How Polycarp gives us evidence for the early use of the New Testament

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. I guess if you’re Greek it’s not that strange, his name simply means … Read more

6 ancient sources that prove the traditional authorship 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 is 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

Killing the Canaanites: Why can’t atheists like Richard Dawkins tell the difference between genocide and justified capital punishment?

Critics of Christianity (and Judaism) have said that the God of the Old Testament is worse than Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong put together. Richard Dawkins has famously wrote in his book The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins must have had his thesaurus handy when he wrote that, but I digress. It’s not as if Dawkins and other critics have no basis for these claims. Deuteronomy 20:16-17 reads “… in the cities of these … Read more

Did the women at the tomb of Jesus see a man at the tomb, two men, or two angels?

Here is a favorite ploy of skeptics and critics of the four gospels: Find two stories that use different words, give different details, name different people and emphasize different things. Throw a flag and cry ‘contradiction!’ But differences in the account aren’t necessarily contradictions. Bart Ehrman has made a career of claiming otherwise. Here is a snippet of Bart in his debate on the resurrection with William Lane Craig: Read one story in Matthew, then the same story in Mark, and compare your two stories and see what you come up with. You come up with major differences . . . Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see … Read more

Do the 3 accounts of Paul’s conversion in Luke contradict each other?

There are three accounts of Paul’s conversion to Christianity found in the Book of Acts. They’re all a little bit different, and because of that some critics have cried foul. Comparing the accounts, biblical scholar and skeptic Bart Ehrman writes: “the three accounts differ in numerous contradictory details…Clearly we are dealing with a narrative that has been molded for literary reasons, not with some kind of disinterested historical report.” Ouch. If Luke is a sloppy historian simply spinning some religious yarn then there’s a problem. If he can’t seem to keep from contradicting himself while telling and re-telling Paul’s conversion, this would cast doubt that he ever traveled with or even knew Paul very well at … Read more

6 clear reasons why Psalm 22 can’t possibly describe anyone else but Jesus of Nazareth.

“Psalm 22 isn’t about Jesus at all! Mark was familiar with the Psalm and deliberately fabricated stories about the mocking of the crowds and the distribution of his clothes. Not only that, Christians translators came in and changed the wording of one of the passages to make it say that the sufferer’s feet and hands were pierced. Plus, the Psalm was written by David or some other Jewish sufferer about their own suffering. Christians are just projecting Jesus backward into the Psalm to fit their own narrative. And there’s nothing about the resurrection in Psalm 22. Isn’t that the punchline of the whole story?” That’s the skeptical interpretation of Psalm 22 in a nutshell. To … Read more

7 things that should be better known about the problem of hell according to Jesus

The topic of hell usually generates more heat than light, pun intended. The doctrine gets used as a bludgeon against those who claim to follow Jesus, who is said to be meek and lowly of heart, yet spoke so often of this harsh subject. The late outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens said, “not until the Advent of the Prince of Peace do we hear of the ghastly idea of further punishing the dead.” You hear many thinking believers say they’d prefer to get rid of the doctrine if it didn’t have such scriptural support. CS Lewis said, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this if it lay in my … Read more

A look at an alleged contradiction in the Gospels: Was Jairus’ daughter alive when Jesus was approached or was she already dead?

For historical documents to be reliable, they can’t be full of contradictions. That’s just common sense. As Christians, we say that the Gospels give us an accurate portrayal of historical events, but critics are quick to call foul. They say that the gospel accounts are so full of contradictions that it’s hopeless to even try and argue for their reliability. Or so critics like Bart Ehrman would like us to believe. When asked on his blog if there was a “slam-dunk” contradiction that would be impossible to defend, Bart’s reply was: “I don’t have ONE that is [a] slam-dunk. But there are dozens that are pretty good. Here’s one: Jairus came to Jesus to ask him to … Read more

A look at an alleged contradiction in the gospels: Did the centurion ask Jesus directly to heal his servant, or did he send others to ask?

If you’ve ever been in a discussion online with atheists, you know that one of their favorite moves is to dump a heap of alleged contradictions in the Bible and act like it is game over time. It’s probably a strange way of thinking about it, but I liken it to throwing a bucket of snakes into a crowded movie theater. It only takes a few seconds to dump some slithering serpents and watch people scatter, but it takes a lot longer catch them one by one and deal with them. It can be a pain to play the role of animal control, but someone’s gotta do it. These things do bother people. One of … Read more

18 Passages From Mark’s Gospel That Prove That Mark Had a High Christology

Biblical critics like Bart Ehrman say that the deity of Christ was a later invention that developed near the end of the first century. Bart and others of his ilk say that Mark, the earliest gospel, has a lower view of Jesus than John, who says he’s the pre-existent Word made Flesh. Quoting Bart: “If Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming himself to be a divine being sent from God…could anything else that he say be so breath-taking and thunderously important? And yet none of the earlier sources (read: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) says any such thing about him. Did they (all of them!) just decide not to mention the one thing that was most significant … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?