The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

Category Archives: Apologetics

You Raise Me Up!

 

 

Author’s book on Hitchens gets him on Fox, MSNBC

Larry blog photo.PNG

Larry Taunton, a Christian author in Birmingham [Alabama], has recently made TV appearances on the right-leaning Fox News and on the left-leaning MSNBC.

The Faith of Hitchens.jpg

Tauton’s book, released on April 12, 2016

 

Taunton’s book, ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens,’ was released on April 12, 2016.

Taunton’s new book on famous atheist Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, has gotten rave reviews from prominent atheists, and prominent Christians.

 

It’s a hot topic among liberal and conservative intellectuals.

Taunton, founder of the Christian ministry the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, became friends with Hitchens in 2008 when the bestselling atheist author of “God is Not Great” began challenging Christians to debates.

Their friendship became so close they went on two long road trips together, with Hitchens reading aloud from the Gospel of John on one of them.

As Hitchens suffered and died from esophageal cancer, Taunton believes he was giving Christianity a kind of final review. Hitchens, who was baptized as a child in the Church of England but declared himself an atheist and burned his Bible at 15, never recanted his atheism.

But Taunton believes Hitchens gained a new appreciation for evangelical Christians who actually believe the Bible. “For the first time in his life, he was engaging evangelical Christians,” Taunton said. “He found them to be different from the veneer of Christianity in Britain. When he began debating these evangelicals, he began to like them.”

Taunton finished the manuscript for “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist,” a week before a near-fatal bicycle wreck in Birmingham. Taunton was hit by a car and is still recovering.

“I’m getting better a little every day,” Taunton said in an interview with AL.com on Thursday. “They weren’t sure I would live.”

Christian speaker nearly killed in bike wreck talks faith

Christian speaker nearly killed in bike wreck talks faith

Larry Taunton, the Christian speaker who debates atheists, rode his bicycle down a hill in Birmingham three months ago on a Saturday morning and hit the grill of a car with such force that it threw him at least 15 feet into the air.

He has been well enough to make TV appearances to promote the book, which was released Tuesday. He appeared with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Monday night.

“He read the book and he loved it,” Taunton said of Matthews. “He knew Hitchens, and he liked Hitchens. He thought it was a compassionate take on friendship. I don’t know if I can write anything ever again that gets universal praise from both the left and the right. This book is getting quite a reaction. The reception has been so kind, no nice. The atheist Michael Schermer loved the book.”

As a sponsor and participant in debates between Christians and atheists, Taunton became friends with British scientist Richard Dawkins also. He recently visited Dawkins in England, since recovering from his accident. Dawkins has been recovering from a stroke.

“I could empathize with what he was feeling,” Taunton said.

The Hitchens book, published by Thomas Nelson, is already in its second press run.

“Amazon ran out two days ago,” Taunton said on Thursday. “The book has been in high demand. It’s gotten a lot of visibility.”

Hitchens did two debates in Birmingham hosted and moderated by Taunton, in 2009 and 2010. They also debated each other in Billings, Montana, then drove together to Yellowstone National Park.

“I discovered Christopher is not defined by his atheism,” Taunton said. “Atheism is a negative and you can’t build a philosophy around a negative. Christopher was searching for a unifying system of thought. They’re accusing me of saying he converted. I make no such claim. It’s not my claim that Christopher converted, it’s that Christopher was contemplating conversion. I think I substantiate it in the book.”

More than anything, Taunton said, Hitchens’ stay at Taunton’s house leading up to his first debate in Birmingham had an effect on him. “There are fans of Christopher Hitchens who think that Christopher hated people of religious belief,” Taunton said. “I know for a fact that wasn’t true.”
Hitchens met Taunton’s adopted, HIV-positive daughter, Sasha, and was deeply moved by her life and faith. “Sasha’s impact on him was huge,” Taunton said. “It’s because of her own innocence. He was powerfully moved by her, an argument he couldn’t refute… At the end of the day, the most powerful apologetic is love.”

