Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hinduism - Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus #5

The goal for a Christian when witnessing for Christ’s love is to present Christ and his work.  

Starting with the Hindu belief of Karma, the cosmic, moral law of the universe which dictates which direction a person will be reborn after their death, a Christian can share that Christianity also teaches a law that governs the universe, and in fact Christians believe that this law is written on the hearts of all men!  (Romans 1:12-16)  However, the punishment for breaking this law is far worse than the punishment of being born outside the caste system, like the punishment the untouchables have for having bad karma from their previous lives (watch the video in the last blog post).  The punishment for breaking the law of God in Christianity is eternal damnation, separation from God.  And the kicker with Christianity is that all of us have broken this law!  No one is righteous!  (Romans 3:10-18)

Christianity has an even tougher road than Hinduism in that we only get one life on earth.  We only have one life to be found “good” in God’s sight.  And the path to connect with God is through his law, which again is so difficult that none of us can meet its standard.  

Just as in Hinduism, where people are born again through reincarnation, in Christianity there is a way to be born again too!  This birth doesn’t occur at the death of our physical bodies as it does in Hinduism.  In Christianity, we can be born again spiritually, and this happens just once.  Because we have broken God’s law, we are all spiritually dead, until we are born again through having faith in Christ and his work of salvation for us.  

Being “born again” in Christianity is similar to Moksha in Hinduism.  In Moksha, Hindus believe that a person is liberated, set free, from having to follow the law of karma, escaping once and for all the cycle of death, and rebirth in this world, known as samsara, the circle of life.  For Christians, liberation from the law doesn’t come from our following, or obeying God’s law.  It comes from trusting in Christ.  Christ is the incarnation of God.  Colossians 3:15 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”  Hindus should understand this concept of God taking on flesh, because the Hindu god Vishnu is known to have taken on numerous incarnations in the past, the most popular ones being Krishna and Rama (Watch the video in the blog post entitled, “Hindu Influence in Western Culture #1).  Jesus, taking on flesh, being incarnate, was then able to fulfill the law of God since he fully retained his divinity, yet he was able to fulfill it as a human as well, since he also fully took on a human nature.  

Being a perfect in his obedience to the law, Jesus did not deserve the penalty of death.  He was innocent in accordance with the law of God.  However, Jesus served as a substitute for all of humanity, being an atoning sacrifice for us.  He took the death that we deserve for breaking God’s law in his crucifixion on the cross.  Because of his divine nature, being outside of time, Christ was able to suffer death eternally on the cross, paying, on our behalf, the penalty we deserve.  Because he was divine, and because of his obedience, God the Father saw to it to raise Jesus back to live.  The good news is that when we trust in Christ to be our substitutionary sacrifice, we are seen innocent in accord with God’s law and Christ is seen guilty.  We then are liberated from the penalty of breaking God’s law.  We will die a temporary physical death with these bodies, but be raised to live physically in the end of the age.  

There’s never certainty in Hinduism, about how well a person is following the law of karma.  Liberation from karma and samsara lies solely on the individual.  

There’s certainty in Christianity that no one can fulfill the law of God except God.  Liberation from the law of God on written on the hearts of all men is certain in trusting in the work, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

One is a religion of work and uncertainty, grounded in obscure sacred texts with unknown origins.  

One is a religion of grace and certainty, grounded in a historically reliable account of the person of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Untouchables in Indian Hinduism

Hindus believe in reincarnation, called samsara.  They also believe in karma, the cosmic moral law which directs the direction of people's rebirth.  If a person has good karma, he or she will be reincarnated into a higher caste.  Bad karma, a lower caste.

There are four castes for humans.  The first caste belongs to the Hindu priests, called Brahmins.  The caste below the Brahmins belongs to the landowners, the aristocrats, who many years ago when landowners still fought on the battlefield, they were known as the warrior caste.  Below them is the caste for skilled workers.  Below the skilled workers, the unskilled workers.  There is another group of humans, who are not even considered to be a part of the caste system.  They are in fact below the caste system.  Animals are above them!  They are the untouchables.

I know that I said that I would make a connection from samsara, karma, and moksha (the liberation from samsara and karma) with the law of God and the Gospel of Christ.  Before I do this, however, I'd like to share the following video from Youtube.  I think it is truly eye-opening as to how many people are forced to live in the caste system, which still exists today in large parts of India.

