Monday, March 31, 2014

Jesus and Muhammad

Haven Today sat down in a six part series with Dr. Mateen Elass earlier this month to discuss some of the major theological differences between Christianity and Islam; an understanding that is helpful when witnessing to muslims. Dr. Elass discussed his journey to Christianity during this series and briefly talked about Nabeel Qureshi's journey to Christianity as well.   

The six part series can be found here. The dates are March 3rd through March 8th.

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason sat down with Nabeel Qureshi last Tuesday to discuss his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus which chronicles his spiritual journey. You can listen to this interview here if interested in hearing more about his conversion. It is an amazing, uplifting, and yet challenging account.

Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Video: Evil, Pain, Suffering = NO GOD? by Jon Oleksiuk

This short video explains Alvin Plantinga's "free will defense" offered in response to the problem of evil.


Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Article: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? by Brett Kunkle

In this featured article, apologist and speaker Brett Kunkle writes:

"If the bones of Jesus were found tomorrow, would you walk away from Christianity? You should. Why? Because faith in a dead Jesus is worthless. Even the Apostle Paul says so. In I Corinthians 15:14, he writes, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." Did you catch that? The bones of Jesus would make our faith useless.

C'mon Paul, isn't that kind of harsh? No and here's why. Imagine a group of people who have dedicated their lives to Peter Pan. They construct a beautiful building to gather in celebration of Pan's life. They sing songs to him and tell stories about his wonderful deeds. What would you think about such a group? What a waste of life. Peter Pan is a fairy tale. We should feel sorry for such people.

Well, if Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave, then Christianity is a fairy tale. Just like Peter Pan, it's make believe and Christians are wasting their lives. And what should people think about us? Paul concludes that if Christ hasn't been raised, "we are to be pitied more than all men" (verse 19).
So, when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, what's at stake for Christians? Everything."

So, do we have good historical reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead?  Find out here.  

Further, if you are looking for an apologetics speaker to invite to your church I highly recommend the Stand to Reason crew.  They are outstanding!

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Video: God's Not Dead- Vince Vitale

In this short video, philosopher Vince Vitalewho teaches philosophy at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford, examines the current state of philosophical scholarship in regard to God.

He argues that:
  • God is alive and well in academia
  • Theists have the upper hand in the debate because of their arguments
  • Minds are being changed because of the evidence
  • The case for Jesus' resurrection is intellectually strong

You can also pre-order Vince Vitale's forthcoming book on suffering (co-authored with Ravi Zacharias) here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greg Koukl on The Manner in Which Christians Should Disagree

"To be of one mind biblically doesn't mean that all have to share the same opinion.  It means a warm fellowship based on community with Christ in the midst of differences.  It does not mean abandoning all attempts at refining our knowledge by enforcing an artificial unanimity.  True maturity means learning how to disagree in an aggressive fashion, yet still maintaining a peaceful harmony in the church." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,


1. Greg Koukl, Tactics, p. 38.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Article: Why Shouldn't We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospels Attributed to Thomas? by J. Warner Wallace

In this featured article, cold-case homicide detective, apologist and author J. Warner Wallace examines the late non-canonical documents falsely attributed to the Apostle Thomas.

Why aren't these documents considered reliable?

Do they tell us anything of worth about the historical Jesus?

How do they differ from the reliable accounts?

Find out here.

You can sign-up for Jim's daily email here.

Finally, you can order a great book on the so-called "missing gospels" here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, March 24, 2014

How We Got the Bible: "My Words Will Not Pass Away"

Chapter 18 ends the book with Lightfoot reflecting on two claims Jesus makes in Mark 13:31:  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

My Words

First, Christ claimed His words were divine. Lighfoot notes that the Bible also makes this claim about itself as a whole. This is seen in passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 1 Peter 1:19-21. Here it is seen that Paul and Peter understood that the Old Testament was divinely inspired. This same understanding is associated with the New Testament as well. Jesus compared His teachings to those of Moses and implied that His authority was greater (Matthew 5:27-48). He stated that whatever H is apostles required on earth would be required in heaven (Matthew 16:19, 18:18, and John 20:23) and it is evident that this delegated authority was recognized by the church in passages like 1 Corinthians 14:37 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13. In summation of the inspiration claims of the Bible Lightfoot writes the following:

Much of the uniqueness of the Bible rests on its unique claims. Permitting it to speak for itself, the Bible claims to be from God. This claim comes from honest, straight-thinking men and deserves consideration. The claim does not authenticate the truthfulness of the claim, but the contents of the Bible, with its theme of salvation and its strong moral fiber, support it. Jesus’ ethical principles, for example, are either human or divine. The Bible says that they are divine. The claims of the Bible plus the contents of the Bible equal a convincing case for the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

Will Not Pass Away

Second, Christ claimed that His words would stand for eternity. Lightfoot presents two evidences that God is preserving His Word. They are below:

1. The amount of textual documents available on the Bible text is staggering when compared to other ancient works.1 Lightfoot writes:

Many of the great classical writings are transmitted to the present day by no more than a handful of manuscripts. This being true, and since no one really questions the textual foundations of the classics, why should a mist of doubt prevail over the Bible text? If any book from ancient times has descended to us without substantial loss or alteration, it is the Bible.

2. The quality of the textual documents available on the Bible text is, again, remarkable when compared to other works of antiquity. Lightfoot writes:

The fact is that the vast majority of writings from ancient times have been preserved on late-date manuscripts. By contrast, our New Testament text rests on manuscripts that are very near to the date of their original composition. The text of the New Testament, as compared with other ancient books, hold a unique and enviable rank.

Lightfoot finishes the book with the following thoughts:

We now bring to a close our study of how we got the Bible. It is a remarkable story, far reaching in scope, extending to both Old and New Testaments, to the manuscripts that lie behind them, and to the translations that have been made from them.

Ours is the privilege to study this remarkable story. It is the history of the most important book in the world. For those who have passed it on from generation to generation, for the legacy of their undying devotion, we owe an incalculable debt. “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” is important (cf. Matt. 4:4). This is why we study about it, and why this book is written.

In the end, it is comforting and reassuring to know that Jesus’ words will not pass away. This promise has been tested by centuries and has not failed. “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

If you have been following along as I read through this book and posted highlights I appreciate your devotion and I hope it has been enjoyable and helpful. And if it has made you consider reading the book I encourage that consideration.

Stand firm in Christ,


1. Lightfoot provides a number of around 5,300 New Testament manuscripts. An updated number is 5,795 manuscripts according to this article. Updated numbers for other ancient works are found within this article as well. Lightfoot provides a number around14,700 for the Old Testament manuscripts as a conservative estimate. CARM puts the number over 10,000.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Movie Reflection: God's Not Dead

I just got back from a 10:30 pm showing at a local theater of Pureflix's latest film "God's Not Dead."  For those unfamiliar with the film and it's main premise, I recommend going here and watching the trailer before reading further.

Below are some of the questions I had going into the movie and I suspect readers have some of the same questions so I will share them along with the answers.  I do not intend to include any spoilers and my thoughts will be brief because it's late!

What positive arguments for God's existence will be presented in the film?

The cosmological argument, the moral argument and the Cambrian explosion all make an appearance.  Obviously, for theatrical purposes, the arguments are condensed but understandable. I could easily imagine someone's curiosity being sparked by the movie and, as a result, wanting to look into the arguments more thoroughly.

Further, I appreciated the film interacting with the works of contemporary skeptics such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking.  Other names mentioned in the film of note were Bertrand Russell, John Lennox and Steven Weinberg.

What objections to God's existence will be addressed?

It is stated in the movie that the existence of evil and suffering are the most powerful objections to God's existence.  The film's response is both through argument and narrative.  First, in one of the presentations given by the main character (there are 3 total), the free will defense is offered.  Second, a few of the film's story lines demonstrate how God can work even through suffering.

There is also a very good answer offered to the classic school boy objection, "Who created God?"

It is also argued that evolution explains very little and even if true would not call God's existence into question.

Will I be able to bring a skeptic to this film?

This film has much potential to start some great conversations with unbelievers.  However, it should be noted that the film is unapologetically Christian.  The believers in the film are sold out for Christ and pray, talk of the Holy Spirit and attend a worship concert.

How will the acting be?