Birmingham's Larry Taunton touts 'The Grace Effect' to counter atheist arguments

Birmingham’s Larry Taunton touts ‘The Grace Effect’ to counter atheist arguments

New book by founder of Fixed Point Foundation tells of his friendship with prominent atheist and adoption of child from Ukraine.

Hitchens appreciated integrity and people who really believed what they said they believed, Taunton said. He hated phonies, especially people who said they were Christians but secretly admitted they didn’t really believe it.

Taunton asked Hitchens after the Billings debate why Hitchens didn’t attack him personally. “He said, ‘Because you believe it. You really do believe what you’re saying. You really are in pursuit of my soul out of compassion.'”

Before Hitchens’ debate with a liberal Anglican bishop at Westminster Abbey, he told Taunton, “You’re with me on this one,” Taunton said. “Christopher had become this unlikely defender of the faith. He would defend me in front of a snarling crowd. He spoke so highly of me in a way that moved me. It mattered to Christopher that he knew he wasn’t a trophy I was pursuing. He knew I cared about him. He respected it and appreciated it. Christopher was appreciative that he knew that he mattered to me. Christopher valued friendship above ideology.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hitchens famously broke with his leftist friends and supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “After 9/11, when he became a neo-con, he found an enemy in Islamo-fascism,” Taunton said.

“One of the unifying factors with evangelicals was with Islam,” Taunton said. “Christopher could not get over the blindness of the left. He could never get beyond their willful blindness to the dangers of Islam. Christopher felt a rising alarm about Islam. I agreed with everything Hitchens said about Islam. I recognize that not every Muslim is a terrorist. But if you read the Quran and the Hadith, If you take those writings seriously, infidels must pay a tax, convert or die.”

Atheist author Christopher Hitchens battles cancer but ready to debate David Berlinski in Birmingham

Atheist author Christopher Hitchens battles cancer but ready to debate David Berlinski in Birmingham

Pair will talk on topic: “How Atheism Poisons Everything”

Taunton recalls that after Hitchen’s last debate in Birmingham, U.S. soldiers lined up to greet him afterward.

“Some veterans of Iraq were lining up to meet Christopher,” Taunton said. “Military people are generally conservative, but they loved Christopher for his defense of the man in uniform.”

In the end, Hitchens had created too big a reputation on his atheism to convert to Christianity, Taunton said.

“Christopher was in a difficult place,” Taunton said. “He’s a dying man. He asked me why I thought he didn’t convert. I said, ‘You’ve created a global reputation as an atheist, your fortune, your reputation is based on it. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to admit you were wrong. You created a prison for yourself.'”

To see the Fox News interview, click here. (It’s good!)

Article from al.com.

MSNBC interview:

 

Dr. Ehrman’s Misquoting Questions

Below my comments is a quote from a text version of Misquoting Jesus by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.

My response to his concluding questions are listed here:

In the book’s conclusion, Dr Ehrman raises some questions which can be addressed.

The scroll being worked on is upside down!

His first significant question is: “Was Jesus an angry man?” My response: Well, yes, He became incensed with what the Jewish religious hierarchy at the time had done to His law and teachings.  For, the Old Testament and the foundation of worship and who God is rests upon the Law and the Prophets.  They were Jesus’ Laws and the Prophets spoke of Him.

That He was angry is not an issue with one who can put it into context correctly. His responses and demeanor throughout His recorded life are amazing.  He is the one who gave us the Beatitudes and many other wonderful teachings. His is a model to emulate.

Read more of this post

Dr. Ehrman on the Historic Defense of Scripture

 

The following quote is taken from a text copy of Misquoting Jesus by Dr Bart D. Ehrman.

