In our previous article in this series (found here), we began by articulating the popular argument that Christianity stole its central themes from antecedent Pagan deities. There, we argued that even skeptics and critical scholars reject such a view. However, we didn’t explain why they do so. In the subsequent articles, we will outline the reasons scholars reject this specious claim. [Read more…]
Many skeptics claim that the resurrection of Jesus originated from pagan myths about “dying and rising” gods—commonly called the “copycat theory” of Christianity. James G. Frazer popularized this view in his book The Golden Bough (1914), though more recently, others have followed in his footsteps.
In my previous treatment of Kierkegaard (S.K., hereafter) as a relevant Christian thinker of our day, I drew upon basic themes in S.K. to illuminate an apologetic for the imagination, so to speak. One of these basic yet classic themes in S.K. was “truth as subjectivity.” For such a phrase, S.K. has (wrongfully) been acclaimed a relativist, or a fideist.
But my goodness! S.K. has also been said to be a European moralist, a postmodernist, an existentialist, a poet, a psychologist, and much more. Among the receptions of 20th century scholarship there is also a cloud of smoke: the reader’s (sometimes reluctant) yielding to S.K.’s desire to be read as he intended, or attempting to retrieve an understanding of the “man” through his Journals, among other such “clouds.” I wish to take S.K. to round two of the battlefied; not of an attack upon “Establishment Christianity” (as he saw it), but to a retrieval of S.K. from his critics .
Setting the Record Straight
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is a very interesting philosopher and individual who has gained my undivided attention over the past year. His use of indirect communication, irony, satire, and impressive wit make him a rather unprecedented – or perhaps ‘unusual’ – thinker of his time. Even as a boy, by the testament of fellow classmates , he was not one blessed with the powers of physical strength, but God nonetheless left him with his uncanny wit, so that he might not be left completely defenseless. As one classmate recollects:
As a boy, he did not have the least trace of the great poetic gifts he later developed. Now and then, when our classmate H. P. Holst would read us his attempts at poetry or a Danish composition which displayed his poetic talents, S.K. was always one of the first to interupt his reading by throwing a book at his head (Kirmmse 1996, 8).
Other instances such as this, left the young S.K. (“fork” as he was called) with much of a beating from other classmates he annoyed and ridiculed. Such a wit he maintained and executed all throughout his life. However, should the reader not be too upset, I would like to (though it is custom) pass over a biographical sketch of S.K. and get right to the meat of his thought (please see note  on this). The question of this article is basically this: Is Kierkegaard a relevant Christian thinker for today? 
Over the years, I have had the chance to talk to several Jewish people about spiritual issues. A common Jewish objection that I continue to hear is that Jewish people don’t believe that a human can be sacrificed for sins. In other words, a human can’t atone for the sins of the Jewish people.
First, let me give some background to the idea of atonement in Judaism. For Jewish people Yom Kippur, which is also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D, the religious and social life changed forever for the Jewish people. The Jewish people no longer had a sacrificial system in the Temple. Therefore, the atonement structure was changed to repentance which entails prayer, fasting, and doing mitzvah (good deeds).
The Importance of Atonement
One of the Bible’s central messages is atonement. Hence, God has provision for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him is one of the central themes in Scripture. The Hebrew word called “Shalom” which means peace, completeness, can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God) or peace between two countries. Why do we lack this wholeness? Sadly, sin causes us to be fragmented. The Hebrew verb ‘to atone’ (kaphar) means ‘cover.’ In other words, we need a covering for our sins. [Read more…]
When 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…]