I felt the acting was believable and was most impressed with Kevin Sorbo's effort.  As the atheist college professor he offered arguments that I have heard come over the lips of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.  He refers to God as a "supreme celestial dictator" and refers to religion as a "mind virus."

The appearances by Willie Robertson and his wife and "The Newsboys" obviously weren't the acting highlights of the film, but were sufficient and minor.

Will there be any objectionable content in the film?

No.  The film's content is presented fairly and while I certainly could pick out some things that skeptics might cry foul on, overall the film delivers.

Will they share the gospel in the movie?

They did and it was very clear.

Did you see it?  Tell us what you thought in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, March 21, 2014

William Wilberforce on Defending the Faith

"In an age in which infidelity abounds, do we observe parents carefully instructing their children in the principles of faith which they profess? Or do they furnish their children with arguments for the defense of that faith? is not surprising to see them abandon a position which they are unable to defend."

Courage and Godspeed,


HT: Apologetics315

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Understanding and Answering the Problem of Suffering

The following are notes I took from primarily from William Lane Craig's book On Guard and from a lecture by philosopher Garrett DeWeese on the problem of suffering.  I believe they will prove helpful to the Christian Case Maker wanting to be better equipped to answer this often discussed objection.

The Argument from Suffering

3 Forms of the Argument

1. Logical Version- tries to show that the coexistence of God and suffering is logically impossible.

2. Evidential Version- tries to show that the coexistence of God and suffering is highly improbable.

Question to ask for clarification: “Are you saying that it’s impossible for God and the suffering in the world to both exist, or are you saying that it’s merely improbable that God and suffering both exist?

3. Emotional Version- concerns people’s dislike of a God who would permit suffering

Logical Version: “It’s Logically Impossible for God and Suffering to Coexist.”

The argument goes something like this:

1. An all-loving, all-powerful God exists.
2. Suffering exists.

Usual assumptions…

3. If God is all powerful, He can create any world that He wants.
4. If God is all-loving, He prefers a world without suffering.

Argument: God is all-loving and all-powerful.  Therefore, He both can and wants to create a world without suffering.  Therefore, it follows that the world has no suffering.  But that contradicts 2, Suffering exists. Therefore, God must not exist.

For this argument to work, both 3 and 4 have to be necessarily true.  

3 - If God is all powerful, He can create any world He wants.

Is that necessarily true?  Well, not if it’s possible that people have free will!  It’s logically impossible to make someone do something freely.  That is as logically impossible as making a round square or a married bachelor.  God’s being all-powerful does not mean that He can bring about the logically impossible- indeed, there is not such “thing” as the logically impossible.  It’s just an inconsistent combination of words.

Great point to make with an atheist: If the unbeliever insists that an all-powerful being can do the logically impossible, then the problem of suffering evaporates immediately, for then God can bring it about that He and suffering both exist, even though this is logically impossible!

Since it’s possible that people have free will, it turns out that 3 is not necessarily true.  For if people have free will, they may refuse to do what God desires.  So there will be any number of possible worlds that God cannot create because the people in them wouldn't cooperate with God’s desires.  If fact, for all we know, it’s possible that in any world of free persons with as much good as this world, there would also be as much suffering.

Conclusion: This inference need not be true or even probable, but so long as it’s even logically possible, it shows that it is not necessarily true that God can create any world that He wants. 

4- If God is all-loving, He prefers a world without suffering.

- God could have overriding reasons for allowing the suffering in the world.
- Some goods, for example, moral virtues, can be achieved only through the free cooperation of people.
- It may be the case that a world with suffering is, on balance, better overall than a world with no suffering.  In any case, it is at least possible, and that is sufficient to defeat the atheist’s claim that 4 is necessarily true.

Push the argument further: You can demonstrate that God and suffering are logically consistent.  All we have to do is come up with a statement that is consistent with God’s existence and entails that suffering exists.  

Here is such a statement:

5. God could not have created another world with as much good as, but less suffering than, this world, and God has good reasons for permitting the suffering that exists.

It may well be that a world with as much good as the actual world, but with less suffering, wasn't an option. If statement 5 is even possibility true, it shows that it’s possible God and suffering both exist.  Surely, 5 is possibly true.

