How to Evaluate Different Points of View

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I always appreciate when a leader lets me peek into the inner workings of their thought processes. Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason – a Christian apologetics ministry – trains believers to defend their faith. This video is an excerpt from an STR podcast, where Greg lays out some principles behind engaging non-believers:

  1. Make sure you’ve understood the opposing viewpoint.
  2. Think through the argument.
  3. Develop counter-arguments, looking for decisive arguments.

I especially like the section about making sure we represent an opposing argument fairly. I can’t recommend Greg and STR highly enough.

Why Trust the Gospels? – Peter J. Williams

How to understand Revelation? Is Jesus coming back? What is the mark of the beast? Is Hell real?

I never get tired of hearing about the historical evidence for the people and events in the Bible. Here Peter J. Williams gives a fairly brief explanation of why the four Gospels should be considered trustworthy.

I recommend it highly!

Comparing the New Testament with Other Ancient Books

How to understand Revelation? Is Jesus coming back? What is the mark of the beast? Is Hell real?

The New Testament is the best-attested book of the ancient world. The manuscript copies of most Greek and Latin authors can usually be counted on both hands, with some rising in the hundreds. Homer’s writings are the second-most popular with less than 2500 copies of his Iliad and Odyssey combined. But Homer pales in comparison with the New Testament.

There are over 25,000 manuscripts of the New Testament, making it the most reliable ancient book on record.

The number of New Testament manuscripts in Greek alone now stands at 5824. Add another 10,000+ for Latin copies (which the NT began to be translated into in the second century), and several thousand more for Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian, Arabic, Hebrew, and many other languages. Conservative estimates are that the New Testament weighs in at 20,000 to 25,000 manuscripts in these various languages. Scholars don’t know for sure because they haven’t finished counting them all yet.

That’s approximately ten times the amount of manuscripts for Homer, and Homer had a 900-year head start! And the average New Testament manuscript is not some small scrap; no, the average is more than 450 pages long. In terms of sheer quantity of manuscripts, nothing in the ancient world comes close to the New Testament.

This information came from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. You should go there and check them out!

Christianity is Offensive

Should Christians fight? Can a Christian be a fighter? How to avoid conflict in church.

Someone recently pointed out that ‘cheap Christianity’ offends no one. Another responded by asking, “Why would you want your Christianity to offend someone?” Here are my thoughts.

Christians shouldn’t be offensive, of course…but Christianity is inherently offensive.

It teaches that people are born broken and can’t fix themselves, and that submission to God is the only solution. It teaches that the intelligent, the wealthy, the powerful, and the influential aren’t necessarily better off than anybody else. It teaches that our best efforts to do good on our own are all but wasted. It teaches that allegiance to God is more important than allegiance to your family…and that, if you have to choose, you should choose God. It teaches that some actions are wrong, even if they feel good. It teaches that the things that we brag about in our selfishness and immaturity are less important than the things that nobody sees, and get no earthly reward.

In other words, it’s the kind of thing that a lot of people don’t want to hear. Christianity is divisive, exclusive, and difficult. As a result, Christians sometimes offend others by being divisive, exclusive, and difficult. They don’t need to be this way, because Christianity is plenty offensive without their help.

Why didn’t God create us to automatically be righteous?

Are robots people? Will robots kill people?

Why couldn’t [God] have created mankind with free will that also chose to love him and were righteous from the get go?

Anonymous GodWords Reader

An interesting question, to be sure. The answer is in the question itself: free will.

The alternative to having free will is to NOT be FREE. Were God to create people who would automatically choose to love Him, those people would not be – and never could be – free. It’s like asking why God didn’t make circles with corners…if it’s got corners, it CAN’T be a circle. In the same way, making us an offer we can’t refuse is exactly the same as not making an offer at all. We’re either free to decide – and live with the consequences – or we’re not free at all.

I understand her frustration. This is a sick and broken world, filled with hurting and dying people. Our ache for relief from this suffering goes unanswered, and it’s probably the most difficult part of life. We want things to be different, so we blame the One who set it up…it’s perfectly understandable.

At the same time, free will is the key to it all. If we’re not free, then our decisions have no value at all. If we’re free, we get the bad with the good. God will make all things right, at the perfect time, in the perfect way…or He’s not God at all. I read recently that, in the end, “all sad things will become untrue“. I like that. It offers comfort to we who suffer, acknowledges God’s promises, and looks ahead to when our wounds will finally be healed.

The ABCDE’s of New Testament Reliability

Is the Bible true? Are Bible translations bad? What language is the Bible?

Mike Licona is a pretty well-known apologist. He writes book and speaks, especially on college campuses, about the intellectual soundness of the Christian faith.

Bart Ehrman is probably the best-known skeptic of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in America today.

Having debated Ehrman more than once (and having beaten him soundly, in my estimation), Licona here outlines some responses to Ehrman’s claims that weren’t thoroughly covered in their debates. It’s the A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s, and E’s of the Reliability of the New Testament:

  • Authorship
  • Bias
  • Contradictions
  • Dating
  • Eyewitnesses

Each one has been more thoroughly covered in other places, and by other people. If you aren’t sure about how YOU should respond when someone questions the Gospels, this is a great place to start. Thanks, Mike!

You can follow Mike on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/Mike_Licona

Mike Licona addresses the 5 major objections to the historical reliability of the Gospels: Authorship, Bias, Contradictions, Dating, and Eyewitness Testimony.

Stand to Reason: Christianity Worth Thinking About

Greg Koukl is a Christian apologist.

That doesn’t mean that he’s sorry for being a Christian. An “apology” in this sense is a “defense”…so a Christian apologist makes a defense for Christianity. Makes a case, if you will. Presents good reasons for believing as Christians do.

Greg’s ministry, Stand to Reason, is a great resource for Christian apologetics materials. Greg travels all over the place and teaches Christians a lot of simple, easy to remember techniques for sharing what you believe. He also spends a lot of time explaining how other ways of looking at the world fall short…whether on matters like philosophical materialism (Darwinian evolution) or abortion, for example.

The two videos below show Greg talking about some of these techniques. I appreciate his work because, as a teacher, I can share his techniques with others and help them see that Christianity really is a reasonable faith.