Friday, October 15, 2021

William Lane Craig Answers a Popular Atheist Rejoinder

 

In his latest "Question of Week," response, philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig was asked to how he would respond to a popular atheist claim.  The claim is as follows:

"I don't know what it would take to convince me that God exists. But if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence (and He should also be capable of accomplishing this task). And the fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)."1

I myself have heard the popular atheist Matt Dillahunty make similar statements.2

Dr. Craig's response was as follows:

"Notice that the objector assumes that God has middle knowledge: 'if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence.' But then the objection is undone by such knowledge: for in that case God may have known that no matter what evidence He provided, the hardened heart of the excuse-maker would have resisted it and failed to come to love and serve God. Recall that God isn’t interested in merely convincing people to add another item (God) to their ontological inventory. Rather He wants each person to come into a love relationship of worshiping and knowing God. Even if He supplied coercive evidence of His existence, that is no guarantee that the excuse-maker would freely come to love and worship the being whose existence he has been forced to acknowledge. Hence, God is under no obligation to provide greater evidence that He has, since He knew that it wouldn’t do any good.

The conclusion of the objection 'The fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)' is a non-sequitur. For another explanation is that God knew that providing more evidence wouldn’t do any good. Yet another explanation, however, is that God will provide such evidence to our buck-passing friend in the future once his heart has softened and is more open to God’s overtures. Either way the blame, for now, falls on the unbeliever himself, not on God."3

What do you think of WLC's response?  How would you answer this popular atheist response?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Christianity, Science and Galileo


The story of Galileo and the Catholic Church is often used to suggest that the Christian church has historically been against the advancement of science.  However, as J. Warner Wallace argues in his newest book Person of Interest, there is more to the story:

"Galileo (an Italian astronomer who lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth century) was correct in his description of the solar system, but the Catholic Church at the time held to a geocentric view of the sun and planets (with the earth at its center).  Galileo was investigated as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which rejected heliocentrism as contradictory to the Holy Scripture.  Galileo was convicted and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

This historic episode...seemed to solidify-at least for me-a long-standing Christian tradition of science denial.  It seemed to start early, and it appeared to continue today.  

But the truth about Galileo and Pope Urban VIII (the man who opposed Galileo's theory) is much more nuanced than I was originally led to believe.  The pope was a fan of Galileo many years earlier (when Urban was known as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini) and even defended Galileo on one occasion on an unrelated scientific proposal.

But by the time Galileo published his findings on the heliocentric planetary model, Barberini was Pope Urban VIII.  He interviewed Galileo several times after ascending to the position and gave him permission to write about the Copernican heliocentric theory if he treated it as a hypothesis.  But Galileo eventually published his treatise as more than that, and to make matters worse, he included a mocking conversation between characters representing an astronomer and the pope.  Galileo's portrayal of the pope's character (named 'Simplico,' or 'Simpleton' in English) was...less than flattering.  Urban VIII was not pleased, and Galileo found himself judged as much for his delivery as his content.  By comparison, years earlier, Tycho Brache and Copernicus also proposed heliocentric systems of their own, but neither suffered the same fate as the obstinate and evocative Galileo. 

Any apparent conflict between Roman Catholic leadership and Galileo, therefore, does littler to prove that Christianity was (or is) hostile to science.  It proves only that these two men had a complex relationship and that the timing of history did not happen to favor Galileo's proposal."1

Wallace goes on to point out that Galileo himself never saw his Christian faith to be at odds with science:

"He saw no contradiction between his beliefs as a Catholic and his findings as a scientist.  Galileo once quoted Cardinal Caesar Baronius, agreeing 'that the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.'  Galileo believed the Bible had much to say about the nature of the real world, even tough it was not intended to provide an exhaustive description of the universe.  He was therefore content to live out his life as both a Jesus follower and a scientist: 'Whatever the course of our lives, we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.'"2

So, it seems that if Wallace is right, the Galileo story fails to provide an example of the Christian faith denying science.  

What do you think of Wallace's explanation?  Sound off in the comments below!

You can learn more about Wallace's new book here.

Checkout our podcast with Wallace here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. J. Warner Wallace, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible, p. 195; 197.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Video - The Chick-fil-A Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus


Erik Manning of Testify has recently released this creative video.  Please enjoy it and I encourage you to subscribe to Manning's YouTube Channel Testify here.  

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Do the Gospels Contain Legendary Embellishments?

 

In Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, author Andrew Loke offers 4 reasons why he believes skeptics who claim that the later accounts in the Gospels (e.g. the young man at the tomb in Mark becomes an angel accompanied by earthquakes in Matthew) contain legendary embellishments are in error.  

