A Look at William Lane Craig’s Comment: “The Ultimate Apologetic is Your Life”

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“More often than not, it is what you are rather than what you say that will bring an unbeliever to Christ. This, then, is the ultimate apologetic. For the ultimate apologetic is: your life”-William Lane Craig

This was a quote that I read when I plowed through the Second Edition of Reasonable Faith in 1998. Ever since I read this quote, I have always thought about how my life might be an apologetic. In other words, do my words and actions reflect the One who is one we represent? To be honest, the quote has convicted me over the years. And without giving a sense of false humility, I know I don’t always live the apologetic life. I even know people who are Christians who have observed other Christians who are very well read in the field of Christian apologetics. However,  the lifestyle of the individual doesn’t match up with what they profess with their lips. Just this past week I had the opportunity to teach on The Sermon on the Mount at a local church. Yes, I was convicted about how challenging it is to live out the very characteristics that show the reign of God is here. So anyway, let me go ahead and focus on a couple of areas and ask how we might live the apologetic life:

Two passages that have always challenged me are the following:

“ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”-Galatians 5: 22-26

”Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Ephesians 5: 17-20

If you are like me and love to defend the resurrection of Jesus, you hopefully know that living the resurrected life is a challenge. One aspect of resurrection is the how it impacts our present life: We as believers now live in a resurrection state. For after noting that God “made us alive together with” Messiah (this is a past event). Eph. 2:5 says: “by grace you are now in a state of salvation” (indicating a present resurrection state).

When Jesus rose from the dead, He not only reversed the curse of death (1 Cor. 55-56) but also broke the power of sin in this life for us. This doesn’t mean we will be perfect. But it does mean we can have a transformed life and victory over sin in this present life.

The bottom line is that the only way we can possibly appropriate passages like the ones above is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and depend on the Him every day of our lives. This means we need a good understanding of pneumatology. The Holy Spirit has been described as one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court. Therefore, you can forget about reflecting our Lord without knowing the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is your Helper on a daily basis. The question is, “How much does the Spirit have of us?” There is more fullness in our lives that comes from the Spirit’s influence in our lives (Eph. 5:18). We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. The more yielded we are, hence, a willingness to follow the Spirit (and doing so) produces this filling. Attitudes of unforgiveness, bitterness, and carnal behavior will not reflect the fruit of the Spirit. So what is the bottom line? When we are controlled by the Spirit of God, people will see the character of Christ in us. They won’t have to beat it out of us. As much as I read and study apologetics, I long to see these traits in me on a daily basis. What about you?

And as I said in a previous post, God does transform us. But it involves our cooperation. If we are willing to yield to God, through his Word, and allow others to be involved in the process, we will change. Also, suffering and circumstances can be used to change us as well. The question is “How do we respond to God in this specific circumstance?” Note the chart mentions truth is what changes us. Truth comes though the Bible, others speaking truth to us, prayer, service, etc. But I truly believe the reason we don’t always see the transformation we want isn’t because of God. It is on us. He has given us His Spirit, the Word, community, plenty of resources (lectures, books, online resources), etc. In most cases, it is our stubborn will won’t budge. Now keep in mind, this isn’t about a formula. It is about us cooperating with God so that we might experience the change he wants for us so we can bring honor and glory to Him.  I have to be the one who prioritizes reading the Bible, being in community, praying, and doing all I can to cooperate with God. Also, remember, even if you don’t see the transformation in your own life or in others, it doesn’t mean the Gospel is false. Jesus could still have died and risen 2,000 years ago. Our actions don’t determine the facts of history. So remember, we can be transformed. But we have to do our part.

Is your testimony/how you live your life enough? 

As I have said before, a good testimony or living a certain way isn’t going to be enough for today’s culture. Here’s why: Our culture is built on pragmatism. If something doesn’t work, you try something else that gets results. Thus, the idea that “if theological ideas prove to have a value for concrete life, they will be true” are seen in the writings of William James (1842–1910) and recently by neopragmatist Richard Rorty (1931–2007). People want to know if beliefs can be tried and tested out in the reality of life. This does have some merit. After all, if one’s faith is the one true path, it should make a radical difference in the reality of life. However, what would you say if a person of another religious background said the following: “I follow Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, or another faith because it makes a difference in my life.” Would you consider committing to a different belief system just because it has led to moral and personal transformation? Once again, the lesson here is that the practical difference a belief makes in one’s life should be one aspect of our overall cumulative case for what we believe.

