“Jesus is the only way” PowerPoint slides

I taught one of my favorite lessons last month: Jesus is the only way. Really. (Click the link to download the PowerPoint slides.) Feel free borrow or adapt.

This is such an important lesson and it does so much heavy lifting for us. Since we can point to literally 100+ passages supporting this theme, it means that anyone claiming the name of Christ must hold this view. Just scan the New Testament: Nothing else makes sense in light of this truth.

This alone will seriously challenge theological liberals who insist that Jesus is just one path to salvation. They often don’t know there are any passages besides John 14:6 (Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.), let alone 100+ more. They often freak out when they hear this truth, because it is so obvious that to deny something taught that clearly and that often makes it hard to claim to be a Christian.

As I noted on the next to last slide, when Jesus was in the garden of Gesthemene the night before He was crucified He was in physical and emotional anguish. Picture him face down on the ground. He asks God the Father if another way was possible besides the cross. What was God’s answer? No. There was no other way. I repeat: God the Son asks God the Father for another way, and the answer was, “No.” If we deny that Jesus is the only way, we mock the cross and we mock the millions of persecuted Christians and martyrs over the centuries who could have avoided pain, suffering and even death if they just denied that Jesus was the sole source of salvation. If He isn’t the only way, don’t tell Jesus!

There is only one way to forgiveness for all of your sins and to be reconciled to God, to true transformation in your life and to eternal life in Heaven. Jesus.P.S. John 14:6 is a classic verse on this topic, but this lesson is such a softball that I didn’t even need it.

“Evolution vs. God”

Ray Comfort’s new video, Evolution vs. God, will be available for free in a few weeks.  You can download it now for $20.  I went ahead and did so and it was fantastic.  He had a fabulous presentation of the law and the Gospel.  And he tied countless scientists, including PZ Myers, in knots.  Myers and Richard Dawkins are in full personal attack mode and, oddly enough, helping draw attention to the movie.  So thanks for that, guys!



A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

One of my irritations with liberal theology is that it pretends to be slightly different from orthodox Christianity while it is usually 180 degrees away on the essentials of the faith.  Please note that by “liberal theology” I don’t mean the theology of political liberals.  I am referring to people who call themselves Christians but deny the essentials of the historic faith (i.e., the kinds of things countless martyrs died for — Jesus’ divinity and exclusivity, the authority of scripture, etc.).  If you want to debate the disputable matters, go right ahead.  I’m flexible on those.  But words mean things, and far too many people use the term Christian in error.

For example, claiming that Jesus is one of many paths to God isn’t a little different than saying He is the only way, it is the opposite.  There is either one way or there is not one way.  The Bible has over 100 passages teaching directly or indirectly that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  If you don’t agree that it is your prerogative, but please don’t claim to be a Christian.

Claiming that Jesus isn’t God isn’t a little different than saying He is God, it is the opposite.  He is either God or He is not God.

Claiming that the original writings of the Bible were not inspired by God isn’t just a little different than saying they were inspired by God, it is the opposite.  The Bible is God’s Word or it is not God’s Word.  It makes roughly 3,000 claims to speak for God, so if liberal theologians think those are all false then why do they bother with the Book at all?

Claiming that miracles never happen (Virgin birth, loaves & fishes, healings, the physical resurrection, etc.) isn’t just a little different than saying they did happen, it is the opposite.

Claiming that marriage can be for two men or two women isn’t a little different than saying it is between a man and a woman, it is the opposite.  It is claiming that marriage is not just between a man and a woman and that “marriage” is now whatever we want to define it to be.

Liberal theology claims the opposite of what historic, orthodox Christianity does regarding the essentials of the faith.   They are entitled to their opinions, of course, but it is disingenuous and misleading for them to call themselves Christians while espousing those beliefs.

They have invented their own religion, which is their right.  It would just be less confusing if they would give it a new name.  And it would be more intellectually honest to stop taking money from people who do believe in the essentials that those denominations were founded upon.

As Total Transformation would say, they appear to worship a fictional Gandhi-Christ.  It appears to me that the most accurate description would be that of a Hindu sect (nothing personal, Hindus!).

The “noviewers” are back, attacking Darwin’s Doubt without reading it

I won a contest by coining a phrase over at Uncommon Descent a couple years ago: Noviewer — Someone who writes a review on something he hasn’t read or seen. Apparently some people haven’t evolved enough to realize how it impacts their credibility when they lie to support their worldview.

Looks like the noviewers are out in force with the release of Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. There are lots of 1 star reviews at Amazon already and the content makes it obvious that they haven’t read it. These close-minded people really, really don’t like to hear alternate views or to let others have the opportunity to hear them. I wish Amazon required reviewers to pass a brief quiz before posting about controversial books.

Here’s an example of a noviewer:

Over at Evolution News & Views, Casey Luskin asks, could P. Z. Myers even possibly have read Steve Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt before writing a long essay trashing it?:

Now, Darwin’s Doubt runs to 413 pages, excluding endnotes and bibliography. Neither the book’s publisher, HarperOne, nor its author sent Matzke a prepublication review copy. Did Matzke in fact read its 400+ pages and then write his 9400+ word response — roughly 30 double-spaced pages — in little more than a day?

