Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Book Preview: Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter J. Williams

About the Author

Peter J. Williams (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the principal of Tyndale House and the consulting editor and coordinator of this project. He is also chair of the International Greek New Testament Project, which is producing the largest scholarly edition ever attempted of a single book of the New Testament, namely the Editio Critica Maior of John's Gospel. He is the author of Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels.

About the Book

The Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—tell the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ while he was on earth. But how do Christians know if they are true? What evidence is there that the events actually happened? This accessible introduction to the historical and theological reliability of the four Gospels, written by New Testament scholar Peter J. Williams, presents evidence from a variety of non-Christian sources, assesses how accurately the 4 accounts reflect the cultural context of their time, compares different accounts of crucial events, and considers how these texts were handed down throughout the centuries. Written for the skeptic, the scholar, and everyone in between, this book answers common objections raised against the historicity of the Gospels in order to foster trust in God's Word.


“The wild and unscholarly yet widely accepted assertion by Richard Dawkins that the only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the Gospels is that the Gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction deserves a measured and scholarly response. There is no one better qualified than Peter Williams to provide it, and this book is a masterly presentation of a compelling cumulative case that ‘all of history hangs on Jesus.’”

- John C. Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford

“This much-needed book provides a mine of information for Christians wanting to know more about the historical background to the Gospels and offers a series of challenges to those skeptical of what we can know about Jesus. Peter Williams has distilled a mass of information and thought into this short and accessible book, and it deserves careful reading both inside and outside the church.”

- Simon Gathercole, Reader in New Testament Studies, University of Cambridge

You can learn more about this book here.

Order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Video: Eyewitnesses to Jesus? New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Gospels featuring Dr. Peter J. Williams

Resources to Investigate the Reliability of the Gospels

New Testament Scholar Craig Blomberg on the Gospels

Monday, November 19, 2018

Video: Dialogue on the Historical Jesus- Mike Licona & John Dominic Crossan

On October 24, 2018, John Dominic Crossan and Mike Licona dialogue on the question "Who was the historical Jesus?"  The questions both were asked to address specifically were "What can be verified about Jesus" and "How can they be verified?"

This public dialogue took place at Kennesaw State University in the Atlanta-Metro area.  After each had delivered their 15-minute opening statements, they dialogued on 4 questions: Can historians investigate miracle claims?  Do the Gospels contain eyewitness testimony?  Who did Jesus think he was?  Did Jesus rise from the dead?1

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Text originally found here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

7 Things You Should Know about Richard Dawkins Before You Buy His Children's Book

There are numerous atheists that I greatly respect as thinkers.   However, I openly confess that Richard Dawkins is not one of those thinkers.  While he certainly is a gifted writer when it comes to matters of science, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he is woefully ill-equipped when it comes to dealing with issues related to philosophy and metaphysics. So imagine my surprise, and disappointment, when I recently read that Dawkins is planning on releasing a children's book titled Atheism for Children.  According to Dawkins, the book, "will be unflinching, not a storybook. Children won't beg parents to buy it for Christmas."  His goal is to "arm them against indoctrination by schools, grandparents and religious books – and against taunting by religious schoolmates. Help them think on evidence..."  

I certainly have no problem with someone encouraging children to "think on evidence," but I am quite skeptical that Dawkins is the best man for the job.  Indeed, I am not sure that he is the best candidate to be teaching children much of anything.  So, before you run out and buy Dawkins' forthcoming children's book, you might want to become a bit more familiar with the man himself. So, here are 7 things you should know about Richard Dawkins before you allow him to teach your children about his atheism (or anything else).

1. His book The God Delusion has been harshly criticized by both atheists and theists for being shallow and ignorant.  Atheist and philosopher of biology Michael Ruse writes:

"Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing...I am indignant at the poor quality of the argumentation..."1  He concludes, "I have written elsewhere that The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Let me say that again."2

Philosopher and Christian Alvin Plantinga writes of The God Delusion:

"Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class."3

2. Dawkins has been openly criticized by fellow Oxford don and atheist philosopher, Daniel Came, for refusing to debate philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig, despite being given opportunities to do so.  Came wrote the following to Dawkins in regard to his refusal to debate Craig:

"...the absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part. I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House."

