Case Making

How Will You Answer the Questions?

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How Will You Answer the Questions?

Not long ago the lead singer of a Christian metal band told the world how he had become an atheist and this caused quite a stir on the internet. The band is The Order of Elijah and the singer is Shannon Low. He explained his deconversion on the band’s Facebook page. One of the things that bothers me the most about the story is how the Christian friends around him responded to some questions he began to have about God, Jesus and the Bible.

question-marks-300x300Rather than helping him with answers to these legitimate questions he was having, he says that his Christian friends would literally get furious with him for even addressing the questions. He says that sometimes he would actually lose Christian friends by simply pondering certain questions. Certainly this should not happen in the family of Christ.

God is Not Afraid of Questions and Neither Should We Be

As I have written here several times, I don’t think God is afraid of our questions. It’s natural that we have some questions about our faith and we should not fear asking them. Many of the initial questions Shannon Low had were about some of the prophet’s behavior, and the behavior of God himself in the Old Testament. These are valid questions, ones which many of us who follow Christ may not have great answers for off the top of our heads. However, a lot of good Christian thinkers have given a lot of thought and have written a lot about these questions over the years and there are answers. How much better would it have been if Shannon’s Christian friends had said, “You know, those are  good questions. Let’s read and work through them together.”

Without Answers from Christian Friends He Went Looking Elsewhere

Because his Christian friends weren’t prepared to answer his questions, or even to look for answers with him, he looked elsewhere and found Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. He says that he learned things about the history of the Bible that he didn’t know before. He says, “I never knew that the earliest gospel wasn’t written until half a century after Christ supposedly died, or that Paul never read any gospels, or that there isn’t even any evidence from that time that Jesus existed.”

The reason he didn’t know those things was because they are untrue or misleading misinformation. It’s too bad that in his years as a Christian he didn’t learn more about how the New Testament came together so that he wouldn’t be swayed by this kind of misinformation.

Though a gap of 50 years would be very good by historical standards when it comes to ancient documents, evidence is good that the first Gospel was written well before that and the letters of Paul were written even earlier, about 25 years after Jesus’ death. What’s more, he quotes material that scholars have dated to as early as 5 years after the crucifixion. That’s why Paul didn’t read the Gospels, because he wrote even earlier, closer to the events. Paul was familiar, though, with the eyewitness sources of the Gospels to follow soon after. And the idea that there isn’t any evidence from the time Jesus existed is just plain untrue, as you can read here.

I’m not saying that I no longer have any questions about Christianity. There are still some things that can bring some tension. But when I consider all the evidence and put the whole case together, I believe that the case for Christianity is a strong case and makes the most sense of all the evidence there is.

Just “Giving Them to God”

Sadly, I think there’s one more way Shannon’s Christian friends may have failed him. Through a good portion of his life he struggled with an addiction to alcohol. He says, “I stopped trying to pray my alcoholism away and began combating it with real methods. I began confronting my problems head on rather than ‘giving them to god’” Now of course, I believe we should give our problems to God, we should trust in him and ask for his help. But that doesn’t mean that we should just pray and not combat them with real methods with God’s help. Maybe this is what he was hearing in his Christian circle, but prayer is not a substitute for getting counseling and therapy.

I think most of us would not say that prayer is a substitute for going to the doctor when you’re sick. It’s also not a substitute for getting counseling help when you need it. Yes, we pray and ask God to bring healing, physical, mental or emotional, but that doesn’t mean we don’t gratefully take advantage of the ways he’s provided to help with that healing.

Going along with that, I’d like to make one more application. I sometimes hear in the church that we don’t really need apologetics, we don’t really need to share the evidence for Christianity because people come to faith by the Holy Spirit and he can overcome any faulty opposing ideas they have. And while God can certainly do that, he often works through normal means.

If my daughter is sick, if her health is under attack by some disease, I could think, “I don’t need to take her to the doctor, after all God can overcome whatever is attacking her without any help.” But I wound’t do that because God has provided the doctors and all the knowledge that can be brought to help make her well, and I believe that making use of that knowledge is part of his plan.

Likewise, God has provided the knowledge that combats the attacks that are brought against him and against Christianity, and I totally believe that using that information is part of his plan to bring people to himself. But in order for that to happen we need to be sharing the evidence with them. Let’s not just sit back while God and Christ are under attack, as people around us are being fed misinformation that leads them further from him. Let’s be prepared to answer their questions and let’s be used by God in dispensing the truth, the evidence for the Gospel, the case for Christianity.

Thanks to William Lane Craig for his Reasonable Faith podcast on this.