Perhaps, but a more likely hypothesis is that he wrote the lion’s share of the review before the book was released based upon what he presumed it would say. A reviewer who did receive a prepublication copy, University of Pittsburgh physicist David Snoke, writes:

A caution: this is a tome that took me two weeks to go through in evening reading, and I am familiar with the field. Like the classic tome Gödel, Escher, Bach, it simply can’t be gone through quickly. I was struck that the week it was released, within one day of shipping, there were already hostile reviews up on Amazon. Simply impossible that they could have read this book in one night.

I’ve started Darwin’s Doubt and it is amazing so far. The preface alone is worth the money. It is interesting how the critics of Meyer’s last book so thoroughly miss his points. Perhaps it is because they don’t actually take the time to read them?

Also see Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer.

Another conversation with an athiest

I got some animated comments from an atheist last month on the Should we ban all religions? Gee, can’t think of any downsides to that plan post, so I thought I’d share my responses here.
Hi — thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope you feel better after that! You have been misinformed on many topics so out of kindness I am going to offer you some facts and logic to consider. I hope you weigh them carefully, as eternity is a mighty long time to be wrong.

haha, after reading this…the author sounds very scared of those ad campaigns! powerful and true stuff eh?? Made you worry that something like that might convince the majority of intelligent and critical thinking people what religion really is…a whole lot of crap made up by evil, twisted, deluded, desert nomads to brainwash and control people! and then where would your fairy tales be?? They really would be part of history!

If you studied history you’d know that there have been countless brilliant, critical thinking Christians, just as there are today.

If you used critical thinking skills yourself you’d know that your atheism gives you no grounding for morality, so any claims of something being evil or twisted would be meaningless opinions on your part.

I think Christianity will be the first religion to disappear (trust me 1 day in the future science will win the argument as science always evolves and changes with new evidence…religion only has 2000+ year old books to reference with very very outdated teachings and beliefs…flat earth etc.)

I see you bought into the flat earth myth. Please do some research and see who held that view, then read the Bible and note how the “desert nomads” knew it was round.

The Bible is not a science textbook, but any of your teachers ever point out how the Bible unequivocally states that the universe came into being at a point in time, just like science shows? Did they explain how the author of Genesis knew that there was a vast number of stars, unlike the ~1,100 that so many other ancient people thought?

Bad news for you: Since its inception, critics have been saying that Christianity will die. See Acts 6 (33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.)

They were wrong! Hundreds of years of intense persecution from the Roman Empire didn’t stop us, so neither will you.

they are fakes basically, pretend to believe in a God just so they fit in, especially all the American religious fanatics! Its all about money for those lot!

Yes, just as the Bible predicts many times, there are fake Christians. Hey, we agree!

Scarily the only religion i see surviving the longest (until they set off a nuke and end the world) is Islam!! Because most Muslims live in poor countries and struggle to survive everyday! and have nothing to make their lives worthwhile accept for religion and the promise that when they die they will have everything they didnt have in this life! ..if they do as their religion asks of them! Christianity is too mild nowadays! They don’t force people to believe and kill them if they dont believe anymore!

You have some valid points there. Islam started, spread and continues to this day because of violence. Christianity spread under persecution, and any violence done in Jesus’ name is done by people who disobey his teachings.

Also in your awful article, you mention only religious ppl do charity work…so if we could ban religion, would those same ppl then give up on charity work?? if so, what does that they about those ppl?? they only help because they are scared of god?? how pathetic and fake is that!

Some people might do good deeds because they are afraid of God, but Christianity teaches the opposite. No amount of good deeds will get you into Heaven. We do good things because we have been made spiritually alive by the Holy Spirit and out of gratitude and obedience to Jesus.

I think if we banned religion then those charity workers, if they are genuine ppl, would continue their great work! Also i have a few atheist friends who do lots of work for charity, 1 is in fact employed full time so your statements are false…also the real stats are that religious ppl have more divorces and commit more adultery than atheists! FACT!

People who attend church regularly and read the Bible are far less likely to get divorced. And have fun banning Islam. And you have no grounding to call any work “great.”

There is no evidence for Jesus either! You do know that the story of Jesus has been used in much older religions than Christianity? Oh wait a minute, they dont tell you that do they? lol! Just like those guys trying to sell a product, the people who MADE UP Christianity worked out what stories capture the peoples imagination and then play on that! They would have know about the STORY (as in fiction!!) of a character who is born of a virgin, 3 wise men, can do miracles, son of god and all the rest of it and all they did was change the name to a popular name of the day…Jesus and then…they had a new, updated version of a popular religious teaching in previous popular religions!

That is a common Internet meme spread by gullible people. Too bad you bought it. I addressed the copycat fallacy here.  If you just a little research you’ll find that you have been wildly misinformed. Then, if you are the critical thinker you claim to be, you’ll wonder what else they lied to you about.

Regarding facts of Jesus, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Even atheist historical scholars agree on something we refer to as the “minimal facts.”

Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.
  • 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts. The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

Also why do all you religious idiots believe things like…God appeared to some bloke 2000 years ago? Yet if someone said that nowadays..they would be locked up and sent to a mental hospital?? whats the difference? the difference is that back then, ppl believed ANYTHING!!! nowadays ppl would say prove it?? and of course that mentally ill person wouldnt be able to!

Please see the “minimal facts” information just mentioned. The more pertinent question is, “Why don’t fools like you believe there is a God?” The answer is in Romans 1:

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Deep down you know there is a God but you suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

It always comes down to evidence! I am 100% willing to believe in a God or Gods IF God or science can prove it? If not then why would I believe something on pure faith??? Doesnt make any sense! religious ppl believe in religion because they want it to be true!!! nobody who is religious believes in religion due to evidence after not wanting to believe in it!

We have tons of evidence, but apparently your teachers and friends have hidden it from you. Your demand for science to prove it is fallacious, as you can’t even use science to prove you should only trust science. Also, you don’t use science, which addresses material things, to prove God, who is an immaterial being. That is some more logic for you ;-).

Oh, and without God as a foundation, you have no reason to explain why you should trust your reason. That’s another circular reference.

You also commit the fallacy of thinking we are anti-science. We love science. Look at the history of science and see all the Christians! It was their accurate belief that God was a God of order that led them to study how He made the universe.

Think about this…how many religious ppl look at the evidence and then say…i have to believe because of the evidence? ZERO!!! (for one its a sin to question your god so therefore you are not allowed to look for evidence!) and how many ppl turn from religion when they look at the evidence? MANY!!!

Actually, many people do, but you haven’t done much research. Check out this former atheist who wrote Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels.

I hope my kids or grand kids live in a world without religion as then all you would have is good people and bad people…you wouldnt have good people doing bad things in the name of religion and bad people! too much evil then!! Or the very least, religion is treated like santa or the easter bunny, as in everyone knows its made up but due to tradition celebrate it! and for those who are still brainwashed and have to believe in an old man, sitting on the clouds…let them believe as long as that doesnt affect anyone else and they dont do anything in the name of their religion!

Again, since you deny God out of your rebellion you have no grounding to call anything good or evil.

And here is one of your biggest problems: If your worldview is really true then your beloved “universe came into being from nothing, life came from non-life, Darwinian evolution did the rest” premise means that it caused all religions. Got that? Your macro-evolution would have been 100.000% responsible for my conversion from atheism to Christianity and my trust in the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. What else could it have been? Your macro-evolution would also be responsible for Islam and every other religion. So why are you so angry about it?!

All the best to you. I hope you are half as serious as you claim to be about wanting facts and logic. If you really seek God on his terms you will find him. But if you stay in your rebellion then you will spend an eternity in Hell paying for your sins.

Something simple that every Christian should know about the Quran

Please read this short but extremely important article: The Qu’ran says the Bible is not corrupt.  This is a great message to share with Muslims who have been told that the Bible has been corrupted.  Using their own “holy book” we can point them back to what should be a common source: The Bible.

The short version: The Quran itself claims that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and that Allah’s words cannot be changed.

Here’s a sample:

The Muslims repeatedly claim that the Bible has been corrupted and that the Qu’ran is the only trustworthy scripture in existence. This is why Muslims often attack the Bible. But this cannot be acording to the Quran. The Quran says that the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the gospel were all given by God.

Torah – “We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers,” (Sura 2:87).1

Psalms – “We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms,” (4:163).

Gospel – “It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong),” (3:3).

. . .

We see that the Qu’ran states that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel were all given by God. With this we Christians heartily agree. But, the Muslims claim that the Bible is corrupted and full of contradictions. If that is so, then it would seem they do not believe the Qu’ran since the Qu’ran says that the Word of God cannot be altered:

“Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers,” (6:34).

. . .

This means that at that time the Bible, which was in existence, could not have been corrupted because the Qu’ran states that God’s word cannot be corrupted. The question I have for the Muslims is “When and where was the Bible corrupted, since the Qu’ran says that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and Allah’s words cannot be changed?”

Update: I should have just linked to this: According to the Qur’an, the Qur’an is false.

–The Old Testament (the Book) and the Gospels (the Injil) were written chronologically prior to the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an claims that the Book and the Injil are the Word of Allah.
–The Word of Allah cannot be changed.
–The manuscripts of the Book and the Injil prior to and in the time of Muhammad and at the time the Qur’an was compiled bear the same message as the Bible we have today.
–The Bible makes theological claims in direct opposition to the theological claims of the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an insists we can and should trust the Bible (which is God’s Word and cannot be changed or corrupted).
–Since the Bible came before the Qur’an, and the Bible is the incorruptible word of God, then anything coming after the Bible which claims to be the Word of God but is different from the Bible, it is therefore false and not of God.
–Therefore, if the Bible is accurate (from 2, 3, and 5) then the Qur’an is false (from 2, 3, 6, and 7).
–Put more briefly: If the Qur’an is true, then the Bible is true, which means the Qur’an is false — and by extension, so is the religion of Islam.

And here’s another great set of resources for sharing the truth with Muslims.


Bonus: Another simple but crucial thing to know about the Quran is that it makes a clear historical error about the death of Jesus. This passage explicitly denies that Jesus died on the cross:

And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.

