Category: Answers

Creationism- Part 2: Curses, Human Age, Dinosaurs, and Cain’s Wife

Part 1 focused on the literary and theological reasons that young-earth creationists put forth as evidence for their position. Here, we will give other insights into the first few chapters of Genesis, along with some of the scientific evidence for a young earth. The most important point is that no Christian ever has to fear the field of science. True science and correct Biblical interpretation never contradict. If there are apparent contradictions, the science may not be factual or the interpretation of scripture may be incorrect. We must keep in mind that science is constantly changing; new discoveries are constantly being made which adjust and even counter previous belief, but God’s Word never changes. You do not need to forego science in order to take the Genesis creation account as literal. Science and faith should go together, just as evidence and faith go together. “The heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false.” State of the Earth: At the end of the six days of creation, both the Bible and scientific discovery indicate that “a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.” (Gen. 2:6); Psalm 135 says that God ’caused the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth,’ which would be like a Tropical Rain Forest. In fact, it points to the entire earth being composed of rain forest, and a stable climate. Remember the waters separating from the waters on Day 2? Some believe that there was a water canopy above the earth, which would have also served as protection and as a sort of hyberbaric chamber for the earth. (Opposition to this view is based on evidence that the resulting greenhouse effect would have created too much heat on Earth.) Others believe this is a reference to evaporation. The Bible refers to evaporation and gives a scientific description of it in Eccl. 1:7 “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” Notes on Genesis Chapter 2 and 3: In Genesis 2:9, we are introduced to both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In verses 16-17, God gives Adam and Eve the one and only rule to be followed in the Garden of Eden. Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why was the tree called this? Because the moment that Adam and Eve ate of the tree, the moment they disobeyed God, they would suddenly be aware of evil for the first time as it entered the world through their disobedience. They would literally have the knowledge of both Good and Evil, just as indicated by the Serpent. In Genesis 3:5, Satan tempts Eve with a half-truth: that if she ate from the Tree, ‘her eyes would be opened, and she would become like God, knowing good and evil.’ Since Satan and followers had already been cast out of heaven, God was indeed aware of both good and evil, and therefore this part of the temptation was true. When sin entered the world, immediately mankind started playing the ‘blame game.’ Adam blamed Eve (along with blaming God); Eve blamed the Serpent. Note that in Genesis 3:21, God killed the first animal and shed the first blood for sin (which was the first example of many in the Old Testament in order to prepare mankind to better understand the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice). God then cursed Adam, Eve, and the Serpent because of their sin, and proceeded to punish Adam and Eve by banishing them from the Garden. Genesis 3:22-24 does not suggest that the Serpent was correct about God’s insecurity, nor does it mean that God was threatened by man’s wisdom. The penalty of death must be carried out, and it could not if they continued to eat from the Tree of Life. Would God be a good and just Father if He had not punished Adam and Eve for their sin? If we may think His judgment harsh, but we underestimate the severity of our sin in the face of a perfect and holy God. Also, this was merciful! Had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden and continued to eat from the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever in a world in which sin had entered, and all the pain, sickness, suffering, and degeneration that comes along with it. God then provided for them in a new environment and gave them eternal salvation through the Promised Seed. Genesis 2:24 gives us the basis for Biblical marriage, which is reiterated by Jesus in the New Testament. The curse on the Serpent gives us insight into the ongoing opposition between humans and their adversary, Satan, which culminated in Jesus Christ. The curse refers to “Woman’s Seed,” which is unique since it is man that is always referred to as providing the ‘seed.’ This is a reference to the virgin birth. The ‘bruise on the serpent’s head’ refers to a mortal wound that would spell the utter defeat of Satan at Calvary. The ‘bruise on the heel’ refers to the suffering and physical death of Christ. How Did People Age? One characteristic of the earth was the longevity of life. We see this in all the exact ages given in the Bible for people who lived during this early time. Adam lived 930 years, Seth lived 912 years, with the oldest being Methuselah who died at 969. Methuselah (Gen. 5:21-27): Once when I was in middle school, I was bored by the sermon and so I was calculating ages in genealogies in Genesis, and suddenly discovered that Methuselah died the year of Noah’s Flood. Why would God kill Methuselah in the Flood? There was every indication that he was a good man raised by a godly father, Enoch, who never saw death because God took him (this is why Enoch lived a shorter life than everyone else). It turns out that Enoch was a prophet (Heb 11:5, Jude 14), and may have given his son a prophetic name (according to Eusebius, and previous Hebrew scholars, Dr. John Gill, Samuel Bochart, Henry Ainsworth, and others). Methusaleh did not die in the Flood… he died and then the flood came. Methuselah, roughly translated, is methu… “when he dies”, selah… “it will come”) There’s still some debate on this translation, but if true, the fact that Methusaleh lived longer than any other man shows God’s patience and long-suffering with mankind before punishing them with the Flood (similar to how God is delaying the End of Days so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to come to know Him before it’s too late). The conditions of the earth and the recent creation of the human body would explain these long lifespans. First, the perfect humans had just been created by the finger of God Himself. There were no bad genes, no disease, and no plagues or viruses or infirmity. Second, there was a stable climate and the extensive rain forest around the world would have provided a very oxygen-rich environment. Thus even though people grew at a similar rate as they do now, once they peaked (probably in their 20s), they would stay vibrant and healthy for much longer, and age much more slowly. This would also allow for more child-bearing years and offspring, seeing as that was one of the first commands that humans were ever given by God Himself (“to be fruitful and multiply.”) What about Dinosaurs? Evolution says: Appeared 235 million years ago, died out 65 million years ago (the reason being unknown, though many believe it was due to an asteroid or meteorite impact in the Gulf of Mexico) Creation says: Created on the 6th day, most having died in the flood (as shown by fossil evidence); some newborns or smaller species were placed on Noah’s ark, but then due to climate change, disease, competition for food, and man’s activities, most species eventually became extinct. What is the interesting growth attribute of reptiles? They never stop growing until they die. Due to environmental factors and having just been created, just like humans, they lived longer and grew much bigger. Dinosaurs are simply very large reptiles! (The term ‘dinosaurs’ was not coined until 1841, and therefore the word would not and could not be used in our English translations of the Bible). This would mean we should see some evidence of humans existing alongside dinosaurs, and I believe we do both in Scripture and in scientific discovery. Most scholars believe that the events of Job happened extremely early in human history. Read Job 40:15-24, which is not referring to a hippo or elephant (v. 17). The description does not fit. Certainly the dinosaur “Brachiosaurus” fits the description. Job 41 refers to the Leviathan, a giant amphibious dinosaur (v. 8). Was God talking about mythical creatures here? In V. 15, God says, “Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you,” which could not be clearer as to the non-mythical nature of these animals. When God uses metaphors or describes a parallel to humans, he uses tangible things. Here, he is using Behemoth and Leviathan as examples of His power! It would make no sense for God to use intangible mythical creatures, of which people would have had to already create in their minds, in order to make a point. Other Scripture refers to possible dinosaurs as well: Gen. 1:24-25, Job 41, Jer. 51:34, Mal. 1:3, Ps. 74:13, Ps. 91:13, Ps. 104:25-26, Is. 27:1, Is. 30:6 (flying serpent), Is. 43:20 The word used most is “tanniyn” (also “tan” or “tannah”) meaning ‘monster, sea monster, dragon.’ The word ‘dragons’ is used 21-30 times in the OT. Fire-breathing dragons are referred to in the history of almost every ancient culture. In many dinosaur fossils, there are unexplained cavities (or unexplained passages found in skulls connected to the nasal cavity) where the chemicals stored could be hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, which would produce fire (like the Bombardier Beetle). A few specific examples (many more could be added here) Alexander the Great (330BC) marched into India, and found them worshipping huge hissing reptiles kept in caves. There is the Sumerian Story (2000BC) about Gilgamesh and the huge dragon. Chinese dragon stories are extremely prolific and inscribed on their pottery, carvings, etc. There were numerous descriptions and petroglyphs of dinosaurs found long before any excavation of dinosaur fossils. (i.e. White River Canyon, Utah) The Paluxy Tracks found in the Paluxy River Bed in Glen Rose, TX in May 1939 showed human footprints in the same rock layer as dinosaur footprints. The Plateau in Turkmenistan (Kughitang-Tau Plateau) shows many human footprints along with 1000s of dino prints. Where Did Cain Find His Wife? In the Scopes Trial of 1925, William Jennings Bryan was not able to answer this question on the witness stand before the jury and media, and it was seen as blow to Scriptural belief. Cain’s wife must be a descendant of Adam and Eve, as Eve is referred to as ‘the mother of all the living’ (Gen. 3:20), and the Gospel is also based on the fact that ‘all men are descended from Adam, the first man.’ According to Gen. 4:25 and 5:3, Seth was born after Abel’s murder when Adam was 130 years old. Genesis 5:4 says that Adam had other son and daughters (The historian, Josephus, says 33 sons and 23 daughters). 130 years is time enough for at least 3 generations, with Gen. 4:3 indicating that there could have been as many as 100 years between Cain’s birth and Abel’s death. Surely Adam and Eve had some of these sons and daughters during this time. However, if there were other sons and daughters born during that time, why was Seth the next offspring mentioned specifically? This is because Seth was probably the first son born after Abel’s death (Gen. 4:25) and also because Jesus is a descendant of Seth. This means that Cain would have married a sister or niece. Objection: This would be unlawful! The law forbidding marriage between close relatives was not given until the time of Moses. (i.e. God blessed Abram’s marriage to his half-sister.) All people alive today are ultimately relatives. Objection: This would create deformities in offspring! Every person has two sets of genes, around 130,000 gene pairs. One gene comes from each parent. Many genes contain mistakes, as result of sin and the Curse. The human race is slowly degenerating over time as more genetic mistakes accumulate. These ‘mistakes’ can simply be that one ear is lower than the other, or they could be something more serious. The more distantly-related parents are, the more likely they will have different genetic ‘mistakes.’ Children are likely to end up with a max of one bad gene in any given pair, and in this case, the good gene generally overrides the bad. The more closely-related the parents, the better chance of the same mistake in a single gene pair. Therefore, today, the union of siblings would likely result in several matching gene mistakes creating serious deformities. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, had no bad genes or genetic ‘mistakes,’ as they were physically perfect when created. Cain and his siblings would have inherited virtually zero bad genes. (By the time of Moses and the Law, genetic mistakes may haves started to become and issue, and God in his omniscience made it unlawful for close relatives to marry.) Genesis 4:16-17 does not say that Cain found his wife in Nod; he probably married her before this time. Genesis 4:14 indicates that Cain was scared and believed that anyone who found him would want to kill him. Why would this be the case? The answer is that anyone who Cain met would probably be a close relative of Abel, who he had murdered! Before civil government was instituted to punish murderers, someone would only want to harm Cain if they knew he had killed someone in their family. Some say that Cain needed technology developed by other races in order to build the city of Enoch in Nod. However, Jabel created the harp, lyre, and pipes. Tubal-Cain worked with brass and iron (Gen. 4:21-22). Humans today have degenerated over 1000s of years, but at the beginning of time, the human mind was working at the peak of creativity and learning. In Part 3, we will review Noah’s Flood, the effects on the earth, and various Creation vs. Evolution issues…
Posted by Ben Jones