He writes:

"First, the amount of details does not seem to follow a consistent pattern when we compare the later accounts with the earlier ones.  For example, following the argument for embellishment, one might expect a larger number of eyewitnesses and resurrection appearances in the later accounts compared to the earlier ones, but the opposite is the case: Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the earliest, contains the greatest number of eyewitnesses ('more than five hundred brethren') and the largest number of appearances.  It is more likely that the authors took into consideration the needs of the audiences when they decided the amount of details to include.  Second, some of the details can be understood as clarification rather than embellishments.  For example, the inference that the 'young man' in Mark 16:5-7 is an angel can be justified by the context, which describes him as dressed in white and conveying divine revelation.  He does not simply report what he found, but gives it an authoritative explanation and goes on to convey a message from Jesus himself, recapitulating what he had said privately to the Twelve in Mark 14:28, and conveying not comment but command (France 2002, pp. 675-679; compare the use of 'young man' for angel in Tob. 4:5-10, 2 Macc. 3:26, 33, etc., see Gundry 1993, p. 990).  Thus, the latter account in Matthew can be understood not as an embellishment but a clarification; in other words, Matthew merely makes the identification of the young man as an angel more explicit.  Third, the inclusion of more details does not have to be regarded as embellishment, rather, it 'could simply be a matter of a later writer adding new and truthful traditions that were known to his own community, purposely filling in the gaps' (Habermas 2013, p. 477).

Concerning the apparent lack of agreement, Wright notes that first-century writers who intended to tell others what actually happened took for granted that they were not obligated to mention every event or every detail of an event.  (Wright (2003, pp. 648-649) observes, for example, 

'when Josephus tells the story of his own participation in the various actions that started the Jewish-Roman war in AD 66, the story he tells in his Jewish War and the parallel story he tells in the Life do not always correspond in detail.' 

Many of the differences between the Gospels can be explained by literary devices which were also employed by other ancient historians, such as Plutarch (c. AD 45-120) (Licona 2016).  In several biographies Plutarch frequently covers the same ground, thus creating a number of parallels and editing his materials in ways similar to the writers of the New Testament Gospels, compresses stories, sometimes conflates them, inverts the order of events, simplifies, and relocates stories or sayings (Evans, in Licona 2016, p. x).  When it comes to the editing and paraphrasing of the words of Jesus, the authors of the Gospels were far more conservative than the compositional practice of Jewish Scriptures (ibid.).  Indeed, a comparison of the paralleled periscope of Jesus' aphorisms and parables shows a high degree of stability and reliability of transmission (McIver 2011)."1

So, if Loke is right, these are at least 4 plausible explanations for some of the differences we see in the later accounts in the Gospels.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnote:
1. Andrew Loke, Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, Kindle. 


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Friday, September 10, 2021

Book Preview: Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace

About the Author

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline-featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker, and bestselling author. His is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University). Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, Wallace provides the tools needed to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview.

About the Book

Detective J. Warner Wallace listened to a pastor talk about Jesus and wondered why anyone would think Jesus was a person of interest.
Wallace was skeptical of the Bible, but he’d investigated several “no-body, missing person” cases in which there was no crime scene, no physical evidence, and no victim's body. Could the historical life and actions of Jesus be investigated in the same way?

In Person of Interest, Wallace describes his own personal investigative journey from atheism to Christianity, as he carefully sifts through the evidence from history alone without relying on the New Testament manuscripts.

Creative, compelling, and fully illustrated, Person of Interest will strengthen the faith of believers, while engaging those who are skeptical and distrusting of the New Testament.

Notable Recommendations 

“Every so often a novel approach to Christian apologetics comes along.  I am more than pleased to endorse Person of Interest.  What a boost to the field of Christian evidences!”

- Gary Habermas, author of The Historical Jesus

"I could hardly put the book down.  With a panoramic perspective, if offers a fascinating journey into some lines of evidence most of us haven't even considered!"

- Craig S. Keener,  author of The Historical Jesus of the Gospels

"Person of Interest is a brilliant book, I've been studying the historical Jesus for decades, and Detective Wallace made some fresh insights I have not thought of before.  I could not recommend this book more highly."

- Sean McDowell, author of The Fate of the Apostles 

To order your copy of Wallace's latest book, go here.  You can find out more about Person of Interest here

To learn more about Detective Wallace and his work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, August 23, 2021

Apologetics315 Interviews: Interview Reflections

 

In our thirty-fifth podcast, Brian Auten and I answer the mailbag and then review the past 14 episodes and the interview guests, sharing insights and things learned.

0:29 – News from the world of Gozer
4:39 – Mailbag feedback
12:10 – The Stephen C. Meyer interview
15:58 – The Ken Samples episodes
19:17 – Katy Faust and Them Before Us
24:11 – The Michael J. Nelson interview
29:40 – The Ted Wright archaeology interview
31:45 – The rhetoric interview with Jim Beitler
33:32 – Apologetics for parents with Michael D’Virgilio
36:58 – The Molinism interview with Tim Stratton
38:41 – The Christian Enneagram with Marcia Montenegro
41:23 – Spiritual warfare reading (Karl Payne book)
45:27 – The Miracles interview with Craig Keener

You can listen here.

