14 January 2009

Assurance to all

by Frank Turk

I want to relay a fictional conversation to you, between me at age 43 and me at age 21. I'll call the me of today "ME", and the me 20-odd years ago "HIM".
ME: 'sup dude? Long time no see.

HIM: Do I know you? You look familiar, but pretty fat.

ME: heh. Yeah. Listen -- I have something to tell you which is the most important thing you'll ever hear, and I need you to take me seriously for about 15 minutes, and then you can go about your business.

HIM: I'll give you 5 minutes, old dude. Then I have to see a guy about a Long Island Iced tea.

ME: OK, then listen -- How would you know if you were living your life the right way?

HIM: I'd be rich?

ME: No seriously -- how do you know if you're a good person?

HIM: I am. I'm good -- everybody says so.

ME: What if we compare you to God's law?

HIM: Um, what?

ME: What if we open up the 10 Commandme ...

HIM: (interrupting) Hang on, bub. You mean the 10 Commandments that Moses got from God on that mountain?

ME: yes -- see, I knew you'd know what I ...

HIM: (interrupting again) No, listen: don't judge me by mythology, OK? In order for me to accept the stone tablets as a source of information, I have to accept all kinds of other stuff because the stone tablets are meaningless without that other stuff. Like the plagues in Egypt -- and that thing with the Red Sea.

I don't believe in those miracles, so don't bring that law out to me. It's a fiction just like the Flood is a fiction and all that other junk.
Before we go after this, this is not a slam of WOTM -- it is actually an argument that WOTM is way more effective than demanding the belief in all OT miracles. See -- if "Old Me" hadn't taken the bait of "young Me" to distract from the fact of God's judgment, "Old Me" would not have been immediately outmanned.

So what do we do here? If you run around the internet, you'll find dozens of people -- well-meaning, God-fearing people -- who will at this point begin the apologetics for the supernatural. Defending the historicity of the Red Sea parting or whatever.

And that's what I was on about last week: seeking to make people believe the whole Bible before they can believe the Gospel is a mistake. And while we had a good little run of kudos in the meta, eventually someone said (in words to this effect), "Cent: there is no Gospel without all the miracles of the OT. If someone doesn't believe in the Flood or something, they don't believe the Gospel."

Well, that's ridiculous -- and I promised one (and here let me say it clearly: only one) follow up to that post so my point can be crystal clear.

(1) There is a difference between accepting the whole Bible as inerrant and sufficient and believing and repenting. The latter may (and in my opinion, will) lead to the former. The former is not required in order to do the latter.

(2) There is a difference between accepting the authority of the Bible and knowing for certain that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. The latter is apparently (Acts 2) the right offer of the Gospel; the former is a logical consequence of the latter.

(3) Proving any particular miracle (save two) is historically substantiated doesn't save anybody, and getting derailed by evidentialist apologetics when you are really seeking to preach the Gospel is really taking the unbeliever's bait to talk about his religion rather than talk about your good news.

Look -- don't trust me. Trust Paul.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ...
Now, before we get to what Paul did in fact say, let's think on this: he's not talking to Jews here -- not to people who had the books of Moses and the Prophets pretty much ingrained into them culturally. He's talking to the philosophers of Athens -- the pagans who seek an agrument. And there he doesn't start with the Ark of Noah. he starts like this:
"Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you."
And if you miss it, this is his argument from Romans 1 sets forth positively as a message to them rather than as a message against them. That's not to say that Paul affirmed that they had a right view of God: it's to say that Paul is telling them that they have the good sense to know that they have missed something, and he's here to tell them what they have missed. And notice that he doesn't then go after the miracle of manna from heaven:
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man ..."
Now think on this: there's no question that Paul is here appealing to Genesis here, right? God made Adam -- and in a second he'll strike the drum of "in His own image" -- and that's all he says about that, not trying to force the Greeks to accept, by the right authority of Scripture, a 6-day creation. He simply appeals to the fact of creation, and that man is created as is everything else. Watch:
"And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him."
That underlined bit is rather clever of Paul because it looks back at his initial plea that they know something of God. But he underscores that God wants them to know something about Him.
"Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

'In him we live and move and have our being'

as even some of your own poets have said,

'For we are indeed his offspring.'"
See: made in His image. That is, God is knowable because He made us in order that we should know Him.
"Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man."
And I think this is especially good here -- because Paul closes the gap from his opening statement -- by arguing that if God made everything, we shouldn't think of him as a picture in our minds or merely a picture we have made out of metal or stone: we should think of Him as a God who has made us children.
"The times of ignorance ...
That is, the times past when we were stupid enough to think of Him as merely in a temple, merely as a statue, merely as some thing and not our creator and father.
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed;"
Compare that fully to, for example, the Way of the Master. The reason Paul's message matters is that men are under condemnation.
"and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Can you really not see it here? The only miracle Paul makes necessary to receive the Gospel is the miracle of the resurrection. The only assurance we can have that God's judgment is coming is that Jesus was raised from the dead.