Evidential Version: “It’s improbable that God could have good reasons for permitting suffering.”

About the argument: This argument is always based on probabilities.  For example, one may claim that because of all the suffering in the world, God’s existence is unlikely.

a. Human Limitations- We’re not in a position to say that it’s improbable that God lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. 

As finite persons, we’re limited in space and time, in intelligence and insight.  God sees the end of history from its beginning and providentially orders history to His ends through people’s free decisions and actions. In order achieve his purposes God may have to allow a great deal of suffering along the way.  Suffering that appears pointless within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted by God within His wider framework.

This is not to appeal to mystery but rather to point to our inherent limitations, which make it impossible for us to say, when confronted with some example of suffering, that God probably has no good reason for permitting it to occur.

b. The Full Scope of the Evidence- Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable.

- We have stronger reasons to believe God exists than we have to accept that the amount evil successfully calls His existence into question.  Since the Evidential argument is only probabilistic, we are rationally justified in concluding God does exist.

Consider just some of the arguments for God‘s existence:

1. The Cosmological Arguments
2. The Teleological Argument- fine-tuning of the universe and the information content in DNA
3. The Moral Argument
4. Validity of the Bible
5. Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection 
6. Argument from Religious Experience
7. The Ontological Argument- argument from being
8. Argument from Reason

- Evil is evidence for God’s existence.

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. Therefore, objective moral values exists (some things are evil).
4. Therefore, God exists.

Conclusion: The unbeliever may conclude that God’s existence is improbable relative to the suffering in the world alone but point out that this is just outweighed by the arguments for God’s existence.

c. Suffering Makes More Sense under Christian Doctrine- Christianity entails doctrines that increase the probability of the coexistence of God and suffering.

If the Christian God exists, then it’s not so improbable that suffering should also exist.  It actually turns out that the problem of suffering is easier to deal with given the Christian God rather than some bare-boned concept of God.  

Consider the following:

The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.

We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God- which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment.  Much of the suffering in life may be utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness; but it may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God.  Because God’s ultimate goal for humanity is the knowledge of Himself-which alone can bring eternal happiness to people-history cannot be seen in its true perspective apart from the kingdom of God.

Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.

The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man’s depravity in his state of spiritual rebellion from God.  The Christian should not be surprised at the moral evil in the world, but expect it. (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28)

God’s purpose is not restricted to this life but spills over beyond the grave into eternal life.

The length of our finite lives are literally but a vapor in comparison with the eternal life we’ll spend with God. The longer we spend in eternity, the more the sufferings of this life will seem insignificant.

2 Cor. 4:16-18- Paul imagines a scale in which all the suffering of this life is placed on one side, while on the other side is placed the glory that God will bestow upon His children in heaven.  And the weight of glory is so great that it is beyond comparison with the suffering.

Emotional Version: “I can’t believe in a God would permit suffering.”

For most, the problem of suffering is not really an intellectual problem, but an emotional problem.  However, it’s important to work through the intellectual problems of suffering because:

a. People think their problem is intellectual so by working through it with them we can respect their opinion and help them see the real issue.
b. The answers to the intellectual problems can be very helpful when God asks you to suffer through something.

- Many times, words don’t help.  Just silence, presence, and sharing tears.
- Understand that the God who is allowing the suffering had the guts to take His own medicine.  In other words, look to the cross.
- Encourage, don’t tear down.
- Be sensitive when quoting Bible verses.
- Pray

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Notes taken from William Lane Craig’s On Guard, Chapter 7: What about Suffering?, p. 147-173.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Video: Setting the Record Straight- The Truth about Homosexual Marriage by Greg Koukl

In these 3 videos by Come Reason Ministries author and speaker Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason addresses the issue of homosexual marriage.

As the video descriptions explain, Part I of the talk will provide you with effective arguments in defense of biblical marriage and answers to the objections of critics.

In Part II Greg offers thoughtful arguments from a secular perspective as to why homosexual marriage policies are more harmful than helpful. 

Part III features a Q and A with Mr. Koukl.

Courage and Godspeed,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Cosmological Argument Primer

The Cosmological Argument for God's existence is powerful and worth mastering.  It provides persuasive evidence that God does indeed existent.

