10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel faced, the others followed without turning as they went (Ezk 10:10-11).
Saturday, March 25, 2017
10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.
24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Friday, March 24, 2017
What I'll be citing is agreement between two or more resurrection accounts in a way that's consistent with the others. Since some of the accounts, like the closing of Mark's gospel and Paul's material on the resurrection at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15, are so brief, there's a lot they don't address. If two or more other accounts agree with each other on a point, but that point isn't discussed in Mark or 1 Corinthians 15, the agreement among those other accounts is significant anyway.
There are good reasons to accept material that's only found in one resurrection account. For example, when Matthew (28:9-10) and John (20:14-7) narrate resurrection appearances to one or more of Jesus' female followers before any appearances to his male disciples, that prominence given to female disciples in such a male-dominated society provides us with some good evidence for those accounts. Likewise, the earliness of the material Paul cites referring to an appearance to more than five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:6) and Paul's knowledge of the ongoing status of those witnesses give us good reason to accept the historicity of that resurrection appearance. There's good evidence for the appearances in Matthew 28:9-10, John 20:14-7, and 1 Corinthians 15:6, even if each appearance is only mentioned in one source. But my focus in this post will be on material found in multiple resurrection accounts.
There are more agreements among the accounts than what I'm going to list. These are just some examples.
Since the resurrection accounts in the gospels start with the tomb of Jesus, I'm starting there as well:
|Deposing a heretical pope|
Is “Pope Francis” a heretical pope?
I appreciate Jonathan McLatchie's ministry Apologetics Academy including his interviews with various guests on various topics. Starting around the 35 minute mark, Doug Axe explains what he thinks is a limitation with Michael Behe's irreducible complexity and instead argues for what Axe terms functional coherence:
Thursday, March 23, 2017
There's this general confusion over what probabilities mean, and that if...something has a probability and it's not zero, then that means it's not impossible.
Some people want to say, if the probability is not zero, then that means it can happen. What it really means is that if there are enough opportunities for a very small probability to become a large probability, then it can happen.
So, if something is one in a million, but you have a million shots at it, then it becomes probable. If something is one in a trillion, you're going to need a trillion shots at it for it to become probable. A million won't be enough; it's still vastly improbable.
If you push that number far enough, you reach an improbability that is so extreme that there is no way for this physical universe to give you the number of opportunities that would raise that extraordinary small probability to something that can happen, that's like, 50-50 or better.
It turns out that in these sorts of problems where you have to arrange lots of thing and get lots of things right, the improbability of each step multiples and you can get just extraordinary improbability.
So, I use the term "fantastic improbability" to refer to this sort of boundary where it's now beyond the point where this physical universe could possible overcome the improbability. That, I call "physical impossibility," distinguishing it from mathematical impossibility...One in a google [sic] is the dividing line where I say, once it's that improbable, there is no way for any real process in this physical universe to overcome that kind of improbability. That's why I call it "physically impossible."
From Craig Blomberg (Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 2nd ed., pp 121-2):
What, then, is encoded in the texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to help us know how to interpret them on the "macro-scale"? Are they unadorned works of history or biography? Are they extended myths? historical fiction? In short, how do we assess the genre or literary form of an entire "gospel"?
Likewise, in opera, the singer is an instrument of the story. By playing a role, he discharges the dramatic function of the character.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Invariably, indeed necessarily, the truth being, in fact, rigorously logical, the doctrine of universal, ineffectual grace in the “paradox” drives out the doctrine of particular, sovereign grace.
Under the influence of Westminster Seminary, the OPC has approved a covenant theology that expressly denies all the doctrines of grace of the Westminster Standards, including justification by faith alone, with special reference to the children of believers.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
"The core of what Roman Catholicism stands for has never changed". Probably one of the main challenges is going to be The battle over words. Rome uses basic Protestant language, and tries to re-define it, in its own way.
See also: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2013/03/weigle-room-at-christianity-today.html
Even granting the tremendous reliability of the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, the case for accepting their account is very weak. How many people return from the dead? It must be very low, far less than the number of people who have the serious disease in our analogy. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that God resurrects one in a billion people. This means that even if the witnesses to the resurrection were incredibly reliable (perhaps they misidentify non-miraculous events as miraculous only one in a million times), the chance that they were correct about Jesus’ resurrection would be only one in a thousand. To summarize, the extreme rarity of divine interventions works against the rationality of believing in them…However, my argument does not show that belief in miracles is never rational. Just as receiving numerous positive test results for a disease would raise the probability that you really are sick, numerous independent witnesses testifying to the same miracle would increase the probability that it really occurred. Alas, we lack numerous independent accounts in the case of biblical miracles. Therefore, though miracles might be possible, belief in them is irrational.
Events like these require divine intervention because, presumably, without such intervention the natural laws according to which the universe marches would have prevented them from happening…That’s why, if Jesus really did return to life, something must have intervened to block the otherwise inevitable march of natural laws.
Let’s suppose that I’m lecturing somewhere and some terrorists interrupt the event, come up on stage, and behead me for saying Muhammad was a false prophet. While the commotion was occurring, some audience members dial 911. When sirens announce the approaching police, the terrorists flee. An hour later, while audience members are being interviewed by police and members of the media outside of the auditorium in which my headless corpse still lies, a strange thing occurs. A moment later, I walk out of the auditorium with head attached and in perfect health! Everyone is stunned and ask what has happened, to which I answer that God has sent me back to tell everyone the Christian message is true. I then begin calling out the names of a few audience members, one by one, and tell each that, while I was in heaven, I spoke with one of their family members who had died and who has sent a message to them. I then provide the names of those family members and messages, messages that contain accurate information I could not have known otherwise. A physician then approaches me and checks my vitals.
