Book Review: “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Mike Licona

cover_image.aspWhen it comes to the truth of Christianity, no subject is more important than the Resurrection. The entire Christian faith hinges on it, and without it our faith becomes pointless. The apologetic task of defending the Resurrection is tantamount to defending Christianity itself, or at least defending its most defining facet.

Thanks to the work of Josh McDowell, Gary Habermas, and many others, apologists have been well equipped thus far to defend the resurrection. By examining the resurrection in a different light,  Mike Licona and his new book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” attempts to set a new path forward for contemporary apologists. Using the tools of the historian, Licona builds his own case for the resurrection that many apologists will be able to identify with, but with several twists of his own to make a unique case.

Lets start with the good of this book: Mike Licona is a scholar and a gentlemen in the truest sense. While he sharply critiques the works and positions of many people in this book, not once does he treat or speak of them in a less-than-respectful manner. He is humble and honest to admit the strengths of other positions, and he attempts to represent them well. Licona’s example in this book (and elsewhere) is a shining example of a Christ-like character in apologetics. [Read more...]

Does The Moral Argument Reify Subjective Morality?

http://filmandphilosophy.com/2013/03/07/platos-cave-and-the-cinema/

The prisoners in Plato’s parable of the cave reified the shadows. Does the moral argument do the same to subjective morality? Image source: http://filmandphilosophy.com/2013/03/07/platos-cave-and-the-cinema/

Matthew Lawrence wrote in this question and gave permission to blog it and my answer below:

Hello Christian Apologetics Alliance. I would like to first off say thank you for the resources that you’ve given to me. This has helped me boost my faith up greatly.

Also I was wondering if you can please help me with an objection to the moral argument. I was talking to a skeptic online about certain arguments that can help prove God’s existence. Another skeptic came in and accused the moral argument of being fallacious. The skeptic says that it “asserts necessarily subjective concepts (all concepts are subjective and relative by definition) are in fact real things, which is the reification fallacy.” 

Now I know something is fishy about his objection to the moral argument, but I can’t spot out where. Can you please help me?

Thank You Very Much!

~Matthew Lawrence.

________________

Here’s my answer:

1. If all concepts are merely subjective and none of them correspond to reality, and if all assertion relies on our ability to conceptualize, then all assertion is reification and nothing is actually (known to be) real. That is an extreme skepticism that fails to explain scientific progress. Ask him if he thinks there are any “real” conclusions that are reached without employing conceptualization, and without reifying in the process.

2. The divine command theory, if the commands are not grounded in God’s essential nature, does in fact commit the fallacy of reification. The commanding is the reifying.
[Read more...]

The Benefits of Community in Apologetics

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apologetics is the type of thing that can really strengthen anyone’s faith. Reading a good book or watching a debate on YouTube can be great for individual training. However, apologetics is also something that I have found can be dramatically enhanced through community interaction.

I became interested in this field like a lot of other people. I started reading books beginning with The Case for Christ, and I knew that I wanted to learn and do more. I certainly could have tried to do it alone, but I want to point out a few reasons that I think community is a particularly important dimension for the development of any Christian apologist.

First, it is impossible for any one person to be an expert in everything, especially right at the beginning. When you have a community around you, people can reinforce and assist in areas where you might not have as much knowledge. As an example of this, I am not an expert on the study of Joshua’s invasion of Canaan. I know the basics, but it is not as if I could write a book on it. However, because I am part of the community at the Christian Apologetics Alliance, I know that there are people I can talk to about any questions that come up. That would not be possible without some type of community. [Read more...]

What Christians Should Know About Paul

By Eric Chabot

Given that historians look to those who are contemporaries of the events, Paul is an important resource for what historians can know about Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, the earliest documents we have for the life of Jesus are Paul’s letters. Paul was a very competent rabbi who was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin.  Both Christian and non-Christian scholars have come to have great respect Paul.

Allow me to list some of the basics every Christian should know about Paul:

1. Paul was educated

In this case, I have adapted much of this material from A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians (The Jewish Roots of the New Testament) by Joseph Shulam and Hilary Le Cornu. I have taken most of these points from their section called Paul: A Biography, pgs, 435-469.

1. Paul studied under the famous teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3), the grandson of Hillel.

2. Hillel the Elder was nicknamed “the Babylonian” because he was descended from a family of Babylon.

3. Beit Hillel ended up having three successors, Rabban Gamaliel, the Elder being the first Sage esteemed with the honorific title of Rabban—“our master.”

4. The house of Hillel was unique in that it was an example of a family of who originated from the diaspora, with no priestly connections, which attained the position of hereditary leaders of the nation until, in the time of Rabbi Judah ha Nasi (170-200 C.E.), its members were officially recognized as by the Roman government as Patriarchs. [Read more...]

Approaching Apologetics Like A Chess Match

Image courtesy of tigger11th at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tigger11th at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Working in apologetics is not something that should be done carelessly. While no one can claim to be the perfect apologist, it is important that as we approach these discussions, we come to the table with a strategy for engagement. I do not know if any of you are chess players like I am, but as I was thinking about the way that we help those around us understand the rationality of the Christian worldview, there are many lessons that we can learn from one of the most heavily analyzed board games in world history.

I think that there is first a comparison in regards to the structure of the game itself. As you know, every chess piece has a different function, but all of them can be used to make a checkmate. One of my favorite checkmates was one where I pinned my opponent with two pawns and the king. I think that this points towards the fact that everyone can and should be involved in apologetics. We might not have all of the ability of William Lane Craig or Ravi Zacharias, but we can still be used by God for His glory. God can use whatever pieces He wants to; He is very good at using even the most unlikely people to do great things. All of us should have a reason for the hope that we have.

Next, when you approach a chess match, you know what you want to do. I know that when I play, I have a preferred strategy, and I always open the game the same way. In apologetics, you will also probably have your area of strength. We might be drawn to different topics. You could be interested in the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the historicity of the Bible. It is important to have these areas that we have extensive knowledge in and are comfortable with on a more substantial level.

An important consequence of having a specialty is that we are all different. We can strengthen the field as a whole by being strong in different areas. Since it is hard for any individual to become an expert in everything, we can work together based upon our own interests and specialties. However, you can only do that if you have specialties to begin with. [Read more...]