It’s an ever-increasing era of metaephysic, existential, new-age, post-modernism, where aside from well-studied philosophers who know the names of Kant, Hume, Foucault, Derrida, and Lyotard, the common layperson stays caught in an elusive and eclectic mindset against any assertion of absolute truth. It has become the focal point of Culture War, of critical theory and CRT, and has damaged judeo-christian moorings within acedemia, and by extension, social responsibility and morality.
With enough counter-culture arguments to appease anyone looking to be excused from objective moral standards, its followers, again, unless trained in specifics, leave philisophical instruction with just enough bumper-sticker theology, and general malaise to float somewhere between openness or total abandonment of truth.
Post-Modernism coupled with the inexorable conclusions of being an evolved accident in the universe with no purpose or meaning, has taken its toll on an already fragmented and indifferent society. By most metrics, whether reading, community, fatherlessness in homes, crime, church attendance, not only is the truth missing, but the very desire to seek it.
And yet, upon study of the word, the truth plays a monumental role in how we percieve the world. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”; pointing to a moral truth that definitively exists. In 1 John 3:18, children are encouraged to act in truth: 18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Even one of the very 10 commandments demands truth for a stable and moral society set apart by God: 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
And many times throughout our studies, we find the term, “Amen.” According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, the basic meaning of “Amen” or its Semitic root, is “firm,” “fixed,” or “sure.” The Greek Old Testament usually translates amen as “so be it”; in the English Bible it has frequently been written as “verily,” or “truly.” So every time Jesus says, truly I say to you… these moments of surety and promise, and their truth will outlast the earth itself.
So what then do we do to bypass these high-minded concepts that alleviate whole societies from the responsibility of standing firm on anything. In the cacophany of social media, it becomes passé to boldly proclaim truth. Any time in a comment section will assure you that there is a much larger crowd that is more comfortable lobbing grenades at any and all truth claims than there are people making them. As one apologist says, it is always much easier to throw rotten eggs than it is to lay a good one.
But what if that person denying absolute truth was building a new home? Or a person found out they had treatable cancer? Think of when you or someone you know was walking through the stressful decisions aligned with each life event.
Suddenly when faced with the very real consequence of having a poorly built, or poorly designed home, and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on it, finding a reputable builder doesn’t seem relative, does it? It seems imparitive!
When faced with death unless you attack the cancer in your body in the most effective way, finding an experienced expert in the truth of your diagnosis, your treatment, and the chances of that treatment working, become eessential to your life!
Suddenly, when the rubber meets the road, whether you teach there is no truth or not, the real, actual, unvarnished truth becomes vital to your well-being. And it isn’t some version of it, one man’s opinion of what it might be. It is the pure, unvarnisheed truth that you are after. Only with a clear scope of reality in these situations, do you have enough trusted information to move forward. If you spoke with 17 doctors, friends, shawmen, witches, and holistic consultants, and trusted each opinion as equally relevant because it was “true for them,” I dare say your path would be unclear, and your disassociation from reality would effect you not only physically, but mentally as well. How can you plan for something so serious without an objective truth to go by?
It is with this same energy and gravity that one should determine their salvation. Like Philippians says, “with fear and trembling.” When Matthew 10:28 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” this implies the obvious to us all, that the decisions that affect your eternal life, are of far greater consequence than cancer, or home-building. It’s not even close.
And yet, it is in this area, where theology meets philosophy, and where we have gotten so comfortable watering down every truth, from who Christ is, what the gospel is, to even what a woman is, that committing to anything at all seems an offense, and a violation of some victim’s civil rights.
Standing for truth, and especially for truth in the word, will have increasingly difficult consequences in the Western world. Society does not want to hear it, will reject it, will reject you and cancel you for speaking it, and wants to be protected from it. But the truth, the unvarnished, important, vital, absolute truth is, was, and will be, and that will never change.
As Christians watching the events of the America, we sit back and wonder how henious acts of evil can be carried out by the youth of our country time and time again. We’d rather not face it, don’t really want to contemplate it; we offer prayers and try to move on, thankful that the blood was shed far from our kids, or are home, if in fact it was. We watched Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sante Fe, and others….now Oxford. And even if in our own minds, we have to develop a philosophy or reasoning behind the events. How come young men by the dozens who hunted with their dads back in the 60’s could pull up to a public school with rifles on the gunrack in the back of their pick up truck, and no threat was percieved, and no violent action resulted?
As Christians watching the events of the America, we sit back and wonder how henious acts of evil can be carried out by the youth of our country time and time again. We’d rather not face it, don’t really want to contemplate it; we offer prayers and try to move on, thankful that the blood was shed far from our kids, or are home, if in fact it was.
