Can You Defend What You Believe?

Can You Defend What You Believe?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Swordplay

Many years ago, when I was in college, I took some fencing classes. No, not courses that teach you how to string barbed wire across your property, but lessons that instruct on swordplay. The class started with the foil, expanded to an epee, and finally, the saber. With some martial arts experience under my belt, I felt I had a slight advantage over some other beginning students. 

Several months down the road, I participated in a local college tournament and earned 2nd place after losing to a young woman in her late 20s. I had a 6-inch reach advantage over her and was as fast as she was, but she had more experience and knew some techniques I was unprepared for. 

I remember being frustrated because I could not score on her, and in my frustration, I moved in closer to press the attack, which is when she would often score. Finally, a few minutes later, she won the match.

Fleche

Fleche is a fencing term that is an explosive attack, ideally unexpected, to take your opponent off guard. So often, in conversations, we give away our advantages by making statements or claims we might have difficulty backing up if we don’t have the knowledge, background, or experience. So many Christians feel the pressure to be bold and evangelize their faith and are called to do so, but the truth is they hope no one will ask them any difficult questions they can’t answer. Then when questions start flying, they’re at a loss on what to say or how to respond. 

It should be obvious you don’t want to make any claims you can’t back up. 

Understandably, most Christians are not vocal about their faith for fear of offending or sounding silly when they can’t explain why they believe what they believe. 

Years ago, a co-worker Jennifer, who knows I enjoy blogging on apologetics and wrestling with tough questions, asked me about the crucifixion. She explained that someone asked her why Jesus was buried in a tomb. When the Romans crucified someone, they were thrown into an open grave or pit. In other words, why was Jesus so special? What made him an exception? What a good question; it does sound somewhat contrived, this whole placed-in-a-tomb-story followed by a resurrection claim.

Listen and Clarify

My initial response to her was to ask how he (her friend) knew that no one was buried in a tomb after being crucified? How did he come to that conclusion? That places the burden of proof on him, not because you are trying to avoid having to respond or that you don’t know the answer, but because you honestly want to know. 

We can’t expect to know all the answers to questions skeptics may ask, and it is essential to be honest when asked something you can’t answer. If you don’t know the answer, tell them. At the same time, when you ask someone how they came to that conclusion or what evidence they have for their reasoning, you may learn something in return. They may have good reasons for their claims, and you want to hear them. What is wrong with hearing their reasons? Nothing, and at worse, you will learn something. Not only from them, but if you then go home and research an answer, you will be better prepared to respond the next time someone asks you.

I had not heard that particular push-back before, and other than pointing out that Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy and a follower of Jesus who asked for his body so he could put Jesus in a tomb, Matthew 27:57, I would not have had anything else to add. So I went home and began my research for a blog post. What I found out surprised me, and maybe it will surprise you, too.

Crucifixions

History is unclear on who invented the crucifixion, but most historians believe it was the Persians. Romans crucified enemies for about 600 years, from 300 B.C. until the Roman emperor Constantine outlawed them in 337 A.D. One of the more famous accounts would be the slave uprising led by Spartacus in 73 B.C. After overpowering the Roman guards, the gladiators and slaves escaped from a gladiator school in Capua. The slave army expanded while pillaging the countryside and won several battles against the Romans until Spartacus and his army were trapped between two Roman legions with a 3rd soon to arrive. In 71 B.C., Spartacus and his army were defeated. Of those captured (over 6000) were crucified along the road from Capua to Rome, over 100 miles in length.((Czeck, Kenneth P. “Ancient History: Spartacus and the Slave Rebellion.” HistoryNet, historynet.com, n.d., http://www.historynet.com/spartacus.htm))

The ancient historian Josephus has multiple accounts of crucifixions; for example, Alexander Jannaeus, the Maccabean king, crucified hundreds while dining with his concubines. Varus, a Roman commander in Syria, crucified over 2000 Jews. Josephus even reported that during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Romans crucified up to 500 Jews a day until they ran out of timber in the surrounding countryside.((Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print.))

