Context is Key: Historical Context

February 3, 2020

Hey friends, the best way to understanding the Bible is through its context. If you get the context wrong you are liable to interpret the passage that you are reading wrong as well. According to the Oxford Dictionary context is defined as, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” Bible scholar Darrell Bock divides context into three areas of study, historical context, social-cultural context, and the literary context. We will briefly look at these three areas in three different posts and dig deeper into them over time.

Historical Context

The historical context has to deal with factors that relate to the setting of the book/letter in the time that it was written as well as the event or person in the book that is being described. Factors that make up the historical context might be things like technology, nations in power, historical people and events, geographic boarders, and more.

One example where having the right historical context is found in Revelation 3:14-16.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (NIV 1984)

Years ago as a teen I remember reading this verse and wondering why God would rather the church at Laodicea either be hot or cold, but not lukewarm? I had always heard other Christians challenge students to be “on fire” for the Lord in their faith. I began thinking allegorically, maybe Jesus would rather have us to be either “on fire” in our relationship with Christ or either completely “cold” where we don’t even reflect ourselves as Christians than for us to be “lukewarm” in our faith and not be a very good example to others around us. I wrongly associated these verses with modern thoughts of my day.

Laodicea Aqueduct

Laodicean Aqueduct with bathhouse remains from Logos Bible Software

Revelation Cities Map

If I had known the historical context of the city of Laodicea I would have understood this passage in a completely different way. The Lexham Bible Dictionary fills us in more on history of the city. The comment like has allusions to “the Laodicean water supply, which was lukewarm—particularly unappealing in contrast to the cold stream-fed water in nearby Colossae and the hot springs in Hierapolis, which were perhaps valued for more pleasurable bathing or medicinal usefulness.”1 The city of Laodicea was not seated near the preferred water or cold water of the neighboring cities. In this case being “cold” would have been a good thing and not a reflection of a lack of a relationship with Christ.

Here are two other examples we can look at. First, from the Old Testament, we learn about Solomon’s massive wealth and military strength in his collection of chariots. Today’s reader might be tempted to scan past the inventory that Solomon had that is recorded in 1 Kings 4:25. “Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses.” You might likely view these chariots and horses as primitive as compared to the weapons we have today but this is the exact opposite that the author is trying to convey. In Solomon’s day the chariot was the most advanced tool of war. “Many of the biblical references to chariots occur in the books of 1–2 Kings. In those books, the references include battles as well as the number of chariots certain kings had under their command. For example, 1 Kings 10:26 records that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and 1 Kgs 10:29 lists the cost of a chariot as 600 shekels of silver—an explicatory note concerning Solomon’s wealth.”2

Map of Israel

1st Century Israel

Moving back to the New Testament, in John 5:1 we read, “Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.” It has been pointed out by many today that Galilee (where Jesus was coming from) is north of Jerusalem. Skeptics will ask, “how could Jesus go up if he was traveling south?” The answer is geography. When Jesus left the region of Samaria to go to Jerusalem he traveled up (in elevation) to Jerusalem. For those who live in the united states, do not get a picture of the Appalachian or Rocky Mountains. The mountains in Israel are much milder, but they are big enough to warrant the description of traveling up. Coincidentally this is also why when Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) where the man travels “down” the road to Samaria. The people in the first century knew nothing about magnetic north or compass headings but, knowing geography answers the question.

Look for more historical context in future posts and feel free to share what you are reading or if you have a question about a passage in the Bible.

 

1) David Seal, “Laodicea,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

2) Matthew James Hamilton, “Chariot,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).


Translations: Which One is the Right One?

January 25, 2020

How many times have you heard that we can’t trust the Bible because there are so many different versions or that it has been changed multiple times? Maybe you have heard someone else make a comment about a translation either good or bad? Even worse, skeptics or unbelievers will make a claim that some word in our current versions today was not in the original version adding doubt to what it says. With so many different versions which one is right or should you choose? In this blog, we will look at some history behind the translations, the differences between them, and some basic terminology you will want to be familiar with. We will dig deeper into this issue in a later post.

