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Challenge Response: A Real God Would Have Protected the Original Gospel Manuscripts

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Stand to Reason (logo)

Welcome back people of the internet.

On Wednesday, we heard this challenge from our comrades at STR:

Christians claim that God directly inspired the authors of the gospel books, even to the point of dictating each word, so as to make the text inerrant. But if God was so concerned about getting the historical record of Jesus’s ministry correct, why would he have allowed those original, and supposedly inerrant manuscripts to be lost for the generations of Christians to come? Why would he not have protected these documents to ensure there would be no ambiguity as to the ultimate truths he was trying to convey. The loss of the original manuscripts is entirely consistent with a human-inspired product, not one overseen by an unlimited deity.

The interesting thing about this challenge, is that it has assumptions about what God would do in a given situation, when those assumptions may be better explained as what the challenger would do in that situation. Additionally, the objection assumes a theory of inspiration which is held by hardly anyone today. Many objections to the truth of Christian Theism begin in this way, failing even before they are finished.

Let’s take a look at how Alan responds to this question.

How do you think Alan did in responding to the challenge? Are there any other things he could have said?

If you liked this video, have a look at www.str.org, and also STR’s YouTube channel.

Challenge: A Real God Would Have Protected the Original Gospel Manuscripts

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Stand to Reason (logo)

From our colleagues at Stand To Reason comes this challenge:

Christians claim that God directly inspired the authors of the gospel books, even to the point of dictating each word, so as to make the text inerrant. But if God was so concerned about getting the historical record of Jesus’s ministry correct, why would he have allowed those original, and supposedly inerrant manuscripts to be lost for the generations of Christians to come? Why would he not have protected these documents to ensure there would be no ambiguity as to the ultimate truths he was trying to convey. The loss of the original manuscripts is entirely consistent with a human-inspired product, not one overseen by an unlimited deity.

Is this really the case? Could God have a reason for not wanting us to have the original manuscripts today?

Answer the challenge in the comments below and check back in on Friday to see Alan’s response.

Five Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead Pt. 6: Why It Matters – Adam4d.com

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Five reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead

Over the last 5 days we have been examining 5 reasons for the resurrection as presented by Adam Ford of adam4d.com.

If you have missed any of the last 5 posts, don’t worry, take a look at Adam’s original piece.

To summarize, Adam pointed out that there are 5 good reasons to think Jesus rose from the dead namely:

  1. The Empty Tomb
  2. The Post-Mortem Appearances of Jesus
  3. The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus
  4. The Boldness of the Disciples
  5. The Explosion of Christianity

Taken in isolation, any one of these events can be explained without having to revert to non-naturalistic explanations. For example, the empty tomb could be explained by the disciples stealing the body; or the Boldness of the Disciples could be attributed to an “experience/vision” of the risen Christ.

However, taken in concert, it is hard to see how any naturalistic explanation accounts for all of these facts. Such an explanation, is a veritable “Frankenstein’s Monster” of an explanation, being neither simple, nor plausible, but rather a monstrous and freakish mishmash of doubtful and tenuous theories. In fact, such an attempt to explain the previously mentioned facts seems to betray the strongly biased presuppositions of the proposer; namely an unwillingness to entertain the thought of a non-naturalistic explanation. Without justification, such a presupposition seems arbitrary and even irrational, why not be open to the possibility of a supernatural intervention?

However, that is not the question for today. Rather, in light of the evidence we have examined together, what are the implications for us today in the 21st century. What if Jesus rose from the dead? What if he didn’t? Let us turn again to Adam, and see what He says.

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Five Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead Pt. 5: The Explosion of Christianity – Adam4d.com

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Five reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead

Welcome back, If you missed part 1, part 2, part 3 and or part 4 check them out.

Today we are looking at a 4th piece of evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as expressed by Adam Ford from adam4d.com, the spread of Christianity after the crucifixion.

If you like this comic, please check out adam4d.com, and even consider supporting Adam in what he is doing.

Tomorrow, we will conclude with why all of this matters.

Enjoy!

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Five Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead Pt. 4: The Boldness of the Disciples – Adam4d.com

Five reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead

Welcome back, If you missed part 1, part 2 and or part 3 please check them out.

Today we are looking at a 4th piece of evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as expressed by Adam Ford from adam4d.com, the boldness of the disciples who proclaimed the gospel message.

If you like this comic, please check out adam4d.com, and even consider supporting Adam in what he is doing.

Enjoy!

Read more

Five Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead Pt. 3: The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus – Adam4d.com

Five reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead

Welcome back, If you missed part 1 and or part 2 please check them out.

Today we are looking at a third piece of evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as expressed by Adam Ford from adam4d.com, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, an early persecutor of the church who became the apostle to the Gentiles.

If you like this comic, please check out adam4d.com, and even consider supporting Adam in what he is doing.

Enjoy!

Read more

Faith Refocused

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faith

What is Faith and how does it relate to the world?

Does a weak faith help people believe in things that are unlikely, and a strong faith believe in things that are truly false?

Why is it reasonable to trust God?

