Monday, January 23, 2012

Lee Strobel: We're on Cusp of Golden Era of Apologetics

By Alex Murashko | Christian Post Reporter

Christians should understand that being able to give reasons for their faith is not merely an option – it's biblically mandated, says apologetics author and speaker Lee Strobel.

To help Christians better explain and defend their faith, Strobel and ministry associate Mark Mittelberg have launched The Institute at Cherry Hills, an apologetics and evangelism ministry at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The institute is aimed at innovating new approaches to defending and sharing the faith.

Strobel and Mittelberg will kick off a series of national simulcasts to be hosted at churches starting in March with the event "The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask," based on Mittelberg's book by the same title.  Click here to continue reading. . .

The Third Column, No This is Not "V"[1]

Not too long ago I was conversing with a fellow believer about the role of apologetics in the church.  During that conversation, I shared a burden that has been with me since I was gloriously converted from skepticism some 31 years ago.   It is how God has wired me.   In fact right after my salvation experience, I wanted to KNOW why the Christian is true, because I found as a skeptic then, that the problem still remains.  That problem is that we do not know why we believe what we believe is really true.

That being said, I subscribe to some of the apologetics ministries that I support monetarily and use to equip folks in the defense of the faith.  One of the many ministries is Stand to Reason, from whom I receive their newsletter Solid Ground.

In the January edition of Solid GroundGreg Koukl explains the years following the 1925 Scopes trial “Christianity lost its claim as a player in the marketplace of ideas.”  When this occurred, and began to warp the culture into a Neo-Darwinian/agnostic/atheistic worldview,  a wave of apologists emerged on the front that Greg considers "the first column".  This first column emerged to lead in the fight to defend the Gospel.  In its formation, those who were and still are leading the charge are men like Norm Geisler, John Warwick Montgomery, Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell, and Walter Martin.  These men have paved the way in bringing Christianity back into the forefront of the “marketplace of ideas.”

Koukl then presents what he calls "the second column".  This column is much bigger than the first and consists of men and women like Ravi Zacharias, Craig Hazen, Chuck Colson, Nancy Pearcy, Os Guinness, David Noebel, Gary Habermas, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, and Stephen Meyer. This column was influenced either directly or indirectly by the first and is still on the front lines equipping Christians to defend historical Christianity and its need for conversation in the "marketplace of ideas. This column IS STILL SHOWING that Christianity is still worth thinking about.

The third and final column has started to form, and it is massive. It is made up of “sharp, committed ambassadors for Christ who are students of those in the first two columns and are grouping up with others of kindred spirit in their local communities. Their names will probably never grace the cover of a book or be in lights on an apologetics conference marquee. Instead, they are foot soldiers with boots on the ground, individually being faithful to defend the Gospel in smaller arenas their Commander in Chief has entrusted to them.”

Greg likens them to "small bands -- little platoons" that "Edmund Burke called them -- of ordinary people making a difference right where they live.  Those of us in the third column are not large organizations[2] or huge institutions.  We are collective whole scattered all over the country and worldwide, seeking to show that clear thinking Christianity is worth thinking about for both the believer and the seeker of truth.

So, for those of you serving in this third column, continue to "drive on" and press forward.  If you would like to read the latest edition of Solid Ground, why not check it out here at the latest edition of Solid Ground.


[1]  Those of you who remember the short lived major network series "V" and the Fifth Column, might appreciate my tongue in cheek title.  This article is strictly about the church using apologetics engage the culture and not some sci-fi propaganda story of aliens from another galaxy trying to infiltrate the earth.

[2] This ministry is not a large organization, but has been poking along, searching for ways to get off the ground with speaking engagements and product to equip you in defending your faith.   This year I am hoping for some great progress.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Did the Gospel Writers Make Up the Gospel Records?

Over the last few years people and even academic (secular) scholars have tried to show that the early church had corrupted the early Christian texts in order to portray Jesus as one of another kind of "messiah" or a phony Messiah at worst.  If we think of this for just a little bit, there are a few problems with this objection attempting to make the gospels a fable.

Problem #1:  Why didn't the early church make the people and adherents more heroic in their writings?  What we see instead is the followers of Jesus misunderstanding Him, doubting what He is saying.  We find them questioning Him on His teaching in parables, falling asleep while He was praying at Gethsemane,  and finally fleeing from Him when He is arrested and taken to trial before His crucifixion.

Problem #2:  To open this problem let me ask a question.  Who wrote the gospels? Jewish men in a male dominated culture wrote the gospels.  You see, one of the easiest things to overlook is that the culture was a   male dominated culture,  and these Jewish men are actually made into a laughing stock as Jesus appears first to women after His resurrection before He appears to the disciples. That's right, the women were the first eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection.   Also if you look at the gospels, the women in the gospels believed more readily than men and in particular the apostles.  If you look around the world today, in many cultures, women are believing more readily than men (i.e., India).

Problem #3:  The disciples of Jesus were not too smart.  You say what?  They were really smart!  Oh really.  We have the words of the disciples showing their foolishness in tact.  Take for example Peter's denial.  Why would the early church, which Peter was a part of, preserve this story?  Take another example  of Peter's "foot in mouth" participation.

You have Peter in the gospels making a great confession of who Jesus by stating to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Jesus commends him for his profession of faith.  Shortly after this great confession, Jesus tells of his future arrest, being handed over to sinful men and being beaten and crucified, but also three days later rising from the dead.  Right after these words by Jesus, Peter blurts out "God forbid it Lord!"  Jesus responds to this with "Get behind Me Satan!  You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests but man's!"  Jesus calls Peter Satan and a stumbling block. If the early church were making things up, why is this in there?  Unless. . . it is an actual historical account.

Problem #4:  Probably the biggest problem for accusers saying that the disciples (gospels writers) made up the gospel accounts is the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus.  You see, if Jesus did not die on the cross and if He did not rise from the dead, why did the disciples not escape the death of a martyr? Why did the disciples produce the body of Jesus so as to escape their own deaths?

You see, Jesus could have made an irrefutable claim.  He could have said, "You kill Me, and will raise spiritually from the dead."  You and I cannot refute that!  But He didn't say that and the disciples did die brutal deaths (crucifixion, even crucified upside down, drawn and quartered, beheaded, dragged behind horses in the streets, skin removal, speared, thrown off of a building, stoned, et al).  All of this could have been avoided if they only recanted, called Caesar "Lord", and told their torturers where they hid the body of Jesus.

Not even the enemies of Jesus could produce the body.  The body is nowhere to be found because the grave is empty, and Jesus is risen.  And He will give eternal life to those who will call upon His name and believe in Him as their only means for redemption, repenting of their sins and following Him in faith, until the end.

These four problems make it unavoidable to say that the gospels are authentic, and they are not made up.  What do you say?