fact as can be found anywhere, and it would betray a profoundly unscientific frame of mind to deny that it occurred (2010, p. 195).
Harris is exactly right. Events that happened in the past such as assassinations can be every bit as scientific and factual as other types of experiential knowledge. In fact, those of us who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ have contended for years that direct observation is not necessarily needed to establish it as factual. If the assassination of J.F.K. can be nailed down scientifically and established as a fact, is it not also true that the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be equally validated as a scientific fact in the way Harris describes? Certainly it is. (We have established the case for the fact of the resurrection elsewhere, see Butt, 2002.)
“In our best effort to form a rational account of empirical reality” we are forced to conclude that no other series of events offers the explanatory power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The event is recorded in detail in the only book in the world that is proven to be inspired by God. Hundreds of people in the first century saw the resurrected Lord, and testified of such. And the fact is that Jesus’ tomb was empty. These facts and others combine to provide a cumulative scientific case to establish the fact of Jesus’ resurrection.
Of course, Sam Harris would disagree about the resurrection of Christ being a fact. But his insightful discussion of what actually constitutes a scientific fact opens the door for the resurrected Lord to walk through. “And it would betray a profoundly unscientific frame of mind to deny that it occurred.”


Butt, Kyle (2002), “Jesus Christ—Dead or Alive?” Reason and Revelation,
Butt, Kyle (2008), “The Bitter Fruits of Atheism,” Reason and Revelation,
Harris, Sam (2010), The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Value (New York: Free Press).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

J. Warner Wallace Articles on Training Christian Students

Last week, J. Warner Wallace wrote an excellent series of blog posts on how to effectively train Christian students.  This is necessary reading for youth pastors and those that minister to our young people.

It is a well established fact that large numbers of young people are leaving the church during their college years and Wallace tackles this problem head-on in these posts.  His answer?  We must stop teaching our young people and begin training them.  The articles below will equip you to begin doing that very thing.

How to T.R.A.I.N. Christian Students (Rather Than Teach Them)

Requiring Young Christians to Raise the Bar

Arming Christian Students with the Truth

Involving Students in the Battlefield of Ideas

Nurturing Christian Students as they Engage the Challenges of Atheism

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, January 27, 2014

How We Got the Bible: Restoring the New Testament Text

In chapter 10 of the book, Lightfoot discusses the restoration of the New Testament text. The chapter opens with the three authorities used to get us as close as possible to the original text. They are as follows:

1. Manuscripts. These are the primary source for restoring the New Testament text as they are of the original language (Greek). Some are weightier than others. The origin of the manuscripts can be determined as arising from Alexandria, Egypt (Alexandrian), Antioch of Syria (Syrian), or Western Europe (Western).

2. Versions. Early Christians translated the Word of God into many languages:  Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Armenian, Gothic, Ethiopic, and Georgian. A type of Greek text had to be used to make each of these versions and determining  what type of text each version arose from aids in restoring the original text.

3. Early Christian writers. The “Church Fathers” wrote extensively on their faith and commonly quoted the Scriptures. The copies they had were obviously closer to the original text than the manuscripts we now have and are therefore a great aid in restoring the original text. Practically the entire New Testament can be reconstructed from the writings of early Christians.

Lightfoot then goes on to discuss the printing and publishing of the Greek New Testament as a way to demonstrate the development of the text using the three authorities mentioned above. The first printed and published Greek New Testament was the Erasmus text in 1516. While it was based on what Lightfoot describes as “a handful of late Greek manuscripts”, Erasmus began the valuing of Greek manuscripts over those in Latin.

After Erasmus came Robert Estienne, also known as Stephanus. From 1546 to 1551, he published several editions of the Greek text. His third edition came to be known as “the Royal Edition” and varied only slightly from the Erasmus text. The “Received Text” arose from this edition. His fourth edition instituted the verse arrangement we still use today.

During the years 1565 to 1604, Theodore Beza provided several editions that were essentially the text of Stephanus. This was the kind of text used to translate the King James Version. A text that was hardly different from Stephanus, which was hardly different from Erasmus, which was based on a few late Greek manuscripts. However, earlier manuscripts began to accumulate as well as versions and quotations from the early Christians.

