Jesus On Trial (book review)

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I love studying Christian apologetics and learning how to explain to skeptics and seekers the eternal value in the Bible as it points me to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. David Limbaugh has given apologetics a new slant in his book Jesus On Trial.

Mr. Limbaugh uses his personal story from a childhood church attendee, to a skeptic of Christianity, to a reluctant seeker of the truth, and finally to a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. But he also lets us see how he examined the evidence for the truth claims of the Bible through the eyes of a trained lawyer. 

Throughout this book you will discover legalese terms like rules of evidence, items of probative value, rules of logic, and expert testimony. Each chapter feels like another witness Mr. Limbaugh has called to testify, or another piece of evidence that needs to be weighed and evaluated, and we the readers are empaneled as the jury deciding the case. As witness after witness takes the stand, as more evidence piles up, and as Mr. Limbaugh delivers his closing argument, the preponderance of evidence seems to make an airtight case of the truth claims in the Bible. 

Whether you are looking for answers or hunting for evidence to use in discussions with your friends, Jesus On Trial is a reference book to which I believe you will repeatedly return. 

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10 Quotes + 1 Infographic From “Cold-Case Christianity”

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is educational in a number of ways. Not only will you learn more about police investigations and courtroom deliberations, but Christians and skeptics alike will learn about the reliability of the biblical account concerning Jesus. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The Christian tradition is actually intellectually robust and satisfying, even if we believers are occasionally unable to respond to your challenges. The answers are available; you don’t have to turn off your brain to be a believer. Yes, it is possible to become a Christian because of the evidence rather than in spite of the evidence.” 

“Faith is actually the opposite of unbelief, not reason. … The biblical definition of faith is a well-placed and reasonable inference based on evidence.” 

“What about cases that have no direct evidence connecting the suspect to the crime scene? Can the truth be proved beyond a reasonable doubt when all the evidence we have is circumstantial? Absolutely. 

“Jurors are instructed to make no qualitative distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence in a case. Judges tell jurors, ‘Both direct and circumstantial evidence are acceptable types of evidence to prove or disprove the elements of a charge, including intent and mental state and acts necessary to a conviction, and neither is necessarily more reliable than the other. Neither is entitled to any greater weight than the other.’” 

“William Dembski (the well-known mathematician, statistician, theologian, and intelligent-design advocate) has argued that specified complexity (and, therefore, the intervention of an intelligent agent) can be identified by using an ‘explanatory filter.’ If an object or event (1) cannot be explained by some natural law that necessitates its appearance, (2) exists in spite of the high improbability that it could occur as the result of chance, and (3) conforms to an independently existing and recognizable pattern, the most reasonable inference is that it is the product of an intelligent designer.” 

“The early church fathers and leaders recognized that the Gospels were the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, and they set the Gospels apart for this reason. The ancient Christian author Tertullian wrote in AD 212: ‘The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was’ (Against Marcion). 

“Skeptics cannot reject the reasonable inferences from the evidence we do have, simply because there may possibly be some evidence we don’t have; skeptics also need to defend their doubt evidentially.” 

“The reasonable inference from the circumstantial evidence is that the Gospels were written very early in history, at a time when the original eyewitnesses and gospel writers were still alive and could testify to what they had seen.” 

“Some have argued that the Gospels are late because none of the authors specifically identifies himself in the accounts. … BUT … The Gospels are not the only ancient documents that fail to identify the author within the text of the manuscripts. Tacitus (the Roman senator and historian who lived from AD 56 to AD 117) wrote a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Augustus Caesar to Nero entitled Annals. Tacitus was, in fact, present during much of this period of time, but failed to include himself in any of his descriptions or identify himself as the author.” 

“While it is possible that the Gospels were not written by the traditional first-century authors and were given these attributions only much later in history, it is not evidentially reasonable. If skeptics were willing to give the Gospels the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ they are willing to give other ancient documents, the Gospels would easily pass the test of authorship.” 

“The most reasonable inference is that the gospel writers were present, corroborated, accurate, and unbiased. If this is the case, we can conclude with confidence that their testimony is reliable.” 

Cold-Case Christianity (book review)

From Perry Mason and Dragnet to Blue Bloods and Law & Order, I’ve always been a fan of watching detectives and attorneys sorting through all of the evidence to find the truth. I’m also passionate about Christian apologetics, so Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is totally in my wheelhouse! 

Wallace is a cold-case detective and he’s also a Christian, but criminal investigative work was a part of his life long before he had a relationship with Jesus. In fact, Wallace grew up as an avowed atheist and openly mocked Christians for their “faith.” That is until someone challenged him to investigate the claims of the Bible regarding Jesus as he would investigate one of his cases. 

The similarities are fascinating. In most cases, Wallace cannot interview eyewitnesses, but has to rely on other evidence. Slowly, diligently, he tracks down each lead to come to the most reasonable conclusion. It was exactly the same with the biblical claims about Jesus: the eyewitnesses have long since died. Using his talents for successfully solving crimes which had been left unsolved for years and years, Wallace one day told his wife, “I think it might be true. I think Jesus is who the Bible says He is.” 

Wallace now shares with his readers how they too can use the same skills to explain to skeptics why the biblical case for the authenticity of Jesus is reasonable. He takes us out to the crime scenes as we look for evidence, into the interview room to talk to witnesses, and into the jury box to weigh all of the evidence. 

Skeptics of Christianity will find this book eye-opening, and Christians will find this book informative and helpful to them as they become Christian case makers. This book reads like a detective story to me, and I think others will be just as fascinated with the content as I was.

Interpretation Of The Scriptures (book review)

Bible reading and Bible study will be of immeasurable benefit to the reader if the Scriptures are interpreted correctly. Fortunately for us, A.W. Pink gives us some timeless principles for doing just this in his book Interpretation Of The Scriptures.

Pink acknowledges something that the Apostle Peter also acknowledged: sometimes the passages we read in the Bible can be challenging to understand. But Pink quickly adds, “God does not ask for blind credence from us, but an intelligent faith, and for that three things are indispensable: that His Word should be read (or heard), understood, and personally appropriated.”

In this book, Pink systematically gives us guidelines for the proper and effective interpretation of the the Scriptures. He does so by using many of the age-old maxims of logic and hermeneutics, but he also emphasizes the invaluable role the Holy Spirit plays in our Bible reading times. After all, the Holy Spirit was the One who inspired the writing of the Scriptures, so He is best able to illuminate the true meaning to our hearts and minds.

This is NOT a book exclusively for pastors and Bible teachers (although both will be greatly benefitted by studying this text), but it is for anyone who wants to read the Bible accurately, with an eye toward correctly applying the principles that God gives us.

I’m not sure how many times I have read through the Bible in my life, but while reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures I noticed a new attention to concepts and insights that I had previously overlooked. I highly recommend that all serious readers of the Bible read this book as well.

8 Quotes From “The Mathematical Proof For Christianity”

The Mathematical Proof For ChristianityDan Delzell uses not only math, but many other sciences as well to give some great conversation-starters. Check out my full review of his book by clicking here.

“I live in Nebraska where I serve as a pastor. Imagine someone covering this entire state in silver dollars 6 feet deep. Then mark one coin and bury it anywhere across the state. Next, blindfold a man and have him choose one coin. The odds that he would choose the marked coin are the same odds as getting 8 prophecies all fulfilled in one man. God fulfilled about 300 prophecies in the Person of Jesus Christ. … There is no way one man could have fulfilled all 8 of these prophecies unless God was making it happen. Who else controls history? Who else could give us such irrefutable proof for Christianity? The odds are one in one hundred quadrillion. Here is what that number looks like: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. (This mathematical proof was calculated by Professor Peter Stoner.)”

“What if jurors were presented with 300 pieces of evidence that all pointed to the same person, just like the 300 biblical prophecies all point to Christ. And so you see, you really can come face to face with reality, logic, reason, facts, evidence, and mathematical certainty before you decide whether to accept or reject the Bible.”

“The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.” —William Albright, biblical and archeological scholar who mastered more than 26 ancient and modern languages 

“The order is for Christianity is: (1) Evidence; (2) Faith; and then (3) Assurance. Christianity stands upon evidence. It is personally received through faith that Jesus died for your sins on the Cross. It brings comforting assurance to those who have stepped out in faith to trust Christ. You will never have the assurance of salvation until you take a step of faith based on the evidence.”

“Jesus didn’t come here to merely provide man with one more option.”

“It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.” —Nelson Glueck, Jewish archeologist

“Archeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record.” —Millar Burrows, University of Yale archeologist

“In addressing the manuscript evidence for the New Testament, John Warwick Montgomery correctly states that ‘to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.’”

G.K. Chesterton’s Fence

Some words well worth considering…

G.K. Chesterton“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’

“This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.” —G.K. Chesterton

Links & Quotes

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Now that the Spring weather is here, get outside for some fresh air … listen to the birds, smell the flowers, look at the beauty around you! “A study of rodents, published in Science in 2013, indicated that the brain’s place cells are much less active when animals make their way through computer-generated landscapes than when they navigate the real world.” —Nicholas Carr

“We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” —Omar Bradley

“No man who enters upon the office to which I have succeeded can fail to recognize how every president of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God. Every president has taken comfort and courage when told…that the Lord ‘will be with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee. Fear not—neither be thou dismayed.’ … Each of our presidents in his own way has placed a special trust in God. Those who were strongest intellectually were also strongest spiritually.” —John F. Kennedy

Frank Turek has a fascinating post on why the Supreme Court of the United States shouldn’t allow homosexual “marriages” because of our 14th Amendment.

Innovation Adoption Lifecycle“If you want a population to adopt your innovation, you have to create a problem that is solved by adoption. And that problem is almost always related to, ’what about the others?’” Check out this insight from Seth Godin on product adoption.

 

[VIDEO] Greg Koukl addresses on Christians can demonstrate Christ-like tolerance and Christ-like tolerance—

[VIDEO] Dr. Bobby Conway and Nel Brace discuss a great tool for helping Christians defend their faith—

10 Quotes From “Notes On Ezekiel”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersI loved reading Oswald Chambers’ insights on the book of Ezekiel as I read that book of the Bible side-by-side. Seeing what Chambers saw is astounding! You can read by book review of Notes On Ezekiel by clicking here. Below are a few quotes I especially appreciated.

“If you imagine you are called on to be isolated and aloof…you will be as free from sanity as from the Spirit of God.”

“We have to beware lest our impatience makes us infidel; impatience means unbelief in God’s providence, and is due to lack of right relationship of the personal life to God.”

“What is called practical work is the greatest hindrance in God’s dealing with souls. We rush through life and call ourselves practical, we mistake bustle for busyness, activity for real life, and when the activities stop we go out like vapor, our work is not based on the fundamental energy of God.” 

“We are not here to serve God, but for God; the self-consciousness of being a saint never enters in.”

“There is no call of God to be prosperous, but there is a call to be a proclaimer of God’s truth to the gates of death. It is the winsome note that men want today—‘I don’t mind listening as long as you talk about the kindness of God, but don’t tell me God damns sin, don’t tell me He allows no quarter for lying or for lust.’ The Gospel awakens an intense craving and an equally intense resentment. The snare of the devil, through God’s own servants, comes when they say ‘Now remember the people.’ Never water-down God’s Word to suit men’s experience. … Be possessed with unflinching courage in preaching the truth of God, but when you deal with sinners, remember who you are.”

“God must make His prophets vitally one with His voice—holy man and holy message, one.”

“Fanaticism comes in when we say, ‘I won’t appropriate the words of God, I don’t want to be limited to what Jesus Christ says, I must get other messages.’”

“Ezekiel had to receive what he heard before he repeated it; this is imperative in all spiritual development. Reception of God’s Word implies personal devotion to the One who speaks it. … Ezekiel, in common with all the Old Testament prophets, had not to generate his message out of his own individuality, he had simply to obey God.”

