The Twelve Point Apologetic Argument
by Mike Tatar
(Index of Topics Covered)
The Truth about Reality is Knowable
Opposites Cannot Both be True
The Theistic God Exists
God alleged disproofs of
God objections to proofs of
Miracles Are Possible
Miracles Are Used To Affirm The Message Or Messenger From God
Miracles, apologetic value of
Miracles alleged disproofs of
The New Testament Documents Are Historically Reliable
New Testament Historicity
New Testament dating
New Testament manuscript evidence
Mythology and the New Testament
In The New Testament Jesus Claimed To Be God
Christ Diety of
Jesus Claim To Be God Was Proven By A Unique Convergence Of Miracles
Miracles in the bible
Jesus Is God In Human Flesh
Whatever Jesus Affirms To Be True Is True
God, Nature of
Jesus Affirmed the Bible
Bible Jesus view of
Bible evidence for
Therefore, The Bible Is True And Everything Opposed To It Is False.
World religions and Christianity
God evidence for
The Truth about Reality is Knowable.
The importance of the nature of truth is fundamental to a proper and complete Christian worldview. Christianity claims there is absolute truth, but it also insists that truth about the world is that which corresponds to the way things really are. That is, Christian truth claims really correspond to the state of affairs about which they claim to inform us.
Truth can be understood both from what it is and what it is not. We will begin at the definition of what truth is.
Truth is that which corresponds to its referent. The best argument for this view is that all non-correspondence views of truth imply correspondence, even as they attempt to deny it. Other views lead to contradictions such that any factually incorrect statement is acceptable. While some may object that correspondence is an inadequate view of God, because there is nothing that corresponds to God, this fails because God does not correspond to Himself, but corresponds to His own authority. Because God is the uncreated, necessary being, God can be, and is, true to Himself. Others claim that truth is relative, but this fails also. Truth does not get to be voted on. A world of relativity leads to contradictions, a world where right and wrong do not exist.
Relativists claim that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge, that there is such a thing as in-between truths, that there is really no new truth, and that knowledge of truth is not absolute since we grow in our understanding of truth. But all of these ideas must stand on an absolute truth to even be coherent. Even if we were to lack absolute evidence for absolute knowledge, there is still such a thing as absolute truth.
Now lets look at what truth is not.
Truth is not “what works”. This pragmatic view, exemplified by William James, states “Truth is the expedient in the way of knowing. A statement is known to be true if it brings the right results. It is the expedient as confirmed by future experience.” The problem with this view is that it confuses cause and effect. Neither is truth “that which coheres”. Some thinkers have suggested that truth is that which is internally consistent. But, empty statements may hang together even though they are devoid of truth content. Truth is not “that which was intended”. While some find truth in intentions, rather than affirmations, this to also fails. If this view of truth were true, then all statements, including illogical ones are true. Further, truth is not “what is existentially relevant”. Existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and others insisted that truth is what is relevant to our existence of our life. This view is incomplete because not all truth fits into the existential category. Finally, truth is not “that which feels good”. This fails also, for bad news can be true. A gunshot wound to the stomach may be unpleasant, but can still be true.
The relativity of truth is a popular contemporary view. Truth though, as was noted earlier, is not taken by a vote. The relative view of truth fails for several reasons. It leads to the contradictory view of at least some absolute truths being true, even while trying to affirm relative truth. It leads to a world of contradictions, such as those who affirm that God does exist and does not exist both being correct. It leads to a world without right and wrong. Relativists often claim that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge, that there is such a thing as in-between truths, that there is really no new truth, and that knowledge of truth is not absolute since we grow in our understanding of truth. But all of these ideas must stand on an absolute truth to even be coherent. Even if we were to lack absolute evidence for absolute knowledge, there is still such a thing as absolute truth.
Finally, many object to absolute truth, charging it as “narrow” or “exclusive.” This is exactly correct actually, because truth by its very nature is narrow. There is one and only one right answer to 4+4. The answer is 8, and only 8. Those who charge that this idea is dogmatic miss the point. If all truth is absolutely true-for all people places and at all times, then everyone who claims anything as true is “dogmatic”.
While truth may be tested in many ways, it should be understood in only one way. Truth is that which corresponds to its referent. The confusion between the nature of truth and the verification of truth is at the heart of the rejection of a correspondence view of truth.
In conclusion, truth is that which corresponds to reality, or to the state of affairs it purports to describe. All falsehood is what does not correspond.
An agnostic is someone who claims to not have knowledge, especially of God. There are two basic kinds of agnostics, those who hold God’s nature and existence are not known, and those who hold that God is unknowable.
Two philosophers laid down the early philosophical basis for agnosticism. They are: David Hume and Immanuel Kant.
Hume argued that any statement outside of a pure relation of ideas or a matter of fact is meaningless, and since all statements about God fall outside these two categories we cannot know God. Hume argued that all sensations are experienced as “entirely loose and separate”, and that “all reasoning concerning matters of fact seems to be founded on the relation of cause and effect.” Finally, Hume argues that: the cause of the universe may be different from human intelligence, finite, imperfect, and multiple, male and female, and anthropomorphic. Because of this knowledge by analogy, we are left in skepticism about the nature of any Cause of the world.
Immanuel Kant, who was influenced by David Hume, argued that there was an unbridgeable gulf between knowing and being, because our knowledge of the world is structured by our senses, and the categories of understanding. Hence, there was no way for one to really get outside one’s own being and know what it really was before his sense’s and categories of understanding influenced it. Kant also argued that once we begin to move across the boundary line of knowing and being, contradictions result.
Another, later school of agnosticism is logical positivism. Logical positivism seeks to describe all reality in terms of the senses of experience. Its theological implications were described by Auguste Comte, who explained that human beings couldn’t analyze or define the infinite God. Because of this, it is impossible to speak more than gibberish about God. That is, any speech regarding a noumenal being is invalid.
Finally, Antony Flew argued that one couldn’t prove either thesis empirically; therefore one may not legitimately believe either thesis.
We will now look at some specific arguments against agnosticism.
Complete agnosticism is self-defeating. When one claims, “one knows enough about reality to affirm that nothing may be known about reality” a statement that assumes knowledge of reality in order to deny all reality has been made.
Hume’s skepticism fails as well. To suspend judgment about reality implies a judgment about reality. Secondly, Hume’s statement that all meaningful statements are either a relation of ideas or else about matters of fact is false because the statement fits neither category. Thirdly, the very denial of causal necessity implies a causal necessity. Finally, Hume cannot deny all similarity between the world and God, for this would imply totally dissimilarity from the Creator.
Kant’s arguments that the categories of thought do not apply to reality are just as self-defeating. The categories of the mind must correspond with categories of reality; otherwise no statements can be made regarding reality. Kant also fails in his admission that he knows that the nuemenon is there but has no way to know something about it. Since “thatness” implies some sort of knowledge of characteristics, Kant’s argument fails. Kant’s antimonies fail as well, because contradictions do not necessarily result from talking about reality in terms of the conditions of human thought. Necessary beings do not need causes, only contingent beings do.
The logical positivist school ends up dying by his own sword. While demanding empirical verifiability, logical positivism is not empirically verifiable, and thusly cannot be used to investigate metaphysical arguments.
Ultimately, we see that agnosticism is self-defeating and self deifying, for only and omniscient mind that knew everything could be totally agnostic.
Realism is the belief that there is a reality external to the way our mind senses it that we can know objectively. This view stands in stark contrast with the agnostic, skeptical, and solipsist viewpoints. The realist view of Christianity includes, but is not limited to, the following: That there is a real finite world, inhabited by both spirits (good and evil), human beings, animals, plants, etc. That there is an infinite, necessary being (God.)
In contrast to Immanuel Kant’s agnostic claims, Christian realism believes that there is a correspondence between the mind and reality. Older classical realists include Greek philosopher Aristotle, and Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas. Newer realists include people like theist philosopher Alvin Plantinga. These two camps are marked by their adherence to self evident first principles, with older classical realists holding to the undeniable nature of these principles, and thusly see no need to argue about our ability to know the real world, and Post Kantian realists who do see a need to prove that we can know the real world. The thing that is in question then is whether our categories of mind are correspondent to the real world. Put another way, do the principles in which we know correspond to reality? The classical realists believe that they do and do not argue them. Kant’s agnosticism does not believe them, and the newer realists arguing for their existence.
As has been mentioned, classical realists believe first principles to be self-evident. They do not argue about what “is” means, once it’s meaning has been reasonably established. These are known, accepted, and not argued about. For realists first principles are known because the mind knows reality. They are held as logical parts of the nature of reality.
Without this type of thinking, it becomes impossible to really know anything. There is, then, a necessary relationship between the principles of knowing and the object of those principles. For those critical of the realist view, this is an important question to resolve.
So then, by “reality” a realist is understood to mean not just the mind and its categories, but the extra-mental realm, (i.e. the world as it really is) also. Another way to state it might be reality is being, and non-reality is non-being. This is sufficient and self-evident to the classical realist mind. There was no need to study the fine points of motorcycle maintenance before getting on my 1964 Honda Super Hawk and riding around the country. That something exists is obvious and immediate. Put another way, first principles as applied to reality are self-evident.
To deny first principles requires that one hold them to deny them. For instance, if one says B can be both B and non-B, this assumes that a thing can both exist and not exist at the same time. This is not logically consistent. Even though this can be viewed by most as logically self evident and undeniable, there are some sceptics who argue against first principles. This reduces to absurdities, however. In short they do not admit that something exists.
We are forced into defending the self-evident logic of first principles then. For instance, the statement “I exist” is self-evident. For, to deny this statement one would have to exist. In the same way, one cannot deny reality is unknowable, because it is a concrete assertion about reality itself.
In this way total agnosticism becomes self-defeating, and thusly, realism becomes unavoidable. Even though we sometimes misinterpret reality (i.e. sometimes we are “wrong” about something we perceive) does not negate knowledge. For to know something is actually wrong means that one must have an objective standard with which to judge right and wrong.
Opposites Cannot Both Be True.
Logic is the primary basis of valid thinking. It is the instrument we use to discern and draw valid conclusions. It is an indispensable tool in all forms of thought, from philosophy to theology, from metaphysics to science.