It was the work of John Mill to collate this accumulating evidence which brought about his edition of the Greek New Testament in 1707. This edition was a reprint of the Stephanus text, however, it presented all of the evidence Mill had accumulated and collated. His work brought to light 30,000 textual variants and created controversy and a defense of the Received Text. Richard Bentley of Trinity College defended Mill’s work and pointed to the value of an increasing number of authorities to affirm the text not undermine it. It was Bentley’s approach which set the stage for a proper understanding of differences in the text.

Lightfoot ends the chapter in the year 1881. Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort published the two volume The New Testament in the Original Greek or the Westcott-Hort text. He writes:

It is scarcely possible to overstate the significance of this new text. Westcott and Hort gave nearly thirty years of exacting labor to this project. Their achievement was revolutionary not so much because of new ideas but rather because of the deliberate thoroughness of their work and the unquestioned principles which backed it up. No piece of evidence had been passed over unnoticed, no authority had been put aside until it was brought into proper perspective. Basically, the Westcott-Hort text represented a wholesale rejection of mass authorities and an acknowledged dependence on the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts, particularly the Vatican. There have been, of course, other editions of the Greek text since Westcott-Hort; however, time has but confirmed their immense contribution to the status of our New Testament text.

The English Revised Version was also released in this year and Westcott and Hort were on the revision committee. The publishing of these two editions of the New Testament, as Lightfoot puts it, “dealt the final blow to the Received Text.” The Westcott-Hort text has had only slight modifications since and all new editions of the text and almost all new translations heavily depend on it.

 Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Problem of Suffering and Evil Part 3

In last week’s post, Dr. Craig explained how two hidden premises in the logical problem of evil,

1 - if God is all-powerful, then He can create just any world the He wants and
2 - if God is all-loving or all-good, then He would choose to create a world without suffering

are not necessarily true.

In this week’s lecture, he begins by demonstrating how God and the existence of evil are consistent then moves on to the probabilistic version which states that while the existence of God is not logically inconsistent with evil, it is nonetheless improbable.  He then begins explaining the first of three points that demonstrate the solution to the probabilistic version.

Go here to listen to the audio or here to read the transcript.

That you may know,

Make the Pro-life Case Persuasively and Winsomely

Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, was a guest on Greg Koukl's podcast this week. They talked about what to focus on when discussing abortion, provided tips for making an effective case for life, and more. For those who only wish to listen to this portion, the entire third hour of the podcast is devoted to speaking with Klusendorf.

The podcast can be listened to here.

Stand firm in Christ,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Video: The Design Argument for God's Existence by Doug Powell


In this video (featured here in two parts), Doug Powell explains the design argument for God's existence.

For more of these great videos, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

J. Warner Wallace on Becoming a "Two-Decision" Christian

"Each of us has to answer God's call on our lives as Two-Decision Christians.  If you've already decided to believe the Gospels, take a second step and decide to defend them. Become a case-making Christian; work in your profession, live your life faithfully, devote yourself to the truth, and steadily prepare yourself to make a defense for what you believe.  I want to encourage you to make that second decision. Start small.  Read and study.  Engage your friends.  Start a blog or host a website.  Volunteer to teach a class at your church.  Get in the game." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,

1. J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, p. 259.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Debate Video: Does God Exist?- William Lane Craig vs. Stephen Law

I finally got around to watching this debate (I had previously read much of the transcript which is here) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I appreciated Dr. Law's attempt at making an argument to justify his atheism rather than retreating to view that "I just lack belief in god."  As shown here, when the atheist attempts to defend this position, many times contradiction follows.

Dr. Law did a good job of staying on topic and attempting to at least interact with most of Dr. Craig's arguments.  However, I would have appreciated him engaging Craig's Kalam cosmological argument.  I completely understand and concur with Dr. Law's point that the KCA doesn't tell us anything about the Creator's moral character (Dr. Craig conceded as much!), but it certainly tells us much about the first cause!  With the topic of the debate being, "Does God Exist?," I would think one would attempt to tear down this argument straight away.  If not, we are left with a uncaused, changeless, timeless, immaterial, and personal Creator!

In summary, I appreciated the efforts of both debaters and found it thought provoking.

Brian Auten has the audio here.

Luke Nix has responded to Dr. Law's "Evil God" argument here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Common Objection #23- "Who Are You to Judge Others?"