We watched Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sante Fe, and others….now Oxford. And even if in our own minds, we have to develop a philosophy or reasoning behind the events. How come young men by the dozens who hunted with their dads back in the 60’s could pull up to a public school with rifles on the gunrack in the back of their pick up truck, and no threat was perceived, and no violent action resulted?
As a Christian, I observe history, and trends, and the unfortunate results, and want to take this time to plainly state what I see. A country that committed to teaching evolution in 1959, during the space race, so that American students didn’t fall behind. That slowly moved from biological evolution as a way to explain man’s chance origins, to a universe described as completely materialistic, needing no designer, no creator, a cosmic accident. Academia insists with zeal that at no stage in the 14 billion year long accident to get from stardust to you as an individual, no one loved you, cared for you, wished you to be alive, or will care when you are gone. We teach children, inadvertently, but inescapably, that there is no purpose, no ultimate meaning.
Don’t believe me? Read the conclusions of prominent atheists after spending a career committed to materialism, and secularism:
William Provine says, “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either. No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there any absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life.”
Richard Dawkins recounts this in regards to a reaction to his book, The God Delusion: “A foreign publisher of my first book confessed the he could not sleep for three nights after reading it, so troubled was he by what he saw as its cold, bleak message. Others have asked me how I can bear to get up in the mornings. A teacher from a distant country wrote to me reproachfully that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. He advised her not to show the book to any of her friends, for fear of contaminating them with the same nihilistic pessimism”. He also states, “Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos…”
Atheist chemist Peter Atkins says, “At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.”
Thomas Nagel: “It is often remarked that nothing we do now will matter in a million years. But if that is true, then by the same token, nothing that will be the case in a million years matters now.”
Jon Casimir: “Here’s what I think. There is no meaning of life. The whole thing is a gyp, a never-ending corridor to nowhere. What is passed off as an all-important search is basically just a bunch of philosophers scrabbling about on their knees, trying to find a lost sock in the cosmic laundromat.”
Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre: “I existed like a stone, a plant, a microbe… I was just thinking… that here we are, all of us, eating and drinking, to preserve our precious existence and there’s nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.”
Can we not say that this world view is more prominent now than in 1959? Furthermore, in 1959, parents were involved, religious, engaged in this conversation. A generation later, maybe two, children were still being brought up in church, having the judgement of morality explained, taught not just right and wrong, but that wrong had far reaching, even eternal consequences.
An atheist today might say, I don’t believe in God, but I don’t want to blow off life, count it all as useless, hurt others. Generally though, this normal response to hurting others would be expected in most cases, as morality is written on our hearts, and seems to be objectively obvious. But I’d also point out that those same people are adults that chose to not believe, but in many cases had parents who took them to church, and exposed them to the possibility of eternal judgement, to a biblical God of the universe that may have to be faced; or at least to the reality of morals and empathy.
Today, we have a larger and larger group of young people in school who now may be 2 or even 3 generations removed from any biblical or moral foundation whatsoever, having never been exposed to the bible, or if so, only in ridicule as an archaic outdated myth which has no bearing on our life or actions. These thoughts will be fortified by the schools, and colleges, and parents who were indoctrinated by the same treatment. Furthermore, it is likely that these same children are surrounded by others who share or encourage this philosophy of moral relativism, maybe not for the same purposes, but who are more accepting of a godless worldview.
The reaction to atheistic conclusions will be varied, certainly. But being thus separated from a Godly worldview, many will believe to their very bones that their life is a chance cosmic accident. Reiterated by a publicly sanctioned, secular world view, this will in many instances determine how they behave. For some, it might mean hedonistic pleasure. For some, the only hope would be developing close relationships, often a boyfriend or girlfriend giving one all of their validation, and in many shooting instances, the cause of unrecoverable grief when it goes awry. And unfortunately for some, it may mean drawing the logical conclusion that no one is important, nothing matters, and no life is special or valuable. So in the interest of living big, claiming their place in a useless history, proving anarchy is as achievable as order, and showing the world just how purposeless and hopeless everything is, more and more are deciding to murder as a means of giving up.
Disagree? Too bleak? Note, that the Columbine shooting took place on Hitler’s birthday on purpose. One student was told he did not deserve the jaw that evolution gave him. One student was executed for admitting a belief in God. How many years can we choose to collectively teach young minds that no God exists, that you are nothing more than and evolved mammal that came from scum, and fish, that your offspring are no better than those of a frog, or a rat, that you are not special in any way, that nothing happens when you die, and that ultimately any morality you choose is relative, subjective, and inexorably unimportant. Why then would one choose to be a good steward of the earth? Why treat others with dignity and respect? Why value life? Why choose good over selfish pleasure, or fame, or power? Why in a 14 billion year old accidental, godless universe is killing and rape even wrong? There is no standard, and no basis for teaching one.