J. Warner Wallace has been sharing some excellent posts on his blog about this argument and it would be wise for Christian Case Makers to take the time to read each post and master the content therein.  The posts serve as an excellent primer for those wanting to fully understand the argument.  Moreover, Jim's writing is always easy to understand and practical.

They are as follows:

Science Agrees with the Bible: The Universe Began to Exist

How the Principle of Causality Points to the Existence of God

Is There a Way to Avoid the Beginning of the Universe?

A Personal God is the Best Explanation for the Beginning of the Universe

Does the Bible Confirm the Standard Cosmological Model?

Podcast: Making a Case for God from the Beginning of the Universe

My suggestion to readers is to take a week or two (or longer) and learn the content in these posts.  If you do so I believe you will be armed with a powerful argument in the cumulative case for God's existence.

You can sign-up for Jim's daily email here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, March 17, 2014

How We Got the Bible: Recent Translations of the English Bible

Chapter 17 of the book begins on an important note with Lightfoot stating the following:

No translation is ever final. Because translators are human beings, there will always be room for improvements of translations. No translator can transcend his own time. He can only work in light of the knowledge of his day, with materials available to him, and put his translation in words spoken by his generation.

He then identifies the weaknesses of the King James Version prior to presenting the revisions made to it and the development of other translations. These weaknesses are as follows:

1. Inadequate textual base. Many important manuscripts were not available to the translators of the King James; especially with the Greek text of the New Testament. The Vatican, the Sinaitic, and the Alexandrian Manuscripts, three of the most valuable authorities to the New Testament text, were not accessible to the translators.

2. Use of archaic words with obscure or misleading meanings. For example, the word “allege” was used for “prove,” “communicate” for “share,” “suffer” for “allow,” and “prevent” for “precede.” Additionally, grammar usage is different. “Which” being used for “who” is an example.

3. Errors of translation. During the seventeenth century Greek and Hebrew scholarship had only recently begun to be seriously studied in Western European universities. For this reason, some of the renderings of the King James were inaccurate. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” as opposed to the better rendering, “Abstain from every form of evil” is an example from 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

The English and American Revisions

Due to the weaknesses above and others, a motion to consider a revision to the King James was passed by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury in February 1870. Two English committees (one for the New Testament and one for the Old Testament) were formed and then two American committees in the same structure were formed later. On May 17, 1881 the New Testament revision was released with the Old Testament revision coming four years later on May 19, 1885. This revision is known in America as the English Revised Version. Disagreements between the English and American committees over idiom and spelling resulted in the English Revised Version being released with an appendix indicating the American preferences and the American Standard Version being issued in 1901.

Lightfoot then focuses on the American Standard Version. He writes that it has a better textual base, more accurate translation renderings, and clears up many of the archaisms of the King James. However, it did not remove all of the archaisms and actually added some so that it, as Lightfoot puts it, “lost the “naturalness and beauty of English style” of the King James. However, both the English Revised and American Standard surpassed the King James.

The Revised Standard Version

A committee of scholars was appointed in 1929 to begin another revision, but due to the depression and World War II the first edition of the New Testament revision did not appear until February 11, 1946 and the complete Bible on September 30, 1952. The Revised Standard Version developed for three reasons:  1) the recognition of the flaws of the King James, 2) the inability of the English and American revisions to overcome these flaws, and 3) the discovery of new knowledge materials. The Revised Standard benefitted greatly from the work of Westcott and Hort and Biblical and secular papyri discoveries in that its renderings are more precise. However, there are still places in which its renderings are lacking. Additionally, the Revised Standard was more readable than prior translations.

The New Revised Standard Version

Work began on a revision to the Revised Standard Version in 1974. The goal of the committee was to improve the Revised Standard by 1) changing some of its paragraph structure and punctuation, 2) removing even more archaisms, 3) seeking greater accuracy and clarity, and 4) removing all masculine language when references to both men and women are made.  The New Revised Standard Version was published in 1990 and it preserved the qualities of the Revised Standard Version while at the same time removed words such as “thee” and “thou” and brought a more contemporary understanding. Lightfoot provides “their sinful desires alienate them from Christ” instead of “they grow wanton against Christ” and “manage their households” as opposed to “rule their households” in 1 Timothy 5 as examples. Once again, however, there are places in which this version does not have clear renderings.