Creationism- Part 1: Intro and the Six Days

Why is it so important to study Creation?

The study of creation gives us an explanation for where we came from, how we came into being, and why we believe in marriage. It tells us of the nature and character of God; it explains why there is suffering and death in the world, and much more. What happened in Genesis forms the foundation for the necessity of Christ’s death. I don’t believe the age of the earth should ever be divisive among Christians, and it is certainly not a sticking point for salvation; however, what we believe about creation has more ramifications on our worldview that most realize.

I’ve come in contact with four primary belief systems about creation among those who claim Christianity.

Literal Creationism- Six literal 24-hour days of creation. Earth is 6,000 to 12,000 years old, usually believed to be much closer to 6,000.

Gap Creationism- Six literal 24-hour days of creation, however, before the six days began, there was an indefinite amount of time that transpired between the first two verses of Genesis. In this time was the fall of Satan and the other angels he took with him. It may have been a minute, an hour, years, or even millions of years. Some view Verse 2 as the world being in a state of chaos as a formless void, which they attribute to the fall of Satan and his demons. I find that young-earth creationists, myself included, typically don’t have a huge problem with this view because the creation account of the universe and earth as we know it is still taken literally as written.

Progressive Creationism- Millions of years transpired between each ‘day’ of creation. New ‘kinds’ of plants and animals that appeared were a result of God’s divine intervention at different points in time, and only naturally evolved within their ‘kind.’ This eliminates the need to find any of those intermediary links which secular evolutionists are so desperate to find.

Theistic Evolution- The six days of Genesis represent six indefinite periods of time  millions of years or geologic time periods. God’s role varies a bit depending on the adherent. God used and guided the evolutionary process, taking away only the factor of chance from Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory. (Theistic evolution is a bit of an oxymoron… it’s basically like saying “a God-directed undirected process”) Theistic evolutionists typically don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and if they do, Adam and Even are typically believed to be two apes that God chose to imbue with a soul (which they would consider being ‘made in His image’).

Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory, or Naturalism, taken as a whole, is not compatible with Christianity!

Dr. William Lane Craig is not only a world-renown philosopher, but also a personal friend and mentor. He has significantly influenced many tenets of my belief system, except in the case of creation. In one of his recent classes that I attended, he made a very important and insightful statement:
“So the same question about “Should we interpret Genesis 1 literally?” arises with respect to this flood narrative, as well. And the Tower of Babel narrative, as well. Are these to be understood as literal historical accounts? So the question begins to balloon up to a proportion that we’re not going to be able to deal with in this class. But you’re quite right in saying that it is all interconnected, I think. The same scientific challenge that exists to understanding Genesis 1 literally is going to exist with respect to understanding the universal flood literally, as well. That will be difficult.”

This shows us how careful we have to be when we decide to move away from a natural reading of the Genesis text, and also why it has the potential be quite dangerous. If we rid ourselves of a literal understanding of the creation account, we must also question everything else we know as well, especially about these first 11 chapters of Genesis. Once we start questioning God’s Word here, it can easily balloon into questioning the trustworthiness of Scripture, not only here, but in general. I’m not saying an old-earth view necessitates that, but that is the danger. On the one hand, we’ll say we don’t believe there was an actual talking serpent, but we do believe God’s prophecy about Jesus that he spoke to the serpent. We’ll say we don’t believe literally in the events described, but we do literally believe that God set up the foundations of marriage alongside these events, such as the instruction to marry someone of the opposite sex. Genesis 1-11 is not only the all-important account of the origin of things, but it is the foundation of all Christian doctrines and ethics.

Yes, most of Scripture is highly influenced by the perspectives, circumstances, and culture of the authors. However, the creation account is different. Most believe that this history was given to Moses on Mt Sinai by God Himself, not stories passed down through centuries of generations riddled with mythology. One of the reasons we believe in Moses’ authorship is because it’s clear Jesus believed Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. (Matthew Chapters 8 and 19, Mark 7 and 12, Luke 16 and 24, John 5 and 7) This is God’s Word and God’s history. Man wasn’t there for creation. Even if it wasn’t given on Mt. Sinai, the information about creation that man received MUST have been from God Himself. Otherwise, it is simply mythology made up by the Hebrews or someone that the Hebrews adapted it from, which has no basis whatsoever in Truth. Some claim that the parallels between the biblical account and that of other ancient traditions is evidence that the Bible drew on these accounts to create its own creation story. However, rather than the Bible drawing on false mythology, it’s far more likely that other ancient traditions and mythology are simply distortions of the Truth found in Scripture. Again, the only knowledge that anyone has, or can have, of creation is that which is given by God Himself. Therefore, whatever God told Moses about history, he would be using the terminology, such as the word ‘day’, in a way that Moses would understand it, and it would be accurate even if the ancients didn’t understand the scientific implications of it at the time. There is very good evidence that Moses understood God to be referring to six literal 24-hour days.

Remember also that any ancient stories or mythology that are set after humans existed, but pre-date the flood, would have been filtered through Noah and his family. This limits the spread of false mythology until after the Flood.

When one goes as far as to say that there was no literal Adam and Eve, I believe you have undermined the Gospel itself. See Romans 5:12-19. The historicity of Adam as an ancestor of both the Messiah and the rest of humankind lies at the heart of the Gospel.

As we are considering the tenability of literal creation days, we must compare it to the tenability of the Christian version of the evolutionary model. In some ways, it may be easy to find holes in the literal understanding and be critical of it; however, it’s much more difficult to defend the alternate views. Darwin’s original evolutionary model is inherently incompatible with Christianity, as by definition, it says we evolved by complete chance and are simply accidental byproducts of evolution. Darwin himself gave up his Christian faith believing that his doctrine of evolution directly expelled his Christian belief, saying Christianity was an unproved delusion. We, as Christians, of course believe that God created the world and that He created us special and in His image. This means that old-earth creationists have to pick and choose which parts of the evolutionary model they can fit with Christianity and Genesis and which parts they can’t manage to accept because it is incompatible. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but this is quite the task, as they are trying to marry the Bible with a belief system designed as an explicit substitute for Christianity. Personally, for every problem found in the literal interpretation, there are ten large problems with the alternate views. The primary old-earth version says that God created the universe, then waited around for several billion years, then stepped back in and supernaturally created humans, or chose a couple of random evolved apes and imbued them with a soul to start the human race. Then he made sure the rest of the evolving apes died out so that the homo sapiens species would start with only the two people he chose. As far as Eve being created from Adam’s rib, that notion is thrown out completely. Yes, there may be some difficult aspects of Genesis in regards to the literal interpretation, but it doesn’t come close to how far afield you must go to fit billions of years into the account we are given.

Let’s go through each day from a literal perspective:

Gen. 1:1

This first verse remarks on the essential elements necessary for the universe to exist. In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).
Heavens- “shamayin” Can be used to define (1) the entire creation constituting universe outside of earth OR (2) the atmosphere

Day 1 (2-5) (Light and Dark)

God created light and dark; Notice that ‘light’ came before the sun and stars. This shows the idea of light itself, its essence. God would be the source of this light. He is often seen as ‘light’ in visions, etc. 1st John 1:5 says “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 Tim 6:16 teaches that God dwells in light which is unapproachable. Ps. 104:2 says God covers himself with a garment of light. James 1:17 says he’s the Father of Lights, Daniel 2:22 says “the light dwelleth with Him.” In fact, look at Rev. 21:23-24, which says that in the New Heavens and New Earth, there is no need for the sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light. Just as it was in the very beginning, so it will be at the end. So there certainly is no problem having light before the sun or stars, as God would be the originator and source of light.

Light  Day

Dark  Night

You only need a rotating earth to achieve day/night, evening/morning. You don’t need the sun, or really even light. Alaska has periods of days without any daylight, yet the rotation of the earth still marks a day in Alaska.

Day 2 (6-8) (Atmosphere)

The Hebrew word, “raqiya” means ‘expanse’ or ‘firmament,’ and comes from this root word meaning “to spread out, stamp, beat firmly” suggesting a dome in other parts of the Bible.

In verse 8, “heaven” = ‘atmosphere,’ referring to verse 20.

Day 3 (9) (Land, Vegetation)

V. 9 → One ‘section’ of water was gathered into one place (like a ball of water, which was earth). Dry land appeared on this ball of water below the atmosphere. Notice that in Moses’ day, people only knew of the Mediterranean Sea, but under inspiration, Moses refers to the “seas” (plural).

In the first three days, God creates the spaces (three unique spaces- the sky, the seas, and the land). In the last three days, God fills those spaces.

Day 4 (14) (Sun, Moon, Stars)

“Lights” here should be translated as “luminaries” or “light-bearers.”
The reference to “stars also” differentiates them from the sun, even if made up of the same substance, implying creation as earth-centric.
God already had decided the length of days and nights, seasons and years. The sun, moon, and stars were signs to mark times (day, night, season, year). By definition, a sign can only represent something that has already been established; a sign cannot establish the thing itself. This also helps us establish what is meant as the length of a ‘day’ in context because it’s used alongside ‘season’ and ‘year.’ At least in this verse, it wouldn’t make any sense for a day to represent millions of years.

Day 5 (20) (Flying Creatures, Sea Creatures)

Day 6 (24) (Land animals, Humans)

This describes the creation of humans, made in the image of God, separate from the animals.
“Let Us” refers to the Trinity, not polytheim, as indicated by the very next verse.

One of the objections to the literal interpretation is that the events of Day 6 could not have fit within 24 hours, however, it doesn’t seem like a problem upon closer examination of the text.

What are the events?

(1) God created animals, (2) God created Adam, (3) God put Adam in the garden, (4) God had him name certain animals, (5) God created Eve.
Naming the animals: First, he was not asked to name every animal and creature God created. He named the “cattle, the beasts of the field” (as opposed to ‘all the beasts of the earth’ which would have been a larger category), and “the birds of the air.” He didn’t name the sea creatures, or the creeping things (i.e. insects), etc. This would have reduced the number to be named. Second, we have no idea how many original “kinds” of animals there were. The animals would not have begun to adapt into various species at this point. For instance, you would not need domestic dogs, and coyotes, and wolves, etc, but just one ancestral kind containing the genetic information for all these to appear later under natural selection pressures. Third, remember that God created the perfect man. This was before the fall and before any degeneration of body and mind. Can you imagine Adam’s intellectual capacity having been made perfectly by the finger of God Himself! He was certainly capable of more than we would give him credit for, and would be able to complete his tasks quickly. How long would it take Adam to name the animals? With his mental capacity working at full power, it seems he could do this during a normal workday or less, with taking breaks. Remember, all the animals to name were brought to Adam.
There’s no indication that there was a period of time between the naming of the animals and the recognition that there was not a helper or mate from Adam. In fact, he would have realized this after he finished naming the animals. Thus at that time, God caused the deep sleep to fall on Adam, took one of his ribs, and created woman. Adam and Eve then meet.
Even if we cut the time in half, using only the 12 daylight hours, we can create a possible timeline:

6:00–7:00
God creates land animals.

7:00–8:00
God creates Adam from dust.

8:00–9:00
God creates the garden and puts Adam in it.

9:00–4:00
Adam names the animals.

4:00–5:00
Adam sleeps, and God creates Eve from Adam’s rib.

5:00–6:00
Adam and Eve meet.

Day 7 (Gen. 2:2)- God ‘rested’

This simply puts a cap on creation, marking an end point, indicating that creation was complete (as opposed to evolution which says we are still evolving). There’s no reason this day would need the same structure, such as evening and morning. There’s some contention that this 7th day wasn’t 24 hours because we are still in a state of “God’s rest.” But no, the Scripture doesn’t say on Day 8, God also rested, and on Day 12, God was still resting. The point of Day 7 is to mark the end of creation, and establish the Sabbath. By extending Day 7 to include an indefinite amount of time, God would be ‘blessing’ and ‘sanctifying’ on the same ‘day’ that He cursed creation at the fall. Also, in John 5:17, Jesus said “My father has been working until now and I have been working,” thus God certainly wasn’t in a perpetual state of rest. Even if the seventh day could be extended metaphorically beyond that 24-hour period regarding God’s status, it still wouldn’t deny the literal aspect of it as well.

Calculating reliable human history and genealogies, we can get back to 4004 BC, though this does not necessarily mean this is the exact year of creation. Some genealogies may have skipped some generations. Generally, there was about 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, 2,000 from Abraham to Christ, and 2,000 from Christ to today.

Literary and Theological Reasons for Six 24-hour Days of Creation:

This is the most natural reading of the text, and it’s consecutively numbered with evening and morning (The Jewish day was 6pm to 6pm, so God would have used ‘day’ in the context that Moses would have understood. Each day would naturally have an evening and then a morning. In fact, it would have made less sense to Moses if God had said morning and evening each day). Some say that, ‘a 24-hour period would be evening to evening’, but that would make even less sense for God to say ‘and there was evening and there was evening on the 2nd day’. A day would have consisted of the evening hours, and then the morning hours. The next day you start again with the evening hours and then the morning hours.
Genesis was written as history. What I mean is that Hebrew uses special grammatical structures for historical narrative and Gen. 1-11 uses those structures, as opposed to that which was used in poetry or allegory. It uses consecutives (“vav”), and the verb forms have a structure that fit exactly what the Hebrews used for recording history or a past series of events. The first verb is a qatal (perfect) and the verbs that continue the narrative are wayyiqtols (imperfect). In Gen. 1, the first verb ‘bara’ which means ‘create’ is qatal and the subsequent verbs moving the narrative forward are wayyiqtols. We also have structural parallels we could use… look at Numbers 7:10, where each of the tribes of Israel brought an offering on a different day. (vs. 11, 12, 18, 24, 78). Same word “yom” used here. They are numbered sequences of days. Not only that, but the passage opens and closes with “in the day that” to refer collectively to all the ordinary days (NKJ, vs. 10 and 84). Much has been made that because Gen. 2:4 says “This is the account of the heavens and earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and heaven” that the previous days don’t refer to 24-hour periods because this reference refers to the whole week. But we have the same structure in Number 7! Here the phrase is used to refer to a set of specific 24-hour days. It’s a Hebrew idiom for ‘when.’
Jesus and the apostles regarded Genesis as history, and Adam, Eve, and Noah as historical people. We referenced this a bit before, but Jesus Himself specifically talks about Adam and Eve, Abel, Noah and the Flood. He references each of the first 7 chapters. In fact, the whole New Testament seems to regard Gen. 1-11 as history, with over 100 references to those 11 chapters. Jesus’ genealogy goes back to Adam, the ‘son of God’, and there’s no hint that at some point, that history or those people changed from being metaphors to real people.
Creation is finished. Gen. 2:1-3. This demands a definite period of time when creation was complete. Under the evolutionary theory, the process which started at the beginning of creation goes on today. The inhabitants of earth are continually evolving, just as we did millions of years ago. (Under progressive creationism, God was working and creating for billions of years until man was finally created, and then he was done and rested.)
Hebrew word for day- “yom”: Yes, ‘yom’ has different meanings, but this is the only word that could have been used if they wanted to refer to a literal 24-hour period.

“Yom” can mean (1) a 24-hour solar day, (2) an indefinite period of time (i.e. “day of the Lord”, “day of the Judges”) or (3) the daylight hours of a 24-hour period. It cannot mean a long period in a definite sense (i.e. a specific geologic time period)
“Yom” is used 2291 times in Old Testament, almost always referring to a literal “day.” When plural (845) always means literal day. When modified by numerals (359) always literal day. When used with evening and morning (38), always a literal day.
In Genesis 1:14-19, “day” is used 5 times in relation to days, nights, seasons, and years, which makes these verses incoherent if ‘day’ refers to anything other than a 24-hour period. Furthermore, it creates confusion if the definition of ‘day’ changes each time it is used in the same set of verses.
When “day” is first used in Genesis, it cannot be symbolic, as a symbol can only be used once it first has a defined literal meaning (evening and morning).
Adam was created on Day 6, and at the most natural reading of the text, lives through Day 7, and died at 930 years old.
Objection with 2nd Peter 3:8:

This verse uses a comparative article- “as” or “like,” which is not found in Genesis. The context is Christ’s Second Coming, and refers to the fact that God is not limited by time (even if He dwells within time). Long or short periods are nothing to God.
The second part of the verse doesn’t mean we can equate a day with a thousand years, as the second part says the exact opposite.
One can’t use the New Testament, written in Greek, to define a Hebrew word

Exodus 20:8-11: One of the most convincing pieces of evidence for young-earth creationism is that Moses understood God to be talking about a literal six 24-hour days, even if there are other ways to understand it today. This is the finger of God Himself on tablets. (Exodus 20:1, And God spoke all these words…’) These are not the ideas of Moses or some other person. The 4th commandment instructs us to work a literal six days, and rest one day, because that’s what He did. The word “remember” in v. 8 always refers back to a real historical event. Real week = Real days of creation. Not millions of years or an indefinite period of time. Why did it take God six days to complete creation if He is omnipotent? To set a pattern for our work week!
Romans 5:12: Death and suffering did not come into the world until after Adam and Eve’s sin, which brought with it death, disease, thorns, etc. Under all old-earth versions, there are eons of death and suffering, and the survival of the fittest, before man comes on the scene. Animals whimpering in pain and fear while their throats are torn out by predators. Fossils with with cancerous tumors preserved in them. Fossils of thorns. The fossil record is supposedly a 600-million year record of suffering and death in old-earth creation versions. And in this scenario, when man finally appears, he stands on top of a pile of bones miles deep and God says that everything is perfect, that it is “very good.”
For your consideration: Why would God take so long to create humans if we are the whole point of creation itself? (This also explains all the supposed “empty space of the universe”)

Evolution says Earth is 4.54 billion years old, and the universe is 13.75 billion years old. We have said that naturalism is incompatible with Christianity, and we need a literal Adam and Eve. Let’s consider the timeline for Christians who believe in an Old Earth. This means God spent billions of years on everything else and only a few thousand on human beings, His prize creation. If humans were created, or at least some apes were imbued with a soul, 12,000 years ago, this means God spent .000087% of his time on his prized creation of humans, who isn’t destined much longer for this earth in comparison. Under Dr. Craig’s A-Theory of time, which I agree with, God was in-time and waiting all those 13.75 billion years that the universe has been around just to get to humans, which under progressive creationism, He was going to step in to supernaturally create anyway! Jesus indicates otherwise in Mark 10:6 where he says “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female,” not at the end of billions of years. And in Luke 11:50, Jesus says that ever since the foundation of the world, prophets’ blood has been shed.

Simply making each day equal millions of years does not make Genesis compatible with typical evolutionary theory, or necessarily even with any old-earth version. Take for instance the order of creation. Old-earth creationism has the big bang, then the stars and sun, then the molten earth and then the oceans. Scripture has the water-covered earth, then the dry land, then the sun, moon, and stars. Theistic evolution has sea creatures evolving into land animals, which evolved into flying creatures. Scripture has the flying creatures created before the land animals. The order doesn’t fit when simply inserting millions of years. Under progressive creationism, the order may match Genesis, but then vegetation is planted millions of years before the sun existed to start the process of photosynthesis.

Big Bang

Stars

Sun

Molten Earth

First Oceans

15 Billion yrs/ago

10 Billion

5 Billion

4.5 Billion

3.8 Billion

Water Covered Earth

Dry land and plants

Sun, Moon, Stars

Sea and Flying Creatures

Land Animals and Man

Day 1-2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

In Part 1, we have concentrated more on the literary and theological aspects of creationism, and only touched on the scientific. In Part 2, we’ll concentrate more on the scientific aspects of the young vs. old-earth, including Noah’s flood, the state of the earth, dinosaurs, and fossils.

Extra Notes on Mythology:

New Age belief states that between Genesis Verse 1 and 2, there existed the lost continent of Atlantis, about 10 million years ago. Spirit beings lived there, and after the destruction of Atlantis, the spirits took up residence in Adam and Eve.
Origin of Vampires: Lilith was a woman created before Eve. She refused to submit to Adam, so she fled from the Garden of Eden. Eve was then created. After expulsion from the Garden, Adam reunited for a time with Lilith before returning to Eve. Lilith bore Adam children, who are the demons of the Bible. After Adam left, Lilith became the Queen of Demons (or Queen of the Damned) and became the murderer of infants and young boys who she turned into vampires.

Continued in Creation, Part 2…

Posted by Ben Jones

Jesus Christ, Part 1: His Historicity and Claim to Deity

True Christianity, the Christianity of the New Testament documents, is absolutely dependent on history […] The incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a real event in time and space, i.e., as historical realities, are the indispensable foundations of Christian faith. -Donald Hagner
Before we get into some of the evidence, I want to put some of your minds at ease. We will be looking at the Bible some, but you do not have to believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God to consider the evidence it puts forth. My purpose here is not even to argue to reliability of the Bible. We are simply approaching the New Testament as we would any other book in antiquity. We are looking at the NT as simply a collection of writings and letters that the early church thought authoritative, included in fact because they could stand up to scrutiny. There may be debate over some of the dating and even the authors, but with our minimal facts approach, that doesn’t even matter much. Most all religious, secular, and skeptical scholars at least think that the writings contain teachings that can be traced back to Jesus or his disciples. Again, I’m not saying we agree with the skeptics about the Bible, only that we will leave the debate surrounding the Bible’s authority to another time; we just take advantage of the fact that most scholars believe some things in the Bible are true and that we have a plethora of ancient manuscripts to back it up. It’s not fair to throw out the Bible because it’s considered a religious text… we can look at the value it has historically apart from that… and its historical value and reliability is far greater than most works of antiquity that historians consider as fact.
Historicity of Jesus’ Existence

First, we can dispense easily with the notion that Jesus of Nazareth is only a legend, but that he is an actual person who really lived and existed in history
You will be very hard pressed to find any serious scholars who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a fairy tale, and we’ll be looking at numerous references to Jesus and his life from Christian, non-Christian, and anti-Christian contemporaries as we get into the evidence. He is literally the most famous (and controversial) person in human history.
Quote from Jaroslav Pelikan: “Regardless of what anyone may personally believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for twenty centuries. [….] It is from his birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by his name that millions curse, and in his name that millions pray.”The more interesting question is…
Who did Jesus claim to be?

Jesus’ Claim to Deity

Mark 14:61-64
John 10:24-33
John 8:58-59
John 5:23-24
John 8:19
John 14:6-9
John 1:1, 14
John 8:23-24
References to people worshipping Jesus. Angels deferred to Him, Disciples deferred to Him- but Christ commanded and accepted worship
Said “I say to You,” spoke with authority
Correctly predicted His death (and resurrection)
Other references to Christ as God

Matt. 1:23, Christ is called “Immanuel” → “God with Us”
Matt. 16:15-17: Confession of Simon Peter
John 20:28, Thomas refers to Jesus as “my Lord and God”
Col. 2:9- “For in Christ all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form”

The Trilemma: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic

So who was Jesus really? Some people believe Jesus is God because they believe the Bible is inspired by God. Since the Bible teaches it, it must be true. But you don’t need this to arrive at the conclusion that Jesus is God.
So we know that:

Through accuracy/reliability of Scripture and secular sources, that he lived. No legend.
Gospel accounts record things He did, places He went, words He said
Jesus definitely claimed to be God.

So is His claim to Deity true or false?
Jesus’ claims must be either true or false. If they are false, then there are two options:

He Knew His Claims were False
He Did Not Know His Claims were False

If He Knew His Claims were False:

This means that Jesus Christ was a liar.
He was also a hypocrite- He told others to be honest, whatever the cost, while He was teaching and living a colossal lie
He was demonic- He deliberately told people to trust Him for their eternal destiny; if He couldn’t back it up and He knew the claims were false, He was unspeakably evil.
He was also a fool- It was His claims to deity that led to his death by crucifixion (Mark 14 and John 19:7- “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be God.’”
How could He have left the most profound moral instruction and powerful moral example ever? The simple record of these three short years of ministry has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the philosophers and moralists who ever lived.
Philip Schaff. “How, in the name of logic, common sense, and experience, could an imposter, a deceitful, selfish, and depraved man, have invented and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality?”

If He Did Not Know His Claims were False:

You can be sincere and wrong.
Think about it: This carpenter is telling a completely monotheistic (one God) culture that He is God and that all of your eternal destinies depends on belief in Him. This is no small flight of fantasy. He had to be a lunatic to the fullest extent.
Psychologists determine the extent of insanity based on the gap between what you think you are, and what you really are

If I said I was the smartest guy in America, I’d be an “arrogant fool”
If I said I was the first president of United States, I would definitely be “over the edge”
If someone said he was a butterfly, then we would all say he had completely embarked from the shores of sanity.
But now, what if I said that I was the God of the entire universe- whole new level (infinite/finite)

Lunatics- according to psychology books and history, there are three main characteristics that are LACKING in someone who is crazy, insane, etc:

1) Practical wisdom, ability to read human hearts

2) Deep love, compassion (as opposed to self-loving), ability to attract people and make them feel at home

3) Ability to astonish with creativity, unpredictability, calm authority

“Is such an intellect as Jesus Christ, which was clear as the sky, sharp and penetrating as the sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready, liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning his own character and mission?
The truth is, Jesus was not only sane, but He gave us the most accurate formula for peace of mind and heart!!

If His Claims are True:

If He is not a liar or lunatic, then He is Lord!
Other self-proclaimed god and saviors have come and gone, but Jesus stands head and shoulders above them all!
C.S. Lewis Quote: “I am trying to here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
You can’t put Jesus on the shelf as a great moral teacher. Not an option. You must decide.
Two Options- Accept Him or Reject Him

Despite all this, if His resurrection did not happen, you have good reason to Reject Him…continued in “Jesus Christ, Part 2: Evidence for the Resurrection”

Posted by Ben Jones

Abortion: Biology and the Baby

What is the most dangerous place on earth for humans? This is not just a play on words; the most dangerous place on earth is the womb. If you can just make it those 9 months, you have a real shot at having a full life. In the United States, 1 out of every 5 babies are killed in the womb. In African-American communities, the number is much higher. In New York, 37% of all pregnancies end in abortion. In China, the number is far higher than this. These statistics are from the two most reliable sources on abortion… the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute. What should be the safest, most secure and comfortable place on earth for a human being has literally become the most dangerous.

Let me give you one more statistic that is most eye-opening. 30% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant Christian. The need to understand this issue and give a caring, intelligent apologetic response is vital in our church today. And why we need to do whatever we can to be Christians who make a stand and invoke change in regard to the recognition, celebration, and protection of life at all stages.

Remember, we are up against a multi-billion dollar industry. Planned Parenthood, which accounts for less than 20% of abortions in the US, has received billions of dollars in government grants and contracts, approaches a billion dollars in revenue each year, and profits around $100 million each year. This isn’t an argument against abortion; it just shows that the industry has a strong incentive for abortions to continue and increase.

Appeal to Logic: Logic should make it readily apparent that a baby in the womb is simply a person at an earlier stage of development.

“Fetus” is simply Latin for “little one.”

When a couple goes through the tragedy of having a miscarriage, their loved ones grieve along with them, recognizing that this couple lost a baby. They didn’t lose a ‘blob of tissue’, or just a ‘product of conception;’ the couple is devastated because they fully recognize that their child died. At the same time, in many cases, both the couple and their loved ones also believe that if the child was unwanted, the couple should be able to kill the child. (See, there is no physiological difference between the unborn child in each case, thus the real argument pertains to the rights of the mother, not the personhood of the unborn, which we will discuss later).

Racism and Abortion… the two most illogical issues in our society. Why would someone of a different color be of less inherent value, and why would a person at an earlier age be of less inherent value?

History (1973): Roe v. Wade (TX) and Doe v. Bolton (GA)

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion itself (until viability), or rather, disallowed states from being able to ban abortions. Doe v. Bolton allowed it for any reason at any point in pregnancy, including partial-birth abortion.
Since then, over 60 million children have been killed by abortion (surgical abortions). This does not include chemical abortion or abortifacient contraceptives.
Jane Roe = Norma McCorvey. Norma dropped out of school when she was 14, and married into a very abusive relationship. After she got pregnant, she left him, and moved back in with her mother. Soon after, she admitted to her mother that she was sexually attracted to other women; her mother then disowned her and took custody of her child. In 1969, Norma discovered she was pregnant with her third child and wanted to abort the baby. She came home to Dallas, TX where she was convinced by friends to falsely claim that she had been raped so that she could legally obtain an abortion (rape and incest were only exceptions). The scheme failed because there was no police report documenting alleged rape, and later she officially admitted to lying about the rape. She tried to get an illegal abortion, but the site had been closed down by police. She was then referred to some attorneys. (The baby was born before the case was decided). The case went to Supreme Court without her permission.
Three basic rulings… 1) A woman’s right to privacy included the right to determine the outcome of her pregnancy, 2) An unborn child is not considered a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution, 3) States could only ban abortions in cases where child had reached viability and there is no health threat to the mother.
Norma also came out soon after about a long-term lesbian relationship with her steady partner. In 1994, she converted to Christianity, and was a pro-life activist until her death. She also stated decades before her death that she was no longer a lesbian.

From her second book, “Won by Love”:

I was sitting in O.R.’s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. ‘Norma’, I said to myself, ‘They’re right’. I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth — that’s a baby!

I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception’. It wasn’t about ‘missed periods’. It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion — at any point — was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and Sandra Cano (Mary Doe) say they were lied to by attorneys and both were pro-life Christians advocating against abortion until their recent deaths. McCorvey never gave permission for the case to go to the Supreme Court, and never had an abortion. Sandra Cano claims she had no idea she was even the plaintiff in her case- having never had an abortion, never wanted an abortion, and never believed in abortion (see book Supreme Deception).

Sandra Cano- Extremely poor and uneducated woman. She was living in poverty and became pregnant with her 4th child. At the same time, she was going through a divorce, and wanted full custody of her child. She was referred to an attorney Margie Pitts Hames. Little did Cano know, Hames was fighting for the pro-choice cause, and Cano was the perfect candidate. Hames then tricked Cano, and knowing that she wouldn’t know better, got her to sign an affidavit about wanting an abortion amid a plethora of other signed documents. This is one of the most deceitful cases ever to hit our court system… Cano never stepped foot into the court room even though she was technically the plaintiff in the case. In fact, Cano never even knew she was the plaintiff in the case until much later. This case allowed abortion for basically any reason at any time:

Part of her Supreme Court decision was redefining the “health” of the mother: “Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute, “an abortion is necessary” is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”

Because of the very broad definition of “health,” abortions could now be legally performed at any point during a pregnancy.

The basic pro-life argument is clear and to the point:

Premise #1: It is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings.

Premise #2: Abortion intentionally kills innocent humans beings.

Therefore,

Conclusion: Abortion is morally wrong.

It’s important to always come back to this, because most pro-choice objections and arguments do not refute the two premises and therefore are irrelevant in refuting the conclusion.

Three Pro-Life Fallacies

Most anti-abortionists argue the wrong point. They immediately claim “Abortion is wrong because murder is wrong.” They then go on to quote contemporary and biblical law against murder. However, this argument does not help us. Many pro-choice advocates argue that the fetus is not a person, so laws against murder do not apply.
Shock Tactics: Many pro-lifers use explicit or gruesome pictures and language to get their point across. To a certain extent, this is unavoidable, as the procedure is quite brutal no matter how it is described. This is one of my greatest internal debates, as to whether to use some of these photos in my presentation. People intentionally turn a blind eye to the horror of abortion. And it probably should be used with a woman as a last resort in order to save the life of her baby. However, if this is the primary tactic used, many will refuse to look or listen to you at all.
Confusing human value with human function. Some pro-lifers will argue that abortion is bad because we might abort someone who could benefit us. Surely we have aborted babies who would have been the next Einstein or Mother Teresa, or countless other intelligent and talented people who could have made the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong; this is a true statement! However, this is not the reason abortion is wrong. Humans are valuable because of what they are, not what they can do. The homeless man’s life is just as valuable in God’s eyes as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as we are all made in God’s image. This argument is also easily countered by abortion advocates who could say we may have aborted the next Hitler, terrorist, serial killer, or rapist. Defenders of abortion actively use a version of this by giving value to a child based on what they have achieved (consciousness, self-awareness, viability, etc), instead of cherishing the unborn because of the kind of thing they are- living humans! Also, when a pro-lifer uses this, it focuses on what the killing of the unborn costs us, not what it costs those who are aborted! It is wrong because it unjustly ends the life of an innocent human being. You can imagine the world systems, made clear in world history and many a movie, when people are valued only by what they can do and not who they are. There are so many GOOD arguments against abortion, we don’t want to steal this defective worldview to defend ours.

First, what is at the heart of the issue? The heart of the issue is the value of life. When God breathed life into Adam and Eve, he gave them something indescribably valuable and precious. He gave life to humans made in the image of God. Your life is inherently valuable to God. At your worst and at your best. No matter your race, your status, your size, your level of development… no matter what you do or say in your life, and no matter what anyone ever tells you, every single person’s life is priceless to God. Because we were made in the image of God.

We find this throughout Scripture. In fact, look at the first law given to Noah when he came off the ark in Genesis (Gen. 9:6):

“Whoever sheds man’s (in Hebrew- “a adam”) blood,

By man (in Hebrew- “adam”) his blood shall be shed,

For in the image of God He made man.”

The Hebrew phrase, “a adam” refers to an “individual man or person”; “adam” refers to “corporate man or government.” This is God’s law regarding capital punishment for those who take a life unjustifiably.

God’s Word from beginning to end makes no distinction between the child in the womb and the child outside the womb. We’ll look at examples of this later.

On the same token, the minute mankind starts to place value on someone’s life for a reason other than the inherent value God has given every person, the greatest atrocities known to man will occur (and have occurred).

“Quality of Life” Ethic- “human beings are valued only to the extent that they experience a certain level of quality of life and are productive to the rest of society” What road does this mentality lead us down?

The greatest atrocities ever committed in human history were due to a disregard for human life. Many times, this disregard is founded in the de-humanization of another person. Racism and slavery were based on the concept that African-Americans were less evolved or “less human” than other races, thus white people could treat them as they wished. With the Holocaust, we wonder how the Nazis could have ever killed so many Jews in cold blood. But they were able to do so because it had been ingrained in their minds that Jews were less than human, calling them ‘rats’ and ‘roaches.’ Once Jews were de-humanized, the Nazis could do anything they pleased without a shred of conscious. This is what is happening with abortion…

We have de-humanized the unborn child. It’s the only reason we feel as a society that we can do anything to them that we wish. But even then, we have all kinds of contradictory laws surrounding unborn children because instinctually, we know there’s value in that life.

Physician story- A pharmacist once told me that he could be sued for malpractice and his license revoked if he prescribed any medication that could harm a child in utero, even if the mother wanted it knowing the risks; however, if he recommends that the mother kill the child through abortion, he is suddenly a great purveyor of womens’ rights.
Some laws condemn the killing of a fetus as murder, while other laws condone the killing of that same fetus through abortion!
At the Federal level, the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” (known as “Laci and Conner’s Law”) recognizes that any ‘child in utero’ who is injured or killed during a federal crime of violence is considered a legal victim.
Under the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” every infant born alive, regardless of developmental stage is considered a ‘person’ under federal law with legal rights.
The majority of states give some degree of protection for unborn victims of violence through fetal homicide laws. Most states allow for civil penalties, state intervention, and even criminal prosecution for women who use drugs/alcohol or otherwise harm their unborn babies in utero!

This leads us to the first faulty way pro-choice advocates argue, and you’ll find this in most of their arguments. They will “assume” that unborn children are not human.

In celebrating Roe v. Wade, President Obama said we need abortion because “this is a nation where everyone has a right to pursue their own dreams.” But who is ‘everyone’? He just assumed this didn’t include the unborn. Take the ‘back-alley argument’… “We can’t outlaw abortions because women will be forced to get dangerous illegal ones.” This assumes the unborn are not humans. Otherwise they are saying, ‘because some people can be hurt or die when killing other people, the states should make it legal and safe to do so.’ Arguing that we should keep abortion legal, simply because people will do it anyway, except in less safe ways (in back alleys, etc), makes no sense! If something is wrong, then you criminalize it, just like murder or rape. Besides, the vast majority of women said they would not have had abortions if it was illegal.

They attack: Many times pro-choicers will attack you personally rather than responding to your arguments or points. Example: “Men can’t get pregnant, so they shouldn’t be able to weigh in on the issue”: Pro-life women have the same arguments; arguments aren’t gender-specific. And if that’s true, Roe v. Wade should be overturned since it was decided by nine men. Or you’ll hear that you don’t have a right to oppose abortion unless you adopt unwanted children: This is just an attempt to change the subject or make the pro-life advocate seem cold and incompassionate. But how does my alleged unwillingness to adopt a child justify an abortionist intentionally killing one?

They assert: Let’s say you lay out your pro-life position using science and philosophy, and they simply respond: “Well, women have a right to choose.” Is this an argument or an assertion? It’s an assertion because no argument and no evidence is offered to support the claim. Response: ‘Choose what? Where does that right to choose come from? Why do you believe that?’ A more intellectual example: A professor responds to your case with “The embryo is not self-aware and has no desires, so abortion should be okay.” The hidden premise here is that self-awareness and desires give us the right to life, and he presents no evidence or argument for this. Response: “Why does self-awareness or having desires matter? What would having these attributes determine who lives and who dies?”

If the humanity of the unborn is a foundational issue, understanding development can be helpful.

Development of the Unborn Child (not a blob of tissue)

Week 1: Conception, the embryo is smaller than a grain of sugar, but the instructions (DNA) are present for all that the person will ever become.

Week 2: The embyro attaches and burrows securely into the wall of his mother’s womb. The fastest growth happens during first 2 weeks, then slows. If he continued at that rate, the child would be born the size of 2 elephants (28,000 lbs).

Week 3: The baby’s blood vessels and sex cells form. Foundations of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system are laid.

Week 4: The baby’s heart has begun to beat, pumping the baby’s own blood through his circulatory system. Arms, legs, eyes, ears, and lungs begin to form. (find out pregnant)

Week 5: Arms and legs are more easily visible, as well as the baby’s face. The baby’s blood is now separated from the mother’s.

Week 6: Tiny fingers and toes develop. The baby’s brain is divided into three parts for emotion and language, hearing and seeing. Brain begins functioning enough to generate EEG impulses (brain waves).

Week 7: Buds of the baby’s milk teeth appear. Ninety-nine percent of the muscles are present, and brain activity is detectable. Responds to some touch sensations.

Week 8: The baby begins spontaneous movement and is now well proportioned, about the size of a thumb. Every organ is present, but immature. The skull, elbows and knees are forming.

Week 9: If prodded, hands and eyelids close. Genitalia becomes visible, indicating whether the baby is a boy or a girl. Muscle movement begins. Thyroid and adrenal glands are functioning.

Week 10: The baby’s fingerprints begin to form. Nerve and muscle connections have tripled. Eyelids fuse together temporarily to protect the baby’s delicate developing eyes.

Week 11: The baby “practices” breathing and facial expressions, even smiling. The baby can also urinate and stomach muscles can also contract.

Week 12: The baby is now 3 inches in length and weighs 1-2 oz. with fine hair on the face. The baby is able to swallow and responds to skin stimulation. He has fingernails, and can suck his thumb. The child will often struggle for life two or three hours if removed from the mother at this point.

This all happens in just the first trimester!!

SO, “If it looks and acts like baby, it is a baby”- this may be cause enough for the average person to believe we should not kill the child, but it is not enough for the pro-choice advocate… we still need to make a scientific case based on biology.

What is abortion?

Primary Methods

Suction Curettage: The force of suction pulls the limbs and body apart, tearing the placenta from the uterine wall, and is then vacuumed out (most common).
Dilation and Evacuation: The fetus’ skull is crushed, and then typically decapitated and dismembered before being pulled out with forceps.
Other- Manual Vacuum Aspiration, Dilation and Curettage
Partial-Birth Abortion is when a child in the 2nd or 3rd trimester is partially removed from the uterus and killed by crushing the skull or puncturing the skull in order to suck the brains out. Many are even brought to term. Official Definition: “any abortion in which the baby is delivered past the navel… outside the body of the mother or in the case of head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother… before being killed”

(President Bush banned partial-birth abortions in 2003, but there are a lot of loopholes).

[Think about this for a second: What is the most immoral and horrific act that you can possibly imagine? Probably ripping the arms and legs off of an infant baby and crushing his skull. We can’t even imagine this ever being done to a baby. Yet a week or two earlier, while that same baby was living inside his mother, it’s completely legal to do the exact same thing for any reason we see fit.]

Since abortionists stress the health risk associated with having a baby, we must also be sure not to overlook the documented effects that abortion has on a mother. Abortion harms women in so many ways- physically and emotionally.

Just as with giving birth, there is also a great amount of physical pain accompanying an abortion.
There are a number of potential physical complications resulting from an abortion, including: hemorrhaging, perforation of the uterus (explain), cardiac arrest, endotoxic shock, infection requiring hospitalization, convulsions, future ectopic pregnancies, cervical laceration, permanent sterility, uterine rupture and death. These are all documented complications.
Potential damage to the uterus and reproductive organs decreases chance of being able to have children later. (i.e. vacuum suction closes Fallopian tubes)
Multiple medical studies have shown a significant link between women who have first trimester abortions and the development of breast cancer (as high as 50% increase). The requirement of placing “increased risk of breast cancer” on abortion consent forms is still in legislation.
PAS, or Post Abortion Syndrome, or Post-Abortion Trauma, is a well-documented clinical condition observed in women following elective abortions. It has been likened to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and symptoms most frequently are shame, heartache, and a deep regret that most women deal with the rest of their lives. Other symptoms are depression, guilt, anger, emotional numbness, sexual problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, nightmares, thoughts of suicide, panic attacks and flashbacks. The abortion industry still refuses to acknowledge the existence of PAS.

These conditions do not help us in the argument of the personhood of the fetus, but cannot go unmentioned.