There is no question that such an event would be a miracle and would probably require an act of God. But the physician has no access to God using the methods of her discipline. So, if we were to follow Bart’s principle, the physician could not affirm that I was alive, since only theologians have access to God! You can see how this approach fails, since the physician could certainly affirm that I was alive, but could not affirm that God was the cause of my miraculous return to life. In a similar manner, historians can look at the data, formulate hypotheses which they then weigh using criteria of inference to the best explanation to see which best explains the data. If the Resurrection Hypothesis does a better job of fulfilling those criteria than competing hypotheses, the historian can affirm that Jesus rose from the dead, while being unable to affirm that God was the cause of Jesus’s miraculous return to life (although he could suggest God is the best candidate for the cause). So, one is free to suggest there is not enough evidence to confirm that Jesus rose from the dead or that there is a better hypothesis than one stating that he rose. But, in principle, there is no good reason for why historians cannot investigate a miracle claim.
Since Christian faith is primarily trust rather than intellectual mastery, even a young child can give a credible profession. In judging what is credible leaders must take into account the capacities of the one who is expressing faith.
For very young children, the children’s response to their parents is the primary avenue for expressing their relation to God. Parents represent God to their children, by virtue of their authority, their responsibilities, and their role as a channel for God’s blessings. Children first learn what God is like primarily through their parents’ love and discipline. The Fatherhood of God is represented through a good human father. God’s forgiveness of sins is represented primarily through the parents’ forgiveness and patience towards their children.
The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25:40).
The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me (Lk 10:16).
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me (Jn 13:20).
Monday, March 20, 2017
And here are some representative examples of the issues we've addressed:
Independent, Converging Lines Of Evidence For Jesus' Resurrection
Resurrection Evidence Outside The New Testament
Evidence For The Shroud Of Turin
The 1982 Carbon Dating Of The Shroud Of Turin
The Authorship Of Matthew
The Authorship Of Mark
The Authorship Of Luke And Acts
The Authorship Of John
The Authorship Of The Pauline Letters (see the comments section)
Evidence For The Empty Tomb
Why It's Significant That The Earliest Sources Don't Narrate The Resurrection Appearance To James
Evidence That Saul Of Tarsus Saw Jesus Risen From The Dead
The Spiritual Body Of 1 Corinthians 15
Why Didn't The Risen Jesus Appear To More And Different People?
How The Apostles Died
Miracles In The Modern World
Reviews Of Debates On Jesus' Resurrection
We've written some e-books, which are linked on the sidebar on the right side of the screen, and they address some Easter issues.
After the 2016 post on Easter resources linked above, Steve Hays wrote some responses to Bart Ehrman, here, here, and here, which address the resurrection and other topics. And here and here are some posts Steve wrote in response to Ehrman concerning the harmonization of the crucifixion accounts. Steve also addressed how skeptics miscalculate the probability of the resurrection. And here's a response he wrote to Richard Carrier on the argument that the resurrection witnesses wouldn't have died for a lie. A lot of issues came up in the thread, including whether the resurrection witnesses died for a noble lie and whether they had an opportunity to recant before being executed. I put together a collection of links to our material on Matthew's authorship of the first gospel. Steve wrote about the hypothesis that Jesus had a twin brother who was mistakenly thought to be Jesus risen from the dead. And here's another post he wrote on the subject. He also discussed whether the resurrection is extraordinary in the way critics often suggest. And he wrote about whether the resurrection and other miracles are antecedently improbable. I linked a post I wrote on Facebook about how the Suffering Servant prophecy is evidence for Christianity. Steve wrote about animals and the afterlife. And here's something I wrote about Jesus' fulfillment of Psalm 22. I also reviewed a debate between Sean McDowell and Ken Humphreys on the martyrdom of the apostles. Steve wrote about Psalm 16:10 and Jesus' resurrection. He later wrote about how John Goldingay became more appreciative of the resurrection of the body through watching the suffering of his wife. Steve also addressed the implications Gordon Clark's views have for the resurrection. And he linked an article on the relationship between the historicity of Adam and the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. He also linked an article by Edwin Yamauchi about whether the early Christians' belief in Jesus' resurrection was rooted in myth, hallucination, or history. And he discussed what Paul says about the afterlife in 1 Thessalonians 4 and how a Christian view of the afterlife contrasts with non-Christian views. In another post, he addressed the claim that any naturalistic explanation for the evidence pertaining to Jesus' resurrection is preferable to a supernatural explanation. And here's a post Steve wrote about skeptical attempts to dismiss the resurrection appearances as hallucinations and their appeal to Marian apparitions. He also discussed Andy Stanley's views on Jesus' resurrection and the Bible. After that, he addressed objections to a Christian view of the final state. Here's something he wrote in response to Dale Allison on the continuity between the body that dies and the one that rises. He also replied to George Mavrodes on the probability of Jesus' resurrection. In another post, he discussed how Biblical descriptions of the afterlife could be reconciled with incorporeal existence. He also responded to some misgivings Peter Enns expressed about the resurrection of Christ. And he addressed some of the principles involved in judging the consistency of the resurrection accounts. I wrote a series of posts on how the gospels compare to other ancient biographies. Steve wrote about Muhammad's alleged splitting of the moon and how it compares to Christian miracles, such as the darkness at the crucifixion. He also wrote about how God relates to us in the events commemorated at Eastertime. I wrote about how the fulfillment of Isaiah's Suffering Servant passage and other Old Testament prophecies provides modern evidence for Jesus' deity. I also updated my post on the 1982 carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin. Steve reviewed a debate on the resurrection between Mike Licona and Matt Dillahunty here and here. He also contrasted Biblical miracles, like the resurrection of Christ, to miracles of a less purposeful nature.