Other Translations

Lightfoot also gives attention to the following translations:

1. The New English Bible. The New Testament publication of this translation coincided with the 350th anniversary of the King James Version. The Old Testament publication along with a revision to the New Testament was issued in 1970. This translation took the sense-for-sense translation approach and remained accurate in transmitting the Biblical message. However, there are instances in the New Testament where the word choice for the American reader is unfamiliar and frequently the notes within the Old Testament which indicate “probable reading” are not sufficiently “probable.”

2. The New American Standard Bible. This was a revision to the American Standard sponsored by the Lockman Foundation. The New Testament was published in 1963 and the Old Testament in 1971. The objective of the Lockman Foundation was to preserve the 1901 American Standard in contemporary form; however it is not a modern version of the American Standard Version. Much of the older language is taken out and there are other improvements yet it sought to be precise in the distinctions in tenses of verbs and often this is not applied correctly and consistently.

3. The New International Version. Published in 1973 (New Testament) and 1978 (Old Testament), this version has been widely accepted when compared with the more recent translations. Lightfoot writes that it is useful for many readers; however it is not the “standard par excellence” of recent translations. He states that it is accurate, yet often it lacks quality in style.

4. The Revised English Bible. This is a revision to the New English New Testament released in 1989. It took out many of the non-American expressions.

5. Other Translations. The New King James Version claims to be the first major revision to the King James. This is not true. The previously discussed English Revised Version of 1881-1885 was a substantial revision to the King James. This revision was followed by the American Standard, Revised Standard, and New Revised Standard making the question of the need for the New King James a serious one. The Good News Bible of 1976, with its utilization of simple vocabulary and short sentence structure is helpful for those who have reading difficulties, but it has weaknesses because of this approach. Finally, the Living Bible (1971) and The Message (New Testament, 1993) are paraphrases and not true translations. This approach is not necessarily bad, but often it does go far beyond the “limits of the Biblical text.”

Lighfoot ends the chapters with the following:

From the beginning of the twentieth century on, there has been a surge of new translations. All of them have their faults, but some of them are especially good and can be of great help to the Bible reader. Among these are the Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New Revised Standard Version. Other recent translations, too, are of much value to varying degrees.

He then goes on to instruct that the Bible student carefully study and compare Scripture using various translations to decide which is most useful for him or her while at the same time recognizing the value of all the translations.

Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Please Support Doug and Becky Groothuis

This morning J. Warner Wallace tweeted this post from Pastor Matt's blog regarding the news that Becky Groothuis, wife of apologist and philosopher Doug Groothuis, has suffered numerous health problems and is now battling early dementia.  She requires 24 hour care and this is not covered by their insurance.  I know from experience that this is very expensive.  This past May my Dad lost his battle with early dementia and so this news hits close to home.

As Pastor Matt reports, Brett Kunkle posted on Facebook that a fundraising site has been set up to help Dr. Groothuis and his wife.  You can donate here.  I ask that you prayerfully consider donating.  Further, keep them in your prayers.  Thank you.

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Article: The Mismeasure of Man: Why Popular Ideas about Human-Chimp Comparisons are Misleading and Wrong by Ann Gauger

About Ann Gauger

She is a senior research scientist at Biologic Institute. Her work uses molecular genetics and genomic engineering to study the origin, organization and operation of metabolic pathways. She received a BS in biology from MIT, and a PhD in developmental biology from the University of Washington, where she studied cell adhesion molecules involved in Drosophila embryogenesis. As a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard she cloned and characterized the Drosophila kinesin light chain. Her research has been published in NatureDevelopment, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

In this featured article, Ann Gauger argues that popular ideas about human-chimp comparisons are misleading and wrong.  She writes:

"You have probably heard that our DNA, the stuff that makes us human, is only 1% different from chimps. The claim that we are little more than apes is now part of the Zeitgeist of our culture, having been propagated in the popular press for nearly forty years. However, that statement and the conclusions drawn from it are false." 

