What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why the Virgin Birth of Christ is Important

A few years ago I posted an entry concerning the significance of the virgin birth of Christ. With all the attacks on the New Testament over the last few years, I thought I would post the material again. 

Before we "go there", many of the mythologies that claim to have "savior/virgin birth stories" are either forgeries, or fabrications that have been well after, even centuries of the prophecies and one hundred to two hundred years following the actual historical events. In either case, none of the mythology stories have a single shred of salvific value, since they were based on "myth."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Handling a Tough Question Like, Did Jesus Go to Hell Before His Resurrection

Introduction.

Our beliefs are passed down from so many avenues, from reciting creeds to catechisms. So let's say we are sitting in a Bible study with believers from diverse backgrounds. We are all coming under the Scripture's authority, when a leader in the group references, Jesus' going to hell before His resurrection. Many of us, because of our backgrounds might think nothing of it. But is it true?

This posting is relevant to a phrase in the Apostle's Creed, that is not what is really taught from Scripture, and is pointed toward the fourth statement in the creed which states the following:

"Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell:" 

This writer agrees with everything up to the phrase "dead and buried." But did Jesus really descend into hell before His resurrection? I really don't think that He needed to. Let's look at the real issue behind this and see what we find.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Biblical Response to the Question: Are There Modern Day Apostles?

Just a few days ago I was talking with a friend about a local group, rooted in the new apostolic reformation, and was asked if for my thoughts on "modern day apostles."[1] Now one has to clarify what the word "apostle" so that we understand the question. For example does the word, apostle mean a reference to the "office" going back to the New Testament period or does it mean just a practical application of one who is a messenger. Since the question pertained to the office like that of the New Testament Apostolic office this posting will address the question from this angle.

Simply stated, the answer to this question as it pertains to the New Testament office is a resounding, "NO!" However, I will not let it go there. Allow me to defend this position and why there is no apostolic office in the church of the Third Millennium. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Do Christians Need Apologetics?

"What are you apologizing for?" "What is apologetics?" These are some of the popular questions I get from believers who have been in church most of their life. Sometimes when I ask a young person, "why are you a Christian?" I get answers like,

"My parents raised me that way." 
"Because I have prayed a prayer for salvation."

Other answers I get sound like personal testimonies. But personal testimonies, being raised in a Christian home, or praying a prayer for salvation do not answer the question, why are you a Christian. Please understand, I am not discounting any of these things.

Being raised in a Christian home is not a blessing that I had the privilege of experiencing. Praying a prayer does not save a person, it is only a response to the saving work of God in the life of the sinner.

Friday, October 18, 2013

True or False: In order to become a Christian, one must commit intellectual suicide. FALSE


One of the popular myths coming out of our modern educational system is that a truly intelligent person will not believe the Bible and to do so is to commit intellectual suicide. Actually, the opposite of this assertion is true. A truly intelligent person cannot help but believe the Bible. The belief that God has revealed truth to men in His Word and especially in His Son Jesus Christ is the only thing that can make sense out of life.

Most of the early colleges and universities in America were founded upon this principle. Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, and many other institutions of higher learning had the Bible at the center of their curriculum. Jesus Christ was considered to be the foundation of all knowledge. As the first code of Harvard laws stated in 1642, 

"…Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning."

Some of the greatest intellects of history have found the Christian world view to be completely reasonable, rational, and intellectually satisfying. Men like the Apostle Paul, Augustine, John Wycliffe, Rembrandt, John Milton, Blaise Pascal, Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Boyle, Jonathan Edwards, Michael Faraday, James Clark Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, and C.S. Lewis, to name a few, saw no contradiction between thinking and believing.

The reason the Bible is ridiculed by many the so-called "intellectuals" today is that their hearts are morally depraved. Their pride and arrogance have blinded them to the truth. "Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools." (Romans 1:22) Yes, it is possible to have earthly intelligence and be a fool in the eyes of the God they deny.

If you are a Christian and a university student, don’t fall for the pseudo-intellectualism which bombards you on your university or college campus.  It is a façade which puffs up your pride, but in the end will leave you empty, looking for meaning and purpose. Ultimately it will matter little if you are counted wise or foolish by the college crowd. What will matter is whether you have walked with God and made it your aim and desire to be pleasing to Him. This is true wisdom and man’s reason for existence.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Richard Dawkins' Defense of Mild Pedophilia is Seriously Flawed!

“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today. . . I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

Introduction

So were the words of the most famous of the four "horsemen" of the “new” (popular) atheism, Richard Dawkins, in an interview with Katie Mcdonough.[1] Dawkins, known for his vitriolic and venomous evolutionary attacks toward those holding to intelligent design and biblical creation has recently pontificated on the issue of "mild pedophilia" creating a stir from many Christians and child protective agencies and advocate groups.

As wild as Dawkins' pronouncement appears, it also has those of us on the side of logic, reason, and embracing to a morally absolute framework, scratching our heads and asking how can any reasonable person believe such nonsense? And nonsense it is,
logically, ethically, and pragmatically.

This posting will engage the above quotation, in the context of the Ms. Mcdonough’s interview with Richard Dawkins. My hope is to point out a handful of flaws in the quote which will show that it is not only unreasonable, but also grounded on slippery sloping terrain.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

So How Did They Determine the Books of the Bible?

You may have heard an objection like, "You can't really sure of what books in the Bible should be there and what books should not?"  Or, "Why is the Apocrypha not in the main books of the Bible?  Who made that distinction?"  Whether it is either of these or some other facsimile of an objection like it, one will either hear it in a spirited conversation with someone challenging the authority and authenticity of the Bible, or one will hear it in a liberal professor's classroom. Not matter where the objection comes from, there is an answer.

To start things off, we need to understand that there were many ancient writings considered in the process of putting the books of the Bible together into one book. There had to be a determining authority selecting the books making the cut and the others getting "the boot."  Should some of the excluded writings have been included?  Why or why not?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Testing Truth Claims: Thinking versus Feelings

We live in days where many people operate on feelings and do not do much thinking. However humans feel as well as think, and should think as well as feel.  This is because God has designed us in such a way that we have emotions. These emotions manifest themselves in our joys, our anger, our remorse and other feelings that we might experience.

