Tag Archives: Apologetics

“Why do you believe in Jesus? And how can I?”

Are you equipped to answer those questions in a clear, winsome and biblical way?

I actually got an email with those two questions in the subject line.  The sender was a guy from  a Sunday school class I was teaching.  He attended with his wife, who was a committed believer, but he was a skeptic. We ended up having a great conversation about the real Gospel, the importance of reading the Bible, etc.  (We ended up leaving that church so I’m not sure of his current beliefs.  But I trust the process.)

Those are the ultimate softball questions for Christians, right?  They recognize that you believe in Jesus, they are interested in the reasons and they want to know how to do it as well.  Not all encounters will be that tailor made, but my question is this: Are you ready to give effective answers to those questions?  If you aren’t then you need to equip yourselves starting now.

I always start any evangelism / apologetics training with that anecdote.  I want people to get away from thinking that evangelism is only about knocking on doors (not that there is anything wrong with that) and pushing through hostile encounters (Jesus gave us the pearls before swine commandment in Matthew 7:6 for a reason).  I want people to be prepared, but not to give up before they start.

I highly recommend reading this book and having extra copies to share with people.  You will learn how to give an effective presentation of the Gospel, explain the main themes of the Bible and Christianity and address common objections.

P.S. There was an interesting side note with the email.  The guy was a trustee of a 3,000 person Methodist church at the time.   They didn’t even know he was an explicit non-believer.  I knew the church had agnostics in other roles who thought they are Christians, but this guy knew his real spiritual status.  Maybe churches should get to know their leaders first, and as a bonus, their members.  /sarcasm

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About those variants in the Bible manuscripts

Alternate title: Textual critic Bart Ehrman is petty, malicious and misleading.

He makes a living trying to discredit the Bible by pointing out slight differences in manuscripts found throughout the world from various centuries.  Via 400,000 Variants in the Bible?

The problem is that the number of variants in the original manuscripts, whether they are 50,000 or 400,000 really is not that big of a problem. Let me explain. A variant in manuscripts means that when we find two manuscripts from the same book, and we read them both, then we find that in one, it reads, “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and at the same point in the other manuscript it reads “Jesus Christ Our Lord,” that counts as a variant even though the order of the words doesn’t change the meaning one iota.

In fact, what Blomberg and others have pointed out ad nauseum is that of all the variants, only about 1,250 of them need some sort of explanation. If you have a study Bible, you know this because these variants are listed in the footnotes of your Bible. The footnotes will tell you that the UBS reads one way and NA reads another. (The USB and NA are compilations of the Greek texts put out by the United Bible Society and Nestle Aland.)

These variants are listed in plain sight for all to see and are not kept secret from anyone who wishes to know the truth, despite what men like Ehrman would have you believe.

But back to the number of variants in the Greek manuscripts we have. Another detail you need to know is that of all these variants, only about 50 of them rise to the level of changing the meaning of the text one way or another. All these are dealt with by scholars and theologians quite thoroughly.

Yet, of these 50, not a single variant changes a thing when it comes to the doctrines of our faith. None of them affect the salvation found in Christ, the atonement He makes for His children, or the hope we have when we are in Him. The doctrine of the Trinity remains steadfast. The doctrine of justification, changes not a whit. The doctrine of the return of Christ, the resurrection, the birth of Christ, the miracles, etc., none of these things change at all with any of these variants. Our faith remains intact despite the claims of apostates like Ehrman.

“Former Christian* Ehrman is still a useful enemy in the sense that we can note how even he will strenuously argue over finer points of what they originals really said. Hey Bart, thanks, because we agree that the text has been transmitted accurately!

That said, he is unethical and malicious in playing up the “400,000 variants” nonsense. He knows better than anyone that more manuscript evidence is always better than less and that the Bible has so many more manuscripts than other works of antiquity that it will obviously have more variants. In other words, more manuscripts is better than less, but more manuscripts = more variants.

Ehrman just abuses his position for profit and to attack Christianity.  No surprise there.  What is said is how easy he is to refute and how few people are equipped to do it.  But now you are!

*There are as many former Christians as they are unicorns, but there are many former atheists.  If you aren’t a Christian now, you never were one. 1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. You may have gone to church, etc. but you weren’t a Christian — but by the grace of God you can become one.and have all your sins forgiven and the righteousness of Christ imputed to you.  But you must repent and believe.

More quick and thorough answers to the Big Book of Atheist Sound Bites*

From a recent comment on the multiverse post:

Can you prove God exist ? If yes, the game is over. If no, keep calm & let science do the job.
Can you prove God doesn’t exist ? If yes, the game is over. If no, keep calm & let science do the job.

My response:

I’ll respond more fully with a complete post, but here’s the short version: You have made a category error. God is immaterial, and science deals with the material. Therefore, asking “science” to deal with the immaterial is like asking someone what the color blue weighs or what the number 3 smells like.

I’ll say this as gently as possible: I encourage you to consider how you got this far without realizing how fallacious your argument was. Does your circle of influence also believe that your argument was sound? Do the things you read support it? If so, I encourage you to expand your horizons, as you have been seriously misled on a really obvious point.

P.S. There is a ton of evidence for God’s existence: Cosmological, teleological, logical, moral, etc. But deep down you don’t even need that. Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Here’s a little more:

Everyone relies on eyewitness testimony for their beliefs, even Darwinists.

The demand of some atheists for scientific evidence for God’s existence is born of either disingenuousness or a lack of understanding. They can’t use empirical testing to prove that only empirical testing qualifies as evidence, as that is a circular reference.

They also make a category error. You don’t use a scale to weigh the color blue, because colors don’t have weight. In the same way, you don’t use methods designed to test material things if you want to determine the truth about immaterial things.

Christians can point to all sorts of evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus and the accuracy and reliability of the Bible: Cosmological, teleological, logical, moral, historical and more. If they want to debate the evidence, that is fine. But skeptics really tip their hands when they insist that only empirical evidence is permitted, or that we have no evidence or that they have the same amount of evidence for their Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Also consider their typically dismissive reaction to the evidence of the testimony of eyewitnesses or reliable sources. They often insist that they only trust empirical evidence and not that of eyewitnesses, but that would mean they’d have to create their own test equipment and replicate every single experiment before they trusted the results. They obviously don’t do that. They use their judgment and experience to determine who they think is trustworthy and they rely on their conclusions. So even with their scientific evidence they are constantly relying on the evidence of eyewitnesses or what they deem as reliable sources.

HISTORICAL EVIDENCE – Just for the record, the vast, vast majority of historical scholars, including skeptics, agree that a person named Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross, that his followers believed he rose from the dead, that his brother James was a converted skeptic, and that a man named Paul went from persecuting the faith to spreading it, and that he wrote most of the letters attributed to him in the Bible. When that many experts agree on something, we have a term for those views: Facts. And it isn’t illogical to draw the conclusion that the best explanation for those facts is the physical resurrection of Jesus. Those facts don’t necessarily prove Christianity, but they soundly refute the “Jesus didn’t even live,” and “Christians have blind faith” arguments and more. They are compelling reasons to give Jesus serious consideration.

Biblical faith is trusting in what reason has assessed.

*Not a real book, just a catch-phrase for the silliness masquerading as reasoning on the Interwebs.

Quick and thorough answers to the Big Book of Atheist Sound Bites*

Atheist: “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Christian:  So are single men virtually identical to married men with respect to marriage?  After all, they have “just” one less wife, and neither have married the other 3,499,999,999 females in the world.  Now, would you like to have a serious conversation about the most important things in life, or would you rather just throw out more fallacious sound bites?

How did the universe come into existence? How did life come from non-life? If there is really nothing immaterial, then consciousness, morality, etc. must be illusions.  So why do you make so many moral claims? If you “know” that atheism and Darwinian evolution are true, why do you get so upset that some of us “evolved” to believe in the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? After all, if your worldview is true then Darwinian evolution is the only possible source for our Christian beliefs. We have no choice but to hold them. So why get down on your own worldview?

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

*Not a real book, just a catch-phrase for the silliness masquerading as reasoning on the Interwebs.

The universe is unbelievably large, but still not big enough to find a legitimate justification for atheism

The Multiverse Theory is the atheists’ concession speech. It means they have literally run out of explanations in this universe, so they have to pretend there is another one to explain their flawed worldview.

The Multiverse Theory is the unscientific and anti-scientific idea that the exquisite design in our universe isn’t caused by an intelligent designer (i.e., God), but it exists merely because there are an infinite number of universes and we just happen to be in one that appears to be designed. Yes, it is laughable, but the continually growing evidence for design has forced people to come up with a non-God explanation.

Their theory is a self-contradictory attempt to move the goalposts. Even if more than one universe existed, let alone an infinite number, that would just give greater evidence to the design theory. More complex things means more evidence for a creator.

I think that those who know that support for Darwinism is crumbling use the Multiverse Theory as a placeholder until they can think of something which is at least a little more plausible.

See The Multiverse is the Poker Player’s Best Friend for a good illustration. Here’s a sample:

A couple of years ago I trotted out the “highly improbable things happen all the time” meme our Darwinist friends use to such advantage at my home poker game. For those who don’t recall, this is what happened. I dealt myself a royal flush in spades for the first 13 hands. When my friends objected I said, “Lookit, your intuition has led you astray. You are inferring design — that is to say that I’m cheating — simply on the basis of the low probability of this sequence of events. But don’t you understand that the odds of me receiving 13 royal flushes in spades in a row are exactly the same as me receiving any other 13 hands. In the game we are playing there are 2,598,960 possible hands. The odds of receiving a straight flush in spades are therefore 1 in 2,598,960. But the odds of receiving ANY hand are exactly the same, 1 in 2,598,960. The odds of a series of events are the product of the odds of all of the events. Therefore the odds of receiving 13 royal flushes in spades in a row are about 2.74^-71. But the odds of receiving ANY series of 13 hands is exactly the same, 2.74^-71.”

Please read these words carefully:

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

It is foolish and rebellious to think that you get to define whether God exists and what He must be like. Repent and believe while you still have time. Eternity is a mighty long time to suffer for your foolish pride. One day you will die and will be judged by your creator. The standard won’t be your neighbor whom you think you are a little better than. The standard will be the righteousness of Christ, and all of your secret (and not-so-secret), shameful sins will be compared to that standard.

The Good News: By God’s grace He adopts, completely forgives and eternally blesses everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus.

You say “copy and paste” like it is a bad thing . . .

CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) is an outstanding site for defending the faith and exposing the errors and heresies of false religions.  They have a handy section called Cut and Paste that gives accurate and pithy answers to common objections of atheists, the “Christian” Left, pro-LGBTQX extremists and more.  If you are doing online debating or just sharpening your reasoning skills these sections will help you.

And as always, if you find anything of use at Eternity Matters then please feel free to use it without attribution.