Logos Screen Shot

A Text Comparison on 1 Sam. 28:13 in Logos Bible Software.

First, lets start with a few basic terms.

Autograph – The original document that was written.

Manuscript – A hand written copy of the original document. The copy could either be a copy from an autograph or another manuscript. There are other types of copies that were made (minuscules, codexs, and unicals) but we will save those for later.

Textual Variant – A single difference between two manuscript copies. They could be as little as a single letter or word and occasionally longer phrases, or entire section.

Family of Manuscripts – A group of handwritten manuscripts that share characteristics and similar textual variants usual by a location.

Translation – A copy of a text from language to another. There are some translations that keep the same original language but cover a longer period of time and are considered a translation by the larger changing of words and idioms because of their defining cultural differences. For Example: The 1611 King James Version is a different translation than the 1900 KJV translation that most people use today.

The best option is to read the Bible is in its original languages (Greek and Hebrew) but for anyone who has not studied the languages their only option left is to read a translation.  Are you ready for this next statement? “There are no perfect translations.” Any time you go from one language to another it is not a literal word to word translation.

There are a number of reasons why translations differ from each other. The first reason is because of the theory of translation that is used. Translators can aim toward a  formal equivalent style (word for word) where they try to match words directly from the original language to the receptor language. These are often called “literal” translations but, remember this is not completely accurate as literal word for word translation is impossible. The KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, and Interlinear are examples of formal equivalents.

Translators can aim toward a dynamic equivalent or functional equivalent style (phrase for phrase) where they attempt to convey the message in a more readable manner through grammar, language, and style. For examples they may update biblical weights, lengths, and time measurements or change cultural idioms to match the current idioms understood today. The NLT, NIV, TNIV, NRSV, and CSB are examples of dynamic equivalents often used today.

Last, translators can aim toward a free translation or paraphrased version. According to Fee and Stuart, a free translation is “the attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the original. A free translation, sometimes also called a paraphrase, tries to eliminate as much of the historical distance as possible and still be faithful to the original text.[1] The Living Bible and the Message Bible are examples of a free translation.

Translation Continium Chart

A second reason why Bible translations differ is because of exegetical decisions that the translator(s) make based on the language and the context that it is within. The screenshot above with 1 Samuel 28:13 is a perfect example of this reason. Both the NLT and ESV use the word “god” in their translations while the NIV uses the word “ghostly figure” and the NKJV uses “spirit.” The original Hebrew word used is “elohim” and you might be familiar with this word as a name for god. This is true a vast majority of the time but occasionally elohim can can also be used in other senses as well meaning angel, spirit, or a spiritual being.

Try This: How many different ways can you use the word “hand” in a sentence? I can think of about eight different ways the word is used and means something different in the context its used.

Another place in Scripture where this exegetical decision-making is found is in Psalm 8:5. The different translations use “angels” (NIV, NKJV), “God” (NLT), or “heavenly beings” (ESV). But what makes it interesting is that the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8:5 in Hebrews 2:7 and uses the Greek translation of the Old Testament (The Septuagint) which uses the distinct Greek word for “angels.”

Textual Criticism is another reason that some translations vary in their wording. You can imagine that because we have so many manuscript copies of the Old and New Testament documents that there are quite a number of textual variants between the copies over the hundreds and even thousands of years that have passed. It is not my aim to dive into a deep discussion on textual criticism in this post, I will save that for another post. Because of the differences between some manuscripts or family of manuscripts sometimes translators are forced to make a decision about which word to use because of a discrepancy. However, there is no reason to fear these textual variants. 99.5 percent of them are missing/added letters that might change a word into another word.

Try This: How many English words can you change into a different word by adding or deleting one letter? Example: Bran –> Brain or There –>Here.

The remaining half a percent of variants are minor and do not change any doctrine or theology that the Bible teaches. The translators will examine the remaining texts in question and choose the word they believe the original text their manuscript represents. Again, have no fear, most modern Bibles today will put the opposing variant in footnotes at the bottom of the page in your Bible so you can see the differences yourself. This gives us confidence and comfort knowing exactly what we have.

