(On this Easter morning, I thought I’d give you a repost from last May. Enjoy.)
On Sunday, I preached from Acts 2 on the events surrounding Pentecost. During the sermon, I discussed Dr. Gary Habermas’ 12 Minimal Facts approach to proving the historical reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Habermas has studied the resurrection for nearly 30 years, and most scholars consider him to be the world’s leading expert on the topic. He is well-known in philosophical circles, and is a recognized scholar.
In 2000, Habermas, a professor of philosophy at Liberty University, decided he needed to update his bibliography. As he was working through his material, he began to notice a pattern. There were certain perspectives that everyone he was reading shared, and this started him on a project of cataloguing all the material discussing the resurrection of Jesus written since 1975. The research included everything written in French, German, and English. It included sources written by scholars from all across the theological and philosophical spectrum: Evangelicals, liberal Protestants, Catholics, and atheists. Five years, and 2400 sources later, Habermas has compiled a list of 12 minimal facts related to the resurrection on which 95% of all scholars agree.
Everyone believes something, and we believe it for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes we believe things for good reasons, and sometimes for bad. I know a psychologist with whom I often speak about various issues, and not long ago we were talking about the role of emotions in determining our commitment to particular ideas or beliefs. She made the comment to me that if someone has a strong emotional commitment to an idea, there is almost nothing you can do to change his mind. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think there is some truth to it.
Emotions Can Feed Self-righteousness
My maternal grandfather was an abusive alcoholic. He was this way for my mother’s entire childhood, and ultimately died from a combination of liver disease and lung cancer. He drank and smoked himself to death and died in 1987 or 1988. The damage he did to his family along the way has had ramifications that ripple down through time and affirms for me that the sins of the fathers are indeed handed down to their children. Continue reading
Today I repost this discussion from Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog.
At issue is a discussion about the violence committed by the church in the past, and how atheist use that against Christianity while excusing away the atrocities of known atheist regimes. This is a fairly common tactic employed by atheist apologists. I’ve heard several atheists try to use the historical fact of the church’s sometime horrible activity to invalidate religion wholesale. McKnight will point out the obvious inconsistencies in their argumentation.
McKnight’s summary of the book being discussed is good, but I found the discussion thread particularly interesting. Take the time to read through the comments.
Dan Wallace was a professor of mine back in seminary. He is a very talented scholar, and considered by many to be a leading expert in the text of New Testament scripture. In this 36 minute video he is addressing the student body of Dallas Seminary during a chapel service. He is discussing the field of textual criticism and how we can be confident in the text we have.
Doubt is one of those scary words isn’t it? I remember as a kid growing up in church being very surprised when I heard someone had doubts about their faith in Christ. I was even a little scared. Why would someone doubt? Is there a possibility that Christianity is indeed false? If this person, whom I admire, acknowledges having doubts what does this mean for me? Sometimes we respond to this fear by closing our ears. Sometimes we respond by shouting down those questions. Most often, I fear, we make those who have questions and doubts feel as if they are somehow spiritually deficient.