With crucifixion such a common practice for centuries, you would expect there to be an overflowing amount of skeletal evidence for this practice. But unfortunately, besides the multiple ancient historical accounts (Josephus is only one of many), we only have one archaeological piece of evidence, which happens to have been found in a tomb.

His name was Yehohanan, a young man in his mid-twenties who, around the time of Christ, did something to offend the Romans. For this offense, he was crucified. Because he was from a wealthy family, he was placed in a tomb, and after a year his bones were gathered together and then placed in a stone box called an ossuary. Two thousand years later, in 1968, a Jewish archeologist made the discovery, which is now on display in a museum in Israel.((Friedman, Matti, “In a stone box, the only trace of crucifixion.” The Times of Israel, timesofisrael.com, 26 March 2012, http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-a-stone-box-a-rare-trace-of-crucifixion/))

Why is there little Evidence for the Crucifixions?

The reasons for the lack of evidence are not necessarily apparent at first but substantial when you give it some consideration. First, nearly all crucified were not placed in a tomb but tossed into an open grave or left for animals to devour.

Second, it is a Jewish custom not to leave someone hanging up overnight, and often the bodies were taken down after several hours by the Jews. Deuteronomy 21:22-23. The bones would be scattered over time with little evidence remaining, and often they were criminals (at least in the view of Romans) and were not placed in tombs.

Third, injuries were often through soft tissue, not piercing bones, but if the bones were damaged, it would be difficult to tell from damage animals may have caused by gnawing on the bones. And not all who were crucified were nailed; some were just tied to the cross. 

Finally, crucifixion nails were considered magical or held special healing properties and were often collected when found. Consequently, the hardiest, longest-lasting evidence was often removed from the location of the crucifixion. The wooden crosses and the victims themselves would not last centuries, unlike the nails used.((Killgrove, Kristina. “This Bone Is The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World.” Forbes, forbes.com, 8 December 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2015/12/08/this-bone-provides-the-only-skeletal-evidence-for-crucifixion-in-the-ancient-world/#10012eee403c))

I find it ironic that the claim, “No one crucified was ever buried in a tomb,” is not only false but the ‘only’ physical evidence we have for the ancient practice of crucifixion was found in a tomb of someone who was crucified.

Why Apologetics?

What you just read is an example of apologetics in action. Do you know what apologetics is? Apologetics is not apologizing for your faith – it is defending your faith. It stems from the Greek word apologia and means a verbal defense. Christians should be able to defend verbally why they are a Christian.

If someone asks you why you are a believer, can you give them reasons or evidence? Unfortunately, many Christians pull the experiential card, often based on feelings, emotions, and first-person experiences. Not to say those shared experiences don’t move others, but even the Mormons speak of a ‘burning in the bosom’ as a confirmation of their faith. If that is all two opposing views can offer, they seem to cancel one another out in my opinion. 

Why should a church engage in apologetics? Why should pastors teach apologetics? Why should youth groups be exposed to apologetics? There are several reasons:

  • 1 Peter 3:15
  • It builds the faith of believers. 
  • It feeds certain congregation members who may be more evidentially minded in their faith.
  • It prepares youth to hear arguments, reasoning, and conclusions counter to their faith. The first time they listen to claims counter to their belief should be before they move away.
  • Those who are confident in their answers are more willing to engage the culture and move beyond their comfort zone of fellow believers in conversation.

Your Style of Evangelism

I recently finished a book titled “Contagious Faith” by Mark Mittelberg. Mittelberg describes five styles of evangelism, and most of us favor one or two of the styles he describes. Not all of us are bible-thumping street evangelists, and to push some in that direction when it is not their natural style of evangelism can be a massive turn-off to sharing their faith. 

