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The Difference Between Christian Grace and Mormon Grace

Words matter. Ideas have consequences. In the years that I have been engaging Mormons about matters of faith, I’ve learned to define terms very carefully. Christians and Mormons use many of the same terms: “grace”, “heaven”, “Jesus”, “God”, “salvation” and many more. But when the definitions of these terms are examined, it’s apparent that we are talking about extremely different ideas. These differences matter. They separate Mormons and Christians and demonstrate that we are not worshipping the same God.

Christian Mormon Grace

As an example, I’ve been in conversations with Mormons and have talked about the nature of grace and salvation. Maybe you’ve had similar conversations:

You: “As a Christian, I believe that we are saved by faith alone.”

Your Mormon Friend: “As a Mormon, I agree!”

You: “Huh?”

Your Mormon Friend: “Mormons know that ‘salvation’ as you put it, is a gift from God.”

You: “OK, but we believe that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and that He alone saves us.”

Your Mormon Friend: “We agree! We believe that Jesus died for us and that without His gift of salvation, none of us would be ‘saved’ as you are calling it.

You: “OK, but Christians believe that Jesus’ work ALONE saves us; we don’t believe that our own efforts can save us at all.”

Your Mormon Friend: “We feel the same way! We know that Jesus alone makes it possible for us to be reunited with Heavenly Father; we don’t believe that ‘salvation’, can be achieved with our good works.”

Wow, it sure sounds like your Mormon friend holds a Christian view of salvation through faith alone, doesn’t it? I’ve had many conversations that are very similar to this one. The Mormon doctrine of salvation is NOT the same as the Christian doctrine, but unless you take the time to ask good questions and sift through the answers, you may not see the distinctions clearly.

What Do We Mean When We Use the Term, “Heaven”?
Let me try to describe the difference between “Christian grace” and “Mormon grace” with an illustration that I’ve used hundreds of times training Christians to discuss their faith with Mormons. Before we begin, however, we need to define a foundational term: “heaven”. Christians sometimes ask their Mormon friends, “If you died today, would you be in heaven?” or “What do you have to do to go to heaven?” Unless we define the term “heaven” this approach will not help us understand the differences between the two faith systems. I never use the term “heaven” when talking to my Mormon friends and family. Instead, I focus on “the greatest gift that God can offer us after death”. For Christians, this is, in fact, heaven; the realm of god we will share for all eternity. But the Mormon heaven is divided into three levels and virtually everyone is going to get into one of these levels. Any of these heavenly “ranks” could accurately be called “heaven”. So we need to be more specific with our Mormon friends; for them, the “the greatest gift that God can offer us after death” is not just “heaven”, it’s exaltation in Celestial Kingdom. This exaltation results in deity for the Mormon believer. They become Gods just like Heavenly Father.

Is Grace A Ladder or a Lifeline?
So, the real question is, “What must you do to be exalted in Celestial Kingdom with Heavenly Father?” Now, with this question clarified, we can talk about grace and the contribution that Jesus makes to this process. So, here is the illustration that I typically use: imagine that you are a Mormon who wants “the greatest gift that God can offer after death” (heaven). How can you achieve exaltation in Celestial Kingdom? For the Mormon, Jesus makes this journey possible because he visits us here on earth and, in essence, provides us with a ladder we can climb to heaven. This ladder is a free gift. It is given as an act of “grace” according to our Mormon friends. But here is the problem: the Mormon has to climb the ladder on his or her own. This climbing is done through a lifelong series of good works. Jesus may give you the ladder, but he doesn’t climb it for you.

This is an important distinction to understand. Mormons will tell us that they cannot get to “Celestial Kingdom” without the free gift offered by Jesus. That’s true. Without the free ladder, you can’t begin to climb. Mormons will also say that Jesus alone makes it possible for them to attain the “greatest gift that God offers us after death”. That’s true. Only Jesus has the ladder. Mormons will also say that they could never ascend to Celestial Kingdom on the basis of their own good works. That’s also true; “climbing” isn’t possible unless there’s a ladder to climb. Mormons can’t get to Celestial Kingdom with their own good works alone; they need that ladder.

So, What’s the Difference Between Mormon Grace and Christian Grace?
The Christian view of grace doesn’t involve a ladder of any kind; in Christian theology, Jesus doesn’t bring us a ladder to climb. Instead, Jesus drops us a lifeline, a rope He climbs down and ties to each of us. Jesus then pulls us up on his own, in spite of our own inability. It doesn’t matter how heavy we are or where we are in our journey toward sanctification. We simply have to trust him to tie the lifeline. Mormonism is a works based religion, like many other world religions. In fact, in this one regard, Mormonism is like every other world religion. Christianity stands alone as the only religion that offers true “grace” to its adherents. Salvation is not the result of anything we do. God offers it as a free gift; not a free opportunity to work hard for our salvation, but a truly free gift that needs no additional contribution on our part. This distinction is critical and it separates Mormonism from Christianity, not as a separate denomination, but as a completely separate notion about the nature and saving work of God.


J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

Three M’s That Naturalism Can’t Provide

 

Everyone has a worldview; all of us experience and interpret the world through a collection of beliefs that guide our understanding. As an atheist, I accounted for my experiences through the lens of naturalism. I believed everything I experienced and observed could be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. I never thought deeply about the inconsistencies in my view of the world, or the fact that my naturalism failed to explain three characteristics of my daily experience:

Naturalism Provide

Mind
If naturalism is true, some form of physicalism or materialism must rule the day. The “problem of mind” (as philosophers and researchers commonly describe it) is only a “problem” because the material limitations of naturalism strain to account for immaterial consciousness. Naturalism can explain the existence of the brain, but little more. Our “minds” are an illusion created by the physical processes that are occurring in our material brains. But if this is the case, our thoughts are merely the result of a series of physical causes (and resulting effects). You might believe you are thinking freely about what you just read, but in reality your “thoughts” are simply the consequences of neural “dominoes” falling, one against the next. In a world of strict causal physicalism, free will (and freely reasoned thoughts) are simply an illusion.

Morality
If naturalism is true, morality is nothing more than a matter of opinion. All of us, as humans, have simply come to embrace those cultural or personal mores that best promote the survival of the species. There is no transcendent, objective moral truth. Instead, cultures merely embrace the values and moral principles that “work” for them and have resulted in the flourishing of their particular people group. If this is the case, one group of evolved humans has no business trying to tell another evolved group what is truly right or wrong from a moral perspective. After all, each group has successfully arrived at their particular level of development by embracing their own accepted moral standards. Arguments over which moral truths provide for greater human flourishing are simply subjective disagreements; there is no transcendent, objective standard that can adjudicate such disagreements from a naturalistic perspective.

Meaning
If naturalism is true, life’s meaning and purpose are simply in the eye of the beholder. If your son tells you that he thinks meaning is found in playing video games ten hours a day, there is little you can offer as an objective rebuttal. After all, if there is no transcendent author of life, each of us gets to write our own script. While you may believe your son has missed the point of his existence and has forfeited the opportunity to experience life fully, you really don’t have any objective authority upon which to ground an alternative. As a naturalist, you are inventing your own meaning as well; purpose and significance (from a purely naturalistic perspective) are nothing more than opinion and personal preference.

As an atheist, I chose to cling to naturalism, in spite of the fact that I lived each day as though I was capable of using my mind to make moral choices based on more than my own opinion. In addition, I sought meaning and purpose beyond my own hedonistic preferences, as though meaning was to be discovered, rather than created. I called myself a naturalist while embracing three characteristics of reality that simply cannot be explained by naturalism. As a Christian, I’m now able to acknowledge the “grounding” for these features of reality. My philosophical worldview is consistent with my practical experience of the world.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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Men of God Should Understand the Importance of Fatherhood

I first noticed the problem as a Gang Detail officer in the early 1990’s. Our city was culturally and ethnically diverse, and we had a gang problem that seemed to transcend ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. We had wealthy Korean gangsters, middle-class white gangsters, and upper, middle class and lower class Hispanic and African-American gangsters. I was raising two and four year old boys at the time and I was interested in what caused the young men in my community to become gangsters in the first place. It certainly didn’t seem to be something in their culture; they came from very diverse backgrounds. What was it? The more I got to know these gang members, the clearer the problem became: all of them suffered from “lack of dad.”

god fatherhood

Many of the white gangsters had fathers that were uninvolved, alcoholic or “deadbeat” dads. Many of the Korean fathers were first generation Koreans who never learned the English language, started businesses in our community and worked so hard that they had absolutely no relationship with their sons. Some of the Hispanic fathers were incarcerated and most of our Hispanic gangsters came from a multi-generational gang culture. Many of the African-American gangsters told me that they never even knew their father; they had been raised by mothers and grandmothers without their biological dads. Over and over again I saw the same thing: young men who were wandering without direction or moral compass, in large part because they didn’t have a father at home to teach them. Many studies have confirmed my own anecdotal observations.