This is an objection offered in various forms by both Christian and non-Christian alike!  I have often been surprised to hear even Christians say, "We aren't to judge," but does the Bible really say that?  Philosopher Paul Copan weighs in on how to answer to common misunderstanding:

"Hands down, Matthew 7:1 is the most frequently quoted Bible verse today: 'Do not judge, so that you won't be judged.' It's been twisted to mean we can't say someone's action or lifestyle is wrong.  However, when someone says, 'Don't judge,' he's judging you for judging someone else.  You've done wrong by saying someone else has done wrong!  Clearly, we can't escape making moral judgments.  Furthermore, in the same context of the oft-quoted verse, Jesus made a moral judgment about certain persons, using metaphors about 'dogs' and 'pigs' (Mt. 7:6), stressing that we shouldn't continue to present God's grace to those who persistently scoff and ridicule.  At some point we must shake the dust off our feet and move on to the more receptive (Mt. 10:14; Ac. 13:51).  On the other hand, Jesus commanded, 'Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgement' (Jn. 7:24, emphasis added).

How do we resolve the apparent tension?  By taking note of the spirit in which we make judgments.  Do we think we're superior (the attitude Jesus condemned), or are we assessing actions or attitudes with a spirit of humility and concern, recognizing our own weaknesses (1 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 6:1)?  In Matthew 7:5, Jesus told us first to examine ourselves (removing the log from our own eye), then we can help our brother or sister (taking the speak out of his or her eye).  So there is a problem to be dealt with-but only after self-examination.  The wrong kind of judging is condemning.  The right kind of judging is properly evaluating moral (or doctrinal) matters with a humble, helpful attitude.  (In 1 Cor. 5:5, 'judging'- even excommunicating-is required in light of a church member's shameless sexual misconduct.)  We should treat others the way we would want to be treated (cp. Mt. 7:12), thinking- There-but for the grace of God-go I.

So when discussing judging with others, first clarify what you mean by the word 'judge.'  This can serve as the context for clarifying right and wrong kinds of judgment.  Further, we must take care to avoid 'Who am I to say So-and-So is wrong?'  We can't shrink from making moral judgments, nor can we escape them-lest we declare it wrong to say another is wrong." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,


1. Paul Copan, "Who Are You to Judge Others?, The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1417.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How We Got the Bible: Significance of Textual Variations

In chapter 9 of the book, Lightfoot examines the significance of textual variations. He begins the chapter by making the “shocking” revelation that there may be well over 200,000 scribal errors (“textual variants” in textual criticism circles) in the manuscripts of the New Testament and that this number will undoubtedly grow as more manuscripts are uncovered.  However he writes:

A person is either unlearned or of a skeptical mind who tries to take this large number of variations and use it in such a way as to undermine one’s faith in the Word of God.

He goes on with emphasis:

If the large number of manuscripts increases the total of variations, at the same time it supplies the means of checking them.

For the remainder of the chapter, he presents three classifications of textual variations in relationship to their significance for the New Testament text.

1. Trivial variations which are of no consequence to the text. Example variants include:  the omission or addition of such words as “for,” “and,” and “the”; different forms of the same or similar Greek words; spelling, grammar, and vocabulary differences due the development of the Greek language; and change in word order. However, with the great amount of manuscripts available it is easy to determine the original reading of the text.

2. Substantial variations which are of no consequence to the text. These variations involve not only the addition, omission, or shifted order of a word or two but of an entire verse or several verses. Some examples are Luke 6:4-10, John 7:53-8:11, Acts 8:37, and 1 John 5:7. Variations of this sort are not supported by early manuscripts.

3. Substantial variations that have bearing on the text. Mark 16:9-20 is an example. Many early manuscripts (including the Vatican and Sinaitic from the fourth century) do not include this passage and yet there are many that do. And a statement from Irenaeus shows the existence of this passage in the second century. So there are weighty authorities in the positive and the negative for this being part of the original text. In this case however, the events recorded in this passage are not in doubt as they are recorded elsewhere. These types of variants are few and can be solved. If they could not, there are so few of them that they should not cast doubt upon the Christian faith.

Lightfoot ends the chapter by stating the following:

The variant readings in the manuscripts are not of such a nature that they threaten to overthrow our faith. Except for a few instances, we have an unquestioned text; and even then not one principle of faith or command of the Lord is involved.

Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Problem of Suffering and Evil Part 2

Last week we heard Dr. William Lane Craig introduce the problem of suffering and evil to his Defenders Class.  This week he tackles the intellectual problem in its logical form.  He presents it in the following syllogism:

1.      God is all-powerful and all-loving/good.
2.      Suffering exists.
3.      If God is all-powerful, then He can create any world he wants (including one with no suffering or evil).
4.      If God is all-loving/good, then He would prefer a world without suffering.

In a presentation filled with lively questions and discussion, follow along as Dr. Craig explains how hidden assumptions in statements 3 and 4 demonstrate that they are not necessarily true.  You can listen to the audio here or read the transcript here.

That you may know,

Friday, January 17, 2014

What Exodus 21:22 Says about Abortion by Greg Koukl

In this featured article, author, speaker and apologist Greg Koukl answers the question, "Does the Bible assign a lower value to the unborn than to other humans?"  

He specifically looks at  Exodus 21:22 that is often used to argue for this position.

You can
checkout the article here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Article: The Role of Apologetics in the Church by Dave Jenkins

In this featured article, Dave Jenkins of the Christian Apologetics Alliance examines what role apologetics should play in the Church.

He writes:

"The role of apologetics in the Church should be derived from its message, specifically the Gospel which is all about Jesus and His death, burial, and resurrection. As the Church engages in testifying of its Savior, it will encounter the need to clarify, defend, and contend for what it believes and why those beliefs matter. In a world that is increasingly hostile to God, the Church is going to see an increased need for apologist-theologians who are grounded in the Word, who are Gospel-centered, and who are Spirit-empowered to arise and give clarity to what biblical Christianity affirms and the reason why people should embrace that message. Since the Gospel is the power of God, let’s pray the God of all grace will raise up an army of professionally trained apologist-theologians as well as lay theologian-apologists who will take up the task of apologetics in order to defend and contend for the Gospel once and for all delivered to the saints."


You can checkout the entire article here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Steve B. Cowan on Anti-Intellectualism in the Church

"I believe that the greatest threat to Christianity is the anti-intellectualism that permeates the church. For about a century now, Christians have largely retreated from the intellectual arena and entrenched themselves in a version of Christianity that emphasizes feelings, experience, and pragmatism, and have ignored the life of the mind. We have adopted a view of faith that sees it as opposed to reason. The result has been the marginalization of the church from the larger culture and our inability to be salt and light, and the increasing secularization of our society."

Courage and Godspeed,

HT: The Poached Egg 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Video: Can God Do Anything? by Bobby Conway

For more from the One Minute Apologist, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Article: Why Pastors Ought to Be Apologists by J. Warner Wallace

I few months ago I had the pleasure of attending an apologetics conference at Mt. Airy Bible Church.  One of the presenters was apologist, author and cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace.  After Wallace spoke on why we can trust the Gospels, he allowed the audience to ask questions.  During this Q and A time an older gentlemen, well into his seventies and sitting up front, asked a question that I will not soon forget.  It went something like this:

"I have been going to church all my life.  I've attended Catholic churches and Protestant churches and I have never heard any of the evidence you've just presented come over the pulpit.  Why do you think that is?"

Let me be clear.  During that conference, I heard excellent talks given by people like Alan Shlemon, Brett Kunkle and J. Warner Wallace.  However, this was perhaps the moment that stuck in my memory the most.  The reason, I suppose, is because I share this gentleman's concern.  I frankly don't see how a pastor in our culture today cannot be an apologist.  Further, I believe those who resist teaching their congregations what they believe and why they believe it are in error. [1] 

In this featured article, J. Warner Wallace explains why pastors should be apologists.  He also offers a list of pastors who understand the need for apologetics in the pulpit.

You can checkout the article here.

Courage and Godspeed,


1. While I believe pastors should strive to equip themselves to teach apologetics, they should at the very least invite relevant speakers to their churches to address apologetic topics or they could allow someone in their congregation who is versed in apologetics to share. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Problem of Suffering and Evil

Perhaps the greatest barrier to belief in God is the problem of suffering and evil.  It is a difficult problem, and there are no easy answers.

This is the first in an ongoing series exploring the problem from a variety of voices within the Christian community.  We will begin with a series of five presentations by Dr. William Lane Craig from his Defenders Class.

In an article elsewhere, Dr. Craig states, 
“The problem of evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God.  When I ponder both the extent and depth of suffering in the world, whether due to man’s inhumanity to man or to natural disasters, then I must confess that I find it hard to believe that God exists.  No doubt many of you have felt the same way.  Perhaps we should all become atheists.