Emotions can be good or they can be bad.  They can be good when it comes to anger at sin or bad when the anger is manifested in things like bitterness. As with good things, emotions must be kiept in their proper context. But in our culture, we see feelings overstepping their God intended bounds because we put those feelings ahead of reason.

There are many ways that people determine truth, but emotions should not be one of them. Emotions also do not determine right from wrong.  Just because one feels good does not suggest that something is true. The same is true about feeling bad determining something to be false. In fact, emotions contain no content, no information by which to evaluate truth from falsehood. Our reasoning capacity performs that function. Emotions are a part of the soul that appreciates and responds to life. Expecting them to identify truth is like asking your eyes to taste and your ears to smell. Each sense has their respective functions; and emotions and reasoning capacities are no different.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can Faith Be Divorced from Reason or VIce Versa?

Conversations about faith can become volatile pretty quickly, especially when the other person in the conversation is anti-faith or has a misunderstanding about faith. Take for example, those who have read Richard Dawkins and read things from him like,

Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful![1]

And then in recent days, another atheist named Peter Boghossian, recently stated that faith is  "pretending to know what you don't know."[2] While Boghossian's definition of faith is wrong, his statement demonstrates more of a lack of reason than those he is accusing of abandoning  reason; namely Christians who believe in having a faith in the risen Jesus Christ.

The critics of the Christian faith, accusing that it is an unreasonable faith, have never been more venomous. Whether they accuse us of "taking a leap in the dark" or pontificating that "faith has been rendered meaningless in an age of scientific and intellectual enlightenment" we must understand that faith and reason cannot be detached or divorced from one another. Why is that? Here are five things to think about when think on this faith and reason debate.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ideas Do Have Consequences

Some folks think that morals are set forth by the culture. Just ask Nazi Germany or modern day Liberia where gangs are fighting amongst themselves and even cannibalism is still in vogue.  Others think that morals can be determined using our reasoning skills. I would hope that one's moral decisions would show some kind of reason, but that is not the starting point.

I open this posting to say that whether it is Nazi Germany, chaotic Liberia, or even a declining moral culture like the United States, ideas come with their consequences. Whether these ideas come from a conscience devoid of a objective moral framework or they come from a conscience that has been redeemed and is rooted and grounded on a moral law set forth by a Moral Lawgiver, ideas do have consequences.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Part 5: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to Muhammad


With the rise of Islam in many parts of the world, and with many Muslims coming to the United States, it is important to note that there are some major differences between Muhammad, the founder of the world religion known as Islam, and Jesus of Nazareth.  In the posting, I want to be fair to my Muslim readers, but at the same time, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, which is something that my Muslim readers do not and yes, even refuse to see.

In this posting, I will share my understanding of who the Prophet Muhammad, what he did to forward the Muslim faith and then share how Jesus of Nazareth is superior to Muhammad. If you are thinking that I am going to ridicule Muhammad or make the Islamic religion look stupid, you are going to be very disappointed. It has been said by one, that if you and I can make a religion look absolutely ridiculous, chances are we have not understood it. So in this posting, I will be showing the utmost respect for Muslims as people despite the fact that I do not accept the teachings of the religion.  That being said, let's dive in shall we?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Part 4: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to the "God-men" of Hinduism


We move now to the gurus of the Hindu religion. The Hindu religion had its earliest stages about 2000 B.C.  The tribes living in the Indus Valley of northern India had a polytheistic religion that was primarily rooted in the occult. 

These tribes were later conquered by armies from central Asia who combined their Vedic religion, which emphasized nature more than gods, with that of the Indus Valley tribes.  This made a complete chain of over 300 million gods and goddesses.  The final period became more philosophical as writings called the Unipanishads began to focus on one single principle to bring all of reality together.  This pantheistic principle is called Brahman.  This period in the religion's history also introduced the idea of reincarnation. 

The religion of Hinduism as it is actually practiced consists largely of superstition, legendary stories about the gods, occult practices, and demon worship. With the plethora of gods, practices and demonic entities there comes a great number of sects and differences of opinion, so that no one generalization applies to all Hindus.  Despite these differences there still are doctrines that are foundational to Hinduism.  More on this in just a moment.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Part 3: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to Buddha

Whether we realize it or not, people today from the West are taking a look at and embracing some of the varying forms of Buddhism. Celebrities like Richard Gere, Orlando Bloom, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, along with others are some of the influencers that are attracting people to this eastern world religion.  This posting will take a brief look at the key figure of Buddhism and examine him with the life and work of Jesus.  

Who was "the Buddha"?

Siddhartha Gautama, who became "the Buddha," was born around 560 B.C. to an upper-class family. His early years were very comfortable and sheltered. It would not be until when he was in his twenties before he realized that there was great evil and suffering in the world. In order to find some answers to this great problem, he studied with the Hindu masters and practiced asceticism for a brief time.  Realizing both extremes (indulgence and asceticism) to be futile, he chose the middle path of meditation. One day while he was meditating, he is said to have gained enlightenment and reached the state of nirvana. His writings and sayings that were attributed to him as the Buddha, were written approximately 400 years after his death. This being said, there is really no way of knowing if his writings are reliable or not. Gautama "Buddha" died of food poisoning around 480 BC.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Part 2: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to Socrates

Who Was Socrates?

Socrates was born about 470 B.C. when the Greek Empire was flourishing.  His parents were wealthy and he was well educated in philosophical matters.  He began his campaign to teach truth and right when he heard from the Oracle at Delphi that he was the wisest man in the world.  Socrates was sure that this could not be true, but after speaking with many other wise men, he concluded that it must be true because he was the only one who knew that he was not the wisest man in the world. However, Jesus is clearly superior in many respects.

Do We Have Any of His Writings?

Socrates did not leave any writings, but Plato, his disciple, wrote a great deal about him, though these accounts may reflect as much as Plato’s thoughts as Socrates’.  Plato presents Socrates as a man convinced that God has appointed him the task of promoting truth and goodness by making examine their words and deeds to see if they are true and good.  Vice, in his opinion, was merely ignorance and knowledge led to virtue.  He is credited as the first man to recognize a need to develop a systematic approach to discovering truth, though the system itself was ultimately formulated by Aristotle – a disciple of Plato.  

Similar to Christ, Socrates was condemned to death on the basis of false accusations from authorities who were threatened by his teaching.  He could have been acquitted if he had not insisted on making his accusers and judges examine their own statements and lives, which they were unwilling to do.  He was content to die, knowing that he had carried out his mission to the end, and that death, whether a dreamless sleep or a wonderful fellowship of great men, was good.  

So. . . How is Jesus Superior to Socrates?  

Despite Socrates' conclusions, that it must be true because he was the only one who knew that he was not the wisest man in the world, Jesus is still superior in the following ways:

Jesus had a superior basis for truth:  Jesus like Socrates, often used questions to make men examine themselves, but His basis for knowing truth about men and God was rooted in the fact that He was the all-knowing God.  He said of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  He was, in His very being, the fount from which all truth ultimately flowed.  Likewise, as God, He was the absolute goodness by which all other goodness is measured.  He once asked a young man to examine his words by saying, “Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone?” (Mark 10:18).  Jesus was the ultimate truth and the good which Socrates wanted to understand. 

Jesus gave a more certain knowledge of the truth:  While Socrates taught many true principles, he often was left to speculate about many important issues, such as what happens at death.  Jesus, on the other hand, gave as sure answer to such questions because He had a sure knowledge of man’s destination.  Where reason (Socrates) has insufficient evidence to make a definite conclusion, revelation (Jesus) gives answers that would otherwise would not be known.  And Jesus is the only One who has died, and come back to tell us all about what happens after this life is done.

Jesus’ death was more noble:  Socrates died for a cause and did so with courage, which is certainly to be commended.  However, Jesus died as a substitute for sinners (Mark 10:45) to pay the penalty that they deserved.  Not only did He die for those who were and are His friends, but also for those who were and would remain His enemies (Rom. 5:6-7).  Such a demonstration of love cannot be equaled by any philosophy or philosopher.

Jesus’ proof of His message is superior:  Rational proofs are good when there are sound evidences for their conclusions.  But Socrates cannot support his claim to be sent by God with anything that compares to the miracles of Christ and His resurrection.  In these acts there is a superior proof that Jesus’ message was authenticated by God the Father as true.  

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and if we have the Word of God, we have the true message from God on how we should then live.  No philosopher or philosophy can match the teachings and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  That is what makes Him unique to Socrates.




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part 1: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to Moses

This first part of comparing Jesus with the great religious leaders, actually comes on the heels of a conversation that I had today with a fellow who thinks that Jesus was nothing more than a great teacher or a great mystic. What I want to do is open this first comparison and contrasting series with a contrasting with one who is close to the Judeo Christian faith.  That personality is Moses.  

Who was Moses?

We really need to understand first off is that Moses was not the founder of the Jewish faith.  The Jewish Nation has its beginnings with Abraham (circa 2000 BC), about 600 years before Moses.  Moses was born into a Hebrew family while they were in Egypt and reared by the daughter of Pharaoh to be a prince. After learning of his Hebrew heritage, he killed an Egyptian and then fled Egypt to become a shepherd. It was at this time that God would call him to free His people.

Moses is the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch or Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and a great portion of Deuteronomy). Moses is often called the Lawgiver.  Being a Jew Himself, Jesus had no argument with Moses, the prophet who brought the Jewish Law and was faithful to YWHH in bringing the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage as an independent nation.

Moses and Jesus were prophets of the same God and Jesus even said that He did not come to destroy the Law (Moses' writings) but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17). Jesus implies that Moses' words are God's words (Matthew 19:4-5 with Genesis 2:24). At the same time, we do find that Jesus is superior to Moses in a few ways. 

How Jesus is unique to Moses.

Moses predicted Jesus’ coming:  In Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Moses predicted that God would raise up a Jewish Prophet with a special message from God.  Anyone who did not believe this Prophet would be judged by God.  This passage has been traditionally interpreted as referring to Messiah.  Genesis 3:15 is also understood by many to refer to Jesus as the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent.  

Jesus had a superior position:  Moses is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, but Jesus was more than a prophet.  As the Book of Hebrews says, “Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house” (Hebrews 3:5-6, italics added).  While Moses served God, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with the right to rule over all servants.

Jesus’ miracles were superior:  Moses certainly performed great miracles of the same kind that Jesus performed, but Christ’s miracles were greater in degree.  Moses lifted up a bronze serpent to give healing to those who would look, but he never made the blind to see or the deaf to hear.  Also there is nothing in Moses’ ministry to compare with the Resurrection.

Jesus’ claims were superior to Moses:  Simply put, Moses was not God; Jesus is.  Moses never made a claim to be God and did nothing other than fulfill his role as a prophet.  Jesus did claim to be God and provided miraculous evidence to prove it.

As we can see, Moses was a great leader and prophet of Israel. While Moses was a servant of the Lord, he never got to see the promised land, but I do believe that when he died on Mount Nebo, it was God who buried him and took care of his body. Jesus shows prophesy by Moses fulfilled. Jesus ultimately made the greatest sacrifice by dying on the cross, but rising from the dead three days later.  Therefore, I must conclude that Jesus is by far superior to His servant, Moses.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Series Introduction: What Makes Jesus Unique?

Some of my deepest thinking is during the times I am prepping for the day. Sometimes I think the shower is the "think tank." The other day was one of those days, in thinking about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

As an evangelical minister/apologist, I was thinking of Jesus in line with His humanity. Many people, outside of the Christian faith like to see Jesus as merely a human being and nothing more. Others see Him as one who had special powers to heal, and sage words. But if we were to look at Jesus as merely a human being who spoke wise words and did great deeds, he would not be all that different than some of the other great human beings who carried with them similar virtues.

However Jesus was more than a virtuous human being. I have run into folks, professing a form of skepticism, who have claimed that they like the morals of Jesus, but they do not see the need to follow Jesus as their Savior.

What makes Jesus unique is not just His words about the Kingdom of God or man's fallen condition. What makes Jesus unique is not the fact of Him doing something miraculous (some attest magic) deed. No. What makes Jesus unique goes far beyond His works, short of His crucifixion and resurrection.  He also claimed to be God in human flesh.

Some would say that Jesus never claimed to be God or the Son of God. Oh really?

What should we do with His statements like, those who have "seen Him (Jesus) have seen the Father" (see John 14:9).  Jesus' other claims are many, and they vary.

For example, in John 8:58, He stated that He existed before Abraham.  In John 5, He stated that He was equal with the Father (vv. 17, 18).  In Mark's gospel, He claimed the ability to forgive sins (2:5-7); and this is something that the Bible teaches was something that only God alone could do (see Isaiah 43:25).

This posting is an introduction to the uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth. In this posting, I have touched on briefly His claims to deity. Granted He did not come out and say, "Hey look everyone, I am God." He proved it by His words and backed it up with His actions of forgiving sin, and even raising Jairus' daughter and Lazarus.

In the next postings that follow in this series I am going address what makes Jesus unique to some of the other religious figures in history, i.e., Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, and others. In my think tank times I thought upon that fact that Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses as great of a man that he was, never claimed to be one with Yahweh.  Even Mohammed never identified himself as "Allah." Nor will we find a pagan religion like the one led by Zoroaster ever claiming to be Ahura Mazda.

No. What separates Christianity from the rest of the religions out there is not just the works of Jesus, but His claims to be divine and backing it up with His death and resurrection. No other religious leader did such a thing.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Is God Conceited and Arrogant to Force Us to Worship Him?


Sometimes a skeptic will throw down an objection that really causes the questioned to pause. This objection is one of those objections.  "Why should I worship a God who is self-centered and conceited because He created an entire Earth and universe just to sit around and worship Him?"

If this objection had any validity, I don't think I would want to worship that kind of God either. Would you?  There has to be an underlying issue to our worshiping a Creator Who got things started from the start of the universe to what we see around us today.

Let's posit this question: If we are created to worship God and enjoy Him forever, like the Westminster Catechism states, what does our worship do for God? Does our worship really affect Him in any way? Is this God we worship somehow better because humans have been worshiping Him?

Just so we know this one thing right out of the gate. God is not encouraged, or enlarged or changed in any aggrandizing way just because we have worshiped Him. God receives no benefit from our worship.

What does worship do? Worship related to God's own self-knowledge and His comprehensive understanding of us. God must treat Himself as the greatest good because He IS the greatest good. He is perfect in His being, based upon His nature, apart from any function that is related to us.

Let's assume for a moment that God treated something else as the greatest good. If this were the case He would no longer be God, and He would be no longer affirming the truth about Himself, because something else would be the greatest good and not God. So it is not wrong for God to treat Himself as the greatest good. He is not the one who benefits from our worship. Instead, our worship of God allows us to Him as He is, and so continues the extension of His love and goodness in creation.


Do you have a question you would like to ask? Send your questions to roblundberg2000@yahoo.com. I will field your question and post a response on a later posting on The Real Issue.






Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wow, How Times, I Mean Terms Have Changed!

With the caving in to the culture by the Boy Scouts of American and the most recent decisions by the US Supreme Court to crush the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, it is an imminent fact that terms like “fundie,” “homophobe,” and “bigot” will become louder as our culture becomes more hostile toward the Christian faith and those who embrace. These accusations will be received from people who embrace a relativistic starting point in their ethics and morals. Welcome to the world that is waving a banner of what was once known as the “new tolerance.” Whether we like it or not, the temperature is being turned up against the biblical worldview and those who embrace it. 

However, believe it or not, this so called “new toleration” is really not so new. It has taken a few decades to be ratcheted up to what we see and hear now, a loud appeal for the new “normal.” But how did it get here? How did it get to the point where the definition of tolerance became a cultural synonym for “acceptance”, “permissiveness” or “affirmation”? 

The purpose of this essay is to give a possible answer to this question through the tracing of the definition of tolerance. and its changes over the last century and a half. As we trace the definition of toleration together, we will be able to provide a couple of answers to engaging this cultural dilemma.



It is this writer’s conviction that understanding this issue will provide a tool in the arena when possible discussions emerge. 
 


The Definition Has “Circled the Drain” 

 As we all know, definitions of words change with the culture or so it appears. We can think of words like “gay,” which meant one time in our cultural history to refer to one who is happy. Now it refers to the description of a “lifestyle.” The word change in the meaning of “tolerance” is not much different.

One day, a colleague and I were conversing with three of our co workers, who are essentially first and second year college student age. Our discussing centered around “tolerance” and its definition. In this discussion we pointed out to them that the traditional definition of tolerance does not imply what it means in our present day culture. Thanks to the internet dictionaries that are available, we were able to take time to engage these sources and follow the path to the present day definition entries. What we found was quite interesting, a metamorphosis of cultural meaning for this word so popularly thrown around at the local university campuses across our nation. 

Allow me to give some examples here. While there are multiple definitions for the word “toleration” I will address those definitions that fall within the context of this discussion. [1] 

Coming from the angle of definitions show the importance and the power of words. Various academic dictionaries have sought to be the rudder for definitions of words over the history of a nation and its worldview at large. [2] The various definitions for the word “tolerance” or “toleration” appear to agree with this notion. As one moves through the older dictionaries to the more modern editions, the original definition seems to be cast aside for a subtly loosened definition. A demonstration is warranted here. 

As the reader engages these definitions, watch for subtle shifts in the definitions. One will find that there is a move from an earlier original definition, like the definition coming out of the Worcester Dictionary of the English Language (1874) which states, “toleration is defined as “the power or act of enduring; tolerance is applied to the disposition of habit of mind, toleration of action. Tolerance will lead to toleration of different opinions.” 

Something to notice from this definition. First, the word “bigoted” is no where to be found. Secondly and more importantly, the definition implies the act of enduring in spite of any disagreement of views. Person A can endure with Person B’s views without running any risk of being ostracized or being called some inflammatory name. 


Presenting a biblical application to this definition, the Jews in the Old Testament were commanded to be tolerant of strangers in their midst and to show them hospitality and care for their needs. God has commanded them to the thinking that even though people may do or think differently, they are still holders of intrinsic value, whether one agrees with them or not. 

Moving to the Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language (1911), there is an expansion of the definition with the first mention of any use of the word “bigotry.” [3] The definition for tolerance is as follows: 

a disposition to be patient and indulgent toward those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry or severity in judging of the opinions or conduct of others: ‘the Christian Spirit of charity and tolerance.’ 

While the word bigotry is present and an allusion to “Christian Spirit of charity and tolerance‘ is used as an illustration, one must be careful to note some things here. 