Find more daily apologetics resources here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Miracles Today with Dr. Craig Keener

 

In this interview, Brian Auten and I sit down with Craig Keener to discuss his new book Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern World.  Are miracles happening today? How do we evaluate miracle claims? How do we know if witnesses are credible? Many accounts and stories of healing and miracles are discussed.

The show notes are as follows:

0:42 – Introduction to Dr. Craig Keener
6:49 – Welcome to Dr. Keener; what compelled you to write a book on miracles in the world today?
10:40 – How this book is different than his previous miracles book
11:32 – What is a miracle and how do we define them? A discussion of Hume’s definition
15:20 – What criteria do we use when assessing miracle claims?
17:39 – Are some miracle claims ambiguous? What type of miracle accounts does the book discuss?
19:47 – Two accounts of dramatic healing
23:36 – What sort of environment do these miracles happen in? An account of deteriorated hip bones being healed.
29:14 – What role do presuppositions play in how we look at miracle claims? How high is the bar for evidence?
33:28 – Does “uniform human experience” invalidate miracle claims?
37:27 – “That account is too old,” “That account is too far away,” and other objections
43:06 – Do we have any miracles on video? (Yes)
47:07 – What would you say to someone who has been praying for a miracle or healing and has not experienced it yet? A discussion on cutting edge evangelism and miracles
51:44 – Does God heal amputees?
52:22 – Responses to common “internet objections”
54:38 – What about people being raised from the dead?
59:20 – Cumulative evidence of multiple claims, and the height of skepticism; how to critically evaluate claims
1:00:17 – What would you say to someone wanting God to prove himself to them through an appearance or miracle?
1:02:26 – How has your faith been strengthened by researching miracles?

You can listen here.

Order Dr. Keener's new book here.  And you can checkout more of his work here.

For great daily apologetics resources, checkout Apologetics315

Many thanks to Dr. Keener for taking the time to chat with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, August 09, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: The Enneagram with Marcia Montenegro

 

In this podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Marcia Montenegro about the Enneagram and the influence it is having in Christian circles.  Montenegro is a former astrologer who turned to Christ.

The show notes are as follows:

2:05 – Intro to Marcia Montenegro and her background
4:09 – Why talk to a former astrologer?
10:12 – Welcome to Marcia
11:17 – How Marcia got into the New Age movement and became an astrologer; how God led her out
25:19 – Is New Age fake, false or both? What’s behind it?
29:45 – Is there a spiritual dimension behind psychic readings?
30:31 – A couple stories of special knowledge from spirit guides
40:33 – What is the Enneagram and where did it come from?
59:43 – Marcia’s recent debate with Todd Wilson on the Unbelievable? radio show
1:01:10 – Is Marcia committing the genetic fallacy?
1:02:35 – No scientific evidence for the Enneagram
1:14:14 – What would you say to a Christian that things that the Enneagram is helpful and harmless?
1:20:14 – The swath of books by Christian publishers on the Enneagram
1:27:24 – More debate reflections; is the Enneagram just a passing fad?

You can listen here.

To learn more about Marcia and her excellent ministry, go here.  You can get the book Marcia co-authored on the topic, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, here.

For more helpful apologetics resources, checkout Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Marcia for taking the time to chat with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Too Good To Be False with Tom Gilson

 

In this interview, Brian Auten and I chat with Tom Gilson about his latest book Too Good to be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.  

The show notes are as follows:

0:30 – The Dukes of Hazzard intro
1:30 – Intro to Tom Gilson
5:01 – About Tom and his work and background
7:25 – Where did the idea for this book come from?
10:47 – A brief summary of the book
12:43 – Jesus didn’t have faith?
16:53 – You can’t make this stuff up
17:42 – What the argument is NOT and what it is
21:37 – Arguing for the best explanation
23:56 – The most common misconceptions and misunderstandings
26:27 – How would Bertrand Russell respond?
30:35 – The Facebook objection
34:13 – The book’s focus on Jesus and his character
34:36 – Positive feedback from readers
37:07 – Where to download a free chapter: thinkingchristian.net

You can listen here.

Order a copy of Tom's excellent book here.  Learn more about Tom and his ministry here.

For more great apologetics content from Apologetics315, go here.

Many thanks to Tom for doing the interview!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, July 26, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Molinism with Tim Stratton

In this Apologetics315 Podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Tim Stratton about his book Human, Freedom, Divine Knowledge and Mere Molinism.