But that’s a pretty big step to take.  How can we be sure that God does not exist?  Perhaps there’s a reason why God permits all the evil in the world.  Perhaps it somehow all fits into the grand scheme of things, which we can only dimly discern, if at all.  How do we know?

As a Christian theist, I’m persuaded that the problem of evil, terrible as it is, does not in the end constitute a disproof of the existence of God.  On the contrary, in fact, I think that Christian theism is man’s last best hope of solving the problem of evil.” [1]

In the first lesson, Dr. Craig introduces the problem and distinguishes between the intellectual problem, in both the logical and probabilistic versions, and the emotional problem.  The lesson is presented in a series of brief lectures with periods of Q&A interspersed.  You can listen to the audio here or read the transcript here.

That you may know,
Col 3:23


[1] William Lane Craig, The Problem of Evil

Friday, January 10, 2014

Common Objection #22- "Jesus is Just a 'Pagan Copycat' of Mithras!"

This is very popular internet claim.  Many skeptics will point to the ancient deity Mithras as a savior who seemingly appeared four hundred years prior to the first Christians.

The following similarities are often asserted:

Mithras was born in a cave, attend by shepherds.
Mithras had twelve companions or disciples.
Mithras was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
Mithras was called "the Good Shepherd."
Mithras was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion. [1]

Cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace investigated this claim and reports the following:

"While these similarities are striking and seem to sustain an alternative theory related to the historicity of Jesus, a brief investigation quickly reveals that they are unsupported by the evidence.  There is no existing 'Mithraic scripture' available to us today; all our speculations about the Mithras legend are dependent on Mithraic paintings and sculptures and on what was written about Mithras worshipers by the Christians who observed them between the first and third centuries.  Even with what little we do know, it is clear that Mithras was not  born of a virgin in a cave.  Mithras reportedly emerged from solid rock, leaving a cave in the side of the mountain.  There is also no evidence that Mithras have twelve companions or disciples; this similarity may be based on a mural that places the twelve personages of the Zodiac in a circle around Mithras.  There is no evidence that Mithras was ever called the "Good Shepherd," and although Mithras was a "sun-god" and associated with Leo (the House of the Sun in Babylonian astrology), there is no evidence that he was identified with the Lion.  There is also no evidence that Mithras ever died, let alone rose again after three days.  These claims of skeptics...are not supported by the evidence." [2]

As Proverbs 18:17 states:

"The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him."

To read more from J. Warner Wallace on Mithraism, see here.

For a more thorough examination of Mithraism, see here.

Further, you can find a brief video that humorously deals with the "pagan copycat" thesis here.

Courage and Godspeed,



1. J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, p. 149-150.

2. Ibid., p. 150.

Vid H/T- Apologetics315

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Mathematician John Lennox on Naturalism

"The world of strict naturalism in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe and life into existence, is pure [science] fiction. Theories and laws do not bring matter/energy into existence.  The view that they nevertheless somehow have the capacity seems a rather desperate refuge...from the alternative possibility...Trying to avoid the clear evidence for the existence of a divine intelligence behind nature, atheist scientists are forced to ascribe creative powers to less and less credible candidates like mass/energy and the laws of nature." [1]

For more of John Lennox's work, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. As quoted by Mary Poplin in Is Reality Secular?, p. 63.  The original article can be found here.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

How Can the Bible Be Inspired by God but Written by Human Authors?

Taken from Living by the Book by Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks:

The great theologian B. B. Warfield said, "The Bible is the Word of God in such a way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks."  That's a good description of inspiration.  The reason we call the Bible the Word of God is because it is indeed the very words that God wanted communicated.

Of course, some have a problem with this concept because the Bible was penned by human authors.  If they were "inspired" it was only as great artists are "inspired" to produce great art.

But that's not what the Bible means by inspiration.  Remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17?  "All Scripture is inspired by God."  The word translated "inspired" means "God-breathed."  It conveys the idea of God "breathing out" the Scriptures.  And since the word "breath" can also be translated "spirit," we can easily see the work of the Holy Spirit as He superintended the writing.

So what part did the human authors play?  God supernaturally used them to pen the words, without compromising the perfection, integrity, or purity of the finished product.  It's a case of dual authorship.  As Charles Ryrie puts it, "God superintended the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded, without error, His revelation to man in the words of the original manuscripts."