And in the end, when the Christian community tries to fight for Christian recognition in a public forum, society inevitably doubles down, pushes for freedom from exposure to any religion, and ignores the dire consequence of their world view. This is why we must repent… Maybe because this word has been made fun of, we don’t use it enough; but maybe it’s time…. Repent. Repent and Believe. And remember the difference it would make if everyone adhered to this universal truth:
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Despite being in a post-modernist, pluralistic society, the percentage was staggering. I would expect a percentage that high from all peoples, or from non-believers, but seeing as how Christ Himself said “I am the truth, the light, and the way, and no one gets to the Father but through me,” and seeing as how this is a major defining doctrine of Christianity, it is disturbing that as a whole, the church is this far off base.
I personally ran in to this twice during conversations with two different Christians, but both of whom had family members that were Muslim. In both cases, it was apparent that the belief was an emotional one, not one based in study of the word, and not one they were willing to reconsider at the time. These mental commitments to falsehoods were born of love and concern, born of fear, and of being unwilling to face an unpleasant reality that would exclude past and present family members from eternal life with God and Jesus Christ.
This sadness, and angst I can certainly understand. In times past, this tension would cause people to evangelize with great fervor. But today, in a watered down, luke warm society, where all manner of doctrine are considered mainstream, and doctrinal truths are preached as out-dated and misunderstood, is it not concivable that one can enjoy church themselves as a comfortable truth, but in a weak enough church to not force them to commit to the absolute truth of the word?
Let us look at a couple examples of how exactly eternal life is offered:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:28-30
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14
There are many more, and a study of this could be extensive. But from this sampling, it is quite obvious that not only is eternal life presented in conjunction with Jesus Christ alone. More than that, it is dependent upon Him alone. This is to say nothing of the fact that many warnings exist about the narrow path to salvation, such as the above mentioned narrow gate from Matthew. In John chapter 10 when Jesus says, I am the door. Or how bout the clear, definitive, and powerful statement from Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
With these clear distinctions made in the word of God, we can be certain that if someone believes there is another way to eternal life with the Creator, than he or she does not believe the Bible. I don’t mean to be cruel, and I speak from a broken heartedness at the willingness of churches, mentors, and believers to soft sell this point for so long that a possible 70% of Christians are scared to proclaim this truth. But it is truth.
Imagine the logical confusion that would naturally follow if God, who came to make himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, who made clear that no other gods exist, none save Him should be worshipped, and that there is but one creator, decided to for some reason allow any worship of any false thing to diminish His work on the cross. Imagine pantheism or polytheism, multiple gods countering the commandment God wrote with His very finger somehow leading to fellowship with Him. Just pick your own god. any god will do! Imagine Him allowing the complete dismissal of His act of love and sacrifice, and acknowledging false religions who not only don’t think Jesus is Lord – demanded for salvation in Romans 10 – but many who think He was merely a teacher, on par with Confucius, Gandhi, Siddhartha, thereby making Him a liar. Was He not Resurrected?! Certainly not according to Islam.
The bottom line is this. If faith, specifically faith in the Resurrected Christ, is nullified as a means of salvation, you have turned your back on the gospel. You have tried to render unnecessary the very thing that God did to take judgement and sin from you, the very person all of creation itself is made by, and for. I can only hope that this poll is wrong, that the numbers are inflated.
The Bible asks us to repent, and believe. Believe! Believe that He is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead. Not believe in whatever you want. Believe in the truth. The one and only way. I know it is scary to commit to truth sometimes. But being afraid to acknowledge this truth with loved ones, with church congregations, is not love. It is to protect yourself from uncomfortable feelings, difficult conversations, and from people nowadays thinking you are a close-minded, judgmental, bigoted Christian. The truth is not popular in our society anymore. And it may be easier to navigate society pretending Jesus is cool with whatever. But unless you want to throw out your bible, you will have to square with what it says someday.
On October 31st, I reflect on the acts of Martin Luther, Reformation Day, and the 95 Theses. Martin Luther was a flawed man, and certainly is due some criticism, as are we all, much the same as Constantine, King James, Columbus are all flawed, and therefore vilified by many a likewise-flawed individual despite certain great accomplishments, the benefits of which we still reap to this day.
Often when anyone is celebrated, it becomes human nature to tear that person down for wrongs, or missteps, a lack of perfection, and the legacy of that person is painted with that brush; yet who among us, whether now or even moreso ensconced in those cultures of yesteryear, can claim perfect judgement in tumultuous times.
But what is celebrated on Reformation Day is the day that Martin Luther walked up to the church doors of Wittenberg, and nailed his 95 theses to it, 95 propositions that he was prepared to defend. This event caused a fight over truth that reverberated throughout history, and ripped the fabric of the Christian church down the middle.