There are three fundamental laws of rational thought. The 1st is the law of non-contradiction. The 2nd is the law of identity. The 3rd is the law of the excluded middle. This has important implications, in that, if logic is the basis of all thought, then it is the basis of all thought about God as well. While some object that this makes God subject to logic, this is a misunderstanding about logic.
In one sense, since God is inherently rational, and to that end all rational thought flows from logic, God is subject to his own rational nature. In that sense, God is subject to logic.
While God, in another sense is not subject to logic, but our statements and thoughts about God are subject to logic. For a statement to make any sense, it must make sense within a logical framework, including all statements and thoughts about God. While logic is prior to God in order of knowing, God is prior to logic in order of being. God was before logic, which He created. Humans have only discovered it, not invented it.
Some protest that making truths about God subject to human reason is nothing but a form of rationalism. The problem with this is three fold. Firstly, God is not subject to our reason. God invented reason, and he created us in his image, as reasonable beings. Secondly, God’s subjection to reason is essential in the communication process between two entities that communicate. If God wants to communicate to us, it must be subject within an objective set of standards so we can understand Him. Finally, some try to put the cart before the horse and determine all truth through reason. A theist uses reason and tries to discover truth that God has revealed.
Some critics of traditional logic object that Aristotle invented logic and there is no reason we should accept his western form of logic over an “eastern” logic. This fails as well, because Aristotle did not invent logic, he only discovered it. Further, any form of rational thought must be based on basic principles of logic, whether eastern, western, or otherwise. One cannot speak without employing the law of non-contradiction.
Another objection is that there are many kinds of logic, such as deductive, inductive, symbolic, and prepositional. Why should we only hold to just one? This is a misunderstanding of logic, in that basic logic has attributes that all other forms of logic hold to. While nothing is impossible for God, this applies to only to what is logically impossible. God cannot make a square triangle.
Another objection is why can’t God break the laws of logic like he does with the laws of physics? If He can raise someone from the dead, why can’t He break logical laws? This is because physical laws are descriptive, whereas logical laws are prescriptive.
Some object that the great Christian mysteries violate human reason. The answer is that these mysteries of faith go beyond reason, but do not violate it. For instance, the doctrine of the trinity affirms three persons in one essence. It doesn’t claim a three in one personhood per se. The Incarnation affirms that without lying his “Necessary hood” aside, God wrapped himself in human flesh. Predestination affirms that God predestined who would be saved, and would use their own freewill to do it.
First principles exist as the very foundation of knowledge. Without them we could not know anything with certainty. Everything would be, at best, a guess. They are either undeniable, or at least reducible thusly. They are self-evident or reduce to the self-evident. Those first principles are:
1. Being Is.
2. Being is Being.
3. Being is not nonbeing
4. Either Being or non-being
5. Nonbeing cannot cause contingent being
6. Contingent being cannot cause contingent being
7. Only Necessary Being can cause a contingent being
8. Necessary Being cannot cause a Necessary Being
9. Every contingent being is caused by a Necessary Being.
10. Necessary Being exists
11. Contingent beings exist
12. Necessary Being is similar to similar contingent being(s) it causes.
We will now go through and briefly describe the twelve principles.
“Being is” simply means that something exists. This is also called The Principle of Existence.
“Being is Being,” means that something must be identical to itself; otherwise it would be something else. This is also called The Principle of Identity. To affirm its opposite, by saying “I do not exist” one has just spoken a contradiction.
“Being is not non being,” means that something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. This is also called the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Being and non being cannot exist, because, they are opposites.
“Either Being or non-being” This means that nothing can hide in between Being and non-being. This is called, the Law of the Excluded Middle.
“Nonbeing cannot cause contingent being” This means that something cannot spring from nothing. This is also called The Principle of Causality. Everything that comes into being must have a cause. So, an uncreated being is necessary for everything that comes into being.
“Contingent being cannot cause contingent being.” This means that something that might not exist cannot bring something into existence. This is also called “The Principle of Contingency”.
“Only Necessary Being can cause a contingent being.” This means that only a necessary being, that is uncaused, can bring things that are not necessary into existence. This is also called The Positive Principle of Modality.
“Necessary Being cannot cause a Necessary Being” This means that a Necessary Being cannot cause another Necessary Being. If it were otherwise, then the being would not be necessary. This is also called The Negative Principle of Modality.
“Every contingent being is caused by a Necessary Being,” means that only an uncaused cause can cause things that might not exist, to exist. This is also called “The Principle of Existential Causality.”
“Necessary Being exists” If something exists, and cannot cause something, then something must exist necessarily, or, a Necessary Being. This is also called the “Principle of Existential Necessity.”
“Contingent beings exist” If something must reason to conclusions, then they show themselves to not be Eternal. If they are not Eternal, they are contingent. This is also called The Principle of Eternal Contingency.
“Necessary Being is similar to similar contingent being(s) it causes.” This means that any contingent being will share certain attributes with its Cause, but also have differences. This is also called “The Principle of Analogy”.
Given these twelve principles, Gods existence can be demonstrated, and even proven. Gods’ existence and various objections to it will be looked at in more detail in later collection of summaries.
The Theistic God Exists.
Theism is the worldview that an infinite and personal God decided to create the universe and miraculously intervenes in it. The three great religions are all theistic religions. They are Judiasm, Islam/Mohammedism, and Christianity.
Several modern worldviews have used the theistic worldview as there starting point. They include Finite godism, deism, and the western version of panentheism. To briefly contrast these with Theism:
– Finite Godism and Theism differ in whether or not God is infinite or finite
– Deism and Theism mainly differ in their stance on miracles.
– Panentheism and Theism differ in that Panentheism posits a God with two poles, one being a sort of theoretical infinitude.
There are other ways to distinguish the various branches of theist worldview systems. One way is to note the perspectives that each approach is made to God. Rational theists include Rene Descarte and Gottfried Leibniz. An example of an existential theist would be theologian Soren Kierkegaard. A phenomenonlogical theist would be philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Empirical theists include Thomas Reid. Idealistic theists include George Berkeley. Finally, pragmatic theism includes thinkers such as Charles Sanders Pierce. Each of the above, though not exhaustive, provides a distinct methodology and philosophy in approaching God.
Theists can also be separated by their specific beliefs about what God does and His specific attributes. A few believe, such as, George Berkeley that God exists only in the mind and in ideas. Most, however believe that the material world is real, and God exists in that material world. A few others believe that God is changeable, such as panentheists. Most however believe God is unchangeable. While thinkers like Thomas Aquinas think the universe may be infinite, most believe it to be temporal. The biggest difference between Theist may be the idea of the Trinitarian God of Christianity. While Islam and Judiasm affirm one god, Christianity affirms one perfect monotheistic entity within three centers of personhood. Defenders of the triune God include Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and C.S. Lewis.
Theists generally hold to a common set of theistic beliefs. This common core of beliefs includes the following. Theists believe that the world was created Ex-Nihilo, that is, from nothing. It sprang forth by God’s actions, and as such is not necessary. Theists also believe that people were created in God’s image, and as such have some measure of freewill. They generally also believe human life is sacred. Theists also believe that miracles are possible. Most believe that miracles have actually happened, such as Moses parting the red sea, mohammed flying to the moon on a carpet, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most theists also believe in a moral law, and that law is absolutely binding, since it comes from a perfectly moral God. Finally, most theists also believe that eternal rewards and punishment await each individual. Human moral actions will be rewarded or punished severely. Literally they will be punished or rewarded forever. There will be no reincarnation, not karma, and no second chances. Universalist theism is one slight exception, but even they believe in a future day of justice.
Sigmund Freud, in reference to the theistic worldview, wrote“…it is very odd that this is all just as we should wish it ourselves.” Nevertheless, the real way to evaluate any worldview is to look and see how well it corresponds to reality. How well does it “tell it like it is.” Is the real (or at least should be!) analyzing principle of a worldview. Theism is defensible from basic priniciples of logical thought, and is defensible as such. There really are moral absolutes, and there really are things like life after death, as well as meaning and purpose to the existence of man.
God; Alleged Disproof’s of
Atheists portend several arguments that mimic the logical theistic arguments for God. They take these arguments as disproofs of His existence. These arguments are intended to mimic the theistic ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments. I will briefly list and explain the fallacy in each one.
The Ontological argument against God, as noted by J. N. Findlay. God is by definition a necessary existence. But necessity cannot apply to existence. Therefore, God cannot exist
The flaw in this argument is the second premise. It is self-defeating. It is a statement that claims that necessity cannot apply to existence, all the while making a necessary claim to existence.
The Cosmological argument against God, as noted by J. P. Sartre. God is a self-caused being. But it is impossible to cause one’s own being, for a cause is prior to its effect, and one can’t be prior to oneself. Therefore, God cannot exist
This argument puts words in the mouth of theists. Theists do not claim that God is self-caused, but rather an uncaused being. Sartre and others who use this argument commit the straw man fallacy in the first premise. If God is not defined as self-caused, the argument falls apart.
The Teleological argument against God,, as noted by D. Hume. The universe was either designed or else it happened by chance. But chance is an adequate cause of the universe. Therefore the universe was not designed
Support of the second premise is offered in two ways. First, in an infinite amount of time every combination will occur. Second, no matter what the odds against something happening, highly improbable events still occur.
It should be noted that this falls short of a disproof of God because it is not logically essential. It should be noted as well that even as an argument, it has several problems. For instance, the current scientific evidence is much stronger for a universe with a beginning. We see the universe such as it, running out of usable energy. This implies a beginning. Since an infinite number of points cannot exist between two points, the universe did not have an infinite amount of time for every combination to occur.
The Moral disproof of God as noted by P. Bayle. An all-good God would destroy evil. An all-powerful God would destroy evil. But evil is not destroyed. Therefore, such a God does not exist
This argument fails for two reasons. First, the first term is ambiguous. In destroying evil immediately, God takes away persons freewill. Yet, if you asked an atheist, he would surely not want his freewill to believe in God taken away. Second if God is merely to defeat evil, then the premise “yet” should be added to the third premise, because God can and will defeat evil in the future.