 

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William Lane Craig responds to “No one has ever been argued into the kingdom of God!”

Here is a short clip by William Lane Craig on the common objection that people can’t be argued into the kingdom. In my own experience, people who say nobody is argued into the kingdom confuse the relationship between evangelism and apologetics.

When someone asks us why we believe what we believe, it may lead to both an evangelistic and apologetic encounter.  Evangelism is the telling of the good news about Jesus the Messiah and the way of salvation through him.  Also, evangelism is not defending the reliability of the Bible or defending the historicity of the resurrection.

Apologetics removes the barriers that hinders people from considering the Gospel as the way to have a restored relationship with God.  The word “apologia” means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15). Peter commands his followers to ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15).

Did the apostles combine apologetics with their evangelism? Absolutely! Biblically speaking, the apostles approach to spreading the message of the Good News is accompanied using reason and evidence (Acts 17:2; 18:4; 19:8; 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15). They are seen utilizing an evidential model by appealing to fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection as the basis for the evidence for Jesus’s messiahship (Acts 2:14-32-39; 3:6-16, 4:8-14; 17:1-4; 26:26; 1 Cor. 15:1-8). The writers of the New Testament appeal to objective eyewitness testimony (Lk. 1:2-4; John 1:14; 19:31-35-36; 20:24, 30-31; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3). Furthermore, Paul wrote of ‘defending and confirming the gospel’ (Phil. 1:7). Luke records that Paul spent time reasoning and explaining that Jesus suffered and rose from the dead. (Acts 17:2–3). Also,” Every Sabbath [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4). Paul also appealed to what is called ‘natural theology’[1] in Rom.1: 18-21. Here, 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). Notice Paul never says we can see God directly. But we should be able to make a rational inference to see that Paul says that God’s existence and attributes can be “clearly seen” through the world of nature.

 

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“If the Gospel is True, Why Don’t We See More Transformation in the Lives of Christians?”

Do you ever ask yourself the following questions: “If the Gospel is true and I have come into a relationship with God, why do I still struggle with the same sins?” or, “Why do I struggle with the same attitudes and addictions?” I have asked myself this question and many people have asked me about it as well. Ravi Zacharias says the following:

“I really think that today, as Christian apologists, that the biggest challenge to the faith is not an intellectual question. In fact, I have not heard an intellectual question to the faith that has disturbed me. I am more convinced than ever of the message of the Gospel. But the biggest challenge to the Christian faith is this: If the message that we have lays claim to a supernatural regeneration, then why is it that we do not see that regeneration more often? No other religion claims a supernatural regeneration. They may claim ethics and morality. Hinduism does. But we are the only ones who claim a new birth. Born of the Holy Spirit, our hungers have changed, our disciplines have changed, our behavior has changed. If it is a supernaturally engendered thing, why do we not see it more often? And if that is true of the common person in conversion, how much more true it must be of ones in leadership. So I believe character is essential, and without that, you cannot serve.” -Ravi Zacharias

I am sure Ravi knows the amazing contributions that Christians have made to the world. I know he must know the results from his own ministry offers us plenty of signs of “real” supernatural regeneration. So I don’t want to paint the picture as if there is little or no evidence of supernatural regeneration to be seen. Perhaps you don’t agree with Ravi’s comments. Maybe you think supernatural regeneration is not a rarity at all. Maybe you see it all around you. But his comments do lead to some thoughtful introspection. Sometimes I find myself wondering why we tend to not see as much transformation As expected in the lives of professing Christians.  Here are a few thoughts:

Discipleship 

In all the evangelism that I have done, I have noticed that I come across plenty of people who profess to be Christians but are not going forward in their faith. If I meet an individual who says they are a professed believer, I always ask them where they are in the discipleship process. Many times when I ask, “Are you becoming a disciple?” I usually get the response, “What’s a disciple?”