Quran, Sura 4:157-158

That is a very clear claim that Jesus did not die on the cross, whereas we know from the Bible and even secular history that Jesus did die on the cross. Then one guy came along over 500 years later with a radical new story about how Jesus didn’t die on the cross, though he had zero evidence behind it.  Zero.

When I speak with Muslims I always bring this example up matter-of-factly.  First I clarify with them that this is what the Quran teaches.   They always agree, except one guy who wasn’t familiar with it (I showed him the reference and I think it helped plant some seeds of doubt).

Then I just explain why I hold the view that Jesus died on the cross: Lots of testimonies written close to the event and plenty of secular historians backing it up vs. one guy over 500 years later with an alleged vision from God.  No serious historian would consider the Islamic version to be more credible.

Is it possible that Mohammad was right about Jesus not dying on the cross?  In a hyper-technical sense, I suppose so.  But you’d have to throw every historical event ever up for grabs using that approach.

This isn’t some small issue, either.  It is an essential claim for Christianity and a key error in the Quran.

The “Bronze Age Mythology” fallacy

A common tactic from New Atheists is to use the term bronze age mythology to dismiss Biblical views, as if the time period when truth claims were documented can be used to categorically refute them.

But the age of an idea does not impact its truthfulness.  Older ideas have usually gone through more scrutiny than newer ones and are often better supported.

Sure, many old ideas were wrong.  But they weren’t wrong because they were documented a long time ago, they were wrong because they were didn’t correspond to reality.

So the bronze age dig proves nothing, and even if it was true it would undermine atheistic arguments as well. The real bronze age myth is that you can live how you want and never be accountable to your creator.

As Psalm 14:1 points out, the claim that there is no God is also bronze aged:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds . . .”

And of course, Romans 1:

Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

And as you can see from reading St. Augustine and others, the arguments of the New Atheists aren’t new at all.  They are the same old arguments presented with less civility and with the volume turned up to 11.

So don’t buy into the myth that the bronze age argument means anything.

To the atheists who judge God

If you can’t unilaterally set all the terms and conditions with your human authority figures — parents, teachers, employers and law enforcement — what makes you think that you will be able to sit in judgment of God? Yes, I know you say He doesn’t exist. But even in your hypothetical scenarios you assume that you’ll get to judge the creator of the universe, thus making yourself the “real” God.

And consider how you can’t even force this blogger to post your comments unless you abide by his terms. Yet you think you’ll tell the creator of the universe how things will be? Indeed.

Isaiah 29:16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

It is illuminating that atheists are in such deep rebellion and denial that they often can’t or won’t even acknowledge a hypothetical situation where God will judge them. (Of course, based on Romans 1 we know they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, but for discussion purposes let’s momentarily take their claims at face value.)

The Wendy Wright schools Richard Dawkins post keeps getting picked up on Reddit and search engines so it generates a lot of atheist traffic.* One of the commenters on the post provided a typical response to our loving warnings about Hell and how to avoid it:

And then the threats. Nice. I embrace the idea of Hell, if the alternative is an eternity of slack-jawed subservience to a petulant and insecure deity. As has been said, if all of the engineers go to hell, we’ll have it HVAC-ed in no time.

As I told him, threats are entirely legitimate and loving if the consequences are real. And make no mistake, Hell is real. If he really believed his worldview he’d never sit in judgment of anything. After all, whatever we say and do is just a product of his beloved Darwinian evolution, so what is there to judge? Why be angry at what Darwinian evolution caused? But that’s a separate topic. The issue here is that he can’t even pretend that there is an ultimate authority figure holding him accountable for his thoughts and actions.

And like many atheists, he thinks that silly jokes about air conditioning in Hell will bring him comfort. Even in his hypothetical scenario he thinks he’ll have friendly companionship and his desires fulfilled, as if he would have any influence over the conditions of Hell.

Despite their rebellion, I want them to know that if they will repent and believe in Jesus then God will forgive them just like He forgave me. They should do some serious apologetics and Bible study. I know they are afraid to, because it will mean risking that they’ll find out that they are wrong about matters of life and eternity. But I assure them that the truth is far better than the lie they are living.

It is foolish to think that you get to define whether God exists and what He must be like if He did exist. You have no such control over your flawed human authority figures, so why would you be lord over the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Repent and believe while you still have time. Eternity is a mighty long time to suffer for your foolish pride.

God’s terms are unbelievably generous — but He sets them, not you. He was not obligated to offer any paths to forgiveness and adoption, but out of his grace and love He offered one: Jesus.

*Sometimes over 1,000 hits per day. I’m glad for that, and updated the post with links to the “minimal facts” approach to apologetics and the story of a highly intelligent woman and her conversion from atheism to Christianity. The good news is that those links get lots of hits, too.

“Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels”

Update: This is no longer free, but still a great read!

Go to Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels to get a free Kindle version.  Even if you don’t have a Kindle you can read it on your PC or tablet.  Whether you are a skeptic or a believer you should study this topic.

Go now!  I’ll wait here.

Written by an L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, Cold-Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the skills and strategies of a hard-to-convince criminal investigator.