I invite you to examine her case here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

British High Court Judge Sir Edward Clarke on the Reliablility of the Gospels

"To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling.  As a lawyer I accept the gospel evidence unreservedly as the testimony of truthful men to facts that they were able to substantiate." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Michael Green, Christ is Risen: So What? (Kent, England: Sovereign World, 1995), 34.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reasonable Faith Podcast: The Real Consequences of Atheism

In a recent Reasonable Faith podcast with Dr. William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris, they discussed this post from Wintery Knight's blog.

The post featured the following comment from an atheist blogger:

[To] all my Atheist friends.
Let us stop sugar coating it. I know, it’s hard to come out and be blunt with the friendly Theists who frequent sites like this. However in your efforts to “play nice” and “be civil” you actually do them a great disservice.
We are Atheists. We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random chance acting on itself. While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not. Our highly evolved brains imagine that these things have a cause or a use, and they have in the past, they’ve allowed life to continue on this planet for a short blip of time. But make no mistake: all our dreams, loves, opinions, and desires are figments of our primordial imagination. They are fleeting electrical signals that fire across our synapses for a moment in time. They served some purpose in the past. They got us here. That’s it. All human achievement and plans for the future are the result of some ancient, evolved brain and accompanying chemical reactions that once served a survival purpose. Ex: I’ll marry and nurture children because my genes demand reproduction, I’ll create because creativity served a survival advantage to my ancient ape ancestors, I’ll build cities and laws because this allowed my ape grandfather time and peace to reproduce and protect his genes. My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die. That is our bible.
We deride the Theists for having created myths and holy books. We imagine ourselves superior. But we too imagine there are reasons to obey laws, be polite, protect the weak etc. Rubbish. We are nurturing a new religion, one where we imagine that such conventions have any basis in reality. Have they allowed life to exist? Absolutely. But who cares? Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife. Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me. Some of my Atheist friends have fooled themselves into acting like the general population. They live in suburban homes, drive Toyota Camrys, attend school plays. But underneath they know the truth. They are a bag of DNA whose only purpose is to make more of themselves. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen. Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one. You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all. When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife.
I know it’s not PC to speak so bluntly about the ramifications of our beliefs, but in our discussions with Theists we sometimes tip toe around what we really know to be factual. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may. At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.”

If naturalism is true, I believe the atheist is correct.  Of course, I'm glad there are good reasons to doubt that it is!

Further, I invite our atheist readers who disagree with this gentlemen to demonstrate why, on atheism, he is wrong.

Listen in here as Dr. Craig offers his assessment of the above comments.

Courage and Godspeed,

Monday, March 10, 2014

How We Got the Bible: The English Bible to 1611

Chapter 16 of the book details the history of English translations of the Bible. Christianity reached Britain no later than the third century; however the Latin language held such dominance in the West that English translations did not begin until the seventh century. This history is detailed by Lightfoot as follows:

Earliest English Versions

The first known attempt to translate Bible accounts into Anglo-Saxon is the arrangement of narratives of the Bible in verse form done by Caedmon in the mid-seventh century. This attempt, however, was not an actual translation. The first actual translation came by Aldhelm (d. 709) and it was only of Psalms. The completion of a translation of the Gospel of John by Bede (d. 735) is recorded but was not preserved. The Psalms and other parts of Scripture were translated during the close of the ninth century as a result of a religious reform sparked by King Alfred. Abbot Aelfric translated other portions of the Old Testament during the tenth century. Overall, the Old English versions that have been preserved contain the Pentateuch, some Old Testament historical books, the Psalms, and the Gospels.

The Norman Conquest changed the English language to what is now known as Middle English. Parts of the Bible were not translated into English until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Specifically it was the work of William of Shoreham and Richard Rolle during the first half of the fourteenth century which began the struggle to place the Bible in the hands of common people.


John Wycliffe played a great role in the spiritual revival of the fourteenth century. It was his conviction that the common man should have access to the Gospel in his language that led him to undertake and complete the first English translation of the entire Bible from Latin. It was completed in 1382 and, whether or not Wycliffe did any of the translating himself, the version bears his name for it would not have been accomplished apart from his influence. An anonymous revision of the Wycliffe version came about in 1388. It was perhaps translated by John Purvey; a Lollard or follower of Wycliffe. These two versions put in place the conditions in England for the sixteenth century Reformation.