Mittelberg also recognizes it is not just a matter of having answers but a spiritual battle. “You see, helping people come to Christ is not just a matter of giving them good information or answers to their questions and objections. Neither is it just about being passionate or persuasive-though all of these can be important. It is, at bottom, a spiritual struggle that is being fought at an unseen level…”1

I recommend Contagious Faith for anyone curious about their natural style of sharing the good news. But no matter what your style of evangelism is, knowing what you believe and why you believe it is essential. 

Whether or not you want to admit it, you are walking the streets with a sword hanging from your hip. You are walking by others who are also armed. These swords are not called foils, epee’s, or sabers but by the more familiar names of explanation, ideas, reasons, evidence, justifications, beliefs, assertions, faith, and truth. 

When someone makes a truth claim, and you cross swords, you have two choices and only two choices. Learn from the experience, sharpen your skills, or remain the same; no better swordsman than you were before you engaged them. Which kind will you be?

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Can You Defend What You Believe? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached by God to Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Reflective, 2021 pg16 []
Was Jesus a Real Person in History?

Was Jesus a Real Person in History?

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Above image by floyd99 from Pixabay

My daughter-in-law Annie posted on Facebook about the historicity of Jesus. Addressing the question if Jesus was a ‘real’ historical figure or simply a myth or legend that developed over time so the early church could gain power and influence.

One of the comments on her Facebook page was they had never heard of such a thing. That is, questioning if Christ was a real historical character. I smiled when I read that because it is a common claim online in the atheist and skeptic circles I visit occasionally.

I decided to take a look online to see what I could find. After a quick search, I found a Washington Post article by Raphael Lataster who lectures at the University of Sydney. Below is a clip of his article I wanted to address.

“The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith. These early sources compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism of their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify. Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.”1

Wow, what do you say to something like that? So many claims and assertions that undermine what we believe to be true. Of course many think the only sources we have about Jesus are in the scriptures and those can’t be trusted. The best way to tackle a series of claims like this is to break it down into smaller pieces. Let’s parse this out.

Lataster says, “The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith.”2

Lataster is making a claim but does not back it up with any evidence and is dismissive of what evidence there is. In fact, the early sources are significant. Let’s look at the Gospel of Mark which most scholars agree it is the earliest written of all the Gospels.

Documents outside the Bible state that Mark was an eyewitness account of the apostle Peter. An early church bishop, Papias, born around 70 A.D., wrote that Mark was an interpreter of Peter and accurately put down what was remembered. Irenaeus, who was a student of Polycarp, who in turn was a student of the apostle John, said, “Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”1 Clement of Alexandria, another early church father, said those who heard Peter’s teachings asked Mark to write them down so they could study, share, and pass the instruction from Peter on orally.3

If Mark and the other gospels were written hundreds of years later, then some elements particular to Mark would not be present. Let me explain.

Mark, by all accounts, was close to Peter. He not only acted as a scribe and interpreter at times for Peter; he was a close friend and confidant. Because of their close relationship, the Gospel of Mark has some peculiarities that indicate this close relationship. Had the gospels been written hundreds of years later, those peculiarities would not be present.

For example, Mark often paid Peter respect and significant prominence compared to the other gospel writers. For example, Mark referred to Peter 26 times, and Matthew, in his much longer account, 29 times. Keep in mind that Matthew has 28 chapters while Mark had 16, and the total number of verses for Mark is 678, while Matthew had 1,071.4

Mark also avoided some of Peter’s more embarrassing moments. Do you remember Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water like Jesus was doing? Matthew 14:22-33 It is interesting that Mark does not even mention Peter’s attempt. Mark 6:45-52 Another example is when Luke describes the miraculous catch of fish on the sea of Galilee. Luke 5:1-11 Peter says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (NKJV) In Mark’s version, Mark 1:16-20 this is omitted.5

There are other examples of this where Mark omits Peter’s name and instead uses ‘the disciples’ for various accounts. This aspect of favoring Peter and attempts to save him some embarrassment would not be present had the Gospel of Mark been written by someone other than a close and personal friend of the Apostle Peter.