If you are a Christian, I'd suggest that you pray for the Untouchables.  Some who watch this video might be led to reach out in other ways to these people besides just prayer.  Prayer is a mighty awesome power and miracles happen through the prayers of Christian believers. By the way, after I am finished writing about Hinduism in contrast to the truth of the Gospel of Christ, I will do my best to address questions about miracles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hinduism - Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus #4

The last “connecting” blog post dealt with some key tenants of Hinduism: Brahman, Atman, Maya, Samsara, Karma, and Moksha.  

At first glance, it might be difficult to envision how a connection from these Hindu concepts can be made, but it can be done.  I’d like to be adamant that these connections, in no way mean that Christianity and Hinduism have the same teachings.  That is far from the truth.  All I am doing is pointing out similarities, which can then open the door for presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

For example, it’s very easy to say, “Oh, Christians hold a similar belief.  We believe the same thing concerning ___________, but we don’t believe ___________.  Instead, the Bible teaches _________.”  

Hindu Teaching:

Brahman – Brahman is the divine essence that is at the heart of all things in the universe.  This teaching ultimately says that there is only one divine reality and that we are all united in it, in fact we consist of it. 

Christian teaching:

Acts 17:28 In this verse, Paul is recorded as having said, “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”  

Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus
Christians hold a similar view as Brahman in that we believe that it is from God that we live and move and have are being.  Colossians 1:17 even teaches that Jesus holds all things together.  However at the heart of each and every one of us, Christians disagree with the Hindu understanding that all is divine.  Christians however recognize that all things in the universe have come from God, but that all things do not consist of God, because God created the universe out of nothing by speaking it into existence.  This however does not mean that we believe God is far off from us.  Paraphrasing what Paul shared in Acts 17, God is still at the heart of all our lives; we have our being because of him, and he determined the times set for us and the exact places that we should live.  In this way, Christians agree with Hindus that God is at the heart of all things, but we certainly would not say that all things are God.  

This still has not made a connection to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The connection to the Gospel will come in the next blog post by connecting Karma, the cosmic law of the universe in Hinduism, with the Law of God, and Moksha, the liberation from Samsara, with the pardon from the penalty of breaking God’s Law found in the Gospel of Christ. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hindu Influence in Western Culture #1

I think it's good for Christians to be aware of the many religious influences in Western Culture which are not Christian.  It's good for us to to know these influences so we don't accidentally glorify or lift up false religions.  It's also good for us to know to use as a starting point of conversation with friends when a religiously influenced song or movie is playing.  It's simple to say, "Hey did you know that this song is talking about ______."  It would then be a good opportunity to explain why Christians disagree with that belief and segue into what the Bible teaches on the issue. 

I've been writing about Hinduism lately, while trying to make connections from  those Hindu beliefs and practices to presenting the Gospel of Christ, using Hinduism as a starting point to springboard to a presentation of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for us.  While I write these blog posts, I'll also intermingle them with examples of how Hinduism has had influence in Western culture.

One aspect of how Hinduism has influenced the West is through the Beetles!  The Beetles introduced Hindu instruments, such as the sitar, to the West.  Influence of Hinduism can be clearly seen in George Harrison's song, "My Sweet Lord."  The song initially sounds like it could be a Christian or Jewish song, singing about wanting to see, touch, and know the Lord, with "Hallelujah" being sung in the background.  Later in the song, a shift is made to the background singers chanting, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama" and etc.  Krishna and Rama are both incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu.  Krishna is the most known incarnation of Vishnu.  He is the central figure in the Hindu epic, the Bhagavad Gita, and in this epic he teaches that living out one's natural position and calling in life as an act of worship to the Lord is a way of reaching perfection. During concerts, Harrison would prompt the crowd to sing "Hare Krishna"!

