Investigating Paul’s Conversion Turned a Doubter Into a Christian Apologist

Studying the conversion of the Apostle Paul turned a learned and skeptical English statesman into a Christian apologist. In 1747, George Lyttleton penned Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul. Lyttleton wrote “I thought the conversion and Apostleship of Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a Divine revelation.”  In this very short and influential work of 18th-century Christian apologetics, Lyttleton examines the life of Paul found in Acts and in his undisputed letters and offers the following quadrilemma: Either Paul was “an impostor who said what he knew to be false, with an intent to deceive;” or  He was an “enthusiast who imposed on … Read more

D.O.U.B.T.S.: An Evidential Filter for Miracle Claims

When it comes to miracles, Christians are often accused of special pleading. We’re quick to accept Christian miracle claims, but we suddenly turn into Richard Dawkins when it comes to miracle claims made by other religions. Why should skeptics start investigating the resurrection of Jesus when we don’t give other miracles the time of day? The truth is that there are dozens of different religions and thousands of miraculous claims out there. So how can the Christian hope to use miracles as an argument for their faith?  But the fact that there are miracle claims in other religions doesn’t require us to dismiss all miracle claims out of hand. Nor is it necessary for us … Read more

Learn to Make a Maximal Case for the Resurrection

I used to love sharing the minimal facts with unbelievers.  It’s easy to present in a few minutes and sounds rhetorically powerful. When I tell my friends that the facts I’m sharing are universally acknowledged by scholars, even those who are skeptical, it seems like I am not coming at them with something that only conservative evangelicals believe. And on the surface, taking an end-run around the Gospels seemed helpful because unbelievers tend to view them as dubious sources.  However, I ran into a couple of issues. One was practical. Let’s say I got the skeptic to hear me out. Does it really make sense to say: “OK, I granted for the sake of argument … Read more

How Not to Argue for the Resurrection of Jesus

Here’s a pitfall I’ve seen quite a few Christian apologists fall into when arguing for the resurrection of Jesus. The argument goes something like this: Paul probably believed that Jesus’ resurrection was physical. This is evident from his letters. In 1 Corinthians 15:4, Paul says Jesus was buried and then raised. What goes down in burial must come up in resurrection. In Romans 8:11 and Philippians 3:21, Paul also refers to resurrection as something physical. Paul thought what happened to Jesus’ body will someday happen to ours.  According to Paul, Peter, James, and John approved of his Gospel in his letter to the Galatians. He was preaching what they were preaching. Therefore, the other apostles … Read more

Why Apologists Should Talk About the Ascension | Response to Matthew Hartke

Matthew Hartke’s video Why Apologists Don’t Talk About the Ascension has really taken off, lame pun intended. For his very first video, he’s already amassed nearly 60,000 views and counting. That’s impressive. Hartke asks the question “why don’t the big-league resurrection apologists like William Lane Craig, Mike Licona and Gary Habermas talk about the ascension?” And I think this is a good question. Let’s listen to Hartke: Clip 1:  I’ve combed through several books and listened to dozens of talks by Gary Habermas on his minimal facts argument for the resurrection. And maybe I’ve just missed it, but I have yet to see or hear him talk about the ascension. Mike Licona has written one … Read more

Does Paul’s Conversion Prove Christianity?

Does Paul’s conversion prove Christianity? Some apologists have argued that it does. We all know Paul’s story: He was a zealous Pharisee bent on wiping out Christianity before it could get too far off the ground. While on his way to Damascus, Paul saw what he believed to be the risen Jesus. He did a complete 180 and started preaching the faith he was once determined to destroy. This is a big deal because Jesus’ followers were preaching bodily resurrection from day one. Paul considered himself to be charged directly by Jesus to preach the same message. When he later met with the apostles, they gave his Gospel their stamp of approval.  There’s no sense … Read more

Has the Minimal Facts Created a Monster?

Paulogia grinds the gears of resurrection apologists with his trademark “For the Bible tells me so” jingle. He has created several response videos to apologetic superstars like William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and Mike Licona. Many people ask me why I don’t respond to more of his videos.  There are many reasons not to respond to Paulogia, often because he can come across as unserious or trollish. But this is also because Paulogia and I both believe that the minimalist approach isn’t compelling enough to persuade skeptics. You might want to see my earlier post for more on that.  I am afraid the popularity of the minimalist approach has helped create this monster called Paulogia … Read more

Why Minimal Facts Isn’t Enough

Unpopular opinion time: I’m not a fan of the minimal facts argument for the  resurrection. I don’t think it works, and it might even do more harm than good. I know this is a rather spicy take. And I understand people who absolutely love minimal facts might want to click away. But hang on a second! I used to love this argument, too. So put down your torch and pitchforks for just a moment. Hear me out for a few minutes!   When I first got into apologetics, I came across Gary Habermas’ popular talk “The resurrection argument that changed a generation of scholars.” I was blown away. I bought Habermas and Licona’s popular level book … Read more

Playlist: How Christianity (Probably DIdn’t) Begin | Response to Paulogia

Paulogia is an absolute machine when it comes to responding to arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Many have asked me to respond to his arguments. In a short video, Paulogia explains how Christianity began without the resurrection, so I figured that was a good starting point. I realize that he has a whole lot more to say on this topic, but I think this is a pretty good summary of his hypothesis. In this three-part series, I examine Paul’s epistemology regarding miracles, as well as his psycho-historical speculations of the apostles. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner … Read more

Video: A Religiously Neutral Method for Judging Miracles

Miracles seem to be a special pleading problem for Christians. The Bible claims many miracles that we often take for granted. But we turn into Richard Dawkins when other religions claim miracles. David Hume made the same complaint in his “Of Miracles” essay. What if I said Christians can meet this challenge? Enter John Douglas. Douglas was an Anglican bishop who responded to Hume’s essay. In response, Douglas offered religiously neutral criteria to filter out unverifiable miracle claims. So what were the criteria? Douglas said we can rationally doubt a miracle when… It is first reported long after the alleged miracle occurred. It is first reported far away from where the alleged miracle happened. If … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?