Why Do We Need To Teach High School Students Apologetics?

I don’t think many churches are teaching apologetics.  I know some that are, but I think they are the exception, not the norm.  I was never taught apologetics in high school.  The best answer I was given to why I should believe the Bible to be the word of God was to read 1 Timothy 3:16 – not the best answer!  In fact I wonder if that answer damaged the faith of the high school peer that asked it.

Here is a sampling of feedback I received from high school students after their first unit test on Christian Apologetics:

This section significantly helped me very much so. Not by strengthening my faith, I didn’t actually have any doubts or skepticisms about the Gospel that needed answering. I am already very strong in my faith. The way it helped me so much, is by making it easier for me to answer other people’s questions. Being a faithful Christian, many of my non-religious or skeptical friends, come to me looking for guidance or answers regarding Scripture. I would give them pretty good answers that would generally leave them feeling satisfied. Now I feel like I can answer all of their questions 110%, eliminating any doubt or fear in their minds.

This apologetics section definitely helped me to learn to better defend my faith. I have a lot of non-Christian friends who I regularly converse with about my religion, so this class gave me new tools & talking points that I can discuss with them, as well as raised new questions that I have further researched on my own. The most significant thing I learned was about the historical authenticity of Jesus’ life & the fact that there were pagan historians who affirmed Jesus’ life.

Yes, after studying this past month I have learned that I knew very little about how to defend my faith to those who don’t understand.

Studying the reliability of the Gospels and answering questions about who Jesus is helped me throughout my beliefs and doubts. As I was researching and reading the book, my doubts on the Christianity faded away, since it seems so true! There are so many evidences that Jesus was a real, existed figure and that he has been resurrected. These studies answered my question of if Jesus even existed because I sometimes thought that Jesus could be just a fictional character. The most significant thing I have learned from this section of the class is that only the New Testament had time gap less than 100 between the original and the copies.

Studying the Gospels and the questions about who Jesus is really helped, as it helps me to have more apologetic evidence to further back my faith, both in my own mind and to defend it to other people. The most significant thing I learned were the reasons for believing the resurrection. Since I don’t often see miracles, hearing of someone being legitimately dead, and the rising again, is worthy of attention. But it is also hard to believe. Reading the evidences for it helped strengthen the idea in my mind.

Studying the reliability of the Gospels and answering questions about who he is definitely helped me. I have gotten into situations before where I wish I had the knowledge that I need to answer various questions from friends. I feel more equipped to get into discussions from now on.

These questions have made me much more knowledgeable on the Gospels and Jesus. Before I just believed in these things because I knew that I should. Now I know that these things actually happened and are actually true. I feel a lot more confident in my faith now and feel like I can talk to people about Christ more now because I can support what I believe in.

If you still have any doubts about why you should apologetics in your church, send me a message or leave a comment.  If you need some help or suggestions in getting started, send me a message or leave a comment.  Thank you for your time and for reading.

All the NT manuscripts were written in the first century!

The Gospel of Thomas is Scripture, or, it is not!

English: Gospel of Thomas or maybe gnostic Gos...
English: Gospel of Thomas or maybe gnostic Gospel of Peter

The Gospel of Thomas and other “Gospels” came much later than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Much, later, after the first century. One of the standards for a book to be canonical is that it was written by a prophet, or apostle, or came from with the apostolic circle. For a New Testament book to have been written from someone within the apostolic circle, clearly it would have had to have been written within the first century. Mark wasn’t an apostle but he knew the apostles and relayed Peter’s message. Luke wasn’t an apostle, but he knew the apostles and traveled with Paul. James, well, he was the brother of Jesus, but he was in the inner circle of the apostles, made evident as he was present at the first “Church Council” in Acts 15, and seems to have had the final word at that meeting quoting Scripture to provide his verdict!

Check out this blog post.  It’s the first of ten by Canon Fodder:

http://michaeljkruger.com/ten-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize-1-the-new-testament-books-are-the-earliest-christian-writings-we-possess/

The first fact shared that Canon Fodder shares in this series of ten facts is that every Christian should know that the New Testament is the earliest Christian writings we possess.  Hence, the reason I ranted about the Gospel of Thomas and the early writing of the NT manuscripts.  Read the blog and you’ll get more details.