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Thankful for a God Who Has Given Us Evidence

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Thankful for a God Who Has Given Us Evidence

This Thanksgiving weekend one thing that I am definitely thankful for is having a God that doesn’t just say, “Believe, even if there’s no evidence, believe in me blindly.” Some people have the impression that being a Christian in today’s world means checking your brain at the door and believing things in spite of evidence to the contrary. Like Christians are holding on to something which may have been believable in a past day when we just didn’t know enough. However, I believe that the Christian worldview is something that you can come to by a logical, rational examination of the evidence, if you’re willing. And this is so because God has provided us with a lot of evidence that we can examine.

Images for Case

I Am Thankful God Did This for Me

God didn’t have to provide us with evidence. He could have just demanded blind faith and obedience. That would be his right as creator, but I’m thankful that what I see in the Bible is a God who understands the human beings he has created. He knows that we have questions and don’t want to believe something just because we’re told to. We don’t want to believe something that isn’t true. We don’t want to get taken. God has given us minds to think and reason with and so he’s not surprised when we have questions and want to see evidence. I think this is true of all of us to some extent, and for people like me, who think like I do, this is VERY important. So I’m thankful that God understands this and isn’t threatened by it. How have I come to this conclusion? Because time and again in the Bible I see God providing evidence to help people believe.

I see God providing evidence of his existence and power to the Egyptians through Moses with the plagues. I see God providing evidence that he is the true God to Ahab and the prophets of Baal through Elijah on Mount Carmel. And while there are many more examples I could site, ultimately God gave evidence of who he is and his incredible love for us through Jesus Christ. Jesus performed many miracles to validate who he was and he even said, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”” (John 10:37-38)

God understands me and, because he loves me, he has provided evidence to help me believe. Even when those moments of doubt come, when I ask myself, “Is it really all true?” and I wonder, “Is it worth living this Christian life, following after Jesus? Maybe it would be easier to just abandon it all and live however I want.” — when those moments occasionally come, the evidence is still there and I can’t escape the rational conclusion that it is all true and it makes the most sense to me when looking at all the evidence. God is real, he made us. Jesus is real and he is God in human flesh, shown by his resurrection from the dead. And Jesus loves me, in spite of my sins and failures and wants the best for me and wants me to know him and live in his love.

I Am Thankful God Did This So I Can Share with Others

I’m thankful that when I think of all God has done for me and I want to share that with others, that he has given me something solid and objective that I can share with people who have questions like I did. It’s important for us to share our stories of what God has done for us. As some have rightly said, people can’t argue with what we say has been meaningful and helpful for us, but that doesn’t stop them from just saying, “Well that may have helped you but that doesn’t mean it’s true for me.” So thankfully there’s more that we can share, along with our testimonies, that is objective and can’t just be easily brushed aside.

There is evidence that we can and should share that people can examine objectively. For those who are open and seeking the truth, the evidence we share can be used by God to answer their questions and help bring them to faith. And for those who aren’t open, they can continue to write off Christianity, if they so choose, but they can’t do so making the claim that there’s nothing objective to it, that it’s just a bunch of non-sense that has been rationally disproved. You can’t argue someone into becoming a Christian, but by sharing the evidence God has provided — evidence of creation, evidence of the resurrection, evidence supporting the truth and reliability of the Bible — we can remove a barrier that stands between them and faith, or a barricade that they are hiding behind so as not to have to face God himself.

I’m thankful that God has provided us with truth, truth that I can stand on and truth that I can share.

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” — 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

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One Year Anniversary and What’s Ahead in 2015

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One Year Anniversary and What’s Ahead in 2015

January 1st was the one year anniversary of this blog and the Reasons for Hope 315 ministry.  I’d like to say thanks to all of you who have been reading my posts, whether you read one or all 45. I hope that what I’ve researched and written has been helpful to you in some way, as it has been to me.


2014 was a good year for me and the ministry.  In addition to starting the blog, I got to speak and share some of the evidence for Christianity in my home church and two other churches.  I’m thankful to pastor David Parks and the other pastors for those opportunities.  I got to share evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and the historical reliability of the New Testament and it’s claims about Jesus. I also completed my apologetics course through Biola University.  I found the material to be very helpful and thought provoking and I have shared and will be sharing more of it here.


So what’s ahead for Reasons for Hope 315 in 2015? I will continue to blog here at least once or twice a month, as time allows. My focus will shift somewhat to sharing seminars in local churches.  In addition to what I already have prepared to share on the resurrection and the historical reliability of the New Testament,  I will soon be putting together a session on the evidence from creation and the design of life and the universe.  These three key areas of evidence will be the basis of the seminars I will be offering.  I will offer it as about a four hour seminar or as three separate sessions.  I have the first church already lined up, starting later in January.

Please pray that God will continue to guide me and that he will use the evidence he has provided to lead people to Christ and to strengthen the faith and confidence to share of those of us who already know him. I’ll be praying that he’ll give us all opportunities to have conversations with people about the reasons for the hope that we have in him.

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

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Faith and Questions

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Faith and Questions

People come to faith in different ways.  I had grown up going to church but by my early teens I didn’t really see what it had to do with me.  It was just that boring thing you had to do on Sunday mornings.  I’m a geek and was into science and scifi and I figured that science would explain it all.  I didn’t really know if I believed in God at all anymore.  At the same time I didn’t really see a purpose for my life and it was pretty empty.

Suddenly it Made Sense

Then when I was a sophomore in high school I went to an event where the speaker explained what Christianity was really all about.  It wasn’t just some list of do’s and don’ts. He explained that God loved me and wanted to know me personally.  And though my sins (something I wouldn’t deny having) separated me from Him, God came to earth as a man, in Jesus Christ, and he died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.  He did that  so I could be forgiven and have a personal relationship with him.

Suddenly the light bulb came on.  That’s why he died!  I had seen the cross at the front of the church my whole life but for the first time I understood why he came and why he died on it.

What’s more, he was alive again and wanted to know me!  It made sense and I prayed to receive Christ as my savior that night and my life has never been the same since.  I now had hope and a purpose.


But while what I heard was enough for me and moved me that night, I would come to have more questions.  How did I know this was really true?  Yes, it moved me and met a need but a lot of people have heard different religious messages and have been moved and have felt a need met.  So how do I know Christianity is true?  Islam presents a different way to God, as does Judaism, Hinduism and others.  For that matter, how do I know for sure there really is a God?

 It’s not enough that what I believe makes me feel good.  Is it true?  Because if it isn’t true, what good is it going to do me in the end?  And so I needed to examine the evidence.  Would Christianity stand up to examination?

 If you’re a Christian maybe you’ve had some of the same questions.  If you don’t happen to feel a need to examine your faith in this way, you should at least know that a lot of the people around you, that you want to share with, will have these kinds of questions.  They are looking  for satisfying answers to their questions.

Jesus and Evidence

Thankfully, from what I see in the Bible, Jesus is quite open to people examining the evidence for his claims.  He knows that most of us have a need to do so and he was happy to provide such evidence.

As Jesus went on through his ministry he became more and more clear in his claims to be God.  He even made the bold claim to be the only way to God the Father (John 14:6).  But Jesus knew that these claims were big and he didn’t just expect people to believe them just because he said so.  He provided evidence.

Jesus’ miracles backed up his claims.  He did things only God could do (healing diseases, giving sight to blind, enabling the lame to walk).  Further, Jesus appealed to people to believe on the basis of the evidence.  He said,

“Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.  But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)

His miracles backed up his claims and then he died on the cross and after that provided the clearest evidence of all that he really is God.  He rose again from the dead and appeared to and convinced many people that he was alive again (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Having been convinced, the Apostle Peter faced the crowd in Jerusalem after this all took place and said,

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs,which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24)

Acts 17:31 says that God proved to the world who Jesus is by raising him from the dead.

God understand our questions and He welcomes them.  He isn’t threatened by them because Christianity stands up to examination.

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The Case for Christianity

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The Case for Christianity

Christianity shouldn’t be believed just because it’s what someone was raised with.    Someone shouldn’t be a Christian just because of some religious experience or because it makes them feel better.  That’s all well and good, but how do we know what’s true?  I believe a solid evidential case can be made for Christianity.

So what is this case?  I’ll give a brief overview of it in this post and then explore the evidence for each of the elements in more depth in future posts.  The case can be illustrated by these seven simple images.

 Images for Case

Let’s look at the seven points of the case.



The first point, illustrated by the image of the earth, helps to lay a foundation for the rest, but it need not be accepted from the start for the other points to make a convincing case.  The earth’s axis is included as it illustrates the fine tuning of the universe that makes life possible.  There are many, many factors of the earth and the universe that, if they were just slightly different, life would not be possible.  The odds of all these factors coming together to make life possible is too great for me to believe it just happened by chance.  This evidence and more points to an intelligent designer.



The second point deals with the New Testament documents, the Gospels in particular.  I don’t start by saying that they are the Word of God.  I simply state that by the standards of documents of antiquity, the Gospels are reliable historical documents.  Judging by the period of time between the events described and the earliest surviving copy, and the great number of copies, the Gospel documents are very reliable.  The evidence for the reliability of the New Testament is so great in comparison to other ancient documents, that if the New Testament documents are unreliable, there’s little of anything we can know about the ancient world.