I've heard that there were some Christian churches in America who didn't know the Hindu influence within "My Sweet Lord" and used it during worship services!  So it certainly can be good to be aware of what other religions are saying, doing, and teaching, especially if the lines get to be blurry between what is Christian and what is not. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hinduism - Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus #3

Ravi Zacharias speaks in this video from youtube about witnessing to Hindus with the Gospel of Christ. He is from India and is very familiar with Hinduism and the culture of the people who are Hindus.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hinduism - Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus #2

He spent time in the market place, observing and interacting with the Athenians.  When he was asked to address their questions about the message he was sharing, he first began by praising their religiosity.  He acknowledged the gods they worshipped and used an idol they had built to the unknown god as a connecting point to present Jesus, “the unknown god.”  He then quoted one of their poets, not Scripture, to make another connection to the Gospel.  He started with them, where they were at in their relationship and knowledge of God, addressed their questions and concerns, and built a bridge to the Gospel.

About 500 BC, there was a big shift in Hinduism.  It was during this time that the Upanishads were written, a collection of meditations and teachings based on the Vedic texts.  Upanishads means “sitting near.”  This gives the image of a pupil sitting near a teacher learning.  I relate the Upanishads to the Jewish Talmud.  The Talmud consists of a massive quantity of writings from Jewish priests and teachers on traditions, history, and interpretation of the Scriptures.  I also liken the Upanishads to the footnotes in many Study Bibles – an explanation of the text and a backdrop to the history and traditions of the time the texts were written.  However, the Upanishads take more liberties for personal interpretation than the Talmud and Study Bible notes.  

It’s from the Upanishads that some key Hinduism teaches arise and take root.  

Brahman – Brahman is the divine essence that is at the heart of all things in the universe.  This teaching ultimately says that there is only one divine reality and that we are all united in it, in fact we consist of it.  This one divine reality also means that there are not many gods, just Brahman.  I like to think of this as the Force in Star Wars – it’s all things.  Hindus compare Brahman to salt in water.  It’s there, but you don’t see it, and it’s in all parts of the water and can't be separated from the water (but it can be, right?).  

Atman – At the same time that all things are one, we still maintain our individuality.  Brahman at the individual level in humanity is called Atman.  Atman can be compared to our soul – what makes us unique.  

Maya – This word means illusion.  The reason we don’t see and grasp the divine oneness of all things is because of Maya.  It’s just an illusion that we see ourselves as separate from one another.  This illusion is what brings rise to selfishness, pain, and suffering.  

Samsara – Samsara is the cycle of death and rebirth.  When our bodies die, the divine within us does not.  Our soul, or Atman, is then reborn into a new body.  

Karma – This is the moral law of cause and effect.  Karma determines the direction of our rebirth according to Hinduism.  

Moksha – This is liberation from Samsara and the yoke of Karma.  When a person reaches Moksha, they are no longer reborn but are completely united with Brahman, once and for all.  Little is said about how to obtain Moksha in the Upanishads.  It’s essentially up to the individual to discover self-realization of their oneness with Brahman, thus escaping bondage to worldly existence.  

The connection to the Gospel of Christ will come in the next blog post. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hindusim - Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus #1

It is good for Christians to spend time studying other religions.  Christians are commanded by Jesus to go and make disciples.  If Christians are to expect other people to listen to the message of Christ because we hold it to be true and the only way to salvation, it would greatly show other people that we truly care about them, by first knowing what they believe.   I will attempt to start with Hindus, their beliefs and practices, and try to make connections to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from them, as Paul did with the men of Athens in Acts 17.  

To make connections to the Gospel of Jesus, we first need to know who we are speaking with, in this case Hindus.  

Hinduism originated in India.  Its roots go back over 4000 years ago.  The Harappa culture was an ancient civilization in the Indus River Valley before 2000 BC.  They were very advanced in some ways.  Many symbols from this culture exist in Hinduism, so it is suspected that aspects of Hinduism arose from this culture.  Around 2000 BC there was an immigration of a group of people called the Aryans from modern day Russia.  It is here during this time that a melting pot effect took place.  The gods of the Harrapa culture and the Aryan culture began to blend and mix.  They had many, many gods, some of them are still worshiped today, but many of them are not.  Worship of these gods took place at fire altars where sacrifices of grains, milk, and animals were made, as well as the use of sacred chants.  