Many are oblivious to the importance of discipleship. Therefore, I find myself exhorting hundreds of people to get rooted in congregational/community life—get back to the basics (e.g., read the Bible, prayer). I always give these individuals contact information of local churches that they can attend. It saddens me to see what is happening in the transition from the point when someone makes a professed/salvation decision for Jesus and the overall discipleship/commitment aspect to our faith.

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 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. And in a world that wants instant results, self- sacrifice is a 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.

Discipleship takes a commitment between the discipler and the one being discipled. And for those that say they don’t need discipleship I can only respond with the following:  I pity you. Sorry to be so blunt. But without discipleship, you are destined for failure. There is no such thing as a Long Ranger Christian. Also, discipleship involves a teachable spirit.  Discipleship is a life-long process. Who are you discipling? And who is discipling you?

 Forgetting Sanctification and Glorification 

Sometimes we forget that if we have come to know the Lord, we are now in the process of sanctification. That means we are not in a glorified state where we are free from sin and all the challenges of this world. Honestly, we sometimes treat Christians as if they should act as if they are in a glorified state. That means no sin, and perfect holiness. But the question is, how does God sanctify and transform us? I believe this chart is helpful.

God does transform us. But it involves our cooperation. If we are willing to yield to God, through his Word, and allow others to be involved in the process, we will change. Also, suffering and circumstances can be used to change us as well. The question is “How do we respond to God in this specific circumstance?” Note the chart mentions truth is what changes us. Truth comes though the Bible, others speaking truth to us, prayer, service, etc. But I truly believe the reason we don’t always see the transformation we want isn’t because of God. It is on us. He has given us His Spirit, the Word, community, plenty of resources (lectures, books, online resources), etc. In most cases, it is our stubborn will won’t budge. Now keep in mind, this isn’t about a formula. It is about us cooperating with God so that we might experience the change he wants for us so we can bring honor and glory to Him.  I have to be the one who prioritizes reading the Bible, being in community, praying, and doing all I can to cooperate with God. Also, remember, even if you don’t see the transformation in your own life or in others, it doesn’t mean the Gospel is false. Jesus could still have died and risen 2,000 years ago. Our actions don’t determine the facts of history. So remember, we can be transformed. But we have to do our part.

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William Lane Craig on Ben Shapiro’s Show

If you missed it, most recently,  Ben Shapiro interviewed Dr. William Lane Craig on his show. They discussed arguments for God’s existence as well as the value of religion in the current culture. At one point, Dr. Craig mentions the importance of the resurrection of Jesus and why it validates the teachings of Jesus. It is interesting that Shapiro seems to not find the resurrection very compelling.  Shapiro mentions Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1951-1994), who was the leader of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidim and was considered a modern-day tzaddik. Some of Schneerson’s followers thought and still think He is the Messiah and he will come back from the dead. Some in the Lubavitcher movement have even asserted Isaiah 53 can be used as a proof text that the Messiah will rise from the dead. Of course, this has led to great controversy. Embarrassed, many Orthodox Jews unanimously rejected any attempt to assert a resurrection proves a messianic figure is the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. What’s the point? The resurrection of a Jewish tzaddik (such as Jesus) is not foreign to Jewish thought. But Shapiro doesn’t see much value to the historical argument. He seems to be on the same page with Craig when it comes to natural theology arguments. Anyway, check it out for yourself. It is a good interview.

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“But Paul Never Met Jesus”And Other Bad Arguments About Paul On The Internet

Given that historians look to documents that are early and closest to the event at hand, Paul is an important resource for what historians can know about Jesus of Nazareth. Paul was a very competent rabbi who was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin.  Both Christian and non-Christian scholars have come to have great respect Paul. Allow me to mention a few comments here:

“Without knowing about first century Judaism, modern readers—even those committed to faith by reading him—are bound to misconstrue Paul’s writing…Paul is a trained Pharisee who became the apostle to the Gentiles.” –Alan Segal, Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), xi-xii

“Paul has left us an extremely precious document for Jewish students, the spiritual autobiography of a first-century Jew…Moreover, if we take Paul at his word—and I see no a priori reason not to—he was a member of the Pharisaic wing of first century Judaism.”–Daniel Boyarian, A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 2.