The show notes are as follows:

1:03 – Intro to Tim Stratton
1:41 – Why Molinism on the podcast?
3:20 – Welcome to Tim Stratton
3:54 – How Tim became a Christian
9:37 – God as a maximally great being
10:43 – Tim’s dissertation
11:18 – What does Tim find compelling about Molinism?
12:42 – The Mere Molinism Facebook group
16:14 – What is the problem that Molinism is trying to solve?
22:47 – How to briefly summarize Molinism?
23:41 – Defining terms: Middle knowledge and counterfactuals
31:39 – Scriptures that affirm counterfactuals / middle knowledge
41:53 – Why us the term “mere” Molinism?
46:22 – Can Molinism be applied to salvation?
48:21 – Does this chess analogy work?
52:10 – Objection: Molinism is not derived from scripture
58:23 – Objection: Who cares? That’s just for scholars and theologians
1:02:45 – How Molinism saved Tim’s marriage

You can listen here.

You can order Tim's excellent book here.

Learn more about Tim and his ministry here.

Find more great apologetics resources at Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Tim for chatting with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Friday, July 23, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Apologetics for Parents with Mike D’Virgilio

In this Apologetics315 Podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Mike D'Virgilio about apologetics, parenting and his book The Persuasive Christian Parent. 

The show notes are as follows:

0:44 – Introduction to our Mike D’Virgilio and the topic of parenting with apologetics
4:25 – Mike’s background and how he got into apologetics
6:59 – What inspired Mike to write a book on apologetics and parenting
7:50 – J.P. Moreland’s endorsement, and the importance of using apologetics when raising your kids
11:43 – The plausibility of Christianity, and the threat of children falling away from the faith
16:06 – The importance of emphasizing the truth
18:07 – Emphasizing reality and the facts of life experience
20:47 – Embedding right expectations in our kids
23:06 – The outline of topics covered in the Persuasive Christian Parent book
25:23 – Plausibility structures, certainty, and epistemology
29:34 – Ways that we can approach bringing apologetics into our parenting
31:48 – Should we just let our children just find their own way, or are we brainwashing them?
33:30 – Loving the Lord with all our mind, AND training our kids
35:18 – Are there ways you would have raised your kids differently?
35:44 – Modeling and not being afraid to allow your kids to see you fail
37:06 – How to teach kids about controversial topics

You can listen here.

You can learn more about Mike and his work here.  Pick up his book here.

And you can checkout the resources available at Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Mike for doing the interview!

Courage and Godspeed,

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Nabeel Qureshi's Case for the Deity of Christ in the Gospel of Mark



Muslims often argue that the Gospels evolved over time.  Many take the consensus view that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest and that over time, the accounts of Jesus' life were embellished, and by the time we get the Gospel of John, we have a very different Jesus.  In their estimation, this is due to the fact that Jesus did not start out as God, but this idea was a later Christian invention.1

Before the late Nabeel Qureshi lost his courageous battle with cancer, he wrote a book called No God but One: Allah or Jesus?  In his book, Qureshi argues that "[n]ot only does Mark present Jesus as divine, but the very point of Mark's Gospel is that Jesus is Yahweh."2 In this post, it is my intent to recount Qureshi's argument for those interested in better understanding Jesus' divine claims and to challenge those who would argue that His divinity was indeed a later Christian fabrication.

Qureshi begins by explaining that, "[t]he more I learned about Mark, the more I realized that it was a very Jewish Gospel, written with the Old Testament in mind. If refers to Jewish sources over seventy times, with a strong preference for the book of Isaiah, and never once does it explicitly refer to a Graeco-Roman source."3 And with that foundation, he proceeds in arguing as follows:

"Mark starts with a reference to a passage in the Old Testament: Isaiah 40:3-5.  In that passage, a voice calls out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD [Yahweh]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God!...And the glory of the LORD will be revealed.' So Isaiah prophesies that Yahweh, the God of Israel, will appear, and a voice in the wilderness will proclaim His arrival.  Mark tells us in 1:4 that John the Baptist is that voice in the wilderness-the one whose arrival he proclaimed was Jesus.  In other words, Mark equates Yahweh with Jesus, saying: We have been waiting for a man to proclaim the arrival of Yahweh, our God.  John the Baptist is that man, and he has proclaimed the arrival of Jesus.

In fact, Mark combines his reference to Isaiah 40:3-5 with Malachi 3:1, where the text says explicitly that the messenger (again, John the Baptist) will appear before the Lord Himself comes to his temple. As in the Isaiah reference, this equates the Lord with Jesus.  For added emphasis, the Book of Malachi ends a few verses later by saying that if the Israelites do not accept the messenger, God Himself will come.

Thus, at the very beginning of his Gospel, Mark equates Yahweh with Jesus using multiple Old Testament references.  For the attentive Jewish reader, Mark's prologue functions very much like John: It proclaims that Jesus is God Himself.

Mark continues in 2:3-10, telling us that Jesus forgave a paralyzed man his sins. The Scribes at the scene thought to themselves, He is blaspheming, Who can forgive sins but God?  For the Jews, to blaspheme against God is an accusation that someone is not giving God His due respect, most commonly by saying the name Yahweh or by claiming divine status for oneself. Clearly, Jesus neither insulted God here nor uttered the divine name.  Their charge of blasphemy can mean only that Jesus thought Himself to be God by claiming the divine prerogative of forgiving sins.

In response, far from denying the blasphemous claim to be God, Jesus shows them His authority to forgive sins by healing the paralytic.  Not only did this demonstrate His spiritual authority, but also it reminded the Scribes, who know well the Hebrew Scriptures, of Psalm 103:2-3, which says, 'Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases" (emphasis mine).

When Scribes charge Jesus with claiming to be God, instead of denying it, He goes even further by healing a paralytic, thereby doing what only Yahweh does in Psalms.

Later in the same chapter, referring to Himself, Jesus says, 'The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28).  Unless we know the Old Testament well, it is easy to miss the fact that the Sabbath is the fourth of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8). When Jesus refers to Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, He is claiming lordship over the Ten Commandments even though there is only one such Lord: Yahweh.

In Mark 4:35-41, we find the troubled disciples out on the water in the midst of a storm with waves so high they broke over the boat and began to flood it. Amid adversity they call out to Jesus.  Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' whereupon the sea is claimed and waves are hushed (v. 39). The disciples ask themselves in amazement, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!' (v. 41).  By now, we should realize that Mark expects us to answer these rhetorical questions by turning to the Old Testament. In Psalm 107:25-30, men are on a stormy sea so perilous that their courage has melted and they are at their wits' end. 'Then they cried out the LORD [Yahweh] in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed' (vv.28-29).

So in the Old Testament, when men are caught in a storm at sea and fearing death, they call out to Yahweh, who calms the storms and hushes the waves. In Mark, when the disciples are caught in a storm at sea and fearing death, they call out to Jesus, who calms the storms and hushes the waves. Once again, Mark equates Jesus with Yahweh.

In another seafaring passage, Mark 6:45-52, the disciples are struggling to row against the wind. Amid the stormy waves, Jesus walks to them on the water. For those who know the Old Testament, the allusion is clear: In Job 9:8, when Job is speaking about Yahweh, he says, 'He alone stretches out the heaven and treads on the waves of the sea.' What Job says only Yahweh can do, Mark shows Jesus doing.

Having discussed the highlights of Mark 1-6, we see Mark's endeavor is clear: He portrays Jesus as Yahweh. But regardless of the clarity and multiple allusions, I was not yet convinced. What convinced me that Mark portrayed Jesus as Yahweh was the climax of the Gospel-Jesus' trail.4

He continues:

"In Mark 1:55-64, Jesus has been brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin. Those who brought Jesus to this trail have been seeking to destroy Him since a time early in his ministry (3:6).  They hope to incriminate Him through His words against the temple, but without sufficient witnesses or a consistent accusation against Him, the trail is going awry (14:55-59). Then the high priest stands and demands that Jesus tell them who He is. It appears the high priest hopes Jesus can be incriminated through His identity claims. When Jesus responds, He gives the Sanhedrin more than they hoped for.

Jesus' words are: 'I am...And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.' The meaning of His words will not be clear to us if we do not know the Old Testament, but for the Jewish Sanhedrin, it was so clear that they condemned Him to death for blasphemy. What exactly did Jesus says? In Mark 14:62, Jesus makes a two-fold reference to the Old Testament, claiming the privileges and position of Yahweh for Himself. The first reference is to Daniel. Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13-14, an apocalyptic vision of the prophet Daniel, which states, 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

In this passage from Daniel, a being who looks human (one like a son of man) approaches God. Although he looks human, his entrance is on clouds-an entrance reserved for Yahweh in the Old Testament. Then the one like a Son of Man is given everlasting dominion, glory, and a kingdom, even though only God is supposed to have dominion and glory in the everlasting kingdom. Finally, this passage says that all people will serve the Son of Man, but this word 'serve,' whether in Hebrew and in Greek, always denotes a service due to God.

Thus, Daniel 7 introduces a Son of Man who rides the clouds, as only Yahweh can; He then receives everlasting dominion and glory over His own kingdom, as only Yahweh has; there, all people will serve Him with a divine service, as only Yahweh deserves. The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is a divine Son of Man. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, starting at 2:10, Jesus has called Himself 'the Son of Man,' though He never explicitly defines what He means by the term. In Mark 14:62, the climax of the Gospel, Jesus finally reveals to everyone who He is by quoting Daniel 7:13-14: He is the Son of Man from Daniel 7. He is Yahweh.

But claiming the title 'Son of Man' was not the only blasphemous act He commits before the Sanhedrin. As if to remove all doubt, Jesus also says He has the right to sit on the throne of God. When He says that they will see the Son of Man 'sitting at the right hand of power,' He references Psalm 110:1, which says, 'The LORD says to my lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'

Sitting at the right hand of God was a right that no one had dared claim, nor dared impute to anyone else, up to this point in Second Temple Jewish history. It implied sitting on the very throne of God, and it was tantamount to claiming to be God's heir, someone who shared sovereignty with God. According to a scholar of the Psalms, 'Sitting at the right hand of God,' ...has a very definite meaning: 'the king is installed into an associate rulership; in this position of honor in the power structure of God he becomes a participant in Yahweh's strength in battle and victory.'

After learning all this, I understood why the Sanhedrin wanted to crucify Jesus for blasphemy. When Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man from Daniel 7 and the Lord of David from Psalm 110, 'Both claims imply divine status, authority and power.' In response to the question 'Who are you?' Jesus' response is essentially: 'I am the One who deserves eternal worship from all mankind in My own kingdom, where I will sit on the very throne of God. I am Yahweh.'5

Qureshi concludes:

"After reading Mark through the lens of Jewish scripture I could not longer avoid the obvious. From introduction to climax, Mark's Gospel is an exposition of the deity of Jesus. The first biography of Jesus ever written is designed to teach that Jesus is Yahweh."6

So, when the totality of the evidence is considered, it seems that those claiming that Jesus does not become divine until the Gospel of John are mistaken. The deity of Jesus Christ is powerfully present in our earliest gospel. 

For a great debate on this topic, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. As Qureshi points out, this is also a position taken by famous scholar Bart Ehrman in his published work.
2. Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?, p. 252 (Advanced Reading Copy).
3. Ibid., p. 252.
4. Ibid., p. 252-255.
5. Ibid., p. 256-258.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Rhetoric with Jim Beitler

 

In this podcast, Brian Auten and I interview Jim Beitler of Wheaton College about the importance of rhetoric in the life of the church.  

The show notes are as follows:

0:27 – Introduction to rhetoric and Jim Beitler
4:36 – Jim’s background and books
5:37 – What is rhetoric?
6:32 – How Jim got interested in rhetoric
7:18 – How has rhetoric been taught, and how has that changed?
10:20 – Can rhetoric be taught?
11:48 – Why should anyone care about rhetoric in the church?
14:20 – Are you an effective communicator or not?
15:44 – Doesn’t the Bible argue against using rhetoric?
19:11 – How the book is laid out and the ground it covers
22:52 – C.S. Lewis as a rhetorician
25:25 – How we need rhetoric now more than ever
27:19 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer on preaching and rhetoric
30:37 – Rhetoric in sermons and preaching
33:37 – How to apply the tools of rhetoric with discernment
38:20 – Modern thinkers and communicators we can learn from
41:49 – Being culture makers
42:40 – Some pitfalls to avoid
45:13 – A teaser for Charitable Writing

Listen and learn more here.

You can order Jim's book on the topic here.

You can find more podcasts and great resources at Apologetics315.

Many thanks to Jim for doing the podcast!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, July 05, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Biblical Archaeology with Ted Wright of Epic Archaeology

 

In our latest podcast, Brian Auten and I interview Ted Wright of Epic Archaeology.  This was a fun podcast that covers topics such as:

0:29 – Introducing Ted Wright of Epic Archaeology
2:00 – What got Ted into archaeology?
4:00 – What you’ll find at EpicArchaeology.org
6:12 – More about Ted’s background in apologetics
9:44 – What is the actual job of an archaeologist?
15:30 – Being chased by Nazis
19:03 – The role that archaeology plays in defending the Bible?
23:00 – “Archaeological evidence for Jesus does not exist…”
29:40 – What sorts of things in the Holy Land are legit?
35:43 – Unpacking archaeological evidence for the exodus
48:39 – Dating of the exodus
56:04 – How to think through the accounts of “the Canaanite genocide question”
1:03:00 – Cool archaeological discoveries that support the Old and New Testaments

We even got to discuss Gozer!  If you don't know who Gozer is, see Ghostbusters (1984) or here.  We love GB on the Apologetics315 podcast!  

You can listen in and get further details here!  

And if you haven't checkout Ted Wright's work yet, you can do so here.  I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Ted for joining us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Video- Yes, Rhett and Link! There WAS an Exodus by Ted Wright

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Thursday, July 01, 2021

Common Objection - "If your God really existed, you wouldn't need arguments."

Twitter is an interesting place to share random musings.  It seems that no matter what you post, regardless of how non-controversial or benign, it can potentially bring ridicule and scorn down upon you.  I recently tweeted:

"If you have a good argument, why resort to personal attacks?"

Now, you might think that would be something all could agree on, but you, like me, would be wrong!  However, among the various replies, one individual asserted:

"If your god really existed, you wouldn't need arguments."

And while I think I understand the general sentiment, from the perspective of a Christian theist, I find this objection less than compelling. 

In this brief post, I will offer an argument that I believe successfully removes the teeth of such an objection.

