Grace Community Church in Los Angeles County is the latest Christian congregation to challenge California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on religious gatherings in 30 Golden State jurisdictions.
Grace is led by Pastor John MacArthur, one of the nation’s most influential evangelical Christian pastors and authors. His ministries encompass books, translations of the Bible, radio and digital programs seen around the world, missionary works and multiple other outlets.
If a friend tells you they really do love you and, to prove it, they tell you they deposited $1 million in your bank account, how would you know if you should believe them? You check your bank balance, of course!
If the million bucks aren’t there, you know your “friend” is not to be believed. If you verify that you are now a millionaire, however, well then, you probably should accept that person as a genuine friend.
There is one essential claim upon which all of Christianity stands or falls. Paul the Apostle even says if this claim is false, then he and every other disciple of Jesus is a liar. One way to verify the claim is understanding the credibility of the four Gospels. NBC “Dateline” cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace explains in this video:
I’ve never been to Italy — two weeks in Scotland and England many years ago being my only experience of Europe —but Elizabeth Prata has been, specifically to Tuscany.
As you may know, there is something about the light in Tuscany. It’s different, somehow. Prata looks at the light in Tuscany and from there to the light of life itself, Jesus Christ.
It’s an interesting meditation and a good one with which to launch a new week, so I commend it to you:
“During this Pandemic time, I’ve had opportunity to go through and look at and scan some of my old 35mm photos. I went to Italy a few times in the ’90s. I’d always heard that the light in the region of Italy called Tuscany was unique. My grandmother was from Lucca. Tuscany is deemed by Italians to be the ‘best’ region. One reason is that it’s considered the cradle of Italy, since the Etrucscan Civilization was founded there in 900 BC.”
Mike Shreve followed a guru before his life was transformed and he became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Mike had for many years before believed in Karma and Reincarnation, two of the cornerstone myths of Hinduism.
“Most teachers of the doctrine of karma agree that any negative or positive thing we do in life produces either bad or good karma that will inevitably be reaped, either in the same life or a future life. The object of the soul’s sojourn in this world is to walk in such righteousness, love and devotion to right religious principles that only good karma is sown,” Shreve writes.
That question in the headline above might well seem like an odd one to ask in a world in which the Bible is by far the most-read, best-selling book of all human history. Imagining our world without it is like imagining it without the Sun.
But it being Easter and all, what if we didn’t have the Bible to tell us what the events of this most significant of all weeks mean to each of us as individuals and to all humanity?
That’s a question former NBC “Dateline” cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace addresses in the following video. It’s all about inferences and evidence. He’s writing a book about the resurrection of Christ based on this question and preparing to teach a course on it, so his thoughts here are not mere off-the-cuffisms:
It’s Easter week, the most important seven days on the calendar for the billions of people around this Earth who call themselves Christians. That’s because the single most important event in history happened during this period.
That event is the central claim underlying their faith — that Jesus was crucified dead and buried on Friday, then rose again on Sunday and appeared to hundreds of people in the following days before ascending back to Heaven from whence He came. He will return some day and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and Savior.
But how can someone who is genuinely open to hearing all of the evidence for and against this central claim of Christianity know what to accept as logical and true and what to reject as baseless claims? Every day this week on HillFaith we will consider this question from a variety of angles, beginning today with the following video produced by the Impact360 Institute:
Bob Perry is a commercial airline pilot who has seen the coronavirus pandemic up close and personal in recent days. He’s also talented, thoughtful observer from a Christian perspective, writing at True Horizon. Here’s a sample:
“Christianity exploded during the plagues and persecutions in the ancient world. And it did so precisely because Christians served those who most needed it. They comforted and cared for the sick and dying. This isn’t just a job for healthcare professionals. It’s a duty for us all …
We human beings are such curious beings. Consider for example how we often deal with subjects we’d rather, for whatever reason, avoid, delay or simply ignore. It’s called rationalization.
As we saw in Wednesday’s post, the vast majority of historians of the ancient world agree Jesus Christ was crucified, that his grave was found empty three days later and his disciples maintained to their deaths that they had seen and talked with the resurrected Jesus.