“Paul was a scholar, an attendant of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, well-versed in the laws of Torah.”-Rabbi Jacob Emeden (1679-1776)–cited by Harvey Falk, Jesus the Pharisee (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 18.

From about AD 48 until his death,  Paul wrote at least 13 of the New Testament’s books. Given that historians look to those who are contemporaries of the events, Paul is an important resource for what historians can know about Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, the earliest documents we have for the life of Jesus are Paul’s letters. So let’s take a look at the common objections to using Paul as a source for what we can and can’t know about Jesus:

The Evidence We Want:

`#1 “Paul needs to have met Jesus and hung out with him for a while before he became a follower. After all, since Paul never met the historical Jesus,  we can’t use him as a source for knowing anything about Jesus.”

#2: “I want Paul to give us some biographical details about Jesus.”

#3  “We can’t have any different writing styles or different theological emphasis in letters that were written to churches. If we do, then this means Paul didn’t write it.”

#4 “I can’t accept Paul because he is no different than Muhammad or Joseph Smith. He claimed to have some sort of revelation of Jesus.”

Let’s look at each of these objections:

#1:  “Paul needs to have met Jesus and be one of his original disciples. After all, since Paul never met the historical Jesus,  we can’t use him as a source for knowing anything about Jesus.”

This has to be one of the silliest objections of all.

As Louis Gottschalk says:

“Written and oral sources are divided into two kinds: primary and secondary. A primary source is the testimony of an eyewitness….A secondary source is the testimony source is the testimony of anyone who is not an eyewitness-that is, of one who was not present at the events of which he tells. A primary source must thus have been produced by a contemporary of the events it narrates. It does not, however, need to be original in the legal sense of the word original-that is, the very document (usually in a written draft) [autographa] whose contents are the subject of discussion-for quite often a later copy or a printed edition will do just as well; and in the case of the Greek and Roman classic seldom are any but later copies available.” (Understanding History, 53-54).

A little time line may be helpful: Remember Paul’s Letters are dated 48 A.D to 60 A.D. However, the information he receives about the death and resurrection of Jesus predate his writings.

The death of Jesus: 30 A.D.—–33A.D

Paul comes to faith between 33 and 35 A.D.

Paul’s Death: 60-65 A.D.

Temple Destroyed: 70 A.D.

I will let the reader decide whether Paul is a primary or secondary source.

Also,  just because someone didn’t directly meet the person they are writing about doesn’t automatically mean the writer can’t record accurate history about them. If we were to dismiss all writings because the author never met the person directly, we might not know much of anything in history.  Take a look at your library. Do you have any books written about people that the author actually never met? If they never met them, do you not read them or dismiss them? Once again, this is an unrealistic expectation and a gross oversimplification. Furthermore, Paul makes it clear that he knew all about the early Jesus movement. He also Paul visited Jerusalem to speak with Peter and James, each of whom are included in the list of Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:5, 7; Gal. 1:18–19). He was in contact with those who were direct eyewitnesses to the risen Messiah.

#2: “ Paul doesn’t  give us some biographical details about Jesus.”

Given Paul’s Letters are not biographies and they are predominately dealing with the needs of the community (e.g., doctrinal issues), we shouldn’t expect Paul to provide an abundance of biographical details about Jesus. In other words, since he is writing the believing communities and addressing the doctrinal issues of each community there is no need to establish historical evidence for the life of Jesus. However, we can note  Paul also recorded the following earthly features about Jesus:

1. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham the patriarch (Gal 3:16).

2. Jesus was a direct descendant of King David. This is critical to the belief that he was the Christ, the Messiah of Israel (Rom 1:3; 9:5;15:8; cf. 1Cor 15:3).

3. The mention of Jesus being “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4-5) suggests that Paul knew of and confirmed the virginal conception of Jesus. Paul’s words are in agreement with Matthew’s:

4. “Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matt 1a6). Jesus was born of the woman, Mary, not of her husband Joseph. 4. Jesus was born and lived in “poverty” (2 Cor 8:9).