… Protestant biblical scholars were driven by the nature of their materials to reconsider and defend their understanding of the faith. They could not, of course, simply do away with the notion of sola scriptura. For them, the words of the Bible continued to convey the authority of the Word of God. But how does one deal with the circumstance that in many instances we don’t know what those words were? One solution was to develop methods of textual criticism that would enable modern scholars to reconstruct the original words, so that the foundation of faith might once again prove to be secure. It was this theological agenda that lay behind much of the effort, principally in England and Germany, to devise competent and reliable methods of reconstructing the original words of the New Testament from the numerous, error-ridden copies of it that happened to survive.

I conclude from these statements that textual criticism has saved the day.  We can reconstruct the original words of the text with some few exceptions.

 

From Atheism to Jesus Follower

I’ve covered much data from Lee Strobel in the past.  I was this piece and Christianity Today and felt it good to repost it.  Lee Strobel explains why he went from atheist to devout Christian.

Many atheists will not give him “credit” for being an atheist prior to faith.   We have many apologists in the community who were formerly opposed to the faith.   Jesus’ community has a rich tradition in that, starting with the Jew, Saul, who violently opposed Jesus and everything He stood for.

Lee Strobel, bestselling author of “The Case for Christ”, is now celebrating his 34th   Easter as a Christian. This, after spending his life prior to the book and his investigation into the reliability of Gospels as an atheist. After finding faith many years ago, he remains as convinced as ever in the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

While still an atheist, it was his background as a journalist that prompted Strobel to investigate and conduct extensive research into Christ with the help of religious and historical expert.  He originally embarked on the project to discredit the veracity of Christ’s resurrection and dissuade his recently converted wife from life as a Christian, but in the end he was the one who was powerfully converted.

“For nearly two years, I explored the minutia of the historical data on whether Easter was myth or reality. I didn’t merely accept the New Testament at face value; I was determined only to consider facts that were well-supported historically. As my investigation unfolded, my atheism began to buckle,” he recounted in an article for Stream.

One of the first pieces of evidence he gathered was actually from atheist historian Gerd Lüdemann who declared Jesus’ death by crucifixion “indisputable.” This was supported by a thorough study by A. N. Sherwin-White of Oxford, who himself cited ancient eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death.

As more evidence piled up that built the timeline for the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, Strobel recounted scholar Willian Lane Craig’s position that it would be unlikely for the story of the empty tomb to explode with no basis since its location was known to all and could have been verified by supporters of the idea and naysayers alike.

But even Jesus’ opponents said that the tomb was empty, saying that the body was taken, although there was none who had a clear motive for doing so.

“We have nine ancient sources, inside and outside the New Testament, that confirm the apostles’ conviction that they encountered the resurrected Christ. Repeatedly, these sources stood strong when I tried to discredit them. Could these encounters have been hallucinations? No way, experts told me. Hallucinations occur in individual brains, like dreams, yet Jesus appeared to groups of people on three different occasions – including 500 at once!, ” Strobel said.

In the end, Strobel, a man armed with logic,education and skepticism, was finally convinced by the overwhelming evidence laid out in front of him and he completely embraced the truth not because he was afraid of death or needed a psychological crutch but because of the facts.

“I read books by skeptics, but their counter-arguments crumbled under the weight of the historical data. No wonder atheists so often come up short in scholarly debates over the resurrection. In the end, after I had thoroughly investigated the matter, I reached an unexpected conclusion: it would actually take more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a follower of Jesus,” he said.

Read More

Related:

Stream
More Tears
Strobel
The Case for Grace

The Game of Telephone

 

In Chinese, “Whispers”

You don’t expect to find a game of Telephone in research, science or otherwise. But, that is what we get much of the time from scholars with predetermined thesis about our faith, Christianity.  I listened to a piece of discussion by Richard Carrier from a debate with William Lane Craig.

