Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Writing Update & Blog Schedule

I'm taking a bit of a break from my blog schedule for the Christmas holidays, but in the meantime here are a couple other fun things regarding my writing work: first, my pilgrimage memoir, Wings over the Wall, was just selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the "Best Indie Books of the Year" (indie books are a category that includes those put out by small publishers, as in my case). You can see the list by clicking this link:

Best Indie Books of the Year

Also, I have another new book coming out shortly, a church history/missiology study from William Carey Publishers. We're in the final stages of copyediting and cover design, so hopefully it won't be too long before it's available!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Apologetics: Was Jesus the Son of God?

- In passages like Mark 1, Matthew 14, and John 1, Jesus is attested to as "the Son of God," and even accepts that title for himself.

- Jesus's favorite title for himself was "Son of Man," a reference to Daniel 7:13-14--a vision of a divine Messiah who is granted a heavenly reign over all nations.

- The Gospel evidence points clearly in the direction of Jesus both using--and accepting others' usage of--divine titles for himself, even to the point of claiming an essential unity with the Father. There is no good textual reason to discount this evidence as a later Christian innovation, particularly since the four Gospels are all relatively early accounts, based on eyewitness testimony. The burden of proof lies on those arguing against the Gospels' clear teaching in this regard.

- If the Gospels' testimony can assumed to be an accurate reflection of Jesus's own teachings (and we have very good historical reasons to believe that it can be thus assumed), then we are left with C. S. Lewis's famous "trilemma"--you have either be willing to call Jesus a liar (which most people don't want to do), a lunatic (which, again, most people don't want to do), or you have to accept his claim to be Lord. There is no other option.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Photo of the Week

Heav'n above is deeper blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Joy shall glow in every hue
That faithful eyes have ever seen.

- adapted from a hymn by Wade Robinson


Monday, December 12, 2022

Quote of the Week

"In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, December 09, 2022

A Prayer from Lancelot Andrewes

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; remember, Lord, how short my time is; remember that I am but flesh, a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. My days are as grass, as a flower of the field; for the wind goeth over me, and I am gone, and my place shall know me no more.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Apologetics: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

- The case for the resurrection is surprisingly compelling, despite its apparently wild improbability under normal circumstances.

- Historical attestation: we have better textual support for the resurrection than almost any other ancient event in history. The Gospels, representing multiple independent accounts of the resurrection events, offer startlingly similar stories of the same event, bearing the hallmarks of eyewitness testimony. These written accounts occur very early after the events they describe (relative to other ancient sources) and bear the authority of Jesus's own inner circle. That is, they represent the eyewitness reports of those who were most likely to know what really happened.

- Explanatory power: The resurrection alone explains the dramatic changes in the Jesus movement attested in the book of Acts, including radical changes like the shift in weekly worship from the biblically-mandated Sabbath (on Saturday) to worship on Sundays (the day of the resurrection). Whether or not Jesus actually rose, even skeptics allow that the disciples clearly thought they were having experiences of Jesus after his death, and were preaching his resurrection in Jerusalem (the very city he had been executed in) shortly after his crucifixion. The leaders of this movement went to their deaths (often gruesome, violent deaths) proclaiming the truth of the resurrection, which one would not expect to be the case had they known it to be a lie.

- Could any other possible theory explain what happened in the early Christian movement?

     - The wrong tomb theory--could the women gone to the wrong tomb on the Sunday after the crucifixion, and on finding an empty tomb, have believed Jesus rose? No, the tomb is identified with great specificity in the gospel accounts, and multiple different characters check the site of the tomb. Further, if it was the wrong tomb, the Jewish authorities could have easily proven the disciples' preaching false.

     - The legend theory - a mythical story that developed over the course of many years in the community of Jesus-followers? No, the earliness and consistency of the historical sources clearly rule this out; it is by far the least likely of any alternative theory.

     - Jesus had a secret identical twin? - perhaps one got crucified, and then the other showed up. It's a wild reach of the imagination (but ironically, actually explains more of the evidence than the other theories)--nevertheless, it can't be true because it would have been easily falsifiable by many of the early community of Jesus-followers, some of whom were from Jesus's own family.

     - Mass hallucination? - No, the experiences of the risen Christ happen in many times and different places, with a widely varied group of people. There's no record in scientific or medical history of any hallucinatory effect that works like that.

     - The disciples stole the body? - No, the historical accounts offer no evidence for this (Matthew mentions an attempt by the chief priests to spread this as a rumor, but it clearly died out unsuccessfully, as no other source, Christian or non-Christian records it). Further, this does not explain the disciples' later martyrdoms--people die for delusions they sincerely believe, but they do not unanimously submit to great personal cost and suffering for something that they know to be a lie.

     - The Jewish priests moved the body? - No, because then they could have easily declared the truth and falsified the disciples' claims.

     - Jesus rose spiritually, but not physically? No, the historical attestations of the empty tomb stand against this, as also do the consistent accounts of the physicality of his resurrection appearances.

     - The swoon theory - perhaps Jesus merely swooned on the cross, but did not die? No, the textual accounts clearly indicate a complete physical death due to Jesus's earlier torture and his being stabbed with a spear during his crucifixion. Burial practices of the time, as well as the nature of the tomb he was placed in, render it impossible for Jesus to have recovered and left the tomb on his own power.

Bottom line: the weight of the actual historical evidence falls clearly on the side of Jesus actually rising from the dead. No alternative theory actually fits the provable historical data of the events around that time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Photo of the Week

From the greatness and beauty of created things 
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

- Wisdom 13:5 (OT Apocrypha)

Monday, December 05, 2022

Quote of the Week

"Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”

- Seneca