7 startling historical facts we learn about early Christianity from a Roman governor who persecuted Christians

Christians wrote the gospels, so for some skeptics, that’s enough to assume they are too biased to be taken seriously. While I think the “biased testimony” objection is a terrible argument, we do have some hostile sources outside of the Bible that tell us a lot about the beliefs of early Christians. These sources obviously can’t be accused of the same prejudice and provide us with some powerful info that confirms what we read in the New Testament. In an earlier post, I wrote about what the Roman historian Tacitus tells us about Jesus and early Christianity. Now let’s turn to our second hostile Roman witness, Pliny the Younger. WHO WAS PLINY? Pliny lived from … Read more

Marry your rapist? Female POWs as war trophies? Does the Old Testament really condone rape?

When attacking atheism, Christians will say without God, there is no objective right or wrong. With no divine lawgiver, everything is permitted. Rape might be taboo, but there is no way the atheist can say that it is truly evil. If the skeptic knows a bit about the Old Testament, they might be glad you brought up the R-word. “Oh really!? Well, then how can morality be based on a divine lawgiver that condones and allows rape?” Admittedly, there is some funky sounding stuff in the Old Testament. For example: We read in Judges that the Israelites hatched a scheme to allow the pathetic Benjaminites to essentially rape 400 women at Jabesh-Gilead so their clan’s … Read more

No, miracles do not violate the laws of nature. David Hume’s treatise against miracles is one of the most overrated arguments in the history of philosophy

The apostle Paul said that Christianity stands or falls on the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:14) Yet for many religious skeptics, any argument made for a miracle is a project doomed from the start. It simply cannot get off the ground. Why is that the case? Enter the famous Scottish philosopher David Hume. In 1748 Hume wrote a short essay called Of Miracles. Hume vigorously argued that one can ever rationally believe a miracle claim because there is always more evidence that one did not occur. Michael Shermer has gone so far to say that “I think his treatise against miracles is pretty much a knockdown argument. Everything else is … Read more

7 eye-opening facts we learn about early Christianity from a Roman Historian who hated Christians

Most of what we learn about Jesus and early Christianity comes from the New Testament. This is not a big shock. But what does come as a shock to some is that we can also learn a lot from non-Christian sources. There are some hostile sources from the first century from whom we can glean a lot. One of them is from a guy named Tacitus. Who is Tacitus? Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) is his full name, and that’s as Roman as it gets. Tacitus was a Roman senator and is also considered to be one of the greatest Roman historians. His works – The Annals and Histories gives us a lot of info on … Read more

Bart Ehrman says the Gospel of Matthew was forged. Here are 7 reasons why we know Matthew was the author of the Gospel of Matthew.

If it could be shown that Matthew’s gospel was written by one of the twelve apostles, it would be a decisive weight in favor of the credibility of biblical history. After all, Matthew would have had a front row seat to Jesus’ life and alleged miracles. Because of that, skeptics have challenged the genuineness of the authorship of Matthew. For example, here’s the famous skeptic Bart Ehrman in an interview with NPR: “All the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness…Whoever wrote Matthew did not call it “The Gospel according to Matthew.” The persons who gave it that title are telling you who, in their opinion, wrote it… … Read more

Polycarp – How a church father with a funny name gives us strong evidence for the early use and high esteem of the New Testament documents

How do we know the books that we have in the New Testament are the right books? Why isn’t the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary included with the other four gospels? And didn’t the teachings of the disciples and apostles get corrupted over the centuries? Christians often get tested with these questions. While I hate to admit it, this is also the quiz that most believers flunk. We need to be better prepared and that requires a little understanding of early church history. So let me introduce you to a guy who went by the funny name of Polycarp. His life and martyrdom are a big part of the answer to these … Read more

7 powerful passages from The Book of Acts that show that the Apostle Paul used evidence and reason to turn the world upside down for Jesus.

Well-meaning Christians argue that using evidence and reason doesn’t bring people to faith. We’re just supposed to preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit do his job. Paul is the model missionary, and he said that preaching Christ with eloquent speech would empty the cross of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:17) On the surface, arguments like this sound right. People do need the aid of the Holy Spirit to come to Christ. Plus, faith does come by hearing the word of Christ. (John 16:7-9, Romans 10:17) But if we look closer at Paul’s teaching and life, we will see that Paul absolutely relied on logic, reason, argumentation, and evidence to defend the truth of … Read more

Bart Ehrman says that God has a problem. If we have free will in Heaven, what’s to stop us from sinning in the afterlife? And if God takes away free will in Heaven, then why doesn’t he take it away so we stop doing evil now?

The problem of evil comes up a lot when talking to non-believers. If you haven’t got the question about why an all-good, all-powerful God allows evil, you need to step out more. Why are there suicide bombers, school shooters and people that eat Tide Pods? Why does God allow such pointless evils? The standard Christian rejoinder is that God gave man free will. He doesn’t want Stepford Wives, he wants people who can make free choices. Free will makes love possible, but it also makes evil possible as well. Now that’s not a bad response to the problem of moral evil. There’s a problem, though. Christians are also committed to the idea that the saints … Read more

Skeptics say “we don’t know who wrote the gospels, but it wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John”. They’re using a double standard. Here are 6 ancient sources that show that we know who are the genuine authors of the Four Gospels.

Double standards are the worst. Have you ever been on the wrong side of a double standard? Of course you have. To use an example, let’s say I have someone drop by my house unexpectedly. I have four kids so things are bound to get messy. Let’s pretend that there’s an empty pizza box sitting on the counter, crumbs on the floor, toys are strewn about the living room and a pile of dishes in the sink. While this feels awkward for me, my wife is going to feel extremely uncomfortable and anxious about it.  Why? Because she is far more likely going to get unfairly judged over it. Even in this day where sexism … Read more