Jesus had a twin brother! Sort of like the movie, The Illusionist?

Cover of "The Illusionist [Blu-ray]"
Cover of The Illusionist [Blu-ray]

Continuing the dialog I shared in the last post.  Someone told me that the Bible was just a story written by one person.  That it was all made up, like Harry Potter, but people came to believe it, because it gave them hope, etc.

After being confronted with some reasons for why we can trust the Bible not to be made up with some good reasons to believe that Jesus actually was raised from the dead, he quickly proposed, “Jesus probably had a twin brother that no one knew about.  That’s why people saw him back from the dead.”

I was stunned.  I had read about this argument before, but I had never actually met someone who thought that this was more likely than the resurrection and Jesus’ divinity, and he was ready to argue it.

He proposed that it was a trick, like magic, just as in the movie, The Illusionist.  I haven’t seen this movie, but I knew that it starred Jessica Beil and Edward Norton Jr.  He told me that it also starred the X-Men guy who played Wolverine.  So likely Hugh Jackman is in the movie too.  He told me that the movie was about a magician who had a twin brother that knew about and so they could do magic tricks easily and fool people.  He said one of them would cut off a finger and the other one would then the would switch places and the other one would appear and have the finger and everyone would be amazed!

Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie, The Illusionist.  After posting this blog, I received some comments saying that the movie he was referring to was actually, The Prestige.  That actually makes me feel a little better.  I’d hate to think that Edward Norton was in a movie that seemed so illogical, but who knows, the guy didn’t even have the right movie title to begin with, so maybe he had the story all wrong too.

The Prestige (film)
The Prestige (film)

Here are some rebuttals (mostly questions that he don’t have any likely explanation or answer) that I gave to him in reply to this twin theory:

  • Why did no one else know about Jesus’ twin brother?  His mother Mary would have known if he had a twin brother.  She was alive and present at the crucifixion according to one of the Gospels.
  • The Bible says that shepherds were there the night of Jesus’ birth.  Where would Mary and Joseph have stashed the other baby, and why would they abandon him?  Who would have raised him?  And if they were separated at birth so no one knew he had a twin, how would Jesus have discovered that he had an identical twin?  Plus the shepherds who visited Jesus at his birth, weren’t any ordinary shepherds.  They were the shepherds who kept watch over the Passover Lambs, in a specific field.  Anyone could have found them or people who knew those shepherds by going to that field and asking questions about his birth to see if he had a twin.
  • Why would Jesus decide to die a horrible, agonizing, public death in order for his twin brother to trick his best friends into risking and losing their lives to share such a devious and deadly trick as faking a resurrection?  Would you die like that for a trick that you wouldn’t even know for certain would work or have any lasting impact?
  • What would be the gain in doing this?
  • How do you explain his other miraculous feats recorded in the Gospels?  They wouldn’t have needed a twin brother to accomplish them.
  • The disciples spoke with him, ate with him, and touched him.  They would have been able to tell that it was a fake, since they had spent about three years in close communication with him, sharing their entire lives together.  The twin wouldn’t have had the same memories of everything they had shared together, so there is no way he could have convincingly reminisced with the disciples.
  • Thomas is recorded as having touched the scars on his hands, feet, and side.  How would those have been faked in the first century?
  • Do you really think that Jesus having a twin is a more likely explanation than a divine resurrection?

Was Yeshua a Common Name in the First Century?

According to the James Cameron produced mystery documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Jesus’ body was stolen by the disciples, who according to Jewish burial tradition would have taken his bones and put them in a box and buried him in his family’s tomb a year later.  I know this tradition is what likely prompted some of his disciples to say, “Yea, we’ll follow you, but first let us bury our Father who died.”  Jesus responds by saying, “Let the dead bury the dead; let’s take care of the living.”  It seems cold of him to say that in our tradition of a quick burial that is completed in a day, but in light of a year-long burial and the short span of Jesus’ earthly  ministry; yea, “Let’s get the move on” sounds more like an appropriate response.

Never mind the burial tradition, would the disciples have actually stolen the body, to then lie about it, claiming he was raised from the grave, and then preach such nonsense in the face of persecution and martyrdom?  Nope!  They wouldn’t, unless they were massively crazy!  But there is no sign in that, in fact, people were astounded by their teachings, and even their miracles!

Cameron’s big fantasy scenario comes from a tomb that was found, dated to around 2000 years ago, that had a box with the name Yeshua Bar Joseph on the side, Jesus, the Son of Joseph.  Is this Jesus’ family tomb?  Are these the bones of Jesus?  Finally, we can disprove the resurrection!

English: James Cameron introduce scenes from t...
Finally, we have good reason to believe that Jesus was not raised from the grave! Trust me. I made Avatar and Titanic.

Again, why would they steal the body and lie about it to their deaths?  How does it explain the post-crucifixion appearances, especially the one in which Jesus appeared to 500 people at once?  Were those 500 people all apart of the masterpiece conspiracy to become persecuted for a lie?  How does their stealing of the body explain the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, to the Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul?

But let’s say, none of this other evidence existed… just to humor James Cameron a little bit.

Is it really compelling evidence that the box was actually that of Jesus’ corpse because of the name on it?  Nope.  You want to know why?  Because Yeshua was a common name in the 1st Century.  Yeshua is the same name as Joshua, basically.  Other tombs from that time frame have been found with the name Yeshua on them.  How many haven’t been found?

For more on how Jesus was a common name in the 1st century, read this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2008/12/happy_birthday_dear_yeshua_happy_birthday_to_you.html

Quit reading Hindu Scriptures, James Cameron.  Read the Gospels, Matthew-John.  See the Real Jesus for yourself.

Are the copies of the New Testament Documents Full of Errors?

Here’s a video I threw together today addressing a question I received about the reliability of the copying process of the New Testament documents:

I think you might also like to watch the following videos on this topic:

Josh McDowell – How Many Manuscripts Are There?

Great Animation on the Reliability of Scripture (Must Watch)

Key Points of Chapter 20 of Without a Doubt Part 1

I apologize for any spacing, numbering, and alignment errors that occurred from copying from Word into WordPress for this blog post, but here is the first part of an outline of Kenneth Samples’ book, Without a Doubt:

Key Points from Chapter 7 Part 1: Historical Reliability of The Gospels

The Christian faith depends on the historical nature and accuracy of the unique claims, character, and credentials of Jesus Christ! – Page 91

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-18. Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ.

Support for the Historical Reliability of the Gospels

  1. 1.       The New Testament documents are the best attested documents of antiquity in terms of total number of manuscripts. 

 

  • Check out this website: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/bib-docu.html
  • 5,000 individual Greek Manuscripts
  • 8,000 copies of the Latin vulgate
  • Without these there are still thousands of manuscripts from commentaries and sermons that can be used to piece together the entire New Testament and these are from the early church fathers in the second to fifth centuries. – Page 92
  • Textual criticism exists because of the Bible.

 

  1. 2.       The interval of time between the date of the original authorship and the date of the earliest New Testament manuscript copies is extremely short.
  2. 3.       The historic statements made about Jesus by ancient non-Christian authors for the most part matches well with the Gospel record.
  • He was a provocative teacher, a wise and virtuous man from the region of Judea.
  • He reportedly performed miracles and made prophetic claims.
  • The Jewish leaders condemned him for acts of sorcery and apostasy.
  • He was crucified by Pontius Pilate at the time of the Jewish Passover, and during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
  • Jesus’ followers reported that he had risen from the dead.
  • The Christian faith spread to Rome were the Christians were persecuted and tried for crimes.
  • First-century Christians worshiped Jesus Christ as God and celebrated the Eucharist in their services.
  • Even though these Romans ridiculed the Christians as being morally weak, they were often times known for their courage and virtue.
  1. 4.       The authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life themselves, or were closely associated with the eyewitnesses. 

John 19:1-4
1 John 1:1-2
Luke 1:1-4
Galatians 1:11-12
2 Peter 1:16

  1. 5.       The Gospel writers intended to convey factual and historical information and the writings of their historical content have been confirmed to a significant degree.
  2. 6.       The apostles’ testimony becomes more credible when it is considered that they had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. 
  • They received no monetary reward or power from their message.
  • They received only beatings, imprisonment, and death.
  • Adversaries could have exposed their message as a lie, but they couldn’t.
  • We can trust their message because they had no motif to lie or deceive.
  • If they did lie and deceive they violated everything Jesus taught about honesty and truth.