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Showing posts from 2015

The Best Books I've Read

I love getting a good book recommendation, and am often asked for reading suggestions.  After looking over my reading log from the past few years, I picked a few of my favorite titles to share with you. 

Feel free to comment and pass this list along.  I would love to know what books you have enjoyed or are hoping to read.
Apologetics Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. While Lewis was certainly more sacramental than I am, this book is an essential read because it forms the foundation for so many contemporary works. The New Testament Documents by F. F. Bruce.Although somewhat short and outdated, this easy book provides evidence for the basic reliability of the biblical texts. From God to Us Revised and Expandedby Geisler and Nix.My favorite overview of texts, translations, and manuscript reliability. On Guardby Craig. A great thinker presents the powerful “kalam argument” for God’s existence.  Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Qureshi.A moving autobiographical account of conversation.  Tactic…

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Christians are often surprised to learn that December 25th was associated with sun worship, the Mithras cult, and the emperor cults of the Roman Empire long before it was ever thought of as Jesus’ birthday. Christmas day comes from ancient pagan religions, and would have known to the early Christians as Sol Invictus (Latin for the Invincible Sun).
Even before Roman times, the Greeks honored Helios (the Greek sun god) on December 25th.The Coin of Rhodes bears this gods image, and several Seleucid and Ptolemaic rulers associated themselves with this god.In Rome, emperor cults became the chief religion of the land.Some emperors were not content to wait until the senate deified them after death, and associated themselves with gods while they were still alive.Nero, Constantine, and Julian the Apostate all chose the sun god and continued to give priority to the pagan feast held on the day we now call Christmas.

The Philocalian Calendar shows that some time before A.D. 336 Christians began t…

Four Myths That Christians Should Stop Repeating

We know that not everything we read or hear is true.However, it is easy to simply repeat information we hear without actually knowing if it true.Sometimes that’s fine, but other times we end up unintentionally perpetuating an error. Here are several myths that I’ve repeatedly heard from other Christians. “Nero killed Christians by throwing them to the lions in the Colosseum.” This statement is repeated often, and has even made it into print (see Sproul’s commentary on Mark published in 2011).However, there are many things wrong with this claim.First, construction on the Colosseum (or Flavian amphitheater) began around 72 AD, four years after Nero’s death. Additionally, there is a complete lack of contemporary evidence that the Colosseum was used for Christian executions.The later tradition linking Christian martyrdom to the Colosseum is inconclusive. None of this should be taken to mean that Christians were not viciously killed by the Romans, or that Nero didn’t kill many of them whil…

Historical Evidence of Jesus

Is it possible that the most famous man in history never actually existed? That is precisely the claim made by some academics today, including Richard Carrier, Robert Price, and Raphael Lataster. There is a lot at stake in this debate.If Jesus never actually existed, then the main claims of Christianity cannot be true.These authors build their case by dismissing the historical accuracy of the Gospels and minimizing the significance of collaborating evidence.

However, many people who reject Christianity remain convinced that Jesus did exist.In fact, some former atheists like Dr. Michael Bird cite the evidence for the historical Jesus as a key reason for their conversion to Christianity. Here are three solid historical arguments for the existence of Jesus.
First, the Christian community viewed the literal life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as central to their belief from a very early date.For example, Paul seems to quote an early Christian creed in 1 Corinthians 15.This passage…

My Million Dollar Smartphone

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, I knew the world had changed.  This product was immediately one of the most capable smartphones in the world and a status symbol that everybody wanted.  I had some savings in the bank, and decided to put it to good use.  But I didn’t buy an iPhone.  Instead, I bought a small amount of stock in the company.
To this day I have never owned an iPhone.  While many of my friends do, I have never been able to justify the expense. Earlier today I went to the Verizon webpage to see what it would cost me to buy one.  I selected the cheapest current iPhone and clicked “express checkout.”  Without any insurance plan or additional services, the monthly bill came to $92.08 a month.
For over a year now I have been with a company called Republic Wireless.  (No, they are not paying me to write this!)  I paid less than a hundred dollars for a Moto E smartphone, and am on their $10 a month plan with unlimited talk and text.  On two occasions have I paid a few…

Follow Me. Because...

Matthew’s Gospel contains a story that has often puzzled me.In Matthew 4:18-20, he records Jesus walking near the Sea of Galilee and inviting several fishermen to follow Him.For the rest of their lives.I am always shocked to read that they immediately drop everything and walk off with Him.It all seems so abrupt.

This group includes Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.By choosing to follow Jesus, they were leaving financial security, social standing, and family ties.How did they know it was the right decision?Was Jesus commanding them to exercise blind faith, without asking reasonable questions about why they should?Actually, these fishermen had been given plenty of evidence before this request was made.
1.Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:40). He certainly knew that the time of the Messiah had come, and was already convinced that Jesus was the one.
2.Both Andrew and Peter had spent time with Jesus (John 1:35-42).In fact, Jesus had given Peter the nickname of “Ceph…

Thoughts on Completing My Graduate Degree.

The Fed Ex driver had no idea what he had laid on my front porch.The package that I would discover a few hours had cost more than any car I’ve ever owned and demanded thousands of hours of my time.It was my Masters of Divinity from Liberty University.
Just last month I carefully cut off the packaging and unrolled my degree.This journey, which started back in 2010, had finally reached its destination.As my wife and kids stood around, I thought of the sacrifice that they had all given toward this project as well. (My wife completed her masters a few years ago, and certainly understands what it represents.)Yet, it had been worth it.And after several weeks of contemplation, here are a few of the specific benefits.
1.Personal growth.This may be the only sufficient reason to pursue a graduate degree.Or another one, in my case.The Masters of Divinity is a 93 hour program and is rather multidisciplinary.Because of this program, I had learned another language, grown as a speaker, writer, counsel…

The Early Writing of the New Testament

If Americans had begun writing down the history of this country within the last few years, thoughtful people would have serious doubts regarding its accuracy.After more than 200 years of oral tradition, much of the important information would no longer be reliable.A story changes when pass from one person to another, and normally keeps getting better!Heroes become more heroic and villains become more evil.

If the stories about Christ in the New Testament were not written down for hundreds of years, many people would expect it to contain multiple inaccuracies and legendary accounts.However, there are many reasons to believe that the New Testament was completely written before the beginning of the second century.In fact, most of it was probably complete before the destruction of the temple in AD 70 by the future Roman Emperor, Titus. The following facts suggest that eyewitnesses were still around when the New Testament was first being circulated.

·While all of the synoptic gospels recor…

What Kind of Love? Misunderstanding the Greek Words

There is no doubt that we use the word “love” very broadly.  We love everything from pepperoni pizza to our spouse!  Sometimes I’ve heard people claim that the Bible is far clearer in this area because there is a hierarchy of words in the original language.  This person may claim that there are three words in Greek for love, with erao referring to a fleshly love (not used in the New Testament), phileo referring to a brotherly love, and agapao referring to a selfless, Godly love.  This sounds good.  Unfortunately, it is completely wrong.

In fact, there are four Greek words for love. Many people overlook the Greek word storgeo, used only in the negative sense in the New Testament. However, it is much more significant to realize that apapao and phileo do not have consistently distinct uses in either the New Testament or other contemporary Greek writings.  There are many places in the New Testament where someone may expect one word to be used, only to discover that it is the other.  In Lov…