And, of course, the Greeks laughed at him for this -- for a host of reasons. But Paul didn't then break out with the evidentialist posturing. The necessary miracle of the faith Paul was evangelizing to was this resurrection from the dead by a man named Jesus.

See: the Greeks demand an argument, but Paul didn't give them their idolatrous worship at an intellectual altar. He gave them the only miracle necessary to be saved from the coming judgment.

You should be at least that wise to do the same.







44 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

At least you were a snappy dresser.

Phil said...

Great stuff,thanks. Reminds me of something I heard once, when I read an atheist relaying his annoyance at some creationists here in the UK who were supposed to be telling kids in schools that they'd go to hell if they didn't accept a 6day creation. I think their premise was you have to before you can believe the gospel. I think this is believism. The gospel is the power of God to salvation,and it is not a revelation of the sins of man,but the righteousness of God given as a gift to sinful man. The Holy Spirit actively convicts the world of sin (noun then verb)concerning their unbelief. This cuts to the core of the matter, beyond what the law and creational evidence points to,but can't deal with,even for adequate conviction. Even here,evidences just 'stop the mouth' concerning what's already known...thinking out loud.

DJP said...

FRANK TURK:

He's on a whole different channel...

...but you just have to watch!

Boerseuntjie said...

AWESOME!

That puts a nail in that coffin.

Clear Biblical repentance and faith is in the Person and Work of Christ ALone, not in the Sufficiency of Scripture; yet the former WILL inevitably lead to the latter.

May we do well to remember the POINT of salvation from sin and it's curse as the MAIN REASON to trust and repent.

Soli Deo Gloria.

donsands said...

Good teaching.

Spiritually dead people need to hear the life giving power of the Gospel.

A friend of mine is in Nepal, and has preached the Gospel to Nepali people, who have never heard who Jesus is. And yet there are converts. God's Gospel is the power that saves a soul dead in sin.

David said...

Most excellent. Go forth and multiply.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

There are some historical-critical scholars and pastors (who call themselves Christians and are known as Christians, mostly liberal mainliners and emergers) who accept the resurrection of Christ and yet they will deny many of the other miracles.

They then teach that to others.

Good or not good?

gpauley said...

I agree--mostly--with the feel of these posts. Too much time establishing things for the sake of establishing them. Becomes sort of "apologetics of apologetics." At the same time, there are cases where someone runs into a "stopper" issue that keeps him from even glancing at the Gospel idea. Then the apologist has an opportunity to engage. I'll never understand opposition to this kind of apologetic engagement.

Euaggelion said...

Can I speak as one who was saved by the WOTM presentation of the Gospel 8 years ago? Yes I realize that God is the one who saves and without His calling me I would not have accepted the Gospel. But, for me the WOTM presentation was exactly what I needed.

When I was in my twenties I was much like you were. More worried about where the beer was than a book written by men who claim to know God. I looked at myself as being a good person. I never killed anyone right? So I was ok. (forgetting about drunkenness and fornication...but those aren't that bad anyway...right?) And God is all forgiving right? ....WRONG, but let me continue.

At 25 years old I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant, so I did the right thing and married her. My heart just melted when my daughter was born, she had me wrapped around her finger the minute she was born. This is the beginning of God preparing me, watching the miracle of a child being born. In the next year and a half my grandfather (an atheist/agnostic) died and our second child (our son)was born. I had seen life-death-life in a short period of time, so I began searching for the Truth. I started going to churches looking for Truth. But, none of it made real sense. No substance. Why are we here? Who is this God?

Then at the age of 27 years old God lead me to a new job (even though I had no idea God was leading). There was this guy I made friends with, mainly because he was the one training me to do my new job. He intrigued me, he would actually pray before eating and talked at lunch about the Bible with other people. He seemed serious about this stuff. After a while he gave me an MP3 of something called Hells Best Kept Secret. So, I decided to listen to it.

That night, I saw my sinfulness. When Ray Comfort went through the 10 commandments and then used the court case analogy with Judgment Day, I saw myself there. God used WOTM to prick my conscience. I didn't walk down during and alter call and shake a preachers hand. I didn't say a little prayer that night, it was weeks later before I actually prayed. But, that MP3 lingered in my mind, the thought that I might actually be guilty of violating God's law was nagging. Then a few weeks later, I submitted myself to a Holy and Righteous God. Knowing that I was unworthy of salvation, but pleading for it.

I'm not saying WOTM works with everyone, (actually it will not work with anybody unless God is calling them) but it did for me. One thing I've realized over the past 8 years studying scripture is that my best I'm able to do in presenting the Gospel is worthless and sinful if God is not working.

DJP said...

Thanks for your testimony. I appreciated and enjoyed it. Praise God!

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Greg Bahnsen has a great appendix on Acts 17 from the presuppositional apologetic approach in his book, Always Read. The book is a must-read, and a valuable introduction to presuppositional apologetics, Van Til style.
John Whitcomb's testimony of presup. apologetics is also valuable in this regard.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

That should be, "Always Ready."

CH said...

Frank,

I'm with you 100% so my question is concerned with the practicality of this rather than the usefullness/supreriority of the approach...

In a situation like you described how would you keep the conversation veering off into a full on defense of the whole of scripture? What if, after presenting the gospel (using the WOTM method), a person rejected the fact that Christ is raised from the dead based upon a rejection of miracles.

I think its such a knee jerk reaction to take the bait and get caught up in an argument about miracles and the supernatural. But I would love to hear how you would suggest we avoid such a trap.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

I think anyone who says, "Jesus is Lord and Christ", but then says, "but I don't follow what he says," is kidding himself.

I think we have to get to the place where we recognize there is a difference between (for example) Cornelius who is converted from paganism and is a Christian right now for the first time and Timothy who has been brought up in the faith and knows the whole Scripture -- and is also a Christian.

The process of sanctification makes people not identical in their maturity. And it's somewhat insidious the demand that all people in faith be identical in maturity right now. that's works righteousness.

However, we have to each press to maturity. If right now today you are a Christian and you "know for certain that Jesus is both Lord and Christ", but you don't want Him to be, for example, Lord of the moral law, that's your problem, and not Jesus' problem. You need to admit to somebody -- yourself and God in the best case -- that you have unbelief which needs help. And that help is not "more evidence". It is "more faith".

It won't happen overnight. if you press close to God, however, and immerse yourself in His word, it will happen eventually.

Frank Turk said...

CH:

There was a time when I would apologize for miracles -- because let's face it: in the popular culture, the miraculous is in the same bucket as ghosts and witches and voodoo.

Today I would never apologize for the miraculous -- I challenge the question at face value, as I did with the one called "Drew" here in our meta over the last two weeks.

See: the question of "I reject miracles" employs a skeptical epistemology which that person doesn't use anyplace else in life. He uses a cell phone and doesn't have any idea how the tower system works to locate his phone and identify him so he can receive calls anywhere in the world -- it just works, and he trusts it. He doesn't ask questions about when the last health inspection was at McD's; he just eats there and believes that they have a clean kitchen and the guy fixing the burgers washed his hands.

In those cases -- where he has far more on the line right now, and where frankly his life or livelihood might be at stake -- he refuses to employ skepticism as a valid epistemology. But in this case, where he has what they would call in the Covey system an "important but not urgent" decision to make, his skepticism gets amped up.

Why? See: even the most circumspect unbeliever will admit this much -- that there is more at stake in this question. But when they say that, they have confessed something which devastates their cause for skepticism.

If there is actually no god at all, there is nothing at stake in admitting the universe will occationally toss out an inexplicable but wonderful event. A universe with no prime cause has no meaningful consequences -- so one guy coming back from the dead once is a marvelous thing, but it's a one-up event.

What they fear is exactly what Paul pressed in his evangelism: that this one-up event validates the proscriptions of the Jewish Scriptures. They fear that there is a meaning and it imposes itself on their everyday life.

And they are right: it does.

So do not surrender the miraculous. Demand it -- but in the right place, the only place where it frames that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

donsands said...

"And that help is not "more evidence". It is "more faith"."

But if we have faith as a mustard seed? Which sometimes I lack even that it feels like.

BTW, that Bison is weird lookin', isn't it? Or maybe it's my eyes.

Jugulum said...

TUaD,

Obviously, their denial of inerrancy is "not good". I think Frank's point is something like this:

* Outside the church: In general, addressing inerrancy is not the priority. The priority is addressing the core of the Gospel, and that often gets side-tracked.
* Inside the church: Addressing inerrancy is urgent, for the health of the church.

That sounds pretty solid, as far as it goes. Of course, there's more to be said about the role of inerrancy in evangelism and/or apologetics.

Frank,
1.) Why did you fail to capture every facet of the situation in a single post? Honestly! :)
2.) What would you say is the proper role of addressing inerrancy, when speaking to those outside the church? In that context, how far should we go in seeking to defend the reliability & credibility of the Christian worldview?

Frank Turk said...

Jugulum:

I think defending inerrancy to unbelievers is totally pointless.

I think defending reliability is useful, but it can become a misdirection from the point.

I think that if you can get someone to honestly compare the claims of the Christiamn faith with any other faith, they will find that the Christian faith is far more reliably reported in Scripture than any other religious system's holy writings. But let me say frankly that this is a secondary pursuit -- and the primary pursuit is the declaration that forgiveness is offered for repentence and faith, and that this is mediated through Jesus whom we know is Lord and Christ.

You have to get there. You have to say that to people in ways they will hear it, but you have to say that. Jesus Saves!

Sandra said...

You hit one of the most common errors in evangelism, at least of those I've seen. I couldn't help remembering my own "Him". I would have reacted exactly as your "him" did. You made the point very well. The Gospel first - the rest comes later. ~JB

Respectabiggle said...

Just so I'm clear on this one, the "save two" miracles are the Resurrection and Creation?

KRG said...

Honest Question:
So what of those who were drawn to Jesus only after seeing that the Bible stands up to scrutiny? those who knew the gospel & its claims but did not believe because the Bible as a while fell before “reason”. Then after seeing the coherency and the reliability of its claims accepted the Bible, its indictment of their sin and turned to its savior.

Devils Advocate Question:
(but please answer cause I am interested in hearing)
Frank, you condemn Drew’s skepticism, showing he does not hold that same skepticism in everyday life e.g. cell phones & McD’s. However, that is not entirely true.

Cell Phones: we personally see it work many times; we have the testimony of witnesses that we have personally verified their trustworthiness on other occasions. If we had never heard of a cell phone and a man came to us and said “I have a device that allows you to receive calls anywhere in the world” we would probably not believe him unless he produced a demonstration

McD’s: we have the testimony of witnesses (including the government sanitation board) that we have personally verified their trustworthiness on other occasions vouching for the fact that McD’s food is okay to eat. Comparing the restaurant to past experiences at other restaurants we see that it is clean doesn’t smell rotten all pointing to the safety of their food. If we had never heard of McD’s before and saw that it was dirty, smelled rotten saw flies we would probably be a bit more skeptical, and with good reason.

Since Drew may not have trusted friends to vouch for Christianity, and reads a Bible claiming resurrection, flood, water to wine and is skeptical because everything in his experience that appears supernatural is really just a lie or magician’s trick (the equivalent of a dirty, smelly, fly infested McDs) is there really such a disconnect between his skepticism of the Bible and supposed lack of skepticism in everyday life?

Frank Turk said...

Respectabiggle:

Resurrection and forgiveness. Forgiveness is a miracle.

Solameanie said...

If they don't have any faith or trust in Scripture, would they really have any faith or trust in Christ as Savior, since it is through Scripture that we know Him (and the work of the Holy Spirit)?

I struggle with these types of discussions (or arguments) between well-meaning believers on both sides. I've made this comment before, and will make it again. I don't see why it has to be an "either/or" in terms of presuppositional vs. evidential apologetics. I think elements of both are perfectly fine, knowing full well that only the Holy Spirit can draw someone to saving faith. People have come to Christ through both types of ministry. Yet one side insists to the other that their approach is invalid or improper. Do we really need that type of dividing line?

Frank Turk said...

| Honest Question:
| So what of those who
| were drawn to Jesus
| only after seeing that
| the Bible stands up
| to scrutiny? those
| who knew the gospel
| & its claims but did
| not believe because the
| Bible as a while fell before
| “reason”. Then after seeing the
| coherency and the reliability of its
| claims accepted the Bible, its
| indictment of their sin and turned
| to its savior.

I say “good on them.” The Gospel is “repent and be saved” – if they repented and were saved, that’s fabulous.

The problem – and you can see it almost anywhere – is that the average, well-meaning Joe Witness for the faith allows himself to get kneecapped by phony objections to the Gospel like “I doubt miracles”.

That’s like listening to someone telling you why they love Boston and you saying to them, “well, I doubt Massachusetts.” Really? Is your doubt warranted – or does it merely show your unreasonable biases?

Look: here’s Boston. Many people have been there, and almost all of them love it. Don’t create phony excuses for not wanting to go there.

| Devils Advocate Question:
| (but please answer cause I am
| interested in hearing)
| Frank, you condemn Drew’s
| skepticism, showing he does not
| hold that same skepticism in
| everyday life e.g. cell phones &
| McD’s. However, that is not
| entirely true.

You see: all my arguments are really trick questions, and our innocent commenter here has fallen into my trick post. Thanks dude – I love it when the audience participates.

| Cell Phones: we personally see it
| work many times; we have the
| testimony of witnesses that we
| have personally verified their
| trustworthiness on other
| occasions. If we had never heard
| of a cell phone and a man came to
| us and said “I have a device that
| allows you to receive calls
| anywhere in the world” we would
| probably not believe him unless
| he produced a demonstration

Unlike 2,000 years of Christian history and billions of people – literally, billions of Christians – who have personally witnessed the trustworthiness of God to forgive them, and the hundreds (maybe thousands) who initially witnessed the resurrection of Christ.

I am not saying you should not provide your subject of evangelism with the facts of the Gospel – the historical facts of the resurrection of Christ, including the meaning of such a thing. Paul did that at the Aeropagus (see my post, yes?). I am saying that trying to force an unbeliever to have faith in every miracle in the Bible before they have faith in Christ is pointless.

| McD’s: we have the testimony of
| witnesses (including the
| government sanitation board) that
| we have personally verified their
| trustworthiness on other occasions
| vouching for the fact that McD’s
| food is okay to eat. Comparing
| the restaurant to past experiences
| at other restaurants we see that it
| is clean doesn’t smell rotten all
| pointing to the safety of their
| food. If we had never heard of
| McD’s before and saw that it was
| dirty, smelled rotten saw flies we
| would probably be a bit more
| skeptical, and with good reason.

That’s an interesting idea, but what it lacks is the observation that the health department doesn’t live at McD’s. They inspect periodically. And you never, ever get to see the food prep area. Not unless you work there – and as I noted previously to Drew, they are maintaining a minimum standard and not a standard-setting criteria for cleanliness.

Your view is that the experts are always accrediting the circumstances; the truth is that they only verify an occasional circumstance with the hope that it is representative of most circumstances.

In that case, skepticism is extremely warranted, and Drew (and you, and me) abandons skepticism for a Big Mac and Fries.

| Since Drew may not have trusted
| friends to vouch for Christianity,
| and reads a Bible claiming
| resurrection, flood, water to wine
| and is skeptical because
| everything in his experience that
| appears supernatural is really just
| a lie or magician’s trick (the
| equivalent of a dirty, smelly, fly
| infested McDs) is there really such
| a disconnect between his
| skepticism of the Bible and
| supposed lack of skepticism in
| everyday life?

Yes. There is no question that he uses extreme and unsustainable skepticism to doubt the Bible. He cannot use that method of discernment in any other circumstance and take action – he’d die of starvation and thirst.

And as I said above, if the reason he is doing so is because there is so much more on the line than his own health and well-being, that’s the end of his rational argument.

~Mark said...

It took me a while after I was saved to BEGIN grasping many of the miracles, as much as miracles can be grasped that is, so this post resonates with me fer sure.

NiftyDrewFifty said...

Hey Frank and everyone else, this is Drew the token skeptic:) Very truly Frank, I am thankful that you have been engaging me in these discussions and your blogs. Unlike the other moderator who just calls me names and censors me (which only makes me think he is afraid of a contrarian opinion), you have taken my points head on and with thought.

So here is a verse to start off with, I am only referencing the OT flood miracle for simplicity, but there are many other OT miracles that could be applied, as you mentioned in your post:

Matthew 24:37-39 (Jesus speaking)
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

Ok, so Jesus establishes the flood as a historical fact, so I think you would agree that the one thing we can't do is say Jesus resurrected but the flood is a myth. Either the resurrection and the flood are both truth, or they are both myths because Jesus claims the flood to be true and claims to have been resurrected. However, neither of us can prove either story to be true or false because neither of us were there. However, perhaps we can establish which scenario is more likely.

Now,

I would say: the implausibility of the flood story points to the implausibility of the resurrection of Jesus.

You would say (paraphrasing your blog): the plausibility of the resurrection points to the plausibility of the flood story.

Evidence for Implausibility of Flood:
(just a few off the top of my head, there are plenty more)

1) millions of species of animals, including all the dinosaurs, and all the other now extinct animals and all their food and lodging can't fit within a 450 ft boat.

2) animals that could not fly or swim and yet which live on water surrounded land (e.g. Koala Bears) could not have traveled to the location of the ark in the middle east.

3) animals that were from very far distances from the middle east (Polar Bears in the Arctic or Llamas in South Ameerica) are unlikely to have been able to migrate thousands of miles all the way to the middle east

Critical Response to Evidence for Implausibility of Flood:

-? Please respond.

Evidence for Plausibility of Resurrection:
(this is my quick take and is kind of a paraphrase but feel free to list any other evidence or provide more detail)

1) "hundred of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus" as Frank said. These are from the gospel accounts.

2) some of the eyewitnesses were women, and because it was a patriarchal society, it is unlikely they would have been used as sources unless they really witnessed a resurrection

3) after the resurrection, the Church grew rapidly and the people believed strongly that there was a resurrection


Critical Response to Evidence for Plausibility of Resurrection:
(just some of the criticisms, there are plenty more)

1) the source for the "eyewitness accounts" is only really from one source, the gospel accounts in the Bible which were copied from each other.

2) we do not have the original gospels, just copies of copies of copies etc. of the books from a hundred years later, thus, the accounts are not a "eyewitness"- a contemporary testimony, but more like hearsay

3) the gospels are not a reliable historical sources as they contradict each other in many places, including the accounts of the resurrection:

Who saw the empty tomb?
Matthew says "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ", Mark says "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and Salome",
Luke says "Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women"
John says "Mary Magdalen, Peter, and the other disciple Jesus loved".

Who was at the empty tomb?
Matthew says "an angel"
Mark says "a young man"
Luke says "two men"
John says "two angels"

4) Matthew says that in chapter 27: "51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split..52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people."
These miraculous resurrections were not mentioned in the other gospels and no other historian even mentions that there was a earthquake. it also makes resurrections a common miracle, these people supposedly resurrected but no one considers them divine and none of the eyewitnesses talk about this.

5) Even if there is hearsay or eyewitness accounts of something does not make it true. There are thousands upon thousands of very contemporary eyewitnesses of UFO's, however you probably, as I, do not think we have been visited by aliens. And there have been plenty of religions started off eyewitness accounts in all sorts of occasions from time periods much closer to us than 2,000 years.


So, at the end of the day, I would say that there is much more evidence for the implausibility of the flood than the plausibility of the resurrection. And even the "evidence" for the resurrection I think is at very best, not evidence, and at worst, falsifiable.

Jugulum said...

Frank,
"I am not saying you should not provide your subject of evangelism with the facts of the Gospel – the historical facts of the resurrection of Christ, including the meaning of such a thing. Paul did that at the Aeropagus (see my post, yes?). I am saying that trying to force an unbeliever to have faith in every miracle in the Bible before they have faith in Christ is pointless."

Like... When you're telling someone about how to find and use cell phones, you don't get sidetracked into proving & explaining the existence of cell phone towers and radio waves and telecommunications industry and taxes and billing procedures?

(Some of those things are necessary for cell phones to work. And billing is real really important--you don't want to get tripped up by unexpected fees. But we don't have to understand them to start using one.)

Strong Tower said...

"And you never, ever get to see the food prep area."

But, we do see the people who work there and yet still trust it. Now, that's a miracle.

eastendjim said...

Drew,

Can you give us an honest answer to the following question please?

If Frank, or anyone else, answered all of your questions satisfactorily, would you become a Christian?

DJP said...

Reminder to all: Drew is a fraud. He's hoping everyone forgets or ignores this exchange, and I'm hoping you don't.

Reminder:

DJP
Drew — The only thing we can be certain of is that we are not certain of anything

These necessarily follow:
1. Your position is self-refuting
2. You are unsure that you should be proselytizing for your uncertainty
3. Since to you, uncertainty is sufficient reason not to do something, you should cease commenting immediately.

We know you're a troll. Now we learn if you're an honest troll, or a hypocrite.

NiftyDrewFifty
Have it your way dan, thanks to all for the discussion.

Frank Turk said...

Sadly, Drew, you have skunked yourself with this question. I am pleased you feel like you have been engaged here, but the fact is that I have engaged you and you have run the other way when you have been required to ask only one question at a time. So, as another astute reader has already asked, if I answer these question, will that be it -- or are you really attached to asking questions in order to avoid the conclusion that Jesus is Lord and Christ, and your life is not under a new set of rules?

We'll see.

Drew said:
[QUOTE]
Ok, so Jesus establishes the flood as a historical fact, so I think you would agree that the one thing we can't do is say Jesus resurrected but the flood is a myth.
[/QUOTE]


I would not agree. As we shall see in a minute, rather than admit, "if Jesus is resurrected, it doesn't matter what I think about the Flood -- I have to accept what He says because He's a greater authority than me," (which would be my affirmation) you are posing the false dilemma, "if I don't believe the Flood, I have discredited Jesus."

Watch:
[QUOTE]
Either the resurrection and the flood are both truth, or they are both myths because Jesus claims the flood to be true and claims to have been resurrected. However, neither of us can prove either story to be true or false because neither of us were there. However, perhaps we can establish which scenario is more likely.

Now,

I would say: the implausibility of the flood story points to the implausibility of the resurrection of Jesus.
[/QUOTE]


See? You have assigned equal epistemic authority in both "what Jesus says" and "what I believe" -- when, in fact, Jesus who is resurrected has far greater epistemic authority than you do.

So whatever it is you want to pontificate about here, Jesus is resurrected. A resurrected Christ has -- to say the least -- something to say about history which is at least working in concert with something greater than you are willing to imagine. In your skeptical (such as it is) world view, you can't imagine how a man can come back from the dead after 3 days -- yet the testimony for Jesus is that He has in fact raised from the dead not as a zombie but as someone in perfect health.

You have to deal with the resurrected Christ, Drew: know for certain that he's Lord, and that he has more authority than you.

Lastly, this is going to be my last response to you for one reason alone: you have ignored every single answer given to you so far -- both by Dan and myself -- in favor of your terminal agnosticism (which is a nice way of putting it). There is absolutely no sense in offering you more and more when you have already received a sufficient answer and you simple do nothing with it.

As a co-moderator of this blog, let me say frankly that you are not welcome here -- because you don't want to participate: you want to lead and be catered to. You can start your own blog for that sake.

God bless you and enlighten you that you may receive His truth.

Johnny Dialectic said...

And just a note that Drew's objections have all been **yawn** around since Ingersoll, and ably answered over and over and over.

So why not accept the answers? Because of the four "soils", which have been around since Cain and Abel.

"He who has ears to hear..."

Rick Frueh said...

Usually when a skeptic has such energy and is obviously more interested in intellectual badminton than genuine consideration I refer him to this poem:

A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still

When confronted with a skeptic that requires more energy than I am willing to expend I take the example of Paul before Agrippa and rely on the "absolute subjectivity" of my personal testimony.

I think it frustrates them when we just toy with the bait without swalling it wholesale. Interested skeptics? Let us give full attention and hospitality. Skeptics that just desire to present their practiced portfolio? Keep moving, there is nothing to see here. :)

Carl said...

Frank...and to think I've run into some strange characters with some weird unBiblical beliefs on Usenet. :-)

I'm still studying what you wrote and seeing if I am able to apply some of the "not getting sidetracked" parts in my usenet posts. Sometimes I do get sidetracked.

Morris Brooks said...

I grew up in church, believed the Bible was true (all of it), believed Jesus was real; but never saw myself for the "Sinner" that I was. And it was not until I saw myself for the "Sinner" that I was that I repented and truly believed.

KRG said...

I mentioned it after last weeks post, but I think Tim Keller has done a good job of responding to skeptical arguments in an understandable way in his book The Reason For God

Frank Turk said...

Yeah, OK: after telling Drew I'm done with him, there are a few things he said which I didn't address which, frankly, it behooves all of us to read, consider, and then say something about.

[QUOTE]
Evidence for Plausibility of Resurrection:
(this is my quick take and is kind of a paraphrase but feel free to list any other evidence or provide more detail)

1) "hundred of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus" as Frank said. These are from the gospel accounts.

2) some of the eyewitnesses were women, and because it was a patriarchal society, it is unlikely they would have been used as sources unless they really witnessed a resurrection

3) after the resurrection, the Church grew rapidly and the people believed strongly that there was a resurrection


Critical Response to Evidence for Plausibility of Resurrection:
(just some of the criticisms, there are plenty more)

1) the source for the "eyewitness accounts" is only really from one source, the gospel accounts in the Bible which were copied from each other.
[/QUOTE]


What is interesting for me is Drew's view here that the Gospel are the only places we have accounts of eye witnesses. What we have in the NT is the list of accounts we as Christian use as authoritative. But, for example -- and this is apologetics 101 here, a thing Drew, if truly an interested skeptic, ought to know if he has been looking for these answers -- the witness of the ancient world is that the Christians were everywhere proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. All the ancient references, from Pliny to Josephus, declare that this is what the Christians testified to.

But let's imagine for a moment that there were no external witness to what the Christians were telling people. The question of what the Gospels say can only be judged as an unworthy source if the text itself is unreliable. But there is a long history of apologetic literature explaining and justifying the reliability of the NT, and of the Gospels in particular -- and Drew seems at best to be only informed of their existence by the most-pale refutations of these works.

To be sure, let me recommend to anyone who doubts this two books which are, in my mind, irrefutable. The first is the more controversial because it is by N.T. Wright, but it is also a brief and approachable tome: Who Was Jesus?. The second is more recent, and requires more engagement that most people can muster -- but it is worth the trip. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony, by Richard Buakham, speaks to the reliability of the Gospels by examining the genre of oral tradition. WHich, of course, speaks to Drew's next point:

[QUOTE]
2) we do not have the original gospels, just copies of copies of copies etc. of the books from a hundred years later, thus, the accounts are not a "eyewitness"- a contemporary testimony, but more like hearsay
[/QUOTE]


This betrays such a gross misunderstanding of the history o the texts of the NT that we have to wonder how long Drew has been making his inquiry. To help Drew -- and others like him, seeking help to at least have an objection qualified as credible -- let me suggest two more books:

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust The Modern Translations?, by friend-of-TeamPyro Dr. James White, which refutes the KJVO position by explaining the history of textual transmission -- and demonstrates (again) reliability in the text.

Breaking the Da Vinci Code, by Darrel Bock.

[QUOTE]
3) the gospels are not a reliable historical sources as they contradict each other in many places, including the accounts of the resurrection:

Who saw the empty tomb?
Matthew says "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ", Mark says "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and Salome",
Luke says "Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women"
John says "Mary Magdalen, Peter, and the other disciple Jesus loved".

Who was at the empty tomb?
Matthew says "an angel"
Mark says "a young man"
Luke says "two men"
John says "two angels"
[/QUOTE]


My opinion here is that at some point the skeptic has to demonstrate his own mental acuity. You know: if you read Time Magazine about some story, and then you read U.S. News about the same story, they do not represent the details identically -- yet, these details can be harmonized in every case without calling one or both "unreliable".

What if all of the people the Gospels say saw the tomb actually saw it, and if there were two angelic messengers at the tomb -- and the authors of the Gospels chose the details which best related to their message? Does that make them "unreliable" or "literate"?

[QUOTE]
4) Matthew says that in chapter 27: "51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split..52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people."

These miraculous resurrections were not mentioned in the other gospels and no other historian even mentions that there was a earthquake. it also makes resurrections a common miracle, these people supposedly resurrected but no one considers them divine and none of the eyewitnesses talk about this.
[/QUOTE]


You see, Drew: Lazarus was raised from the dead, wasn't he? But he died again. Jesus' resurrection was not merely coming back from the dead: it was coming back in way which had never been experienced before -- and not since, if we are honest.

But that being true, can you think of any honest (as opposed to dishonest) reasons why Matthew would mention this and the other writers not mention it? You know: why did John mention the wedding at Cana and Matthew did not? It seems to me that these men each had a distinct objective in telling their stories about Jesus, and that in any other case -- biography, history, news reporting, etc. -- we take those differences to be honorable and not dishonorable.

And this, again, is a very easily-discovered answer to the question Drew asks -- but one which he either has not discovered or cannot receive. If Drew found someone doing this to his own thoughts or writing, he'd dismiss them as biased, I am sure. I wonder why he excuses himself from that kind of scrutiny?

[QUOTE]
5) Even if there is hearsay or eyewitness accounts of something does not make it true. There are thousands upon thousands of very contemporary eyewitnesses of UFO's, however you probably, as I, do not think we have been visited by aliens. And there have been plenty of religions started off eyewitness accounts in all sorts of occasions from time periods much closer to us than 2,000 years.
[/QUOTE]


If we exclude Christianity from the list, Drew, I dare you to name two other religions which have influenced any culture in the history of the world which, as you say, "started off eyewitness accounts in all sorts of occasions from time periods much closer to us than 2,000 years." There's not one other one, but I'll see if you have the kind of chutzah it takes to name the only two which could possibly be in the running.

And that, people, is how we get derailed from telling Drew plainly: repent and be baptized -- believe in Jesus and be saved. His authority is greater than your authority, Drew. Stop making excuses to hear the good news that God forgives you of sin if you will repent, and he will give you life when you don't deserve it.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

NiftyDrewFifty said...

Wait...I thought I wasn't welcome on here anymore and was a troll? Am I still not allowed to respond but you just wanted to further respond to my post?

Frank Turk said...

I am sure, Drew, that you have many more questions about this response and 1,000 other issues.

You can find my e-mail in my blogger profile; you are welcome to take this discussion to e-mail and I will be glad to discuss it with you there. You are not welcome to expand the scope of this response to include all things at all times using shifting categories on this blog or in this comments section.

Thanks.

Mike Riccardi said...

There's not one other one, but I'll see if you have the kind of chutzpah it takes to name the only two which could possibly be in the running.

Phil Perkins was wrong, then. It wasn't Greek. It was Hebrew!

DJP said...

...and what wasn't Hebrew was Egyptian.

Reformed Egyptian.

Tim Bushong said...

Drew- you are also asking the Christian here to grant your particular presuppositions (like the "single source" theory or postulations about the flood), and of course if those are agreed to then your agnosticism could seem to make sense. But not only are they not granted, they have been answered and refuted many, many times. So what's the deal?

NiftyDrewFifty said...

sorry Tim, I'm not allowed to respond....

Frank Turk said...

And not allowed to e-mail, I guess, right? Able to post comments intended to amplify your self-imposed victimhood, but not really interested in getting an answer for your question(s).

Future comments by Drew will be deleted -- he doesn't want answers to his questions. He wants to evangelize to his own agnosticism. We're not having that.