This is another old argument against classical Christianity that I still hear rather often: “Jesus never claimed to be God” usually coupled with “so clearly he wasn’t”.
While there is no place in Scripture where Jesus said the words, “I am God”, the assertion that He never claimed to be God is quite very inaccurate. The argument comes from a basic misunderstanding of first century Jewish culture as well as Biblical illiteracy. No serious student of the Bible can make such a claim unless he ignores or discounts major passages of the Gospels.
The way in which Jesus claimed to be God is best summed up in the Homan Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics:
“In the first century, much like today, to say “I am God” would be almost meaningless. Even Roman Emperors were ascribed deity or claimed deity for themselves. What Jesus did do was claim to be a very specific God to a specific people in a very specific way. And the way in which He made His claims was unambiguous and unmistakable to those people.”
==Powell, D. (2006). Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (pp. 310–311). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference. Continue reading
I observed a conversation last week that is a perfect illustration of something that has bothered me for a very long time. It shows the most common mistake that people make when trying to present a defense of the Christian worldview to a nonbeliever. This one thing, in my opinion, has served to turn people away from Christ rather than encourage them to seriously consider the Gospel more than any other single mistake we make as defenders of the faith and presenters of the Truth.
I’ll tell you what happened, and you’ll probably guess what the monumental mistake is before I’m even done:
Every Easter season, it seems that at least one old supposed refutation of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is itself resurrected and trotted out to ridicule the central tenet of the Christian faith: that Jesus was crucified, died, and by His own power was raised from the dead three days later.
I was a bit surprised to see what is commonly referred to as the ‘swoon theory’ being used by quite a few people this time around, particularly since it has been so thoroughly disproven many time in the past. But, since it seems to be fairly popular once again, I’ll briefly deal with it here.
The variations of the swoon theory all state that Jesus did not really die when crucified; he merely became unconscious (“passed out” or ‘swooned”) and woke up while in the tomb. Sometime before the discovery of the open tomb, he either rolled the stone away himself, or someone opened it for him, and he simply walked out.
There are so many ways to refute this argument that it is hard to decide where to start. I’ll begin with a quick rundown of the relevant facts of the case, using the eyewitness accounts recorded in the Gospels. Continue reading
I’m often asked “What is the best apologetic argument?”, and in almost every case, after a few questions, it’s clear that the real question is “All of this apologetics stuff is just too overwhelming. Can you give me a single, easy to remember argument that I can use whenever I have to defend the faith?”
Before I give you the answer that I’m sure most of you expect, please read this post to the end; there is an apologetic argument that you MUST use in EVERY defense of the Gospel, but I don’t think it is what you expect me to tell you.
I’ve been seeing a couple of trends lately both online and in the ‘real world’ that I think are related in that both have a foundational misunderstanding of the purpose of Christian apologetics.
One is the tendency for Christian apologists, video posters, and blog commenters to portray an attitude of “win at all costs; crush your ‘enemy’ and his argument to dust” as if the purpose of apologetics is to ‘put those heathens in their place and show how stupid they are’. The other is for Christian leaders as well as laypeople to dismiss the study and presentation of apologetics as unfruitful, unnecessary, and needlessly confrontational. Unfortunately, it appears that the two viewpoints in some weird, twisted way actually feed upon and amplify each other!
As I’ve said, i believe that both wrong-headed attitudes stem from a false view of the two primary purposes of Christian apologetics.
One of the two primary purposes of Christian apologetics is to provide evidence, reason, and experiences that will give both new and seasoned believers confidence in the truth of the Gospel. I firmly believe that the reason that most teens and young adults ‘walk away from the faith” or refuse to seriously consider Christ is because the majority of Christian leaders, parents, and mentors fail (some even actively oppose) in presenting evidences for the faith (apologetics) to our young people.
Three times in the las week I’ve heard or read comments about how “Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of a man whom really (or probably, when they were feeling charitable) didn’t even exist”.
I’ve covered in previous posts the historical evidence that has lead all but a very, very, very few credible scholars of ancient history to conclude that unless you are willing to ignore any historical evidence for the existence of any person of the time period you must either ignore the vast majority of the evidence available or conclude that a man named Jesus (or Yeshua) from the town of Nazareth lived in the early 1st century and was crucified in Jerusalem.
Anyone who trots out the “Jesus is a myth” or “Jesus never existed” canard is either historically illiterate, an intellectual sloth brainwashed by the secularist fringe revisionists, or willfully ignorant. They proudfully proclaim their foolishness without regard to even the barest truth.
Pray for these poor people; primarily that they will open their mind’s eye to at least the barest truth that Jesus did live, that they would further see the truth of the Gospel, and that barring that, they would at least keep silent on the subject and not drag others down to the pit with them.
Happy Holy Days, and Merry Christmas!
Previously, I gave a brief explanation of why I think the accounts of miracles in the Bible are reliable. This time, I’ll answer the question of whether miracles can occur today.
But before I do that, it will be beneficial to give a brief summary of the main theological positions on the matter, both Cessationist and Continuationist. Continue reading
I was recently posed a question to which I gave a rather short “off the top of my head” answer, but got me to thinking about and researching more thoroughly.
Then I was asked a similar question again a couple of weeks later, so here is my rather lengthy answer to both which are:
1) “Why should I believe any of the miracles in the Bible actually happened?”
2) “Can miracles happen today?”
I’ll give my response to the first question now, and the second in pt.2.
I usually respond to the question with one of my own, “Why shouldn’t I believe the miracles recorded in the Bible actually happened?”
I do this to get the questioner to clarify why he objects to a belief in miracles. The great majority of people asking why they should believe the Biblical account of miraculous events ask from a perspective that denies the possibility of miracles as ‘anti-scientific’, or impossible violations of the laws of nature, or that the Bible is just a bunch of made-up stories with no historical foundation.
I have found that without exception, once I’ve gotten a skeptic to voice the foundational reason they disbelieve Biblical miracles, it has boiled down to “miracles can’t happen, so miracles didn’t happen”. Continue reading
In the last post, I promised to give a few brief answers to the most common objections I hear to the Biblical worldview concerning the LGBT lifestyle. Here they are:
-) Homosexuality is not a sin.
I expect this one from non-Christians; when you deny God’s right to define sin then anything is acceptable as long as you want it to be. What surprises me is when someone who professes to be a disciple of Christ asserts this.
The Bible is very clear, as is Jesus Himself. I explained that in my first post on this subject, but it bears repeating. Both in the Old and New Testaments, homosexual activity is presented as a sin.
Some relevant passages are: Matthew 19:3-5 (discussed in an earlier post here), Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Timothy 1:10
-) Homosexuality is not a choice, therefore it cannot be wrong.
This is a not very subtle variation of the “it isn’t a sin” argument, and is far from the ‘fact’ it is usually presented to be. While there are studies cited that indicate that there may be a genetic propensity for homosexuality (cited in the link list below), not only do the most recent concur that the influence is marginal at best, there are no less than eight studies of identical twins that disprove even this theory (also linked below). Continue reading