The Reformation had been seeded in other areas already, and contains many other important reformers and events. People worked to allow the bible to be produced in native languages, rather than only Latin, illegal at the time; a mission of John Wycliffe, and William Tyndale, who translated the bible into English, and some of whose followers were burned to death for what the Pope considered a heresy. Tyndale himself was tied to a stake and strangled in the town of Filford in 1536 before being burned. Before this martyr’s death, he stood with zeal shouting, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!”
Before these major players of the Reformation, Jan (John) Hus of the Czech Reformation was burned at the stake for heresy on July 6th, 1415. He is considered the first church reformer, living before Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. After earning two degrees, he was ordained a priest in 1400, and after only 2 years, was calling for reformation, and speaking out against indulgences (to be discussed later). Hus wrote, “One pays for confession, for mass, for the sacrament, for indulgences, for churching a woman, for a blessing, for burials, for funeral services and prayers. The very last penny which an old woman has hidden in her bundle for fear of thieves or robbery will not be saved. The villainous priest will grab it.”
Even earlier than Hus, however, we can see efforts to spread the gospel of grace over works. Valdes (founder of the Waldensians), and his followers were banished and forbidden to preach by Pope Lucius III, and were the subject of relentless persecution in the 12th century. They were formally condemned in 1184, and suffered such severe persecution by the Catholic Church, they were forced to travel and teach in secret, usually in two’s, and usually unmarried men, as they expected to die for their choice.
And no write-up of the Reformation would be complete without mentioning John Calvin, a man who’s clarity of thinking we bring to bear to this day, and a man who’s strict adherence to the scriptures, and whose battle with Arminianism deserves its own in depth study, regardless of where you fall in that debate. Calvin strongly stated, regarding Solus Christus (Christ alone), “Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection.”
But on this day, October 31st, Martin Luther’s act of defiance in 1517 began a chain reaction that led ultimately to the Reformation, and the reclaiming of the New Testament Church, as well as the doctrine of Grace Alone, rather than the rampant use of Indulgences, or paying the church to absolve sins and reduce the time one must spend in purgatory, a pervasive part of religious life at the time. Martin, despite how artwork depicts the scene, was not surrounded by a throng of angry people, and did not expect the series of events that followed. He was simply, after studying, pointing out the misuse of religion to accrue money, and wanted people to be focused on Christ and saving grace . The collecting of these indulgences made their way to Germany, and that was where he made his stand. Indulgence was a well established part of culture, and over the last couple hundred years had grown not only to incorporate paying for remission of sin for an individual, but accepting payments for dead relatives believed to be in Purgatory as well. Paying the Catholic church, it was taught, would move them right along to heaven, for a fee.
Late in the 14th Century was introduced the “Treasury of Merit” concept, which is the idea that with a long history of saints having stored up good works, a bank of good deeds had been saved up. It became customary to believe that the works beyond their own salvation the saints had accrued, could be applied to others, again for a fee. The Popery had control over who would be allocated this saved up merit, thereby holding salvation for ransom. This of course is not found in the bible.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having fa righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead
The back story? The catalyst was a man named Albert of Mainz, a German in a high and powerful office within the Church, an Archbishop. It took substantial monies to secure this position, and Indulgences were a way to pay these loans back after securing a position of power. He had to ask permission of course, but as luck would have it, the St Peter’s Basillica built by Constantine was in dire need of a renovation, and Pope Leo X allowed Albert to institute Indulgences in Germany, as long as he split the profits with Rome.
The practices of extorting the layety’s money is well known:
Proceeding the fiery preaching about how dead relatives were suffering, the indulgence chest would arrive. Then came the sermon about how loved ones are needlessly tormented and suffering in penance and agony day in and day out, painting the bleakest of pictures. At the end, they would offer a way out if you paid, an official signed document from the Catholic Church for the remission of sins, and finish with the now infamous statement: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs.”
The words ‘sola gratia’, or Grace Alone, defined the movement as a whole, which rebelled against the idea that the cross was not enough: [Colossians 1:20… making peace by the blood of his cross]; but what makes Martin Luther such an amazing figure in church history, is that he set this movement off accidentally. He was completely unaware of the deal the Pope had made with Albert, for though the indulgences business was booming, the back door deal between Germany and Rome had not been publicized. Without knowing it, and based purely on spiritual conviction, he was unwittingly taking on two of the most powerful people in the world at that time, by criticizing their lucrative schemes.
Keep in mind that the Theses themselves were not condoning a split from the church, and were in and of themselves not overly argumentative. Based on his letters, he seemed quite surprised at the response of the Catholic church, and didn’t realize the political trap he had just stepped on. In fact, as a professor, it was a common way to present a theory or argument for debate so you could hear the other side in case you were wrong. The build up to it, and the actions that followed were the domino effect of that one event that Luther considered a innocuous statement. It wasn’t until the hornet’s nest had been accidentally kicked, that Luther had to muster his courage to stand firm on his interpretation of scripture.
