The Good News

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

Tag Archives: apologetics

The Case for Christ

I read The Case for Christ many years ago and other Strobel books.  From the book you can see that Lee was searching and did exhaustive interviews all across the country(USA) and maybe some abroad.  Bishop Barron has done the best summary of the book and the new movie out on Lee Strobel’s search and what he found.  I’ve included the article from wordonfire.org below and hope you enjoy it.

The Case for Christ is a film adaptation of Lee Strobel’s best-selling book of the same name, one that has made an enormous splash in Evangelical circles and beyond. It is the story of a young, ambitious (and atheist) reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who fell into a psychological and spiritual crisis when his wife became a Christian. The scenes involving Lee and his spouse, which play out over many months of their married life, struck me as poignant and believable—and I say this with some authority, having worked with a number of couples in a similar situation. In some cases, a non-believing spouse might look upon his partner’s faith as a harmless diversion, a bit like a hobby, but in other cases, the non-believer sees the dawning of faith in his beloved as something akin to a betrayal. This latter situation strongly obtained in the Strobel’s marriage.

In order to resolve the tension, Lee used his considerable analytical and investigative skills to debunk the faith that was so beguiling his wife. The focus of his inquiry was, at the suggestion of a Christian colleague at the Tribune, the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus didn’t rise, his friend explained, Christianity crumbles like a house of cards. The narrative unfolds, then, as a kind of detective story, Strobel hunting down leads, interrogating experts, asking the hard questions.

I liked this for a couple of reasons. First, at its best, Christianity is not fideist, that is to say, reliant upon a pure and uncritical act of faith on the part of its adherents. Rather, it happily embraces reason and welcomes critical questions. Secondly, and relatedly, Christianity is a stubbornly historical religion. It is not a philosophy (though it can employ philosophical language), nor is it a spirituality (though a spirituality can be distilled from it); rather, it is a relationship to an historical figure about whom an extraordinary historical claim has been made, namely, that he rose bodily from the dead.

Now especially in recent years, many attempts have been made to mitigate the scandal of this assertion. Jesus was a great moral exemplar, a powerful teacher of spiritual truth, an inspiring man of God—and it doesn’t particularly matter whether the reports of resurrection are factually accurate. Indeed, it is probably best to read them as mythic or symbolic. To all of that, classical Christianity says no. It agrees with Lee Strobel’s colleague: if the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity should be allowed to fall onto the ash heap of history. Therefore, watching our intrepid investigator go about his work is, for a true Christian, thrilling, precisely because the questions are legitimate and something is very really at stake.

So what were his inquiries? First, he wondered whether the resurrection stories were just fairy tales, pious inventions meant to take away our fear of death. But he learned that, in point of fact, many people claimed to have seen Jesus after his crucifixion, including five hundred at once. Moreover, most of the leaders of the early Church went to their deaths defending the legitimacy of what they taught. Would anyone do that for a myth or a legend of his own invention?

But another question came to his mind: might they all have been victims of a mass hallucination? A psychologist patiently explained that waking dreams are not shared by hundreds of people at different times and different places. “If hundreds of individuals had the same hallucination, that would be a greater miracle than the resurrection,” she informed him with a smile.

But what about the reliability of the Christian texts themselves? Weren’t they written long after the events described? A Catholic priest, who is also an archeologist and specialist in ancient manuscripts, told him that the number of early copies of the Christian Gospels far surpasses that of any other ancient text, including the Iliad of Homer and the Dialogues of Plato.

What about the “swoon theory,” according to which Jesus did not really die on the cross but only lost consciousness, only to be revived sometime later? A Los Angeles based physician detailed for him the brutal process of a Roman execution, which resulted in the victim slowly bleeding to death and asphyxiating. The swoon theory, the doctor concluded, “is rubbish.”

At each stage of the process, Strobel continued to wonder, question, balk, and argue, all the time maintaining the default position that Christianity is bunk. Nevertheless, it was becoming clear that the relentlessness of the counter-arguments and their stubborn congruence with one another was wearing him down. This made me think of John Henry Newman’s famous account of how we come to religious assent. It is very rarely by virtue of one clinching argument, Newman said, but rather through the slow, steady confluence of inference, hunch, intuition, experience, the witness of others, etc. This convergence of probabilities, under the aegis of what Newman called the “illative sense,” customarily leads the mind to assent.

In the course of their conversation, Strobel’s priest-archeologist interlocutor showed the skeptical journalist a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin, purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Gazing into the eyes of the image, Strobel asked, “What would have made him go through all of this?” The priest responded, “That’s easy: love.” As the arguments were jostling in his head, Strobel remembered that image and that explanation—and the filmmakers insinuate that this is what finally pushed him over into belief.

