Did the author of Luke make a geographical blunder in Luke 4:29?

Let’s just say that Jesus’ first sermon in his home city of Nazareth did not go over big. Reading out of Isaiah 61, Jesus announces that he’s the long-awaited Messiah that the prophet predicted. Rather than becoming a hometown hero, this offended the people who watched Jesus grow up to no end. Jesus then irritated them further, pointing to two different scenarios in the Books of Kings where rejected prophets healed and helped Gentile sinners before helping their fellow Israelites. (Luke 4:16-31) Luke tells us that this was the result: “And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so … Read more

The Man Who Carried Jesus’ Cross: The Hidden Significance of Simon of Cyrene’s Sons

Simon of Cyrene met Jesus in the most unusual way. Mark and Luke tell us he was coming back from the country. Whether out of curiosity or just being stuck in foot traffic, Simon ends up being a bystander to Jesus making his way to Golgotha. Weakened from the flogging, Jesus could no longer carry his cross by himself. Whether Simon felt any sympathy for Jesus or not, Roman soldiers forced him to help Jesus bear the weight of the cross the rest of the way. Coming face to face with the Man from Galilee in such a fashion would likely leave a lasting impression, and so his inclusion in the gospels makes sense. But what … Read more

NO, THE ARGUMENT FROM MIRACLES HAS NOT BEEN DEBUNKED (PT. 2 – A response to Rationality Rules)

Is the argument from miracles hopelessly fallacious? Stephen Woodford, AKA ‘Rationality Rules,’ believes so. In his popular YouTube video ‘The Argument From Miracles-Debunked’ Woodford says the argument from miracles commits four major fallacies. In my last post, I looked at Woodford’s first two objections saw that they didn’t really hold up under scrutiny. I’d recommend giving it a read before continuing in this post. Go ahead; I’ll be right here when you get back. Alright, now let’s turn to his final two objections and see if they do any better. Oh, and if you want to watch Rationality Rules’ video in full, here you go: GOD OF THE GAPS? Here’s Stephen’s 3rd objection: “a third … Read more

Undesigned coincidences in the gospels: Surprising evidence for Jesus’ feeding of the 5000

The feeding of the 5000 is one of Jesus’ most popular miracles. If you grew up in church, you probably saw it depicted on many a flannel graph. You know the story: Jesus was in a deserted place where large crowds were hanging on his every word. When it started to get late, Jesus’ disciples asked him to disperse the gathering to the surrounding villages so they could grab a bite to eat. Rather than sending them home, Jesus took five loaves and two fish and fed the multitude. The young lad who shared his food became famous that day and was sent home with 12 baskets full of leftovers.  Critics of the Bible tend … Read more

Did early Christian scribes really completely fake The Josephus Testimonium?

If Jesus was such a big deal, then why isn’t he mentioned by more historians of his time? This is a question that often gets asked by skeptics. The common Christian reply is that he was mentioned by 1st and early 2nd-century historians – namely Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus. This is where some critics – particularly the “Jesus-is-a-myth” crowd – cry foul. They’ll argue that Josephus never really mentioned Jesus, and if we’d critically examine the passages for ourselves, we’d admit that this popular Christian apologetic is pretty flimsy. This reply is a bit odd, seeing that even some of the strongest critics of traditional Christianity like Bart Ehrman and JD Crossan think that … Read more

The way skeptics argue against God reveals why God is so hidden to them

Christianity says that God loves everyone. It also teaches that God is all-powerful and he’s worked some crazy-amazing miracles in the past. The Bible also says that God knows everything, so he’d know what kind of convincing people need. So why are there atheists? Therefore, the reasoning goes that there probably is no God, or at least not one who cares enough to communicate clearly with us. This is a pretty common thing you’ll hear when talking to skeptics. There are certainly fancier ways of laying out this argument, but this is what philosophers call the problem of divine hiddenness. One of the things that critics of this argument have pointed out is that God … Read more

Did the author of Matthew’s Gospel make an ass out of himself when telling the story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry?

The writer of Matthew is quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament. You can’t read Matthew for long before he drops a reference from the prophets. But some critics say that’s he’s too quick to connect the dots, to the point where he makes himself out to be a dumb…well, I made the pun once as click-bait and this isn’t a Shrek movie, so we’ll leave it at that. One way Matthew allegedly parades his ignorance of the Old Testament texts in his version of the Triumphal Entry. To help me state this objection here’s Kristin Swenson of The Huffington Post: Mark and Luke agree that Jesus rode on a donkey, and that’s the … Read more

Does Mark make a historical blunder regarding the ritual of Jewish handwashing?

Critics love to say the gospels aren’t trustworthy because they’re full of historical blunders. One such alleged error that often gets brought up is that Mark goofs regarding ritual purification, namely the Jewish custom of handwashing. Here’s biblical critic Bart Ehrman: “Their ignorance of Palestinian geography and Jewish customs suggests they composed their works somewhere else in the empire…Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.” Jesus, Interrupted p 287 Bart has a point. If you read the Mosaic law, this was to be practiced by the … Read more

No, the Argument From Miracles Has Not Been Debunked – a Reply to Rationality Rules (Pt. 1)

Is the argument from miracles full of fallacies? Popular atheist YouTuber ‘Rationality Rules’ argues that’s the case. Rather than examining miracles on a report-by-report basis, he opts to say that the case for miracles is doomed from the start. This reasoning follows the tradition of the famous 18th-century philosopher David Hume. For those of you who aren’t into YouTube, Rationality Rules has had his channel since March of 2017. In that short time, he’s gained over 200k subscribers and has had nearly 15 million views. There’s a cottage industry of channels similar to his and we shouldn’t underestimate their influence. These are sharp skeptics making entertaining and digestible videos packed with thought-provoking content. As believers, … Read more

Did Paul believe in a heavenly, visionary Jesus or an embodied, resurrected Jesus?

Every serious historian who studies Christian origins agrees that Paul is our earliest source for the resurrection of Jesus. Even atheistic scholars like Gerd Ludemann admit that the creed Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15 is dated within a short time after Jesus’ crucifixion, possibly even within the first year. Here’s the rub: Many critics claim that since Paul is our earliest source, and his experience of Jesus was a visionary experience, that was likely the other apostles’ experience too. The gospels later embellished the story because Paul taught that Jesus rose spiritually, not bodily. Modern-day Christians don’t accept the visionary stories of Joseph Smith or Muhammed. So why believe the Christian story when it’s … Read more