It was William Tyndale’s chief end in life to provide the English people with a translation of the Bible based not on Latin but on the original Greek and Hebrew. With his Oxford and Cambridge training he determined to translate Erasmus’ 1516 New Testament. There was so much resistance from the Roman Church to his work that he had to complete the translation in Germany. It was completed in 1525 and he first sought to have it printed in Cologne. However, he had to flee from this city and have it printed in Worms. The first copies were smuggled into England in early 1526. The copies that were confiscated by officials of the Roman Church were burned in public ceremony and money was even set aside by them to buy copies.

Tyndale then began working on translating the Old Testament from Hebrew. He completed the Pentateuch by 1530, then Jonah (1531), a revised Genesis (1534), and two editions of his New Testament (1534-1535). He was betrayed and imprisoned in 1535 and then strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s dying prayer was, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

Tyndale’s work established the tone  of the English Bible (that it is to be in the language of the common people) by replacing such words as “church” with “congregation”, “charity” with “love”, and “penance” with “repentance.” Words such as “Passover”, “scapegoat,” “mercy seat,” and “long-suffering” also we owe to him. Expressions long beloved by readers of the English Bible came from his work. For example, “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 11:29), “in my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2), and “Behold I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). Lightfoot writes:

Tyndale’s work was not flawless. Many of his renderings needed the corrections made in later translations, but he unquestionably achieved what he sought:  a translation that could be understood even by the boy at the plow. His dedication, his good heart, and his devotion to his task stand out over the centuries.

Other Sixteenth Century Translations

A translation based on Tyndale’s was published in 1535 by Miles Coverdale. It was the first in England not to be officially hindered. Matthew’s Bible was issued in 1537 and it was a combination of Tyndale and Coverdale done by John Rogers. The Taverner’s Bible of 1539 was done independently and revised Matthew’s Bible. It provided a number of improved renderings in the New Testament. Another revision to Matthew’s Bible was released in 1539. Known as the Great Bible, it was the first English Bible allowed to be read in the churches following the desire of Henry VIII that it be dispersed among the people and thus it was an answer to the prayer of Tyndale.

The Geneva Bible of 1560 was the most popular Bible of the century. Over the course of its 140 editions, it was used by Shakespeare and the settlement in Jamestown, Virginia and Plymouth, Massachusetts. It had accompanying commentary and illustrations, printed each verse in paragraph form, put words not represented in the original texts in italics, and became the Bible for the family. However, it was not popular with English church officials due to the commentary presenting the views of Calvin and the Reformation.  As a result, a revision to the Great Bible known as the Bishops’ Bible was completed in 1568 and another edition four years later. It was less scholarly and less popular though.

A Roman Catholic translation of the New Testament came out in 1582 at the English college of Rheims and the college at Douai produced a translation of the Old Testament in 1609-1610. These were translated from the Latin Vulgate and not the original languages.

The King James Version

The Authorized Version of 1611, better known as the King James Version, provided a translation that was able to be used in public and private while at the same time transcend all religious factions; something that no previous version was able to do. It arose out of the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, summoned by King James to discuss religious toleration, in which Dr. John Reynolds suggested a new translation. The king began the process and instituted the requirements to be followed, one of the main being no commentary beyond what was essential in translating the text was to be added. The work began in 1607 or earlier with the goal of revising the Bishops’ Bible not creating a new translation. Lightfoot writes:

About forty-eight choice Greek and Hebrew scholars were selected and divided into six working companies, two at Westminster, two at Oxford, and two at Cambridge. Each company, restricted in its labors by detailed instructions, was assigned selected books to be translated, and the work of each company was sent to and reviewed by the other companies. Appointed delegates of each company smoothed out the difficult spots. In this way the translation was the product of no individual or group but of the reviewers as a whole.

Due to the advances in Greek and Hebrew scholarship since Tyndale, the general excellence of literary scholarship and learning at the time, the insights gained from the strengths and weaknesses of the previous translations, and no single viewpoint being represented, the King James Version was superior. Lightfoot concludes the chapter by stating that eighty percent of Tyndale’s translation lives on today in the King James Version so he “is truly the father of the English Bible.”

Stand firm in Christ,