Christianity could be defined as a “cold case”: it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace uses his nationally recognized skills as a homicide detective to look at the evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including gripping stories from his career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom, Wallace uses illustration to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity.

A unique apologetic that speaks to readers’ intense interest in detective stories, Cold-Case Christianity inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity.

The book was even better than I expected it would be.  I figured it would be a good refresher on some basic apologetics, but he offered a lot fresh angles and was very interesting to read.

A few highlights  . . .

He noticed how John’s Gospel never refers to Jesus’ mother by name, and then points out how that would be logical given that Jesus asked John to take her as his mother.  He wrote the Gospel a few decades later, so it might have been odd for him to call her by her first name.

The differences between the Gospel writers made so much sense when the texts were analyzed forensically.   For example:

Mark used specific titles to describe Peter, gave him priority in the narrative, uniquely included information related to Peter, and copied Peter’s preaching outline when structuring his own gospel. These circumstantial facts support the claims of the early church fathers who identified Peter as the source of Mark’s information. By hanging on every word, we were able to construct a reasonable circumstantial case for the gospel of Mark as an eyewitness account. When combined with the testimony of the early church, this evidence becomes even more powerful.

He does a great job of annihilating the conspiracy theory angle of skeptics.

Don’t get me wrong, successful conspiracies occur every day. But they typically involve a small number of incredibly close-knit participants who are in constant contact with one another for a very short period of time without any outside pressure. That wasn’t the case for the disciples. These men and women either were involved in the greatest conspiracy of all time or were simply eyewitnesses who were telling the truth. The more I learned about conspiracies, the more the latter seemed to be the most reasonable conclusion.

As a VP of Internal Audit, one of the roles of my team is to investigate thefts and other issues, so I found the interrogation and evidence-gathering parts to be fascinating.

Ken Ham’s inconsistency

Ken Ham claims that to hold a different view on the age of the earth undermines the word of God, yet his ministry approves of the The Bible series on the History Channel.  That is inconsistent.  I still think his ministry has much to offer, but I wish he would be more charitable to those that disagree with him on the age of the universe and I wish he was more discerning on this movie series.

First, to be clear, I am as inerrantist as you can get on the Bible, firmly believing that the original writings turned out just the way that God and the writers wanted them to and that they have been transmitted to us in a highly reliable fashion.  And I’m as anti-Darwinian evolution as they come.  I truly enjoy friendly debates between young earth and old earth creationists and see merits in both sides.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m undermining the word of God by saying we don’t know precisely how old the earth is, and that it could be much older than 6,000 years.  If you think that is undermining the word of God, then this may not be the blog for you.

Ham’s primary error is saying that if you don’t agree with him on the age of the earth then you don’t care what Genesis says.  That is a counterproductive non sequitur. Via Noted Apologist Calls Out Evangelical Leaders Who ‘Undermine the Word of God’.

He believes in a literal interpretation of the creation account found in the Book of Genesis.

“I’m not attacking these people personally and I’m not saying they aren’t Christians or preach the Gospel or I don’t respect them,” Ham told Christian Press News. “I’m dealing with a particular issue that is important in which God’s Word is being undermined. Wittingly or unwittingly many of these famous Christian leaders are really undermining the authority of the Word of God.”

Ham mentioned, in particular, John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. Dr. R.C. Sproul and Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, as Christian leaders who have drifted away from teaching a young earth perspective.

“Many Christian leaders today will say ‘who cares what Genesis says and what does it matter about the age of the earth as long as you trust in Jesus. We need to go out there and preach the Gospel,’” said Ham. “But the point we need to understand is the Gospel comes from this book called the Bible and if generations of people have been led to believe they can’t really trust the Bible or lead to doubt that you can trust its authority or doubt its history – eventually they will reject the Bible and won’t listen to the Gospel.”

If someone truly said, “Who cares what Genesis says?” then that would be a major issue. But that isn’t the case here.  Saying that not only begs the question by assuming that others are wrong in their interpretation, but it is an attack on the people by claiming that they know they are wrong and don’t care.

If Ham’s ministry cares that much about authority — and I think they do — they shouldn’t have given such a fluffy review to The History Channel’s The Bible just because they liked how it treated their favored issues.

I have no issues if people want to watch the series.  It can make a great springboard to encourage people to read the word of God for themselves and to point out the errors in the movie as well as the key theological themes that it didn’t address.  But I wish people were more charitable on in-house Christian debates.

Retirement ministry ideas

Hey all you Christian apologists, here’s something you can work in your schedule when you retire: Take college philosophy or science classes where the professors have an agenda to bully Christian students and spread their false views.  You could be good ambassadors for Christ by graciously exposing their impure motives and errors.

We know from the movie Expelled! and countless other examples how many professors aggressively work their false, anti-Christian worldviews into their classes.  A family friend was taking a philosophy class at a local junior college and the teacher launched into an anti-God tirade the first day.

So wouldn’t it be enjoyable and productive to be in those classes and destroy their arguments?  It sounds almost biblical:

2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Seriously, apologists could go in and be polite but firm in refuting what the professors say.  It wouldn’t take long for them to go back to teaching the actual subject material — you know, the thing they are paid to do.  And who knows, if you go in as good ambassadors it might just change the professors’ minds.