The person who makes a claim like the one above is essentially arguing, "If God really existed, and He wanted us to know it, He would make it more obvious and arguments wouldn't be needed."1  Oddly enough, this type of objection reminds me of the late journalist, Christopher Hitchens.  "The Hitch" was a master rhetorician and was well-known for his forceful attacks against his debate opponents.  One such attack occurred when Hitchen's opponent would make a claim about God and Hitchens would reply, "Do you claim to know the mind of God?"  And the point was not lost on the audience - "How can this mere human claim to know why God did X?"  But do you see the irony?  When one claims that God, should He exist, should have created a universe in which arguments are unnecessary to demonstrate His existence, they are claiming to know the mind of God!  Furthermore, on Christian theism, there is no inconsistency between God existing and Him ordaining arguments as one way people might seek after Him.  As a matter of fact, this is entirely consistent with what Paul tells the philosophers in Athens about God!  He states:

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him."2

Here, we see Paul informing the philosophers that it is God's desire that we seek Him.3  The further significance of these verses should not be missed.  As the late Bible commentator Albert Barnes explains:

"The design of thus placing them on the earth...was, that they should contemplate his wisdom in his works, and thus come to a knowledge of his existence and character. All nations, though living in different regions and climates, have thus the opportunity of becoming acquainted with God..."4

Surely, we can all agree that when one sincerely considers some of the various arguments offered through the centuries for the existence of God, that they are, at the very least, contemplating "his wisdom in his works" in hopes they will "come to a knowledge of his existence and character."5

Therefore, arguments for the existence of God are completely consistent with the God who Christians believe has revealed Himself in the Bible and assertions that claim otherwise, in my estimation, fail.  And those who claim that God should have created the universe in a certain way, are claiming to know the mind of God (and His purposes) while lacking adequate justification.6

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. It should be noted that the Bible itself claims that God's existence is obvious to those who are opened to Him.  See Romans 1:18-23.  However, for the sake of this post, I will take the position that arguments are a way to seek God and that this is completely consistent with the God revealed in the Bible. 
2. Acts 17:24-27; ESV.
3. For numerous examples, see here.
4. Taken from "Barnes' Notes on the Bible," found here.
5. This is especially relevant when one considers some of the philosophical arguments offered for the existence of God aim to demonstrate that His moral perfection.  In other words, arguments for the existence of God, if successful, demonstrate both His existence and His goodness (character).
6. Understandably, the skeptic may push back and say, "But you are claiming to know the mind of God!"  Not exactly.  We are claiming that God has revealed Himself through the Bible; therefore, we can know somethings about God, but this certainly does not give us access to all of God's thoughts and intents.  And if we are right about the Bible, then this claim to some knowledge is justified.

Related Posts

Review of J.L. Schellenberg, "Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason," by Daniel Howard-Snyder

Video: Why Does God Seem So Hidden? by Sean McDowell

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ten Ways Servant-Slavery in Israel Differed from Chattel Slavery

 

In our recent interview with philosopher and theologian Ken Samples of Reasons to Believe, we grappled with the question of slavery and the Bible.  

Obviously, there is much that can be said about this topic, but one point that Samples made is that the servant-slavery that we read about in the Bible is not the same type of chattel slavery that was witnessed in the Antebellum South or the slave trade in William Wilberforce's Britain.  

In his new book Christianity Cross-Examined: Is It Rational, Relevant, and Good?, Samples shares ten ways servant-slavery in Israel differed from chattel slavery.  

1. Indentured servitude offered a means to deal with poverty.
2. Racism was not a motivation for slavery.
3. Kidnapping, including for the purpose of slave trading, was illegal.
4. Enslaved people were not treated as mere property.
5. Cruelty was strictly prohibited and punishable by law.
6. Slavery was not operative from birth.
7. Slavery was not a permanent condition.
8. Indentured servitude was entered into and ended voluntarily.
9. Enslaved people had rights.
10. Enslaved people had access to an appeals process.

For those who are interested in learning more about this topic, Samples further explores the topic of slavery in the ancient world in his new book.

You can get your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Related Posts

Article: Does God Condone Slavery? by Amy Hall

Investigating Slavery in the Bible

Article: How to ERASE Logical Fallacies by Kenneth Samples

Monday, June 14, 2021

Skeptical Philosopher Paul Draper on the Existence of Beauty

 

"Theism is supported by the fact that the universe contains an abundance of beauty...A beautiful universe, especially one containing beings that can appreciate that beauty, is clearly more likely on theism than on naturalism."[1]

Footnote:
1. Paul Draper, "Seeking but Not Believing: Confessions of a Practicing Agnostic," in Divine Hiddenness, ed. Daniel Howard-Synder and Paul K. Moser (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 204, as quoted by Kenneth Samples in Christianity Cross-Examined: Is it Rational, Relevant, and Good?, p. 233.