Historians know much about Luther’s death, February 18, 1546, because they were recorded in detail by his deathbed confessor, Justus Jonas. Jonas wished to give an account in case false rumors might arise from enemies (which did happen). One rumor was that Luther had died suddenly or in his sleep. Back then it was falsely believed that if a person was wicked, they would die without time to confess their sins, condemning them to hell, a doctrine also not found in scripture. Likewise, Roman Catholics circulated the claim that Luther had died in a state of terror, believing he would be eternally condemned. But, Jonas recorded that Luther’s last hours were lucid and conscious. He confessed his sins and affirmed his faith in Christ, along with everything else that he had taught.
It is safe to say that we don’t always know how God will use people, and it is interesting that such a seemingly benign action by a professor could spark not only so many deaths, but the eventual Reformation itself, where people were grateful to learn the true power of the cross, and were grateful to have a Bible written in their own language. It wasn’t always so.
So when you think upon Reformation Day, this October 31st, let us remember all that transpired to put the true gospel of Jesus Christ in our hands, as recorded in our New Testament. A gospel of grace, instead of works.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
A fellow church goer friend of mine wrote, “To my atheist friends:
Atheists spend a lot of time and energy attacking the Bible, complaining about Churches and pointing out the flaws of Christians in an effort to bring an end to Christianity. There is only one thing that needs to be done in order to bring Christianity to its knees. It’s simple, too. Prove that Jesus’ tomb was not empty.”
In instances where Jesus Christ prophecies His demise, He always references that He will again rise from the dead, but of course, those closest to Him were plagued with disbelief, even after seeing Him with their own eyes! They just knew that this type of miracle couldn’t happen, but after many appearances, mending Peter’s broken heart, letting Thomas touch His wounds, eating with them, and ministering and appearing to hundreds of witnesses, His defeat of death itself was realized.
History already knows Jesus was real and historical, and we, through evidences and eye witness accounts know more about Christ’s death than the death of any other one man in the ancient world.
My friend is correct in his challenge, that all it would take is to prove that Jesus Christ the Messiah did not defeat death. There are many articles and books on rebutting the skeptic arguments, but rest assured, the challenge exists, for any and all to seek, to knock, to research so that you can find truth for yourself, for as the word says, it shall set you free. And when faced with the historical truth of a real and physical resurrection, you will be then faced with deciding whether you choose to love Jesus or hate Him.
The Bible even claims if you can do this one thing, prove He never rose on the third day, it would make all of Christianity empty and worthless.
1 Corinthians 15: 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Many are already familiar with Lee Strobel, who wrote the case for Christ. An investigative reporter, who was challenged by his wife to actually seek and try to disprove the Resurrection, only to find it was undeniable. This led to his book in 1998, as well as a follow up, The case for Faith.
Two men at Oxford, Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton, were determined to disprove the bible as well. Lyttleton set out to prove Saul (Paul) was never converted, and Gilbert set out to prove Jesus never rose again.
Sheepishly meeting some time later, they had discovered that each had failed in their attempt. Saul of Tarsus had become a radically new man, and evidence unmistakably pointed to the fact that Christ rose again. The book that emerged from their study was, “Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection. 1747.
One final story, (out of many converts who came from setting out to destroy the bible’s credibility), is from Frank Morison, from England. An unbeliever, Frank promised himself that one day he would write a book disproving the Resurrection. In the early 20th century, he was granted enough downtime to study, and make his case.
His book that emerged, after he accepted Christ as his savior, was the paperback, “Who Moved the Stone, published in 1930.
William Lane Craig points out “Without the belief in the Resurrection, the Christian faith could not have come in to being. The disciples would have remained crushed, and defeated men.”
So in strange and unprecedented times, on a holiday where we are all forced to take a look at our own mortality, and the relationship we have with God, the world, and those closest to us, on this Easter Sunday, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ proclaim triumphant, in love, hope, faith, and truth, He is Risen Indeed!
And my friends who do not believe, all you must do is prove that the Historical Jesus never predicted His own death and Resurrection, and then fulfilled that very thing. I must confess in love though, that I do hope all who take this journey in earnest, reach the same foregone conclusions that these men mentioned in this article did, and that it plants a hope in your heart that will never be taken away. Happy Easter.
The Torah, the first five books of the bible is written as a historical narrative. Often referred to as The Law, the Pentateuch, it sets the foundation of not only the beginning of the line of Christ, but also the beginnings of mankind, giving us insight into many things we can observe today, such as languages, genetics, geology, and the fossil record. But who wrote it?
