Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Marathon Talk With God

This story is an excerpt from my faith journey article that I wrote back in 2006 for our church newsletter. Many people seem to like hearing it, although it's probably only a good reason to believe for me rather than you. This isn't the only reason I switched from being a skeptic to a believer, but it sure softened me up for other events that followed in my life. Call it a huge stepping stone in learning to doubt my doubts.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter Doubts You Don't Have to Have

For most of 30 years I only went to church at Christmas & Easter...when forced to by family. I wasn’t sure how to describe my faith, but believer is not the word I would have used. Now I think calling people atheists & christian or believer & unbeliever is too black & white. I think most of us live in the gray, messy middle between 100% faith & 100% doubt. Now I define faith as belief in spite of doubt rather than the absence of doubt. What changed it all for me was reading a book that addressed a lot of doubts. Now I know some doubts are just due to not having enough information.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

God's Greatest Power?!

God's greatest power might be the ability to turn the bad into good. Why? It all started in '94...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Evidence for the Resurrection

In 1 Cor 15:14 & 17, Paul says if Jesus has not been raised, your faith is useless. It was music to my skeptical ears. I said I would try at some point to summarize the arguments for Jesus' Resurrection. based on Gary Habermas & Michael Licona's "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus". They use a list of evidence 'widely accepted' by scholars & skeptics.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Atheist vs Christian, Believer or Unbeliever?

We put people in 2 classes, atheists & christians or more generally believer & unbeliever, but I look at it another way. Maybe it will be useful to someone.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Way, the Truth & the Life.

I liked this column by Steve Ridgell on John 14:6. If I were a pastor, I could preach a whole sermon on it. Most people seem to think we have to fall down on our knees and accept Jesus get to heaven. I prefer to think of it as the best way, but not the only way. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Doesn't the Holocaust prove that God does not exist?

We can apply this argument to anything violent that happens whether it is the Holocaust or someone going postal in a school, mall or workplace. The problem with the logic is that God didn’t pull the trigger. A person did. In the case of the Holocaust, it was a group of people. Hitler & his advisors decided to implement the final solution & ordered soldiers to pull the trigger or push the lever to generate poisonous gas. The soldiers also made the decision to comply with the order making them share the guilt of these crimes as well.  God gives us the ability to make our own decisions, but that doesn’t mean we always do the right thing. Some of our decisions are bad ones or may even be outright evil.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10. What is the simplest case you can make for the resurrection?

I'm torn on how to answer to this one. Whether I should tell you what I think or tell you what Lee Strobel said in Case for the Real Jesus or use the points made by Gary Habermas & Michael Licona in The CASE for the Resurrection of JESUS. Whether theirs or mine, it's all stuff from previous posts with only a little new info. Maybe I'll cover their discussions later if there is interest, but instead I'm giving you my opinion. I would point out that my opinion & $5 gets you a mocha latte at Starbucks.  You may forget what I said, but don't forget the $5 if you want the coffee.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

7. How do we know it was really Jesus on the cross?
How we know the tomb was really empty?

They sound like unrelated questions, but they have a common answer.  Enemy attestation. Say what? English, por favor? The disciples' enemies did not deny the claims that Jesus died on the cross or that the tomb was empty.  They argued over what happened to the body.

Monday, April 7, 2014

6. How do we know the disciples weren't lying about seeing the resurrected Christ?

The only disciple whose fate I can remember ever being mentioned growing up was Judas.  Judas hangs himself  in remorse (Mt 27:5) after the Sanhedrin condemns Jesus.  So what happened to the other 11? They settled down, get married & live happily ever after on the royalties from all those stories? No, unfortunately, the majority died for their beliefs, for being christians and for saying they had seen the resurrected Christ.

Friday, April 4, 2014

5. How do we know there is any truth in the gospel stories?

The principle of embarrassment applies here. If you were making up a story, why would you include things that make you look bad?  The gospels include embarrassing or problematic details.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

4. How do we know the resurrection isn't a legend based on the crucifixion?

The gospels were written too soon for a legend to appear.  Legends take many years to develop, because the first & secondhand eyewitnesses have to die off before the truth can be distorted.  Otherwise the eyewitnesses say that's not what happened.

Monday, March 31, 2014

3. How can we trust the Bible after all that copying & translating over the years?

The short answer on translations is new translations are based on the oldest greek & hebrew text. They are not translations of translations of translations. A difference in wording between modern translations like the Lord's Prayer in Mt. 6:12 (...forgive us our debts vs. trespasses or sins), means translators disagree on what phrase best expresses the original idea.  The short answer on copying is that we can compare copies & see where they differ.  There are no variations that affect the basic story of Jesus' life, death & resurrection.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2. How do we know the resurrection story was not a borrowed myth?

There are several aspects of the story of Jesus death & resurrection that are fairly unique.  He dies once, so that the sins of mankind can be forgiven.  He predicts his own death & resurrection.  Predicting your own death isn't a big trick if you are suicidal, but fulfilling that resurrection part is a little harder for the rest of us. That's not the point here, though. The point is those details aren't found in earlier myths. Earlier cultures & religions had stories about gods that died yearly & came back to life again to explain the seasons or the crop cycle.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

1. How do we know Jesus was a real person
& not just a myth?

There actually is plenty of evidence that Jesus was a real person & the story of his life & death is not a myth. His crucifixion is attested to outside the Bible by Tacitus, Josephus & Pliny the Younger. All 3 were non-Christians writing in the 1st & early 2nd centuries AD. I've since read that there are at least 47 references to Jesus outside the Bible from close to the time he lived. 

Introductions

Ever sit in church on Easter & wonder if 2000 years of worship by zillions of people was just one huge cosmic joke?  I did.  I used to feel like a liar for coming to church anytime, but especially on Easter.  What if Jesus was a myth or maybe he just passed out on the cross & revived in the tomb? We’d be believing a lie. The Apostle Paul was pretty blunt about it in 1 Corinthians 15:14:  “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless & so is your faith.”