Lataster also writes, “These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them.”

Lataster claims the New Testament events were compiled long after the life of Christ, and they were written by Christians which gives us reason to doubt their validity before we even get out of the gate. Do we dismiss research and accounts of astronauts concerning NASA because they are astronauts? That kind of thinking is silly and points to the obvious bias held by Lataster. To dismiss the historical validity of scripture because it was written by Christians would mean we should dismiss the accounts of every religion written by its adherents.

But I will not defend that, rather let’s look at the non-Christian sources concerning the life of Christ.

Anyone who is familiar with biblical history has heard of Flavius Josephus, (ca. 37- ca. 100). He was a historian for the Roman Emperor Domitian. Josephus wrote, “At this time [the time of Pilate] there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive, according he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”6 This is coming from a Jew who became a Roman and had nothing to gain from promoting Jesus and His life.

Pliny the Younger was a Roman senator and lawyer in Rome. He was a prolific letter writer and we have copies of most of his writings. In one of his letters, he was asking for advice on how to deal with Christians who refused to deny Christ. He wrote, “They had met regularly before dawn on a determined day, and sung antiphonally a hymn to Christ as if to a god. They also took an oath not to commit any crime, but to keep from theft, robbery, and adultery, not to break any promise, and not to withhold a deposit when reclaimed.”7

I mention the Pliny example, (one of many outside the New Testament) to point out the durability of eyewitness testimony decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Romans considered Christianity nothing more than a cult, yet despite frightful persecution, it was growing and spreading all over the Mediterranean and into Rome. Pliny the Younger would give Christians three chances to deny Christ, yet time and time again they would refuse and he would have them taken away to be executed.

Finally in the first 150 years after the birth of Christ, if we include Josephus, we have ten non-Christian writers who mention Jesus in their works. Looking at and then piecing together what the non-Christian sources say about Jesus we have the following list:

  • Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
  • He lived a virtuous life.
  • He was a wonder-worker.
  • He had a brother named James.
  • He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
  • He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
  • He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
  • Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
  • His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
  • His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
  • Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
  • His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.8

Lataster continues, “The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify.”

He is right, none of the authors of the Gospels name themselves. It is only in the book of John that there is any suggestion to the author. The author says it is someone whom Jesus loved. John 21:24

Nevertheless, there are context clues throughout scripture that suggest who they may be and we have church traditions which should not be outrightly dismissed.

Starting with the book of Matthew some of the arguments in favor of his authorship are:

  • Papias mentioned that Matthew had composed an account.
  • It is organized in a way that a tax collector would likely write.
  • Matthew’s account talks about gold and silver 28 times. The author also has parables about money that the other Gospels don’t.
  • The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew says, “And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” In Luke it says, “Forgive us our sins…”
  • The early church ascribed the book to Matthew. 9

The early church almost unanimously agreed that Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark and other church authors claimed the same, including Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Jerome. 10

Who wrote Luke? Again the early church fathers name Luke as the author of Luke and Acts. It is in Pauls letters we find out that Luke was a doctor. Most scholars believe that Luke and Acts were written by the same person. Both Luke and Acts had very similar writing styles, both were addressed to Theophilus, and both expressed the same theology. 11

Who wrote John? This gospel claims to be written by an eyewitness, he was likely Jewish because many of the events he described were attached to dates significant in Jewish culture. He also describes events that would only be accessible to an eyewitness. For example the number of Jars in John 2:6; how long the man in Bethesda had been a cripple, John 5:5; the name of the man that had his ear chopped off by Peter, John 18:10; and the number of fish caught in Galilee, John 21:11. 12

Finally, Lataster writes, “Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.”

He assumes the Gospels are mythical and I have addressed that in another post. Horus vs. Jesus so I will not touch on that any further. http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/2015/05/16/horus-vs-jesus/

Virtually all scholars consider Luke’s account historical. Even a 5th grader could see that.

