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

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

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. I don’t think these skeptics are paying very close attention when they say that there are irreconcilable discrepencies. So what are the differences that critics point to? Biblical scholar Darrell Bock tells us in The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible: The biggest differences in the accounts have to do with whether the men traveling with Saul see the light and hear nothing (22:9) or stand speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (9:7). . . . Another difference is that Ananias does not appear … Read more