This video helps to answer such questions and more. Enjoy!

An Interview on “How to Be an Atheist”

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how to be an atheist

In a new video from Crossway Books, Justin Taylor sits down to talk to Mitch Stokes about his provocatively titled book How to Be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough.

Stokes was an engineer before he studied philosophy under intellectual heavyweights Wolterstorff and Plantinga. His previous book, A Shot of Faith (to the Head), expertly navigated deep philosophical and scientific waters to help readers get an understandable grasp of the rationality of theistic belief. His new book, How to be an Atheist, encourages skeptics to be more skeptical about the certainty of their skeptical beliefs. It sounds like an interesting read.

The Moral Argument

Can you be good without God?

Reasonable Faith have put out a new video explaining the moral argument:

“Can you be good without God?

See, here’s the problem: If there is no God, what basis remains for objective good or bad, right or wrong? If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

And here’s why.

Without some objective reference point, we have no way of saying that something is really up or down. God’s nature provides an objective reference point for moral values – it’s the standard against which all actions and decisions are measured. But if there’s no God, there’s no objective reference point. All we’re left with is one person’s viewpoint – which is no more valid than any one else’s viewpoint.

But the problem is – good and bad, right and wrong do exist! Just as our sense experience convinces us that the physical world is objectively real, our moral experience convinces us that moral values are objectively real. Every time you say, “Hey, that’s not fair! That’s wrong! That’s an injustice!” you affirm your belief in the existence of objective morals.”

Diamond in the rough – Why Christianity is unique

mars steps

In my previous post, we explored the falsifiability (or lack thereof) of some world religions. Here we will dive straight into the credentials of my personal favourite – Christianity.

We left off with you asking a question – How is the Christian religion any different from the others? Wasn’t Christianity founded by a solitary, subjective figure ? Didn’t Jesus claim to hear directly from ‘The Father’? Isn’t he also circularly impervious to the attacks of the enemy?

Yes, Christianity is founded on one man, claiming to be God. And yes, he does command your trust by virtue of him being God and owning you.  So far, so circular. The differences become clear when you take a look at the biblical authors approach to this issue. Rather than falling back on their divine authority and declaring “Believe, because I said so”, like Muhammad, the Buddha, and Joseph Smith, the biblical authors say, “Take a look for yourself”. Christianity invites investigation.

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul addresses the bodily resurrection of Jesus to a culture steeped in pagan philosophy and mythology. See Paul’s words below:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for the 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. (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)

Paul is reminding the Corinthian church of the basic theological foundation that he lay when he was ministering in Corinth – in fulfilment of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was murdered, buried, and resurrected to claim a people for himself. The Corinthians didn’t have hearsay and rumours to go on with these claims, but actual witnesses of the events. While some of them had fallen asleep (died), others lived and continued to shine as beacons of testimony. Paul’s appeal to eyewitnesses to solidify the flesh-and-blood resurrection of Jesus from the tomb mirrors that of the Gospel writers. Frequently in their accounts, names of seemingly inconsequential people are given to add some extra oomph to the eyewitness accounts. To put it another way – “If you don’t believe me, go ask this guy.”

Paul goes a step further in the following section of his letter:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 

If Christ has not been raised, you faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

If in Christ we have hope for this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17, 19)

Let me try to put this in an even more provocative way – if Christ was not raised from the dead, then Christianity is pointless. Did you hear that? You are of all people most to be pitied if you have given your life for a cause still six feet under. If you are of the persuasion who thinks that even if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the Christian life is still worth living because of the “family values and strong morals” it breeds, go for it. But don’t call it Christianity. As for me, I am going to eat, drink (a lot), and be merry, for tomorrow I die.

By staking the the future of the Christian religion on an historical event that did not happen in a corner, the biblical authors willingly opened themselves up to scrutiny in a way that no other religion has or ever will. While the followers of Muhammad, Buddha, and Joseph Smith point to their leaders’ enlightened, mystical authority as unquestionable proof, the Christian bases their Leader’s authority by pointing to an empty tomb and saying, “Take a look for yourself”

Thinking matters – Shame on His Name

Welcome to the final instalment in my series on why thinking matters greatly in the life of the Christian. In part 1 of the series, we looked at the spiritual malnourishment that Christians put themselves through to avoid the ‘lifeless endeavour’ that is theology (or, putting-God-in-a-box-ology). We learnt that the Bible creates a vital link between thinking and spiritual health. Part 2 expanded this intellectual famine out into the watching world – theologically starved Christians do not tend to provide a stimulating case for belief. And now, in part 3, we face the consequence of these two errors.

To put it bluntly– thinking matters because not thinking dishonours God and is therefore, a sin. Few professing Christians would be comfortable with the idea of bringing God’s name into disrepute, yet fewer seem to have made the connection between glorifying God (making Him look great) and engaging in the life of the mind.