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4

Eyewitnesses, account, investigated, orderly, draw, carefully, certainly, are just a few of the words he uses to make clear he is giving us history, and to suggest they are non-historical is foolishness. Not only that he addresses it to a specific person for the specific reason of giving him assurance and confidence in what he has been taught concerning Christ.

If you were to read the whole article by Lataster he is dismissive of Bart Ehrman who thinks it is foolishness to claim that Jesus was not a real person in history. Bart Ehrman is one of the most respected New Testament textual critics alive today and is no friend to Christians.

In his book Misquoting Jesus Bart Ehrman wrote about his mentor Bruce Metzger and the reliability of the New Testament, “Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” 13

Jesus was a real figure in history. Persecution, torture, and death awaited those who were “eager to promote Christianity” as Lataster put it. To suggest it was done for wealth, power, and influence is absurd. Not only can Jesus be found outside the scriptures, but the claims about Him within the scriptures can also be trusted. Those that wrote about Him had nothing to gain and everything to lose. All but John lost their lives for sharing the gospel and that is not much of a vocational perk.

Sources:
1. Lataster, Rapohael. “Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.” Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, 18 December. 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/18/did-historical-jesus-exist-the-traditional-evidence-doesnt-hold-up/
2. Ibid.
3. Irenaeus. The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writing of the Fathers down to A.D.325. Eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885. Print.
4. Just, Felix. “New Testament Statistics” Catholic Resources. Catholic-resources.org, 2 Sept. 2005. Web. 17 June 2015.
5. Wallace, James Warner. Cold-Case Christianity. Colorado Springs: David C Cook Publishing, 2013. Print.
6. Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print.
7. Van Voorst, Robert, Jesus Outside the New Testament, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000. Print.
8. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Crossway, 2004. Print.
9. “Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?” Zondervan Academic, zondervanacademic.com, 20 September 2017. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels/
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ehrman, Bart. “Appendix” Misquoting Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, 2007, p.252.

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Was Jesus a Real Person in History? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Today on November 8th

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Every day at school I am asked questions. Some of the questions I know the answers to, usually because they have to do with the lesson I am teaching and the answer comes without any effort on my part. Others may require a bit of computation, and with a little work, my students and I are able to find the answer.

Other types of questions, history questions, may not involve the use of pencils and calculators, but reading. Like the math questions, I may know the answers to the history question because I have read about it before the lesson. Other history questions may require research on my part. Fact checking you might call it, a differing kind of effort than doing math. Research involving reading the work of others, and then comparing it to what you have heard, what you have read, what you have experienced, and if it fits your understanding of how the real world is.

Next week, my students have a history term paper due. Their work will require reading what others have written on their particular topic. For example, if a student was writing a paper on the Christian evangelist Billy Graham, or the Nazi Heinrich Himmler, or why bananas are yellow, I expect them to have looked up information on the Internet, in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or to have interviewed someone about their topic. I also require my students to list in a bibliography, their sources. I want to know that they have not just made up the information in their term paper, but have read the work and research of others.

If a student writes a paper telling me that Billy Graham was a Nazi, I would question this because everything I have heard or read tells me Billy Graham was an Christian evangelist who lead untold thousands to Christ. I would then want to look into the student’s sources, to see how credible they are.

If a student told me that Heinrich Himmler was a Nazi and was responsible for building the extermination camps, and the slaughter of millions during World War II, I would not question this because it substantiates all that I have heard or read of Himmler.

If I student wrote a paper telling me bananas are yellow because yellow is the favorite color of the banana fairy, and all fruits have their own fairy who decide what color the fruit should be, I would think he or she has lost touch with reality. It goes against all that I have heard or read or ever experienced in my world. The truth is that bananas turn yellow because, as they ripen, the green pigment of chlorophyll is destroyed and replaced with yellow, which has nothing to do with fairies. There is your science for the day.

