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.

The Bible is Just a Story! Like Harry Potter is Just a Story!

Yesterday, I set-up an evangelism table at Saddleback Community College.  I had a Contradict poster taped to the table with print-outs of the Contradict page of explanation with me to hand out to people who seemed interested in the sign on the table.

A long conversation was sparked with a student who recognized that the religions contradicted each other and that they can’t all be true.  When I began to share about why I believe Jesus is God and the Savior of mankind, he objected, saying that the Bible is just a story.  He argued that the Bible was written by a person a long time ago, and it’s just a story, similar to how J.K. Rowling writes stories.  People eventually believed the Bible to be a true story, and he had no problem if people wanted to believe it was true, becuase the stories that form religions help keep society in order, by giving people a purpose and direction life, something to live for.

I noticed in his explanation that he referenced again, and again, that it was just “a person” who wrote the Bible. I corrected him on that point, that the New Testament was not written by “a person” but at least 8, likely 9, different authors.

I then told him that those 8-9 people suffered and were persecuted for their writings.  Some argue that we only know by tradition that the apostles died, not good hard historical evidence, and this is likely true, that it’s only in tradition that they died as martyrs.  But we do know for certain that they were persecuted, jailed, robbed, and many were executed for the Christian faith from the NT writings themselves, as well as from the writings of early Church fathers, and from historians of the 1st-3rd centuries outside of the Christian circle.

But he made no argument against my claim that the Bible had multiple authors, or against my claim that they were persecuted for their message.  He still wanted to argue that it was a story, so I drew a parallel to his Harry Potter comparison.

Author J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter an...
Author J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the Easter Egg Roll at White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I said, we know that J.K. Rowling wrote the Potter books.  We also have her own words explaining how she created the characters and conducted research into the practices of magic and the occult to write her books.  We records of interviews with her, and we have critics who have read and critiqued her work, both in praise and against it.  I told him that we have similar works with the BIble.  The Talmud mentions Jesus and claims that he performed his work through the Devil.  Other authors outside of the Christian refer to Jesus as a historical person who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.

What we find is that the apostles did not recant their beliefs when confronted to say that their story was fiction.  If J.K. Rowling claimed her Potter universe was real, and there was a gun put to her head, and she was told that she had to admit that her work was fiction or a bullet would be put into her head, would she maintain that Potter and his friends and his school actually exists?  He said no, of course not, at which point I told him that the disciples didn’t reject their “story.”
He responded that they could have been crazy.  I quickly refuted that argument, at which point he jumped to explain that Jesus probably had a twin brother!  Really?  I had heard that this was a natural argument to explain the resurrection, but I had never met someone who actually argued that it’s most likely that Jesus had a twin brother, than a bodily resurrection occurring.

I’ll share more about the Twin discussion in a post to come very soon.

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.

Homosexual Marriage… What does the Bible say?

I received the following email from one, Joshua Suh:

It seems like the last two videos were about love? Is this in correlation to valentines day coming up?! hahah, what does contradict say about gay love? Not that I’m gay or condone gay marriage, it’s always so relevant though, this whole, ” progression” “down with the ignorant conservative” movement, but I would be interested in hearing contradicts opinion from a biblical perspective, aside from all the political banter, just biblical facts. It often happens people quote or misunderstand Bible Verses.. out of context about homosexual marriages! There is always the Inner ” Christian Circle” argument” between Christians who support gays and christians who don’t, which doesn’t really help our case if we can’t agree upon it ourselves..): But what would Contradict say about this?!!

gay marriage

What stood out to me was that he didn’t want to hear any politics, just biblical facts.

  1. On Judging – First, I have heard it said a lot that we shouldn’t judge others.  People who say this are likely getting this view from Matthew 7:1, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  When more of chapter 7 is read we see that, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  This shows that we can judge others, only after we have addressed our own sins first.  If you notice, the judging in that situation is done with the goal of helping your brother remove the speck from his eye.  Matthew 7 also falls with the Sermon on the Mount which is leading us to see that none of us righteous enough to enter heaven.  We all need a Savior!  This means we can’t throw judgment upon others, while claiming that we are righteous on account of our own merit.
  2. Marriage in the Bible – Marriage is established in Genesis Chapter 2 at the creation of humanity as a relationship between a man and a wife.  Genesis 2:18, 21-24 reads:

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’…and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

3. Homosexuality is a Sin – I pulled the following verses from a John MacArthur article that shows God opposing homosexuality throughout all of his Word to us:

– In the patriarchs (Genesis 19:1-28)

In the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)

In the Prophets (Ezekiel 16:46-50)

In the New Testament (Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Jude 7-8)

Of these I often cite, Leviticus 18:22 from the Old Testament, to show that homosexuality is a sin, which says, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination,”  and I quote Romans 1:22-27, which I recommend all of you to look up and read directly.


Consider supporting my Kickstarter project for my second book, GP – God’s Promise.  The fundraising is all or nothing for meeting my goal and the deadline is July 15th, 2019.  Thanks. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/contradictmovement/gp-gods-promise


4. Division among Christians – Josh mentioned that there are divisions among Christians on this issue.  I firmly believe that if all the passages listed above are read, it’s unavoidable to come to the conclusion that God sees homosexual activity as sinful.  As we share God’s standard with others, I think we need to approach it as Jesus commanded, by removing the log from our own eye first.  We all have lusted, which means we all have committed adultery in our hearts (Matthew 5:27-28).  We all need a Savior and we all must come to repentance.  We all have sins that we will struggle with throughout this life.  The struggle against sin is a sign that we have faith in Christ.  Hebrews 10:26-29 says:

 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?