A disdain for thinking in the Christian life is not merely a spiritual boo-boo, but a brazen refusal to live and love God in the way that He has prescribed. When Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37) he was in effect saying, “Love me with all of your being. Love me in all the ways I have created you.” Never—in Jesus’ mind or in Scripture—is there a splitting of head and heart; they are always meant to go together. 1

Christians (and humanity in general) tend to concentrate on the activity of their hearts and hands – on what they are feeling and doing. We are hard-coded doers. Value is rarely attributed to thoughts or beliefs, but rather to desires and deeds. Few think about their thinking. What I have aimed to achieve in writing these articles is not for Christians to forsake the pursuit of devoted hearts and generous hands, but for the correct paradigm to be restored. Truth enters through the gateway of the mind, is accepted, believed and treasured, and then the rest of the body follows suit, instinctively obeying. This is demonstrated with the following adage:

Head > Heart > Hands. 2

Removing or rearranging any component in this progression will cause the whole thing to collapse. Only with all three in the correct order is the Christian able to live in a way that brings glory to God’s name. The very fact that God ordained His words of eternal life to be written down in a physical book shows us that He first aims to take our minds as willing captives before wooing the rest of our being.

Conclusion

Just like every other sin, Christian anti-intellectualism brings shame to God’s name and is worthy of punishment. We can’t blame our lack of thinking on our culture, our brains, or just try to pretend it isn’t important. The Bible is clear and it will not alter its wording for you. The natural response here should be to mourn.

However, there is one more glaring similarity to all other sins – it is not beyond the all-encompassing reach of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on that cross, he bore the punishment for every sin that his people had and would commit, including the sin of anti-intellectualism. I don’t know about you, but that glorious gift of grace makes me want to exercise my intellect so I can learn even a touch more about this beautiful God who saves.


1. “The Church Needs Philosophers and Philosophers Need the Church” Paul Gould, The Gospel
Coalition (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-church-needs-philosophers-and-
philosophers-need-the-church), accessed on 11 October 2014

2. This wee maxim has been borrowed from David Murray’s blog of the same name.

Towards Belief Launched in New Zealand

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Towards Belief

Karl FaaseThis high quality Australian produced resource has been launched in New Zealand and Thinking Matters is proud to partner with the producers – Olive Tree Media – to promote it throughout the country.

This ten-episode DVD series follows Australian pastor and host, Karl Faase as he travels the world and interviews over 30 leading authors and speakers about the top “belief blockers” of our time.  It is designed for both a wide audience and church groups, intending to attract both Christian and non-Christian viewers equally.

Contributors include John Lennox, Os Guinness, Richard Swinburne, Michael Ramsden, Amy Orr-Ewing and John Dickson – along with many others.

Topics

The ten half-hour episodes include the following topics:

  1. Suffering: Presents both an intellectual and personal response to the issues posed by the existence of suffering.
  2. The Bible: Looks at whether what the Bible contains is historically accurate and can be trusted.
  3. Supernatural: Explores belief in the supernatural and looks at a specific case where it seems that supernatural intervention is undeniable.
  4. Religious Violence: Explores whether Christianity, as a religious worldview, causes wars, atrocities and genocides. How does the Church respond to this charge?
  5. Exclusive Faith: Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the only way to God is viewed as arrogant, intolerant and a significant blocker to personal belief. In this episode, guests give plausible reasons for the Christian worldview.
  6. Church Abuse: Abuse scandals, particularly in relation to children, have rocked the Church, leaving it open to the charge of hypocrisy.
  7. Science & God: Eminent and experienced scientists explain how and why they can have scientific credentials from the world’s leading universities, as well as having a Christian faith.
  8. Homosexuality: In this episode we look at the Biblical view on homosexuality and what is the Christian response in the current social environment.
  9. The Church: There is a public perception that the Christian Church is dying. We talk with leaders who are seeing the Church grow and they give their perspective on the future of the Church.
  10. Towards Belief: In the end, there is still a step of faith to be taken. This episode looks back over the personal stories of some of the guests and seeks to clarify that choice.

For a more in-depth outline of each episode, drill down on each from this page.

Thinking Matters Involvement

This series will become a long term strategic resource for Thinking Matters as we seek to equip the New Zealand Church with accessible and high quality training to help us make a sincere and clear defence for the Christian worldview.

We envision the resource being used in several ways:

Community Outreach Events

We would like to see churches promoting screenings of the series throughout their communities – to see people becoming more open to the Gospel through them.

Do you want to run an event at your church for your community? Talk to us for help and advice with promotion.

Home Groups / Small Groups

We would like to see Church leadership and discipleship programs promote this resource within churches for use in home-groups and small-group discipleship.

Do you have a home-group who might be interested in viewing this? Talk to us for advice.

Curriculum Development & Christian Schools

We would like to see individual episodes being used as components in wider curriculum and training programs in apologetics and worldview subjects at theological colleges and Christian schools.

Are you associated with training, a tertiary institute or a Christian school?  Review individual episodes here for suitability of use within your curriculum.

Purchase

You can purchase the full set for $59.95 (free freight) from Life Resources in Christchurch, or rent or buy for download individual episodes directly from the Towards Belief website here.

The full DVD set also comes with an 80-page Discussion Guide – and key quotes for each episode can also be downloaded from here.