The sacred chants of this time were later written down, forming what is now called the Vedas.  The Vedas are the only revealed scriptures of Hinduism, meaning that the authors did not create them, but they only heard them and passed them down to later generations.  The good question to ask here is, who exactly revealed these and who exactly first received them?  These answers when compared to the Gospels do not have historical reliability.  The Vedas consists of four collections of writings – the oldest of which is the Rig Veda.  If you go to Barnes and Noble or Borders and check the Hindu section you will certainly find this book.  

The Rig Veda contains an account of the formation of the world, claiming that the universe, as we know it, was formed from the sacrifice of the God Purusha.  This means that the universe itself consists of the divine, thus in Hinduism, all things are at the deepest level divine.  The universe consisting of Purusha is therefore eternal.  From this sacrifice, the other gods were then formed, or evolved.  It’s all very unclear in Hinduism.  In fact, the account of Purusha’s sacrifice of himself as the formation of the universe is even called into question by the Vedas, because no one was there to witness and confirm it.  

Still none of this initial information about Hinduism has touched on the core teachings of the religion, simply its formation and its explanation of the universe’s existence.  From here a connection to Jesus can be made in conversation with a Hindu.  It can be noted that Christians also believe in the special nature of the universe, that it was created by God as being perfect.  However, it was not created out of God.  It was created by God out of nothing through his spoken Word.  Although, Christians don’t believe that God sacrificed himself in the formation of the world, we do believe that there was a sacrifice made before the creation of the world.  Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”  Instead of saying that God sacrificed himself to create the world, Christianity says that God in the person of Jesus Christ sacrificed himself to save the world before the world was even created.  Christians certainly agree with Hindus that the divine was involved in the creation of the universe and that a sacrifice on the part of God was made from the beginning.  Christians however believe that this God has revealed Himself clearly through his Word delivered through the prophets and apostles of the Bible, and through the person of Jesus Christ, so that there isn’t any doubt about who God is, who we are, and what God has done for us. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Have you ever heard of Laminin?

The image above is a diagram of what Laminin looks like.  Laminin is a type of protein that essentially holds us and animals together (in very laymen terms).  Christians are making the connection of the cross shape of Laminin with Jesus Christ who HOLDS all things together. 

Colossians 1:15-17 states, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth , visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things HOLD TOGETHER. "

Truth or Fiction, a website that investigates eRumors finds the information circulating around the Internet to be true.  The following comes from their website:

Laminin, an Important Protein that Looks Like a Cross-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor:
The eRumor talks of a substance called "laminin" that is described as part of a family of proteins that "hold us together."  Then there is a picture of laminin---which looks like a cross.

The Truth:
This story leads into complex considerations of science and biology but the main questions it prompts are whether laminin is as important as the eRumor claims and does it have a shape like a cross.

The simple answer to both questions seems to be yes. 

Laminin is defined by the Webster Medical Dictionary as a "glycoprotein that is a component of connective tissue basement membrane and that promotes cell adhesion."  In other words, looking at laminin as a kind of glue isn't far from the truth.  There are several different laminins.

In their book The Laminins authors Peter Elkblom and Rupert Timpl go into more detail about both the importance of laminins and their structure.  They describe laminins that, together with other proteins, "hold cells and tissues together."   They also say, "Electron microscopy reveals a cross-like shape for all laminins investigated so far."  They went on to say that in solution the laminin shapes were more like a flower than a cross.  The strands of laminins do not always stand straight and at right angles, but they do consists of arms, three of which are short and one of which is long.

Research has been conducted on laminins in connection with numerous conditions and diseases.  It has been found, for example, that people with congenital muscular dystrophies do not have  laminin-alpha2, which is normally found in the layer of cells around muscle fibers and other cells important to the structural integrity of muscle cells.
An example of a blogger mentioning Laminin in the Christian context can be found in the blog, Lord of the Idiots!