I love the road to Emmaus, the story of Jesus appearing to those on the way to Emmaus, the Emmaus Walk, anything to do with Emmaus.  Mr Carrier, in speaking about the thwarted expectations presented in the Gospel of Luke presents “facts” about the story of Jesus appearing to Cleopas biased towards concluding that the story was concocted by paralleling that account to a Roman myth.  One myth leads to another myth, right? Read more of this post

The Sixth Happiness

From IMDb:  4 Plot Summaries

  • All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward knew that China was the place where she belonged. Not qualified to be sent there as a missionary, Gladys works as a domestic to earn the money to send herself to a poor, remote village. There she eventually lives a full and happy life: running the inn, acting as “foot inspector”, advising the local Mandarin and even winning the heart of mixed race Captain Lin Nan. But Gladys discovers her real destiny when the country is invaded by Japan and the Chinese children need her to save their lives. Based on a true story.
    Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

    Read more of this post

Bart Ehrman on Importance of Books to Early Christians

The following is from a text copy of Misquoting Jesus.

Early Christian Commentaries A good deal of the debate over right belief and false belief involved the interpretation of Christian texts, including the “Old Testament,” which Christians claimed as part of their own Bible. This shows yet again how central texts were to the life of the early Christian commu- nities. Eventually, Christian authors began to write interpretations of these texts, not necessarily with the direct purpose of refuting false in- terpretations (although that was often in view as well), but sometimes simply to unpack the meaning of these texts and to show their rele- vance to Christian life and practice. It is interesting that the first Christian commentary on any text of scripture that we know about came from a so-called heretic, a second-century Gnostic named Hera- cleon, who wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John. 9 Eventually The Beginnings of Christian Scripture 29 commentaries, interpretive glosses, practical expositions, and homi- lies on texts became common among the Christian communities of the third and fourth centuries. I have been summarizing the different kinds of writings that were important to the lives of the early Christian churches. As I hope can be seen, the phenomenon of writing was of uppermost importance to these churches and the Christians within them. Books were at the very heart of the Christian religion — unlike other religions of the em-pire — from the very beginning. Books recounted the stories of Jesus and his apostles that Christians told and retold; books provided Christians with instruction in what to believe and how to live their lives; books bound together geographically separated communities into one universal church; books supported Christians in their times of persecution and gave them models of faithfulness to emulate in the face of torture and death; books provided not just good advice but correct doctrine, warning against the false teachings of others and urging the acceptance of orthodox beliefs; books allowed Christians to know the true meaning of other writings, giving guidance in what to think, how to worship, how to behave. Books were completely cen- tral to the life of the early Christians.
From Dr. Ehrman’s assessment and, of course, the assessments of other scholars, I conclude that creeds, writings and books were very important to early Jesus followers.  They used creeds, writings and books as a basis for faith in Jesus and evidence of its history.

Related:

What Should Students do with Dr. Ehrman’s Books?
Review of Misquoting Jesus
Michael Licona
Ehrman Project

 

Can a scientist believe in the resurrection?

I’m a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, and today, I am celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. So are dozens of my colleagues. How can this be?

Click here and read the three hypotheses.  The last one is funny!

 

How Do You Know Jesus Really Rose from the Dead?

Since we are coming of the celebration of Easter, I thought this article so significant.  It poses potential issues surrounding the Resurrection of Jesus and deals with the facts.

I see that oral histories are dealt with in this article.   Also that for those of us who want more data, Dr. Jones book, How We Got the Bible, is available with more extensive review of the data.

Article from TheGospelCoalition.org:

The witch’s knife plunged deep into the lion’s heart, and the majestic creature quivered and died. For a few seconds, complete silence descended on the movie theater. A slight sniffling beside me broke the stillness, and that’s when I heard my 9-year-old daughter whisper a rather profound word of wisdom to her friend.

A few months earlier, my daughter Hannah had heard the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was being adapted into a feature film. I told her she wouldn’t be allowed to see the movie until she first read the fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis. Then I added a challenge: if she read all seven books in the series before the movie’s release, I’d take her and her friend Lacey to see it on opening day. Three weeks later, Hannah had devoured all of the Chronicles of Narnia. So, on the afternoon of its release, I ended up in a packed theater with two girls, watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Read more of this post

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