How to Evaluate Different Points of View

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.

Faith vs Reason

Are minds real? Do humans have free will? Is evolution true?

Why consider faith and reason at odds? The opposite of faith is unbelief, not reason. The opposite of reason is not faith, but irrationality.

Greg Koukl

Brilliant.

I love it when people think things through. I love it when people see things for what they are, too…and Greg usually does. Clearly, faith and reason have never been at odds, despite a lot of non-believers’ claims to the contrary. Faith isn’t irrational, and reason doesn’t supercede matters of faith.

I’m not a Christian in spite of the evidence around me. I’m a Christian because of the evidence around me.

Coincidence? I Think Not.

Is the Titanic real? Is evolution true?

Bible skeptics sometimes like to point out the fact that the fulfillment of a prophecy always comes after the prophecy itself, giving ‘true believers’ plenty of opportunity to make the prophecies come true.

There are a couple of problems with this kind of reasoning: first, fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies would be impossible to fake. Second, not everything is as it seems. As one can see from the story of The Wreck of the Titan, it’s simply too easy to point fingers and make assumptions.

What happened? Well, if you’re too lazy to click the link and find out, here are the basics: in 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novella about an ocean liner, Titan, which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. The sinking of the Titan is obviously similar to the sinking of the Titanic which sank fourteen years later.

Other similarities:

  • Both were considered unsinkable or indestructible
  • Both had three propellers and two masts
  • Both launched In April
  • Both carried lifeboats for only half of their passengers
  • Both struck an iceberg

Coincidence? Sure. Nobody thinks that the crew of the Titanic collaborated to make real a recent fiction. Nobody’s claiming that the writer of the story of the Titan was being prophetic, either. The point is that things are not always as they appear.

There are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus, for example. The chances that they would be fulfilled by one person are beyond astronomical…so skeptics take the path of least resistance. They claim that true prophecy doesn’t exist and that Jesus and His followers conspired to make Him only appear to be the Messiah.

Now who’s writing fiction?