Monday, September 20, 2010

External Quotes #3

Kenneth Samples in his book Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions
lists ten historical sources outside of the Bible that portray Jesus and his life in accounts that synch up with the Gospel accounts.  Here is the list from Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions

Tacitus (ca. AD 55-120): Roman historian, Annals
Suetonius (ca. AD 120): Roman historian, Life of Claudius
Josephus (ca. AD 37-97): Jewish historian, Antiquities
Pliny the Younger (ca. AD 112): Roman governor, Epistles X
Jewish Talmud (commentary on Jewish law, completed AD 500)
Toledoth Jesu (reflects early Jewish thought, completed fifth century AD)
Lucian (second century AD): Greek satirist
Thallus (ca. AD 52): Samaritan-born historian, Histories
Mara Bar-Serapion (ca. AD 73): Letter
Phlegon (ca. AD 80): historian, chronicles (mentioned by Origen)

Every author and his piece of work which collaborates the apostles’ accounts would be considered external evidence.  This is good to mention with anyone questioning the Bible’s trustworthiness.  The truth of history concerning Jesus is not just pinned on the Gospels, but there is external support outside of the Bible that verifies the Gospel accounts. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thomas Paine Quote

Thomas Paine on "The Study of God" January 16, 1797, in a Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists.

It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin.  Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles.  He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.  

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist.  When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid.  When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton.  How then is it, that when we study the works of God in creation, we stop short, and do not think of God?  It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them from the Being who is the author of them.  

The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism.  Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and empty the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of existence.  They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Apologetic Movie

Did you know that Dolph Lundgren has been in a Christian movie?

He has a co-starring role in The Final Inquiry.  

The movie has a very interesting premise and demonstrates how a person living after Jesus' resurrection could have investigated the resurrection to see if it was true event.  In the film, Roman emperor Tiberius sends one of his trusted centurions to investigate the resurrection.  The emperor notes that there was a great earthquake and strange solar eclipse witnessed all over the world that coincided with the death of Jesus of Nazareth.  He knows that Jesus claimed to be God and that his followers claim he has raised from the dead.  The centurion's mission is to find out if there is any truth to the matter.  The film features Paul before his conversion, Peter, Pontius Pilate, Stephen, and other biblical characters.  

It's filmed to not be offensive to the Christians but to also be entertaining to a secular audience.  To me the quality was one par with the Xena or the Kevin Sorbo Hercules TV shows in terms of effects and the fight scenes. 

It might be worth a shot to check out.  I liked it. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why are Some Books in the Bible and Others Books Are Not? #2

The Word Grows!

Dr. Franzmann in his book The Word of the Lord Grows explains that the Bible did not spontaneously appear, but that it grew over time through a gradual process.  He words this by saying, “The canon is not being made; it is growing and being recognized.  This remains the case in the fourth century also, when the canon assumed the form it was destined to retain ever after in the Western church.”

This process of growth is easily seen when looking at the Old Testament.  As prophets wrote and the words of the prophets were confirmed by the work God did in their lives and through the fulfillment of their prophesies, their writings were seen to be God’s word.  Brad Alles notes in Life's Big Questions God's Big Answers that Daniel 9:2 gives an example of the Bible’s growth.  This verse shows that Daniel was reading the Word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet and that he was counting the number of years prophesied for the Babylonian captivity.  God spoke to Jeremiah, Jeremiah wrote it down, it was collected, copied, and preserved, and later used by Daniel, who saw the fulfillment of that Word!  

By the life of the apostles, the Old Testament canon had been set.  The books had been recognized by God’s people.  Jesus confirmed these scriptures, studied them, and taught from them.  On the evidence of Christ’s resurrection (Read “Did the Resurrection Really Happen?” or watch "Is the Resurrection Factual?"), we can trust that Christ is who he said he was – the Son of God, the Savior of the World.  This means that we can trust that God approves the Old Testament scriptures.  Jesus also put his stamp of approval on the apostle’s teachings when he told them in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

The Word of the Lord Grows by Dr. Franzmann

Life's Big Questions God's Big Answers by Brad Alles

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why are Some Books in the Bible and Others Books Are Not? #1

When speaking of the Bible in Hollywood movies and popular fictional books, there’s a recurring theme that there are certain books which are not in the Bible, but they should be, if it wasn’t for the Vatican hiding them all way in the Pope’s underground lairs!  Or in more legitimate reports, there are other Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas.  Should they be held up as the Word of God?  Did the church keep these books out of the Bible?  If the church kept these picks out, then doesn’t that mean the Bible is just a book put together and edited by men?  

What’s the Standard for a Book to be in the Bible?

The word “canon” is often used when speaking of the books that are in the Bible.  “Canon” means “a standard or rule.”  For a book to be canonical it must have been written by an apostle or prophet, have been recognized by the early church, and has been in continuous use within the church for study and worship.  Certain lists for a book to be canonical vary, but they are all very similar.  Some of these variances are that the book must have been written in Greek or Hebrew (again this is connected to the book having been written by an apostle), the content of the book, and that the book had divine authority (again this is connected to the book having been written by an apostle or prophet), and that the texts were in use by the apostolic church (the church at the time the apostles were alive on earth).  

It’s important to note that these standards were not imposed standards.  The church did not decide upon these criteria.  Instead the church merely recognized that these standards applied to the writings which authenticated themselves amongst the church.  In other words, the Scriptures were written and composed and gathered and accepted within the church as they were written, and later the church recognized the accepted books. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Apologetics is a road, not a destination.

‎"Apologetics and engaging with other worldviews on their own terms is always a road, never a destination. The destination is always Jesus" 


I saw this quote last night on a Facebook page and it served as a great reminder for me of the ultimate aim of apologetics when engaging with other worldviews.  The engagement, the conversation, the debate, is not the end-all of apologetics.  And it's definitely not winning an intellectual argument.  Open dialog is not the ultimate goal either, as some would have it to be.  The destination with Christian apologetics is and always should be leading someone to the truth of Jesus and a relationship with him.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Atheist Reads the Bible #2

"An Atheist Reads the Bible" is a series of animations posted on youtube.  Sometimes watching atheists' videos and reading atheists' books and blogs can be a good way to become aware of what the common objections to the Christian faith are.  The appropriate response to such objections is not to get angry, but to be calm and rational and to seek the truth.  

How would you respond to this video? 

Do you want to respond but you don't want to post on the blog?  You can send your reply to me here.

An Atheist Reads the Bible #1

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quotes from Scientists #2

Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics): "It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life." (1)

Wernher von Braun (Pioneer rocket engineer) "I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science." (2)

Vera Kistiakowsky (MIT physicist): "The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine." (3)

(1) Margenau, H. and R. A. Varghese, eds. Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God, and the Origins of the Universe, Life, and Homo Sapiens (Open Court Pub. Co., La Salle, IL, 1992).
(2) McIver, T. 1986. Ancient Tales and Space-Age Myths of Creationist Evangelism. The Skeptical Inquirer 10:258-276.
(3) Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 52.

These quotes were pulled from:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

External Quotes #2

Some books when answering the question, "Did Jesus really exists?" answer the question by referencing sources outside of the Bible, which were written at the same time as Jesus.  Sometimes, these books will just name non-Christian authors without giving the quotes.

In the new Concordia Publishing House book Life's Big Questions, God's Big Answers, the author, Brad Alles, provides the quotes and citations to various non-Christian sources. He includes quotes from the Jewish Talmud, Josephus, Julius Africanus citing Thallus, a first-century historian, Tacitus, Lucian, and Pliny the Younger. Alles then compares each quoted reference to Jesus with the accounts of Jesus from the Bible to show how the external evidence matches the historical account found in the Bible.

The quote that Alles gives from the Talmud concerning Yeshu Hannotzri, or "Jesus the Nazarene", says:
He shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and lured Israel into apostasy.  Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.  Anyone who knows where he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. (1)
This quote shows that Jesus' Jewish opponents recognized that Jesus had supernatural abilities.  They of course claimed that these abilities were the result of sorcery, not his divinity.  Compare this quote from the Talmud to Matthew 12:22-24.

(1)   The Mishnah tractate, Sanhedrin 43a.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

External Quotes #1

I was asked last week, "Ok, so what if a person looks at the manuscript evidence of the Bible and agrees that what was originally written by the authors of the Gospels was successfully copied and passed on to us to today, why can they trust it to be historically accurate and true, and not just successfully copied?  After all, it's just one source about Jesus, right?"

This is an excellent question.  Just because a book has been handed down through time accurately from how it was originally written, this doesn't make the preserved writing true!  It could be fiction!

A way for us to have certainty that the Bible's claims about Jesus are true is to have sources outside of Christianity from the same time period which confirm the Biblical accounts.  Often times, names of certain external writers are thrown around, but sometimes the exact quotes from these authors are not listed or referenced.  I'll try to help by finding, listing, citing, and, or quoting such authors and what they said which confirms, not denies, the Biblical accounts concerning Jesus.

First, I'll start with Josephus, who was a Jewish historian.  From Antiquities Book 18 Chapter 3, Josephus writes concerning Jesus:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Note: Josephus was not a Christian, but he wrote this concerning Jesus, and Josephus was a historian!  What he wrote is an excellent summary of Christ's life which fits with the Biblical account of Christ's life found from outside the Bible from a non-Christian historian.  Antiquities from which this quote is taken was completed by before the end of the first century!

For more quotes from Josephus:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

There are signs that warn us of the last days and the coming last day.
These signs fall into four categories: signs in nature, signs in society, signs against the church, and signs in the church.  

Matthew Chapter 24 speaks the most about these signs.  About when the end will come, Jesus, said, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains."Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

While it is true that no one but God knows when the end of this age will come exactly, as in what date and time, Jesus does tell us when the end come - when the"gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations."  Because this is when the end will come, Peter was able to say in 2 Peter 3:12 that we can "speed" the coming of the Day of the Lord!

If you didn't catch it, I'll repeat it.  The end comes when the Gospel has gone out to all nations (or as I like to interpret it, when all who God intends to hear the Gospel have heard the Gospel, as He is patiently waiting for more people to come to repentance, since He wants none to perish), thus the end is in direct relationship to the completion of the church's mission to go and make disciples of all nations, so we can in fact speed the return of Christ.  2012?  Bring it on!  Maybe it'll be even quicker.  Since the signs have for the most part all been met, we must anticipate a return at anytime, just as the early apostles did.

Quotes from Scientists #1

John O'Keefe (astronomer at NASA): "We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in."(1)

Antony Flew (Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author, and debater) "It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of Deoxyribonucleic acid: the chemical inside the nucleus of a cell that carries the genetic instructions for making living organisms.DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design." (2)

Stephen Hawking (British astrophysicist): "Then we shall… be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God." (3)

(1) Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 200.
(2) Atheist Becomes Theist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew at Biola University (PDF version).
(3) Hawking, S. 1988. A Brief History of Time. p. 175.

These quotes were pulled from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are there inconsistencies in the Bible?

Some people claim that there are inconsistencies in the Bible? While there may appear to be inconsistencies, the problem really lies in us, not the text. We are close to 2,000 years removed from when the New Testament books were written. The reason we think there are inconsistencies is because we miss out on not knowing the history, language, culture, and context in which the "inconsistencies" appear.

To help explain this I'll share a real email I received from a friend in China during the Summer of 2009. It's from my friend Sanyi.

glad to hear you r good at home, it must be great to do thing the same way you always do,yeah, 7.5 is quite a tragedy, a lot of people died that day. I was quite angry when heard news. One of my friends is a soldier there, and he told me that our GOVERmNT sent about 100.000 soldiers to XINJIANG ,to get things back to normal and to get things back to normal and stop the revenge, cuz you know, lot of people who have family been killed at 7.5 take revenge during the following days. anyway, if i was them i'll do the same thing.

thx for the tips,i really need some exercise,i'm getting fat now. here is an article by DANIU, he is talking about you,he thought you rock. i'll give you the link, butit's in chinese probably i can translate it to you later">
Why does he keep saying haha?
What's 7.5?
Where are these places? 
Who is DANIU?

The reason this email doesn't make much sense is because you probably aren't familiar with Chinese culture, Chinese geography, the writer's background, my background, or some of the current history of China's affairs.  If you knew these things you'd get what was being said.  I understand it completely. 

Now picture that you receive this same exact email 2000 years removed from when it was written.  Does English still exists as a language?  If so, how much has it changed?  Do these places still exists?  Has the use of haha changed?  I bet it'd make even less sense so far removed from the original date it was written. 

That's how it is with the Bible sometimes.  We think there are inconsistencies, or internal errors, but really we just are missing things in translation and through not knowing the history and culture of the Biblical texts. 

Friday, September 3, 2010


A cool website that categorizes many of the prophecies in the Bible is

It lists the verses of the prophecy, when the prophecy was written, when it was fulfilled, and background history.
It's a great resource, and the vast number of fulfilled prophesies in the Bible, some which span over 700 years from the date they were written to when they were fulfilled, is a great argument for why the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God!

Enjoy, and let me know if you know of any other good websites like this one.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New Counterculture #2

Many questions arise from the article I attempted to summarize in the last post.  Mainly: 1). What is counterculture?, 2.) What is the established/prevailing culture?, and 3.) Who exactly are the "young evangelicals?"

My personal opinion is that the answers to those questions are pretty subjective.

The main points I see in calling the "younger evangelicals" countercultural according to the article I read are:

  • The younger evangelicals have more of a social vision based on the person of Jesus Christ.  They are not trying to be opposite the popular culture or against the popular culture, but they seek to transform the culture through servanthood, instead of politics, which the older evangelicals seem to have focused on doing. 
  • Ultimately the issues of war and poverty and discrimination cannot be resolved through counterculture visions of the sixties.  Socialist values and sexual liberation are the consequences of that era and they haven't helped build community, personal freedom, and justice, but have actually thwarted such goals. 
  • The only way to resolve these issues is through a counterculture that lives out the values of God's Kingdom.  
  • The values of God's Kingdom run deeper than the "conservative" right.  Read the Sermon on the Mount.  Those ideals aren't exactly seen in the "conservative" mindset.  Apparently, younger evangelicals are seeking a different way than the older evangelicals.
  • The younger evangelicals see themselves as being redemptive and transformative in the culture, and to do so they must interact with the world, and they do, just not in the political sphere. 
  • For the younger evangelicals, mega-churches that wall themselves off from the world by creating a Christian culture which is not that opposite of the world by having churches with weight rooms, gyms, swimming pools, coffee shops, parks, and book stores, isn't really counterculture, but just creating more of the same with a different stamp on it (a fish or a cross).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The New Counterculture #1

I've referenced and quoted a book called Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture (Colson, Charles), and I'm going to do so again.  The book is a series of short 2-4 page challenges to certain lies in popular culture.  Today I took a look at one of these entitled, "The New Counterculture."

The section notes that the anti-war protest of the sixties was a counterculture movement that was marked with socialist values, sexual freedom, and a tearing down of marriage and the nuclear family.  This movement however was so successful that now the ideals of that counterculture are no longer counterculture.  The definition of what is counterculture has thus changed.

The charge in this article is that the anti-war protesters of today are not "counterculture."  "Counterculture" is based upon the idea that everything one has been told is a lie.  The anti-war protesters of today do not maintain this view which would entail everything, not just war, so everything in life has been a lie, meaning war, race, sexuality, and art.  According to Paul Buhle of Brown Univeristy, as quoted by Colson in the article, "The only thing that unites people today is fear of the consequences of war."

So who is "counterculture" now?

Professor Robert Webber calls the "younger evangelicals" the new counterculture group (again quoted by Colson).  What is the motivation for these young activists?  It's not fear.  It's hope.  Hope in Jesus Christ.  They see themselves to be "a redemptive, transformative place in the world."  Webber expects the war on terrorism to call this new young group to make a proper distinction between the church and the nation, and their place in both of these.

In Romans 13, it is clearly stated that authority has been established by God to protect, care, and punish evil.  All of which are the duties God has given to the governments in the world, who are God's servants in the world.  Martin Luther said that the 1st use, or function, of the Law of God, is that of a curb.  Curbs block and restrict.  The function of the Law as a curb is to restrict evil and reward good.  The laws of the land, by whichever government in the world, are thus an example of the crubing function of the Law. Of course, not every nation is perfect, and if rulers do not live up to their calling God will bring them low and build up replacements. 

The "new evangelicals" recognize this role of the government.  They see that the government's role is to offer aid towards the physical side of its people's lives.  The role of the Church, however, is to proclaim Jesus to the people, tending more towards the spiritual needs of the people (although the church is also called to care for people physically).  Christians belong to both of these kingdoms and have roles in both of them.  "The Church, then, is a counterculture that has a different vision of the world than that of people who are not in the Church," writes Webber.  Younger evangelicals can bring about change in the world, not through political power and protests, as the counterculture of the sixties did, but through following the way of their leader Jesus, through humble servanthood.