Things of God


Next, all four of the Gospel accounts describe Jesus Christ doing things only God can do and claiming to be God.  While you may question if miracles are possible, I encourage you to keep an open mind and explore the evidence.  It’s never fair to make a conclusion before considering the evidence.  What’s more, in addition to the Gospel accounts, other ancient documents also make reference to the extraordinary things Jesus did.



Fourth, those same Gospel accounts also describe in detail how Jesus died by crucifixion and how he rose again from the dead.  The Gospels provide eye witness testimony of those who were convinced that the man they saw die rose again to life.  The resurrection of Jesus was key to their whole message.



Fifth, while it can be hard to believe that someone actually rose from the dead, I believe that after a full, open-minded examination of all the evidence, the explanation that best fits all that evidence is that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.  We’ll explore all this evidence in future posts and you can make up your own mind which explanation is most likely.

Jesus is God


Sixth, since Jesus claimed to be God and then he rose again from the dead, I think that backs up his claim pretty well, not to mention the miracles.  Anyone can claim to be God, but I only know of one who rose from the dead and changed the world because of that.  We’ll explore what Jesus claimed and the implications of that.



And then finally, seventh, if Jesus is God we can trust what he says, both about himself and about the Bible.  Jesus affirmed the Old Testament as the Word of God and he chose those who would be his eye witnesses and share his message with the world and he authorized them to give us the New Testament.  We’ll explore the evidence for this as well.


And so while I don’t think it’s extremely persuasive with many people to just state that the Bible is the Word of God, and so you should listen to it and follow it, I believe that from the case I’ve laid out, the evidence shows that Jesus is God and he affirmed the Bible as the Word of God and so for that reason we should listen to it, trust it, and follow it.  While many have different opinions of the Bible, and while there are a lot of different religious ideas out there, I’ll go with the one who rose from the dead.


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Next time I’ll talk a little about how people come to faith and the questions most of us deal with at some point, including a little of my own story.  After that we’ll start digging into the evidence, covering just a little bit with each post.


Note: In presenting this case I am indebted to many who have presented such a case before me including Craig Hazen, Norman Geisler  and Frank Turek.  Also I’d like to thank J. Warner Wallace for the inspiration to start this blog.

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Reasons for Hope 315

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Why Reasons for Hope 315?

Life can be uncertain.  How do we know what’s really true?  One group says this, another group says that. So what’s a person to believe?  Through this blog and ministry I’m going to be sharing the reasons for the hope that I have in Jesus Christ.

Some people think that Christians believe what they do simply because the Bible says so, and since the Bible says it’s the Word of God, it must be true.  While I do believe the Bible is the Word of God and is true, I don’t think that you should believe that just because it says so.  Ultimately I believe what I do because I have examined the evidence and think there are solid reasons to believe what I do.

It’s because of those reasons that I have hope.  Through this blog I want to share some of that evidence with you.  You can consider it and make up your own mind about it.  I’ll be sharing what I see as the Case for Christianity.

The title for the blog comes from 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”.  That’s what I’m seeking to do.


Faith and Evidence

“But what does evidence have to do with faith?”, some of you might be asking.  “Isn’t faith believing in spite of the evidence, or the lack of evidence?  Why do you need evidence?  Shouldn’t you just have faith in God and not need such evidence?”

While that may seem to make sense and while God could have asked for such blind faith, that’s not what I see in the Bible.  I see a God who knows what we’re like as human beings and he’s happy to provide evidence to help us to believe.  What’s more, I see Jesus giving evidence to back up his claims time and time again.

Christianity is an evidential, historic faith built upon a man who lived about 2,000 years ago.  This man claimed to be God, died for our sins, and then backed up his claims by rising again from the dead.  It’s all based on that historic fact.  If that didn’t actually happen, our faith is useless.  The Bible says so (1 Corinthians 15:17).

This is what it says of Jesus after he had risen.  “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”  (Acts 1:3)

Jesus didn’t say to his disciples, “Just believe because I say so.”  He provided them with evidence, many convincing proofs.  Then, having been fully convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead, they went from cowering in a room in fear to going out and making the case for Christianity, often at great personal cost.  And the world was changed by what those eyewitnesses shared.


What’s Ahead?

Starting with my next post, in a few days, I’ll begin sharing the case for Christianity.  I hope you’ll join me.  If you’re a Christian I hope to help you to better understand the evidence for our faith.  We should not only know what we believe but why we believe it and be ready to share that with others.   If you’re not a Christian, or aren’t sure what you believe, I invite you to consider the case I will present and render your own verdict.

 I will be posting at least once a week, more often at the start.  If you don’t want to miss any posts you can use the subscribe page or just enter your email address in the subscribe section at the top of the right column.  If you have any questions or comments as we go, please contact me.

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