I trust readers can pick up on Came's sarcasm!  Dawkins seems anxious to debate intellectual "lightweights," but seems to go out of his way to debate genuine intellectual "heavyweights" like William Lane Craig and Stephen Meyer.  To be fair, the one notable exception is Dr. John Lennox.

3. William Lane Craig believes that Dawkins' "central argument" in The God Delusion should win the prize of "the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought."  In Contending with Christianity Critics he writes:

"Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking’s argument against God in A Brief History of Time as 'the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.'  With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Richard Dawkins’s accession to the throne."5

4. Richard Dawkins believes that to carry a baby to term that has Down syndrome is "immoral" and to abort the child is the"civilized" and "sensible" choice.6  So, I suppose if you have a child with Down syndrome, you might want to think twice about buying them Richard's book!

5. Richard Dawkins has no moral objection to infanticide.  Yes, you read that correctly.  See below:

6. Dawkins believes that "mild pedophilia" or "touching up" causes no lasting harm and shouldn't be judged as harshly as rape or other crimes.7

7. According to Dawkins, the belief that rape is wrong is just as arbitrary as the fact we have evolved five fingers rather than six.  This was evident in an interview he participated in with radio host Justin Brierley. It was as follows:

Brierley: When you make a value judgement, don't you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it's good? And you don't have any way to stand on that statement.

Dawkins: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.

Brierley: So therefore it's just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.

Dawkins: You could say that...Nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.

Brierley: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six.

Dawkins: You could say that, yeah.8


Dawkins' book The God Delusion, while popular with layman, has been harshly criticized by philosophers on both sides of the God debate.  Moreover, Dawkins has dodged the Christian faith's foremost debater and some have argued that this is due to cowardice.  Finally, it is my opinion that Dawkins' own views on issues related to Down syndrome children, infanticide, "mild pedophilia" and his arbitrary views on morality make him unfit to educate children about anything.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Michael Ruse, "Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster," 2009.
2. Ibid.
3. Alvin Plantinga, "The Dawkins Confusion," 2007.
4. As quoted here.  You can read more of Came's thoughts on Dawkins' refusual and the New Atheism here.
5. Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Contending with Christianity's Critics, Chap. 1, Aug. 1, 2009.  You can also see Craig's response to Dawkins' argument here.
6. See here and here.
7. See here.
7. As quoted by Frank Turek in Stealing from God, p. 90-91.  You can here the interview here.

Related Posts

Ye Have No Definition of Faith?

Counterpoints: William Lane Craig and Richard Dawkins on Evolution

Video: If C.S. Lewis met Richard Dawkins by Peter S. Williams

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Trajectory of Truth by Vince Vitale

We live in a post-truth society—that’s what The Economist claimed at the close of 2016 when Oxford English Dictionary chose “post-truth” as its Word of the Year. Go back a bit further, and having eleven percent of America believe that you are “honest and trustworthy” was good enough to have a nine percent lead in the race to be the next President of the United States. But of course, even the polls were post-true.
We are very confused about the truth: There’s the truth, and then there’s the naked truth. There’s the truth, and then there’s the gospel truth (though the gospel is taken to be obviously false). There’s the honest truth, and then there’s the God’s honest truth (but that has nothing to do with God).
We stretch the truth and bend the truth and twist the truth. We bury the truth because the truth hurts. When we want some­thing to be false, we knock on wood. When we want something to be true, we cross our fingers. Which wooden cross are we trusting in?
Why do we have such a confused relationship with the truth? Fear. We’re afraid of truth. Truth has so often been abused that experience has taught us the trajectory of truth—the trajectory of believing you are right and others are wrong—is from truth to disagreement to devaluing to intolerance to extremism to violence to terrorism.
And if that is the trajectory, then those committed to truth are in fact terrorists in the making. If that is the trajectory, then truth is an act of war, and an act of war leaves you with only two options: fight or flee.
Most of Western society is fleeing. Everything around us is structured to avoid disagreement about the truth: We spend most of our time on Facebook and Twitter where we can “like” and “retweet” but there is no option to “dislike.” Sports no longer teach us how to disagree. In professional sports, we replay every call to avoid disagreement. In youth sports, we don’t keep score and everyone gets a trophy.
When it comes to dating, we use online sites that “match” us with someone so similar in beliefs, background, and personality that as much disagreement as possible is avoided. We no longer meet people different from us at coffee shops because we go to drive-thru Starbucks. We no longer meet people while shopping because everything we could ever need or want is delivered to our door. Culturally, everything around us is set up to avoid disagreement.
The alternative to fleeing is fighting. I was walking around Oxford University a few months ago, and two guys walking just ahead of me were having a spirited conversation about how crazy they found certain Christian positions on ethical issues. One of them wondered out loud whether the only solution would be to shame Christians out of their positions.
His friend quickly responded, “Yeah, that’s what we should do! We should ridicule them mercilessly in the most insensitive ways we can think of.” That’s an exact quote. Then they both made a right turn and swiped their faculty cards to enter the University of Oxford Theoretical Physics building.
These were probably scholars at Oxford, a place that prides itself on intellectual freedom and the exchange of ideas, and “merciless, insensitive ridicule” was the best they could come up with for resolving disagreement. I found myself wondering how many beliefs they hold in theoretical physics will one day be considered ridiculous.
How does one get to this point? How does someone get to the point where merciless ridicule seems like the best way forward?
I think it’s because we have come to see truth as more important than love. If truth is greater than love, then you fight—then the end goal of truth justifies whatever means necessary, whether the means of haughty academics or the means of ISIS. If truth is greater than love, then love is a temptation—a distraction threatening to avert our attention from what is truly important. If truth is greater than love, then those who disagree with us are enemies, and warmth toward our enemies must be extinguished in favor of the cold, hard facts.
The alternative is that love is greater than truth. Then you flee. You flee from the dangers of truth and adopt a pluralism that assures us “All truths are equally valid.” Does that include the claim that all truth claims are not equally valid? One college student recently told my colleague Abdu Murray that he doesn’t believe it is his place to disagree with anyone.
Abdu said, “Sure you do.”
The student said, “No I don’t.”
Abdu said, “You just did.”
Philosophically, that’s how quickly pluralism runs into incoherence. But if truth starts you down a path that ends in extremism, violence, and terrorism, then philosophical incoherence might seem like a price worth paying.
Either truth is greater than love or love is greater than truth. Fight or flee. This is the cultural ultimatum we are living in. What’s your choice?
Maybe there’s another way. Jesus disagreed with us. His very coming was an act of disagreement with us—a statement that we require saving because our lives have disagreed so badly with what God intended for us.
But Jesus’s loving sacrifice for us was the very content of his disagreement; it was his very statement that we are sinners in need of a savior. God cut the link between disagreement and devaluing by making his communication of truth one and the same as his communication of love.
Not “Truth is greater than love.” Not “Love is greater than truth.” “God islove” (1 John 4:8), and God is truth (John 14:6). And therefore, love is truth.
Only in Jesus does truth equal love, and therefore only Jesus can get us out of the cultural ultimatum we are stuck in: fight or flee. Every other worldview makes a choice between love and truth. Jesus refused to, because in him, and only in him, love and truth are one and the same.
So the next time we have a choice between love and truth, let’s refuse to choose. Instead, let’s remember when the Truth—Jesus himself—was stretched. Let’s remember when the Truth was twisted and bent, when the Truth was naked. Let’s remember when the Truth hurt, and when the Truth was buried—and ultimately triumphed.
Let us remember which wooden cross we are trusting in. And let us remember that love that is not truth is not love, and truth that is not love is not truth.
God Bless,