Evil, Morality, and the Most Important Issue for Apologists with Drs. Clay Jones & Craig Hazen

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I’m still pretty green when it comes to the world of apologetics. I’ve only been researching the truth claims of Christianity for about four years. As such, it’s always good to get advice and insight from those who have navigated similar waters. Thankfully, I was able to catch up with Dr. Clay Jones, author of “Why Does God Allow Evil” and Dr. Craig Hazen, Director of Christian Apologetics at Biola.

About two weeks ago, I attended an Apologetics Conference organized by Biola and hosted by Moody Church here in Chicago. The conference featured lectures from apologetics veterans like Craig Hazen, Clay Jones, J.P. Moreland and Stephen C. Meyer. Between catching lectures and manning the C.S. Lewis Institute table, I was a kid in a candy store; even if I did spend too much money on books!

After the lectures, I bumped into Clay Jones and Craig Hazen in the hallway and had a great chat about evil, morality, agnosticism, and engaging today’s culture. They were kind enough to spend time with me and share their thoughts.

General Questions With Clay Jones

Q: What is the most pressing issue you think that Christian apologists should focus on right now?

Clay Jones: Obviously I think the issues related to why God allows evil are huge. For instance, Sam Harris in his book, “A letter to a Christian Nation”, begins by talking about how right now, somewhere in the world, a child is probably being raped and murdered. He says: why would a good God allow that to happen? And then he says: there can’t be a God because look at the evil that’s going on in the world. We need to answer atheists like Sam Harris and others and say God has good reason for the things that He’s doing and allowing. I deal with the fairness of hell and the destiny of the unevangelized. Everybody’s asking: how can hell be fair?

Q: Are less and less people listening to each other in this age of tribalism and how can we defend the faith in the current climate?

CJ: Well, this is something everyone knows, well they should anyway. You need to treat each person as an individual. You need to find out exactly where the person you’re talking to is coming from; because they’re all over the place. You have people that believe we can know objective truth and we have those that don’t. If you’re talking to somebody that doesn’t think you can even know objective truth, then you need to deal with that first. You know, it’s like the old saying, when the man only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I mean, we’ve got to do better than that. I think it’s a call for a lot of people to study apologetics broadly so that they can answer whatever comes up.

On Morality And The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Q: In my experience a lot of people reject God for sexual reasons (they want to sleep around). They don’t want to be “repressed”.

CJ: Alduous Huxley, who was a defender of Darwin, says: We liked the philosophy of meaninglessness because it freed us from a certain morality. Then the next thing he said was: We were looking for the freedom to do whatever we wanted to sexually. That’s what a lot of people are looking for. They want to just do whatever with whoever and not be encumbered. People just want to do their own thing and they don’t want Christianity to get in the way.

Q: Sin is a word that a lot of non-believers hear but they dismiss it. How do we get non-believers to understand the concept of sin?

CJ: As you know the Greek word, “hamartia” was used for an archer shooting the arrow and missing the mark. He missed the target. And sin is simply doing this! Again, if there is a God then He is going to be in a position to tell us how people should treat each other or not. If there’s not a God, then let’s do whatever we want anyway.

Q: I have a friend who’s a hard agnostic. She thinks it’s absolutely impossible to know whether or not God exists. What would you say to a person who’s not really an atheist, but a hard agnostic who says it’s impossible to know whether or not God exists?

CJ: I would use the Kalam Cosmological Argument and say: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. That’s so elegant, so simple. I would use that on her. I think that’s elegant and simple and what the atheist has to say is: No, things could pop into existence out of nothing, uncaused. Well, that’s dumb!

Q: Well, Lawrence Krauss would say that…

CJ: Yeah!

On Parenting And The Re-Paganizing of Western Civilization With Craig Hazen

Q: What kind of advice would you give to Christian parents who are trying to train their children up in the truth of Christianity?

Craig Hazen: There are some women who are associated with our program in apologetics at Biola who are really doing wonderful work focusing on kids and raising them up in apologetics. One is named Natasha Crain, the other is Melissa Travis. They explore all the big, cosmic questions. I think that’s a great way to go. One thing I found really helpful and successful is simply treating Christianity like another subject of knowledge. When I’m at the dinner table, my kids always like me to do quizzes. It’s like Jeopardy always at the dinner table. But I always threw Christianity in with all the other subjects and so it became like a part of knowledge.

Q: I was listening to a lecture recently and they mentioned it’s almost as if Western Civilization is re-paganizing itself. Everybody’s right, everybody has their own god. I would love your to get your thoughts on how we engage this neo-pagan culture.

CH: When there’s really nothing to cling to, people just don’t think knowledge of any ultimate reality is possible. They’ll grab at just about anything. And it ends up being a way to make themselves feel better about their own mortality and everything else. And some people unfortunately today are really drifting towards…politics. It’s the thing that’s going to give them all their meaning. It’s literally all they have.

Keep Asking Questions

This past weekend, I was speaking with a friend of mine who is close to walking away from the faith because she had questions about Christianity that were not being answered. The sad thing is, there are answers to these big, pressing questions if we just take the time to seek them out. A great place to start, is asking those who have been steeping in the world of apologetics for years and have spent that time answering those questions.

 

 

Answering Skepticism: The Logical Conclusion of an Illogical Position

Skepticism, at its core, is a consistently inconsistent position. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To really answer skepticism, first we should set out to define it. Not-so-unshockingly, this is more difficult than asking Siri. While Siri does have a thought:

“generally any questioning attitude…”

A skeptic only needs to deny this and assert his own version of skepticism. Don’t believe me? Ask Dr. Michael Shermer[i]. Shermer shares in his ‘Skeptical Manifesto’ three different definitions of skepticism[ii]. Here they are for simple reference.

Types of Skeptics

  • (common usage) One who, like Pyrrho and his followers in Greek antiquity, doubts the possibility of real knowledge of any kind; one who holds that there are no adequate grounds for certainty as to the truth of any proposition whatever (Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2, p. 2663).
  • One who doubts the validity of what claims to be knowledge in some particular department of inquiry; one who maintains a doubting attitude with reference to some particular question or statement.
  • (Shermer’s preference) One who questions the validity of particular claims of knowledge by employing or calling for statements of fact to prove or disprove claims, as a tool for understanding causality.[iii]

Rational Skepticism

Shermer points out that two of these definitions provide less benefit to progressing humanity and, ultimately, abandon the intent of skepticism: “these usages leave out one important component: the goal of reason and rationality.” Or, you might say, Shermer is skeptical of other varieties of skepticism.

Micheal Shermer Skeptic

I often hear, “Oh, you’re a skeptic, so you don’t believe anything?” No, I believe lots of things, as long as there is reason and evidence to believe. – Michael Shermer

At first glance, it’s easy to find Shermer’s skepticism rational. In fact, it’s easy to see how each of the three definitions of skeptic are different (and therefore require a different tactic to respond to their claims), but allow me to illustrate why that is not the case.

Is Skepticism Logical

First, let’s examine reasoning and rationality. It would be reasonable, and rational, to conclude that pencils exists. In other words, it is far more reasonable to conclude a pencil exists than it is to assume all pencils are imaginary (ie. the existential world does not exist). G. E. Moore, a Cambridge philosopher, describes the absurdity of using reasonability in determination of truth. Consider the following:

If P, then Q
P
Therefore Q

If P, then Q
Not Q
Therefore, not P

In this logical syllogism, P represents a skeptical argument and Q is the consequent nonexistence of the pencil. Moore uses this argument to highlight the absurdity of skepticism:

Is it, in face, as certain that all [the skeptic’s assumptions are true, as that I do know that this is a pencil and that you are conscious? I cannot help answering: It seems to me more certain that I do know that this is a pencil and that you are conscious, than that any single one of these…assumptions is true…And how on earth is it to be decided which of the two things it is rational to be most certain of?[iv]

In other words, simply asserting that things are rational and reasonable does not make them actually rational or reasonable. In the syllogism above, skepticism rationally produces unreasonability.

Shermer, and other skeptics of his ilk, understand this so they appeal to an outside ‘source’ or foundation as a guide for their skepticism. Here is Shermer’s take on the matter:

Skepticism is itself a positive assertion about knowledge, and thus turned on itself cannot be held. If you are skeptical about everything, you would have to be skeptical of your own skepticism.

How Does it Line Up

But what’s fascinating about this view of skepticism, is that if skepticism acknowledges it cannot stand on its own merit, why do rational skeptics appeal to it? If you ask Shermer, it’s because the scientific method seeks objectivity over personal insight, but it was his own personal insight that led him to distrust personal insight.

To put it in simple terms: A skeptic distrusts personal opinions except the personal opinion that distrusts personal opinions.

It’s logically contradictory.

The Answer Is

Therefore, in order to answer skepticism, the answerer must turn to the questioner and ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?”[v] Whether the skeptic is highly skeptical, moderately skeptical, reasonably skeptical (or any other variant of skeptical), the answer must turn to an inner appeal – a feeling. This raises two vital questions:

  • Which scientific method measures feelings?

This question is important because it denies the skeptic the ability to appeal to the scientific method, especially since their skepticism is undergirded by feelings.

  • Which of your feelings are true about the world?

A tough skeptic may say, none of them. A moderate skeptic may list a couple. Truth be told, according to C.S. Lewis, our deepest desires (not our mere skeptical feelings) reflect features of reality that exist to satisfy them:

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”[vii]

Conclusion.

In short, answering skepticism is as easy as remembering ACL (A Clear Lens!):

Ask questions:

  • How do you know anything?
  • How skeptical are you?
  • How did you arrive at that position?

Challenge the response:

  • If your answer is true, will that explain other things you know to be true?
  • Have you taken this position to its logical conclusion? Did you get an answer? If yes, are you really skeptical? If no, why did you stop?

Leverage the truth:

Christianity is based on thoughtful examination of reality. If the existence of the external world is uncertain, the apostles could not have known that Christ was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead.[viii] Descartes, Moore, and other philosophers have concluded reality is knowable. It is through honest examination that we can be introduced to Jesus. We are not called to a blind faith, but a careful and thoughtful journey. I hope this finds you well and stimulates you to know more.

References:

[i] Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific American, contributor to Time.com, Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. More here: https://www.skeptic.com/about_us/meet_michael_shermer/

[ii] Two of which he refutes, by the way.

[iii] A Skeptics Manifesto, https://www.skeptic.com/about_us/manifesto/ 1997

[iv] Moore, FFS, 226, emphasis in original, FROM: Evidence That Demands A Verdict, 660.

[v] Greg Koukl, Tactic. *Highly Recommended!

[vi] Rene Descartes, Meditations

[vii] Copied from: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/462154-the-christian-says-creatures-are-not-born-with-desires-unless

[viii] Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 662.

Podcast #69: Leaving Mormonism with Dr. Lynn Wilder

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On today’s episode Nate and Gene try out a brand new segment: Live Comedy Skit Reading. They read a comedy skit called “The Atheist Detective” live on episode and let the shenanigans happen. They also analyze the new scifi show “The Orville” in a Worldview Analysis segment. And finally Nate chats with Dr. Lynn Wilder of Unveiling Mormonism about her new book Leaving Mormonism.

As always, please take a moment to peruse our brand new look at the ACL website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 69: Leaving Mormonism with Dr. Lynn Wilder

To download the episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

*Bumper music by bensound.com

Evidence That Demands A Verdict: A Review

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Book Review Evidence That Demands A Verdict

Evidence That Demands A Verdict

I first read The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell in 2011 as a required reading in college. I recall being blown away at the vast amount of evidence discussed. Each topic was broken into bigger sections and that made the book both easy to follow and easy to skip to an appropriate section.

In the new update Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Life Changing Truth for a Skeptical World Josh teams up with his son Sean in an amazing father/son duo that brings a much needed update to the previous edition. The authors have kept to the original look and feel, but that’s about all that is the same. The new iteration is virtually a new book–more than 49% is new content and an additional 20% is considered substantially revised.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict

With so much new information, giving a full and honest evaluation is simple: go buy this book. Now!

A point of contention

This book became available on Oct 3, 2017. I’ve had access to the book for about a month prior as part of the launch team. During that month I’ve had the opportunity to send out quotes like these:

  • “Even if not overtly admitted, the search for truth is nevertheless hauntingly present, propelled by the need for incontrovertible answers to for inescapable questions: those dealing with origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.”
  • “Truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of true?… The denial of truth as an absolute either ends up by denying itself or else … not making any truthful assertion about truth.”
  • “Christianity appeals to history. It appeals to facts of history that can be examined through the normal means of historicity.”
  • “The cliché that ‘life is balanced on a knife-edge’ is a staggering understatement in this case: no knife in the universe could have an edge that fine.” – Paul Davies

Non-miraculous explanations of what happened at the empty tomb have to face a cruel choice: either they have to rewrite the evidence in order to suit themselves or they have to accept the fact that they are not consistent with the present evidence. The only hypothesis that fits the evidence is that Jesus was really resurrected. –Winfried Corduan

As these quotes went out, so did their nay-sayers. And that’s ok. You do not write a book like Evidence without rustling a few feathers. Here are a few of their comments:

This makes me sad. You’ve been huckstered and you are selling bunk to more people. There’s no need to denigrate yourself like this.
Josh, it’s ‘not paralleled’ because it’s illogical. Why would a can-do/almighty god need a Jesus or anyone else?
Are…are you (expletive) stupid?
Haywood: Only to those who seek to confrim their own beliefs rather than test them. Roger: The book is evidence that demands a verdict, is there a piece you’re debating? Can I buy they book for you? We can discuss each piece. Haywood: What would be the purpose of us dicussing it? If I demonstrated that its arg failed, what would change?

These twitter responses raise the question: Who is Evidence written for? In my opinion, everyone. Evidence speaks to other theists (Muslim/Judaism), polytheists (Hindus/Buddhism), atheists and skeptics (and more). Ultimately, there is no good reason to refuse reading the evidence presented in the book. Despite all of this, it should be noted that the book is written with a key audience in mind: Christians.

Evidence is mostly written for Christians…

Christians, if you find yourself in a relationship (friend, spouse, acquaintance, or otherwise) with someone who is not a follower of Jesus Christ, this book is a must have. Evidence will give you a starting point into some contrary perspectives as well as provide a list for you to expand your understanding. Josh and Sean do a tremendous job of equipping Christians to ask the right questions, solidify foundations and strengthen the Christian worldview.

Christians, if you want to take your relationship with Jesus beyond a blind faith—beyond an attitude of: the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it, this book is for you!

Christians, if you care about those you witness to and you want to mimic Jesus by guiding unbelievers to the truth in a compelling and winsome manner, this book is for you.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict
Quotes by: Lee Srobel, Jim Daly, Kay Arthur, Ravi Zacharias, and more.

I’ll say it again: While I do believe this book has much to offer folks from differing worldviews, I don’t think a lot of them are ready for what’s in store. Evidence is highly focused to Christians. Those with alternative views have, in most cases, a much deeper opposition than tends to be immune to the kind of sound arguments presented in Evidence. Only non-Christians with a truly open mind (and a yearning Spirit) will likely find Christ in this book. But then again, Josh and Sean McDowell never set out to replace the Bible. They’ve done a fantastic job supporting it with excellent evidence.

Check it out for yourself on the following sites:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Evidence-That-Demands-Verdict-Life-Changing-ebook/dp/B01MYP99J3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507578893&sr=8-1&keywords=evidence+that+demands+a+verdict

Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33159741-evidence-that-demands-a-verdict?from_search=true

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/evidence-that-demands-a-verdict-josh-mcdowell/1125167143;jsessionid=98063D4D920CA0B3EA3E4DE18B41F2D9.prodny_store01-atgap10?ean=9781401676704#/

Booksamillion: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Evidence-That-Demands-Verdict/Josh-McDowell/9781401676704

Thomas Nelson: http://www.thomasnelson.com/evidence-that-demands-a-verdict-2

The Heart Problem in a Hugh Hefner Culture

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Human dignity, properly understood, is of tremendous value and importance to God.  This is why you frequently see Christians involved in causes fighting global issues like human trafficking and sex slavery.  On those issues, thank God, the broader culture agrees with us.  But when it comes to the core motivations and contributing causes behind such human rights issues, the broader culture is unfortunately not with us.  And those areas of human dignity wherein they disagree with us are of great importance.

What Critics Miss When They Reject the Bible’s Authenticity

We’re often told that we came to possess the New Testament after an elaborate “game of telephone.” Which is to say, the information in the books is unreliable. The reason for my own agnosticism as a teenager was due, in a large part, to accepting misinformation about the authorship of the New Testament books, their transmission to the modern era, and when they were written. Yet, after research, I realized the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament books is very strong.

Dismissing The Evidence

I remember the day I announced my skepticism about the Bible very well.  I was walking home from school with a group of friends. We were talking about our religious beliefs. I announced (rather triumphantly), that while my mother was Christian, I wasn’t sure I could trust the Bible because the Council of Nicaea arbitrarily decided which books would end up in the Bible. 

Looking back at that time in my life, I get pretty embarrassed. I thought I knew so much, but I really just bought into what I was told about the Bible. Almost shamefully, it took me reaching adulthood before I started to really investigate the claims of Christianity. While, it’s only been a mere four years since my journey began, I’m continually impressed by strength of the evidence for the Christian faith and in particular, the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament books. 

I recently finished Samuel P. Tregelles’, “A Lecture on The Historic Evidence of the Authorship and Transmission of the Books of the New Testament”. The book was originally published in 1851 and it contains a plethora of information that has been largely forgotten. In fact, I was blown away by some of the facts that we tend to overlook in our age. 

I won’t discuss the reliability of the Gospels here. J. Warner Wallace has done a very thorough job of that at his Cold Case Christianity website. I will however, relate some of the facts regarding Paul’s Epistles and the general reliability of the New Testament. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but as Tregelles writes:

“I wish, if possible, to restore the historic grounds of Christian evidence to their proper place; they are, I am persuaded, a citadel which will ever be found impregnable…

The Canon in Muratori

Prior to reading Tregelles’ book, I never heard of the Canon in Muratori. To those unfamiliar, the Canon in Muratori is a document that was discovered by an Italian scholar and published in 1740. It is believed to be, as Tregelles writes, “the earliest notice of any collected books of the New Testament.”

The importance of the fragment cannot be understated. As Tregelles explains, “…this ancient canon recognizes the four gospels, the Acts, thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, and, in short, all of the New Testament books, except the epistle to the Hebrews, that of James, those of Peter and perhaps the second or third of John…”

Tregelles goes on to point out an interesting fact, “The author of this list of books…mentions ‘the Shepherd, written very recently in our own time, in the city of Rome, by Hermas, while Pius, his brother, was bishop of the see of Rome.’

“This incidental remark supplies us with the date of the writer. Pius the first, bishop of Rome, died about the middle of the second century; he appears to have succeeded to the episcopate about the year 140. Thus, the list of New Testament books, which we have under consideration, cannot have been written at a much later period. And not only so, but as the writer speaks of the episcopate of Pius the first as being in his own days, his testimony reaches back as far and probably farther.

“We are thus able to trace back the lists of the New Testament books almost to the apostolic age: the author of the Canon in Muratori…lived in the days of some who had been in part contemporaries of the Apostle John.”

Paul’s Epistles

When it comes to Paul’s letters, an interesting point that Tregelles brings up, one that I’ve always overlooked, was that when it comes to authenticating ancient letters, there is a writer and the party to whom the letter is addressed. As Tregelles states, “…the testimony which connects any particular document with a community to which it was addressed, possess a peculiar force.

For example, “St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians was one of solemn reprehension, and yet that Church held it fast as genuine – a plain proof that they knew it to be such…The Epistle was an evidence that condemned them, and yet they preserved it.” In other words, if it were a fake, why would the church at Corinth keep a document that condemned them?

Those same Epistles went into wide circulation in the Church throughout the Roman empire, East and West, and were read habitually and publicly. Early Church Fathers like Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus use, quote and attribute those Epistles to Paul. 

More to the point, Tregelles concludes, “We are thus able to trace the common use of a collection of Epistles, bearing St. Paul’s name, to an early part of the second century; that is, in the days of the many who were then still living, who had belonged to the Church while it was still possessed of apostolic training.” 

He alludes to the fact, that the Epistles of Paul were in such widespread circulation during a time where the Church “still possessed of apostolic training”, they could have (and would have) been discredited by those who would have known them to be fakes.

No Need To Fear Persistent Criticisms

Criticisms of the authorship and transmission of the New Testament books will no doubt persist. However, we do not need to fear them. The historical reliability of the New Testament books is, as Tregelles writes, “a citadel which will ever be found impregnable.”

This has been proved over and over again as critics for the last two thousand years have continually tried to attack their authenticity, and failed. To those critics, Tregelles writes in a frankness that seems only afforded to those living in the 1800’s:

“…the mass of their objections and arguments are nothing but a repetition of refuted assertions, utterly devoid of originality, and marking no superiority of mind whatever: these leaders would not impose so easily on their followers, had they to do with persons tolerably well acquainted with what had been thought and written on the subject long ago, or with those who are not willing to be deceived.”

Does the Old Testament Predict Jesus’ Resurrection?

Prediction of Jesus' Resurrection

Part of Paul’s Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15 is the phrase “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Have you ever wondered what Scriptures Paul had in mind?

When it comes to Jesus’ death, many rightly think of OT passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. But when you look for OT references about Jesus’ resurrection, they are much more scarce and obscure. The first two passages that we will look at are debated among theologians as to whether or not they speak of Jesus’ resurrection, but the next three are much clearer. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Two Debatable Passages

On the Third Day

“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

Here Hosea is praying that God would restore Israel as a nation. The phrases “after two days” and “on the third day” simply denote a short period of time. For many Christians, the phrase “on the third day he will raise us up” seems to be a near perfect parallel to Jesus’ resurrection.

But many commentators seemed to be divided on this. Some think this refers to Jesus’ resurrection while others take this as dealing solely with Israel. The original context of the passage doesn’t seem to be Messianic, but the biggest problem I have is that no one references this passage in the NT. If Hosea was speaking about the Resurrection, I would think that the NT writers would be quoting this passage all over the place!

The phrase “on the third day” also occurs in 2 Kings 20:5, where God relays to Hezekiah that he will be healed from his sickness: “…I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord

However, I don’t find any place in the NT where 2 Kings 20:5 is connected to Jesus’ resurrection either. So for these reasons, Hosea 6:2 would at best be a “shadowy” reference to Jesus’ resurrection.

Prolong His Days

Perhaps no OT passage speaks more clearly of Jesus’ death than Isaiah 53. Yet some commentators believe that Isaiah 53 also contains a reference to Jesus’ resurrection, specifically in verses 10-12:

“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

After reading this passage carefully, I would agree that a resurrection is at least hinted at here. The phrase “he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors” clearly points to this individual’s death. This passage also connects this individual’s death with bearing the sin of others.

But this individual doesn’t seem to stay dead. He sees his offspring, his days are prolonged, he receives a portion from God and he divides his spoils with others. Even though no NT writer correlates this passage with Jesus’ resurrection, other phrases from Isaiah 53:10-12 appear in the NT including “numbered with the transgressors” (Luke 22:37) and “bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

Once again we are left with uncertainty here. I think this passage probably applies to Jesus’ resurrection, but I am not certain at the moment. With that said, there are three OT passages that I am more confident about.

Three Definite Passages

Jonah and the Big Fish

The Gospels record Jesus predicting his death and resurrection on a few occasions, but there is one passage where Jesus directly correlates his resurrection to a story in the OT. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus says,

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”

Here Jesus speaks of the familiar story of Jonah, specifically this verse:

“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

Jonah’s prayer in chapter two has many parallels to Jesus’ death and resurrection, including the phrase “you brought up my life from the pit.” Jesus’ comparison is abundantly clear: just as Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights, Jesus will be in the grave. And just as Jonah came out of the fish after three days, so shall Jesus come out of the grave. Jesus saw the story of Jonah as a foreshadowing of his death and resurrection.

The Holy One and Corruption

In Acts 2:24-32, Peter quotes Psalm 16 in reference to Jesus’ resurrection. Here is the passage in its entirety:

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

This is the most explicit reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the OT. According to Peter, David could not have been speaking about himself in Psalm 16. Why? Because David’s body remained in his tomb and certainly experienced corruption by the time of Peter’s sermon! Also, David knew that God would fulfill His promise of giving His kingdom to one of David’s descendants.

In Psalm 16, David was acting as a prophet, predicting that Jesus would rise from the dead. David foresaw that when Jesus died, God wouldn’t abandon Him to Hades. David also foresaw that Jesus’ body would never experience corruption because God would raise Him from the dead!

The Blessings of David

Paul also applies Psalm 16 to Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 13. In verse 34, Paul says this:

“And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David’”.

The verse referenced here is Isaiah 55:3, and it is an easy one to miss. This may not seem like much, but the phrase “blessings of David” is loaded with meaning. It refers to the covenant that God made with David in 2 Samuel 7. Part of this covenant includes the following:

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

This covenant was fulfilled in the person of Christ. Jesus came as the offspring of David and His kingdom was established forever after His death and resurrection. Paul recognized that God’s covenant could only be fulfilled in Christ because He is the only one to rise from the dead to live forevermore!

Does the Old Testament Predict Jesus’ Resurrection?

In short, yes it does. Hosea 6 and Isaiah 53 possibly allude to the Resurrection, but are inconclusive. However, there are three definite references to Jesus’ resurrection. First, Jesus saw the story of Jonah as a foreshadowing of his death and resurrection. Second, Peter and Paul explicitly state that David predicted the Resurrection in Psalm 16. Finally, Paul believed that Isaiah 55:3 pointed to the Resurrection because the Resurrected Christ and His kingdom will endure forever.

What are your thoughts on this? Are there other Old Testament passages that predict Jesus’ resurrection? Comment below!

Podcast 68: Known by God with Dr. Brian Rosner

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On today’s episode Nate, Gene, and Logan play another round of Fact or Fib. This time stories include brand new underwear, hypnotizing friends, and catching fly balls. They discuss the passing of Nabeel Qureshi, their own personal experiences with loved ones and cancer, and what cancer can teach us. The gang also welcomes Dr. Brian Rosner of Ridley College on to discuss his book Known by God.

Be sure to listen all the way to the end for your chance to win this awesome book by Dr. Rosner!

Also, please take a moment to peruse our brand new look at the ACL website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 68: Known by God with Dr. Brian Rosner

To download the episode, right-click here.

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*Bumper music by bensound.com

Nabeel Qureshi and What Cancer Can Teach Us

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From Ep. 68 of A Clear Lens Podcast

In this clip Nate, Gene, and Logan discuss the recent passing of Nabeel Qureshi, their own experiences losing close, loved ones to cancer, and what they learned from those experiences.

To check out Nabeel Qureshi’s ministry, check out nabeelqureshi.com

Don’t forget to peruse our website and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website!

Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

The Evidence Continues to Show That The Bible Really Is History

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Richard Dawkins once said, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” From the moment one announces their belief in Christ, one of the first derisive objections one often hears is that the Bible is unreliable: “It’s a book of myths no more real than fairy tales!” The dismissal of the Bible in its entirety as a work of “fiction” is, at best, misinformed. While we should be empathetic in a sense, to a skeptical rejection of the more supernatural aspects of the Bible, rejection in its totality based upon the premise that it’s a fictional book declines the reality that archaeology has, and continues, to unearth evidences that support the case for the historical reliability of the Bible.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

As a graduate of the C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows program, I have been afforded the opportunity to meet and learn from many incredible people. Dr. Tim McGrew is one of those individuals and he has been kind enough to help me hone my knowledge by focusing on Biblical apologetics and the historicity of scripture.

Dr. McGrew sent me a study syllabus to help me out. In the recommendations was a book titled “The Historical Evidences Of The Truth Of The Scripture Records” by George Rawlinson and Albert Nicholas Arnold. As I read, I was struck by the following:

“…even at this remote distance of time from the date of the Sacred Oracles, new evidences of their credibility and accuracy are continually coming to light. How much may yet remain, buried under barren mounds, or entombed in pyramids and catacombs, or hidden in the yet unexplored pages of some ancient literature…”

That reminded me of why, before I came to faith, I still wasn’t able to completely dismiss the truth claims found in the Bible. When I was younger I was functionally agnostic in my belief about God. Even as a teen, I understood that there was a lot of information that was waiting to be discovered by archaeologists. I couldn’t confidently claim that the Bible was a “collection of fairy tales” when a little more than 120 years ago, many people dismissed the existence of Troy. While archaeologists still dispute the details, the reality that Troy is not a fictional city can no longer be denied. 

More recently, it’s believed that newer discoveries are set to “rewrite history of Vikings in the New World“. Plus, according to XinHua News, while the mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang and his Terracotta Warriors were first discovered in 1974, only a mere 1% has been excavated.

Archaeology Supports The Bible

John Stonestreet wrote in a piece for the Christian Post, “unlike other faiths, Christianity is rooted in real human history. It tells the story of God’s actions in the same world that you and I occupy, as opposed to some mythical “once upon a time.” This is absolutely true and it’s one of many reasons that makes biblical Christianity different from every other religion on earth. It’s also one the reasons that makes Christianity such a big target for skeptics.

In spite of the ongoing effort to “debunk” the Bible, archaeological studies continue to affirm its reliability. Here are just a few of the more recent:

The Seal of King Hezekiah

The Bible introduces us to King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:1-3: “In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” Hezekiah’s biblical name made secular headlines when CNN reported back in 2015, that the seal of the king who lived in the 8th century B.C., had been found.

Hometown Of Phillip, Andrew, And Peter Discovered

Earlier this year, archaeologists discovered the remains of a Roman bathhouse near the sea of Galilee. As Newsweek stated in its piece the discovery has lead, “Archaeologists digging in modern-day Israel believe they have found the settlement where three of Jesus’s apostles made their homes.” The article goes on to say, “The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius wrote that King Philip Herod, son of the biblical King Herod, transformed a settlement in the area called Bethsaida into a significant Roman city, which he called Julias after Julia Augusta, mother of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.” 

The Bloodline Of The Canaanites Overlap With Modern Lebanese

Last, but certainly not least: my personal favorite discovery this year came earlier this summer. A recent study of human remains found that the Canaanites lived on to become modern Lebanese. It’s a fascinating discovery, but unfortunately many journalists who apparently haven’t read the Bible, believed the study “debunked” the scriptures. They erroneously detailed that “the Bible was wrong, the Canaanites weren’t destroyed.” However, as Evolution News & Science Today wrote in their aptly titled article, “For Culturally Illiterate Science Reporters, DNA Yields Occasion To Slap Bible Around”:

“The only problem with this reporting? The Bible is detailed and unambiguous in relating that the Canaanites survived Joshua’s invasion. So it’s no wonder they have living descendants. I’m not here to pass judgment on ancient Canaanites or ancient Israelites, on the Bible, Joshua, or anyone else. But come on, reporters…”

The above list is by no means exhaustive. There is an entire discipline of archaeology dedicated to Biblical study. There is a plethora of archaeological examples that could be used to support the reliability of the Bible, and undoubtedly many more waiting to be uncovered.

Standing The Test Of Time

While it is entirely possible that one day an archaeological dig may uncover a long-lost clay tablet that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible was an elaborate ruse, it’s highly unlikely given the trajectory of discoveries thus far.

As I stated earlier, I am empathetic to skepticism of the more miraculous claims that are in the Bible, but rejection of the entire Bible, including the historical aspects of it, seems to be a bit cavalier in the face of archaeological evidences.

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