Miracles: Impossible or Improbable?

Matthew (writer of the gospel) - upon witnessing the miraculous catch of fish

Matthew – “It’s impossible.” The Chosen Episode. 4 “The Rock On Which it is Built”

In “Evidence is for believers, not mockers” I make the case that miracles, one of the strongest proofs of the truth of the gospels, and a validation of the message and ministry of Jesus, is meant for those who already believe, or are ready to believe. They are not meant for mockers like hardened atheists and agnostics or doubters not really looking for the truth. This is true for a number of reasons which I list in the article, so I won’t repeat them here.  I’ll simply encourage you to read the article for the detailed reasons.

As I watched The Chosen (an excellent series I highly recommend about the life of Jesus starting with the call (the choosing) of the disciples) I noticed that they gave a strong defense for why that thesis is true – that miracles are for believers, not unbelievers and mockers. The difference in the approach between those willing to believe and those unwilling to believe a miracle can be seen in how they answer this question: Was that impossible, or merely improbable? Continue Reading

Who Can See the Resurrection? (A meditation)

The risen Messiah is revealed to Mary Magdalene

Jesus reveals himself to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. “The Bible”, Ep 10 “Courage”

A resurrection day meditation 

In the palm Sunday service this past Sunday, the pastor at my church mentioned that “the great crowd” (John 12.12) that had come out to see Jesus was huge. He mentioned it was likely multiple tens of thousand of people, something I hadn’t considered before. That’s a staggering number. So like a good Berean (Acts 17.11), I got out my Bible history to check.

Sure enough, in “Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus” in an excursus on the number of visitors to Jerusalem during the Passover, Bible historian Jeremias summarizes: Continue Reading

Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 6: Talking Animals and Jonah

These two topics – talking animals and “a man who lived in a fish” more than the others really highlight how your worldview and a priori assumptions influence how you understand any text as we’ll see.  Of course I had to shorten the title up a bit for this one. “A man who lived in a fish” following the series name makes for a long title. But we all know who he’s referring to: the prophet Jonah.  As a reminder, here is the list of fantastic creatures this particular atheist takes issue with, with links to the ones we’ve already covered:

“He follows a holy book with a jealous & genocidal god, ghosts, zombies, seers, devils, demons, witches, satyrs, unicorns, talking animals, a man who lived in a fish and a 7 headed dragon.”[1]
(Not listed but also covered already: The Cockatrice)

Are there talking animals in the Bible?

The answer to this question invokes your worldview presuppositions.  Does God exist? Does Satan exist? Are they active in the world?  How you answer these questions determines whether or not you believe the following explanation. Since that is the case, though it should already be clear, let me be explicit about the worldview from which I address these questions:
Continue Reading

Star of Bethlehem – Divine Preparation for the Incarnation

A Christmas Meditation

The naiveté  of those who doubt that Jesus is the messiah because they suppose that he arranged to fulfill the requirements and prophecies of the messiah himself always amuses me – particularly at this time of  year when the preparations of God for the arrival of the messiah are so apparent.

It reminds me of the naiveté of the comic character Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes – an active and curious child who with his stuffed tiger (who is alive to Calvin) always gets into amusing situations.  In one instance Calvin asks his father: Continue Reading

Distant Starlight – Under Occam’s Razor – Part 2: Critique and Cuts

Supernova SN1987a

As noted in part 1 of this article, distant starlight has been called the best argument against biblical creation and a young earth. A serious charge. So I thought it would be helpful to identify the best answer to this “best” charge against creation. A number of solutions to this problem have been offered by scientists who happen to also be creationists.  We briefly examined the popular ones in the previous article.  Now that we’ve completed an overview of possible solutions, we’ll get to the meat of the matter: identifying which theory or theories both have a possibility of working, and surviving the principle of Occam’s razor. So without further ado: Continue Reading

This Easter, Thank God For Thomas

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

A Resurrection Day Meditation

The Apostle Thomas has been under-appreciated and unfairly characterized as “doubting” – as we understand doubting. Rather than doubting, Thomas is better described as the ultimate realist. He doesn’t put on rose colored glasses and see an idealized world. He sees things as they are in the real world. As such he provides one of the best proofs of the resurrection recorded in the Bible. A good thing to realize as we celebrate resurrection day. Let me explain why.  Continue Reading

Intelligent Design’s Blind Side

Intelligent Design’s Blind Side

William Dembski is a leader in the Intelligent Design (ID) community, so I read with initial interest a recent interview he did with Sean McDowell titled How is the Intelligent Design Movement Doing? Interview with William Dembski.  which is posted on McDowell’s blog. That initial interest turned to dismay as the adversarial attitude Dembski has toward revealed truth in general and Young Earth Creationism (YEC) in particular was made apparent. When asked how he assesses the reception of ID within the church, Dembski states:

“I would say that the church broadly and even the evangelical community has — on balance — been somewhere between useless and downright counterproductive to the success of ID.”

A most unfortunate assessment given the potential ID has to impact a culture that has largely fallen under the sway of the junk science put forth to support the materialist religion known as Darwinian Evolution. Even more unfortunate is Dembski’s  apparent blindness to how he (and other ID advocates with similar positions) has caused such a reaction from the God fearing, Bible believing faithful they’d like to gain support from. To unravel this mystery for them, let’s start with what both ID advocates and YEC advocates are trying to achieve. Continue Reading

AD Apologetics – Part 2: Jesus’ Triumphant Resurrection

 

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware.

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware. (AD The Bible Continues)

The series “AD – The Bible Continues” presents a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus.

In  part 1, Jesus’ death and the empty Tomb, the uniqueness of Christianity was examined through  a consideration of the following questions:

Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?

The answer to all those questions is resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – it is the answer to each question, and what makes Christianity unique. Furthermore, Christianity is the only religion which provides hope for us mortal men and women through a savior who has demonstrated mastery over death by himself rising from the dead. And that savior offers the same resurrection to all who believe in him.

That claim – resurrection from the dead –  is so startling, so bold, so beyond common experience that some people refuse to even consider it as a possibility. Such doubt has been expressed by the well known liberal scholar,  the late Rudolph Bultmann who in his disbelief writes,

Continue Reading

The Problem of Evil – proof that God exists

The Fall of Lucifer - Antonio María Esquivel y Suárez de Urbina, 1840
The Fall of Lucifer
Antonio María Esquivel y Suárez de Urbina, 1840
Paradoxically, the problem of evil is proof that God exists.

On Friday, December 14th, 2012 a gunman who shall remain unnamed so as to deny him any further fame, entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut, and shot and killed 20 students and 6 adults. Before driving to the school for the rampage he had killed his mother, and when finally confronted, he killed himself bringing the death toll to 28. In a news conference that same day, Gov. Dannel Malloy summed it up succinctly: “Evil visited this community today”. 

This article is being written, as it turns out, on the 20th anniversary1 of the Oklahoma City Bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which killed 168 people and caused 680 nonfatal injuries. Additionally it caused an estimated $652 million in damages.

These are but a couple of drops in a sea of evil that in one way or another touches the lives of every single human being that lives and has ever lived. This curse upon humanity is paradoxically an affirmation of the truth of God for Christians, while for those unwilling to believe,  it becomes a reason (in their mind) why they shouldn’t believe God exists. Why is it that people can look at the same evidence and come to diametrically opposed conclusions? How can consideration of a single issue – in this case the existence of evil – result in such radically different reactions and beliefs from people? One might ask the same questions of a phenomenon at the other extreme of the moral continuum – miracles.

When you get right down to it, atheists do not believe the core tenets of atheisms and evolution... Why do miracles cause some to believe, while others only see in them only something to either scoff at or be angry at; or to make accusations that people are being “misled”?  In both cases (reactions to the problem of evil and the reaction to miracles) the root cause is the same: an unwillingness to acknowledge God as Lord who will bring all created things under his control and under his judgment.

The mere  thought of God as Lord manifests itself for many as statements of unbelief.  As particles in the atmosphere are the core around which moisture coalesces to form rain drops or snow, likewise miracles and the problem of evil  are items around which unbelief can coalesce and be visibly expressed.

For those living in disobedience the prospect of a God who will judge all is a scary one. And their unwillingness to face this truth is not because of their ignorance of God – no God has made his existence plain to all (Rom 1.19).  No, it’s not ignorance of God that’s the problem, it’s an unwillingness to be subject to God that causes them to express views inconsistent with their worldview, and thus speak as a hypocrite or express irrational view (or both) as we’ll see. Continue Reading

“Killing Jesus” – a review

Jesus overturns the tables of the temple money changers in National Geographic's/Bill O'Reilly's

Jesus overturns the tables of the temple money changers in National Geographic’s/Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”

“Killing Jesus” presents a Jesus declared to be the son of God by his disciples, instead of the eternal God  made flesh that is presented in scripture.

What can you expect from Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus? Let me borrow a scene from the Bible to explain:

After John the Baptizer1 is  put in prison by Herod Antipas (called Herod the Tetrarch) for preaching against Herod’s immoral, adulterous affair with the wife of his brother Philip, the Bible records John while in prison sends some of his disciples to Jesus to affirm that Jesus is in fact the messiah that John had announced to the world that he was when Jesus came to him to be baptized by John in the Jordan. In answer to John’s question – are you the one – Jesus provides John’s disciples evidence that he is in fact the messiah by performing messianic miracles (Is 35.5) in the sight of John’s disciples, and sends them back with the message that he is doing the works of the messiah as prophesied by scripture; and also sends a word of encouragement to John. (Luke 7.21-23)

Jesus then turns to the crowd and affirms John and his ministry by asking the people a series of questions that hones in on the expectations the people had about John: Continue Reading