Peter used a brilliant word picture to describe this arrangement when he wrote that "mean moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21).  The word moved is the same word used to describe a ship moving along under the power of the blowing wind.  The biblical writers were guided in their writing to go where God wanted them to go and to produce what God wanted them to produce.  Without question, their personalities, writing styles, perspectives... are reflected in their words.  But their accounts are more than the words of men- they are the Word of God.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, January 06, 2014

Article: The Sweet Words of an Enemy by Mike Licona

In this featured article, New Testament historian Mike Licona explains how using the words of Jesus' enemies can be an effective way to share the gospel.

Licona writes:

"Did you know that Jesus’ miracles, his crucifixion, and his empty tomb can all be established from the words of his enemies?"

You can find this brief article here.

For more of Licona's work, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Saturday, January 04, 2014

How We Got the Bible: The Text of the New Testament

In chapter 8 of the book, Lightfoot discusses textual criticism. What it is, a few of its basic rules, and the types of mistakes made by ancient scribes.

There are two types of textual criticism. Higher criticism, which studies authorship, dating, and historical value of Biblical documents, and lower criticism, which studies "the available evidence to recover the exact words of the author's original composition." Lower criticism is the focus of this chapter.

Lighfoot then describes the two types of scribal errors:

1. Unintentional errors:  Mistaking one word for another or confusing words of similar sound, the omission of a word because it appears at a corresponding point several lines above or below in the manuscript, or explantory notes in the margin of the manuscript somehow ending up as part of the main text are some examples.

2. Intentional errors:  Lightfoot writes, "We ought not think these insertions were made by dishonest scribes who simply wanted to tamper with the text." The majority of the time, these additions were attempts by the scribes to "correct" the text or bring about a better understanding of it.

Three basic rules of lower criticism are as follows:

1. Most of the time the more difficult reading is to be preferred. This is because scribes usually sought to simplify the text when copying.

2. The quality of witnesses is more important the the quantity. For example, if thousands of manuscripts support a certain reading, but they are of late date and contradict the early unicals, than this reading should not be accepted.

3. When studying parallel texts such as the Gospels, different readings are to be preferred. The Gospels all present Jesus as the Son of God, however, each individual author had descriptions of him and his sayings which used different words. These differences were usually, intentionally or unintentionally, harmonized by scribes.

Lightfoot ends this chapter by stating, "Because textual criticism is a sound science, our text is secure and the textual foundation of our faith remains unshakable."

Stand firm in Christ,

Friday, January 03, 2014

Should Christians Not Study Philosophy?

When writing to the church in Colosse, the Apostle Paul wrote:

"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].

Does this mean that the follower of Christ should not study philosophy?

In their book, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe explain:

"...the Bible is no more against philosophy than it is against religion.  It is not against philosphy, but against vain philosophy, which Paul calls "empty deceit" (v. 8).  Likewise, the Bible is not opposed to religion, but only aganist vain religion (cf. James 1:26-27).

Further, Paul is not speaking about philosophy in general, but about a particular philosophy, usually understood as an early form of Gnosticism.  This is indicated by his use of the definite article (in Greek), which should be translated "the philosophy" or "this philosophy."  So Paul was referring to this particular gnostic-like philosophy that had invaded the church in Colosse and involved legalism, mysticism, and asceticism (cf. Col. 2) and not to all philosophy.

What is more, Paul himself was well trained in the philosophies of his day, even quoting them from time  to time (cf. Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12).  Paul successfully "reasoned" with the philosophers on Mars Hill, even winning some to Christ (Acts 17:17, 34).  Elsewhere he said a bishop should be able "to exhort and convict those who contradict" (Titus 1:9) and that he was "appointed for defense of the Gospel" (Phil. 1:17.  Peter exhorted believers to "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).  Indeed, Jesus said the great command is to love the Lord "with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37)." [1]

So, it seems that Paul was warning the Colossians against being "taken" by deceptive philosophies and that is good advice whether you believe the Bible or not!

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, p. 487-488.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Podcasts: David Berlinski- Is Human Nature Improving?

In these featured podcasts, Dr. David Berlinski talks with Casey Luskin about Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of our Nature and the argument made in the book that human nature is improving.

You can listen in here and here.

Courage and Godspeed,