Note Point #1
“There is only one universe. For lots of folks, this might seem like a no-brainer. The “uni” in universe is supposed to mean “everything there is.” Over the last few decades, however, multiverse cosmologies have gained acceptance via both inflationary Big Bang models and the “landscape” of string theory, which appears to predict 10500 possible universes. Unger and Smolin push back against these developments saying the proper field of study for cosmology is the one universe to which we have access. As Unger puts it: “We have reason to believe in the existence of only one universe at a time, the universe in which we find ourselves. Nothing science has discovered up to now justifies the belief that our universe is only one of many… The multiplication of universes in contemporary cosmology … has been the outcome of an attempt to convert … an explanatory failure into an explanatory success.”
This is a great post by an expert on Trinitarianism. Thanks to The Religious Researcher for this one!
Although the evidence from the New Testament for the deity of Christ is abundant, many people wonder why Jesus didn’t come out and say explicitly, “I am God.” Opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity often claim that Jesus’ failure to make such an explicit statement is proof that the Trinity is false. Some go further, insisting that the only statement that would satisfy them is if Jesus had said, “I am Almighty God, God the Son, second person of the Trinity.” Of course, since everyone knows there is no such statement by Jesus in the Bible, this objection is a simple way of dismissing the case for the Trinity.
There are several important responses we can make to this objection:
1. Anti-Trinitarians are unwilling to shoulder a similar burden of proof. There is no statement in the Bible, for example, in which Jesus asserts, “I am not God, but only his firstborn created son” (as Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain), or “I am only a human being whom God has appointed as his representative” (as Unitarians traditionally claim). For some reason, anti-Trinitarians impose a different set of rules on Trinitarians than they are willing to follow themselves.
2. Anti-Trinitarians usually have developed interpretive strategies that allow them to slough off even the most explicit assertions in the Bible of the identity of Jesus Christ as God. Thus, when the Bible says that the preincarnate Christ “in the beginning…was God” (John 1:1), or quotes Thomas referring to Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28), many anti-Trinitarians will admit that Jesus is called “God” in these texts but offer some end-run interpretation around them. For example, they will often claim that Jesus is called “God” only in the sense that he acts as God’s agent or representative. This means that even if Jesus had said “I am God Almighty” these anti-Trinitarians would explain away such a statement as meaning only that Jesus represents God Almighty. Apparently, Jesus was supposed to anticipate and ward off modern anti-Trinitarian views and say, “I am not merely an agent of God Almighty, but am literally and truly God Almighty in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity incarnate.” Again, anti-Trinitarians are operating by a double standard at this point, since of course Jesus does not make such elaborate statements supporting their theology, either.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of teaching on Jewish backgrounds of the Christian faith. I am not part of the Hebrew Roots movement. But I think it is significant that when Marvin Wilson released his book last year called Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal, David Neff, who is former editor of Christianity Today, said the following:
“As a historical religion, Christianity must own its Jewish origins and live up to the best of that heritage. Marvin Wilson, a pioneer in evangelical-Jewish relations, makes a compelling argument for renewing Christian faith by recovering our Hebraic heritage. If only there were more like him, we could have a healthier church.”
So what about the renewal aspect that Neff mentions here? Let’s take a look at three lessons Christians can learn from the Jewish roots of their faith.
#1 Jesus and the Name of God
Regarding the disciples prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13), Jesus says:
This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”
Regarding the hallowing of God’s name, Scot McKnight says:
“At no place have Christians been more insensitive to Judaism that when it comes to what Jesus believes and teaches about God. In particular, the concept that Jesus was the first to teach about God as Abba and that this innovation revealed that Jesus thought of God in terms of love while Jews thought of God in terms of holiness, wrath, and distance are intolerably inaccurate in the realm of historical study and, to be quite frank, simple pieces of bad polemics. The God of Jesus was the God of Israel, and there is nothing in Jesus’ vision of God that is not formed in the Bible he inherited from his ancestors and learned from his father and mother” “Countless Christians repeat the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus urged His followers to “hallow” or “sanctify” the Name of God (Matt 6:9), many are unaware of what that may have meant in Jesus’ day- in part, because Christianity has lost sight of God’s awesome splendorous holiness. A good reading of Amos 2:6-8 discusses this issue. “Reverencing the Name of God” is not just how Israel speaks of God-that it does not take the Name of God in vain when it utters oaths or when someone stubs a toe or hits a finger with an instrument -but that God’s Name is profaned when Israel lives outside the covenant and by defiling the name of God in it’s behavior” (Jer 34:15-46; Ezek. 20:39; Mal 1:6-14). God’s Name is attached to the covenant people, and when the covenant people lives in sin, God’s Name is dragged into that sin along with His people. So, when Jesus urges his followers to “reverence,” or “sanctify” the Name of God, he is thinking of how his disciples are to live in the context of the covenant: they are to live obediently as Israelites.” -Paul Copan and Craig A. Evans. Who Was Jesus? A Jewish-Christian Dialogue. Lousiville: KY.Westminster John Knox Press. 2001, 84-85.
The Hebrew word for disciple is “talmid.” A talmid is a student of one of the sages of Israel. A disciple is a learner, or pupil. When we decide to repent and turn to our Lord for the forgiveness of sins, we have to realize we are now on a new journey. The Gospel is a message for the here and now- not just the future. We have to learn how to live out our faith in the world around us. A disciple (in the New Testament sense) is someone who is striving (by God’s grace) to be consistent follower of Jesus.
The goal of the Christian is to imitate our Master.
Discipleship takes a commitment between the discipler and the one being discipled. For those that say they don’t need discipleship, you are setting yourself up for failure. Sorry to be so blunt. But there is no such thing as a Long Ranger Christian.
Discipleship is not getting any easier in the world we live in. In an overly sensate culture, people need to be constantly stimulated and have a hard time focusing on something such as discipleship. In a world that wants instant results, self- sacrifice is tough sell. Part of the problem is that churches preach a Gospel that promises that Jesus will fix all our problems. And when things get tough, many people bail out. A long-term commitment to our Lord which involves self denial (Luke 9:23) is hard to swallow for those that have been told The American Dream is the way of happiness.
In Mark 12.28-34 we find a scribe asking Jesus a serious question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus replied by saying, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus then added a second commandment (from Leviticus 19.18) when he said, “The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Here we see the Shema is the central creed for Jesus! Jesus is quoting from Deut. 6:4-9:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
“Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad.” These six words begin the Shema (pronounced “shmah”), three sections of Scripture repeated twice daily to remind each Jewish person of his or her commitment to God (Deuteronomy 6: 4– 9; 11: 13–21; Numbers 15: 37– 41).
In the Tanakh (the acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings), the Hebrew word for heart is “leb,” or “lebad.” While the word “heart” is used as a metaphor to describe the physical organ, from a biblical standpoint, it is also the center or defining element of the entire person. It can be seen as the seat of the person’s intellectual, emotional, affective, and volitional life. In the New Testament, the word “heart” (Gr.kardia) came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. Therefore, biblical faith involves a commitment of the whole person.
In Jewish thought, in the Shema, hearing is directly related to taking heed and taking action with what you’ve heard. And if you don’t act, you’ve never heard. Hence, in Deut.: 6: 4-9, we see who our God is and how we should respond to him. It should be a holistic commitment towards him. We love our God with our emotions, our actions, our entire beings (including our minds). How might me love God with our minds?
Paul said in Ephesians 4:18: “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” In other words, at the bottom of human irrationality and spiritual ignorance is hardness of heart. That is, our self-centered hearts distort our reason to the point where we cannot use it to draw true inferences from what is really there. If we don’t want God to be God, our sensory faculties and our rational faculties will not be able to infer that he is God.
In 2 Corinthians 3:14, Paul says the mind is “hardened” (epōrōthē). In 1 Timothy 6:5, he calls the mind “depraved” (diephtharmenōn). And in Romans 1:21, he says that thinking has become “futile” (emaraiōthēsan) and “darkened” (eskotisthē) and “foolish” (asunetos) because men “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). In other words, unrighteousness disorders the capacity to see the truth. The corruption of our hearts is the root of our irrationality.
We are an adulterous generation. We love man-centered error more than Christ-exalting truth, and our rational powers are taken captive to serve this adulterous love. This is what Jesus exposed when he said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” In other words, your mind functions just fine when seeking out a partner in adultery, but it cannot see the signs of Christ-exalting truth.”
As Christ followers, we are called to not fall into the same traps that Paul warns his audiences here.
I hope these tips help. If you can, check out the Wilson book. It is a great read.
Any of us who have been involved in the apologetic endeavor are probably familiar with the comments by hyper-Post Modernist Christians who say “I don’t need any evidence or reasons for what I believe.” In other words, this individual thinks it is more spiritual to trust God because He can only be pleased by faith (Heb. 11:6). Thus, for these people, the object of faith is sometimes described as resting in God Himself (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:24). Even in the New Testament, Jesus confirms this issue (Mark 11:22). And even as God is the object of faith, the author of the Gospel of John directs his audience to Jesus as being the object of faith as well (John 20:31).
Granted, these types of individuals may be ignorant to the fact that the apostles approach to spreading the message of the Gospel is characterized by such terms as “apologeomai/apologia” which means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15); “dialegomai” which means “to reason, speak boldly” (Acts 17:2; 17; 18:4; 19:8), “peíthō” which means to persuade, argue persuasively” (Acts 18:4; 19:8), and “bebaioō ” which means “to confirm, establish,” (Phil 1:7; Heb. 2:3). 
The reality is that it is impossible to even profess the name of Christ or claim to be of His followers without relying on some evidence. Granted, it is true when someone comes to faith in the Lord, they are not required to give a dozen arguments for why they have decided to made the choice to follow the Lord. However, as time goes on, they will find out very quickly that many will ask them ‘why’ they have chosen to make this decision.
Naturally, many Christians will say they have supernatural certainty for their faith and will commonly say “I experience the Holy Spirit in my life.” Obviously, they can be oblivious to the fact that they sound no different than a Mormon.
What Christians need to remember is that every experience a Christian has is based on what is already found in the Bible. And the Bible is a form of evidence. Thus, Christians are already relying on a form of testimonial evidence and they are also relying on the memories of those that wrote and recorded the events in the Bible. They think the writers of the Bible are telling the truth. The Gospel of John uses words that are usually translated as witness, testimony, to bear witness, or to testify. The total usage of these words in John’s Gospel is larger than any of the Synoptic Gospels. The book of Acts is the next book with the most references to the terms related to eyewitness testimony. We see in the following New Testament passages where testimony and witness is used as a means to verify events:
• Luke 1:4: “Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received”
•Acts 2:32: “This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it”
• Acts 3:14-15:But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”
• Acts 5:30-32: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
•1 John 1:1: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life”
•Acts 10:39 : “We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.”
•Acts 4:19-20: “Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
•1 Peter 5:1: “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
•2 Peter 1:19: ” We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
•John 21:24: “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”
•1 Corinthians 15: 3-8: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Christians also rely on their perception to know there is a Creator.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.” (Rom.1:18-21)
In this passage, God’s knowledge is described as “eternal power and divine nature.” Paul lays out the basic principle of cause and effect. Paul says since God is the Designer (God is the cause), His “everlasting power and divinity” are obvious, “through the things that are made” (this is the effect).For Christians, they perceive truth about God, because the basic truths about God are “clearly seen” (Rom. 1:20). Thus, they rely on their perception.
What’s the point?
Christians that claim to be demonstrating a ‘higher’ form of spirituality and trust in God because they say they don’t need any evidence or reasons for their beliefs are ignorant. Keep in mind that I am well aware of the limitations of apologetics and the use of reasons and evidence. But let’s admit we are already relying on some evidence for our beliefs!
- Garrett J. Deweese, Doing Philosophy as a Christian (Downers Grove, ILL: IVP Publishers, 2012), 78-79.