Check Out These Three Undisputed Facts About Jesus And One Quite Irresistible Conclusion

Every now and again, I receive an email that stands out among the hundreds of such messages that hit my inbox just about every day. One such missive came today that I would like to share with you.

Stand to Reason founder Greg Koukl.

The email came from Stand to Reason’s Greg Koukl. Along with Josh and Sean McDowell, Frank Turek, J. Warner Wallace, Gary Habermas, Hugh Ross, and Ravi Zacharias, Koukl has in recent years labored mightily and successfully to put Christian apologetics in a prominent place in America’s public forums, secular and spiritual.

The heart of this particular message was the following three facts that are essentially settled as beyond dispute among Christianity’s defenders and its skeptics: Continue reading “Check Out These Three Undisputed Facts About Jesus And One Quite Irresistible Conclusion”

Saturday’s Despair Will Be Forever Replaced By The Love Of Sunday’s Risen Savior

It’s the day after the unthinkable happened to the disciples. They didn’t understand why Jesus chose to die on the cross for their sins and for ours, and that tomorrow, Sunday, He would live again. Then everything, EVERYTHING! would be changed forever.

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

For now, though, as the disciples huddled in fear and terror that they would also be killed as followers of Jesus, another man was likely celebrating that the “Jesus Problem” had been, he thought, dealt with by the Sanhedrin, decisively and finally.

That was Paul. He, too, was headed to a miraculous encounter, on the road to Damascus with the Risen Savior who would change everything for him. Years later, Paul would then share with the believers at Rome these incredible truths about Jesus Christ and about them: Continue reading “Saturday’s Despair Will Be Forever Replaced By The Love Of Sunday’s Risen Savior”

THINK ABOUT THIS: Would We Still Think Jesus Was Resurrected Without The Bible?

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:


 

How To Sort Out The Facts From Falsehoods About The Resurrection Of Jesus

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:


DID YOU MISS PART ONE YESTERDAY?

Sort Out The Three Most Important Facts About Jesus’ Claim To Be God


 

 

Christians Are Just A Bunch Of Gullible Bible Thumpers, Right?

Cold-Case Christianity’s J. Warner Wallaces Responds to a great question during a recent conversation on the campus of Ohio State University

That question posed in the headline above is a commonplace criticism one often hears in the media, on campus, and in a wide range of public forums in America.

You saw a typical example of this sort of ad hominem on Sunday if you happen to have watched “Meet The Press” when NBC’s Chuck Todd read a letter-to-the-editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald claiming people who believe Noah’s Ark actually existed are typically Trump supporters.

But this isn’t a new argument, as J. Warner Wallace explains during a recent presentation at Ohio State University. In the process, he addresses these key questions: “Why do Christian believe in – and expect – an afterlife? Is our belief in Heaven and Hell based purely on the teaching of the Bible? Is there any other good reason to expect a life beyond the grave?”


Here’s What To Expect On HillFaith In 2020!

APOLOGETICS: Professor Crushes ‘Early Christians Just Gave Jesus Borrowed Pagan Resurrection’ Myths

There was a time more than a century ago when it was not uncommon to hear religion scholars argue that early Christians borrowed from common Middle Eastern pagan resurrection myths of their day to explain away Jesus’ death on the cross and the fact of His missing body.

Houston Baptist University Assistant Professor of Apologetics Mary Jo Sharp (Screen shot).

But about the only place that claim is made today is on the Internet. That’s why, at least on a popular culture level, the claim is enjoying something of a revival among skeptics looking for reasons to reject Christianity. There are reasons, however, why reputable scholars stopped making the argument a long time ago.

Houston Baptist University’s (HBU) Mary Jo Sharp gives three reasons why none of the pagan myths involved in the debate could have been the source of the disciples’ claim that Jesus was resurrected on the third day after he was crucified dead and buried. Continue reading “APOLOGETICS: Professor Crushes ‘Early Christians Just Gave Jesus Borrowed Pagan Resurrection’ Myths”

THINK ABOUT THIS: Lord, Liar Or Lunatic?

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’

“That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

So what say you?

NEWS ALERT: Officials Scramble To Deal With Reports Of Empty Tomb

Roman and Judean officials are having a hard time Sunday explaining how or why the body of Jesus, the 33-year-old itinerant Galilean preacher crucified Friday for claiming to be God, has disappeared from a sealed tomb guarded by an elite unit of Legion soldiers.

Reports of an empty tomb began circulating throughout Jerusalem shortly after dawn today when two women who said they were hoping to complete the man’s burial preparations told friends the heavy rock that had been rolled in front of the entrance late Friday was removed a distance away and that his body was nowhere to be found.

Continue reading “NEWS ALERT: Officials Scramble To Deal With Reports Of Empty Tomb”

NEWS ALERT: Authorities Execute Man Who Claimed To Be God

In a rare display of political and judicial cooperation between leaders of the occupying Roman Empire and the conquered land of Israel, authorities in Jerusalem today condemned, flogged and crucified a carpenter-turned-itinerant preacher who claimed to be the Messiah.

Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth in Israel’s northern province of Galilee, was pronounced dead Friday following approximately nine hours of in extremis suffering as a result of being whipped and then nailed to a cross in the Golgotha district just outside of Jerusalem’s walls.

Continue reading “NEWS ALERT: Authorities Execute Man Who Claimed To Be God”

‘This Is Us’ Star Chrissy Metz Has No Qualms About Expressing Her Faith

If you have followed the “This Is Us” tv series, you will recognize Chrissy Metz as “Kate,” daughter of Jack and Rebecca Pearson and sister to brothers Kevin and Randall.

What you may not recognize is Metz boldly declaring her Christian faith despite that often being a ticket to professional oblivion in tinsel town.

“It is hard I think, now, to just be really vocal about your faith, or what you believe in because people want to think ‘it’s not cool,’ but I’m like, I don’t care!” Metz recently told Faithwire’s Lindsey Elizabeth.

Continue reading “‘This Is Us’ Star Chrissy Metz Has No Qualms About Expressing Her Faith”

No, Jesus And Mithras Weren’t Both Born Of Virgins (Myths About Christianity Debunked)

Unless there is some way to determine if the rock from which sprung Mithras — the ancient mythical god at the heart of the mystery cult known as “Mithraism” — was a virgin, that is.

Mithras petra genetrix Terme

That Jesus’ virgin birth was stolen from the Mithras myth is one of the many allegations raised by Christianity’s critics, ancient and modern. They contend the New Testament authors borrowed heavily from multiple pagan religions to elevate an obscure itinerant preacher named Jesus to divinity.

Not so, contends Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, an expert on such matters who teaches at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). Jones addresses a bunch of the supposed parallels.

Continue reading “No, Jesus And Mithras Weren’t Both Born Of Virgins (Myths About Christianity Debunked)”

Wasn’t The Resurrection Really Just A Conspiracy?

“Conspiracy” is a word one hears regularly on Capitol Hill and it’s almost always in the context of somebody doing something they don’t want somebody else to know about.

After all, as Scripture says, darkness hates the light.

So there is invariably a sinister association with conspiracies, as well as with other words that can mean the same thing, including “plot,” “scheme” and “collusion.” The true purpose behind of any of these can actually be good or bad, but they are usually thought of as representing criminal or otherwise unpleasant purposes.

Which brings us to Jesus. People in high places and low have for millennia tried to dismiss the claim that Jesus was resurrected on the third day after his death on the cross as representing nothing more than a conspiracy among His disciples to fool the world to protect their own hides.

Cross-Examined’s Dr. Frank Turek often hears the claim, as he was recently by a Maryland college student. His response makes it clear that nobody needs a subpoena to get to the truth about the Resurrection:

If Jesus Wasn’t Resurrected … Who Got His Dead Body?

Here are three rock-solid bottom-line facts you can trust to be true about Jesus

Jesus told His disciples repeatedly before He was arrested, tried, tortured and crucified that those things would happen. He also told them He would be resurrected on the third day after His death.

They didn’t understand any of it before it all came down but within a few days of His death and burial, they were telling the world they had seen and talked to Him, that He was alive, that He had been resurrected.

Here we are 2,000 years later and a bunch of theories have been proposed to explain away the disciples’ claim that Jesus was resurrected. One of those theories is that Jesus didn’t come back to life, and the reason the tomb was empty was because somebody stole His body.

Continue reading “If Jesus Wasn’t Resurrected … Who Got His Dead Body?”

Which Are More Reliable, Aristotle and Plato, or Matthew, Mark, Luke And John?

One of the most frequently mentioned myths about the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is the claim they cannot be historically accurate because they were written decades after the events they purport to report.

Several of the commenters to yesterday’s post here — “Are Christians The Biggest Fools Of All Time?” — repeated variations of the claim the Gospels are unreliable because so much time elapsed between the events and the writing of the individual books. The actual facts, the critics argue, were lost to the myths and legends that grew up around the events related in the Gospels.

The German higher critics of the 19th Century made this claim a standard argument in the conventional wisdom scholarship of the 20th century among those who reject the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and His claim to be the incarnate creator of the universe and everything in it. And the argument continues in popular culture and debate to this day, as seen in the comments to yesterday’s post.

There has been a tremendous amount of scholarship on the accuracy and reliability of the Gospels in recent decades. Below is a link to a recent podcast of Frank Turek’s interview with Dr. Craig Blomberg, who is one of the most respected scholars in the world on this issue. I highly commend it to anybody on any side of the debate.

But more immediately, let’s address the question posed in the headline above. Nobody today doubts when they read Plato’s “Republic” or Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” that they are reading what the Greek philosophers actually wrote, even though what they hold in their hands are copies of copies of copies … stretching back centuries.

