This time of year, skeptics tend to shift their focus from denying the possibility of the resurrection of the Christ to denying the possibility of the virgin conception and birth. I’ve detailed evidence for the authenticity of the resurrection in earlier posts, so let’s take a look at the nativity this time around.
I agree with the skeptics that the idea of the virgin birth of the Christ is, at first look at least, a bit ridiculous. In the history of the human race, such an event, other than the Gospel accounts, has never been seriously offered as anything more than myth or fairytale. It certainly hasn’t been observed in modern times, and medical and scientific research is apparently quite conclusive that human parthenogenesis is not possible.
And yet, every year Christians worldwide celebrate this impossible event. What possible reasons could they have for believing such a silly thing?
Richard Dawkins and other popular atheist authors and advocates are quite fond of the ‘one less god’ argument, and I’ve heard and read quite a few different self-proclaimed atheists using it lately.
It goes something like this: “We’re both atheists; neither one of us believes in Zeus, Pele, Odin, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just believe in one less god than you. So, believing in YOUR god is just as ignorant and silly.”
I have to work very hard to be charitable when presented this argument. First, it really isn’t an argument; it is a statement of belief. Second, as an argument it is not only logically nonsensical, but relies on a category error to reach the conclusion offered. Continue reading
Here’s a question all of us apologists have asked at least once if we are serious about presenting Christ to those who are steeped in a different worldview:
“How do I effectively show them that their worldview is false and destructive without alienating them or shutting them down completely from hearing the Gospel?”
The usual answer I hear is profoundly true: “Follow the leading of the Spirit, and do so with love and an attitude of peace” BUT it isn’t really a complete answer.
You see, God has given us tools to use, and it is foolish for us to either ignore them or fail to learn and be able to use them when appropriate.
One tool is that of the simple question. Simply asking pointed questions with the proper attitude can point out the fallacies and consequences of a worldview without being snarky or confrontational.
Remember, the goal of presenting the Gospel to those who are skeptical or even decidedly opposed to Christ is not to ‘make the sale’; it is to give them enough information and reality to think about for them to come to the point where they can clearly see who Christ is, and then decide whether to follow Him or not. It is God’s work to bring them to Him; it is our task to live our lives and present His truth in such a way that they will hear His voice. Continue reading
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!