Do you really believe what you say and think you believe, and how can you know? The answer may at first brush appear obvious — “of course I believe what I say and think I do,” you might say. If you didn’t, after all, why would you be spending so much time engaged in the intellectual defense of it? This raises an interesting question: Can you believe that you believe something which you do not in fact believe in your heart? Is it possible that we deceive ourselves about what our own beliefs are? [Read more...]
When it comes to the Christian faith, there is no doctrine more important than the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings. Instead, it is founded on the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, we as His followers are still dead in our sins (1Cor.15:7). Explanations try to show how something happened. That is, what is the cause for something that has happened. As I have noted elsewhere, the resurrection story started very, very, early. Also, there is an excellent post on the empty tomb issue over at Wintery Knight’s blog.
Anyway, let’s take a look at what explains the resurrection appearances. First, let’s observe the list of appearances:
• Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, shortly after his resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18)
• Jesus appears to the women returning from the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10)
• Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12,13; Luke 24:13-35)
• Jesus appears to Peter ( Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
• Jesus appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23).
• Jesus again appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. At this time Thomas is present (John 20:24-29).
• Jesus appears to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 28:16; John 21:1,2)
• Jesus is seen by 500 believers at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
• Jesus appears to James ( 1 Corinthians 15:7)
• Jesus appears to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20).
• He appeared to his disciples (Luke 24:50-53).
• He appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8).
I will go ahead and offer some comments from various scholars and what they say about the appearances and the experiences of the disciples: [Read more...]
This past weekend I got to hang out with Frank Turek, a dear friend, co-laborer and mentor. Frank is the author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, and he was here in our neck of the woods teaching several services at a large local church. Susie and I joined him afterward and we spent the better part of two days together. We ate some barbeque, ran through the local woods (we found out Frank runs faster than we do), and talked about our work and passion to train Christians to think critically about what they believe. Frank does more than train Christians, however. Frank trains trainers.
Frank’s been a teacher and cultural influencer for years, but if you want to impact your culture exponentially, you’ve got to multiply your own efforts by creating additional trainers. That’s exactly what Frank does every year at the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA). Frank has assembled a team of speakers and thinkers to help him train up the next generation of Christian Case Makers. This three day experience isn’t for beginners. It’s for people who have already started to step out and teach apologetics in their local churches and communities. CIA will teach you how to present I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, including four categories critical to Christian Case Making: Truth, God, Miracles and the New Testament. You’ll also learn how to answer questions about those topics in a hostile environment. During these three days, in addition to hearing lectures and participating in discussions, participants will be asked to present a portion of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and answer questions from the instructors. Like last year, I am part of the CIA faculty, along with Frank, Greg Koukl, Dr. Richard Howe, Brett Kunkle and Ted Wright.
If you’re a tent-making Case Maker, I think you should come and be a part of this incredible opportunity for the following reasons:
It’s a Great Place to Grow Your Knowledge Base There’s an extensive reading list required for everyone who attends the program, so you’re going to have to prepare yourself with additional knowledge before you even arrive on the campus of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES). But trust me; you’re going to learn a lot from the instructors and other participants. The people who come to this academy are gifted and knowledgeable. We all get to learn from one another and everyone comes away with something they didn’t know prior to the training.
It’s a Great Place to Refine Your Approach One of the best things about CIA is the emphasis on presentation. It’s one thing to know something, another to communicate what you know effectively (especially if you want to be winsome or influential). This year we are increasing our focus in this area. We want to make you better Case Makers and communicators. We’ve got special break-out sessions planned for you to accomplish this goal.
It’s a Great Place to Learn the Art of Influence If you want to influence a culture effectively, it all begins with your “platform”. I will be talking a lot about that this year; Frank scheduled me to teach one of the new breakout sessions where we’ll examine a number of successful strategies guaranteed to increase your audience and influence. If you’re a tent-making Case Maker like me, this will be the perfect opportunity to learn from one another.
It’s a Great Place to Connect with Other Case Makers Perhaps my favorite part of this training is the opportunity to meet all of you and “hang out in the halls” together. If you’re staying at the local hotel, we’ll be eating breakfast every day (as well as other meals on the SES campus). We’ll definitely learn from each other, but more importantly, we’ll get to know each other as brothers and sisters (and likely begin a relationship that will extend over the years).
If you want to become a more effective Christian Case Maker, I can’t think of a better, more concise, more focused opportunity. Join us at the CrossExamined Instructor Academy from August 14th to 16th as we encourage, critique, train and inspire each other to make the case for Christianity.
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As a Christian, I have many unanswered questions. The more I study the Christian worldview, the larger my list seems to grow. While essential truths are easier to identify from scripture, there are many non-essential (and more ambiguous) features of Christianity. The unfathomable aspects of God’s nature typically leave us in awe and without adequate explanation. To make matters worse, the ancient claims and historical details described in the New Testament are sometimes too remote to accurately verify. As a result, I’m often left with questions in places where I would rather have clarity and evidential certainty. How can we trust Christianity is true when there are so many unanswered questions?
After a long career as a cold-case detective, I’ve learned to get comfortable with unanswered questions. In fact, I’ve never investigated or presented a case to a jury that wasn’t plagued with a number of mysteries. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, there is no such thing as a perfect case; every case has unanswered questions. In fact, when we seat a jury for a criminal trial, we often ask the prospective jurors if they are going to be comfortable making a decision without complete information. If potential jurors can’t envision themselves making a decision unless they can remove every possible doubt (and answer every possible question), we’ll do our best to make sure they don’t serve on our panel. Every case is imperfect; there are no cases devoid of unanswered questions. Every juror is asked to make a decision, even though the evidential case will be less than complete. As detectives and prosecutors, we do our best to be thorough and present enough evidence so jurors can arrive at the most reasonable inference. But, if you need “beyond a possible doubt,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you’re not ready to sit on a jury. The standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a good reason; no case is evidentially complete; no case maker can eliminate every possible reservation. [Read more...]
Just over a year ago I discovered a philosopher who would come to be one of my favourite thinkers—Nicholas Wolterstorff. As I read his book Justice in Love I was struck by the sharp clarity and rigor of his thought. But what I’ve come to appreciate most about Nicholas Wolterstorff is the gracious manner in which he challenges the views of his opponents. He writes with a Christ-like humility that deserves emulating.
Today I want to share perhaps the most important lesson that I’ve learned from Wolterstorff—that rational people often disagree. Perhaps you already knew that. Let’s take a closer look and see how Wolterstorff understands this common situation.