The Existential disproof of God as noted by J.P. Sartre. If God exists, then all is determined. But if all is determined, then I am not free. But I am free. Therefore, God does not exist.
Atheists argue that since a universe with freedom is self evident, yet a God who actually exists must know all and determine all. Therefore, there is a contradiction in believing in God and freedom, and hence no God.
This argument fails because of the second premise. Freedom can co-exist with God determining things, even everything. Our free choice can be the necessary premise by which God determines everything. In a video replay, all events were determined, yet still had a very real element of free choice as they happened.
God, Objections To Proofs For;
Despite arguments for God existence such as the cosmological, ontological, Teleological and other types of arguments, many still have objections Most of them were first lodged with either David Hume or Immanuel Kant. Even though there are perfectly sound answers to these objections, most of our culture widely accepts at least one of the arguments as true.
Some argue that having an infinite or uncaused cause for finite causes in unnecessary. They believe having an infinite cause for finite events is metaphysical overkill. This assertion is untrue and is based on a faulty understanding of limited beings. All limited beings need a first, ultimate cause for their existence. If even a maker is limited, then it needs a first cause from an unlimited being.
Another argument is that words like “limited being” and “necessary being” are meaningless, because we have nothing that responds to them. The phrase “A necessary being has no meaning” is meaningless unless we know what “necessary being” means. Since we know what contingent beings are, through experience, and necessary is the opposite of contingent, we are able to define both terms.
Another argument, based on David Hume’s empirical atomism, argues that we cannot know causality, since everything must be based on observation. This argument also falls short, because it leads to the conclusion that something must come from nothing. Upon closer examination, a finite being is a limited or finite being, and we see that finite beings are caused beings, and must have a cause. It is important to note that theists sometimes go wrong here and refer to causality as “every being has a cause”. This is incorrect. The correct phrase is “Every finite, limited being has a cause”. Some may respond that perhaps there was an infinite series of finite causes, and an uncaused cause is therefore, not needed. This falls short as well, because an infinite series may be possible in mathematics, but it is not possible in actual existence. Arguing for an infinite series of events becomes the same as arguing existence from non-existence.
Others argue that the phrase “necessity” doesn’t apply to real-life existence, and therefore the necessary being of the cosmological argument doesn’t exist. This argument is meaningless; because when someone asserts, “necessity does not apply to real life” they are making a self-defeating statement about existence. If there is no such thing as necessity to existence, then neither is there statement absolutely true. If it is argued that it is merely a metastatement, then the statement really has nothing to do with reality, and does not apply to existence. Finally this argument also begs the question, as it claims to know in advance that a necessary being cannot exist.
Immanuel Kant argued that the cosmological argument “smuggled” a necessary being into every argument. Not only is this invalid for the metaphysical form of the cosmological argument, it is based on a misunderstanding of the cosmological argument. The cosmological argument is based on principles of reality and not principles of abstract thought. Arguing in this manner, Kant is essentially arguing that something arose from nothing.
Kant further argued that if we apply time to reality then it appears that there is a contradiction, as there are some aspects of temporal and some aspects of eternal present. This argument is based on a faulty premise of time, as time is not a successive set of moments without beginning or end. That which was before time was eternity and creation was the beginning of time. This objection only touches the horizontal form, and not the vertical form of the argument. The finite world demands a cause right now, whether or not it is eternal.
While it may be granted by some that the cosmological argument does perhaps grant some type of God, it does not follow that it posits a monotheistic God. By process of elimination, a polytheistic God fails because there cannot be more than one unlimited existence. You cannot have two or more “ultimates”. A pantheistic God fails because it posits that there are no contingent beings, that all is part of the “All”. Since things wear out, and things change over time, this cannot be true because these are not attributes that the uncaused cause possesses. Therefore there must be beings separate from the uncaused cause, and therefore the uncaused cause is not the God of pantheism. Finite Godism fails because God cannot be finite and still be the uncaused cause, for every finite being needs a cause. The uncaused cause is not identical to the universe as many atheists assert. As we see around us the universe is running down, but this is not an attribute that the uncaused cause can have. He does not run down, get tired, grow old, or change. He is beyond all of these things. He does not change.
Some would argue that it’s not necessary to posit a creator for anything, and that chance is a suitable explanation for everything. Everything was merely a happy accident, and was just “luck”. This argument fails for several reasons. There has not been enough time for this to work. Based on some estimates, assuming all the variables for life were not contingent, it would take a 1 in 10^40,000 chance of even a single celled animal to arise. Secondly, chance is not a cause. Forces are a cause. Chance only describes the intersection of two or more lines of causes.
Some would argue that while it may be necessary for a circle to be round, it’s not necessary for a circle to exist. Similarly with God, that if He exists, He must be theistic, but there is nothing that says He has to exist in actuality.
Others would argue that there is an unsurpassable gulf between the thing to me and the thing as it is. This assertion begs the question and is self-defeating. It begs the question by assuming that we cannot learn what a thing is through our five senses. It assumes that we only sense our senses and not reality. Secondly in claiming one cannot know reality one is claiming that we know enough about reality to make value judgments about it.
Some theists assert that God can do anything. Non-theists assert that this leads to contradictions about God, such as making a stone so heavy He cannot lift it. This is based on a faulty premise from the theists. God cannot do that which is logically inconsistent with His Godhood. He cannot do that which is logically impossible. Non-theists may assert that if God is everything, then He is both good and evil, and not logically consistent. If this is so, then god is both good and evil. This also is fails because God is that which He is, namely and absolutely perfect being.
Sigmund Fuerbach argued that God is merely a figment of our imagination, and we cannot know anything beyond our own mind. If this were true then I could not know anything at all, beyond my own completely original ideas. Put another way, there are minds beyond my own that I regularly converse with. I may not be able to go beyond my own mind, but I can reach beyond my own mind.
Sigmund Freud believed that God was merely an illusion, something that we really wanted to believe in, but was not true. He argued that there was no reason to believe in God beyond our own wish in a creator. This fails to take into account all those who believe in God for perfectly sound reasons, such as those who report miracles, or those who are changed by the power of God. Some find God because they thirst for reality, and some do so because they want to know the truth. Even more importantly God does or does not exist not because people decide to believe in him or not. If he exists, then He exists. His existence is independent.
Miracles Are Possible;
All of Christianity hangs on the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians are called to defend this before a culture that seeks its own way and is skeptical of a God who not only can but also actually does miracles. Before we can defend a miracle, we must, however define what, exactly, a miracle is.
There are several definitions of miracles that have been thrown about in history. These are defined as miracles in the weak sense and in the strong sense. Augustine defined miracles in the weak sense as “a portent [which] is not contrary to nature but contrary to our knowledge of nature.” In other words, something that from our perspective which seems particularly amazing, but not actually in violation of natural law, would be a miracle in the weak sense.
The strong sense of miracles came from theologian Thomas Aquinas, who defined miracles as an event that is outside of natures power, something only done through supernatural power. This definition of a miracle has important apologetic applications, because it describes an event only God can do. Natural law describes regular functioning of the natural law, whereas miracles in the strong sense are a supernaturally caused singularity. Perhaps the best definition of a miracle would be that a miracle is an unusual, irregular, specific way in which God acts within the world.
An often-overlooked argument for the probability of miracles is that miracles are not only possible with a theistic God, but also probable. While philosophy can reveal the possibility of miracles, history does reveal that miracles have actually happened. Further, if you grant the existence of God, then miracles also tend to be probable, since miracles can be viewed as a confirmation of His word through a messenger, or event. If God had the power to do miracles and had the nature as described in both the old and New Testament (see his miraculous confirmation of Moses, for instance) then the actuality of miracles is not only possible, but also probable.
If we look at the whole of the history of the cosmos, then we see a fact seldom fully appreciated by many. It appears that the beginning of the universe was a supernatural event. If the universe had a beginning, and therefore, a beginner, then God brought the universe into existence out of nothing. If God brought the universe forth ex Nihilo, then raising someone from the dead, or feeding 5,000 with a small amount of food, would be “no big deal” for God. Put another way, it should be easier to believe in the miracles of the bible than in the big bang. So then, it seems that if the Creator exists, than miracles are not just possible, but actual.
So then, lets come to human history with the idea that miracles are actual. If miracles have happened then it makes sense to find where in history, and not if, they have occurred. One logical choice to search for miracles would be the historical recordings of the New Testament documents. Given their combined historicity, trustworthiness, it seems beyond reasonable dispute that the New Testament records numerous miraculous events.
Miracles in the New Testament have several important dimensions. Firstly, New Testament miracles have an unusual character. Second, New Testament miracles have a theological dimension. Thirdly, New Testament miracles have a moral dimension. Fourth, miracles have a doctrinal dimension. Fifth, miracles have teleological dimension (i.e. they aren’t entertainment, they distinctly exist to glorify the Creator, and to validate His messages and words)
We must know what to look for in a theistic miracle. It appears that not only that creation appears to be a miracle, but so is the bible.
Miracles Are Used To Affirm The Message Or Messenger From God.
Miracles; Apologetic Value of
The central claims of Christianity are dependent on the apologetic value of the miracles occurring in actuality. Miracles in the bible include: Moses encountering the burning bush, Korah being swallowed up by the earth, Elijah’s various miracles, and the various miracles Jesus did. These include the feeding of the 5000, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and especially Jesus’ death and resurrection three days later.
The criterion for the confirmation of miracles includes five points. They must be connected with a truth claim, in that they are used to confirm a specific claim of prophet hood or other message from the Creator. They must be truly supernatural, and not just appear to be so. They must be unique, and not logically contradictory to any other truth claim, for God does not affirm lies. There must be more than one, as one miracle may leave room for doubt. Finally, miracles often have a predictive element to them. While not essential, this eliminates the miracle from becoming disconnected from the truth claim. If the miracle is predicted prophetically, then it is another level of evidence towards a God validating His message to His people, and is difficult to discard as a fluke.
There are those who take the belief in miracles as logically inconsistent. Alistair McKinnon claims, “The idea of a suspension of natural law is self-contradictory. This follows from the meaning of the term.” McKinnons argument can be summarized as follows: Natural laws describe the actual course of events. A miracle is a violation of a natural law. But it is impossible to violate the actual course of events therefore miracles are impossible.
This analysis fails for several reasons. Firstly it begs the question, in that if everything is ipso facto a natural event, then miracles can never happen, no matter what. Secondly, McKinnon has incorrectly defined natural laws. Natural laws are not what actually happens, but what normally happens. Finally, McKinnon confuses the types of events. A miracles and natural laws are mutually exclusive types of events, and have different types of identifying characteristics.
Another attack against the apologetic value of miracles comes via Antony Flew. His argument against miracles is as follows: A miracle must be identified before it can be known to have occurred. A miracle can be distinguished in one of two ways: in terms of nature or in terms of the supernatural. To identify it be reference to the supernatural as an act of God begs the question. To identify it in reference to the natural event destroys its clam of supernatural quality. Flew further argues that miracles are not identifiable because there is no way to define them without begging the question.
In response to Flew’s argument, there are at least two options. One is to show that arguing in a circle can also be applied to anti-supernaturalists. The argument only makes sense if approached from this point of view, but does not correspond to truth, if approached as a supernaturalist. The other option is to show that a belief in God is rational. The evidentiary chain is as follows: If a theistic God exists, miracles are possible. A miracle is a special act of God, God is the standard of all truth and doesn’t err or confirm that which is false. Therefore, a true miracle in connection with a message confirms that the message is from God. Using the above, as well as the cosmological or teleological arguments, theists can then move onto showing that miracles are a confirmation of truth. They can also show that miracles confirm prophetic claims such as the burning bush Moses encountered as well as miracles as confirmation of messianic claims. Finally, theists can show that even some unbelievers accept the veracity of truth claims validated by miracles.
Miracles; Arguments Against
Modern academic scholarship affirms that miracles are impossible or should be discounted because of a lack of evidence. David Hume first articulated this view. His objections can be articulated as philosophical, historical, and religious.
Hume’s philosophical argument can be abbreviated and summarized in a soft and hard form. The “hard” argument is: Miracles by definition violate natural laws. Natural laws are unalterably uniform. Therefore, miracles cannot occur. In this form of the argument, Hume’s argument is begging the question, and thus not logically consistent.
Hume’s soft argument is: A miracle by definition is a rare occurrence. Natural law is by definition a description of regular occurrence. The evidence for the regular is always greater than that for the rare. Wise individuals always base their belief on the greater evidence. Therefore, wise individuals should never believe in miracles.
If Hume means that the natural occurrence is so rare that it never happens in advance of the evidence, he is begging the question. If Hume means that the rarity of the natural occurrence of miracles in “select persons” is rare, then he is committing the logical fallacy of special pleading. There are people who claim miracles that Hume is ignoring. Hume does not correctly look at facts as arbiters of truth; instead he “takes a vote” with them to determine what is true. Facts are not ignored because they’re improbable. According to this logic, we should not believe in Napoleons exploits, because they are so unique and unbelievable. Hume’s argument also fails because it invalidates miracles, no matter the evidence.
Hume argues that there are no credible witnesses to miracles in practice. This fails by even his own standard, in that the witnesses of the resurrection do not contradict each other, they are sufficient in number, they are truthful, and were not prejudiced.
Finally, Hume argues that every miracle account has the same weight attached to it. Since Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all claim miracles, and make contradictory claims as to having the absolute truth, miracles are by nature self canceling. This fails because Christian miracles are confirmed by sufficient eyewitness testimony. Only Christianity has unique miracles confirmed by sufficient testimony, therefore, accounts of Christian miracles should be weighted more heavily than other miracle claims.
Ernst Troeltsch used what he called the principle of analogy to argue against miracles. This is understood as: The only way to understand the past is by analogy in the present. This is similar to Antony Flew’s idea of critical history. Within this idea, we are to assume that the historian must judge the past evidence by personal knowledge of what is probable or possible, and therefore must dismiss stories of miracles out of hand.
Both of these ideas confuse principles of analogy and uniformitarianism. They assume the past events must be uniformly the same as today. This is an unwarranted assumption and doesn’t fit with the scientific evidence of singularities like the big bang and the beginning of life on earth. Troetsch and Flew’s respective ideas both commit the fallacy of special pleading by rejecting miracles strictly because they do not conform to the ideas of regularity. Flew’s idea of critical history also commits the fallacy of special pleading, in that it ignores miracles because they cannot be repeated. Humans aren’t omniscient enough to know this is true. Flew begs the question when he asserts that miracles are absolutely impossible, and should be automatically dismissed out of hand by the truly critical thinker. Why? This is a groundless assertion. Flew’s uniformitarian ideas have been hindrances to scientific thought. Scientists, who had to be brought to the idea with much kicking and screaming, abhorred the idea of a singularity at the beginning of the universe. The historist argument goes too far by ruling out what can be true, based solely on what is true today. This rules out believing in many events in the past, because they only happened once. Critical history, in final analysis, is not critical enough. It fails to rule out the unreasonableness of its own position of rejecting evidence because of the evidence’s assertion.
Besides Hume, Troetsch and Flew, scientists of various types have brought forward objections to belief in miracles. One objection is that they hamper scientific research, because science is goaded to explain exceptions to the natural law. If miracles are allowed, then scientific research is stopped and science is hampered. Another objection is that assigning unexplained things to the supernatural as miracles is wrong because scientists may very well explain them using natural laws in the future. Since only what has predictive capabilities can qualify as an explanation for an event and miracles cannot make verifiable predictions, miracles cannot qualify as an explanation of events. Science further makes the objection that when a miracle is discovered it merely calls for a revision of the scientific laws to incorporate the miracle into how people think. Others have made the objection that to admit to even one miracle is to give up being a scientist, because it admits there is no natural explanation.
There are several problems with the above reasons for rejecting miracles. If by definition the scientific method deals only with regularities, it is by definition ill equipped to deal with singularities, be it the big bang, the beginning of life, black holes, or miracles such as the resurrection of the Messiah. There is a confusion of categories going on as well. Because scientific laws are expressive of regularity, and since miracles are supernaturally caused exceptions, then placing miracles inside the realm of regularities is not logically correct. Miracles don’t change scientific laws; they’re in a different class all together. Further, when science is allowed to reject miracles by insisting every event in nature be considered a natural event, this creates an insurmountable bias and clearly begs the question.
Miracles are described as having an unusual character, a theological dimension, a moral dimension, a teleological dimension, and a doctrinal dimension. Based on this, when an unusual, unrepeatable event not know to be produced as a natural event takes place, and is accompanied by other identifying marks, there is reason to identify it as a miracle.
Based on all of this we can charge that science’s definition of natural causes as the only viable option of evaluating truth as too restrictive. It’s wrong to assume that the scientific method entails naturalism. It is wrong to assume that natural laws have dominion over every event rather than every regular event. It is unscientific to reject reasonable explanations. Finally, scientific objections, when laid bare become circular reasoning in their rejection of miracles. Science, by definition must explain all singularities as “not yet explainable by natural events.”
The New Testament Documents Are Historically Reliable.
New Testament, Historicity of;
The life, teachings, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central fact upon which all of Christianity hangs. Without it Christianity loses all meaning founded on truth. Paul affirmed the resurrection as historical fact and the centrality of Christianity when he wrote “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” Clearly Paul rested his entire case for Christianity on the historical accuracy, and the fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is this very fact that is attacked by people like Bertrand Russell when they write, “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if he did we know nothing about him.” Others, like Thomas Paine wrote “There is no history written at the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived that speaks of such a person, even such a man.” Despite Bertrand Russell and Thomas Paine’s quotes to the contrary, the resurrection of Christ is affirmed by multiple eyewitnesses, within a document that almost all scholars accept as being within the same generation of direct eyewitnesses of the resurrection. This document is the New Testament. For this reason, the historical integrity of the New Testament is crucial to Christianity, and to Christian apologetics.
Evidence for the historicity of the New Testament documents presupposes several conditions. It supposes the knowability of history in general and the believability of miracles in history in particular. While some would posit that history cannot be known, this then means that you must get rid of all accounts of the past, including paleontology, archeology, history and the forensic sciences. Since everything not occurring now is history, such a rejection of the knowability of history must include the rejection of all eyewitness accounts. There are others that posit that miracles are not to be believed no matter what the evidence. This view always ends up begging the question, because it dismisses miracles no matter what the evidence offered for the occurrence of a miracle. If one is to look for objective truth, then factual correspondence to reality is what is the final arbiter of truth, and not presuppositions. No one looking for objective truth should assume that unusual events cannot occur before considering the unusual event. Singularities such as the big bang occur in science, and they have occurred throughout history, including and especially, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The first step in establishing the historicity of the New Testament is to show that there has been highly accurate transmission of documents back through the ages, to the time of their original writing. The number, availability, and precise coherence of translation between manuscript copies demonstrate this.
The second step is to show that reliable witnesses or contemporaries of the events they were describing wrote them. While many critics reject it, there is more evidence for the historicity of the New Testament in general and the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than for any other event from the ancient world. Not only do multiple eyewitnesses in the New Testament write of these events in great detail, but they are also attested to in various non-Christian sources as well.
To reject the historicity of the New Testament is to reject all history. Since we cannot reject all history, we conclude that the evidence for the historicity of the New Testament is overwhelming. Serious scholars all uniformly affirm the early dates, historicity of and the general truthfulness of the New Testament documents.
New Testament Manuscripts;
The faithful and accurate transmission of the New Testament, and the biblical text in general is an important link in the evidentiary chain for the historicity of the New Testament. To that end, the evidence is overwhelmingly in support of the New Testament and its accurate transmission.
Greek manuscript evidence for the accurate transmission of the New Testament is broad and deep. The manuscripts are divided into four categories of documents based on their most distinguishing characteristics. Papyrus manuscripts were written on a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant. Uncials and minuscules refer to the way the letters were formed in the writing style of the manuscript. Lectionaries refer to the bound aspect of certain texts used for worship. These four classes of documents, though sometimes overlapping, form the basis for categorization of the New Testament manuscripts. These Greek texts include 88 papyri manuscripts, 274 uncial manuscripts, and 245 uncial lectionaries of extremely early origin. When compared to other ancient manuscripts such as Caesar’s Gallic Wars (at 10 copies), Tacitus Annals (at 2 copies), and Livy’s Roman History (at 20 copies), the New Testament is preserved better than any book from antiquity. The most documented book outside of the bible is Homer’s Iliad, with 643 surviving copies. Counting only the Greek manuscript copies, the New Testament text is preserved in some 5686 partial and complete manuscript portions that were copied by hand from the second (and possibly even first,) through fifteenth centuries. When adding up the early translations of Arabic, Latin, Syriac, Coptic and other languages, we have 9000 copies of the New Testament. Adding them to the Greek, we have over 14,000 New Testament copies in total.
There are many lines of evidence that point to an exceedingly early date as well. This is important because it implies fewer copyist errors, and more exposure to the work from witnesses to the resurrection. In papyrus expert Carsten Theide’s opinion, one particular manuscript (The Magdalena fragment) may even be an eyewitness account from the events described. Indeed, the entire New Testament survives in various Greek manuscripts from a little over 100 years after the New Testament was completed. While many manuscripts of ancient books date from 1000 years after their original composition, the entire New Testament is of extremely early origin, in some cases dated concurrent with contemporaries of the events described within. In Jose O’Callahan’s research we have some manuscript fragments (such as fragments 7Q6, 7Q5, and 7Q7) dated as early as 50 A.D. putting them not more than 20 or less years from the resurrection of Christ.
88 undisputed papyri manuscripts have so far been found. These manuscripts are especially valuable as they come within 200 years after the writing of the New Testament. Papyri manuscripts or fragments are identified with a “P” followed by number 1 through 88. The following are some of the most important of those manuscripts.
John Rylands Fragment (P52) The John Rylands manuscript is a two by three inch papyrus fragment from a collection of pages written on front and back, similar to a modern book, called a codex. It dates to between 117-138, with some scholars arguing that it may be even older. Because it was found in
Bodmer Papyri (P66, P72, and P75) The Bodmer Papyri may be the most important discovery of New Testament papyri since the Chester Beatty manuscripts. It has three sections. It contains John 1-6:11, 6:35-14:26, Psalm 33, Psalm 43, fragments of John 14-21, Jude, 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, a hymn fragment, and various apocryphal books. P75 also contains an almost complete copy of the gospel of Luke and John in clear carefully printed uncials. It is dated between 175 and 225.
Chester Beatty Papyri (P45, P46, and P47) this papyrus is also in three sections. P45 is made up of leaves containing parts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. P46 consists of 86 leaves that at one time contained 104 pages of Pauline epistles, including Romans, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Thessalonians. P47 contains ten leaves of the book of Revelation. All three sections date to about 250 a.d.
There are 362 uncial manuscripts of sections of the New Testament. The uncial manuscripts are generally considered to be the most important manuscripts from the fourth century and beyond. These arose almost immediately from
Codex Vaticanus (designated as B) is perhaps the oldest uncial manuscript on parchment or vellum. Though overwritten, it’s traditionally dated to between 325-350 a.d. It was not known to textual scholars until 1475, when it was catalogued in the Vatican Library. It was prohibited from being studied for the next 400 years. It includes most of the Old Testament Septuagint and the New Testament in Greek. It’s missing 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus Philemon, Hebrews from 9 to the end, as well as Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. It is housed in the Vatican Library,
Codex Sinaiticus (designated as Aleph) is a fourth century Greek manuscript. It is generally considered to be the most important witness to the text because of its antiquity, accuracy and lack of omissions. Sinaiticus was discovered Constantine von Tischendorf in St. Catherine’s monastery on mount Sinai, in a basket of supposedly scrap paper used to light fires. On his third visit, he was shown an almost complete copy of the Scriptures and some other books. Written in Greek, this manuscript contained most parts of the Old Testament, and the New, along with parts of the Apocrypha. It is written in large, clear Greek uncials on 364 pages measuring thirteen by fourteen inches. It currently resides in the British museum.
Codex Alexandrinus (Designated as A) Alexandrinus is traditionally dated as an early 5th century manuscript. It contains the whole Old and New Testament, except for portions of Genesis, 1 Samuel, Psalms, Matthew, John and 2nd Corinthians. It also contains a few other non-canonical books.
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (Designated as C) originated most likely from
Codex Brezae (Designated as D) Codex Brezae was most likely written about 450-550 ad. It’s the oldest bilingual manuscript of the New Testament, written in both Greek and Latin, it may have originated in southern Gaul or
New Testament; Dating of
One of the areas critics attempt to discredit Christ and his claims of Godhood affirmed by miracles is to assign very late dates to the gospel manuscripts. Scholars critical of the miracles affirmed in the bible attempt to strength their case by trying to disconnect the gospel accounts from eyewitnesses and contemporaries. Assigning late dates to the New Testament books does this. Typical of this negative assessment are scholars coming from the “Jesus Seminar”, who try to assign either late 1st century or if possible, late 2nd century dates for the autographs.
Central to the dating of the New Testament books are the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. The books appear to both be written by the same author, as is attested to by their learned Greek grammar, style, and vocabulary. Acts also bears the phrases “In my former account,” that “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Evidence for an early dating in these two books includes but is not limited to:
1. There is no mention of the fall of
2. There is no hint of the Jewish war in 66 ad.
3. There is no hint of the deterioration between Christians and Romans that occurred in 60 ad.
4. There is nothing mentioned about the death of “James”
5. Christian terminology reflects and earlier period, where Iusous and Ho Kurios are used for Jesus.
6. Acts 28 ends with a definite tone of immediacy, but is an odd place to end if the book was written pre-62, particularly because of the events that transpired 66-70 and later.
The Gospel of Luke presents the same information about Jesus, who He is, what He taught, as well as His death and resurrection three days later as does the other gospels. Thus, there is no reason to reject Luke and Acts historical accuracy and early dating.
Another book important in assigning an early date to the biblical record is Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. It is widely accepted by both critical and conservative scholars that 1st Corinthians was written by 55 or 56 ad. Internal evidence for the dating of 1st Corinthians includes but is not limited to:
1. The book repeatedly claims to be written by Paul
2. There are parallels with Acts
3. Paul mentions 500 witnesses who had seen Christ, most of whom were still alive.
4. The contents harmonize with what has been learned about
External evidence includes, but is not limited to:
1. Clement of Rome mentions 1st Corinthians in his Epistle to the Corinthians
2. The epistle of Barnabas eludes to it
3. The Shepherd of Hermas mentions it.
It is now widely accepted that 1st Corinthians is exactly what it claims to be. A 1st century book written by a converted and baptized Jew to early believers in the city of
Further evidence for an early dating of the gospels are citations from church fathers from the late first century on. This includes some 268 from Justin Martyr, 1038 from Irenaus, 1017 from Clement of Alexandria, and 9231 from Origen, 3258 from Eusebius, as well as many others. This argues powerfully for an early date for the gospels, as well as affirming that the Gospels were present while some eyewitnesses were still alive.
This is also affirmed by the early dates and rapid spread of New Testament books in the ancient world. Complete copies of books of the New Testament, such as the Bodmer Papyri, are available as early as the 200’s. There are undisputed manuscripts, such as the John Rylands papyri that have an uncontested date of 117-138. No other book has such a small time gap between composition and the earliest manuscript copies available.
Indeed the evidence is so overwhelming that even critical scholars such as William F. Albright and John A.T. Robinson affirm an early dating of the New Testament.
Mythology and the New Testament;
Higher critical claims have as a central component that much of the New Testaments account of Jesus and his teachings is evolved over time. Because of this, the real Jesus is hard to get to, and hard to comprehend, and is mostly lost in myth and legend. So the argument goes, to get at the real Jesus, we must strip away the pre-scientific and the supernatural claims such as the virgin birth, miracles, and the resurrection. Typical of this view is Rudolf Bultmann, who affirms that the Gospels must be stripped of their mythological “husk”.
Bultmann affirmed that Christianity grew out of a pre-scientific worldview. The biblical worldview, Bultmann explains, is of a three-storied universe, where heaven is occupied by God, angels, and other celestial beings, the underworld with its evil beings below, and the earth in the center. From above and below the material world was acted on for good and evil by spiritual beings that intervened on human thoughts and actions. According to Bultmann, the New Testament had to be stripped of this mythological substructure for science had made this view obsolete. Bultmann further asserted that blind acceptance of the New Testament would sacrifice the intellect to accept a view of the world in religion that we deny in everyday life, and that the only honest way to recite the creeds was to strip this mythology from the truth it enshrines. This view is often called demythological naturalism.
Bultmann did not believe in miracles. He felt that by nature, myths are more than objective truths, they are transcendent truths of faith. Since they were of a transcendent nature and not objective they could not be part of verifiable space-time world. To this end, he did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Bultmann wrote, “For a historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable.” In his view the objectivity of a risen messiah was impossible, no matter what the evidence. It was an event of faith in the hearts of the early disciples.
This view has had several objections offered to it.
Firstly, Bultmann’s objections to miracles are unfounded. This is dogmatic and unverifiable. Who says that miracles have never occurred, anywhere, at any time? Has every person that ever lived been exhaustively been surveyed?
Secondly, his objections to miracles occurring being of the world is incorrect as well. By definition the scientific method deals only with regularities, so it is by definition ill equipped to deal with singularities, be it the big bang, the beginning of life, black holes, or miracles such as the resurrection of the Messiah.
Further, the New Testament is not a book of literary myth. It bears little resemblance to a fairy tale. C.S. Lewis noted, “Bultmann never wrote a gospel.” He added “As to “the assured results of modern scholarship,’ as to the way in which an old book was written are ‘assured,’ we may conclude, only because the men who knew the facts are dead and can’t blow the gaff”.