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Footnote on Colossians 1:14

These variants usual are separated by the different families of manuscripts because of the “inbreeding” that occurs copying other manuscripts in nearby locations. There are generally 3 families that are recognized by location; Western (mostly Latin) texts from Italy and the West, texts from around Asia Minor in the east (Byzantium, in what is now Turkey), and those from Egypt, particularly Alexandria. The Alexandrian texts are currently the oldest surviving manuscripts (thanks to the dry Egyptian climate) but the Byzantine manuscripts are far greater in number and can allow greater accuracy in seeking the original text. The majority of current scholarship leans toward the Alexandrian manuscripts as the more accurate.

The example in the picture above, from Colossians 1:14.

Col 1 14

The KJV and NKJV both have the phrase “through his blood” while the other translations do not. This is because the KJV and NKJV are translations build from later copies of the Western manuscripts and the Textus Receptus (TR) which carried over 1,000 years of copyist errors before many more older manuscripts that have now been discovered. Many “King James only” loyalist have accused the other translations of “taking the blood out” of their translations. Not to fear, the blood is in all the manuscripts in Ephesians 1:7.

One final area that causes translations to differ is the constant changing through time that words seem to undergo. A classic example is 1 Peter 2:12 which in the KJV the word “conversation” is used and in newer English versions the word “conduct” is used instead.  This is because in the time that the KJV was written the people would have understood conversation to be how they conducted themselves while today we would understand conversation to refer specifically to speech and not actions.

You may have seen the article floating around social media about the word “homosexual” being added to the Bible. In Greek, Paul uses two words that make up the English phrase  “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV).  Arsenokoitai and malakoi are the two terms that Paul uses.  One for the male active partner and the other for the passive partner. So in the KJV (before the term was coined by a German psychologist) you have the phrase “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” In later translations the word “homosexuals” replaces the long phrase in the KJV translation.  In Greek Arsenokoitai literally means “men who bed men.” If you want to dig deeper on this subject you can read my blog Open Letter to Bishop Richard Wilke here.

There are other reasons why translations may differ but these are the main reasons. Now lets finally get to the questions I posed at the start of this blog. Which translation is right? Are some better than others?  Which one should I use? Answer: It depends. Obviously, there are some bad translations, like the New World Translation (NWT) that is used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to support their view that Jesus is not God. Another, the Queen James Bible (also known as the gay Bible) which was translated to take the recent liberal interpretation of anti-homosexual passages and twist them toward an affirming position.  I am not familiar with every English translation (there are over 100!) but the main ones I have referenced in this blog are solid. I do lean to the more modern translations and not on the KJV or NKJV because recent archeological discoveries have gifted us with more and more manuscripts from which to compare with.

Which one you choose may depend on what you want to do with your reading. If you are wanting to read in a more devotional manner you might pick a free or functionally equivalent translation so you can read without having to stop and look up the meanings of things. If you are wanting to dive deep and study slowly you probably would prefer a formal equivalent to get as close to the text as possible. When I am studying or preparing for a Bible study or sermon I like to use two or three different Bibles side by side. This way I can see the differences and something that might be difficult in one translation is explained through the wording of another. If you are memorizing Scripture you might want to stick to one translation consistently. Many people enjoy the poetic feel of the KJV over the more modern versions for this.

When choosing a translation keep in mind that some are translated by a single person and others might be translated by a team or committee. Those who use a committee are more likely to debate the hard choices of words and will often put the minority opinion wording in a footnote at the bottom. It’s always better to have multiple minds looking at an issue unless you know those minds have an agenda ahead of time.

Finally, there are some recent translations that have gone to a gender neutral approach. The NIV 2011 edition is one example. Where Paul or another author would address a group of male and female believers as “brothers,” the newer versions will replace this with “brothers and sisters” or other places that generically point to all believers in the male pronouns will use gender neutral pronouns like “they” or “persons.” There are some issues when doing this because it often changes the pronouns from singular to plural by necessity. John 8 is an example of this, “Let him (singular) who is without sin cast the first stone” becomes “person” because “them” is plural. The main point is to be aware of these changes as you study.

Feel free to share what translation you like to use and why you like that translation. There is much more on this topic and we have barely scratched the surface on this. There will be other posts later dealing with specific things in the future.

[1] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Won this Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 41.


Just Start Reading

January 20, 2020

Hey Friends, Happy New Year!

Its a new year and I wanted to encourage you to go on a journey with me through the Bible this year. I have recently changed the focus of this blog from apologetics to focusing on the Bible. Did you know that only about five percent of Americans will read the entire Bible in there lifetime? Many people who call themselves “Christians” do not even read the Bible very much outside of a church setting.

Last year I interacted with many progressive Christians and some atheists. I found that they both have a similar view of the Bible. They doubted it was true, inerrant, or inspired by God. Often they would misunderstand a passage or the culture in which it was written in. I decided to start creating blogs and videos that I could use to teach others about God’s Word.

If you have never read through the Bible before I would challenge you to give it a try. If you read about 3.3 chapters a day you can get through all 1,189 chapters in the Bible in a year. For some people (like me) three chapters is a lot for your mind to tackle in one sitting, just lower the bar and read a single chapter. Several years ago I took almost four years to read through the Bible at one chapter a day, but it allowed me to reflect on more of what I read each day.

If you have never read the Bible before or are unfamiliar with Christianity I would encourage you to read the Gospel of John first. It will give you a good summary of Jesus teaching and life. You can also start in Genesis because so much of the rest of the Bible relates to it.

IMG_9813IMG_9816

There are so many tools you can use to help you keep track of your Bible reading and to help you understand it as you go through it. There are reading plans you can print out ans keep in your Bible.  Click here to download a Bible Reading Chart.

There are apps you can use on your phones and tablets to read and they will automatically keep up with what you have read.

Finally, there are websites you can access if you want a little more back story or information about what you are reading.

The Bible is the number one best seller of all books each year. Many people who read it claim that it has changed their life. So many other religions want to make a claim about who Jesus is. They say he is just a wise sage, good moral, teacher, or maybe even a prophet. Why not go directly to the source and see what Jesus taught and how he lived.

Jesus in Other Religions

Feel free to reply and share what you are reading?  If you have ever read through the Bible or attempted to before. I am currently reading 2 chapters in the Old Testament, 1 chapter in the New Testament, and part of a chapter in the wisdom books (psalms, proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.) this year.


The Hunger Games and Christianity

April 23, 2012

I saw the hunger games last weekend on a date night with my wife and then again this weekend with my daughter.  Even though I haven’t read the book yet, I had seen the previews and it looked interesting and full of action.  It did not disappoint, and I enjoyed the movie both times.

WARNING: If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet I want to warn you that I might be sharing some spoiler information that would ruin your plans to enjoy it first.

The movie overall seemed to be making a statement about control and power in life.  It would be interesting to look up the author, Suzanne Collins and see what her views were about different subjects in politics, religion, and life.  I wonder what kind of statement she is attempting to make about our current culture.  I think there are several angles at which you can take the scenes and lines and interpret them a certain way.  You could make an argument for the voice of the media today, perhaps a political statement, you can draw a parallel between the different economic classes, and a few other topics I’m sure.  Today I want to address the Hunger Games and my Christian faith, since I relate everything to my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ why not relate a movie and see what conversations we can stir up.

The first thing I want to bring up is the general idea for the Hunger Games all together.  The idea that one day in our future we might find ourselves in some similar situation with a twisted goal of survival to the death as a reality game seems so foreign to me, but then I question, could we find ourselves as a culture doing something like that in the future?  Will Survivor go into its 50th season with a shocking new twist?  I hope not!  Pondering the Hunger Games I think that this type of behavior that we credit back to the gladiators of Rome, but I have to say that I don’t think we as humans, still value life much more than we did thousands of years ago.  Sure our war habits have changed into more modern practices, but the 20th century has been one of the bloodiest centuries since recorded history.  In David Berlinski’s book “The Devils Delusion” Berlinski spends 3 pages totalling up the amount of deaths in just the last century. 1    Dare I even mention the issue of abortion and that since the Roe. v Wade Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in 1973 there has been an estimated 50 million abortions in the US alone.   Yes, I went there.  The right to life is one of the single most important issues for many Christians today.  There is also something to be said about how the tributes are paraded in proudly before the masses weeks before their own deaths.    I’m curious, where do you think we are as a nation, a planet with the value of human life?

The second things that caught my eyes and ears was a conversation that Peeta has with Katniss the night before the games begin.   Petta says

“I don’t want them to change me in there  Turn me into something I’m not.  I’m sure I’ll kill just like everyone else… only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… show the Capital that they don’t own me, that I’m more than a piece in their Games.  If I’m gonna die, I still want to be me.” 2

As a Christian I often think that we are in a battle not to compromise what we hold to be TRUTH in life and no matter what the rest of the world does or deems acceptable we strive to live our life for God no matter what everyone else does.  There are so many scriptures that speak to this challenge.

Ezekiel, one of God’s prophets warns the city of Jerusalem that they have fallen into a compromise with the nations around them and because they have failed to follow the Lord, the Lord himself will be against them.  (Ezekiel 5:6-8)  Would we rather have it our way, like Burger King or have Almighty God against us?    There is the more-widely known Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and a few chapters later we are told whom we are to conform to.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29

Mind you that, I am not preaching this blog from some state of perfection.  The process to conform to the likeness of the Son, Jesus is a life-long journey.  One filled with many traps and snares that I have fallen into before.  I am a nobody, just trying to help anybody find the peace and joy in life on the way to eternal life with God.  I am thankful for the help that God gives me in the journey.  He doesn’t just leave me to my own.

1 Corinthians 10:13 the Bible promises us “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a wayout so that you can stand up under it.”

The last thing I will mention is this post is at the very beginning of the movie where the tributes are chosen in the Reaping.  All the teens that are of the appropriate age are herded to the Reaping where a boy and girl of each district are chosen by the people of the Capital.  Katniss has a sister named Primrose who was chosen to represent the 12th district and in a move of compassion, Katniss runs forward and volunteers to take her place.  According to the law, someone had to be chosen as a tribute from each district, and it was strictly enforced every year, for the past 75 years.  No doubt you can see the great parallel between mankind and God.  God is Holy and Just and must punish sin.  It is His law.  As Jesus stepped forth and left His Heavenly home to volunteer His own self to be willing to die for all of mankind.  I would encourage you to grab you Bible and read Philippians 2:3-11.  It is a great picture of what Jesus Christ did for us.

There are more things I would love to bring out, perhaps in another post later.  If you have some other thoughts relating the Hunger Games to the Christian worldview or your faith, please feel free to add them.  As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.

End Notes:

1. Berlinski, David – The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretenses, pages 22-24

2. Collins, Suzanne – The Hunger Games, pages 171-172


Misconceptions

October 10, 2011

A  few days ago a question was posed to students in a secular student alliance club  at a local high school in my area.   The question was “What will it take for you to believe in the existence of a god?”  Answers begin to come it and last I checked there was 230 comments on the question.  As I read through the answers and discussion that followed I noticed how misconceptions about God, the Bible, and Church can keep many people from having a theistic worldview and from trusting in the Christian worldview.  Here’s what  I mean.

One student answered, “To believe in the existence of an all-powerful god with the general well-being of humans in mind as most universalizing religions do, I would have to see evidence of a world with less… ‘bad’…”  I believe this student has a misunderstanding of why the world is bad.  Perhaps he thinks God is not great enough to create people who are perfect, or that perhaps God is to blame for the bad in the world.  This is clearly a misunderstanding of the free will that God gives us as humans and the sinful nature that we are born with.  God doesn’t create evil, he only makes it possible.  This is a misunderstanding of human nature.

I have already covered the misconception about faith, it you missed it you can click here to read about it.

Another student says “For me to worship that entity in addition to believing it exists, I’d also need evidence of the power of prayer, heaven, or hell”  Among other things, this student is looking at the power of prayer as a possible proof.  What do most people think about prayer?  Is it like a magic genie where God grants you whatever you want?  Do we as Christians push this thought by our words and actions?  We know God answers prayer, but we know that He doesn’t always answer them how we want.  We also know what the Bible says that we pray we must pray in Jesus name and that we must align our requests with the holy scriptures.

A student that I have been talking with recently made this comment, “The holy scriptures that people study today are translations of the originals (which we don’t have) and as we all know, things are always lost in translation.”  he went on to add “the original documents were written centuries after the stories that they depict took place. Doesn’t this make you wonder about the validity of the words that you’re studying?”  This student has received some faulty information that I have seen before.  Unfortunately there are people who want to misrepresent the truth, on both sides of the debate I might add.

There were some great questions and comments made by the students, some of them I could see are genuinely searching God and welcomed any thoughts by the Christians that interacted with them.

So what do you do to clean up the misconceptions?  Here are a few suggestions.  Know what the truth is for yourself.  Do the research, look at the evidence, and be able to communicate with others the evidence in a way that is easy and makes sense.  You should also know what others are saying against the truth and be prepared to respond to it.  Winston Churchill once said “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”   For those who know the truth and yet try to cover it up or repress it, do the most damage.

It is amazing to me how many people have already made up their mind about  the validity of the Bible, but have never read more than a few chapters of it for themselves.  I do understand why some may have difficulties with it.  Miracles for example may be one reason.  In the near weeks we will look at the miracles within the Bible.  Maybe they even read through it once completely, and think that they have a good grasp on it, that might be more dangerous.  I’ve been reading and studying it for about 25 years now and I have much to learn of it myself.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.


Building a Firm Case for Christianity

October 4, 2011

Once you know what people believe  you will know where to start building a firm case for a Christian worldview.   If you missed the Conversational apologetics post I suggest you read it.  It will help you discover what people believe, or what worldview they have.  As a disciple of Christ we all know that it is our responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus with those who ask us about our faith.   You may even have the desire to do so, and have been preparing for an opportunity to do so when the chance comes.  Where do you start?  Should you take a straight path to the cross?  Should you share Bible verses with them?  While it is never wrong to share the message of the cross with anyone, there may be a few other helpful points to consider as you began building your case for Christianity.

If you look at the illustration below, it shows you the progression that it takes to hold a Christian worldview.  You cannot hold a Christian worldview until you move from an atheist position.   Similarly, you cannot hold a Christian worldview, until  you know what type of theistic position you hold.  Do you believe in one God (monotheistic), more than one god (polytheistic), God is in everything (pantheistic), etc…  Likewise, you will have difficulty trying to convince someone that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if they don’t believe that a God or gods exist.  The same way someone will have difficulty with the claim that Jesus is God, if they don’t trust the Bible as a reliable source.

As you talk and ask questions to others about what they believe you will discover what they believe and where they are in the progression above.   Then you will know where to start with helping them along the way towards a Biblical worldview.  A friend of mine, Chris Sherrod, who teaches apologetics and has been published in several books uses an illustration of a set of pillars to show how the different evidence builds upon more evidence to provide a solid case for Christianity.

Building a Case for Christianity

Over the next weeks and months we will begin to break down the 4 pillars above and examine the evidence that God has given us.
As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Why I believe

September 28, 2011

Why I BelieveStarting off from the gate I want to summarize why I believe, what I believe about the existence of God and my faith in the Christian God of the Bible, and His incarnate name given in the New Testament, Jesus.  This blog is meant to be a general one and I will spend the next months and years breaking it out piece by piece so that it can be swallowed and enjoyed bit by bit.

After studying many of the worldviews through books, articles, talking with people in person, I have concluded that my Christian world view is the most comprehensive, complete, and logical worldview of all the many different worldviews including atheism.  While it still holds some difficulties and challenges, it stands tall over all the other worldviews.  In no particular order, here is Why I Believe…

1. Faith.  Yes Faith, there is a dual definition of faith floating out in the sea of apologetics, in short a blind faith and a Biblical faith.  I will explain this in greater detail in a soon coming post, but in short I believe Christianity takes and uses both those types of faith. I am convinced that most people do not understand the true definition of Faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

2. Creation.  When I examine the world in which I live, I see evidence for a beginning of the universe, I see intelligence, and a mind behind the matter.  I have not found any answer in the material world that points to other trustworthy conclusions.

3. The Human Mind and Soul.  Why are we conscience? Why are we special?  Why do we have the ability to reason and think?  Why do we have  moral absolutes?  How do we judge what good and evil is?    In a world without God, these things are not possible.   The Bible describes the human condition perfectly.

4. The Bible.  The Bible makes the bold claim to be written  inspired word of God, but should we just except the Bible as God’s Word, because the Bible tells us so?  The Bible is a reliable book that is written in many different styles, by more than 40 authors, on 3 continents, over a period of about 1,500 years.  It is the most unique book ever written and for centuries it has stood the test of time and scrutiny by many.  When you compare the Bible to all other religious books, the Bible stands tall.

5. Historical Jesus.  Jesus was a real person, despite the constant attempts to blur the evidence.  But, Jesus made some bold claims about who He was and what His mission was about.  There are many sources, outside of the Bible that confirm the existence of Jesus and record some of the claims He made that are in the Bible.  Christians can even exclude even the evidence of the Bible and some of the other questionable secular documents and still make a case for Jesus existence, that is solid.

6. The Church. Yes, the church.  I realize that sometimes the church (people) can look pretty bad and can be rather disappointing, but the church (the people) has also made some great strides and impacts in the world in where we live.  Christians have been of the forefront leading the charge in several advancements for good in our world.  Slavery, Women’s rights, and even Science.

7. Religion.  Religion is mans attempt to come to God.  Religion shows how we have a yearning to get to God, just like we have a desire for food or procreation.  God gives us a desire that can be met by Him just like finding food and companionship.  Even though many people have wrongly been lead into believing in something that they haven’t researched, the desire for God is there.    I have always preferred the phrase, relationship over religion.

8.  The Empty Tomb.  Perhaps the greatest evidence for my belief.  The resurrection is key to Christianity.  Without it, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 , my faith is in dead.  When you examine the evidence for the resurrection you are not left with any other choices that make any sense at all.  Jesus made claims that would rise from the dead, something that  charlatan would not dare to do.

9. Personal Experience.   I realize that my own personal experience is not as strong a proof as some of the other items listed above.  For example, I could say that God answered a prayer request of mine, a Mormon could say the same thing.  Some personal experiences are subjective.  But, this doesn’t mean I should throw out the personal experience all together.

Let me stop you before you start to pick apart these individual items by saying that no single one of these proves anything.  No, I cannot in a denotative way point to God and say “see, there He is” like I might point out Bob who fixed my car or Larry who made me a sandwich.  (I will address why I think that this is perfectly how God designed it to be in a later post.)  Let me point out that each of these individual areas lead or point to a particular conclusion that God does exist, and that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  It is the sum of the conclusions that add up far better than any other worldview.  Biblical Christianity uses all the different methods of science, philosophy, reason, and reality to build a strong case for a Christian worldview.  No other worldview can claim that which Christianity does, they either fail in arguments in one or more areas by contradicting themselves or by not being able to produce the evidence that Christianity does.

If you are searching for answers, and want to start looking at different worldview, that is great, can I offer a suggestion?  Start with Christianity.  There is something about Jesus that most of the other major worldviews want to include him in their teaching.  To Muslims, Jesus was one of 28 prophets, In Hinduism Jesus is a good moral teacher, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons view Him as the Son of God, by which we can earn our salvation.  Jesus is the central feature in Christianity, not only because of his teachings but because of who He is, and claimed to be, God.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.  I am looking forward to the breakdown of these items that I have listed above.  In my next few posts I will give some basic information about apologetics and lay a foundation and order down for looking at the evidence piece by piece.