The Case for Christ

April 14, 2017

Because of Easter, some may be thinking about the resurrection of Jesus. For some it may be a strong belief. Others may view it as a myth. Among the latter, there may be some who still cling to the Christ of faith, which means Christ as some sort of ideal although they believe the historical Jesus is moldering in a grave somewhere. Others who hold a mythic view of the resurrection may wish the whole things would disappear into the dustbin of history. The most rabid of this sort may even view religion as dangerous. And of course, there may be some who believe, if asked, but for whom such belief doesn’t have much impact on life.

C.S. Lewis wisely observed, “One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”* In other words, I think the importance of the claim about Christ means that everyone should seriously investigate the case for Christ. And this also means examining our own presuppositions and worldviews that might get in the way of such an investigation. Skeptics have examined and become believers. But upon belief, we should never take it lightly.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). Although we must read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for the eyewitness testimony, I’ve found the serious studies of others have helped me sharpen and strengthen my own belief in the resurrection. One of the first books that I read of this type was Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison. Frank Morrison is the pen name of Albert Ross. Ross set out to write a book that would disprove the resurrection. He ended up convincing himself of the truth of the resurrection and writing a very different book. First published in 1930, the book continues to be in print. Here is a list of helpful books.

  • Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison
  • The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence by Simon Greenleaf. Greenleaf was a law professor at Harvard. For those who can wade through 19th century prose, it has helpful insights into looking at the evidence of the gospels.
  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Strobel was a newspaper reporter for the Chicago Tribune. When his wife came to belief in Jesus, it upset his perfect atheist marriage. He used his investigative talents as a reporter to attempt to disapprove the resurrection. He ended up becoming convinced of the resurrection.
  • The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona
  • Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith by W. Mark Lanier. Lanier is a successful trial lawyer. His book brings his experience with evidence to the task of examining Christianity. This book begins with questions about God and morality before dealing with Jesus.
  • Cold-Case Christianity by Wallace J. Warner. Warner is a LA homicide detective. He also began as a skeptic, but examined the case for Jesus using his skills as a cold-case, homicide detective. He became convinced of the resurrection.

The evidence of this case demands to be examined by everyone. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.

*C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” God in the Dock, p. 101.

Advertisements

Our God Is Real!

October 30, 2015

What if you were given a school assignment on critical thinking? Your assignment is to review a list of statements and mark them as factual claim, common assertion, or opinion. Statements include things like George Washington was the first president and people who wear glasses are smart. But one statement arrests your attention: There is a God. How would you mark it?

According to a recent news report, a Texas middle-schooler was faced with this choice. She marked “There is a God” as fact. According to allegations, she was told that she would fail the assignment unless she changed her answer, because God is not real. What would you do?

Since the news story broke, the school district has released a statement saying that the assignment was intended to spur critical thinking and was not intended to question religious beliefs of students. They further admitted, “… still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued.”

What do we make of this news story? I’m well aware that not everyone believes in God. Yet, I believe there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of God. So is God a fact or not? A lot depends on our working definition for fact. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “a thing that is indisputably the case.” Obviously, a dispute does exist, and some people deny the existence of God. However, the Merriam-Webster 3rd Unabridged Dictionary states a fact is “something that has actual existence … the reality of events or things the actual occurrence or existence of which is to be determined by evidence.” Clearly English usage allows us to say that the existence of God is a fact even if it is a disputed fact.

What lessons do we learn from this news story? First, I’m reminded of Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3:14-16:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14–16, ESV)

We need to be prepared to make a defense of our faith.

Second, we need to be willing to take a stand for our faith. Jesus warns us: “

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33, ESV)

Taking a stand for our faith is not optional. These two lessons are imperative because our God is real!


What Difference Does Creation Make?

October 26, 2015

Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli is a good basic Christian apologetics book. It provides twenty arguments for the existence of God, and as their subtitle says hundreds of answers to crucial questions. They have a footnote in the book on the importance of belief in creation.* What difference does it make to us if we believe in creation or not?

It makes a difference in our concept of God. If God is the creator of the universe, then certain things must follow. God is omnipotent, that is, he is all powerful or infinitely powerful. That last statement — infinitely powerful — needs to sink into modern minds. He must also be omniscient and infinitely wise. To create the universe includes its design, laws, and structures. Scientists are beginning to realize how many parameters must be just so for life to exist. God is also a great artist. We see tremendous beauty in the world around us. God must also be generous. God is all-sufficient. He had no necessity to create. Creation is a gift.

It makes a difference in our view of nature. Science grew up in the theistic West, not the pantheistic East. The reasons are simple. The Judeo-Christian view of God means that the universe is intelligible and orderly. We can observe, experiment, and understand. This view of creation also means that the universe is real. You may be taking that for granted, but Hinduism teaches that the world around us is an illusion perceived by an unenlightened consciousness. The Bible’s view of creation also means that the material world is good. Yes, there is moral evil in it, but the material world is to be enjoyed with thanksgiving being the creation of a good God.

It makes a difference in our concept of what it means to be human. If we are God’s creation, we owe our existence to him. We have no rights over against God; God has rights over us. That’s a humbling position, which is why human beings sometimes resist it. But this view of ourselves also means that our lives have meaning and purpose. If everything has evolved by blind chance, then there is no absolute meaning. Further, if God is our creator, then we owe God everything. Nothing is our own. We are obligated to use everything that we have in a way that will glorify him.

As Kreeft and Tacelli write, “No idea in the history of human thought has ever made more difference than the idea of Creation.”*

*Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 105–106.