Bultmann, in forming his view of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, leaves out much evidence of biblical scholarship. The early dating of the New Testament, now widely accepted among even critical scholars makes for the development of myth impossible. Further, the person, places and events surrounding the Gospel stories are not myth, but historical. The gospels do in fact describe real events, with Luke in particular going to great pains to note the date of the birth of Jesus. C.S. Lewis notes that the gospels are straightforward, artless accounts of historical fact written by narrow unattractive Jews who were blind to the mythological wealth of the pagan world around them. Finally, the number and cohesiveness of the undisputed New Testament manuscripts (such as the John Rylands papyri, Codex Vaticanus and other) make the recording of myth in the New Testament extremely unlikely.
The New Testament shows no signs of myth or mythological development. The miracle events in the New Testament are surrounded by real places and real events. Only an unjustified view with an extreme anti-supernatural bias would conclude the New Testament and the events therein were “myth”.
Christ; Deity of
The central tenet of Christianity is Jesus’ claim to be God in human flesh. We can that by what Jesus said and did.
Jesus claimed to be God in a variety of ways. Jesus claimed to be Yahweh when He called himself the “good shepherd” in the book of John. Yet, Psalm 23 says that, “Yahweh is my shepherd.” Jesus said things like “And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” In saying this, Jesus was declaring himself to be of the same essence as Yahweh, for Isaiah wrote “my glory will I not give to another”. Jesus called Himself “the light of the world”, yet psalm 27:1 declares, “Yahweh is my light.” Jesus even goes so far as to say “Before Abraham was, I am.” This echoes the statement of God speaking from the burning bush who called Himself “I am the I am.” Jesus claimed to be equal with God with God in other ways. For instance, He claimed for Himself the ability to forgive sins. He also claimed to be able to raise people from the dead. These were attributes that God reserved for himself as the forgiver of sins (Lev, Deut, etc.) and as the only giver of life, (1 Sam 2:6). He also claimed the power to judge the dead, an attribute claimed by God. (Deut 32:35) Jesus claimed to be Messiah-God. He did so when, for instance he identified Himself as the “Ancient of Days”. When in front of the high priests during his trial by night before Caiphas, Jesus said “…And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest and the people understood this to be a claim of Godhood, for its recorded “At this the high priest tore his robe and said ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?…you have the blasphemy!’” Jesus claimed to be God by accepting worship. Though we see angels and people repeatedly refuse to be worshipped as God, Jesus accepts worship from a healed leper, from his disciples, a group of Canaanite women, the mother of James and John, and the formerly demonized person of the Geraderenes. His disciple Thomas, when seeing Jesus’ hands and side cried out “my Lord and my God!” Jesus accepted worship from all of these people without refusing it. He even went so far as to commend those who acknowledged His deity. Jesus claimed an equal authority with God. He put his teaching as equal with God, and taught with authority. For instance, He said, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” Jesus says this several times. At the very end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus even reinterpreted the Ten Commandments given to Moses, saying “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another”.
We can see that not only did Jesus claim to be God in a variety of ways, his disciples also acknowledged his deity.
Jesus’ disciples acknowledged his deity in several ways. He’s acknowledged as “The first and the last”, “the true light”, their “rock” or “stone”, the “chief shepherd”, the “great shepherd”, as “Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead.” All of these titles are used of God in the Old Testament exclusively, but are applied to Jesus in the New Testament. The disciples considered Jesus to be Messiah-God by linking Him to various Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Christ carries with it the same meaning as the Hebrew word “Messiah”. The book of John applies Zechariah 12:10 to Jesus’ crucifixion, pointing to His Messiahship. Paul interprets Isaiah 45:22-23 as applying to Jesus. The disciples also attributed the powers of God to Jesus. His disciples affirm that he had the power to raise the dead and forgive sins. Finally, the disciples called Jesus God. When meeting the risen messiah, Thomas cried out “My Lord and my God!” In Titus, Christ is called “Our great God and Savior.” Even the very beginning of the gospel of John announces, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”
Finally, Jesus Christ, His life, His ministry on earth, and even specifics about His death were foretold in predictive prophecies in the Old Testament. Some of these prophecies foretold He was born of a virgin. That He was cut off 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the temple in 444 b.c. That He would be a descendent of David. That He was be born in
There were even specifics about His manner of death that were foretold prophetically as well. These include; dying a humiliating death, standing in silence before His accusers, being mocked, having hands and feet pierced, being crucified with thieves, praying for His persecutors, and the piercing of His side. His being raised from the dead was even foretold in Psalms 2 and 16, as well as His ascension into heaven. Jesus even predicted His own resurrection on the cross. Referring to His body as the temple, Jesus said “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days. In another place He said, “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.” Speaking on His own life and His resurrection, Jesus said, “I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again.”
Jesus Claim To Be God Was Proven By A Unique Convergence Of Miracles.
Miracles in the Bible;
There are two types of ways to define a miracle. In the broadest sense everything supernaturally caused can be vaguely described to be a miracle. In a more narrow and technical sense, we can refine the word miracle in the bible to mean a supernatural event that seeks to confirm a message from God. In this more refined sense a miracle is an act that confirms Gods message as true, substantiates the sermon and verifies the Word of God. Its three main purposes are to glorify God, to accredit persons as Gods spokesmen, and to provide evidence for a belief in God.
To that end we see God confirming His message and His messengers repeatedly in both the Old Testament and New Testament with miracles. The earth swallowed up Korah when he challenged Moses’ divine authority to lead the Hebrews. Later, God confirmed Elijah over the prophets of Baal by sending fire to consume the sacrifices. In the New Testament, Jesus was confirmed and revealed with miracles. Individuals like Nicodemus said to Jesus “We know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him”. Indeed the entire book of Acts was written because Jesus’ disciples saw the most miraculous event in history, the resurrection of the Living God, and went forth to tell others about it. To that, we see that miracles became apostolic credentials in the early church. Paul, Phillip, Peter and other followers of Jesus Christ are recorded as doing miracles to authenticate the message of the living God.
The bible uses three words to describe a miracle: sign, wonder, and power. Each word has a specific shade of meaning that clarifies the definition of biblical miracles.
The word “sign” is used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament to connect the idea of something appointed by God to a special message. In Exodus God speaks and says, “By this you will know that I am the Lord”. Later, Gideon asks of God “give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” Five verses later, Judges records “there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes.” In the New Testament the word for sign is most often used for the narrow definition of a miracle. When Jesus heals, when the water is turned to wine, and when raising the dead, the word “sign” (In Greek semeion) is used. The word sign is used to describe the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To that end, the resurrection of Jesus was a sign, confirming Jesus to be exactly what He said He was.
The word “wonder” is often used together and interchangeably with “sign”, such as “signs and wonders” mentioned in Exodus 7:3. The Greek word teras is used for wonder and conveys an event that is astonishing, amazing or incredible. It is used to describe Jesus’ miracles as in John 4. Its also used to describe the apostles miracles, as in Acts 2:43.
The third word used in conjunction with miracles is the word “power”. Power as it pertains to miracles brings with it the idea of divine power, including Gods divine power to create. With divine “power” God overthrows his enemies, as in Exodus 15, delivers his people from Egypt, as mentioned in Numbers 14, and rules the universe, as in 1 Chronicles 29. In the New Testament power (from the Greek word dunamis) speaks of miracles and brings an emphasis on the divine energizing aspect of a miraculous event.
Some of the biblical miracles in the Old Testament include: The creation of all things, (Genesis), the translation of Enoch (Genesis), the Noahic flood (Genesis), Lots wife turned to salt (Genesis), the burning bush (Exodus), the plagues of Egypt (Exodus), the red sea parted (Exodus), manna from heaven (Exodus), Waters of Jericho divided (Joshua), the sun standing still (Joshua), fire consuming Elijah’s sacrifice (1 Kings) and Elisha cleansing the water at Jericho (2 Kings). New Testament miracles include: Water becoming wine (John) the leper cleansed (Luke) Lazarus raised from the dead (John) resurrection of Jesus (Matt, Mark, Luke, John), Jesus appears and addresses apostles (Acts) and ascends into heaven (Acts) The sun becomes black like sackcloth (Rev) moon turns blood red (Rev).
Some negative bible critics deny the authenticity of miracles because of an anti-supernatural presuppositional bias. Even some scholars who affirm New Testament miracles deny Old Testament miracles. This idea creates an unnecessary division between the Old Testament and New Testament accounts of miracles. The evidence is of both the same kind. Reliable witness accounts recorded by contemporaries of the events described.
Jesus Is God In Human Flesh.
Whatever Jesus Affirms To Be True Is True.
God, Nature of;
Natural theology deals with what can be known about God through natural reason. These categories of natural reason include, aseity, simplicity, necessity, immutability, eternality, unity, infinity, and morality and knowledge.
The aseity of God refers to the nature of His pure, or self, existence. God’s aseity means that he is pure Being or existence. Everything else only has being. Another way to say it is that God is pure actuality; all other things have both actuality and potentiality. But God by definition must exist; his existence is necessary as defined as a necessary being.
The simplicity of God refers to the fact that God is not composed in his being and therefore has no parts. In this sense God is simple and indivisible. He cannot change, or be split into other parts. Pure actuality has no potentiality in its Being, and so again, must be simple or indivisible.
The necessity (or non-contingency) of God refers to the fact that God is by nature an absolutely necessary being. He is a must, not a perhaps.
The immutability of God refers to Gods unchangeable nature. Corpulent theological giant Thomas Aquinas put forth three arguments for the immutability of God. Firstly, since God has not potentiality, it follows that God cannot change. God has not potentiality, because He is pure aseity. The second argument grows out of his simplicity. Everything that changes is composed of what changes and what does not. God has no composition, because of his absolute simplicity. Since an absolutely simple being, God cannot change. The third argument for God’s immutability lays reference to his perfection. Since God cannot be better or more complete, he cannot acquire anything new. Therefore, God cannot change.
The non-temporality of God refers to the fact that God is non-temporal. That is, he is beyond time. One argument for his non-temporal attribute is that whatever exists in time can be computed according to its befores and afters. But a changeless being has no befores or afters; it’s always the same. Therefore, God is timeless. Aquinas stated that there was a difference between endless time, and eternity. Endless time was looked at in the form of an infinite regression, or progression, whereas eternity was thought to be outside the time domain. Another way to argue for God’s eternity would be to look at his changeless nature. Since things that are temporal can be viewed as having successive states, since God does not change, God must be outside of time.