Christians never retire.  Whatever you do after you stop working for a paycheck, strive to advance the kingdom. (Of course you should serve in many ways while you are working, but you probably don’t have the flexibility to take daytime college classes.)

Responding to an atheist

A few thoughts on this sad post called why i am an atheist.  I think the person was a commenter here at some point (I had started a draft of this and never finished it until now).

religion was never a big part of my life.  when i was a young child, i believed in God because my mother did.  she was raised a Christian.

 i’m less sure about the beliefs of my father, who died when i was nine years old.  we rarely went to church, and we didn’t say grace at the dinner table.  my memories of church are only impressions now, and consist mainly of the remembrance of feelings of utter boredom and intense frustration.  my parents, especially my father, had always impressed upon me the need to ask questions and the danger inherent in unquestioning acceptance.  hence, my time in the few Sunday school classes i attended was not unlike a form of torture.  i recall intense feelings of rejection and isolation.  after one such encounter, (when i was probably about six years old) i went to my father and told him what i had been taught.  i told him that my questioning had been discouraged and asked him about the truth of what i’d been told, specifically about the business with the talking snake.  i told him i didn’t believe it, and asked him if that story was true.  ”of course not”, he replied.  and thus the seeds of doubt had been sown.

Ugh.  That is inevitable when churches are social clubs and people don’t take the Bible seriously.  How many people in the pews know it is their jobs to educate their children?  (Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.)

as i’ve said, we didn’t go to church often, and for that i am as grateful as i am for any other fact of my happy childhood.  i have immense respect for those who have been subject to religious indoctrination and have managed to free themselves of it.  things went on happily and peacefully until the sudden death of my father.  although i had profound doubts about the existence of a god, i decided then and there that any being that could visit such cruelty couldn’t possibly be good or merciful.

It is sad that he lost his father, but he also does what other non-believers do: Sit in judgment of God.  But if there was no God, then his father’s life was meaningless.

i adored my father.  i channeled my grief and anger into striving to learn.  the library was my sanctuary.  the following year, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos aired on PBS.  i was utterly fetched.  the beautiful explanations of the world around me and the universe beyond captured my imagination.  this soft-spoken man seemed to radiate…”goodness”, for lack of a better word.

Another irony: Without God, there is no grounding for “goodness.”

i came to see the scientific endeavors of mankind as the best expression of what goodness we are capable of as a species

That is illogical: Science deals with the material world, but things like goodness are immaterial.

(although all such endeavors have not been to our betterment), and i found in Cosmos an affirmation of my deep-seated questioning nature.   i also began to understand that there is really no need for “god”.  perhaps even more importantly, i saw no evidence for one.

Other than the cosmological, teleological, moral, transcendental, etc. arguments.

when i was twelve, i had a creationist answer my assertion that radiometric dating proves the earth much older than 10, 000 years with, “carbon-14 dating is the tool of Satan.  you are deceived.”  seriously.

So if an atheist gives a bad answer does that prove that there is a God?

as i got older, i came into contact with many believers, most (but by no means all) of them Christian.  like anything else, i found some good and some not.  i had many discussions with people of various faiths.  i sincerely tried to understand not only what they believed, but why they believed it.  i got many answers, but found only more questions.  i attended a Baptist church with my grandmother.  i listened to a grotesque litany of all the reasons that most people were going to hell.  afterward, i told the preacher exactly what i thought.  i don’t think he appreciated it much.  i read the Bible – cover to cover.  i’m not ashamed to admit that i found it one of the most boring exercises of my life, and i say this as a person who has also read James Joyce.  

Good dig on James Joyce (I had to read him in college.  Double ugh.).  But I do give the writer credit for reading the Bible.  That is always my aim with believers and non-believers.

but i really needed to see for myself what was in that book.  i found virtually nothing uplifting and much that was quite appalling.  

Yes, it lists countless sins of rebellious sinners attempting “deicide” each day by pretending God doesn’t exist or trying to take over his role by sitting in judgment of him.

i marveled at its many, many contradictions.  

And apparently didn’t study the readily available answers.

i learned about who wrote it, and also about the apocrypha.  i found that the arguments about what was to be included in the Bible as it is today were no less sordid or contentious as anything that occurs on Capitol Hill.  i’ve had believers knock on my door to give me the “good news”, only to have them threaten me with eternal torture for my failure to believe as they do.  

I wasn’t there, so perhaps those were poor presentations of the Gospel.  It isn’t about believing everything we do, but about believing the truth about Jesus.  In other words, it isn’t about us, it is about Jesus.

The truth is that the Bible never mentions torture (torment, yes).  But it is for your sins against God and not for failing to believe like we do.

during these years, i was also encouraged in my quest for knowledge by some truly talented and remarkable teachers.  i read On the Origin of Species and A Brief History of Time, among others works about the realities of our planet and universe.  everything that i learned and everything that i saw around me lead me to the conclusion that there probably is no god.  i found that i liked the idea very much.  i found it very liberating.  