If those three facts are true, it means all of us then must decide what we’ll do with the claim of Jesus to be God and the only way any of us can be accepted into Heaven. The following video from reasaonblefaith.org addresses the four most common rationalizations for avoiding those three facts and the implications for each of us:
J. Warner Wallace, the NBC “Dateline” cold-case detective and career Los Angeles law enforcement expert, was asked recently what it was that prompted him to take a serious look at the evidence for Christianity.
“We had been together about 18 years before she convinced me to go to church. I was more than willing but I thought I would just be going as an attendee,” Wallace said of why he agreed to accompany his wife to a service. Even if it wasn’t true, he thought, it might be useful if it helped him and his wife raise their children.
“Did I mock the Christians I met? Yeah, I did,” Wallace continued. “A lot of the Christians I met were people we were taking to jail, so they were easy to mock.” Wallace specialized in the oldest unsolved murder cases and he recalled one individual in particular who had committed the crime 25 years before. “I found 12 years worth of Bible studies in that guy’s house,” he said.
Today, Wallace is one of the world’s best-known Christian apologists. He explains how and why it happened in the following video:
It’s based on a true story and features stars like Shania Twain and Gary Sinese in supporting roles, and, despite the gathering quarantining as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the new movie “I Still Believe” had a highly successful debut at No. 1, according to Christian Post.
“The Lionsgate film, made with a budget of $12 million, brought in over $9 million in ticket sales over the weekend, causing it to rank at No. 1 on Friday, beating out Sony’s ‘Bloodshot’ and Disney’s ‘Onward.’ Weekend totals show the film at No. 2 overall.
“’I Still Believe’ chronicles the story of how the award-winning Christian singer Jeremy Camp fell in love with and married Melissa Lynn Henning, who died in 2001, less than a year after they were wed.”
Go here for the rest of the Christian Post story and here is the official trailer:
If you’ve seen the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy or the “Indiana Jones” series, you saw Hollywood actor John Rhys-Davies. He’s also starring in the forthcoming “I Am Patrick” about the Irish saint.
Rhys-Davies is not a Christian, but he is not bashful about expressing his admiration of and appreciation for the role of Christianity in the development of individual civil liberties we take for granted:
“Everything that we value — everything that I valued when I was a student 50, 60 years ago, which I cannot any longer count on an audience accepting — really comes from Christianity,” Rhys-Davies recently told podcaster Lucas Miles.
Ben Afleck has seen and done it all on the silver screen. “Batman.” “The Accountant.” “Pearl Harbor.” “The Sum of All Fears.” “Armageddon.” And don’t forget “Good Will Hunting.”
He’s also spent a lot of time on the front pages of the tabloids. Lots of women. Lots of booze. Lots of ups and downs and sideways. Lots of pain for Ben, for Jennifer, their kids, lots of folks.
You may also have heard Afleck has a new movie out, “The Way Back.” It’s about a guy struggling with alcohol. He was a great basketball player as a kid. Now he finds himself asked to come back and coach. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it is a highly autobiographical work of art.
Among the most significant evidence from logic to support the credibility of the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — is the fact none of the original disciples ever disavowed their claims about Jesus’ life and miracles, including the Resurrection.
The absence of any such disavowal, either documented or merely rumored, is not prima facie proof, but it does provide a weighty addition to the case for the truth of the Bible.
Biola University Professor Sean McDowell looks in the following video at the biblical and secular evidence on the question, lays out the main points of debate and offers conclusions about the significance:
Unless you are deep into the study of cellular biology, odds are you have no idea that your body is so dependent on telomeres because they are essential to the quality and length of your life.
So what on earth is a telomere? TA Sciences begins by noting that they are “an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age,” then continues by explaining:
“Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.Without the coating, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job, just as without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.”
Experts didn’t expect such a development but it appears the ranks of the “Nones” — people who identify with no religious denomination or following — are no longer increasing and a decline may even be ahead.
That’s the news from two recently completed massive studies, both of which are reported today by the Religion in Public (RIP) blog. In the first, Washington College Political Science Professor Melissa Deckman notes: