Should we say I believe in the Bible because of Jesus or Jesus because of the Bible?

For a long time, I would have said the former in the title of this blog post. Afterall, salvation comes by believing in Jesus, not the Bible. We call the Gospel the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the Gospel of the Bible. Jesus is Lord whether the Bible was ever written or not, whereas the Bible, if accurate, depends on Jesus. Christianity is mainly about Jesus, not the Bible many Christians may say. One the one hand I certainly believe that the Bible is true because of Jesus, therefore, believing in the Bible because of Jesus. There is good evidence that He rose from the dead and I’ve experienced the Triune God in my life, so the Bible I take to be true as well. On the other hand, I think the proposition that I believe in Jesus because of the Bible can and should be defended as well. In other words, I think we can say both, that we believe in the Bible because of Jesus and we believe in Jesus because of the Bible. I mentioned why I take the former to be true above so now I turn to the latter.

How do we mainly know about Jesus? Well, the answer would be the Gospels. Are there writings outside the New Testament that mention Jesus? Yes, there are. Yet, our main information we receive comes from the Gospel accounts. So I mainly know who Jesus is from the Bible. It is also good to be reminded that when we mention the word Bible we are not just talking about facts about Jesus. When we mention the word Bible we are referring to a story. So Jesus and what we learn of Him from the Gospels only makes since in the larger story of God and his relationship with Israel in what we call the Old Testament. The New Testament continues this story. God is still the main character, but now He is fully revealed in Jesus Christ. Israel still is very important in the story, but God is doing things differently than what they imagined.

I love that there are good historical reasons for believing that Jesus rose from the dead. Yet, who is this Jesus that is risen from the dead?  It is the Jesus revealed in the story of the New Testament that is a continuation of the story of the Old Testament. The Jesus we believe in we mainly know through a story and this story is all put together in something we call the… Bible.

So because of the fact that I believe Jesus has risen from the dead and is Lord and King, I also believe the Bible to be trustworthy and true. While saying that, I can also say I believe in Jesus because of who His story reveals Him to be. In His story, He is revealed as being Yahweh. This story that reveals Jesus as Yahew is the Bible; therefore I believe in Jesus because I believe in the Bible.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I believe Christianity is true (Part 2)

 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead,  then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died[e] in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.   – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (1)

In order for Christianity to be true, Jesus must have risen from the dead. Jesus certainly lived, taught about the Kingdom of God, and was crucified under Pontious Pilate. Yet, if he has not risen from the dead, as Paul says, “Your faith is futile.” So that leads to the question, did Jesus rise from the dead? The claim that we make as Christians is that this event, the resurrection, happened in time and space. Not only that, but also that there are good reasons for believing that he rose from the dead.

We have different groups of people that claimed they saw Jesus risen from the dead. Let’s look at three different groups. There are the disciples on multiple occasions, James the brother of Jesus, and the Apostle Paul. One of the main arguments put forth is that they all had some sort of hallucination of Jesus. Yet, that would mean disciples of Jesus had hallucinations, James had a hallucination of Jesus, and Paul had a hallucination of Jesus. Then if one believes what 1 Corinthians says that Jesus appeared to over 500, then one would have to say that they had a hallucination of Jesus. So men and women, and then those who were followers of Jesus and those who weren’t all had hallucinations that Jesus was alive after he died? That seems quite far-fetched to me. Regardless, there is a more significant reason why this doesn’t work. As Gary Habermas and Mike Licona write, ” …hallucinations are private occurrences, which occur in the mind of an individual … In a group, all of the people may be in the frame of mind to hallucinate, but each experiences hallucinations on an individual basis.”(2) So because of that fact hallucinations cannot account for the disciples of Jesus or the 500.

Then I believe there is also good evidence for the empty tomb. For starters, probably the first argument for the empty tomb most Christians go to is the fact that women are the ones who discover the empty tomb. Why does this matter? It matters because in this time period what a woman said would not be taken as seriously as a man. So while we clearly know better today, the fact that women are said to be the first to locate the empty tomb probably means this is something the Gospel writers were not making up. Another fact supporting the empty tomb is this. If there was not an empty tomb, someone probably would have pointed this out.  Going back to two scholars who were cited earlier “…the earliest Jewish claim reported regarding Jesus’ resurrection was to accuse the disciples of stealing the body, an indirect admission that the body was unavailable for public display.” (3).

So there is an empty tomb, and claims being made that the body was stolen. There are disciples of Jesus, but also those who were not followers claiming to have seen Jesus alive after he died. Some of these appearances are individual, but some are group experiences. As stated above hallucinations can account for individual, but not group appearances. Even so, it is highly unlikely that the disciples, James, and Paul all had hallucinations at different times of Jesus. On the other hand, the view that Jesus actually appeared alive to all these people can account for all of these appearances.

Other pieces of evidence could be given like Jesus predicting his death and resurrection (Eg. Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22-27). Yet, it seems clear that there was an empty tomb and that Jesus actually rising from the dead makes more sense than hallucinations. Now while Jesus actually appearing alive after he died can account for all the evidence, one still has to take a leap of faith that this is what actually happened.

So as I look at the evidence,  there are good reasons for believing in the empty tomb and Jesus appearing to people alive after he died.

 

Endnotes:

1.) Quotes from Biblegateway.com https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+15&version=NRSV

2.) Gary Habermas and Michael Licona “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” pg. 106

3.) ibid. pg. 71

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I believe Christianity is true (Part 1)

I remember going to church from a young age, and I still remember how excited I was when I was saved and baptized. From going to service Sunday mornings and nights to going to church youth groups on Wednesday nights, I’ve been involved in Christian community since an early age. Even when I was not following Jesus and not going to church service through some of my teens and twenties, I still believed that Christianity was true. So unlike many, I can’t say that I came to faith after being a committed atheist or from a different religion.

On the other hand, as I have studied the related issues I have been convinced even more so that Christianity is true. Now one may respond that maybe that is just an example of someone confirming their own biases. Perhaps. Yet, what one must do is show how the arguments themselves are weak or less likely to be true than their opposing hypotheses. Focusing on the why of why I’ve come to a stronger faith will not reveal whether I’m correct or not.

I think there are many good reasons for believing that Christianity is true. Included in this list would be the historical evidence for the resurrection, the reliability and testimony of the New Testament accounts, reports of miracles, and experience. The last one is what I will briefly start with.

When one becomes a Christian, the way they see and experience the world changes. There at times when there is a feeling that God’s presence is with them. There are answered prayers and feelings of Gods’ love. One senses as they live the Christian life that something is happening that can’t be explained by a purely naturalistic worldview. Ask any Christian, and they will (should) be able to tell you the difference God has made in their lives. There are changing desires and choices and newfound hope. From my own perspective, there have been too many what others might call coincidences in my life. All those things listed above I have felt. There is also the feeling that God speaks to us through the scriptures. Sometimes it’s a feeling of approval, other times there is the feeling that God is warning and even disciplining us. I write all of this in part because I want to start this conversation in an honest manner. My own experiences do play a large role in why I’m a Christian. This is most likely true of most Christians. Not only for Christians but for most worldviews, experience plays at least some role in why someone believes what they do. So whose experience or viewpoint is correct? The Christian, the member of Islam, the Atheist, the Mormon? These views could all be wrong, but they cannot all be correct because they have conflicting truth claims.

So while my experience helps me believe, I’m not asking that they help you believe. One may ask why even bother to bring it up then. Well, I do because I’m giving an example of why I believe like the title of this post indicates, and also because as I wrote above I want to begin this conversation honestly. There is no reason for someone else to take my word for it or accept my experience as pointing to the truth of Christianity. The wonderful thing about Christianity is that we are not asking people to believe our experiences. When we call people to repent and believe we are calling them to believe what the Apostolic witnesses claim about Jesus, namely that they are witnesses to His resurrection.1 We are calling people to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and to therefore repent of their sins. The historicity of the resurrection is where the next post in this series will turn to.

 

End Notes:

1 See William Lane Craig  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdfxtNIiX8s

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stories

I love stories. I also love the fact that there are so many different ways to tell a story, whether through a song, book, movie, and other ways.  In fact, one of my favorite things about life is the fact that there are so many stories out there! Everyone has their own story to tell. I love the fact that there are so many different types of stories; happy stories, sad stories, adventurous stories, crazy stories, etc. My pastor always starts his sermon with a story, which I think is a helpful way to communicate and helps set up the rest of the message.

Reflecting on things I’m interested in, many of them seem to rely on story. I love music, especially folk music which can rely more on storytelling than other types of music. I love the God revealed in Jesus Christ, and I know Him through the story contained in Scripture. I love to read, which I think is safe to say relies on storytelling. I love watching movies, and again they involve storytelling.

It’s no doubt true that most people love a good story. Stories can inspire us, move us, change us, and entertain us. If we allow them to, we can gain moral lessons from them and become more compassionate and understanding. Through story, we may see the world in a way we never have before. If you’re usually a positive and happy person, listening to a person tell their sad story may give you more compassion toward them. If you’re young, listening to an elderly person give their story may give you aid as you go through similar situations in your life.

So I encourage you to find good stories, whether, through books, movies, or even better talking with people face to face. Befriend someone and spend time with those in nursing homes. Meet with those in prison and spend time with your coworkers. If you go to a church building, spend time with people who also attend there.

As you go through life, listen to any stories that are told. Seek understanding and wisdom from these stories, be entertained by them if possible, and feel free to share your story as well.

 

 

Posted in Story Series, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Starting again

I have been planning for some time now to restart this blog. This blog used to be mainly about Christianity and theology. The plan now is to branch out and devote time and writing to also include other topics such as music and sports. I’m looking forward to it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four thoughts this week

1.) The moon rising in real time in New Zealand http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthvideo/9852485/Incredible-video-of-moonrise-over-Wellington-New-Zealand.html

2.) Mike Licona looks at one argument against the probability of the resurrection http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4pz0PtQDM4

3.) James White and Tom Wright on his version of npp  http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid=%7B7E9A6DD3-A5FB-4401-AA69-4B1D304CA9E8%7D

4.) Bill Maher helps lead someone to Christ  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56GQYvniP1o

 

Posted in Four thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Duty to Vote?

With the election here once again, a lot of Christians are arguing about whether we should vote or not. Many urge Christians to vote and even contend that it is our duty. Some say it is our duty because we live in a free country. Others because it is a way for us to love our neighbor. On the other hand, there are some Christians who argue that Christians should not vote at all. I would disagree with both of these ways of thinking.

There are many good reasons for voting, but there are also good reasons for not voting. When it comes to Christians and voting, I would argue that Christians should follow their conscience. If you feel like there is nothing wrong with voting, well then vote for who you think is the better candidate. Yet, there are many of us who do not feel like our conscience lets us vote.  If you feel the same way, then do not vote. Here, I want to respond to two reasons why some say it is a Christians duty to vote.

1.) “We live in a free country where we have the right and responsibility to influence society and vote.”

One the one hand, there is some power in this argument. We do live in a country where we can influence how it behaves, and we should do so. I would agree that we have a responsibility to influence society. Government is part of society so they are included. This is true whether we live in a free country or not. Yet, our one duty as citizens of heaven is to be the Church. We are to be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Imitating Jesus and preaching the gospel wherever we go, at all times, to all people. We can and should influence society and government. We do this by providing for the poor, loving our enemies, promoting peace, prayer, rejecting all forms of idolatry, and in many other ways. The disagreement is not over whether we should impact society. The difference is how we as Christians should go about it. The main way we impact society is by being the Church. Anything beyond that, such as voting, may be permissible for the Christian. Yet, it certainly is not a duty.

2.) “There are many people throughout the world who do not have the right to vote, and we need to show how much we appreciate our freedoms by voting”.

It is true that many people do not have the right to vote and in America we do. Yet, when one decides not to vote they too are showing their appreciation for our freedom to vote. The very fact that they choose not to vote shows the freedom we have in this country to vote or not to vote.

Whatever one does, it is important to realize that there can be dangers with both voting and not voting. If a Christian decides to vote there are at least two dangers they must avoid. One, do not forget that our main mission is to be disciples of Jesus and spread his message. If we do this we will follow 2 Timothy 2:4 which states, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” Secondly, to argue that it is a Christians duty is, as I’ve tried to briefly show above, fallacious. To suggest that goes beyond the duty of the Christian.

If one decides not to vote, there are also at least two dangers. First, realize that the decision to not vote should never be based on apathy or being lazy. We should all care about making this world a better place. Whether Christians vote or not, we must be prepared to enter the world of darkness and shine our light. By doing this we follow Matthew 5:16 which states, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Secondly, one should not suggest that they are not voting because there are no good reasons to vote. There are good reasons to vote, just like there are good reasons not to.

Whether Christians vote or not is not something Christians should be dividing over. This is not a debate over an issue like the Trinity or the deity of Christ. Vote or don’t vote based on where you believe the Spirit is leading you. Most importantly, we need to be the Church and imitate Jesus.

Posted in Christian behavior, Politics | Leave a comment