Even so, when was the last time you heard anybody say Plato’s discussion of the shadows on the wall of the cave cannot be trusted as what Plato actually wrote or believed because so much time elapsed between his original manuscript and the earliest copies used by copyists in the millennia before Mr. Gutenberg invented the printing press? Or that Aristotle’s Golden Mean as the key to human virtue was a creation of a later copyist and thus was not the philosopher’s original view?

Nevertheless, that’s a commonly expressed argument whenever the Gospels are under discussion.

But guess what? There are far more copies of the Gospels, written much closer to the original authors, than there are for any other of the ancient classics, including Plato and Aristotle.

Aristotle’s works were written between 386 B.C. and 322 B.C. The first copies came along in about 1,100 A.D., or roughly 1,400 years after Aristotle did his thing. As for Plato, he wrote between 427 B.C. and 347 B.C, and the first copies date to 900 A.D., for an interval of roughly 1,200 years.

Compare that to the New Testament, which, regarding the Gospels, the critics claim were written, at the earliest, around 70 A.D., with copies first appearing around 130 A.D.

In other words, if the same standards of reliability and accuracy are applied to the New Testament that have long been accepted without question for other ancient authors, then the Gospels must be viewed as among the most reliable of the ancient classics. You can check out this post by Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research for more specifics on this angle.

And as I always say, a great place to start in assessing these issues is “More Than A Carpenter” by Josh and Sean McDowell. Just tell me your address and I’ll get a copy of MTAC for free.

Now, here’s Frank Turek’s extended audio conversation with Dr. Craig Blomberg:

https://crossexamined.org/?powerpress_embed=72550-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

So When Was The Last Time You Checked Your Unstated Assumptions?

You know what I mean; assumptions like if a person is a Harvard graduate, he or she must be smart. Or anybody who becomes a plumber or a carpenter isn’t likely to be reading philosophy at night. Or Texas really is God’s country.

OK, maybe not that last one about the Lone Star State, but here’s another one that is clearly among the most important influences on American public life these days: Modern science has liberated us from the shackles of beliefs and values based on ancient myths.

There are multiple variations on the theme but what they all come down to, more or less, is the unstated assumption that “science” is the only path to truth. Anything that claimed to be truth prior to, oh say, 1900 is almost prima facie considered by the current generation to be wrong or worse.

I would bet next month’s paycheck — assuming I get one! — that if you asked 100 randomly selected congressional aides about this, the vast majority of them would quickly agree with that proposition.

A closely related proposition and one that also has profound influence on the way issues are analyzed on Capitol Hill is the idea that there are “facts” and there are “opinions,” and public policy ought always be based solely on the former, not the latter. Stuff like faith and patriotism are mere opinions.

So, think about this: To be “true” in the scientific sense, according to this assumption, something must be observable, repeatable and measurable. That being the case, it must also be concrete, material. That means it cannot be non-material, or, to put it bluntly and in layman’s terms, there ain’t no such thing as the “supernatural” or “spiritual.”

So much then for the fundamental claim on which the entire Christian faith rests – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God. Given the science assumption, Jesus may have been a great teacher, an itinerant preacher with a real knack for turning a phrase or maybe just a lunatic, but what He couldn’t be is dead, buried and then alive again on the third day.

Normally at this point, I would launch into a discussion of the many apologetical “proofs” for the veracity of the Resurrection claim. But there’s another way to go at this issue and that is to examine the historicity of the claim.

Brit N.T. Wright — a former university lecturer/turned bishop, delivered a lecture some years ago in which he made an extremely persuasive case for the proposition that:

The Christian claim was from the beginning that the question of Jesus’ resurrection was a question, not of the internal mental and spiritual states of his followers a few days after his crucifixion, but about something that had happened in the real, public world, leaving not only an empty tomb, but a broken loaf at Emmaus and footprints in the sand by the lake among its physical mementoes, and leaving his followers with a lot of explaining to do but with a transformed worldview which is only explicable on the assumption that something really did happen, even though it stretched their existing worldviews to breaking point. More of that anon.

What we now have to do is to examine this early Christian claim more thoroughly, to ask what can be said about it historically, and to enquire, more particularly, what sort of ‘knowing’ or ‘believing’ we are talking about when we ask whether ‘a scientist’ can ‘believe’ that which, it seems, ‘the resurrection’ actually refers to.

I could give you the link to the text version of Wright’s lecture, but it’s so much better to watch and listen to him deliver “in person” via this video:

Thanks, by the way, to Wintery Knight for bringing this superb lecture to my attention so that I can share it with all my friends and future friends on Capitol Hill. Wintery Knight notes of Wright that he “has taught at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Duke University, McGill University, and lectured on dozens of prestigious campuses around the world. He’s published 40 books.”

In other words, Wright is somebody to whom we would be wise to pay attention. That is not to say I agree with everything he says because I don’t. But his point about thinking historically is an important one, especially if you happen to work in a job in an institution in which making history is an everyday occurrence.