Many critics of the bible assert that Genesis was written long after Moses, and Abraham, that it was written by the Jews in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, when The Jews went back after captivity to rebuild the temple. This would discredit the rich history, and mean that the Jews somehow borrowed and fabricated the narrative we see.
Let’s see what the bible has to say?
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”
22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you
Does the bible clearly indicate who wrote the Law? If not Moses, who would you be disagreeing with?
What does it say within the Torah itself?
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
24:4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
34:27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
It would appear that according to the law itself, Moses was asked to write these things down, and as we saw before, these writings were corroborated by Christ Himself. Does the rest of the Old Testament refer to the Law as well? Let’s see:
Joshua 1:8 (1405 BC) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
1 Kings 2: 1-3 (971 BC) When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying,2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,
2 Kings 14: 1-6 (Amaziah Reigned 796-767 BC) In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”
As we can clearly see from a quick scan of the word, going back to the patriarchs of Jewish history, they had referred to the Law. If the minor prophets made it up later, how would it makes sense that they were referring back to a Law that they were making up on the fly? Were they inventing a Law, and a history, that they were simultaneously struggling to keep? And what about Joshua, referring to it as far back as 1400 BC.
The minor prophets mention Moses and the Law many times:
Isaiah 12 times
Jeremiah 12 times
Ezekiel 6 times
Daniel 4 times
Malachi 5 times
Hosea 3 times
Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah all mention it once.
The point of this stage of the lesson is this; if we disagree with the authorship of the Genesis account, we might as well disagree with the historicity of the entire collection of God’s word. But to do that, logically, we dismiss it’s many truths, fulfilled prophecies, eye witness details, archaeological supports, and many other facts which point to its veracity. They verify each other. Furthermore, the authorship of all 66 books spans a 1400 year period, so these are not co-conspirators. We presupposed the bible as truth in the first lesson, but obviously this puts firmly in your mind the position all the authors took in regards to the Torah. To dismiss the first five books as fable, or made-up would be folly. Plain and simple.
The scientific credentials that come with the name Stephen Hawking are great indeed. One of the greatest theoretical physicists of our time, cosmologist, a medical miracle in his own right, and accomplished author, and no one would question his intelligence. But does even he succumb to the pitfalls of of presupposition?
We have discussed in these blogs how alien life is assumed by many evolutionists, both as a form of creating life on this planet (panspermia), as well as a form of “just-so” science, because we “know evolution is true, and therefore it must also have happened elsewhere. Hawking had stated before he passed away that he felt mankind should be looking to escape the Earth, to find a way to leave it, and colonize elsewhere. This is caused by a world view quite different then that of a Christian theist.
Furthermore, Stephen Hawking wrote The Grand Design, and in it, agrees Universe appears to be highly fine tuned for life, had a beginning. In this book he states this: “This book is rooted in the concept of scientific determinism which implies… that there are no miracles or exceptions to the laws of nature.” – pg 34, The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking.
We should listen, yes? Because he is a brilliant scientist? What is the problem here?
This is a philosophical assertion! Not at all a scientific one. You cannot determine this as a fact by way of a scientific experiment. How do we know, then? Because he said it. It is just so. Scientific Determinism is true, there are no miracles, therefore atheism must be true. Because he stated it.
Interestingly, his book also says, ““Free will is just an illusion.” – pg 32. This is reminiscent of his opinion in 1990 when Hawking determined we are not free, we are totally determined. If you are pre-wired to think the way you do,how can you make any truth claim? You don’t have the free will, according to Hawking himself, to make a truth claim, only produce a result caused by how stimulus is processed through a random brain. So based on his own philosophy, how could anyone trust any of his thoughts on truth at all? Is he not simply pre-wired to think the way he does?
The moment you make a truth claim, you violate determinism.
As much as they would like to deny it, materialists are forced to use philosophy, even as they deny using it. Philosophy always buries its undertakers. To deny it IS to use it. Science is Bound to philosophy and cannot be done without it. Assumptions must be made, and those can dramatically affect conclusions.
We must remember as Dr, Frank Turek says, science doesn’t actually say anything; SCIENTISTS DO! All data must be interpreted.
Let us look at an example of how we must interpret data. The Eiffel tower has demonstrable, testable attributes. Some of these are:
1,063 ft tall
Wrought Iron Lattice Tower
Weight is 10,100 tons
Located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France
If one were inclined, one could test and re-test for the accuracy of any of these statements. But what about these facts?
Engineer was Gustave Eiffel
Finished in 1889
How do we know these are correct? We must conclude them from trusted sources, yes? This means that we must find those historic, written sources to be accurate, not tampered with, and found to fit the proper historical context. No one questions these two facts, but it brings about an interesting point. The facts in this case must be believed; they are not testable, and repeatable. They are forensic in nature.
All history is this way, including Biblical history, Cryptology, Archeology, Criminal forensics, Geology, Paleontology, and Cosmology. We must collect data, and interpret it based on our pre-suppositions. Ken Ham, the creationist, pointed this out while teaching.
As a teacher, he found that whenever he taught the students what he thought were the “facts” for creation, then their other teacher would just reinterpret the facts. The students would then come back to him saying, “Well sir, you need to try again.”
Conversely, when he learned to teach his students how we interpret facts, and how interpretations are based on our presuppositions, then when the other teacher tried to reinterpret the facts, the students would challenge the teacher’s basic assumptions.
God uses natural causes, to be sure, but can they explain everything? A materialist atheist, and a Christian both believe in natural causes. Of course we can find causality through natural means. But what about things that are forensic in nature, meaning, those things that are not repeatable in a lab, or observable on any level, and more to the point, contradict what we DO observe! Such as the creation of matter? Life from non-life? Creation of new elements?
Things that cannot be explained by science. – aesthetics, ethics, mathematics and logic, metaphysical truths (like there are other minds then my own).
In the 1700’s, David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. Hume’s assertion was that things were only actually meaningful if, and only if: The truth claim is of abstract reasoning, such as 2+2=4, or all triangles have three sides; and the truth claim can be verified by the 5 senses. Norman Geisler defeated this by simply observing, “The principle of empirical verifiability states that there are only two kinds of meaningful propositions: 1. those that are true by definition, and 2. those that are empirically verifiable. Since the principle of empirical verifiability is neither true by definition, nor empirically verifiable, it cannot be meaningful.” A slick idea met with the swift and brutal simplicity of logic.
Kant, another skeptic, said that you can’t know the real world. Of course, then how do you know that about the real world?
The theme here is that much of what we use to interpret and understand about life, the universe, creation, is based on our faith, and our presuppositions. An example:
“I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. it is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist” – Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997. Dr Nagel (1937– ) is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.
I posed this question to the class; does it appear that this person’s conclusions would be influenced by his presuppositions?
Another fantastic example is from Dr. Steven Stanley, (Bioscience, vol. 36 (Dec 1986) p. 725. paleontologist and evolutionary biologist), who specialized in punctuated equilibrium. This is the reaction to lack of evidence within Darwinism. Many scientists proposed that punctuated equilibrium explained things that could not be seen by evidence, namely, that animals mutated quickly into other species, thereby leaving no evidence within the fossil record. He said, “Evolution happens rapidly in small, localized populations, so we’re not likely to see it in the fossil record.” Now, we ask again, is this conclusion based on science? He is literally claiming evolutionary change has occurred between the rock layers, where we find no evidence! Safe to say that Stanley had already made up his mind that evolution was true, and since he “knows” this, has proposed a non-scientific model to explain it.
Lastly, for this portion of the lesson, we will look at a notorious quote from Dr. Richard Charles Lewontin, Columbia University is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator. “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. ”
Posing the same question, do we honestly think an unbiased look at evidence would be likely here? Stated another way, if the truth did rest in the fact that God was a cause, could this type of “science” ever discover the truth?
I am teaching through a series on Genesis at my church, as an 8 week course. After the classes, I will be posting the same lessons in article form on here, so anyone may follow along as we continue forward in our study of Genesis, its authenticity, and the historicity of Creation as recorded in our bibles.
This series will be predicated upon certain presuppositions from the outset. The examination of these presuppositions has been addressed in many previous writings.
The first presupposition for the class is that truth is knowable. This means that we have done away, as far as this series is concerned, with debate from the post-modernist or relativist agenda. A simple refutation lies in the answer to the common assertion: “there is no absolute truth!”
To which someone should answer, “Is that absolutely true?” We turn the question on itself, and realize the self-defeating nature of relative truth very easily. Most post-modernist authors want to be exempt from their own conclusions.
C.S Lewis said, in regards to the philosophical first principles of truth, “These first principles of practical reason are fundamental to all knowledge and argument, to deny them is to deny knowledge itself.” In other words, if you deny truth exists, you can’t know anything, discover anything, determine anything. All knowledge would be rendered useless.
Secondly, we would stipulate that the Bible is the inspired word of God. There are many reasons for this of course, born out through history, testimony, archaeology. Although some supporting evidence may occur during the series, the focus is not to prove the Bible is God-breathed. We will stipulate that since it has already stood the tests of time and unrelenting scrutiny, the Bible, is
John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, we would embark on the series looking at the world from a biblical world view. What we believe determines how we behave. This means that if our presupposition is that atheism, or evolution is true, and the only possible creative mechanism, this determines how we see the world. If God is possible, even probable, making more logical sense in the end anyway, then this allows of the possibility that the bible is true history, miracles are possible, and that determinism cannot and will not explain the existence of time, space and matter.
Need we look at everything then, as religion vs science?
Absolutely not! Science is the search for causes, essentially. Observations in our natural world SHOULD line up with the word. This means that we do not commit the folly of excluding the possibility of God, by adhering to evolutionary presuppositions, and saying things are “just so”.“Just-So Science” example: We know that life arose from non-life because we know that it is so, because evolution is true.
If nature had a beginning, then how can the cause be something natural, since nature didn’t exist. Nature was the effect. Therefore the cause must be beyond nature, or supernatural.
I do not have all the answers, (another stipulation). Yes I have a passion for this material, and the study, but I’m not a scientist or a doctor. But it would be my heart’s desire for you to walk away from the series, and be able to stand tall and say, I am a bible thumping Christian, I believe the bible from cover to cover, and make no apology for that. Hopefully a tool of discipleship. At the very least, perhaps it helps people think of things they had not considered before.
The defense of the Bible, Apologetics, is a complex and fascinating area of study. It can be scientific, or philosophical; it can examine scripture text, or archaeological history. Many books on many facets have been written, none of which are exhaustive. One area of apologetics defends the Bible itself, not only if it has been accurately passed down to us, but if the words passed down to us are in fact true, based on evidence.
Meticulous studies in ancient literature have proven to hold the New Testament in the highest esteem, and beyond reproach in regards to how accurate the translations are. In fact, it stands so far above other historical books from authors such as Homer, Pliny, and Plato, that to question the accuracy of the Bible, would be to throw all ancient writings into utter obscurity. This article is not about that, but instead, about one of the Evidences of its historical accuracy. (for an overview of other common evidences, click here).
One of the main six is “Early Testimony.” This study, like the others can get in depth, and many scholars put much of the New Testament authorship within the first several years after Christ’s death and resurrection. As a contrast, the first writings of Buddha are approximately 400 years after the actual life of Siddhartha, and the Hadith describe the collection of the Koran as having been cobbled together from certain traditions by an Islamist long after Muhammad’s death, who then had all copies not accepted collected and burned for the sake of solidarity.
But there is one particular aspect of early testimony evidence I found fascinating. And that is the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 AD, 40 years after the Resurrection.
As you may or may not know, after rebellion and years of tension, the Roman Emperor Nero sent Titus into Jerusalem with 30,000 troops, and slaughtered 600,000 Jews, while summarily burning Herod’s revitalized temple to the ground. The fire was so hot, it melted the gold so that it ran down between the cracks of the stone. When looters came to retrieve the gold, they ripped down each stone from the others to get to this gold, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy:
Matthew 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Now, picture yourself as a soon to be New Testament writer. You grow up seeing Herod renovate the temple. It is the cornerstone of your faith, and became such a glorious structure that it, rather than God, began to be revered by your neighbors and friends. Your sins were forgiven there. The high priest conducted ceremony there. It was the cornerstone of your faith, the economy, the culture. It’s importance to the Jewish people could not be overstated.
And then, this Jesus comes along, performs miracles, and predicts His own death and resurrection, and prophecies that the venerated Jewish temple adored by your people will soon be so much rubble scattered to the winds of history. When he dies, you and your contemporaries soon see Him appearing alive, and can touch His wounds. You eat with Him, and watch Him ascend into the sky. And inspired to risk your life, elevate Gentiles to the same platform as the Jew, and go against the priests of your day, you spread this new gospel message, and write of all you had seen.
To the crux of the issue; if the temple you worshiped at for decades had been utterly leveled, 600,000 Jews murdered, the city decimated, and its people scattered, thus fulfilling the very prophecy your savior had foretold, punctuating the year Titus destroyed all you ever knew and loved, do you think you would mention it? Do you think one of the authors of the New Testament would have finished their historical narrative by stating the temple had come down?
There are numerous internal evidences in the word that point to the fact that its writers had first hand, eye-witness knowledge of the times. Locations, language, details, key historical figures, all mentioned with the accuracy of someone present. Meticulous history is presented. Is it possible that all 8 of the New Testament writers somehow failed to mention this monumental event which just so happened to corroborate what their messiah said would happen?
We do know it happened; it is a plain matter of history, a mere 40 years after Christ died and rose again.
This is strong evidence that the entire New Testament was finished, before 70 AD. We can be certain that these writers, who included details about who among them was martyred, who went to jail, and who even included embarrassing details in their telling, for example their cowardice at times, would have at least noted this siege, if not dedicate entire chapters to it!
History records this later, and yes, Christ was proven to be right, fulfilling yet another prophecy, and further verifying the truth of the word of God. But this realization also proves to us something else. How soon after Christ these events were recorded. Within less then 40 years, the new Christian church was copying, and circulating the very words you have today. Remarkable!