“Whenever in the prophets or in the New Testament we come to statements of the justice of God at work it is always the same—inescapably terrible and full of doom. Viewed apart from the interpretation of the Spirit of God, God’s dealings with men and with nations are perplexing. … The terrible side of God’s character is only realized by us when the truth dawns on us individually that God is no respecter of persons. Beware of tying God up in His own laws and saying He can’t do what He says He is going to do. The greatest ingredient in the sovereignty of God is the measure of free will He has given man; but be careful you don’t make the sovereignty of God the binding of Almighty God by human logic.”

12 Noteworthy Quotes From “There Is A God”

There Is A GodAs I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’ve been sharing a few of them over several posts. To wrap up this series, here are several other noteworthy quotes from this thought-provoking book.

“I would have liked to convince my father that I had found what he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had longed for all his life. I would have liked to persuade him that the search for God does not have to be in vain. But it was hopeless. He had known too many blind Christians, bleak moralists who sucked the joy from life and persuaded their opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth they were hiding.” —Katherine Tait, daughter of Bertrand Russell 

“Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached.” —Bertrand Russell

“In sum, to the Being who he considered to be the explanation of the world and its broad form, Aristotle ascribed the following attributes: immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence. There is an impressive correspondence between this set of attributes and those traditionally ascribed to God within the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is one that fully justifies us in viewing Aristotle as having had the same Divine Being in mind as the cause of the world that is the object of worship of these two religions.” —David Conway

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. … Religion and natural science are fighting the joint battle in an incessant, never relaxing crusade against skepticism and against dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition … and therefore ‘On to God!’” —Max Planck

“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.” —Paul A.M. Dirac 

“Reason tells me of the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into the futurity, as a result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of mine; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” —Charles Darwin

“Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview. … Even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us.” —Paul Davies, Templeton Prize winner 

“It is crazy to postulate a trillion (casually unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.” —Richard Swinburne

“The problem of how meaningful or semantic information can emerge spontaneously from a collection of mindless molecules subject to blind and purposeless forces percents a deep conceptual challenge.” —Paul Davies 

“One feature of life, though, remains certain: Life could not have evolved without a genetic mechanism—one able to store, replicate, and transmit to its progeny information that can change with time. … Precisely how the first genetic machinery involved also persists as an unresolved issue.” —Antonia Lazcano

“The world is rational. The order of the world reflects the order of the supreme mind governing it.” —Kurt Gödel

“The reality of rationality cannot be evaded with any appeal to natural selection. Natural selection presupposes the existence of physical entities that interact according to specific laws and of a code that manages the processes of life. And to talk of natural selection is to assume that there is some logic to what is happening in nature (adaptation) and that we are capable of understanding this logic.” —Roy Abraham Varghese

  • You can read some direct quotes from Anthony Flew by clicking here.
  • Some Albert Einstein quotes can be found by clicking here.
  • A fascinating mathematical explanation from Gerald Schroeder is found by clicking here.

There Is A God (book review)

There Is A GodIt’s a mark of a strong, confident person that can admit, “I was wrong. I made a mistake.” Anthony Flew is just such a strong man. His book is called There Is A God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind.

The one sentence summary of this book could be: Anthony Flew was a noted philosopher who concluded there was no God, but then was persuaded to rethink his position and came to a complete reversal. But that would sell his story short.

The real meat-and-potatoes of the book are the arguments which helped change Anthony Flew’s mind. This, I must warn you, is no easy reading. The arguments are so nuanced and metaphysical at times, that it really requires a careful reading. This was not a book I could speed read, because the chain of logic in the arguments was simply too good to miss anything.

I throughly appreciated the candor with which Flew shared his metamorphosis from atheist to Theist. The book also includes two appendices which address the current state of modern atheism, and an interview with N.T. Wright on Jesus being God Incarnate.

If you are ready to study some of the atheistic and theistic arguments that the brightest apologists for both viewpoints are presenting today, then this is the book for you! I thought the journey of discovery was fantastic and mind-expanding!

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