Coinfidence in Undesigned Coincidences: In Defense of the “Why Philip?” example

A commonly mentioned example of an undesigned coincidence is about why, in John 6:5, Jesus asks Philip where to get food for the crowd before miraculously feeding the five thousand. The explanation relies on details from John and Luke. In John, we learn that Philip came from Bethsaida, while Luke independently says the feeding happened there (Luke 9:10). In Luke’s story, the place is mentioned, but Philip’s role isn’t. In contrast, John doesn’t specify the location but does mention that Philip is from Bethsaida and tells us about Jesus asking Philip. This makes sense as an undesigned coincidence if Philip knew the area well and its local food joints. It’s important to note that John … Read more

Countering The Amateur Exegete’s Green Grass Coincidence Critique

In Lydia McGrew’s book Hidden in Plain View, she presents a compelling argument for the trustworthiness of the Gospels, featuring numerous undesigned coincidences as supporting evidence that the Gospels and Acts were authored by individuals closely connected to the original witnesses of Jesus’ ministry. One of these coincidences centers on the mention of green grass in Mark’s Gospel, which corresponds with an account of it being Passover time in the Gospel of John. (If you’re unfamiliar, I discuss this coincidence in more detail here.) However, a well-read and bright blogger who goes by “The Amateur Exegete,” whose actual name is Ben, raises questions about this apparent coincidence, challenging its evidential value. For a full understanding … Read more

Unraveling the Genealogical Mystery: Resolving the Alleged Contradiction in the Gospels

The Gospels provide us with valuable teachings, history, and inspiration. However, they also contain parts that can be confusing, with apparent contradictions. One such challenge involves the family history of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. It seems like these genealogies don’t match up much at all, which can be puzzling. As noted biblical critic Bart Ehrman points out: “The real problem they pose, however, is that the two genealogies are actually quite different” (Jesus Interrupted, p. 37). But if we dig deeper and consider the historical context, we can find the real story behind this supposed contradiction. Matthew 1:16—“…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is … Read more

Unpacking the Census Conundrum in Luke’s Account: Did Luke Make a Blunder?

Skeptics have long scrutinized the passages in Luke 2:1-2, seizing upon what they see as historical discrepancies in the biblical account of the census. These verses have been a focal point of contention, with critics arguing that Luke made substantial errors, questioning his reliability as a historian. The criticism primarily revolves around the timing of the census and the mention of Quirinius, the governor of Syria. Here, the noted agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman elaborates on this objection in detail: “The historical problems with Luke are even more pronounced. For one thing, we have relatively good records for the reign of Caesar Augustus, and there is no mention anywhere in any of them of … Read more

The Barabbas Story: Legend Or Reality?

The story of Barabbas, the insurrectionist released by Pontius Pilate in place of Jesus, is a familiar episode in the Gospels. However, biblical scholars and critics have raised doubts about its historical accuracy, pointing to several perceived inconsistencies. To begin with, critics claim that there is no historical record of such a practice, questioning whether it actually occurred. Furthermore, they argue that Pilate, known for his harsh and cruel character, releasing an insurrectionist seems highly inconsistent. Lastly, some skeptics suggest that the name Barabbas, meaning “son of the father,” might have been invented by the evangelists for symbolic and literary purposes. Let’s look at each of these arguments in turn. Understanding the Argument from Silence … Read more

Subtle Clues in the Pastoral Letters That Point to Pauline Authorship

The letters attributed to Paul have caused arguments about whether he really wrote them. Most scholars tend to think they are fake. However, some things inside these letters make it tricky for critics to say they’re fake. William Paley pointed out that there are parts in the letters that seem unrelated and practical, like advice about food and personal stories. These things make it harder to believe the letters are forged. Let’s dive in and take a look. Unexplained allusions In 1 Timothy 5:23, the advice is given, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” When thinking about the chance of someone pretending to be Paul … Read more

Evidence Supporting Reliability: The Unified Personalities of Mary and Martha

The Gospels provide an interesting glimpse into the lives of supporting characters, and what’s truly remarkable is how their personalities shine through in subtle, casual and undesigned ways across multiple stories. These character traits, which emerge incidentally in the narratives, are challenging to fabricate. Even in modern forms of storytelling like serialized TV shows, it’s a complex task to maintain such consistent character traits. I know this isn’t an apples for apples comparison here, but take for instance the transformation of Andy Dwyer in “Parks and Recreation,” for instance. He quickly changed from being a bumbling, lazy, and incredibly selfish boyfriend (poor Ann Perkins) to becoming remarkably a kind, selfless, and romantic husband to April. … Read more

A Simple Reason to Believe Colossians Isn’t a Pauline Forgery

Most biblical scholars agree that Paul’s letter to the Colossians is likely a forgery, unlike the letter to Philemon, which is generally accepted as genuine. But there are some hidden similarities between these two letters that challenge this belief. These connections revolve around similar situations and people mentioned in both letters. All this info comes from William Paley’s Horae Paulinae. Let’s focus on the evidence that links Onesimus to Colossae. In the letter addressed to Philemon, we learn that Onesimus was actually a servant or slave of Philemon. So where did Philemon live? Oddly enough, the letter doesn’t directly say where he was from. But there’s a clue – Philemon seems to be connected to … Read more

The Gospels: Mere Myths or Myth Made Fact? CS Lewis’ Unexpected Journey

In his book Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis talked about a moment that pushed him towards atheism. He saw a striking similarity between Christianity and pagan myths. Back in his school days, everyone saw pagan myths as mere fiction, but Christianity was treated as something different, as actual history. Lewis wondered why the Bible got a free pass while other myths were questioned. Lewis wrote back and forth with his friend Arthur Greeves, saying, “You ask me about my religious views: you know, I think I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint, Christianity is not even the best. All religions, or mythologies as … Read more

The Synoptic Problem Isn’t a Problem For Undesigned Coincidences

One of the most intriguing arguments for the reliability of the Gospels is the argument from undesigned coincidences. Speaking as a proud member of Team McGrew, I can tell you it’s one of my all-time favorites. However, the moment you try to explain this argument to a skeptic, you’re often hit with a common objection: “But aren’t the Gospels dependent on each other?” It’s what we call the Synoptic problem, and it’s the main objection critics tend to throw our way. But here’s the deal – this objection is usually rooted in a misunderstanding, and I’m here to clear things up for you. If you ever find yourself defending this argument online, you’re pretty much … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?