The immensity of God refers to the fact that God is not limited in space. That is, He is non-spatial. Because He is a spiritual being, He does not fill space, per se, though His immanence does.
The unity of God refers to the fact that God, in His nature is one. He cannot be more than one, because He is simple and indivisible. Since He is simple, He cannot be divided into smaller parts, therefore He is unified. God’s perfection also argues for His unity. If two or more Gods existed, they would have to differ. In order to differ, one must have an attribute the other lacks. But an absolutely perfect being cannot lack anything, and therefore, God is perfect.
The relatability of God refers to the fact that God can relate to the world of His creation, rather than only being able to stand apart from it. In this sense, we relate to God as we do ideas. Though we change, God by His nature does not change, and hence it is only us that changes in relation to God. One way to think about this is mans relationship to a pillar. Though man walks around the pillar, the pillar does not change, even though the view of the pillar does. While the relationship between God and creatures is real, God is in no sense dependent in that relationship.
God’s knowledge refers to the fact that God knows himself simply and perfectly. Since God has no duality, and all knowledge involves both a knower and a known, in self-knowledge the knower and known are identical. Hence, God can only know himself. Further, since God is simple, He knows himself simply. God also knows himself perfectly. Something is known perfectly when its potential to be known is completely realized, and since God is perfect, He must know himself perfectly as well. God also knows all things through Himself. God does not know other things through himself either successively or inferentially. He knows them simultaneously and intuitively. He not only knows all things intuitively and directly, He also causes all things by his being. This does not mean that the pantheist notion that God is all and in all things is correct. God causes things things as they are in His knowledge. Thus, that creation should not be eternal is part of God’s knowledge. God also knows each creature ideally. Further because His knowledge is perfect, He knows everything perfectly, individually and in a singular sense. God also knows evil, specifically as a privation in a good thing. Since God knows things in an unchanging way, He knows past, present and future in one eternal now. He does not know things sequentially, since He is timeless. He knows all things, past present and future, and knows them through oneness of Himself. Since God knows Himself perfectly and knows all things through Himself, He also knows perfectly all the different ways His perfection can be shared by others. Through all this, Gods stands as one who knows both the potential and actual, and lets us have our own free will.
Gods will can be defined as His rational inclination toward His own good. The object of God’s will is His divine goodness. Hence, God loves and delights in the possession of His own nature. He does not have will in the sense of desire, but only in the sense of delight. Further, since He is the being high above all others, He wills that others know His goodness. God is not moved by anything outside himself when he wills to create through himself, nor is He moved by any insufficiency in Himself. Things like His absolute goodness he must will, though there are other things He can will as conditional, such as creation. This is all in the context of just how God’s will correctly functions, and that is, His will IS the cause of all things. Since He is a perfect being, His will cannot fail, and He doesn’t change His mind. Finally, since God’s will is the cause of all things so all created things pre-exist in God’s knowledge. He knows all, simply and intuitively; His will IS the cause of all things.
Jesus Affirmed The Bible.
Bible, Evidence For
Throughout the centuries negative and liberal scholars, who would impugn its authority and its central tenets, have attacked the bible. It is believed that the original autographs are without error. In support of that we that the bible consistently and perfectly hangs together, not only externally, but also internally.
For instance, we see that the bible was written by Gods’ appointed stewards, oftentimes (but not exclusively) called prophets. These prophets wrote what they were supposed to write, under the inspiration of God. They affirmed nothing more or less about God. Prophets were given several designations in the Old Testament, such as: A man of God (1 Kings 12:22) denoting chosenness, A servant of God (1 Kings 14:18) denoting faithfulness, a messenger of God (Isaiah 42:19) showing mission, a seer or beholder (Isaiah 30:9-10) denoting insight from God, as well as prophet, marking one as a spokesman for God. In short, a prophet was someone that said and did what God told Him to say and do. These authors consistently claimed to be under that spirit of God in both their actions and especially, their words. Many places in scripture refer to this, such as Paul’s words that “All scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim 3:16).
Jesus described the scriptures as the “words that come out of the mouth of God.” We can see this in several ways. For instance, what God says in Genesis 12:3, is later quoted as the bible says in Galatians 3:8. What the bible says in Romans 9:17 is quoted as God saying in Exodus 9:16. What the bible says in Psalm 2:1, God is quoted as saying in Acts 4:24-25. What the Bible says in Genesis 2:23, God is quoted in Matt 19. We also see this claim of the bible being God’s words in direct quotes where the prophets wrote things like “Thus sayeth the Lord.” And “God says”. It was clear to the prophets that they were quoting God, word for word, and not just making a best guess as to what God wanted to say. The bible even mentions the extent of its written authority. It affirms that the very words, even the verb tenses, are part of its divine authorship. It even affirms that the smallest parts, (the jot and the tittle) are there for a reason.
Equally as interesting is to note that the bible was a product of human writers, under the inspiration of God. To that end it manifests different literary styles. James seems to be preoccupied with nature, whereas Jesus used urban metaphors. The John letters used simple Greek, whereas Hebrews Greek is that of an extremely learned and intelligent author. It also manifests itself from different human perspectives and emotions. Luke and Acts are believed by many to be factual accounts functioning as trial documents, whereas the John letters are almost totally preoccupied with love. Kings was written from a prophetic vantage point, and Chronicles from a priestly point of view. Even through all of this, we have nearly complete manuscripts of the bible as it stands today by no later than 250, with partial fragments much earlier. Further the Septuagint version of the Old Testament is dated to no later than 250 b.c.
Perhaps the strongest testimony for the bible as the word of God is the testimony of the one who is recorded to be the messiah, that is Jesus. He spoke of it having divine authority (Matt 4:4, 7, 10). He spoke of its indestructibility (Matt 5:17-18). He spoke of its ultimate supremacy (Matt 15:3-6). He spoke of its factual inerrancy (John 17:17) He even spoke of its historical reliability (Matt 12:40) and of its scientific accuracy (John 3:12).
` All of this speaks strongly for an accurate recording of the events described in the bible, and yet, we see that the evidence for accurate transmission from the authors is equally strong. In every case we see that the author of each book is presented as scrupulously honest, representing only the highest moral standards. They taught the highest of moral standards, and held themselves to them as well. Moses affirmed that there should not be any lying when he wrote “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” The New Testament affirms a high level of integrity as well when it says “Therefore each of you must put off the falsehood and speak truthfully about his neighbor.” (Eph 4:25). As perhaps the greatest proof of the truthfulness of the historical reliability of the resurrection and the testimony of the eyewitnesses in general, almost all of the apostles died without recanting their testimony. Separated by thousands of miles in some cases, all they would have to do to get out of trouble would be to recant their testimony, yet none did. Enduring torture unto death, such as being flayed alive, crucified upside down, and beheaded, all of the apostles were faithful to their eyewitness testimonies of a risen Messiah. Through this we see in the lives of the apostles an amazing transforming power, which turns doubters (such as Thomas) into an unswayable believer crying out “my Lord and my God”, and unstable men, (such as Peter) into an unshakable rock of faith.
This lines up as well, with the internal prophetic evidence for the bible. Many of the books of the bible include specific predictions, often about the messiah and His role, the circumstances of His coming, His birth, and even His death and resurrection. These predictions were made hundreds of years in advance of the events described transpiring. While some critics try to dismiss the prophetic evidence as historical, there are many clear places where this is impossible. As was noted, the Old Testament was codified into a Greek by no later than 250 b.c., making the historical claim of explaining away prophecy impossible.
Through it all the bible hangs together with an amazing, supernaturally evidence coherency. Though 66 books were penned by 40 or more different authors, with a variety of styles, languages, time periods education levels and occupations, they all speak together as one, and point to the blessed hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Bible, Jesus View Of;
Jesus consistently claimed what could be called a “conservative” and an “inerrant” view of the bible. He affirmed that is was true, infallible, indestructible, and the inerrant Word of God.
Jesus affirmed many things about the Old Testament. He affirmed the divine authority of the Old Testament, saying in many places “It is written” in the Greek perfect tense, meaning that it was written in the past and still is true today. This was often used, as he did when tempted by Satan, as the last word on the subject or topic. Jesus affirmed the Old Testament to be imperishable. He affirmed this when He said, “Till heaven and earth shall pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” Because of this, and other statement like it, Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the imperishable Word of God. Jesus also affirmed the Old Testament to be inspired, in the sense that the writings of the Old Testament were the spirit of God speaking through the writers to inspire them to write what they wrote (see matt 5:17-18). Jesus also affirmed the Old Testament to be unbreakable when Jesus said, “If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came and the scripture cannot be broken.” Further, Jesus affirmed the Old Testament is the Word of God. He insisted in places (see matt 15:3,6 and elsewhere) that the bible contained the commandments of God. Jesus also described ultimate supremacy to the Old Testament. Speaking to the Jews, He said things like “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition…Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” Jesus also affirmed the inerrancy of the Old Testament. Speaking in prayer Jesus said “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Finally, Jesus affirmed the historical reliability of the Old Testament. Hey said things like “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” He spoke of the slaying of Abel as an actual event. He also affirmed the historical reliability of major portions of the Old Testament.
Jesus also affirmed many things about the New Testament. Just as He affirmed the divine attributes of the Old Testament, So He attributed the same attributes to the New Testament. He also promised that the Holy Spirit would come and teach to His followers all things and that the Spirit would lead them into all truth. He gave to His disciples’ divine authority to do the works, which He had called them to do. His disciples talked about this authority and claimed it in numerous places. The gospel of John end with the words;” These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name”. Paul repeatedly called himself an apostle appointed specifically by Jesus Christ, and the apostle Peter affirmed that authority in his own writings. Thus, it would appear that the New Testament is the “all truth” that Jesus promised us.
While Jesus confirmed many things about the Old and New Testament, there are many that would affirm His doctrine is incorrect and fallible. Critics make claims against the prophets like Daniel, who they affirm, was merely a historian predicting events that had already occurred. Yet, Jesus affirmed the early view of Daniel. Coincidentally Daniel spoke of the Messiah, given the exact day when He would appear in Jerusalem. Other critics assert that man evolved through natural processes. Jesus however affirmed the literal creation of Adam and Eve. As we can see now, it appears that even the scientists who study evolution are coming to the conclusion that it appears that life sprang forth suddenly, seemingly from nothing. Critics often speak of the two Isaiah’s, as well. Yet Jesus repeatedly only speaks of one, quoting from both the beginning and end of Isaiah, and calling him only “the prophet Isaiah.”
If Jesus is really the Son of God, then His affirmations are an affirmation of truth and not of anything else. While bible critics are happy to hold themselves forth as honest scholars, one does well to note who knows more about the bible, the critics are the One who lived it?
Therefore, The Bible Is True And Everything Opposed To It Is False.
World Religions And Christianity:
Many religions make exclusive truth claims. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all affirm a single monotheistic God. Zen Buddhism, Christian Science and Hinduism all affirm a pantheistic God, who is in all. Mormonism and Paganism affirm many Gods. They cannot all be true, because they all claims different things. They all have incompatible views with each class, as well as with each other.
Christianity’s uniqueness is found in its claims of divinity in Jesus, God, the way to salvation and the inerrancy of the scripture. The uniqueness of Christianity can be found in the view of trinitarianism of God. No other religion is explicitly Trinitarian, affirming one God in three essences. While Judaism has the correct view of God, nevertheless, it is incomplete. Judaism denies the Trinitarian view, and denies the deity of Jesus. While Islam affirms the bible as inspired by God, it too is incorrect. Islam believes that there is only one person of the Godhead, denying both the deity of the Messiah and of the Holy Spirit. Other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism may claim that Jesus is a way to the ultimate; they would deny that He is the only way, or fully God incarnate. While many religions revere Christ, only Christianity has the correct view of Jesus, as both man and God, fully human and fully God.
Christianity has a unique view of the written word of God as well. It affirms that the Old and New Testaments are literally the “God Breathed” revelation of God. The bible claims divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Koran claims only dictation from the angel Gabriel. The bible claims hundreds of examples of predictive prophecy, where no other venerated book does so. The bible claims to be supernaturally confirmed through a unique convergence of miracles, by Gods’ appointed messengers whereas no other venerated book can make that claim. Islam denies miracles, and Judaism denies the miracle accounts of the New Testament.
Christianity has a fairly unique view of salvation through grace as well. Though other religions employ grace, Christianity is the only religion that affirms: Humankind is despicably sinful and alienated from God, and that no amount of work can get a person to God. It declares there is only one way to God, and that is grace bestowed through the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be saved, you must believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that Jesus is Lord. There is no other way.
Though these claims of Christianity are exclusive, it’s important to not draw false conclusions from their exclusive nature. For instance: God loves the unbelievers of the world and wants them to come to a saving faith. (See John 3:16) Gods’ salvation is the atoning work for all. (1 John 2:2) He even died for those who “deny” Him (2 Peter 2:1). Salvation is even available to those who have never heard of Christ, for anyone anywhere who truly seeks God will find Him. (Hebrews 11:6 and elsewhere)
Though Christians may affirm that all religions may have some truth in them, it’s important to note a key difference between the key thinking of Christianity and other religions. Christianity is the truth, with perhaps some error in it. All other religions are error with some truth mixed in. No non-Christian system provides the truth in the area of salvation.
While this narrow view of truth may seem initially offensive to some, this is ultimately what truth demands. It is by definition narrow and exclusive. 2+2 is always 4. If the various worldviews all have exclusive truth claims, then only one can be correct. It also bears noting that claiming there are many ways to God is narrow as well, as it excludes all other ways to God.
All truth claims by there very nature are exclusive. A system that is all-inclusive makes no truth claims. Everything that makes a truth claim denies another truth claim by implication. While other religions may pieces of truth within a system of error, only Christianity holds true as a system truth.
Christianity, with its exclusive claims to truth, falls under attack consistently from a pluralistic worldview. At this point, defining terms is in order. Pluralism is the view that every religion is true, and that there are many paths to God. Relativism claims that there are no mechanisms by which one can tell which religion is true. Inclusivism is the belief that while one religion is most (or explicitly) true, all other religions are more or less (or implicitly) true.
Typically, the truth claims of Christianity are attacked as leading to conduct no more generous and good then any other religions. Pluralists charge that something like the golden rule (do unto to others as they would do unto you) can be found in a multitude of different faiths. They charge that the concern for others and the basic idea of love is taught in the major world religions. While it is certainly debatable whether or not other religions have statements similar to the golden rule, its also debatable whether or not non-Christian religions display the same levels of the “fruit of the spirit”. While non-Christians certainly may be gentle, good, and kind, do they display agape style love? Even if one were to be able to show some sort of equality between the various moral systems, on close examination, does it follow that all display the same levels of goodness? Pluralists like to point to Gandhi. It should be noted however that Gandhi, was inspired and acknowledged Jesus’ teachings as unique. He repeatedly singled out the Sermon on the Mount and affirmed his admiration for it. Even giving that Mohandas Gandhi was not informed by the teachings of Jesus in his compassionate walk, does his life of generosity compare with the teachings of someone like Mother Teresa? The comparision seems to fall flat on analysis. This standard of measurement of world religions also begs the question in that it picks a semi-arbitrary standard of measurement by which to judge. Christianity is based upon its claims to truth and a universe that it both knowable as well as coherent in its truth claims. Christianity is the only religion that claims an evidentiary chain where “A really equals A”.
Pluralists sometimes charge that if we define salvation as “Being forgiven and accepted by God because of Jesus death on the cross, “ then it is merely tautology that Christianity has the only way to salvation. They further charge that if we define salvation as “actual human change for the better, away from self centeredness and towards a radically new worldview centered in other centeredness, then we can affirm that all religions are doing this, at about the same rate.” This assumption does not follow because it assumes that all religious systems have a connection to the Ultimate. Religions are not merely a response by humans to the Ultimate, for they all make exclusive claims that contradict one another. Finally the denial of the exclusive nature of truth is in and of itself a kind of exclusiveness.
Pluralists sometimes assert that Christ never spoke of His uniqueness as the only way, and that any statements to the contrary in the gospels were in fact invented by the authors. This shows a lack of serious thinking and investigation, in that the reliability of the New Testament documents are beyond any serious dispute, with even liberal scholars taking a position formerly viewed as conservative. There are more records, earlier, and more accurately transcribed then any other document from the ancient world. Most scholars now affirm that most New Testament documents were written between 20-70 a.d. by baptized Jews, during the life of contemporary eyewitnesses to the events described.
Some pluralists reply that Orthodox Christianity’s claim that Jesus was both fully human and fully God lacks coherence. This is based on a confusion of what Christ’s nature truly was. He was not infinite knowledge housed in a finite brain. He had infinite knowledge only in His infinite nature. Jesus could still learn and grow in knowledge in His finite nature.
Finally pluralists often assert that dialogue is the only way to get at the truth. This fails in that if one assumes the worldview is true before entering into dialogue, then no truth will result. While pluralists and relativists often assert that Christians are narrow minded to all options outside of their orthodox position, this can be applied equally at least to pluralists and any other person who claims to have truth, to the exclusion of all other truth. Further, this assumes that there are Christians who have not tried other faiths, or who have not objectively weighed the evidence and found all other forms of religion lacking in truth.
Ultimately, while pluralists would like to assert that they are the truly religious neutral, the truth is really that they come to the table with their own preconceived notions and ideas of what is and is not correct, and refuse even the tenets of logic in their affirmation of pluralism and its related viewpoints.
God, Evidence For;
The evidence for the existence of God has been debated almost since time immemorial. The best know arguments for a theistic God are the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the moral argument, and the ontological argument. In addition the axiological argument, the anthropological argument, and the argument from religious experience are often used. We will now go through several of these arguments.
The cosmological argument stems from the fact that anything contingent needs something necessary to bring it into existence. Since there is a universe, something had to bring it into existence. Stated succinctly, The cosmological argument is: The universe had a beginning. Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else. Therefore the universe was caused by something else.
A second form of the cosmological argument is sometimes called the horizontal or kalam form. Expressed succinctly this is: An infinite number of points cannot be traversed. If an infinite number of moments had to elapse before today, then today would never get here. But today has come. So, an finite number of points has elapsed. Since, whatever had a beginning is caused by something else, there must be a Creator of the universe.
The argument from moral law can be found in Romans chapter 2. The argument from moral law has been expressed in several ways. Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis’s version can be summarized thusly: Moral laws imply a Moral Lawgiver. There is an objective Moral Law. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.
The weight of the argument rests on proving the second premise. Speaking personally, when using this argument, most often people will not accept there is an objective Moral Law, but only because they do not realize the deep seated implication of having no moral law. Without an objective moral law there is no such thing as right and wrong. Killing your neighbor or raping his wife would be a guiltless affair, The Holocaust has no more meaning than ordering a taco. Pol Pot is as good as Mother Teresa or Ghandi.
The teleological argument in its most popular form is sometimes called the watchmaker analogy. Since every watch has a watchmaker, and since the universe is almost infinitely more complex than a watch, the universe had a Maker. The argument often goes: All designs imply a designer. There is great design in the universe. Therefore, there must be a great designer of the universe.
The ontological argument moves from the idea of perfection to necessary, as it relates to the existence of a necessary Being. Anselm of Canterbury argued that, if God exists, we must conceive of him as a Necessary Being. But by definition, a Necessary Being cannot not exist. Therefore, a Necessary Being can, then it must, exist.
While this falls short of an actual proof of God, it does prove certain things about Him.
The argument from religious need claims that all human beings need God. While atheists claim God doesn’t exist, the writings of many of the most prominent atheists reveal a deep need for God. This can be seen in some of their more frank statements. It’s also revealing, that for its all supposedly intellectual acumen in its followers, they still talk about borrowing traditional elements from Christianity, such as having an atheistic hymnal, an atheist bible, and Sunday service.
The argument from joy is our final evidence for God. Briefly the argument from joy is: Every natural innate desire has a real object that can fufill it. Human beings have a natural, innate desire for immortality. Therefore there must be an immortal life after death.
Geisler Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.