Peter Kreeft wrote, “So our faith does not begin with the Bible. But the Bible records the realities, the real events, that are the basis of our faith.” 1 It is not written by a single author over a period of 23 years like the Koran, but multiple authors over thousands of years. Thirty nine books in the Old Testament, and twenty seven books or letters in the New Testament. 2 Several authors in the New Testament recorded historical events and were witness to those events.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the 500 plus witnesses who have seen Christ after the crucifixion. He named not only the apostles, but Christ’s own brother James, and himself as a witness to his resurrection. John ends his letter by witnessing to the accounts he recorded. In 1 John, the author opens with his own witness of having seen, heard, and touched Christ. The Bible has multiple authors who confirm each others testimony, and if you doubted their accounts you could check it out with other witnesses.

Many who dismiss the Bible do so because they have heard it can’t be trusted. Some claim it was written hundreds of years later, and is about a man called Jesus we don’t even know existed. You may have heard Christ is not even mentioned outside the Bible, and it is simply not true. The evidence for the truth of scripture is overwhelming.

The Bible is not a self referencing book. The Bible is not true because the Bible claims it is true; the Bible is true because it is the inspired word of God and what is written within can be checked by other sources. The Koran for example, is a self referencing book to its truth. The Koran is true because Muhammad says it is true, and Muhammad speaks truth because the Koran says he does.

The Bible is not a science book, but some things in the Bible have been confirmed by science. In his book, Because God is Real, Peter Kreeft wrote, “The Bible does, however, speak about real people, places, and events. It makes many claims about historical events that can be checked out by science – more than any other religious book does. Other religious books, like the scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam, mention very few historical events. They teach timeless theological truths, (or, perhaps, falsehoods), and moral principles and speak of private religious and mystical experiences, but science can’t prove or disprove any of those…”3

Think about how the Bible can be researched for truth more than any other religious document. The book of Mormon for example, was written in 1827 by Joseph Smith, who translated it from golden plates that were given to Smith by the angel Moroni. 4 The plates have never been found. In India, Sikhism was founded in the 1400’s and had ten successive gurus, each adding to their religious scriptures. One of their beliefs is that all religions are equally true and can lead to God, or Ik Onkar, the soul of the universe. So, if the Muslims believe Jesus was just a man, and Christians believe He is the Son of God, who is right? All religions can’t be true.

All the authors of the New Testament are witness’s to the claims and testimony of the other authors. They worked, slept, ate, and traveled together with the sole purpose of sharing the news of Christ and what He has done for us. With the exception of John, it is likely all of them were martyred for their outspoken faith. Michael Patton wrote in his article, “This may sound odd, but I thank God for bringing about the apostles’ deaths. They sealed their testimony in the blood of martyrdom, providing a firm foundation for our faith in the risen Christ.” 5

It is true that martyrdom does not make a religion true. Even the 911 terrorists killed themselves for what they thought was true. The significant difference was the apostles were martyred for what they were a witness to, what they knew to be true. All others, throughout the centuries, who have been willing to give their life to their religion, gave it because it was what they believed was true.

So if I told you that both Billy Graham and Heinrich Himmler were born on November 8th, (today’s date as I write this), and both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, and both enjoyed fencing, would you believe all of it? None of it? Some of it? Well, they both were born on today’s date of November 8th. Both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, but it was only Himmler who enjoyed fencing.

It might be interesting to know what is similar about the lives of those two men; two lives whose paths went completely different directions, but there are better questions to ask. Questions, when asked and answered, can change your world view and how you live your life.

Sources:

  1. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  2. “About The Bible.” Christian Answers. Films For Christ, 2014. Web. 7 November 2014.
  3. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  4. “How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible?” Mormon.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2014. Web. 8 November 2014.
  5. Patton, Michael C. “What Happened to the Twelve Apostles? How Do Their Deaths Prove Easter?” Reclaiming The Mind. Reclaimingthemind.org, 10 April 2009. Web. 8 November 2014.

 

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Today on November 8th by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/category/blog/.

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