5. Jesus was “born under” and lived under Jewish law (Gal 4:4).

6. Jesus had a brother named James and other brothers, unnamed.

7. Jesus had twelve disciples, to whom the risen Lord “appeared” (i Cor 15:5; cf. Mark 3:14 pars.).

8. Peter was the spokesman of the Twelve (e.g., Mark 8:27-30 pars.), a role that developed, post resurrection, into his leadership of the mission (apostole) to the circumcised in Israel (Gal 2:7-8).

9. Jesus’ manner was one of humility and meekness, agreeing with his words recorded in the Gospel, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (2 Cor. 10:1; Matt 11:29).

10. He was externally “transfigured” on a mountain (Mark 9:2; Matt 17:2), as Paul expects believers to be “transformed” inwardly (2 Co.r 3:18; cf. Rom 12:2).

11. Jesus called God “abba” (Gal 4:6; cf. Rom 8:15).

12. He ministered primarily to Israel/Jews (Rom 15:8).

13. He instituted a memorial meal on the night he was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23-25).

14. He was cruelly treated at that time (Rom 15:3).

15. He was killed by the Jews of Judea (1 Thess. 2:14-15).

16. He testified before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim 6×3).

17. His “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8) implies execution at Roman hands for treason (cf. Gal 3:1; 6:17).

18. He was buried (1 Cor. 15:4).

19. He was raised on the third day and was seen alive on a number of occasions by many witnesses, most of whom were still alive, able to confirm this (1 Cor. 15:5-7).

See Paul Barnett. Paul, Missionary of Jesus: After Jesus, Vol. 2.

 

#3:  “If Paul’s letters display different writing styles or a different theological emphasis then this means Paul didn’t write it.”

According to Bart Ehrman,

“There are seven letters that virtually all scholars agree were written by Paul himself: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians and 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. The “undisputed” letters are similar in terms of writing style, vocabulary, and theology. In addition, the issues that they address can plausibly be situated in the early Christian movement of the 40’s and 50’s of the Common Era, when Paul was active as an apostle and missionary”- Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: An Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 288.

I will defer to Darrell Bock’s treatment on those that question Pauline authorship on the rest of Paul’s Letters.  See the list of articles here.

#4: “I can’t accept Paul because he is no different than Muhammad or Joseph Smith. He claimed to have some sort of revelation of Jesus.”

The argument here is that the claim that Paul’s revelatory or visionary encounter with Jesus is no different that Mohammed and Joseph Smith. In other words, a frequent claim among world religions is that truth has been grounded in divine revelation.

In response, each revelatory claim needs to be studied in its own context. We need to ask:

1. What is the claim? 2. What is the evidence for the claim? 3. What is the religious and historical context for the claim.

Let’s look at Paul’s revelatory encounter. When we come to Galatians 1:11-12, Paul defends his ministry by discussing the manner of how he received the Gospel:

“ For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12).

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

So what is the truth? Paul says in Galatians that he received it by divine revelation. But  what about the creed in 1 Corinthians 15? How do we respond to this?  First, while we always need to look at the context of where the word “recieved” is used, in both 1 Cor. 15:3 and Galatians 1:12, the word “received” (“παραλαμβάνω”) means to receive something transmitted from someone else, which could be by an oral transmission or from others from whom the tradition proceeds. In other words, according to Paul, he did not create the Gospel story. It was something he received from another source.

So in this case, what is helpful here is to differentiate between essence and form.  Theessence of the gospel, that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Son of God, was revealed to Paul (he received it) on the life changing moment on the Damascus road. Paul realized that the Christians that he had been persecuting had been right all along about Jesus being the Messiah.

As far as the form the gospel, this includes the historical undergirding of certain events, certain phraseology used to express the new truth and doubtless many other things that were passed onto Paul by those other than him (see Carson, Moo, Morris, An Introduction To The New Testament Survey, pg 220).

Biblical apostles had to be eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 9:1; cf. 1 Cor. 15:7–8). Also, the revelation given by Mormon prophets and apostles clearly contradicts the revelation decisively (“once for all”) handed down by the first-century apostles (Jude 3). The point is that while Paul did claim to have received the Gospel by revelation, he was one of several witnesses who had seen the risen Messiah. His experience was publicly corroborated  by the other apostles.  Also, regarding whether Paul had an actual vision, see our post called “What did Paul See?” 

Furthermore, eight of the eleven witnesses left  the Mormon church or were excommunicated.

And while there is a wealth of archaeological confirmation to the Biblical record, this can’t be said for the Book of Mormon. For example, there is a story of about a Nephite civilization in the New World. But unfortunately there is no archaeological evidence to support the onetime existence of such a civilization in North America or a huge battle in New York. The National Geographic Society, in a 1998 letter to the Institute for Religious Research, stated “Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.“ (see http://irr.org/mit/national-geographic.html ). If you want to go deeper and learn more about Mormonism, this is a good place to start.

Likewise,at age 40, Muhammad began claiming to receive dreams and  revelations, but was unsure of their source. But given the fact that this is one man’s private revelation, the proof is in the pudding. For example, as my friend Wintery Knight points out here:

Consider this argument:

  1. To be a  Muslim, you must believe that the Koran is without error.
  2. The Qur’an claims that Jesus did not die on a cross. (Qur’an, 4: 157-158)
  3. The crucifixion of Jesus is undisputed among non-Muslim historians,  including atheist historians.
  4. Therefore, it is not rational for me to become a Muslim.

I’m going to support the premise that Jesus was crucified by citing historians from all backgrounds (including atheists and agnostics, Jews, and non evangelical scholars)

 “Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” Gert Lüdemann

“That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”  J.D. Crossan

“The passion of Jesus is part of history.”–Geza Vermes

Jesus’ death by crucifixion is “historically certain”–Pinchas Lapide

“The single most solid fact about Jesus’ life is his death: he was executed by the Roman prefect Pilate, on or around Passover, in the manner Rome reserved particularly for political insurrectionists, namely, crucifixion.” —Paula Fredriksen

“The support for the mode of his death, its agents, and perhaps its co-agents, is overwhelming: Jesus faced a trial before his death, was condemned, and was executed by crucifixion.” L.T. Johnson

“One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Ponitus Pilate.”— Bart Ehrman

Furthemore, the Qur’an was written some six hundred years after the life of Jesus  which makes it a much later source of information than the New Testament. It seems the evidence that has just been discussed tells us that the historical content of the Gospel (Jesus’ death and resurrection) was circulating very early among the Christian community. As I just said, historians look for the records that are closest to the date of event. Given the early date of 1 Cor. 15: 3-8, it is quite evident that this document is a more reliable resource than the Qur’an.

Note: See our suggested reading on Paul

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An Easy Way to Explain the Role of Apologetics in a Christian’s Life

For most of us in the apologetics endeavor, on many occasions I have found myself having to explain what apologetics is to my Christian friends. I have also noted elsewhere that I have had to give an apologetic for why we should see the need for apologetics. After the last election (in 2016), I  have found a very simple way to explain the role of apologetics. Given there were so many debates and so many Christians had to give reasons or justification for why they picked a specific candidate, I have used this as a springboard to explain the need for  apologetics.

I generally ask my fellow Christians if they had to give reasons for why they picked a specific candidate. They always say “yes.” Then I ask them if they have to had to ever give good reasons for why they chose a specific vocation or a specific major to study. Again, they agree they have had to do that as well. What about giving good reasons for why they picked a specific church? Or what about giving reasons for why they picked a specific spouse? Or what about giving good reasons for picking a specific place to live? Or what about giving reasons for why they follow a specific sports team? The list goes on. The point is we have had to give reasons for almost every position we have taken or choice we’ve made. In the book Good Arguments: Making Your Case in Writing and Public Speaking, the authors note the following definitions: 

  1. Argument: the process of giving a systematic account of reasons in support of a claim or belief.
  2. We use effective argumentation to defend our position as a reasonable option among various choices.
  3.  Claims and beliefs go hand in hand. For anything you believe, you can state that belief in the form of a claim

So as we’ve just noted, almost all Christians have to give reasons to support their positions/claims or choices they’ve made. Therefore, why wouldn’t a Christian see the need to give good reasons for why they think there is a God and Jesus is His Son? It seems like this issue impacts one’s view of reality. So this is a huge issue. Once I explain it this way, most Christians see the need to learn apologetics. Give it a try!

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