Wednesday, June 09, 2021

How was Jesus’ death a real sacrifice if He knew He would be resurrected?

I recently saw the image below on social media-


The source for a response to this statement comes from got.questions.org and is provided below-

Christianity teaches that God, in human form, lowered Himself to being humiliated and murdered by His own creations. That sacrificial death opened a path to salvation for anyone and everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ. Christ went to death knowingly (Mark 8:31), with full understanding that He would suffer on a cross and that He would be raised from death (Luke 24:46). Since Jesus knew the eventual outcome, some question whether this was a real sacrifice. Was Jesus’ death on the cross truly sacrificial, if Jesus was guaranteed to be raised from death?

Those who doubt that Jesus’ death was a real sacrifice misunderstand what happened on that cross. Christ’s sacrifice was not entirely about ending the life of His human body. In truth, what happened on the cross involved more than stopping a heartbeat. The sacrifice of Christ also came in His emotional suffering (Isaiah 53) and in an omnipotent, perfect God being tortured and humiliated by His own creations (Philippians 2:6–8). There’s powerful and important symbolism in the physical aspects of Christ’s death and resurrection, as well as a fulfillment of prophecy. But there is more to the sacrifice of Christ than “merely” the death and resurrection of a physical body, as monumental as those events were.

Physical restoration does not make prior events any less sacrificial or traumatic. Simply knowing that something good is coming after the bad does not make the bad any less painful. A child knowing he will get ice cream after his tonsillectomy does not make the surgery and its aftermath any less harrowing and uncomfortable. Seeking peace, a strong man might allow a bully to spit on him and throw food in his face. The body and clothes can be easily cleaned, but that doesn’t at all change the experience of indignity and shame. We don’t dismiss the sacrifice of families of military veterans simply because their loved ones made it home. Victims of sexual assault may experience physical healing, but that’s not nearly the worst damage they’ve experienced.

Jesus Himself used the analogy of a woman in childbirth to illustrate the anguish the disciples would experience at His death (John 16:20–22). He reassured the disciples that their sorrow would be turned to joy; the ultimate outcome was worth temporary suffering. Just as a woman who gives birth is more invested in joy over her newborn child than looking back at the pain of giving birth, the disciples would be focused on the joy of Christ’s resurrection, despite their prior pain. Of course—as many mothers will attest—the joy of childbirth doesn’t disaffirm the pain and suffering involved in the birth. Only an extremely foolish child would dismiss a mother’s birth pains by saying, “So what? You got over it, and you got me!” The mother’s agony was real, and that reality exists even for mothers who are entirely confident that the birthing process will end in joy and health.

Enduring even momentary insults, indignity, and disrespect is a sacrifice in and of itself. This is true when the victims are finite, sinful humans, and the sacrifice is amplified when the victim is the perfect and sinless Son of God. Added to the emotional pain caused by injustice was the physical pain, something that can be overcome but not undone. The cross was truly sacrificial because Jesus experienced it in the same way as any other human being would—even though He was not obligated to be there and He did not deserve to be there.

When Christ came to earth, He experienced everything human beings normally do. This included the physical (Matthew 4:2John 4:6), spiritual (Hebrews 4:15), and emotional (Matthew 26:37–39John 11:33–35) aspects of humanity. Jesus suffered the same physical and mental anguish as any one of us would in the scourging and crucifixion. The brutality of His death was not an easy thing; the cross was not trivial to Christ simply because He knew He was going to be resurrected. The gospel promises all believers will be resurrected (John 11:24Acts 24:15Revelation 20:6). That promise doesn’t make the expense of one’s earthly life any less meaningful or sacrificial (John 15:13).

When Jesus arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept (John 11:35). Even though He had come to Bethany knowing He would resurrect His friend (John 11:11–15), Jesus still expressed sorrow for the pain and suffering the situation had caused. Scripture speaks of God wiping our tears away in eternity (Revelation 21:4), not giving us amnesia. All things will be made right (Romans 8:28), and all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5), but God never suggests that what we experience or feel along the way is irrelevant. Knowing that goodness and restoration await us offers us great resolve in the face of suffering (Hebrews 12:2Philippians 2:8–9), but hope doesn’t reduce the pain or deflect the injuries.

The death of Christ was about atonement for sin, and the infinite sacrifice of God lowering Himself accomplished that atonement. Jesus knew what awaited Him—both in pain and in glory—but this knowledge did not lessen His suffering. He was just as much emotionally wrought, wrestling with His options (Mark 14:36), and His body was just as much broken and disfigured (Psalm 22:14–18) as if He were not the God-Man. Jesus’ humanity recoiled at the thought of suffering on the cross, but He sacrificed His will to the Father’s (Luke 22:42). At any moment, He could have called down heavenly help, but He sacrificed His rights in order to provide us salvation (Matthew 26:53).

God Bless,