I can remember seeing a movie during my tour on the Gang Detail. It was called “Boyz ‘N The Hood“. My partner told me I simply had to see it. I thought it was one of the best movies ever made on the importance of fatherhood. The primary character is a young man who is raised by his mother until he starts to go astray. His mom then delivers him to his father who begins to raise him up in a tough neighborhood but manages to provide him with the moral role modeling he really needed. The movie demonstrated what I learned as a Gang Detail officer: it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man.

I’ve also learned this first-hand. My dad was largely absent in my childhood and it was tough to understand my role in the world as a man without the daily input from my father. I noticed that as I reached my teen years, I was actually interested in reaching out to my dad and making sure we had a relationship. I needed him. In many ways, I became him in an effort to understand what it was to be a man. I ended up leaving a career in the arts to follow him into Law Enforcement. The power and guidance of a father is an undeniable force in the life of a young man.

As Christians, we ought to get this more than any other group. Scripture is filled with passages that describe the importance of fathers. In addition, the Bible consistently references fatherhood in an effort to analogize God’s relationship with each of us. What does Scripture tell us about the role of Fathers? First and foremost, we are to be teachers:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

This is the role and duty of fathers; to teach our kids to embrace the image of God in which they were created. So today, on Thanksgiving Day, I would like all of the fathers who read this post to recognize their debt to their own fathers. If your father was absent, be grateful that you have a chance to do what he never did. Be a dad. Start teaching your kids. Take the words of Dr. Tony Evans to heart:

“It is a fool who says. ‘I do not tell my children what to believe’, because if you don’t, someone else will.  The drug addicts are commanding your children and your children are obeying.  The lust mongers are commanding your daughters and your daughters are obeying.  For God’s sake YOU command something!”

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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The Power of “Nice” and the Importance of “Good”

“Why are you always involved in these missions trips to other religious groups?” Claire’s mother stopped me after a Sunday youth service and pulled me aside. I’ll never forget our conversation. Her question was more accusatory than inquisitive. “I’m not letting Claire go on this trip. I know lots of Mormons. We have several really good friends who are Mormon. They are incredibly nice people. Why would you want to challenge what they believe when they are so nice?” I received many similar complaints and questions from parents when I first began taking students on trips to Salt Lake City. Why would we want to challenge and upset people who are that nice?

nice good

“Niceness” is a persuasive apologetic. Several years ago, on a missions trip to the University of California at Berkeley, I observed the power of “nice” firsthand. An atheist student from SANE (Students Advocating a Non-religious Ethos) impacted our group more powerfully than any of the other atheists we encountered. This student was young, attractive and incredibly “nice”. His demeanor made his worldview attractive, even before he opened his mouth to try to defend it. “Nice” can be incredibly powerful.

But “nice” is not the same as “good”, even though we often confuse the two. “Nice” is an adjective that means “pleasant,” “agreeable,” or “satisfactory”; we might use it to say, “We had a nice time”. It can also be used to describe someone who is “pleasant in manner” or “kind”. In this sense “niceness” describes an appearance based on outward performance. The young man from SANE behaved in a way that was observably pleasant and kind. He was a nice young man. Why would anyone try to persuade someone to change his or her beliefs when their worldview has clearly resulted in such a nice disposition? His behavior was a commanding advertisement for his worldview and our students were powerfully impacted by his presentation.

That’s where the question of “niceness” vs. “goodness” becomes important. “Good” can also be used as an adjective, as when it is used to describe something “to be desired or approved of”, but it can also be used as a noun: “That which is morally right; righteousness”. “Goodness” is a moral evaluation. It seeks to describe the unseen motives that drive our visible behaviors. It’s quite possible to be pleasant and kind for an underlying evil purpose; people can be pleasant and kind to accomplish something vile. I’ve seen this happen repeatedly as a homicide detective.

“Niceness” is determined by one’s personal experience. We typically declare an experience or person to be “pleasant” if we experienced personal enjoyment. Your “pleasant” might be different than my “pleasant”. It is subjective. But “goodness” is grounded in something bigger than both of us. I can have a subjective opinion about what or who pleases me, but deciding if this thing or person is “righteous” is another matter altogether. Righteousness is a standard that transcends my personal opinion; it’s not subjective, it’s objective. To be “righteous” is to “act in accord with divine or moral law.” That’s a law that transcends our personal opinion. I’ve known committed gang members who were able to be “nice” to one another or in order to fool a victim. “Niceness” is one thing, “righteousness” is another.

When we behave “nicely” because we hope to achieve something for ourselves, even when the reward is our spiritual salvation, the moral value of our actions is compromised. If I give you $10.00 because I know it will result in my receiving $100.00, my actions can hardly be called “good”, even though you might think it was “nice” at the time. I wasn’t trying to be “nice” at all; I was just trying to accomplish a selfish goal of increased income. People who are outwardly “nice” because they are convinced this behavior will earn them salvation are in a similar situation. That’s why “work-based” theological systems can produce “nice” people who aren’t necessarily “good”.

That’s also why we take the time to share the Christian truth about grace with people who are still working hard to earn their salvation (like Mormons) or who reject the transcendent source of “good” altogether (like atheists). We interact with people who seem incredibly “nice” because we understand the difference between “nice” and “good”.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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There’s No Good Reason to Deny the Early Dating of the Gospels

Not long ago, Daniel Wallace (no relationship to me, except that all us Wallace’s claim to descend from William) posted some great news about an early fragment of the Book of Romans that was recently discovered. This fragment dates to the early third century which puts it in rare company. It contains Romans 9:18–21 and small portions of Romans 10. Wallace made news a few years back when he mentioned an early fragment of the Gospel of Mark that has yet to be published. The fragment of Mark is said to be as early as the first century.

dating gospels

I had the great pleasure of visiting with Dan Wallace at an event where we got the chance to examine a number of very ancient manuscript fragments. Some of these were Biblical fragments; some of these were non-Biblical ancient documents. We were the first people to examine the documents in nearly two thousand years. By the end of the day it was clear to me that there are literally thousands of fragments of ancient texts still out there to be discovered and examined. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg and as our ability to find and examine these fragments continues to improve, we’ll surely discover much more evidence that the New Testament was written very early and transmitted faithfully.

In fact, this is the focus of my book, Cold Case Christianity. I’ve been studying this issue from the perspective of a detective for some time now and I’ve written about the evidence for early dating and about the reliable transmission of the documents at ColdCaseChristianity.com.  If the New Testament eyewitness accounts were written as early as the evidence infers, many of the objections of skeptics are impotent. Early manuscripts mean that the original witnesses to the life of Jesus were (1) available to write the documents we now have, and (2) early observers of Jesus’ life would have been available to deny the testimony of the gospel authors. The continuing discovery of early fragments of New Testament documents corroborates this early dating.

When visiting with Dan Wallace, Greg Koukl and I asked him about the skepticism on the part of people like Bart Ehrman related to early dating. We asked Wallace if there was some specific manuscript evidence that inclined people to deny the early dating of the Gospel accounts. Wallace said there was no such evidence. We then asked why people continued to deny the early dating if, in fact, we were continuing to find early fragments and there was no contrary manuscript evidence. It turns out that the late dating of the gospels is due primarily to a denial of supernaturalism.

One of the primary reasons why skeptics date the gospels later than 70AD is the fact that Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in the gospel accounts (i.e. Matthew 23). Secular history records that the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, fulfilling this alleged prediction by Jesus. In order to avoid the accurate prophecy from Jesus, skeptics argue that the gospel must have been written after the temple was destroyed. After all, how could Jesus possess the supernatural power of prophecy if nothing supernatural exists? The philosophical naturalism of the secular historian prevents him from accepting the possibility of accurate prophecy.

The gospels also contain many descriptions of miracles. The philosophical naturalist must also deny the truthfulness of these supernatural accounts. Skeptics, therefore, date the gospel accounts very late, arguing that eyewitnesses to these events were already dead and unavailable to deny the claims. It turns out that the presupposition of philosophical naturalism is at work in the minds of those who would deny the early dating of the gospels. When this presuppositional bias is removed, the remaining evidence confirms that the gospels were written in the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses

On the final page of the paperback edition of Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman famously listed the “Top Ten Verses That Were Not Originally in the New Testament.” In an effort to discredit the reliability of the New Testament text, Ehrman offered this list to demonstrate the existence of many late insertions in the text. He found this reality troubling as a young man, and eventually walked away from his Christian faith as a result:

“The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book. Just as human scribes had copied, and changed, the texts of scripture, so too had human authors originally written the texts of scripture. This was a human book from beginning to end.”  (from Misquoting Jesus)

Bart JWW Top 10

Let’s take a look at Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses and examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text:

1 John 5:7
There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.

John 8:7
Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.

John 8:11
Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

Luke 22:44
In his anguish Jesus began to pray more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:20
And in the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.“

Mark 16:17
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons and they will speak with new tongues.

Mark 16:18
And they will take up snakes in their hands, and if they drink poison it will not harm them, and they will lay their hands on the sick and they will become well.

John 5:4
For an angel of the Lord went down at certain times into the pool and disturbed the waters; and whoever was the first to step in when the water was disturbed was healed of whatever disease he had.

Luke 24:12
But Peter rose up and ran to the tomb, and stooping down to look in, he saw the linen clothes by themselves. And he went away to his own home, marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:51
And when Jesus blessed them he departed from them and he was taken up into heaven

While this list may seem large (and even surprising for those of us who haven’t examined the presence of textual variants in the New Testament), I think this list does little to impact the reliability of the text. In fact, I think Ehrman is profiting from the unfamiliarity that most Christians have with the presence of textual variants. The list does seem shocking and daunting if you’ve never taken the time to examine matters such as these. But if you stop and think about it and examine each verse listed here, the impact is actually very minimal. I recognize four truths about these verses:

The Verses are Designated Earlier
Seven of these passages (John 8:7, John 8:11, Luke 22:44, Luke 22:20, Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18 and John 5:4) are already clearly designated in my Bible (I’m using the ESV for this blog post). It’s not as though these specious verses are hidden; most modern translations do an excellent job of including everything, then identifying those verses that are variants. Check it out for yourself. You’ll see that these verses, like many others in the text, have been clearly marked.

The Verses are Described Elsewhere
Three of these passages (Luke 22:20, Luke 24:12 and Luke 24:51) are simply reiterations of information that is given to us in other gospels. So, although these verses could be removed from Luke, their claims are found elsewhere in passages that are uncontested (see Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, John 20:3-7, Acts 1:9-11).

The Verses are Decidedly Extraneous
That leaves only one verse on Ehrman’s list (1 John 5:7) that begs for explanation. But even if this verse can’t be reconciled, it’s clearly extraneous. The doctrine of the Trinity it addresses is found elsewhere in the scripture. Like other scribal variants, it may have been included by a scribe to make the doctrine clearer, but with all the other Biblical evidence for the triune nature of God, this verse has no impact on our understanding of the Trinity. The superfluous nature of this verse is similar to the vast majority of all Biblical textual variants; they have no impact on the theological or historical claims of the text.

The Verses are Detected Easily
Perhaps most importantly, these late entries were easy to detect, given the large number of ancient Biblical manuscripts we possess. By comparing these texts, we are able to determine which verses should not be in our Bible today, and the same discipline that allows us to determine what is specious, allows us to determine what is special. The skill set that allows us to identify what doesn’t belong is the very same skill set that allows us to identify what does belong.

I’ve written a lot more about this issue in a chapter in my book entitled, “Separating Artifacts from Evidence.” It turns out that Ehrman has the ability to complain about the existence of these passages only because we happen to possess the accurate methodology to remove them from consideration in the first place. As a result, we ought to have even more confidence that we possess documents today that are a reliable reflection of what was originally written thousands of years ago.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy

I was born in 1961, so I was too young to recall the national tragedy that my mother remembered with such shock and dismay. She talked often of presidential assassination that occurred in 1963, and it was clear that it impacted her deeply. You probably already know the president to whom I am referring:

Jesus Kennedy Myth

Prior to his election, he had been a boat captain. He was related to a U.S. Senator, Attorney General, ambassador to Great Britain, and the mayor of Boston.

He was elected to Congress in ’47 and was the vice-presidential runner-up in ’56.

He was elected President in ’60.

He was in his thirties when he was president; his wife was a socially prominent twenty-four year old girl at the time of their marriage. She spoke French fluently.

While living in the White House, his wife suffered the loss of a child. His family consisted of three children.

As president, he was deeply involved in civil rights for African Americans.

He was assassinated and shot in the back of the head, on the Friday before a major holiday, while seated beside his wife (she was not injured).

On the day of his assassination, a staffer told him not to go to the event where he was murdered.

Following the assassination, there were insistent claims that the fatal shot must have come from a different direction.

His assassin was born in ’39, and was a southerner who held extremist views.

This assassin was murdered before he could be brought to trial; he was killed by a shooter who used a Colt revolver and fired only one, fatal shot.

After the assassination, he was eventually succeeded by a vice-president who was a southern democrat (and former senator) named Johnson.

Does this president sound familiar? I used to think so too, but I’m not so sure anymore. It turns out that the president I just described is not John F. Kennedy, but Abraham Lincoln. I think that my mother created this piece of fiction by borrowing the details from Lincoln’s personal story. After all, the details I just listed are accurate facts related to Lincoln. How could they also be true of Kennedy? I think my mom has been lying to me all along.

Well it turns out that both Lincoln and Kennedy share these common characteristics, and while this seems to make them nearly identical on paper, you and I know how different the two men really were. It’s easy to make people sound the same when we are selective about describing similarities and intentionally leave out all the characteristics that distinguish one from the other. Imagine that historians are researching Kennedy 2,000 years from now. Will they doubt his existence simply because Lincoln shared so many similarities? Will “Kennedy Skeptics” deny the historicity of Kennedy because he is so similar to Lincoln? Maybe.

There are lots of skeptics who try to deny the historicity of Jesus just because he allegedly shares some similarities with gods or mythologies that pre-date him. Truth be told, the similarities related to Jesus are more fiction than reality, but even if they were all true (like those I’ve listed related to Kennedy and Lincoln), the mere existence of similarities does not invalidate the historicity of Jesus (or Kennedy, for that matter). If we’re prepared to say that Jesus is a myth just because he shares a few characteristics, we better be ready to tell the world that there was never a president named John F. Kennedy.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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The Verse the Culture Misquotes Most Regularly in an Effort to Quiet Christians

As a Christian, I’m often at odds with the culture around me. As our society embraces a growing number of unbiblical behaviors and attitudes, I find myself becoming more and more vocal in my opposition. I’m not alone; many other conservative Christians are also taking a stand for what the Bible teaches, particularly when it comes to moral behavior. Maybe that’s why I seem to hear Matthew 7:1 tossed around so frequently by those who want Christians to quiet down:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”

do not judge

Whenever we, as Christians, speak out against something in the culture, one of two labels is immediately employed in an effort to silence us: we are either branded “intolerant” or “judgmental”. To make matters worse, the second label is often attached to the teaching of Jesus Himself. Are we Christians defying the words of our Master when we speak against the behaviors, attitudes or worldviews affirmed by others? Did Jesus command us to be silently non-judgmental?

This selective use of scripture by the opposition is perhaps the finest example of what we at Stand to Reason are addressing when we caution people to “never read a Bible verse.” Matthew 7:1, when read in isolation from the larger context of the Sermon on the Mount, may seem to command a form of silent acceptance and tolerance advocated by the culture, but a closer examination of the verse reveals Jesus’ true intent. If Jesus was advocating some form of quiet tolerance, how do we explain the following statements?

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (verse 6)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (verses 13 and 14)

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (verse 15)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (verses 21, 22 and 23)

Wow, Jesus seems vocally judgmental in these passages. Some people are dogs and swine, unworthy of our efforts. Some people are wrong about the path they choose. Some people are false prophets. Some people are true disciples and some are not. Jesus sure seems comfortable making judgmental statements about people in these passages. How could Jesus say such things when he began this part of the sermon by saying, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged”? Maybe we should revisit the first verses of Matthew 7:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

It turns out that Jesus is not prohibiting vocal discernment in these passages, but is cautioning against a certain kind of unbecoming behavior: hypocritical judgmentalism.  We are called to live differently so that we can effectively identify and address unbiblical behavior in our culture. I cannot be a practicing thief and effectively caution against thievery. I cannot be an active adulterer and effectively advocate monogamy. I’m going to have to “first” stop and assess my own behavior (take out my own “log”) before I can “then” caution others about their behavior (help them take the “speck” out of their eye). This is a “first / then” commandment. Both sides of the directive are important; Jesus is commanding two equally critical actions. First, we must change our behavior; become people of God who are above reproach. Second, we must actively engage others about their behavior. Some ideas are good and some are bad. Some prophets are true and some are false. Some people are right, some people are wrong. We are called to make statements about such things after we eliminate hypocrisy in these areas of our own lives. We, as Christians, are called to (1) live righteously, and (2) speak out about unrighteousness. We are less likely to do this, however, if we allow folks misquote Jesus in an effort to silence us.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Can We Trust the Gospels, Even If They Were Transmitted Orally?

One common challenge leveled at the gospels is related to the manner in which they were first recorded. How early were the texts written, and how was the material transmitted prior to being documented by the gospel eyewitnesses? I’ve assembled a cumulative circumstantial case for the early dating of the gospels, but even if the gospels were written early enough to have been authored by eyewitnesses, wouldn’t 15-20 years be enough time for the authors to forget something important or add something errant, especially if they were only retelling the story orally?

Gospels transmitted Orally

When we offer this kind of objection, we start (of course) by denying the supernatural power of God to guide the Biblical authors and protect their memory. But as an atheist, I had no problem beginning with this denial; I was already denying the existence of God, let alone God’s power to protect the eyewitness account. My distrust in the ability of eyewitnesses to recall and transmit the account orally seemed very reasonable back when I was a non-believer. I simply could not fathom the writers being able to transmit the necessary and important details from one person to another without corruption or loss of information. After investigating this more thoroughly, however, I do think we have good reason to trust the accurate transmission of the gospels.

Personal Reverence
The content of the gospel message was of critical importance to both those who communicated it and those who accepted it (and later re-communicated it to the next generation). These folks weren’t passing along mom’s meatloaf recipe; hey were testifying as eyewitnesses to the greatest life ever lived, and they understood their role as eyewitnesses from the start (read through the Book of Acts to see what I mean).

Persistent Repetition
We’ve also got to remember that the first century culture in which the disciples operated was a culture of oral transmission. A lot has been written about this, but let me give you an example I experienced personally last week, as I visited and ministered with Andy Steiger from Apologetics Canada. Andy is a slave driver, and he asked me to give 10 talks over a period of 7 days. Most of these were talks on the reliability of the Bible; the same talk, repeated many times over the course of that week. An important volunteer at Apologetics Canada, Tyson Bradley, came to every event. At one point, after hearing the same talk about 5 times in a row, he told me that he could finish, my sentences for me. I laughed until he started to repeat me line for line (it wasn’t so funny then).  In just five repetitions, Tyson had memorized my message. Imagine what he could do if he hung out with me for three years like the disciples did with Jesus.

Prompt Recording
Beyond this, those who memorized the repeated teaching of Jesus offered what they remembered to those who recorded it within the lifetimes of the original eyewitnesses. The early church Bishop, Papias, claimed that Mark recorded the preaching of Peter as he described the life and teaching of Jesus. Having access to the man (Peter) who (like Tyson) sat under repeated teaching until he had memorized it thoroughly, Mark then recorded the truth about Jesus as Peter delivered it to him. The case for early dating helps us to have confidence that this occurred very early in history.

As a skeptic, even without embracing the divine protection of the gospel accounts, I found that the circumstances surrounding their transmission and authorship was reasonable. Now, as a Christian, I realize that God protected this entire process and orchestrated the events in such a way as to allow us to have a reliable record of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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Rapid Response: “The Gospels Have Been Altered”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “I can’t believe what the Gospels say because they were altered over the years.” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

Gospels Altered

“I understand the objection, because that was one of my first doubts as a skeptic. I held two suspicions as a committed atheist (I didn’t examine the Gospels until I was in my thirties). First, I didn’t think the Gospels were written early in history, because they contained so many miraculous stories. I was a committed philosophical naturalist and I rejected miracles. So, I figured the Gospels must have been written late in history, after all the people who knew the truth about Jesus were already dead and gone. Secondly, even if the Gospels were written early, I suspected the supernatural elements were inserted later. I believed the earliest versions of the Gospel accounts were probably much less supernatural. Maybe, in the first versions of the story, Jesus was a simple guy who was a good teacher, but not a miracle worker. He didn’t walk on water and didn’t rise from the dead; all those elements, in my opinion, were inserted later.

But there’s a process we employ in criminal investigations that we can use here to investigate the possibility of tampering in the Gospels. In my criminal cases, we must demonstrate to the jury that the evidence we’re presenting at trial wasn’t altered after we collected it from the crime scene. We must assemble what is known as the ‘Chain of Custody.’ Let me give you an example. Let’s say we present a bullet casing to the jury during a homicide trial and highlight the existence of an extractor pin mark on the casing. We tell the jury this pin mark identifies the casing as having come from the defendant’s handgun. But how can the jury be sure the pin mark was on the casing when officers originally recovered it at the crime scene? Isn’t it possible that an unsavory officer altered the casing after the fact by secretly etching the mark on the casing to fool the jury? The ‘Chain of Custody’ will help us determine if the casing was altered.

We begin by asking a few simple questions: Did someone take a photograph of (or write a detailed report describing) the casing at the crime scene? Who collected it? To whom did the officer give the casing? Who was the next officer (or criminalist) in the ‘Chain of Custody’? Who booked it into the Property Room? Who handled it while it was there? Who collected the casing from the Property Room and delivered it to the Crime Lab? Who picked it up from the Crime Lab and brought it to the courtroom? Did these involved parties document the existence of the pin mark along the way? If we have repeated images or reports describing the casing, we’ll be able to determine if it was altered over time.

We can do something similar when we examine the Gospels. Let’s look, for example, at the Gospel of John. How do we know that the Gospel accepted by the Council of Laodicea in 363AD wasn’t altered dramatically in the 300 years between its original authorship and this historic council? Lucky for us, we can assemble a ‘Chain of Custody’ for the Gospel of John. John was the ‘officer at the scene,’ documenting what he saw at the time. He then gave his account to the next ‘officers’ in the ‘Chain of Custody’; John had three personal students named Papius, Ignatius, and Polycarp. After John died, these men became leaders in the Church and wrote their own letters to local congregations. These letters aren’t in our Bible, but they have survived as ancient documents. We can read these letters to see if their description of Jesus was different than John’s. Two of these men, Ignatius and Polycarp, had a student named Irenaeus, the next ‘link’ in the ‘Chain of Custody’. Irenaeus also wrote about what he learned from his teachers. He then had a student of his own named Hippolytus. This latter ‘link’ also wrote about what he learned from his teacher.

These ancient men form a Gospel of John ‘Chain of Custody’. We can examine each ‘link’ in this ‘chain’ to see if their description of Jesus is evolving or changing over time. We can examine all the ‘links’ in the ‘chain’ to see if the story of Jesus was altered. As it turns out, the story of Jesus never changed. The description of Jesus wasn’t altered. From the first ‘link’ to the last, Jesus was born of a virgin, worked miracles, preached sermons, died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and seated at the right hand of the Father. Nothing about the Jesus story has been altered. You may not believe it’s true, but we can demonstrate with certainty that the content of the Gospels and the story of Jesus has not been altered.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Christmas is Christmas Because Jesus is God

As we approach Christmas in less than a week, I’ve been thinking about what separates Jesus from other great religious figures of history. Many faith traditions lay claim to famous religious leaders and founders, but Jesus is different. Jesus claimed to be more than a good teacher or leader. Jesus claimed to be God. Some deny this truth about Jesus’ teaching, but the New Testament leaves little room for doubt: Jesus claimed to be God and taught this truth to His followers.

Christmas Jesus God

He Spoke As Though He Was God
While all Biblical prophets of God made statements on God’s behalf, they were careful to preface their proclamations with “This is what the LORD Almighty says,” or “This is what the LORD says,” but Jesus never used such a preface. Instead, Jesus always prefaced his statements with, “Verily, verily, I say to you,” (KJV) or “I tell you the truth,” (NASB). Prophets spoke for God, but Jesus consistently spoke as God.

He Claimed the Title Used by God
Faithful Jews recognized the fact that God identified Himself to Moses as the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Yet Jesus (in referring to Himself) told the Jewish religious leaders that “before Abraham was born, I AM”. They immediately recognized that He was identifying Himself as God and were so angered by this ‘blasphemy’ that they “picked up stones to stone him.” (Jesus also identified Himself as the great I AM in Mark 14:62, John 18:5-6, 8:24, and 8:28).

He Claimed the Home of God
Every time Jesus was asked about where he came from, He told His listeners that He came not from Bethlehem or Nazareth but from the same realm where God abides. Jesus claimed to come “from above”. He repeatedly said that He was “not of this world” (John 8:23-24) and even told Pilate that he was a King whose Kingdom “is from another place” (John 18:36-37).

He Claimed Equality With God
Jesus said that God’s angels were His angels and that God’s Kingdom was His Kingdom (Matthew 13:41). Jesus even said that the judgment typically understood to be reserved for God was actually Jesus’ judgment to make (Luke 12:8-9). Jesus told His followers that when they saw Him, they saw God; if they knew Him, they knew God, and if they loved Him, they were loving God (John 14:6-9 and John 14:23).

He Saw No Distinction Between Himself and God
Finally, Jesus simply and plainly told His followers that there was no distinction between Himself and God the Father. When talking about the manner in which saints are selected for Salvation, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:29). He did not mean that they were ‘one’ in purpose or power, but that they were one in identity. His hearers understood what He was saying and picked up stones again to stone him “for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33).

There are many important religious dates that commemorate the significant role that historic religious leaders have played (did you know, for example, that December 23rd is the birthday of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism?) But Jesus was more than an important leader and founder. He was more than a great thinker and teacher. Jesus taught His followers that He was God. That’s why Christmas is a celebration above and beyond other holy days celebrated by religious believers around the world.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Rapid Response: “Evil Disproves the Existence of God”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “If God is both all-loving and all-powerful, why does He allow evil things to happen? Doesn’t the mere presence of evil disprove the existence of God?” How would you respond to such a claim? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“In criminal trials, evidence can either inculpate or exculpate a suspect. Inculpating evidence points toward a suspect’s involvement. Exculpating evidence, on the other hand, points away from the suspect’s involvement. So, the real question here is this: Does the presence of evil, either natural or moral evil, exculpate God as the best suspect for the creation of the universe? After all, if there’s an all-powerful, all-loving God, why could He allow evil to exist? Either He’s not all-powerful (so He can’t stop it), or He’s not all-loving (He doesn’t want to stop it), or presence of evil demonstrates that He doesn’t exist at all.

Evil Disproves God

There’s a problem with this question, however. We would have to know as much as God to understand why God would allow any evil. How would we ever know all the reasons why God might allow evil to exist? In any horrific crime I’ve worked as a detective, if someone were to ask, ‘Why did that happen?’ the answer is always going to involve a variety of hidden factors working together. It’s always a combination of unique (and often unlikely) relationships between events, opportunities, and conditions. In a similar way, there are always a variety of factors we must consider when asking why God would allow any act of evil in the world. At the very least, we must try to understand the role eternity plays, the importance of free agency, the definition of love, the impact evil has in developing our character or drawing us to God, the role justice plays, and the difficulty we should expect in trying to understand how these factors interact. These complex factors must be considered before we render a verdict about God’s existence and involvement. It’s a difficult task, to be sure.

Let me just offer one quick thought, however. As an atheist (I didn’t become a Christian until I was thirty-five), evil was a problem and concern for me, based on my definition of life and understanding of eternity. Back then, I thought of life as a line segment; starting at my point of birth and extending to my point of death. If life is good, I hoped to get about ninety years between these two points, and as an atheist, I was hoping for the happiest, pain-free years possible. If, for example, I was to get sick at the age of forty, suffer for ten years and then die at the age of fifty, I would have seen this as an insurmountable evil. After all, I expected to get ninety pleasurable, pain-free years. But what if my foundational definition of life was wrong in the first place? What if life isn’t a line segment, but is instead a ray that starts at birth, extends through death and continues off into eternity? If that is the true nature of life, I would have to reevaluate what I believe about the nature of pain and suffering ‘between the two points,’ wouldn’t I?

All of us have suffered something evil or painful for a short period, but when we compare it with the length of our lives, we’ve seen the role this painful experience had in the larger context. If Christianity is true, we live for more than ninety short years. If Christianity is true, our lives are more than short line segments; we are eternal creatures. Any evil you may suffer in this short temporal life must be considered in the context of eternity, and eternity changes everything.

That’s just one factor we must consider when trying to decide if evil exculpates God’s involvement in the universe. Our definition of life and view of eternity is incredibly important. When we think about this, in combination with the other factors I’ve described, we begin to understand that evil is not actually an exculpatory piece of evidence at all. In fact, unless there exists a righteous, perfect God to serve as the standard of good by which we measure any act and call it ‘evil,’ the notion of evil becomes little more than a matter of personal or cultural opinion. We need a true standard of good to recognize anything as evil. That’s why the presence of evil in our universe is another piece of inculpating evidence. It demonstrates the existence and involvement of God, because without a standard for moral perfection, evil doesn’t really exist at all. In the end, evil actually points toward the existence of God.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Rapid Response: “Did Jesus Think Jesus Was God?”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. What would you say if someone said, “I’ve read some of the Bible and I can’t find a place where Jesus actually said, ‘I am God’. I’m not even sure Jesus thought he was God.” Here is a conversational example of how I recently responded to this statement:

Did Jesus Think Jesus Was God

“You know, this is one of the claims I used to make with the Christians I knew because I wasn’t a careful reader of scripture. It wasn’t really until I started to use my expertise in forensic statement analysis (where we look at every little word a suspect says, his use of pronouns, how he introduces things and how he describes people), that I started to see things I used to miss. But you don’t have to be an expert in Statement Analysis to read between the lines of Scripture. In fact, anyone can do this by carefully reading the Bible.

Let me give you an example: When I first looked at the gospels and the Old Testament, I noticed the stark contrast between Old Testament prophets (I don’t care if it’s Ezekiel, or Isaiah, or if it’s a minor prophet like Amos), all these prophets in the Old Testament, when announcing a truth claim from God, would say, “Thus the Lord Almighty says” or “The Lord God says” or, they would always announce that this information is coming from the Lord Almighty.

But Jesus never ever did that. There’s not a single time you’ll find him in the gospels saying, “The Lord Almighty says.” Instead he’ll say something, at least in the King James, “Verily, verily, I say to you” or in the NASB, “I tell you the truth.” Jesus never says, “God says this.” Instead, Jesus says, “I am telling you this.” Think about that for a minute. The people who heard Jesus in the 1st Century were accustomed to the prophets in every generation announcing a proclamation from God as “Thus the Lord God Almighty says to you.” When they heard Jesus proclaim, “I say this to you,” they understood what he meant. Jesus’ words gave him away. Even if you didn’t have a direct claim from Jesus where he said, “Hey, by the way guys, I’m God,” he used statements that included personal pronoun use indicating that he considered Himself to be God. He never felt compelled to say, “God’s telling you this.” Instead, he said, “I’m telling you this.” Jesus understood himself to be the God of the universe, the Being who created everything.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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Rapid Response: Who Created God?

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. What would you say if someone asked, “If you think God created everything, who created God?” Here is a conversational example of how I recently answered this question:

Who Created God

“Well, when you work criminal investigations, you’re always looking for the ultimate cause of any crime. So, in the end that, that person who is the cause of this crime is the suspect you’re trying to identify. So I understand the impulse people have when they ask this question.

But I want to offer this: even as an atheist (I wasn’t a theist until I was 35), all of us are looking for the first ‘un-caused cause’. So if I’m an atheist today who believes in a primordial, quantum vacuum from which our universe came into existence, I would be offering the vacuum as the eternal ‘un-caused cause’. All of us believe in an eternal ‘un-caused cause.’ Theists aren’t the only people who ae arguing for this. The only question is: is the uncaused, first cause of the universe personal or impersonal?

As a Christian, I obviously believe the cause of the universe is personal: God. And as a Christian, I hold a very particular definition of God. He is the un-caused creator of the universe. So, to ask a silly question like, “Who caused the un-caused creator of the Universe” is a bit silly. He is uncaused by definition. And once, again, all of us have the same dilemma. Whether you’re an atheists or a theist, you are looking for the first, un-caused cause of the universe. I would simply argue that, given the nature of our universe (the appearance of design in the universe and in biology, the existence of humans who have minds and free-agency, and the existence of transcendent, objective moral obligations), the best and most reasonable inference for this cause is God.

So, I do think, in the end, the choice is clear. Is the first uncaused, cause of the universe personal or impersonal? If it’s a personal cause, then we’re stuck with a Being very similar to what we see described in the scripture as God. A transcendent, non-spatial, immaterial, a-temporal, intelligent Being who is responsible for the fine-tuning of the universe, the origin of life, the appearance of design, the existence of mind and free-agency and the source of all transcendent, moral obligations. That’s why I believe Christianity is true, and that why I reject the idea that the un-caused, first cause of the universe is something other than a personal God.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity,Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.


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Did Jesus Commend Faith That Is Blind?

You don’t have to read much of Cold-Case Christianity to realize I’m an evidentialist. The title usually gives it away. As a result, my inbox is filled with email from people who want to convince me that true faith is independent of evidence.

Many of them point to the well-known passage in John chapter 20 where Thomas expresses his doubt that Jesus has been resurrected. When Jesus presented Himself to Thomas, He made an important statement that is occasionally offered as an affirmation of some form of “blind faith”:

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been [f]shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:26-29)

Faith Blind

Without any other context to understand what Jesus believed about the relationship between evidence and faith, this single sentence (“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”) does sound like an endorsement of faith independent of evidential support. But context changes everything. Like other declarations offered by Jesus, this statement has to be reconciled with everything else Jesus said and did before we can truly understand what He believed about the role of evidence.

As it turns out, the Apostle John wrote more about Jesus’ evidential approach than any other Gospel author. According to John, Jesus repeatedly offered the evidence of His miracles to verify his identity and told His observers that this evidence was sufficient:

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11)

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)

“…the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about Me,
that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)

John frequently described Jesus as someone who offered the evidence of his miraculous power to demonstrate His Deity. In fact, the passage describing Thomas’ doubt is also an affirmation of an evidential faith, if it is read in its entirety:

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:25-31)

John makes an important statement right after the line that is typically offered to “demonstrate” Jesus’ alleged affirmation of a non-evidential faith: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples…” What? Blessed are those who did not see and yet believed, therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples? Do you see the contradiction here? Why would Jesus continue to provide evidence if those who believe without evidence are supposed to be blessed? The answer is found, once again, in the Gospel of John. In Jesus’ famous prayer to the Father, he prayed for unity and He carefully included those of us who would become Christians long after Jesus ascended into Heaven:

“I do not ask on behalf of these (the disciples) alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)

Jesus is talking here about all the people (like you and me) who will believe in Jesus not because of what we will see with our own eyes but because of what the disciples saw and recorded as eyewitnesses (“their word”). Yes, Thomas was blessed to believe on the basis of what he saw, but how much more blessed are those who will someday believe, not on the basis of what they will see, but on the basis of what the disciples saw and faithfully recorded. Jesus understood the value of evidence and continually provided “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:2-3) to His followers so they could record their observations and change the world with their testimony. Jesus commended this process; His words to Thomas were not an affirmation of “blind faith”.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America

If I began this post by asserting, “I can’t write a word of English,” you’d probably recognize the contradiction. My sentence betrays its own claim, doesn’t it? Such is the nature of self-refuting statements. Wikipedia describes such utterances as “statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true.” You might be surprised how often people are prone to saying something that is self-refuting, but there are number of common statements we hear (or use) every day that fall into this category:

“Don’t bother me, I am asleep right now”
“I’m not going to respond to that”
“I can’t talk to you right now”

There are times when our words collapse under their own weight. As I train university aged Christians around the country and listen carefully to their common college experiences, I’ve started to collect some of the more popular self-refuting statements uttered by college professors. Here are the top four:

“There is no objective truth” / “Objective truth does not exist”
Perhaps the most obviously self-refuting, this claim (or something similar to it) is still uttered in many university settings according to the students I train. Like all self-refuting claims, it can be cross-checked by simply turning the statement on itself. By asking, “Is that statement objectively true?” we can quickly see that the person making the claim believes in at least one objective truth: that there is no objective truth. See the problem?

Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America

“If objective truth does exist, no one could ever know with confidence what it is” / “It’s arrogant to assume you know the truth with certainty”
Once again, the professor who makes such a claim appears to be confident and certain of one truth: that no one can be confident or certain of the truth! The statement falls on its own sword the moment it is uttered.

“Science is the only way to determine truth” / “I only trust things I can determine through a scientific process”
University students report this statement often, and it may take a little more thought to recognize as self-refuting. When a professor makes this claim, we simply need to ask, “Can science determine if that statement (about science) is true?” or “What scientific experiment provided that conclusion for you?” It turns out that there is no scientific process or procedure can be employed to validate this claim. It is a presumptive philosophical statement that is outside the analysis of science.

“It’s intolerant to presume that your view is better than someone else’s’” / “Tolerance requires us to accept all views equally”
An even more hidden self-refuting statement lurks here in this common errant definition of tolerance. Folks who hold to this corrupted view say they accept all views as equally true. But if you make the claim that some ideas are patently false and have less value than others, they will quickly reject your statement. In other words, they will accept any view as equally valuable except your claim that some views are not equally valuable. See the inconsistency? People who embrace this definition of tolerance cannot consistently implement their own view of tolerance.

This last claim related to tolerance may be the future battleground of self-refutation. Most of us, as Christians, recognize this assertion and have been accused of intolerance at one time or another. The exclusive claims of Christianity related to salvation (through faith in Christ alone) place us in the bulls-eye for such criticism. In my next post, I’ll examine the true nature of tolerance as we help each other navigate the concept and learn to defend the classic definition.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianityand God’s Crime Scene.

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Why Doesn’t Archaeology Corroborate Every Detail of the New Testament Accounts?

When trying to establish the reliability of eyewitnesses in cold case investigations, I use a template that I learned from criminal trials (I’ve written about this at length in my book). One of the four areas I examine is whether or not an eyewitness account can be verified in some way by outside evidence that corroborates the claims of the witness. Detectives are usually able to locate DNA, fingerprint, or other forensic evidence that validates and affirms the statement offered by a witness (sometimes an additional witness is even used to verify a statement). But what about historic eyewitness accounts that were recorded so long ago that forensic evidence is no longer available? Well, here’s where I think archeology can step into the gap to help us substantiate the claims of ancient eyewitnesses.

I’ve written online about some of the archeological evidence that supports the claims made by Luke in the Book of Acts (I’ve written more on this in Cold Case Christianity), but it’s clear from any authority on Biblical archeology that we don’t have support for every detail of the gospels. Critics often cite this reality as a challenge for those of us who claim the gospels are accurate. But let’s take a minute to compare the state of Biblical archeological support with the state of Mormon archeological support. Both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon make claims about the ancient past that can be verified with archeological discoveries. But while the Biblical narrative has been robustly (although incompletely) confirmed with archeology, the Book of Mormon narrative has not been corroborated by a single archeological discovery. Not a single Mormon city has been discovered. Not a single Mormon artifact. Not a single inscription bearing a name from the Mormon narrative. Christianity does not suffer from such a complete absence of archeological confirmation.

But what are we to say to those who argue the Biblical archeological record is incomplete? The answer is best delivered by another expert witness in the field, Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, historian and Professor Emeritus at Miami University. Yamauchi wrote a book entitled, The Stones and the Scripture, where he rightly noted that archaeological evidence is a matter of “fractions”:

Only a fraction of the world’s archaeological evidence still survives in the ground.

Only a fraction of the possible archaeological sites have been discovered.

Only a fraction have been excavated, and those only partially.

Only a fraction of those partial excavations have been thoroughly examined and published.

Only a fraction of what has been examined and published has anything to do with the claims of the Bible!

See the problem? In spite of these limits, we still have a robust collection of archaeological evidences confirming the narratives of the New Testament (both in the gospel accounts and in the Book of Acts). We shouldn’t hesitate to use what we do know archaeologically in combination with other lines of evidence. Archaeology may not be able to tell us everything, but it can help us fill in the circumstantial case as we corroborate the gospel record.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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I Came to Faith Through Apologetics

I often hear statements like this at speaking events when people excitedly share their journey to the cross. I’m sometimes surprised at how many people have a story similar to my own.  A few years back, Abdu Murray (an ex-Muslim) interviewed me for his radio show and told me about the role evidence played in his own conversion story. When skeptics of apologetics (usually Christians) tell me they’ve never met anyone who came to faith through apologetics, I typically tell them they know at least one person, if they know me. My journey to the cross is outlined in Cold-Case Christianity as I recount the evidence God used to bring me to the truth.

I Came to Faith Through Apologetics

When someone says they “came to faith through apologetics” or they “became a Christian through the evidence,” I usually take the time to ask them what they really mean when using these expressions. They commonly describe a journey illustrating the sovereignty and power of God to call and transform the lives of His children. In each of these cases, God merely used the evidence as the means by which He called those who needed an evidential approach. God can clearly use whatever approach He desires, as He reaches out to each of us in the manner He knows will be most effective. We see examples of God using the preaching of evangelists, the words of Scripture or the appearance of a vision. God is God, and He’ll do whatever He pleases. For some of us, He is pleased to use the evidence.

That’s why I’m often surprised by those who would oppose an evidential approach. I’m not just an evidential Christian case maker because I favor this form of apologetics theoretically. I’m an evidential Christian case maker because this form of apologetics was instrumental in my own journey to the cross. I favor this form of apologetics experientially. Like so many others, the power of the evidence was part of my own conversion experience and it’s from this experience that I now share with others. God called me, removed my enmity toward Him, and then shared the evidence I found so persuasive. I now hope to be used by God in a similar way as He calls others home.

If you’re a Christian, I would encourage you to think about how God brought you to the truth. Whatever the process, I bet He can use you in a similar way to share the truth with someone else. I’m not concerned about your apologetic or evangelistic approach. I really don’t have a favorite. I do, however, have a personal experience from which to shape my own particular approach. I bet you do too. If God used evidence to help you turn a corner, maybe I can help you better articulate this evidence to a new generation, called by God and shaped like you and me. Someday, maybe someone else will find themselves saying, “I came to faith through apologetics.”

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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4 Reasons We Should Accept the Gospels As Eyewitness Accounts

In the movie, God’s Not Dead 2, I was asked to defend the historicity of Jesus and the eyewitness reliability of the Gospels. Many skeptics reject the eyewitness authority of the Gospel accounts, even though the early Church selected and embraced the canonical Gospels based primarily on the eyewitness authority of their authors. Some critics even argue the Gospels were never intended to be seen as eyewitness testimony, in spite of the fact the earliest students of the apostles (and first Church leaders) repeated the content of the Gospels in their own letters, affirming the eyewitness status of their authors. As a cold-case detective who examines eyewitness accounts every day, I investigated the accounts in my book, Cold-Case Christianity; A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. My investigation led me to conclude the New Testament gospels should be considered eyewitness accounts for four reasons:

1. Eyewitness Authority Was Affirmed By the Gospel Authors
The authors of the Gospels proclaimed their authority as eyewitnesses (or as chroniclers of the eyewitnesses), and the earliest believers embraced the traditional authorship of the eyewitnesses. The Gospel authors (and their sources) repeatedly identified themselves as eyewitnesses:

2 Peter 1:16-17
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

John 21:24-25
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

2. Eyewitness Authority Was Confirmed By the First Believers
The early believers and Church Fathers accepted the Gospel accounts as eyewitness documents. Papias, when describing the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, for example, said, “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.” In addition, Papias, Ireneaus, Origen and Jerome affirmed the authorship of Matthew’s Gospel by the tax collector described in the account, written for the Hebrews in his native dialect.

3. Eyewitness Authority Was Foundational to the Growth of the Church
The eyewitness authority of the Apostles was key to the expansion of the early Church. The apostles were unified in the manner in which they proclaimed Christ. They repeatedly identified themselves, first and foremost, as eyewitnesses:

Acts 2:23-24, 32
“This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him… God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

4. Eyewitness Authority Was Used to Validate New Testament Writings
Even Paul understood the importance of eyewitness authority. He continually referred to his own encounter with Jesus to establish the authenticity of his office and writings. Paul also directed his readers to other eyewitnesses who could corroborate his claims:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

The Gospels were written as eyewitness accounts within the long and rich evidential tradition of the early Christian community. The early Church placed a high value on the evidence provided by Jesus and the authority of the apostles as eyewitnesses. The Gospels were accepted and affirmed due to their status as eyewitness accounts. This authority was inherent to the Gospels, commissioned by Jesus, affirmed by the Gospel authors, confirmed by the first believers, foundational to the growth of the Church and used to validate the New Testament canon. There are good reasons to accept the gospels as eyewitness accounts.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. He appears in God’s Not Dead 2 as an expert witness, making a case for the reliability of the New Testament.

Son las Verdades Morales un Producto de la Cultura ?

Por J. Warner Wallace

Traducción Bryan Woodward

En mi nuevo libro, “La Escena de Crimen de Dios: Un Detective de Homicidios Examina Evidencia para un Universo Divinamente Creado”, yo examino ocho trazos de evidencia en el universo mientras pregunto algo simple que usamos en investigaciones: “Puedo explicar la evidencia ‘en la habitación’ (del universo natural) mientras me quedo dentro de la habitación’?” Esta es la pregunta que uso en cada escena de muerte para determinar si en verdad es una escena de crimen. Cuando la evidencia “en la habitación” no se puede explicar al permanecer “en la habitación”, tengo que considerar la participación de un intruso. Si la evidencia dentro del universo no puede explicarse al mantenerse “dentro” de la esfera natural del universo, debemos tener en cuenta igualmente la participación de un intruso cósmico. Una pieza de evidencia critica en el universo es la existencia de morales objetivos que son transcendentes. Podemos nosotros explicar estas verdades mientras nos quedamos “dentro de la habitación”?

Muchos filósofos y pensadores ateos buscan explicar las verdades morales desde “dentro de la habitación” del universo natural. Ellos ofrecen que las sociedades y culturas son la fuente de la moralidad. De acuerdo con este punto de vista (llamado “relativismo moral”), la moralidad varía de cultura a cultura. No hay morales  universales que son objetivas ni transcendentes para “todas las personas todo el tiempo.” Los relativistas morales creen que las culturas y los grupos de personas son los que crean sus propios códigos morales en vez de descubrirlos. Los códigos morales son una construcción social diseñada por la mayoría para ayudar a que el grupo mantenga la armonía social y aumenta su capacidad de supervivencia. Pero si el acuerdo cultural determina las verdades morales, varias problemas emergen:

Este Enfoque Confunde la Diversidad Cultural con la Claridad Moral

El relativismo moral reconoce correctamente la diversidad cultural y moral del mundo, pero esta observación falla en falsificar la existencia de morales transcendentes y objetivos. Las culturas pueden diferir en sus creencias acerca de lo que causa la tuberculosis, pero esto no significa que no halla una verdad objetiva acerca de la causa y la naturaleza de la enfermedad. La diversidad de las creencias subjetivas tiene muy poco que ver con la existencia de la verdad objetiva.

Este Enfoque Falla en Identificar Que “Cultura” Que Rige

Si las verdades morales emergen del consenso de los grupos de personas, que grupo de personas es el que decide? El tamaño o cuan poderoso es un grupo es lo que decide cual grupo es calificado para ser la autoridad? El relativismo moral nos niega la habilidad para declarar que un grupo tiene mas autoridad que otro, a menos que estemos dispuestos a apelar a una autoridad que transciende todos los grupos.

 

jim map 1

Este Enfoque Silencia la Critica Intercultural

Si las verdades morales son un producto del consenso cultural, ninguna cultura está en una posición para criticar o alabar el comportamiento de otra cultura. El relativismo moral no nos permite decir, “La tortura es objetivamente mala.” Lo mejor que podemos hacer es simplemente decir, “No nos gusta la tortura aquí en nuestra cultura.” Pero cual es la razón por lo cual le debe importar a alguien lo que pensamos si las verdades morales son relativas en cada cultura? Si la moral es simplemente un producto de la opinión cultural, las proclamaciones acerca de los verdades morales son como declaraciones sobre nuestras preferencias de comida: interesantes, pero en última instancia, no importan.

Este Enfoque Esta Depende Demasiado en el Acuerdo

Si los grupos de personas deciden que es lo que es moralmente correcto o incorrecto, como debemos considerar un acto en particular si no hay un acuerdo cultural definitivo? Significa esto que un acto no tiene estatus moral hasta que la mayoría se puede poner de acuerdo es ello? Y que tan grande tiene que ser la mayoría? Si el relativismo moral es verdad, no podemos hacer una declaración acerca del estatus moral de cualquier acto hasta que hemos llegado a un consenso cultural.

Este Enfoque Margina los Reformadores Morales

Si las verdades morales son decididas por el acuerdo cultural, basadas en las creencias de la mayoría – cómo debemos evaluar aquellos individuos en la minoría? No serian considerados inmorales por definición? Los reformadores morales como Ghandi y Martin Luther King Jr., quienes empezaron sus esfuerzos de reforma moral como individuos defendiendo un punto de vista minoritario, serían impotentes para lograr un cambio si la verdad moral fuera realmente establecida como los relativistas morales proponen. Los Reformadores como éstos apelan hacia las verdades morales que transcienden la opinión de la mayoria cuando argumentan por el cambio. Si la verdad moral empieza en el nivel de la cultura, no ha un autoridad mas alla de la sociedad a quien podemos recurrir.

moral rev lead in spanish

Este Enfoque Alienta y Emplea el Comportamiento Inmoral

Si los códigos morales son creados sistematicámente y aceptados por las culturas como un esfuerzo para mantener la armonía social y para aumentar su supervivencia, como podremos evitar los actos culturalemente egoístas? Si una actividad en particular aumenta la armonía social y la supervivencia de nuestra cultura – pero logra esto en detrimento de la cultura vecina – hace esto el comportamiento moralmente aceptable? La esclavitud puede aumentar la supervivencia de una cultura en vez de otra – especialmente en vez de la cultura que esta esclavizado. De hecho, un argumento para la continuación de la esclavitud en América giraba al rededor de los beneficios que tuvo para la economía. Los retos para la supervivencia, incluyendo la supervivencia económica, pueden y han sido utilizados para excusar comportamientos inmorales egoístas.

Este Enfoque Confunde el Reconocimiento con la Existencia

Mientras esta claro que los grupos de personas emplean principios morales para promover su bienestar y su supervivencia, los que reclaman que las sociedades son la fuente de estos principios – ya sea a través de algún proceso de  progreso social o evolución psicológica – están confundiendo el reconocimiento moral con la existencia moral. Aun las propuestas evolutivas más robustas relacionadas con el origen de la verdad moral simplemente ofrecen una descripción del por qué y cómo los humanos han empleado los principios morales para aumentar su supervivencia. Las culturas reconozen y emplean los principios morales, pero esto no significa que fueron creados a travez de estos principios. De hecho, muchos científicos y filósofos son sospechosos de cualquier relación entre la evolución y la virtud moral. El proceso evolutivo muchas veces resulta en la falta de harmonia y en conflictos; parece que la moralidad requiere que nosotros superemos el “monstruo evolutivo” dentro de cada uno de nosotros.

El relativismo moral es simplemente otro intento fallido de “permanecer dentro de la habitación” del universo natural para explicar la existencia de las verdades morales objetivas. La mejor explicación para la existencia de la verdad moral transcendente es simplemente la existencia de la fuente transcendente de la obligación moral que esta “afuera” de la habitación del universo natural.

Crees Que Son las Verdades Morales un Producto de la Cultura ? Si, No o Talvez ? Dejanos saber en la seccion de comentarios.

Puede Una Comprension de la Vida Eterna Cambiar Nuestra Forma de Ver La Maldad

Por J. Warner Wallace

Traducción Bryan Woodward

En mi último libro, “La Escena de Crimen de Dios: Un Detective de Homicidios Examina la Evidencia para un Universo Divinamente Creado”, examino ocho piezas de evidencia en el universo mientras hago el caso por la existencia de Dios. Cuando una pieza de evidencia apunta hacia un sospechoso en particular, a eso lo llamamos evidencia inculpante. Si apunta lejos de el sospechoso (o, más precisamente, exclude la posibilidad de que un sospechoso esté involucrado), a eso lo llamamos evidencia exculpante. La existencia de la maldad en el universo ha sido usado por muchos escépticos como una forma de evidencia exculpante, exculyendo la existencia rasonable de Dios completamente. Después de todo, como puede ser que un Dios todo poderoso y un Dios que nos ama totalemente puede permitir que la maldad existiera? Una formulación antigua del problema es veces es atribuido a Epicuro:

“¿Está Dios dispuesto a prevenir la maldad, pero no es capaz? Entonces, él no es omnipotente. ¿Es capaz, pero no dispuesto? Entonces él es malévolo. ¿Esta dispuesto y capaz? ¿Entonces de donde viene la maldad? ¿O no está dispuesto ni capaz? ¿Entonces por qué llamarle Dios?”

¿La existencia persistente de la maldad excluye la posibilidad razonable que existe Dios? No. Como lo he describido en La Escena de Crimen de Dios (Capítulo Ocho – La Evidencia de la Maldad: ¿Pueden Coexistir Dios y la Maldad?), yo ofrezco un filtro explanatorio construido en siete consideraciones relacionadas a la existencia de la maldad, la naturaleza del universo, y los deseos de Dios. Una consideración importante que debemos considerar cuando evaluamos la naturaleza potencialmente exculpatoria de la maldad es la naturaleza de la vida, particularmente si, como creen los Cristianos, la vida se extiende más alla de la tumba.

La maldad y el sufrimiento son típicamente experienciados y entendidos dentro del contexto de la vida de uno. Durante los treinta y cinco años que yo fui un ateo, miré a mi vida como un segmento de línea, que abarca entre dos puntos: mi nacimiento y mi muerte.

del nacimiento a la muerte (1)

Tenía la esperanza de una vida (un “segmento de línea”) de aproximadamente noventa años. Si yo hubíera desarollado cancer durante este lapso de tiempo, yo hubíera estado enojado por la cantidad de tiempo que me fue robado mientras batallé contra esa enfermedad. De hecho, si hubiera sido diagnosticado con una enfermedad terminal a esa edad, yo hubiera estado enojado de que me deprivieran cincuenta por ciento de la vida que yo esperaba.

Sufrimiento y Muerte

Si el teísmo es cierto, y somos más que meros seres materiales, la vida no es un segmento de línea. La vida es, en cambio, un rayo que se extiende desde el punto de nuestro nacimiento, pasando por el punto de nuestra muerte física, y que se extiende a una vida eterna más allá de la tumba.

GCS-Secondary-Investigation-Illustration-20-1024x157

Ahora considere alguna experiencia de maldad, dolor o sufrimiento en el contexto de una vida eterna. Es posible, por ejemplo, recordar las vacunas dolorosas que recibiste cuando eras niño. Si estás leyendo este libro a la edad de treinta años, el pequeño periodo de su vida ocupada por el dolor que usted experimentó durante esas vacunas ha sido superado mucho por los años que has vivido desde ese entonces. Mientras el tiempo ha pasado desde el punto de esa experiencia, has podido colocar ese dolor dentro del conexto más amplio de su vida. Ni lo recuerdas hoy.

Si el dualismo es cierto, somos ambos seres materiales tanto como no materiales, y eternos que vivirán para siempre. Nuestra experiencia y comprensión del dolor y la maldad deben ser contextualizados dentro de la eternidad, no dentro de nuestra temporalidad. Cualquiera que sea nuestra experiencia aquí en nuestra vida terrenal, no importa cuán dificil o doloroso que sea, debe ser visto a través del lente de la eternidad. Mientras nuestra experiencia eternal se estira mas alla de nuestras luchas en esta vida, nuestro sufrimiento temporal se convertiá en un porcentaje cada vez más pequeño de nuestra conciencia. La angustia que tal vez hemos experimentado en la tierra va ha ser superado por el gozo que experimentaremos en la eternidad.

Se encoge

Cuando alguien me pregunta por qué ha ocurrido algo malo (sobre todo cuando un acto malvado involucra a un niño inocente), soy cuidadoso a ofrecer una respuesta rápida, aun si la respuesta es evidentemente o filosóficamente precisa. La verdad relacionada a la maldad siempre es mucho más compleja e inter-relacionada. Como lo describo en mi libro La Escena de Crimen de Dios, hay siete consideraciones que debemos evaluar al tratar de explicar todo acto de maldad. Una de estas consideraciones involucra la naturaleza de la vida y la eternidad. Si la forma de como el Cristiano ve la vida es verdad, la maldad dede de ser evaluado a través de la lente de la eternidad, no a través de la perspectiva limitada de nuestras vidas mortales. La eternidad cambia todo.


Crees que: ¿ Puede Una Comprension de la Vida Eterna Cambiar Nuestra Forma de Ver La Maldad ?