Archive for the ‘Sean McDowell’ Category

Book Review XXXI: More Than a Carpenter

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“One thing about Christian faith that has appealed to me is that it is not a blind, ignorant belief but rather one based on solid intelligence.”
– Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell –

A superb book on apologetics! I highly recommend it to you, readers!

Josh McDowell started out as skeptics who mocked Christianity.
One day a Christian student challenged him to disprove Jesus’ claims.
He then delved into deep research into Christianity.
At the end of his research, he concluded that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a real historical event.
Though he himself struggled not to accept Him as a personal Savior and Lord, he eventually accepted Him.
Over time, God began to work in his life.
Before he became a Christian, he had a temper problem. After he became a Christian, he was not angered easily.
Before he became a Christian, he hated his father. After he became a Christian, he forgave his father.
In fact, he managed to get his father to accept Lord Jesus.

Let’s see the content of this book, shall we?

This book deals with many issue. Nevertheless, I will just summarize five of them:
1. Jesus’ claim to be God.
2. Atheism
3. The reliability of the Bible.
4. Apostle’s testimony that Lord Jesus rose from the dead.
5. Jesus Lord is the only way to God

So, let’s get started ~~

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1. Jesus’ claim to be God.

This claim is the most outrageous claim a human can ever make.
In fact, it is the reason why the Pharisees hated Lord Jesus so much.
For instance, He forgave sins which only God can do.
Was Jesus a liar? Very unlikely. He taught many truth and He has the noblest character the world has ever known.
In fact, if he had been a liar, why would He be willing to go through much suffering for such a false claim?
Was Jesus lunatic? It is very unlikely as His teaching and lifestyle did not correspond to someone who had mental issue.
Is Jesus God? That’s the only possible explanation.
Some tried to downplay this claim e.g. The Da Vinci Code. However, this is half truth. 
The divinity of Christ had been long recognized by the early Christians long before  council of Nicea was formed.

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2. Atheism

There is a rise of atheism in modern days as characterized by the books Letter to a Christian Nation, The God Delusion and God is Not Great.
Modern atheism has several characteristics.
1. While old atheism understood without God there would be loss of purpose and joy of living, modern atheism celebrates the death of God.
2. Modern atheism believes religion is poison.
3. It mainly attacks Christianity. While modern atheism claims to be based on science, it is actually in conflict with science.

Paul Davies stated: "Science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical at every level. Atheists claim that the laws [of nature] exist reasonessly and that the universe is ultimately absurd. As a scientist, I find this hard to accept."
In fact, modern science has developed from Christian worldview that God is glorified in our understanding of His creation.
Many early scientists were theists such as Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Johannes Keppler, Louis Pasteur and Francis Bacon.
Some atheists like Anthony Flew in the end decided to believe in God after researching on science.

Two topics where atheisms cannot explain: origin of life and the fine tuning of the universe.
Moreover, while atheists can do good deeds, atheism does not provide objective moral standard.
According to late atheists J. L. Mackie, objective moral standard is unlikely to arise apart from an all-powerful God.
Atheism argues Christianity is evil. While there were slaughters done in the name of Christianity, the legacy of Christianity is mostly positive.
As a comparison, there were more than 100 million slaughters done by the communist China, Russia and Nazi Germany

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3. The reliability of the Bible

Following are the critics’ argument and answer to  them:

Critics:
Some critics like Ferdinand Christian Baur considered the New Testament books were written in late second century AD.
Hence, it is no longer accurate.
Answer:
However, archeologists like William Albright found the whole New Testament was written between AD 50 and AD 75, thereby ensuring the accuracy of New Testament. William Ramsay also concluded that Luke was a first rank historian.

Critics:
Some critics say New Testament was based on accumulation of myth and folklore.
Answer:
However, normally folklore is accumulated through many generations. New Testament, on the other hand, was completed over little more than one generation since Lord Jesus lived. In addition, in Jewish culture, a student must carefully preserve the words of his/her teacher. Hence, it does not allow any accumulation of myth and folklore.

Critics:
Some critics claimed there are at least 20 Gospels instead of 4 Gospels.
Answer:
However, these additional Gospels are noncanonical as their dating is between AD 120-250, three generations away from Christ. Hence, their accuracy is questionable.

How do we know the Bible is historically reliable as compared to others historical manuscript?
Chauncey Sanders proposed 3 tests: Bibliographical test, internal evidence test, external evidence test.

Bibliographical Test
it is a test by which historical document reaches us, i.e. how reliable are the copies we have now.
Let’s examine other historical documents.
– Thucydides lived from 460-400 BC. His life was documented in 8 manuscripts which were dated about AD900, close to 1300 years later.
– Aristotle composed his poem around 343 BC yet the earliest copy was dated AD 1100 which was 1400 years later.
– Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written between 58 and 50 BC but there are 9-10 manuscripts of it dating 1000 years after his death.
As a comparison, there are  at least 5600 manuscripts of New Testament and the gap between the date of original composition and the earliest extant evidence is almost negligible.
Hence, we can be confident on the authenticity of the New Testament.
Some critics claim there are too many biblical variants which compromise the authenticity of New Testament.
However, these variants are expected due to large number of manuscript of the New Testament.
Most of these variants are simple spelling differences.
Even when there is variant in the meaning of text, it does not jeopardize the central doctrine of Christian faith.

The Internal Evidence Test
The accuracy of a historical writing depends on proximity of the writers and the event. The apostles were the eyewitnesses of the life and the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, their critics could not pinpoint any inaccuracy in their testimony.

The External Evidence Test
The New Testament is confirmed by extrabiblical evidence too. For example, Sir William Ramsay concluded the book of Acts to be accurate in its description of geography, antiquity and society of Asia Minor through archeological evidence.

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4. Apostle’s testimony that Lord Jesus rose from the dead.

Though science says dead people don’t rise from the dead, there are many things science cannot explain.
For example, scientists cannot derive some equation to prove Napoleon Bonaparte ever existed.
Hence, the resurrection of Lord Jesus has to be analyzed from history and logic.
Historically, none of the opponents of Christianity was able to refute the apostles’ claim by showing the still dead body of Lord Jesus, for example. From legal point of view, their silence speaks volume on the authenticity of the claim.
In addition, the apostles themselves were the eyewitnesses of the resurrection.
They were wiling to be tortured, butchered and slaughtered in defending their claim.
Logically, would they have gone that far if they had fabricated the message of resurrection?

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5. Jesus Lord is the only way to God

Question
Why is Lord Jesus the only way to God? Why can’t other religions or religious leaders show way to God?

Answer
Humans are sinful being.
God is a loving God. He does not want to send anyone to hell.
At the same time, since He is holy God and infinitely perfect, He can’t tolerate even a speck of sin in His presence.
Hence, He must send all humans to hell.
To solve this apparent dilemma, God Himself became human in the form of Lord Jesus.
He died on our behalf so we can be reconciled to God.
Through Lord Jesus, we can have forgiveness of sins.
No other religious figures can offer such forgiveness as they themselves are subjects to sin.

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Interesting book, isn’t it?
Do get a copy of this book at The Ink Room today, ok? 

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