I appreciate his honesty.  Sometimes atheists do admit that one thing they like best about their worldview is the (apparent) lack of accountability.

i found that it gave my life more meaning.

Now that is ironic.  If there is no God then life is truly and utterly meaningless.

i live in a very conservative area.  i don’t know very many atheists.  i’ve been asked by the few people with whom i discuss such things how i came to choose it and if i’m afraid of going to hell.  my answer is this:  i didn’t choose atheism any more than i chose my eye color.  i am simply not capable of believing in things for which no evidence exists.  because i have no reason to believe there is a hell, i have no fear of it.  i wouldn’t care to spend eternity with a deity who would punish perfectly reasonable doubt with eternal torture anyway.

He apparently misread the Bible.  Again, Hell is torment, not torture, and it is for countless sins against your creator and not for reasonable doubts.  That’s a double straw-man argument.

i’ve been asked to explain my morality, and my answer is this:  i am a good person for its own sake.  i try to treat others the way i wish to be treated not because i hope for some reward or fear some punishment for not doing so, but simply because it is the right thing to do.  i’m happy this way.  i’m comfortable with not having all of the answers.  i have no need to ascribe a supernatural answer to the unknown, simply because so many things that have been ascribed a supernatural cause have been explained by science.  i see no reason why that would change.

why am i an atheist?  because I can’t be anything else.

I hope God makes him spiritually alive someday.

Saved by ____?

A friend’s Facebook status about refuting the false doctrine of purgatory reminded me of this post.  Key line from below: If anyone teaches a method of salvation based on Jesus Plus (i.e., his sacrifice plus your good deeds, or purgatory or whatever else) or Jesus Minus (i.e., “Jesus is one way, but other religions are just as good”) then you have a heresy on your hands.

Let’s just keep it all Jesus, all the time, OK people?


book-of-mormon.jpgOne of the errors of Mormonism is in 2 Nephi 25:23, which reads, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” [emphasis added]

That sounds humble enough.  It makes it appear that we are saved by grace and the sacrifice of Jesus.  It sounds like the Bible, but there is a big difference.  Look more carefully and see what really saves you:

  1. You do all you can, and you are saved by grace.
  2. You don’t do all you can, so you are not saved.

So what is the difference between the two?  It is ultimately about what you do, not about what Jesus did.  In that case, it isn’t grace that saves you, it is your works.

The key word is “after,” and the phrasing is clear.  And after all, Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is the “most perfect book in the world,” so that wording must be accurate, right?  And every Mormon I have talked to acknowledges that the works are required for salvation.

If anyone teaches a method of salvation based on Jesus Plus (i.e., his sacrifice plus your good deeds, or purgatory or whatever else) or Jesus Minus (i.e., “Jesus is one way, but other religions are just as good”) then you have a heresy on your hands.

And while this isn’t the reason that being saved by grace through faith is true, consider which is better news:

  1. Having to rely on your efforts with no assurance of salvation (Mormonism and other works-based religions)
  2. Knowing that Jesus did it all for you and you just need to repent and believe in him (Christianity alone)

This is the truly good news.  Take it from someone who has not “done all he can!”

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Yes, I’m familiar with James 2:20 (You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?).  Of course real faith will produce real deeds.  But as the Ephesians passage makes clear, it goes like this:

  • Real faith in the real Jesus = real salvation followed by real works
  • Faith in the wrong Jesus + lots of good deeds done out of pride = still spiritually dead
  • False faith + works = still spiritually dead

Courtesy of Ms. Green, here is a list of requirements to be saved in the LDS view:

Step #1:Have faith in Christ
Step #2:Be repentant
Step #3: Be baptized by the LDS Church
Step #4: Receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from a member of the Melchizedek priesthood
Step #5: Males are ordained into the Melchizedek Priesthood
Step #6: Receive temple endowments
Step #7: Participate in celestial marriage
Step #8: Observe the word of wisdom
Step #9: Sustain the prophet
Step #10: Tithe
Step #11: Attend sacrament meetings
Step #12: Obey the church

Oddly enough, while the LDS church and Christianity preach a different Jesus and a different Gospel, on paper orthodox Christians have more in common with Mormons than with theologically liberal Christians – a high view of scripture, pro-life, pro-family, pro-Jesus is the only way, and more.

But they teach a false, works-based gospel.  I know that many will not escape from there, but I pray that few new people join.

Also see But they are so nice! and Are Mormons really Christians?  Are Christians really Christians?


Leopard Theology

Leopard on tree stump

Image via Wikipedia

I was thinking of this today so I thought I’d re-run it.


Many Christians teach Leopard Theology, because they believe that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.   They don’t call it that, but that is exactly what their theology is founded upon.  And, like the leopard, they camouflage themselves.  They take on church leadership roles even though they teach the opposite of the Bible.

Saying the Bible isn’t fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes several strong and unfounded claims.

It implies that God couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God’s alleged failings flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.  Are we to believe that humans are to correct for God’s errors?

Why is this a serious problem?  It is hard enough to follow the teachings of the Bible without having “Christians” choose what “really” came from God.  Worse yet, they ignore some parts of scripture so they can teach that the opposite is not only acceptable but desirable.  Some may do it accidentally or out of laziness but others are just blatant false teachers.  They have made up their own god and their own religion.

If someone claims the Bible is only partly inspired, ask a few questions:

  • How did they come to this conclusion?
  • Do they think their favorite verses are inspired?  If so,  how do they know?  How about John 3:16?  How about “love your neighbor?”  Whenever “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is quoted, I never hear the liberal theologians question whether Jesus really said that.
  • If the Bible is only partly inspired, how can they be sure that their preferred verses aren’t the ones that are uninspired and the ones they don’t like are the “real” verses?
  • Why is it that God couldn’t inspire the original writings of forty writers, but He can inspire billions of people to properly determine which parts are right and which aren’t?
  • If He couldn’t get Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, etc.  to record his word accurately, how can He get you to do it?
  • Why should I trust your “inspiration” over those who penned the Bible, or over my “inspiration?”

Then there is Advanced Leopard Theology.  It is just like basic Leopard Theology, except God is also changing spots and adding or removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean He still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.  They may also say things like, “The Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction.”  Indeed.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.  Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.  If that looks like a non sequitur to you then you are correct.  The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times and the incident is mentioned twice.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these Advanced Leopard Theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this allegedly new revelation.
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion, which also included a supernatural intervention.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny the authority of his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  I’m skeptical.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

But the orthodox can fall prey to this in a more subtle way by claiming full inspiration but conveniently ignoring passages we don’t like.  Consider this passage on church leadership, where some exaggerate “not given to drunkenness” to mean no alcohol whatsoever but ignore the “must manage his own family well . . .” part.

1 Timothy 3:2-4 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Another example is correctly teaching about the sin of homosexual behavior while neglecting to give proper emphasis to Biblical admonitions against divorce, adultery and fornication.  We need to teach all of scripture with balance.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t temptations to us and soft-pedaling those that are is not an attractive or Christian thing to do.

There are plenty of reasons and resources to defend the accuracy and integrity of all of the original scriptures.  We don’t need to get sloppy and just follow the parts we like.  And we truly miss out when we cast doubts on every passage and question if it is really the word of God.

I’ll close with some friendly advice: Don’t mess with God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Also see Men wrote the Bible so it must have mistakes and How many translations did your Bible go through?

The basics of Intelligent Design

The ever-crumbling Darwinian evolution propaganda is so deliberately and aggressively politicized in education and the media and so venomous towards alternative theories that it is hard to have a reasoned discussion about Intelligent Design.  So few people understand the basic premise, which is simple, clear and elegant.  Via What is the case for intelligent design?

Intelligent design is a scientific theory that holds some aspects of life and the universe are best explained by reference to an intelligent cause. Why? Because they contain the type of complexity and information that in our experience comes only from intelligence.

As a result, intelligent-design theorists begin by studying how intelligent agents act when they design things. Intelligence is a process, or a mechanism, which we can observe at work in the world around us. Human designers make a great dataset for studying how intelligent agency works.

When we study the actions of humans, we learn that intelligent agents produce high levels of complex and specified information (CSI). Something is complex if it’s unlikely, and specified if it matches some independent pattern. William Dembski and Stephen Meyer explain that in our experience, only intelligent agents produce this type of information . . .

People infer design all day, every day — especially in science.  Consider forensic science, archaeology and the search for extra-terrestrial life, where constant inferences to intelligent causes are foundational.

One way to get the average person to reconsider the concept of ID is to point out examples like that.  I was talking to a friend this week who is obviously uncomfortable with Darwinism but has never been taught to consider alternative views.  In the same conversation he referenced a TV show about some highly complex ancient ruins that were were so precisely made that they “must” have been made by aliens.  That was a good catalyst for me to compare those obviously designed (whether by aliens or humans) works to something like DNA, which is not only thousands of times more complex but also part of living beings.

If people are quick to assume alien origins for something complex, or even just realizing it would have required unusually advanced human intelligence, why do they drink the Darwinian Kool-Aid and assume that the origin of life, the complexities of DNA, etc. could have arisen without an Intelligent Designer?  They just need to know the real definition of ID and the well-documented fact that materialists cheat and assume that you can’t consider the supernatural when trying to explain something like the origins of life.

Atheists and authority

The Wintery Knight asked, Does God pose an authority problem for you? and offers an excellent analysis of the common answers.

It reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons where an old man is getting a hearing test.  The extremely nice lady politely tells him to do something for the test, and he grumbles back, “You can’t tell me what to do!”  It was such a clever way to show how we rebel just for the sake of rebelling.  Most of my youthful (and, er, uh, adult) missteps were the same sorts of things: Pure rebellion.  Just stickin’ it to the man — or so I thought.  As usual, our rebellion hurts us and not God.

Revelation 16:8-9 notes how people will know there is a God but would rather curse him than repent and glorify him:

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

Romans 1 is always handy to explain this phenomenon as well:

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Oddly enough, spiritually dead people do exactly what you’d expect spiritually dead people to do.

We should pray for them, ask God to make them spiritually alive and then be ready to be used by God to share his truths with anyone who is interested.