First, what does it mean not judge? Everyone makes judgments. The word bigotry implies a motivation and degree of Person A’s judgment of Person B. I will define this word "bigotry," when we get to the last section of this posting.

Second, there is still present the aire of being patient toward another person who holds to differing persons. At the same time, apart from a biblical worldview as a standard, one cannot escape the fact that there will be some kind of judgment being made of that view. This is an inescapable point from both sides of the conversation. 

Funk and Wagnall’s New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1931) reflects this as well, by stating “tolerance” as, “forbearance in judging of the acts or opinions of others; especially forbearance towards those of religious views differing from one’s own.” 

Notice there is the sense of endurance between two differing views, i.e., differing or opposing religions. Remember that the culture still was dealing with the immigration issues and had already experienced World War 1. Religions like Judaism and others not so prevalent were making their way to this country. There was plenty of warrant for the appeal to be “free from bigotry” and the exercising of forbearance toward those of different religious persuasions. 

But that does not mean a Christian should not share the truth of the Christian faith with someone embracing a different religion. The motivation and the presentation of the message were most likely variables in determining whether or not the recipient of that message or an onlooker would deem the presenter’s message as bigoted or not. 

But America experienced a few wars, and then came more ideological shifts and influences. There was also the segregation of the sixties, and a continuing flow of immigration. With these variables, the definition of this word “tolerance” morphed with the changing culture [4] to reflect a new idea, that Person A must “accept” Person B’s worldview or ethical foundation as an equal worldview or ethic. 



Where did the definition land after the last major ideological tectonic shift? The definition crossed a line that had not been implied in the original definitions of the word. What line did the definition cross?



Prior to the change, the definition, as it relates to this discussion, appeared to apply only to the social milieux where ethnicity and nationalities were insulted. Now the definition has crossed over the lines into the categories of the ethical and moral choices. This is where the culture is today, but what does the definition look like? [5] 





The Definition Has Crossed the Line



One of the best illustrations where this cross over can be seen is in the television and film medias. Recalling the seventies, the television sitcom, “All in the Family” with Carroll O’Connor portraying the highly critical and bigoted (especially in today’s terms) father, “Archie Bunker.” Archie’s daughter is married to a man of Polish dissent. Not a single episode would go by without some bigoted slur of his son in law’s ethnicity or nationality. Given the historical setting of the television show, it stands to reason that there is still an understanding of “tolerance” and bigotry. [6]



However, researching the later episodes, terms like “fairy”, “fag”, and “queer” began to be introduced into episodes toward the latter years of the final seasons of the program. This is just one of the handful of programs that began to reflect the proverbial “camel’s nose creeping into the tent.” So what does the definition look like now? 



Toleration’s definition now has words inserted into the definition, words like, “acceptance”, and “permissive.” These are words that no longer just apply to categories of ethnicity or nation of origin. With these words inserted, there is a moral and ethical line that has been crossed. Here are just a few examples,



Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary has as an entry for “tolerance”, “an act or instance of tolerating, esp. of allowing, enduring, or accepting what is not actually approved; forbearance; allowance by law or government of the exercise of religions other than an established one.” [7] 

 

Allowing” or “accepting what is not actually approved.” The question that surfaces here is what is it that one is being admonished to “accept” that is not actually approved.” The definition does not say. However Webster’s Dictionary Online’s definition streamlines the definition a little closer to the issue. According to this source tolerance is defined as, 



A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc.; A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own’ An interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. [8] 

And the MacMillian Dictionary reinforces this definition where tolerance is defined, “the attitude of someone who is willing to accept someone else’s beliefs, way of life, etc. without criticizing them even if they disagree with them.” [9]

These two definitions reflect the current attitude toward the definition of tolerance. It is one thing to be fair, but who holds the plumb line on fairness? The definition of toleration that was is not the definition that is currently in vogue. 





Conclusion.



No longer are you and I going to be allowed to “love the sinner and hate the sin.” The term “sin” is now the new hate speech. What we need to do when engaged in conversations with people who disagree with us is convey the “gentleness and respect” that 1 Peter 3:15 calls us to demonstrate.



Another thing we need to do is to make sure that when engaging in conversations we need to make sure we understand the definitions of “toleration,” “tolerance,” and bigotry or bigot; and make sure we help those who are making such accusations against clarify the definitions in the discussion. This will level the “playing field” and hopefully keep the conversation cordial and keep us toward sharing the truth in love, but also telling the truth like the truth should be communicated.



Understand that the Supreme Court’s decisions did not make gay marriage the norm for the country. Understand that the decisions did not make the gay lifestyle accepted right across the board in the country. If the church does not step into the game, and take the gospel to the culture, I will give this culture 7-10 years until is becomes “normative.” If this happens, we need to be prepared for persecution in this country. This is a hard saying that I do not like myself. However we need to step up our witness and show that we really love the Lord with all our heart, and all our soul and prove that we love the mind by engaging our minds for the glory of Christ and for the edification of the saints.



Maranatha! 

_______________ 

Notes 

Writer’s note:I have come to the conclusion that understanding of the original for the word “tolerance” as opposed to the present day definition of tolerance is much like the analogy of arguing ethics versus morals. Ethical frameworks determine what “ought” to be. One’s moral choices are the outpouring of that person’s ethical starting point. The original definition of tolerance versus the present day definition of tolerance is much like this. Morality can be seen lived out is what is based upon one’s ethical underpinnings. 

[1] The definition of tolerance is not excluded to only ideological or moral categories. It is also used within the medical community for one having a tolerance to a medication or a type of treatment. It is also within the world of mechanical engineering where the laws of physics come into play with pressure, tension or some other force coming upon a particular object. 

[2] Words are extremely powerful, and dictionaries are always very precise about what vocabulary they use in their definitions. This writer is under the persuasion that there is even the worldview of the compilers or the editorial committees of various reference works are reflected between the pages and in the entries therein. 

[3] The early 1900‘s in American culture saw a lot of people coming to this country in search of greater opportunity and a new life. With this in mind, it might be surmised that whenever the word “bigot” or reference to someone being “bigoted” it may have been related to one’s nationality or ethnicity by another. This understanding carried into the 60’s and the 70’s in this nation. 

[4] In all fairness to some of the modern dictionaries, there are a couple of entries that were found to be in line with some of the earlier entries. E.g., Random House Dictionary of the English Language has their entry for “tolerance” stating, “a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc. differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” The New Oxford American Dictionary (2001) has their entry as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” 

[5] You can also read Tolerance is an American Value at http://www.americanvaluesare.com/index.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=19&showall=1 

 [6] I am using the term bigoted to mean “making a judgment without or a lack of any information.”
 

[7] Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, 2010, K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc, s.v. “tolerance.” (Bold font inserted by this writer) 

 [8] (Webster’s Dictionary Online at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance?s=t

 [9] http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/tolerance)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Update on Ratio Christi at Germanna Community College


Update.

Here is a quick update on the happenings with our start up at Germanna Community College. As I have shared with some of you, the Lord has been gracious to bring forward students that are currently enrolled or will be enrolled at Germanna Community College this summer/Fall semesters.

We already have one student, taking classes this summer, with what I call, "boots on the ground." He is handing out Ratio Christi postcards and a flyer to those who will take it.

We have heard from the Student Affairs Office about our being pro active in a club start up. After receiving counsel, I sent a response to the folks at the office assuring them that we are NOT going outside the bounds of the college to start a chapter, and that we are seeking to do things according to their guidelines and in the proper steps required by the institution.

Student prospects.

Right now we have a great interest from the majority of the thirteen students that have spoken positively and giving interest in a chapter start at Germanna. This is before the start of school (August?).  Because of the lack of exposure to apologetics in the churches, the spiritual discipline of apologetics can be a little intimidating.  That will happen and that will build the foundation for our first meetings once we start meeting. 

Apologetics is not just about defending the faith.  It is also about discipleship in a post Christian culture.  With more students with "boots on the ground" and handing out flyers, we should be filing paperwork for a chapter start by the first week of school.  Is this exciting or what? 

What About a Chapter at the University of Mary Washington?

We may have taken too quick of a step without evaluating the landscape.  Thankfully that was no a casualty move on our part. Just an answer from the Lord to slow down and work with what resources we have.  

The Lord has been gracious to give us a faculty advisor before we have a core of students. Because of this blessing, we are not abandoning UMW.  Knowing that students go a mile or two up the road to take courses for credit at Germanna; and knowing that some students who graduate from Germanna will transfer down the road to Mary Washington, we are going to be patient. 

In the meantime of this hiatus, and not taking no for an answer from some of the clubs on campus that think we are competing for their students, our focus this year is going to be toward a new arm of Ratio Christi's ministry.  Simply stated, Ratio Christi is not just about students.  Ratio Christi is also about faculty. The mission this year is to take the names of the believing faculty on campus and reach out to them.  What will this do? 

By reaching out to the believing faculty, we are hoping that we can give Ratio Christi some exposure in the hopes that they will be open to have periodic meetings, be encouraged, and equipped to be a tool for outreach with the hopes of drawing students to the excitement of this student apologetics movement.



Final note.

Are you a college student or a faculty member, who feels overwhelmed by the attacks and criticisms leveled against the Christian faith? Do you have your own doubts about the reliability of the Bible or the truth of the Christian message? There are answers. 

Contact Rob to learn more about Ratio Christi, a global movement that equips Christians at universities to defend their faith.   Email: roblundberg2000@yahoo.com or call 540.424.2305

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rebuilding from the Foundation Up

Over this past month I have praying and considering steps to take in order to make this ministry blog more effective. My conclusion is to go back to the foundations and start fresh.  Does this mean that I will be removing all the postings of the past and starting fresh that way?  No.

What I am looking to do is tie together this blog with what I do ministry wise and with Ratio Christi at Germanna Community College.  Over the past few months, the Lord has brought students across our path who have an interest in what Ratio Christi can do to help them stand firm in their faith.  With that said, I would also like to build a ministry in this area that will encourage Christians to engage this issues that are confronting the church.   

Call it if you will an "apologetics project" or a "tactical apologetics initiative" to bring apologetics into the churches by holding meetings once or twice a month in a venue and network with other ministries doing the same thing across the country.

So don't be surprised if you see articles or postings on similar subject matter in the past.  They will be enhanced and expanded upon to make them more direct and not the "shot across the bow" kind of tactic.

Please continue to pray for Ratio Christi at Germanna Community College and our efforts to bring exposure to those who have an interest in the defense of the faith.

 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Understanding the Meaning of "Faith"


by Rob Lundberg
Introduction.
The other day I was involved in a conversation with a group of men at a Men’s Breakfast at our church. One of the discussions we were working over was the meaning of this word, “faith.” The definition of faith is very much misunderstood by Christians and maligned by skeptics, depending on which side of the conversation one finds themselves.
Allow me explain what I mean. Many folks, Christians and atheists alike, will define this word “faith” by stating that “faith is believing something with no evidence.”  Some well meaning Christians would even say that they have no need of evidence, and that they “just believe” in Jesus. On the other side of the “ledger,” atheists would like us to take their definition of “faith” to mean “believing something that you cannot see” or to mean the most popular accusation, “believing something without evidence.”
Even though I have written on indirectly on this subject in a past blog posting, what I would like to do is to “hit this subject head on.” My reasons for this are simply because many Christians find themselves in conversations with skeptics on spiritual matters where often times this subject comes up. Those of us who step in the arena with atheists know that this is a favorite “hot button.” We need to have a good grasp on how to respond to this subject as it is due to come up in conversations with the groupies parroting the arguments of the “popular atheists.”
I am going to approach this subject using one of my favorite methods, the question and answer inquiry. [1] First, I will start with the question of what is “faith” from the dictionary perspective. From there, I will answer some of the questions which could follow from various translations in the BIble from Hebrews 11:1. In this section, I will address two common English renderings that lead to, what I believe, is the source of confusion for Christians regarding a lack of understanding of the definition of “faith.” Lastly, I will close with what it means when we use the term, “the Christian faith.”
Please note that this will not be an exhaustive presentation on this subject due to the scope for this setting. At the same time I believe it is an important enough subject to engage and possibly further the discussion. I do have a goal to do more writing on this subject at a later time, perhaps in the form of a position paper.
What is the definition of faith?
Many folks, when looking for the definition of a word turn to a dictionary. Having had a few discussions with those embracing “popular atheism,” one thing is certain. Of the five different definitions presented in the most dictionaries, the “objection” fomenting from the atheist is centered on only one of the five definitions listed in most dictionaries.  When approaching the dictionary for a definition for “faith,” we need to look at all the definitions and fit them into their proper context.
This cannot be understated. It is of most importance to understand that in many cases where there are multiple definitions for a word, it will depend on a certain context where the word can be used. “Faith” is one of those words. Let me demonstrate this by breaking down the definitions. Wading through Webster’s dictionary.com  there are five sub-definitions for “faith.” [2]
The first definition of faith implies a type of confidence or trust in a person or a thing, i.e., “having faith in another’s ability” (to do something). This definition draws in a strong reference to an object, whether that object is a person or a thing, that is believed with strong conviction. This can refer to marital fidelity, faith in a religion, or faith in a person.
In the context of religious faith, there are many people in our culture who have this kind of faith in whatever religion they embrace. The interesting thing is that they are convinced that their religion is true, but the question is, have they tested those truth claims to know they are true. There is a conviction, but the question is toward a validity of truth for the religion that is embraced. This idea is going to be important in the remaining sections.
The second definition is in favor of a fideistic view of “faith.” The definition implies a “belief that is not based on proof.” It is like one having a kind of faith that is based more in hypothesis or theory than substantiated by fact. Again, there is a faith that is believed as true, but the question is toward a validity of truth for the religion that is embraced. I think of those who embrace religions based upon feeling, but the religion itself has not been tested for its truthfulness.
There is a third definition this more in the religious context. From the dictionary, it is the faith or “belief in God or in the doctrines of religion” or a particular religion or ideology. The definition is used with an object, i.e., the firm faith of the Pilgrims. May I insert here that this third definition can refer to those on both sides of the “belief line?” Many skeptics have a “faith,” though they will not admit it, in the idea of scientism, thinking that science will one day prove all truth. I call this the unreasonable faith of the skeptic.
Fourthly, there is a definition which refers to the “belief in anything as a code of ethics, or a standard of merit. This can be religious in its context or it can be patriotic in another context. To give an example of this kind of “coda” faith, I have some friend that are up the road about 40 minutes from us at Quantico Marine Base. Those of you who have served in the Corps or know someone in the Marines will be familiar with the saying, Semper Fidelis  (Always Faithful). [3] This is that kind of “faith.”
Lastly there is a usage of this word “faith” that reflects a description of “a system of religious belief”, i.e., the Christian faith or the Jewish faith. I will address this in the final section of this posting.
But if faith involves conviction, strong allegiance, and the belief in someone’s ability to do something, how do these line up with the biblical understanding of faith?
What About the Bible and Faith?
In a conversation between fellow believers, the Bible translation one uses can either keep a smooth conversation or muddy the waters. In either case it surely sets the ground for how the rest of the conversation goes. That is because some translations do not use the word, “evidence” in the Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith, even though the reasons for evidence are present. Demonstrating this using two popular translations, the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version, I think we will see what I am trying to convey.
Notice with me first the New American Standard Bible (NASB),
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Next notice the rendering in the King James Version (NKJV),
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 indeed gives us the clearest definition of “faith” from the Bible. Entering into a very quick word study, this verse uses words like “assurance” (NASB) and “substance” (NKJV) in the first part of the verse. If we were to look at the original language for these words in the text, we run into this “fun” Greek word, hupostasis (ὑποστασις) [4]; which simply means “assurance.” This kind of assurance imparts the meaning of a confident assurance and not some blind assurance. There is a sense of a “guarantee,” or an “attestation” where the object of one’s faith is true.
Moving to the second part of this verse, we see this idea reinforced with another word building off of the Greek word, “hupostasis.” Looking at the second clause we read the phrase, “the conviction/evidence of things not seen.”
Conviction and evidence are the same word in the original language of the text, the word, elegchos (ἔλεγχος). This word denotes “evidence” or “proof” and originates from the word that was used in ancient papyri for legal proofs where there was an accusation. [5]
What are we being accused of? What we are being accused of, by the popular atheists, is embracing a blind faith, or believing in something for which there is no evidence.
The problem with this accusation is that Christians have a strong confidence or assurance in Jesus’ finished work of redemption for our sins. This is not only evidenced by His historical death on a cross, His burial, but it is also capped off by His physical resurrection from the dead.
This is not some kind of “I hope I win the lottery” kind of faith, nor is it some blind leap in the dark. No, this is a faith that packs an assurance because of the eyewitness testimony from biblical historical sources.  We also have external sources from those who followed and trusted the testimony of the biblical writers. We move forward in history and we are trusting the same eyewitnesses. So this is not a blind faith by any means, but one that is loaded with circumstantial evidence attesting to its veracity. By the way, this is also why Christians should care about the evidences for their faith, particularly in the days in which we live.
Let’s move now to answering the question about what we mean by the “Christian faith.
What do we mean by the Christian faith?
It was the great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who gave us a great way of explaining what “faith” is all about by bringing in three ingredients for faith: “knowledge, belief, and trust.”
In order to gain some kind of object for ones faith one must have knowledge about certain facts that are believed to be true.  Those facts better be good if they are going to provide us with a solid object for our faith.
As Christians we base our knowledge on the historicity of Christ, and key historical events which have been proven reliable through ancient eyewitness testimony, sacred history, and even secular history.  We have knowledge of the good news of the gospel message and knowledge of how one may receive the free gift of salvation (Romans 10:9,10).  There are plenty of solid reasons to know that the Christian faith is packed with truth.
On the other side of the “belief line,” atheists bases their knowledge on theory or strings of theories that God does not exist.  They believe that God does not exist, and they base that belief on science, drawing together all kinds of logical fallacies which can be turned over and used against their arguments.   Both Christians and skeptics know certain “facts” that they believe are true. (Who has the most faith between the two “camps?”)
As we examine all the knowledge based upon the evidences of God’s historical intervention in the history of mankind, the historical life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we then take the next step.  It is the step of belief.
This is not some kind of mental assent. There is a lot of evidence for what we believe about God’s existence, the life and work of Jesus, and the historical reliability of the Bible; whereas not to believe would be destructive.  You see biblical faith is not believing against the evidence.  When all is said and done the Christian faith is a believing and a knowing which in turn results in action.  What is that action?  It is the final step in Spurgeon’s description on faith.  It is called trust.
Going beyond some kind of assent, the Christian faith is not just about believing that it is true. The Christian faith demands the action of taking what we know, what we believe, and taking it to the final step. The Christian faith is about personal trust in the God of the Bible, the Trinity–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The center of this trust involves a personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, in which we recognize our dependence on Him not just for our existence but for our salvation.
We acknowledge that we are not the people we were created to be, that we have abandoned God and gone our own way.  Acknowledging this, we turn (repent) and rest in the assurance that Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, has reconciled us to God. As a result we are able to be honest about who we are (rebellious and broken people in need of healing and a transformation of character), and we are able to hope, and have a growing confidence that Jesus Christ is sovereign over all of reality, that His kingdom is being realized, and that He is indeed returning us to the arms of the one holy and loving God.
The Christian faith is not believing something that has no evidence. As Bible believing Christians do not deny reality, we discover it; and once we discovered it there is no turning back.  We are called and must act upon it.
We are called to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind.  We have biblical mandate to act upon that calling, by loving our neighbor as ourself by first denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following the One who gave His life and rose from the dead for us.
What we have are better evidences for believing the Christian faith than the atheist. What does the atheist have?  Well, I’m still waiting to hear something them worth believing. I think we’ll be waiting a long time. Perhaps they are the ones believing in something for which there is no evidence and not the Christian.
Notes
[1] This is known as the “Socratic method” a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.
[4] Hebrews 11:1 in Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1976: 706.
The original posting for this article can be found here. . .

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wanted! Students for Ratio Christi Chapters at UMW or Germanna Community College


We are still hopeful of a Ratio Christi Chapter start at the University of Mary Washington.  At the same time over the last couple of months, the Lord has directed us to several Christian students and families who are at Germanna Community College.
This morning, I had a good conversation with my potential faculty advisor at UMW, who provided some insights for finding out what we are able to do and not able to do when it comes to approaching students.  UMW appears to have this diversity/tolerance policy in not approaching students despite is being a public university.
That being said. . . 
Are you a college student who feels overwhelmed by the attacks and criticisms leveled against the Christian faith? Do you have your own doubts about the reliability of the Bible or the truth of the Christian message? There are answers.
Contact Rob to learn more about Ratio Christi, a global movement that equips Christians at universities to defend their faith.
Email: umw@ratiochristi.org or call 540.424.2305

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why Believe in Jesus' Resurrection?


by Rob Lundberg

What makes Christianity different from other religions? It is that the Founder of the Christian faith rose from the dead. As you celebrate this resurrection season, let me give you three facts that give validity to Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament, prophesied by Jesus himself, and those who claimed to be eyewitnesses were willing to die for believing in a resurrected Christ. These are three truths you can share with others as you explain why you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.

Truth #1: Old Testament Prophecy Predicted Jesus’ Resurrection.
Jesus is unique among all people in history in that he is the fulfillment of centuries of Messianic prophecies, which are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. These prophecies foretold his place of birth, details of his life, his mission, his nature, his death, and his resurrection. Some scholars estimate that there are more than 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to the Messiah (Jesus). One is Psalm 16:10-11:
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. In Your right hand are pleasures forever.
Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost says that this psalm is a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection (see Acts 2:25-28 & 31) − Jesus’ body would not undergo decay. The Apostle Paul, speaking at a synagogue service, also connects Psalm 16 with Jesus’ resurrection:
Therefore David also says in another psalm,
“You will not let your Holy One see corruption.”
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption (Acts 13:35-37).

Truth #2: Jesus Prophesied His Own Resurrection.
Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him when he came to Jerusalem:
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31; see also Matt. 17:22; Luke 9:22; and John 2:18-21).
Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable conjecture that the early church put these statements in Jesus’ mouth well after his death. But anyone giving an honest reading of the Gospels can come to their own conclusion that Jesus himself often spoke of his resurrection.

Truth #3: The Change in and Commitment of the Eyewitnesses.
Up to this point we have seen that the Old Testament predicts the resurrection of the Messiah. Second we see that Jesus makes more than one statement about his own death and resurrection. This now brings us to a quick look at three key facts that cannot be denied. In fact most scholars find these facts hard to refute.
First, it is a historical fact that Jesus was crucified by the Roman government (Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-30). Secular writers like Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara-Bar Serapion, and the Talmud all record his crucifixion as a historical fact!
Second, the disciples went from scared believers to bold eyewitnesses of a resurrected Messiah (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16; Luke 24:1-43; John 2:22; ch 20; 21:1-23). They also proved their conviction in Christ’s resurrection by being willing to pay with their lives for saying that “Jesus is Lord.” For example, Luke records the martyrdom of James, the Son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-12), one of the apostles of Jesus. Jewish secular historian, Flavius Josephus confirms the execution of James in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20 ch. 9. The eyewitnesses were willing to die for their claim of that Jesus was still alive!
Third, there was a first century religious “terrorist,” known as Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the Christian church. But, this Saul of Tarsus, who became  Paul, claims to have encountered the risen Jesus on his way to imprison Christians (Acts 8:1; 9:1-22; 17, 19, 20; 22:6-21; Phil. 2:2-11). Paul was a fanatical Pharisee and a student of the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. All these led him against a belief in Jesus’ resurrection. But his conversion, subsequent mission work, and suffering for his faith are a testimony to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and of his appearance to Paul (Acts 9:15-16).

Conclusion.
The message about Jesus Christ can be summed up this way. Paul said:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The resurrection cannot be taken out of the Christian message. IF Jesus is not risen from the dead, Paul himself says that his message is WORTHLESS! (1 Cor 15:12-19). BUT if Jesus is risen, then we have victory over our sins and hope beyond the grave. These three truths testify that Jesus is RISEN!

---------

Rob Lundberg is an apologetics and worldview instructor with a passion and purpose to equip students and families to know God's Word and how they can defend their faith in their schools, their workplaces, and in their everyday interactions with strangers, friends and family. Rob has appeared on radio and Christian television (Capital District of NY) as well has spoken in community college and university settings.  He is currently available to speak at conferences, pulpit supply, seminars, break-out sessions, Pastor Q and A, workshops, retreats, or anything else a church or Christian school, or group needs.  Check out his website at roblundberg.org

He is currently serving as a Chapter Director/Apologist at the University of Mary Washington for Ratio Christi, a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ.