the Easter resurrection evidence proves Jesus is God (6-part video Series)

The Easter Resurrection Evidence Proves Jesus Is God is a 6-part series presented by Andy Wrasman at Oak Road Lutheran Church in Lilburn, GA during the Easter Season of the Church in 2021. These videos are screen-cast presentations recorded after each live lecture/discussion.

Part 1 – The New Testament is a Reliable Historical Source: https://youtu.be/OOXU2p6utRs
Part 2 – Jesus Claimed to Be God: https://youtu.be/zbyPbkI__4U
Part 3 – Was Jesus Dead, Buried, and Raised: https://youtu.be/Rkvq1m9cOSI
Part 4 – The Witnesses of the Resurrected Jesus: https://youtu.be/V31IAqeF7zU
Part 5 – Alternative Explanations for the Resurrection Evidence: https://youtu.be/mqMVmc8L4xI
Part 6 – Additional Evidences that Jesus is God: https://youtu.be/uOMWz0XzYaQ

The Christian Account of Everything Compared to Naturalism’s Account of Everything

This blog post will compare two worldviews: the Christian account of everything and the account of everything according to naturalism.  These two worldviews will be compared in four categories: view of the Creator, view of creation and Creator-creature relations, view of salvation, and the ethical implications for creation from these previous viewpoints.

Transhumanism

View of the Creator

According to the Christian account of everything, God has always existed; he is eternal and exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All things that now exist came into existence out of nothing through the Father’s spoken word and are held together by his Son.  (Genesis 1-3, John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20, and Hebrews 1:1:-4)  The narrative of Creation in Genesis (as well as the rest of Scripture) indicates that God is a personal being who was very much involved in the creation of all things.  This is indicated by the design and plan of the days of creation, in which God created in a particular order of creating boundary markers within his creation with a progression of creating life within those boundaries for the care and safety of his creatures (Day 1 – Light and Darkness/Day 4 – Heavenly Bodies, Day 2 – Land, Sky, Water/Day 5 – Creatures of the Sky and Water, Day 3 – Vegetation on the Land/Day 6 – Creatures of the Land, including humanity).  He is still very active in his care for his creation.

According to naturalism’s account of everything, all things have arisen purely by blind chance.  Order has come out of chaos.  Life has come from non-life.  Minds have come from mindless matter.  Laws of nature have simply emerged (or have always been) and are assumed to be held in consistency by nature itself.  Nature is all that there has been, all that there is, and all that there ever will be, though this cannot be empirically observed, it is a position held on faith that nature when given enough time will impersonally bring about all that we currently experience through a process named natural selection.  In short there, is no Creator.

View of Creation and Creator-Creature Relations

One’s view of nature is directly tied to one’s view of the Creator.  In the Christian account of everything, nature is best understood as having been created with a proper distinction between it (creation) and the Creator.  The Christian view of creation comes from what God has divinely revealed in his Word about his creation, which is that his creation was originally created – very good!  God’s creation as it stands now is not as God intended it to be.  Through the free-agency of his creatures (first by Satan and his angelic followers and Adam and Eve and now us) who rebelled against God’s will for his creation (the boundary markers of the law that were set out of love for the safety and well-being of all God created), creation itself has been wrecked with sin, death, and evil and stands far from the very good origins of God’s creation.

According to naturalism’s account of everything, all is chaotic and in a state of constant change.  Naturalists who hold true to their account of everything must admit that there is no purpose or meaning in a world that is the product of mindless, random selection, and constant motion.  There is no Creator-creation distinction/relationship; all is nature; all is matter.

View of Salvation

The Christian account of everything has a view of salvation in which God enters into his creation through his Son who became a part of creation through his assumption of a human nature into his personhood.  It is through the Son that God has reconciled all of creation to himself and it is through his Son that one day all things will be restored to God’s original plan (theologian’s debate if this will be a recreation of creation or a new creation, something akin to a Creation 2.0, but it is clear in Scripture that all things will be made new at Christ’s return with a freedom from sin, death, and the devil forever for those who are God’s children through their faith in the Son and his saving work!). (Revelation 21-22)

It is in the view of salvation that naturalists take many divides.  Some naturalists are intellectually honest with their account of all things and recognize that death is the finality of one’s conscience existence; there is no salvation; there is no life after death.  Such naturalists may tend to find a form of salvation in living one’s best life now (YOLO – “You only live once.”).  Anton LaVey’s philosophy of Satanism is an example of this naturalistic view of the world and life and is the prescription for how to best live this life to one’s maximum pleasure.  LaVeyan Satanism is very much hedonistic materialism in which salvation is found in a freedom from social and religious constraints that hinder one from indulging in their carnal desires.

For other naturalists, salvation is found in evolution, an ever occurring progression of improvement (or that is the hoped-in product of nature’s constant state of change – improvement of life).  Some have taken up an active role in this evolutionary progress and have embraced transhumanism – a movement that actively seeks to speed evolution to a new humanity through the joining of human life with technology.  Transhumanism’s highest aim is the implantation of one’s mind into a machine so that one’s consciousness can “live on forever” beyond the limitations of one’s physical body of death.  This is a form of material salvation, though it betrays the fact that one is more than mere physical matter, because transhumanism’s salvation is ultimately found in the preservation of one’s immaterial consciousness.

Ethical Implications

In the Christian account of everything, God is the ultimate standard of morality.  He is good, and it is from God’s eternal state of immutability that we can appeal to an absolute standard of right and wrong for Creation.  For humanity’s ethical role in the grand scheme of all of creation, God has placed us here to be stewards of his creation.  We are to use our God given abilities, including our reasoning capabilities, to care for God’s creation and to cultivate it to its betterment out of love for God and for our neighbors and for our fellow creatures.

In the naturalism’s account of everything, there again is a divide that occurs depending on one’s view of salvation.  For the naturalist who recognizes that there is no salvation; ethics is boiled down to the four-word mantra of Allister Crowley (the Beast) and Anton LaVey, “Do What Thou Wilt.”  There is no God above, no hell below; eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we all die!  For the naturalist who sees salvation in evolution, ethics becomes utilitarian- what best serves survival.  This survival could be centered on the whole of humanity, within a particular collective of humanity, or within the individual.  There is no standard of absolute right and wrong, morality is subjective.

Please visit Contradict Movement for stickers, tracts, shirts, and books.

If a Christian seeks a degree in science is that a compromise to his or her Christian faith?

The prompt: A high school student from my church where I am a pastor writes me a letter thanking me for the few years she has been in my church through catechism classes and high school Sunday school classes and such and her letter is expressing her concern that she might be compromising her Christian faith if she pursues a degree in biology, geology, or astronomy.  I am to write her a letter back. 

The following is my reply to this prompt.

Science_300
This image was drawn by Danny Martinez and appears in my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, as an image to accompany a section addressing Darwinian Evolution. 

Dear Eve,

The Lord be with you.

Your participation and partnership in the catechism classes and throughout all of the many church events and services over the past few years have been a blessing for me.  Before becoming a pastor, I was a teacher, and one of the aspects that I found disappointing as a teacher was that after having students for a single year as a senior, I’d rarely see them or have any meaningful on-going relationship after high school graduation with them.   Being able to interact with dedicated students like you who are concerned with growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior and how that relates to daily living in holiness and godliness beyond high school into further stages of life was one of the huge draws for me in becoming a pastor.  So, I am so grateful that you are coming to me with this question and I look forward to being your pastor throughout your college years and maybe even beyond if you stay a member at Grace Lutheran Church, but even if you don’t, I’ll always be here for you to tend to such thoughtful questions that deserve the full attention of the Church’s care and counsel.

What you have presented is a typical concern, or area of contention, that is generally perceived to exist between the interaction between religion and science.  Often times, there is an unspoken assumption in our culture that if people are religious, they must be anti-scientific, and that if people are scientific, they must be anti-religious.  For Christianity in particular, this is a false dichotomy – this is not an either/or predicament – there is in fact a harmony that can be reached between being a Christian and being in full support and engagement of the scientific enterprise.  This harmony is properly held or destroyed depending on how a person defines science, or better put, how a person uses science, or if a person properly recognizes the limitations of science or not.

I noticed in your letter that you said you are drawn to pursuing a degree in science because you have been drawn to learning about the world through science.  When science is taken as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, it is a great means, or resource, for the Christian to serve his or her neighbor.  It is through such systematic exploration of God’s creation that many great advancements in technology, communication, travel, medicine, hygiene, ecology, food services, and so many other fields have been achieved that have made it easier for us to care for our neighbors as well as the rest of God’s creatures entrusted to us.  Many Christians have played major roles in such advancements and good applications of science, and many of them have vocally contributed their discoveries and work to the glory of God, giving thanks to him for their reasoning abilities and their specific opportunities afforded them in their particular fields of science.  I can gladly provide such names of scientists and their achievements to you if you need help finding them.

The compromise of your Christian faith would come if you choose to approach science not as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, but as the definitive systematic method of doing such, which would mean that science is taken up as being the ultimate means to account for all things.[1]  Such an approach to science has recently been coined as scientism.  It grants science the means to do which science does not have the means to do.  Let me explain.

Science as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, such as with the scientific method (observation, question, hypothesis, repeatable and observable experimentation, data analysis, and shared results), is limited to gaining knowledge through tests that can be observed and repeated.  Of course there is not a possible or conceivable, much less observable or repeatable experiment that can be conducted to test the existence of God.  In this way, God has been bracketed out of science.  Yet, at the same time adherents of scientism have allowed science to answer questions that too cannot have an observable and repeatable test for falsifiability and verification, such as the origins of the universe and life.  Such metaphysical inquiries are simply outside the bounds of the scientific method, as is the existence of God, but practitioners of scientism fail to see the error in their inconsistent application of science when they use science to account for the universe while denying the knowledge of the existence of God.

The error continues in that most of life’s most important realities can’t be classified as falsifiable through the scientific method, such as love and moral ethics, nor observed, such as the gravitational pull that keeps us safely planted on this earth’s surface.  Other methods of discerning scientia (the Latin word for knowledge) must be utilized to know such things.

The Christian knows that God has created all things visible and invisible.  The Christian has a story that accounts for everything, and within this story, humanity was created as God’s image-bearers (representatives of God) in God’s creation.  In this bestowed position of dominion and stewardship over God’s creation, we have been endowed with capabilities of reason, morality, and relational capabilities that the rest of God’s creatures simply do not and cannot possess.  God has tasked us to use our God-given reason to his glory in service to our neighbors.  As such, we should expect Christians to be excited about exploring and understanding God’s created world, and the Bible in fact exhorts us to such endeavors with the abilities and resources that have been given to us for the purpose of loving and serving our neighbor.

The Christian who is a scientist knows that reason and science are limited to a particular realm of knowledge, namely our physical sphere of life in God’s creation.  We understand that our reason and scientific explorations have their limitations, just as our faith in Christ has its limitations.  In our faith, our knowledge of the Lord and his will is limited to what he has directly revealed to us in the Bible.  We understand that our faith is a gift from the Lord that pertains to our subjective relationship to God in our right standing before him, whereas our reason is a gift from the Lord that pertains to our relationship with the world around us, and of course our reason serves us in understanding God’s revelation to us (his revelation that comes to us both through what he has created and through his direct revelation of himself in Christ and his Word).

It’s also reassuring to know that the modern scientific enterprise emerged within the matrix of Christian civilization in Europe in the high middle ages, and that the founding fathers of modern science were Christians.  The Christian account of everything offered the necessary presuppositions for the scientific method to emerge in that particular time and place – such as viewing the world as a distinct, objective reality that is intelligible and held together by the uniform laws held in place by its immutable Creator!  Such a view of everything flew in the face of the belief systems that dominated other great civilizations that were incapable of birthing the scientific method due to their presuppositions of the world that actively resist a scientific engagement of the physical world, such as pantheism (who is going to experiment on creation – that’d be cutting up and manipulating God – that’s bad karma), reincarnation (time is cyclical – which offers no grounds for exploring cause and effect relationships that exist in a purely linear view of time), unpredictable gods whose emotions and whims impacted the world in drastic ways (this destroys consistent laws of nature that justify the consistent results of repeatable testing), astronomy (when the stars determine all things – who is motivated to understand the world?), and an overall rejection of nature ( as found in Platonic dualism, Gnosticism, and Hinduism’s illusionary view of the world).  And don’t let anyone tell you that an atheistic worldview offers the necessary presuppositions about the world for the scientific method to work – a chaotic, random world of chance that is only matter and void of meaning does not spur one on to conduct the scientific method.  Atheists must borrow – no steal! – from the Christian worldview to assume a world of order, regularity, purpose, and a proper view of mankind’s faculties to justify the scientific method as being a worthy endeavor (thus they are being inconsistent in their confessed view of reality and their scientific endeavors).[2]

In short, Eve, you can be a Christian and a scientist without compromising your Christian faith.  The challenge will be maintaining the proper harmony between reason and faith, as well keeping a right recognition of the tension between the two and their limitations.

I hope this answer is helpful to you.
Peace in Christ,
Andy


[1] I’m drawing this distinction and these definitions straight out of Dr. Joel Okamoto’s article, “God, the Gospel, and Modern Science: Reflections on the Church’s Witness and Message in a Scientific Age,” published in Lutheran Mission Matters, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Issue 49) November 2016.

[2] This entire paragraph is my summary of Kenneth Samples’ Chapter 14 of Without Doubt, which is entitled “Aren’t Christianity and Science Enemies?”


Contradict Movement (Stickers, Tract, and Books): www.contradictmovement.org
Andy Wrasman’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/razwrasman
Reconnect Podcast: https://andywrasman.com/category/reconnect-podcast/

God’s Answer to the Problem of Evil

The following is a sermon based on the Old Testament text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4.

Habakkuk is crying out to God with the complaint that God’s people have struggled with through every age – and this is a struggle that won’t go away until Jesus returns and makes all things new – and that complaint is the problem of evil.  Why, oh why, does an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God allow evil?  Why does he let his people suffer?

habakkuk 2

In our day and age, even those who reject the existence of God – ask this question.  In fact, many people who do not believe in God reject his existence, because of this very problem of evil.  They think if God is all-powerful and all-good and all-loving, he’d stop evil.  Since evil still exists, they conclude that an all-powerful God must not exist; he must be impotent.  Or, maybe he’s all-powerful, but he isn’t all good, maybe he is actually evil.  They conclude that an all-powerful, all-loving God does not exist.

The text does not tell us what the exact sins are that Habakkuk is witnessing.  We are told that there is violence.  That there is destruction.  That there is constant strife and contention.  We are told that the law can’t do anything to stop this evil – that there is no justice for the righteous who are surrounded by the wicked.

Not knowing the exact details of the evil deeds in Judah at the time of Habakkuk works to make the text more relatable to us today, because we all can turn on the news, or read our social media feeds, and witness the evil and injustices that occur daily in our society.

Many of us have experienced evil and injustice against us and against our family, friends, and neighbors.

Many of us have also experienced suffering and pain that can’t be directly linked to specific sinful acts– such as a loved one dying of cancer or suffering from mental depression that can’t simply be stopped.

Do we usually get the answer we want from God when we ask why such evil and suffering is happening to us, to our people, and in our nation?  Probably not.

Habakkuk didn’t get the answer he wanted either.  In chapter 1 verses 5-11, he is told that the evil in Judah that he wanted the Lord to stop would be stopped, but that it would happen through God raising up the Chaldeans, a fierce, strong nation that marched through nations taking whatever they desired – their strength was their god.

Habakkuk can’t believe this answer – not at all.  Is God really going to stop the evil in Judah by having a more evil nation conquer his people?

In verse 13 of Chapter 1, Habakkuk wants to know why God sits around and looks at the traitors and remains silent when the wicked swallow up the man more righteous than he.  So he raises a second complaint to God – Habakkuk asks if God plans to just let nations continue to eat each other up forever?

He then takes his stand at the watchtower, and he waits for the Lord to answer this second complaint.

The answer, again, is likely not what Habakkuk wanted to hear, but he is told to write down the answer and to make it easy to read on tablets.  He was to make it so big that a person running could read it.  Habakkuk might have even written the answer he received from the Lord on something very big like a giant billboard – that the person running by couldn’t miss even if he wanted to not see.

The answer God gives is simple, and it is two-fold – First, God says, “Be patient.”  God’s word is true – the world as it is now is not as God intended it to be; God is setting everything right, though his coming salvation and end to all evil seems very, very slow to us.

We struggle in understanding why he is delaying his salvation.  But… the second part of the answer is given to Habakkuk – “The righteous shall live by his faith.”

The person who lives by his faith in God and God’s Word is righteous before God.  The righteous are those who trust in God and his promises, patiently waiting for the Lord to bring about his salvation – in his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Unlike Habakkuk who lived before the coming of God’s promised savior, the Christ, we living in the New Testament era of the Church know our promised savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  We know how Jesus came to save us from evil – how he saved each and every one of us from evil.  He saved us from our own evil.

He saved us from our own sins.  Our sins deserve God’s eternal punishment.  Jesus saved us from the punishment we so rightly deserved by taking our sins upon himself, paying the penalty that we deserve through his death on the cross.

Jesus brought us from being enemies of God into being the children of God.

And through his resurrection from the dead, he has given us the assurance that our sins truly are forgiven and that he has all power over sin, death, and the devil, that at his promised return, he will put a final end to all evil in this world, in our lives – forever.  The wicked will no longer devour the righteous.  Nations will no longer continually eat each other up over and over and over again.

Jesus will restore all of creation and he will make all things new again.  He will make all things as he intended them to be.

So we ask, like Habakkuk, when are you going to do this oh Lord?  When will Jesus return to do as he promised?

And the answer we get from the Lord is the same that Habakkuk received – “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Peter at the end of his second letter tells us a very similar message to what Habakkuk received from the Lord.  In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

He continues in verses 10 to 13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

God is not slow in keeping his promises to free us from all evil and suffering.  He is patient with us.  He desires for all to come to repentance.

Let me ask you, what would happen if Christ were to return today?  To return right now?

All who are not repentant, all who are not living by faith in Christ, will be lost to death forever along with everything else of this world that is destined for fire.

Who do you know that would be lost forever?  Do you really want God to put an end to all evil, right now, when you think of the ones you love who are not yet repentant of their sins?  Even those who have caused you evil would you really want that to be their fate?

What we perceive to be God’s lack of action in the problem of evil is actually patience that comes from his love for us – for you – for all people who are still outside of faith in Christ.  He does not want them to perish, though it is what they deserve, and that is what you deserve.

As he is patient with the wicked, he calls us, we who are righteous, not by any righteousness of our own, but by the righteousness we receive from Christ, through the faith by which we live, to be patient too.

So the problem of evil there is an answer – the answer is Jesus.

What is the greatest act of evil in the history of the world?  Many people typically will point to the acts of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao Zedeng that led to the deaths of millions upon millions of people.

I’d point people however to the cross of Jesus.  The greatest act of evil that ever occurred in history has to be when Jesus, God in the flesh, innocent of any wrongdoing, was viciously beaten, whipped, and crucified at the hands of his sinful creation. Can anything more evil possibly happen than man killing God?

But what we see from the greatest act of evil is that the greatest good was produced: the forgiveness of all of our sins, the salvation of mankind. When Jesus allowed the greatest evil to be done to him and when God the Father offered his one and only son for us that we see the greatest love ever – God’s love.  And we see that God loves us.

When you face evil, remember Jesus and his love for you.

When you face evil, be patient and trust in the promises of God.  Pray and stand watch like Habakkuk.  Look for the return of Christ as Peter tells you to do.

Depending on what evil you have experienced or are experiencing, depending on what suffering you are enduring, such an answer may fail to cut the mustard.  If you attend the Sunday English Bible Study for Light of Christ, you’ll recognize that phrase “cut the mustard” from a couple of weeks ago.  It means that to be told to wait and trust in God when you are under attack by evil or when you are suffering in sorrow or pain will probably fail to satisfy your troubled heart and mind.

But nevertheless, when you stare evil in the face, remember the righteous shall live by his faith.  And it is through this faith that we live in holiness and godliness – as we wait for and speed the coming of the Day of the Lord.

And it is in that promised day of Christ’s return that Jesus will destroy sin, death, and the devil forever.

Amen.