The Case for Christ is interesting for any number of reasons, but I think it is particularly compelling for its subtle portrayal of the psychological, spiritual, and intellectual dynamics of evangelization.

Related:

The Disturbing Fact of the Resurrection

Beyond Blind Faith

From Atheist to Jesus Follower

When Do We Have Enough Evidence to Know Christianity is True?

Athiest Come to Christ

12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 1

Jesus’s resurrection is at the very heart of historic Christianity. In fact, the
bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is both a central doctrinal belief of the faith and the primary evidence for the truth of the religion itself. Given the importance of Easter for Christians, it is appropriate for us to consider 12 evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. For greater depth on these points, see the recommended resources at the end of the article. Read more of this post

Reasons to Believe

I’ve developed a new interest in apologetics  since joining Reasons to Believe.  Dr. Ross and his associates on the site keep updating the papers then review making some facinating points about life on earth, the uniqueness of earth to support advanced life forms and the beautiful origins of the universe.

Here is just one quote from an article on natural selection and evidence for it or stasis.

An obvious lesson is that it is a mistake to build a model for the history of life on Earth based only on short-term field studies. Rather than the transmutation of species through natural selection that Darwin deduced from his few months on the Galápagos Islands, the long-term field studies suggest that natural selection maintains stasis, the stabilizing of a species’ morphological traits over time.

More here.

 

 

Cyrus the Great in Bible History

Cyrus is a king mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible and is identified as Cyrus the Great (also Cyrus II or Cyrus the Elder) who reigned over Persia between 539—530 BC. This pagan king is important in Jewish history because it was under his rule that Jews were first allowed to return to Israel after 70 years of captivity.

In one of the most amazing prophecies of the Bible, Isaiah predicts Cyrus’ decree to free the Jews. One hundred fifty years before Cyrus lived, the prophet calls him by name and gives details of Cyrus’ benevolence to the Jews: “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him . . . ‘I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me’” (Isaiah 45:1,4; see also 41:2-25; 42:6). Evincing His sovereignty over all nations, God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please” (Isaiah 44:28). Read more of this post

Do the Hittites Exist?

One experience that drastically affected my view of evidence of the ancients (ancient people) and accuracy of the biblical record occurred when I was no more than 10 years of age. I heard a radio teacher who taught that secular theologians proclaim there is no evidence of Hittites therefore there never were Hittites nor a Hittite civilization. The biblical account can’t be right, therefore. I remember pondering: Genesis records the activities of Hittites. We can’t prove they existed. Hmmm! What is the impact of that? Does it make Genesis unreliable/inaccurate? I couldn’t answer that question at the time. Does anyone question the existence of the Hittites today? Of course not! But, university professors of that day were proclaiming that they never existed.

That event happened in the late 1950s.   I am not sure where the teacher got his information because the Hittites were discovered in the late 1800s.   However,  I am sure that the teacher was right in this regard.   In the day, preceding the discovery of the Hittites, you can be sure that there were theologians and professors questioning the existence of the Hittites.

Though the radio teacher was wrong, this event helped me realize something important. Though there is no archaeological or scientific evidence for a statement in the Bible, that does not mean that the Bible is wrong or inaccurate.  There are events in the Bible which are not verifiable by archaeology or science.  That does not mean the events are untrue.

All data do not have to be verifiable to be accurate.   There is mystery in history and our God is mysterious.

More Information on the Hittites:

Ancient History – The Hittites
“4000 year old” meal
Hittite History

 

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

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. Read more of this post

The Cumulative Case for God’s Existence

This video, excerpted from J. Warner Wallace’s presentation of the evidence for God (from his book, God’s Crime Scene), summarizes the strength of the cumulative case for God’s existence. J. Warner describes the nature of cumulative cases and the role diversity plays in establishing the strength of an inference. For a robust review of the collective case for God’s existence from eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe, please refer to God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Homicide Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. (For more information, visit www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

Tags

 

 

Verifying the Validity of the Gospels

J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold-Case Christianity, was interviewed by Bobby Conway (The One Minute Apologist) and discussed the four part template we use to determine eyewitness reliability. Can this template be applied to the Gospels? (For more information related to Bobby’s great ministry, visit:http://oneminuteapologist.com/) Read more of this post

Paul’s Interaction with Philosophers on Mars Hill

 

J. Warner Wallace visits with Bill Parkinson from Fellowship Bible Church (www.fellowshiponline.com) to discuss the nature of truth from a Christian worldview and the role evidence plays in establishing the truth claims of Christianity.

 

Tags: