Early Christianity and the Gospel of Diversity

Rummaging through books at a local thrift shop in town I discovered one with the catchy title: The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus by the archaeologists Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear.  The book is a novel that presents an “alternate life of Jesus,” a life which was supposedly well documented in antiquity but has since been extinguished by the dogmatic, power-hungry authorities of the early Church.

In the back there is an interview with the authors.  Question #3 goes like this: “So there was a lot of dissension in the early years of Christianity, a lot of disagreements about who Jesus was, and what he taught?”

They respond:

Oh, yes.  In the first few decades after his death…there was a great disagreement about the facts of Jesus’ life, and what his teachings were.  New Testament readers are familiar with part of this battle from Galatians, where Paul writes that Galatian Christians were listening to “those who would pervert the Gospel of Christ (1:7) and believing in a “different gospel” (1:6).

The New Orthodoxy

This argument is just one example of what Michael Kruger and Andreas Kostenberger call “The new orthodoxy.”  The new orthodoxy claims that the very notion of orthodoxy itself is a later fabrication and does not accurately represent the convictions of Jesus or the first century Christians themselves.  According to this view, there was no such thing as “Christianity” (singular), but only Christianities (plural).

Another recent example that has turned many heads is the business card sized Wife of Jesus Fragment written in ancient Coptic which has the words “My wife” on the lips of Jesus.  Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School wrote in a journal article that was stopped prior to publication that the fragment itself provided no evidence that Jesus was married only that some early Christians may have thought so.

According to this new logic, Christianity was much more “open” and diverse than we have ever imagined; new evidence suggests that the original Christianity knew nothing of “orthodoxy” (orthodoxy refers to some kind of authoritative or authorized belief system).

The “gospel” of Christian diversity was mainly started by German scholar Walter Bauer (1877-1960), but his arguments have been carried on and developed by popular modern authors like Bart Ehrman, professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But was early Christianity really as diverse as some scholars wish to assert?

There is little evidence to suggest that it was.  First of all, the fact that there were disagreements about the gospel, as the Gear’s mention in their quotation of Galatians above, hardly implies that Christianity itself was divided.  A part of what Paul was doing in that letter was helping to clarify exactly what Christianity was and was not. Paul’s whole point in that letter is that these new beliefs represented a departure from Christianity.  The Gear’s suggest in their answer to the question in the Appendix of The Betrayalthat this disagreement happened within the boundaries of Christianity, but that is a gross error.  Paul clearly states in that same verse: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.”  Maybe it could be argued that there were different beliefs about what truth was, but to claim that the apostles, like Paul or the others, believed in various versions of Christianity is more than a stretch.

Secondly, Bauer’s original thesis (which is carried on by Ehrman and the Gear’s) is mainly based upon conclusions that result directly from an almost complete disregard for the New Testament documents.  Bauer himself used almost exclusively extrabiblical (“outside” the Bible) material from the second-century.  But if the whole goal of his thesis was supposedly to determine what early Christianity was really like, shouldn’t we go back to its founders?  If we want to know what Christianity is or was shouldn’t we look mainly to Jesus and to those whom he spent his time with and taught, namely, the apostles?  Kruger and Kostenberger write:

Bauer’s wholesale dismissal of the primary source for our knowledge of earliest Christianity–the New Testament–is problematic…because it unduly eliminates from consideration the central figure in all of Christianity, Jesus, as well as the apostles he appointed. 1

A host of other problems with the gospel of diversity could be presented here, but these two alone provide ample reasons to be skeptical about it’s claims.

  1. The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 69.

Waiting Tables: An Introduction to the Spiritual Gifts

This is a guest post by one of our elders here at Red Door Church, Russell Rohloff.  “Russ” has served in many capacities at Red Door over the years and has an extensive and broad church background. In this post he draws attention to gifts of the Spirit that were emphasized in historic Christianity, stemming from passages like Isaiah 11:1-3.


We assume that spiritual gifts are intended for some great work to reconcile the world to Jesus, but being filled with the Holy Spirit and His gifts is the ordinary condition of being a Christian.  It is as required for waiting tables as it is for standing before the Jewish Sanhedrin or disputing with the Greeks on Mars Hill.  Lewis Sperry Chafer puts it in this way, “…the child of God, facing what seems like an impossible responsibility in his heavenly walk and service, is directed to the Spirit as the source of all sufficiency.  Every moment in a spiritual life is one of unmeasured need and superhuman demands, and the supply of enabling power of grace must be constantly received and employed.  To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended Him to do when God placed Him there.  To be filled is not the problem of getting more of the Spirit, it is rather the problem of the Spirit getting more of Christians.”

Whenever spiritual gifts are discussed, we turn to familiar New Testament epistle passages like 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and 28 or Romans 12:6-8.  But for centuries the Church started at Isaiah 11:1-3a “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord…”

These are what might be referred to as the primary gifts.  As the Holy Spirit enters the heart of a regenerated person He brings these gifts with Him.  We all recognize that even in unregenerate men there are natural virtues present that reflect the image and likeness of God.  Even the worst of criminals can truly love someone; the most atheistic of soldiers can show courage under enemy fire; the most worldly person can exhibit generosity.  Virtues perfect the natural part of man and move him to good works in life.  But there is a higher calling that touches his spiritual part and the perfection to do not only good works but God-works requires the infilling and inspiration of God Himself.  The gifts in Isaiah equip us for that task.

Wisdom places within us the holy fear of God by which we recognize the emptiness of the world and see the value of God’s purposes and will.

Understanding equips us to lay hold of truth.  Before truth was made relative, to recognize and live in the world as it really is, was considered sanity; to live otherwise was fantasy.  Understanding equips us to recognize the truth and to detect error.

Counsel is called the gift of prudence, the ability to govern and discipline ourselves by the use of reason.  We would call it good judgment, a practical gift helping us not only to form a plan, but more importantly to carry it out in accordance with the will of God.

Might is also called the gift of fortitude.  It is spiritual backbone, the strength of mind and will that enables us to encounter danger or bear pain with courage and assurance in God’s faithfulness.

Knowledge enables us to respond to the teaching of God’s truth, to know God as He truly is, and to judge everything else in relationship to the work of grace and salvation.

Fear of the Lord is mentioned twice.  The first time is a positive love that moves us towards God, and the second a negative love that makes us dread to be separated from Him.  This first is also called piety, a true reverence towards God marked by visible loyalty to Him and His kingdom, and quickness to do all that He requires.

Quick Understanding in the Fear of the Lord (KJV) is difficult to translate exactly.  The NKJV translated it as “His delight is in the fear of the Lord.”  The Jerusalem Bible translates it as “The fear of Yahweh is his breath.”  This gift fills us with a fresh and living delight to serve the Lord.  It makes us dread sin which separates us from His grace and cling to Him.

In summary, these gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to every believer as the Spirit of God comes to dwell within us at salvation.  They are the very gifts that are necessary for growth in godliness and are ours as a second-birth right.  They make us attentive to the voice of God, tender [not hardened] to the works of God’s grace to transform us, and ultimately move us God-ward making us obedient to the presence and direction of the Spirit of God.  All other New Testament gifts flow out from these.

What is a Mainline Church?

Bob Thompson (D. Min.) is a good friend and trusted mentor of mine.  I asked him if he would kindly pen a brief explanation about the mainline church which answered the oft asked question: “What is a mainline church?” Bob is pastor of Corinth Reformed Church (UCC) in Hickory, NC where he has ministered for over 20 years. His concise, yet insightful response is below: 1

What is a Mainline Church?

The term “mainline” originates from the “Main Line” of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was used in that connection as early as 1841. Today “mainline” is most often used of Protestant churches with a historic, national, and pervasive impact on American identity. Mainline churches differ in many ways from one another, but they share a common timeline, similar internal struggle, parallel numerical growth and decline, an ecumenical connection, common corporate priorities, and a shared theological vocabulary.

The first mainline churches were the Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Episcopal churches, which together made up 55% of America’s population in 1776. Their numbers dramatically declined in the 19th century as the upstart groups, primarily Baptists and Methodists, fueled by revivalism in the frontiers, changed the religious landscape. The self-identified and loosely-connected “Christian” churches threw off hierarchies and labels. A wave of German immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries also created mainline branches.

Churches today identified as mainline are primarily the following[1] –

    • The United Church of Christ (UCC), which includes the streams of the Congregational churches, the O’Kelly Christians, and two German-American bodies
    • The Episcopal Church USA, often garnering influence disproportionate to its declining numbers
    • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), historically Germans with a history of schism and reconciliation
    • The Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), one of the original mainlines, also separating often and occasionally reuniting
    • The United Methodist Church (UMC), another body that split when the country split and reunited its major factions decades later
    • The American Baptist Church (ABC), the non-Bible belt Baptists
    • The Disciples of Christ (DOC), a Christian connection body centered in Kentucky that birthed the Second Great Awakening

Three primary forces shaped mainline identity in the first part of the twentieth century: modernism, the social gospel, and ecumenism. They reached the height of their influence around the middle of the century, and declined in numbers and influence as their values blended into the culture and more conservative churches appealed to masses longing for spiritually-based answers.

No church today can lay claim to an ongoing and pervasive impact on American identity. In a splintered world of competing loyalties trumpeted by a plethora of broadcast, print, and online media, most Americans choose (or reject) their religious loyalty the same way they choose any other loyalties: comfort, convenience, and contribution to a sense of self-actualization.

Bob Thompson, Corinth Reformed Church, Hickory, NC

  1. After Bob penned this piece and I published it online, I found another, excellent piece on the mainline church at the Huffington Post Blogs by William G. Bradshaw titled Mainline Churches: Past, Present, Future.

The False Gospel of Legislative Reform

I was reading just this week a pamphlet that I received in the mail urging Christians to get involved in the political process for the good of our nation.  Here’s one quote:

Many Christians are praying for and expecting revival.  While it is true that God has already given America three national revivals in the past, we desperately need another one today.  Personally, I’m not sure we can have one without legislative reform, because we have strayed so far from our Biblical foundations.  You cannot pollute the minds of a nation with ten billion dollars of pornographic literature annually and murder one and a half million unborn babies and have a revival.  We must have legislative reform, but we will never have legislative reform until we elect enough leaders who are committed to that reform.

Would a righteous God give us revival while we murder 4,000 babies every day?  Will He bless us while we legalize pornography and remove Him from the respectful position He has had traditionally?  I think not.

This raises a fundamental question about our Christian faith: which came first, our goodness or God’s grace?  Does God give us His grace in response to our goodness or is our goodness a result of His first pouring out His grace?

Or, to put it in political terms, should we only expect God to give revival once political reform has already happened, or is it more likely that God would give us revival which would lead to legislative/political reform? 1

In both cases, I would argue the latter.

Or think of it this way: Did God not give Jesus Christ to an apostate Israel after 400 years of deafening silence and that during a pagan Roman occupation?  There was little good to be spoken of in Israel or Rome at the time, yet God sent His Son, the One through whom He was going to make “all things new” (Rev. 21:5).  The greatest gift we have ever received in the history of the world, God’s Son, was not given to us in response to our goodness, or because we had the right people in power, or because we were pursuing legislative reform, but simply because God loved us.  God gave us His Son Jesus, because “he so loved the world” (John 3:16).  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Take John 3:16 for instance.  “World” or cosmos in the Greek, is a almost like a dirty word for John.  When John says world, think “bad.”  For example, John, the same John who wrote the gospel of John,  says in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world (same word in Greek as is found in John 3:16), the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

The world is bad.

Paul gives us another depressing picture of the world in Romans 3:10-18.  “There is none righteous, not even one.  There is none who understands, all have turned aside… There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So then why did God send Jesus?  Why does anything good ever happen to us?  To anyone in the world?

Love.

And God’s love (or blessing) does not depend upon our pursuit of legislative reform, or because we attain it.

Revival is possible in this nation, and I do pray and hope that God gives us a wave of revival like never before seen.  I do see the vast array of problems that only seem to multiply and continue to grow in power and influence here in what used to be a great nation.  I do fully understand as well, that as we grow increasingly hostile in this nation to God and to His truth that it will become harder for Christians to live as they please.  That grieves me unspeakably.

But I do not think that the way to pursue revival is by banging on the doors of the White House or by changing any laws.  That may be necessary.  But where there are cold hearts, no law(s) will ever warm them.  Only the gospel will warm the heart.

That is what we need more of, not legislative reform.  Christians should, in my opinion, focus more on living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and less on enshrining our values in the laws of our land.  There may be overlap there, but they are not one and the same thing.

  1. I’m not going to address the very real issue that many Christians do not feel that we need significant reform.

“My Very Dear Friends”

My church has been going through 1st Corinthians since late January of this year.

This week we found ourselves in the middle of a text warning the Corinthian church that their actions were dangerously reminiscent of Israel’s during their wilderness wanderings (1 Cor. 10).  Paul says even though Israel enjoyed a unique relationship with God their position did not shelter them from all the consequences of sin; “God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (verse 5).

Apparently some of the Corinthians thought that their Christian liberty was so great that there was no need to be mindful of the peril their actions might represent to themselves, or the “weaker” believers in the Corinthian fellowship.  “Therefore,” says Paul, “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (verse 12).

As I was studying this difficult passage I stumbled across the words “my dear friends” in verse 14 (as in the NIV).  The New American Standard renders this phrase “my beloved” because the word here for “dear friends” (or “beloved”) comes from the Greek word agape, which means love, or “Christian love” (as the Aland Greek New Testament dictionary, 4th edition has).  The King James has a combination reading of the phrase: “my dearly beloved.”  The author of the most definitive commentary on 1 Corinthians I’m aware of to date writes that the popular translation “my dear friends” should be strengthened a bit; he suggests “my very dear friends.”

In the midst of a firm warning, there is tenderness.

Too often we read our definition of love into many Biblical passages and the result is either a distrust of the Bible itself, or a skewed theology and practice.

Our culture here in America largely defines love as affirmation.  While love may at times need to be affirming, it also sees a place for warning and even rebuke.  The Bible never condones truth without love (Ephesians 4:15).

But the reverse is true as well.  Love shares truth.

Next time we read a difficult biblical passage in the Bible, we need to remember the loving God that stands behind them.  We need to remember that often the words of warning or rebuke are preceded by words like “my very dear friends.”

 

Disney’s Frozen: A Glimpse at the Human Heart

A couple of months ago my family sat down at home and watched Disney’s new hit movie “Frozen.”  It landed in stores not long ago in March and made a splash for its divergence from the standard prince-saves-princess romantic story line everyone has come to expect in Disney princess films.  Nadia Ali writes in an interesting article at the Washington Post online “What Disney’s Frozen Can Teach Us About Mental Illness“:

I also love the updated themes of today’s Disney movie: The message of empowerment and the healing power of love for others. The focus on sibling love rather than romantic love. Unlike those in “Cinderella” and fairy tales, several characters in this movie actively advocate against getting engaged to someone you’ve just met. And finally, of course, the strength of the princess saving the day herself rather than waiting for a man to do it for her.

Many Christians are applauding the movie’s more realistic depiction of love and the serious attempt it makes to contribute to cultural moral discussions.  There are also very obvious redemptive themes in the movie.  Trevin Wax writes at TGC blogs:

It’s not hard to see the redemptive sketches in this movie. If you believe that love is more than just a feeling, that true love is expressed in self-sacrifice (which flows ultimately from Christ’s willingness to give His life for the world), and that true change can only take place through redemption not self-discovery, then you will find this movie delightful. More importantly, you will find ways to connect this movie’s theme to the gospel. We loved it.

For example, one song is titled “Fixer-Upper.”  The idea of the song is that everyone has flaws and love is the only real medicine that can change them:

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer upper
That’s what it’s all about
Father, sister, brother
We need each other
To raise us up and round us out

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer upper
But when push comes to shove
The only fixer upper fixer
That can fix a fixer upper is
True
True
True
True
Love

But even more stunning for me is the picture of just how deep our depravity as humans goes and our utter powerlessness over it.  Elsa, the queen and older sister of Anna in the movie, has magical powers to freeze things.  The problem is that she cannot control these powers; and the more intensely she feels emotion, the more violently and destructively they are unleashed–even on those she loves most.  In effort to deal with her problems she isolates herself in the middle of nowhere, builds and ice castle, and tries to convince herself that everything is okay.  The theme song of the movie, “Let it go” is sung by Elsa in the movie right in the midst of her vain attempts to deal with her uncontrollable problems:

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

This is truly a picture of our fallen, sinful nature which we are all born into.  Our sins are so deep, and such a part of our core being that there is no human device which can shake them loose, in fact, most often our attempts only deepen the hurt for ourselves and those closest to us. It is only when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ that true and lasting healing can take place.  Just as the song above, “Fixer Upper” suggests, only love, God’s love can truly fix us up.

The Surprising Roots of Young Atheists

Why do so many young people today walk away from their church roots?

The answer is most likely not what you think.

A recent article by Larry Taunton, founder of Fixed-Point Foundation, a group that “is dedicated to exploring those ideas that shape culture,” suggested that the main reason many young poeple embrace atheism is because of bad church experiences.

Yep, that’s right.  Not because of the strength of a growing body of scientific evidence against Christianity, the cogency of atheistic argumentation, or the allurement of secular culture, but because of repeated disillusionment and frustration with their church homes.

The question of what is leading youth to embrace atheism popped into Taunton’s mind not long ago.  It eventually moved him to launch a nationwide campaign to interview college students who are members of Secular Student Alliances (SSA) or Freethought Societies (FS).  The college groups are, in Tauton’s words:

…the atheist equivalents of Campus Crusade.  They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize.  They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irrelgious.

The results of these many interviews was fascinating.  Some of their stories and answers are recorded in the full article, which you can read here.

In the end he summarizes the common threads of these student’s responses about their background and what lead them to their atheism:

(1) they had attended church

(2) the mission and message of their churches was vague

(3) they felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions

(4) they expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously

(5) Ages 14-17 were decisive

(6) the decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one

(7) the internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

Food for thought.

 

Aronofsky’s “Noah” and the Nephilim

Darren Aronofsky’s movie “Noah” hit theaters on the 28th of March and is making a big splash in evangelical circles.  Despite complaints, it was still number one on it’s opening weekend.  I have not yet seen the film myself, but several of my friends have and online reviews already abound.  News outlets like The Huffington Post, Washington Post, New York Times, Breitbart, and others have weighed in as well as many, many evangelicals.  Click here, here, or here to taste some of what the evangelical world has been saying.

I was surprised to hear that the “Nephilim” (or more humorously, the “rock monsters“) make a serious appearance in the movie.  Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote recently on his website:

[Aronofsky’s] oddest characterization, by the way, may well be the “fallen angels” called the “watchers,” based rather loosely on the Nephilim found in Genesis 6:4. They appear in the film as giant figures made of something like rock and asphalt. They first appear as enemies of humankind, but one, speaking with the voice of Nick Nolte, protects Noah and convinces others to do likewise. They appear as mighty cartoon figures in the movie, but they really belong in a science fiction film. 1

Since the Nephilim are in the lime-light now, I thought it might be worthwhile to talk a little about them.

Tabletalk magazine featured an article in April of 2013 by Dr. R. C. Sproul titled “The Son’s of God.” The article is a brief commentary on Genesis 6:1-4.  You can read the piece online here.

This passage is one of the most debated texts in all of the Old Testament.  Sproul writes:

In the twentieth century, the German biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann gave a massive critique of the Scriptures, arguing that the Bible is filled with mythological references that must be removed if it is to have any significant application to our day. Bultmann’s major concern was with the New Testament narratives, particularly those that included records of miracles, which he deemed impossible. Other scholars, however, have claimed that there are mythological elements in the Old Testament as well. Exhibit A for this argument is usually a narrative that some believe parallels the ancient Greek and Roman myths about gods and goddesses occasionally mating with human beings.

The much debated text reads as follows:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,  the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.  Then theLord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”  The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Sproul, like many folks in the traditional Reformed camp, takes the meaning of the phrase “sons of God” to be a reference to believers based on the fact that believers are mentioned as such a handful of times in the New Testament (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).  In this scenario the phrase “daughters of men” I’m presuming would be a reference to unbelievers.  His second line of reasoning is contextual.  He writes:

Following the narrative of the fall in Genesis 3, the Bible traces the lines of two families, the descendents of Cain and of Seth. Cain’s line is recounted in Genesis 4, and this line displays proliferating wickedness, capped by Lamech, who was the first polygamist (v. 19) and who rejoiced in murderous, vengeful use of the sword (vv. 23–24). By contrast, the line of Seth, which is traced in Genesis 5, displays righteousness. This line includes Enoch, who “walked with God, and … was not, for God took him” (v. 24). In the line of Seth was born Noah, who was “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9). Thus, we see two lines, one obeying God and the other willfully disobeying Him.  Therefore, many Hebrew scholars believe that Genesis 6 is describing not the intermarriage of angels and human women but the intermarriage of the descendents of Cain and Seth. The two lines, one godly and one wicked, come together, and suddenly everyone is caught up in the pursuit of evil, such that “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (v. 5). We do not need to surmise an invasion of the earth by angels in order to make sense of this chapter.

The more I look at this passage, however, the more I see evidence for the position Sproul is refuting.  Speaking of context, the Old Testament always uses the phrase “sons of God” in reference to angles, without exception (that I’m aware of, see Job 1:6; 21:1; Ps. 29:1).  To Sproul’s credit, he mentions these verses, though not in his discussion on context.

Another point I find confusing about his argument is why sons of God and daughters of men is a reference to believers and unbelievers respectively.  Why does the text put emphasis on gender here?  Is there anywhere else in the Bible where “daughters of men” is used to refer to unbelievers?  None that I’m aware of.  And if the problem was the fact that God’s people were having sexual relations with outsiders why does the writer draw a distinction between “sons” and “daughters”?  Surely we are not to believe that it was only the believing men who and the unbelieving women who were being naughty are we?

And what are we to make of these “mighty men,” “the men of renown”?  What about believers having relations with unbelievers produces “mighty men”?  To me, it seems much more straightforward to see this as implying somethingphysical and not spiritual in nature.

I’m not sure I have the answers to this text.  It’s a tricky one over which much ink has been spilled.  This budding theologian is not going to solve all the problems in a few paragraphs.  However, I don’t think we need to rescue the Bible from what appears on the surface to be a historical narrative about angels having relations with men (it’s definately not mythology).

But just because it’s not mythology doesn’t mean we need to strip the story of any meaning that might be hard for us to understand.

  1. See “Drowning in Distortion–Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah'”, AlbertMohler.com, http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/03/31/drowning-in-distortion-darren-aronofskys-noah/.  Accessed on 4/4/2014.

The Case for Easter

This is the question of all questions for Christianity: Did Jesus Rise?  Many religious philosophers and historians believe that if you can adequately show that Jesus rose from the dead, then you can prove the whole of the Christian worldview from there.  Even hard core skeptics see the crucial place of this doctrine in the Christian worldview.  Lee Strobel writes of his perspective as an atheist, legal editor working for the Chicago Tribune before his conversion to Christianity:

The starting point [to disproving Christian claims] seemed obvious to me: clearly the resurrection was the linchpin of the Christian faith.  After all, anyone can claim to be the Son of God.  But if someone could substantiate that assertion by returning to life after being certifiably dead and buried–well, that would be a compelling confirmation that he was telling the truth.  Even for a skeptic like me. 1

We are in the middle of what we Christians call Lent: a season of preparation for Easter Sunday, the day when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead some 2000 years ago.  Appropriately, it is a time to ask the very real question: did Jesus actually rise from the dead?

On Easter Sunday this year we will be giving away a book that looks at some of the evidence for the resurrection.  The former skeptic turned believer, Lee Strobel, has penned a handy little book just over 90 pages long entitled The Case for Easter in which he gives his personal testimony about his journey sifting through the facts about Jesus’ resurrection.  He looks are three important questions:

(1) The medical evidence: Was Jesus’ death a sham and his resurrection a hoax?

(2) The evidence of the missing body: Was Jesus’ body really absent from his tomb?

(3) The evidence of the appearances: Was Jesus seen alive after his death on the cross?

Come out and get your free copy this Easter Sunday, April 20, and hear about the powerful evidence for the historical reality of this massive, earth shattering event!

  1. Lee Strobel, The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 8.