There is forgiveness, cleansing, and healing for those who have had abortions. A healing that can only come through Jesus Christ. (Resources: The Women’s Clinic of John’s Creek, Abortion recovery hotline, etc)

Fetal Pain

Can the fetus/child feel the pain of abortion?

Pain receptors are one of the first developments of a fetus. The fetal pain system is fully developed at 20 weeks. This is an extremely modest timetable, as neuropeptides such as Substance P and Enkephalin (chemical pain messengers), are present many weeks prior to this. Distorted pain can be felt at 15-20 weeks as the pain system develops (like a beta-version of pain system). Microphone analogy: If you are testing a microphone, it may be too loud or too soft before it’s balanced just right. The fact is, at 20-35 weeks (5-7 months), the unborn child has more pain receptors per square inch than at any other time in their lives, before or after birth. Pain inhibitors do not start to develop until 30-32 weeks! This makes the pain experience of an unborn child far greater than any that could be experienced by an older child or adult. This is why parents cannot touch the skin of a preemie. Of course, fetuses get no anesthesia. Even livestock are protected from undue pain by the Humane Slaughter Act.

Pain-Capable Child Protection Act- Passed in Georgia but stopped by the ACLU.

The unborn are protected after 24 weeks, or second trimester in GA.

But, this does not help us in our case. The fact that the child/fetus can feel pain does not answer the necessary question…

The questions we must answer are…

What is the unborn? and

Is the unborn fetus a person with the right to life? If we can answer this ‘yes’, then the rest is easy. Again, we needn’t argue whether murder is wrong (Many abortionists will agree with this), but what makes abortion murder.

From the moment of fertilization/conception, is the fetus…

Alive? YES.

Yes, by scientific definition, it is a biological mechanism that converts nutrients and oxygen into energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply, and grow. Abortion advocates must agree with this, but state that plants and amoebas are also alive. What is the difference? Some pro-choice advocates claim that the embryo is only a “potential person,” however, all that is needed is time and nutrition for that embryo to grow into everything it will ever be.

Note: This alone allows us to be able to use the word “kill” when talking about abortion. We are causing something (or someone) to go from being ‘alive’ to ‘not alive’ which by definition is ‘killing.’

Human? YES

Yes, The DNA is that of a human. A full set of DNA needed to grow into an adult human person is there. It is genetically complete. It is unique and distinct from both parents. Pro-choicers agree, but state that something such as a single hair follicle also has a full set of human DNA.

Another question…

Can we properly refer to the embryo from the moment of fertilization as male or female? Yes. We each get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father. One of the chromosomes is the XX or XY pair, which dictates gender and is determined by the father.

In the very early stage after fertilization, the TDF (testes determining factor) along with associated hormones can play a role, and the gender may change, but the fertilized egg is never gender-neutral.

Law of Biogenesis- “Living things reproduce after their own kind only.” Humans can’t get together and produce anything less than a human being. When else would a fetus become a human?

Each of these facts alone do not create a case for the personhood of the unborn. Being human without being alive means nothing, and being alive without being human does not warrant the right to life. However…

The most logical explanation of when a child becomes a person with the right to life:

ALIVE + Gender-specific Human DNA

The KEY is the combination of the two.

If this does not constitute being a person, what does? At this point, the burden of proof should land squarely on the pro-choice person because this is as objective and scientific as it gets.

What does the pro-choice advocate believe the unborn needs to acquire before becoming a person whose life we value?

Before we even look at some of these attributes, remember that we are already entering dangerous territory… the notion that human beings are valued only based on their function rather than their nature. We talked about the Quality of Life ethic earlier. Giving value based on function results in gross inequality in our society. Functions, like self-awareness, desires, etc, come in degrees, so this would result in a graded system of how much worth or value each human has. Which again leads to some of the worst atrocities against mankind in our history.

Nevertheless, let’s look at some of the functional qualities that pro-choice advocates put forth…

Consciousness:

Some will point to consciousness as being the determining factor, but this falls apart from the very beginning. What is consciousness? One definition is the ability of being self-aware and able to ‘think about themselves.’ The problem they face is that people who believe this also know that this type of consciousness doesn’t occur until months, even years, after a baby is born. Also, there are problems regarding a person who is in a coma. Is a person still a person with a right to life when the lose the ability to be self-aware while in a coma?

Another definition of consciousness: the cognitive ability to recognize and react to something or someone outside himself

There is a strong argument that unborn fetuses have this ability.

We could look to a Biblical story for an example: Luke 1:36-57

Mary is in her 1st trimester, Elizabeth is in her 3rd
The baby shows awareness and cognition when he recognizes and reacts to Jesus’ presence. The small miracle here is not that the baby was given the ability to recognize and react in general, but that nothing but the presence of another being was able to be recognized by John.
But we needn’t refer to a biblical story for this. We see this all the time with pregnant women!! Pregnant women regularly report that their babies in the womb react to certain voices or music or movement or light.

This type of cognition or consciousness is certainly there.

What we do know is: Whether “consciousness” is obtained before birth or months/years after birth, certainly there is no argument that consciousness is attained at the moment the child passes through the birth canal.

If consciousness is obtained sometime after birth, this supports neither the pro-life nor pro-choice view.

If consciousness is obtained before birth, this supports the pro-life view.

Since most pro-choice advocates don’t have a response to this, they fall back onto the next point…

Viability:

For many years, viability was the defining point of when a fetus had a right to life. Viability is the ability of a fetus to survive outside the uterus (see chart).

There is no definitive time at which the unborn acquires viability. There is ~50% chance of survival if the child is removed from his mother at Week 24 (Month 6). If after, the chance goes up. If before, the chance of survival goes down. It’s a moving scale! Viability is a game of percentages and certainly cannot be used as the defining factor in allowing abortion. Even if there is a 2% chance that we might be committing murder via abortion, we couldn’t do it. In fact, using viability as a means to determine whether a child can be killed means that the value of life and the determination of someone being a ‘person’ is based on our advances in technology, not in anything inherent to the fetus itself. As our technology improves, hospitals will be able to keep a fetus alive outside the womb at earlier stages of pregnancy, which means the stage at which a child can be killed will always be changing if based on viability. This makes no logical sense. This brings us to our next question…

From the moment of fertilization/conception, is the fetus…

Physically Independent? NO

Both views agree that a small child is dependent upon another for his existence both before and after birth. No one argues that it is okay to kill someone because they are completely dependent on something (i.e. medical device, pacemaker) or someone (i.e. a caretaker, spouse), thus some pro-choice advocates try to make a distinction between two types of dependence:

1) Social Dependence and 2) Physical dependence

Social Dependence- a child’s dependence on others to meet physical needs, such as feeding him, clothing him, etc

Physical Dependence- a situation where one life form depends solely on the physical body of another life form for its existence

Pro-lifers will agree that this type of “physical dependence” is true for fetuses only while inside the womb. Can the transition from physical to social dependence adequately draw the line on abortion’s morality? Why does the abortion-choice advocate think this should this be the distinction that makes abortion okay?

To support this argument, the pro-choice advocate always turns to the rights of the mother. It’s not fair. She has a right! They will argue that it’s not fair for a woman to be forced to carry a baby she does not want.

Notice they have changed the question! No longer is the question, ‘What is the unborn?’ or ‘When does the fetus become a person?’ The question of personhood is swept under the rug and it now becomes, “Is a woman morally obligated to keep the fetus alive? Does she have the right to terminate him or her?”

This is so important! This is the primary factor and issue when it comes to the abortion debate now, politically or otherwise. As medical knowledge increases, fighting for abortion rights from a biological perspective (i.e. the unborn is simply a ‘blob of tissue’ or less than a person) has become more futile. As this is a battle they cannot win, the pro-choice advocate will begin to argue on behalf of female rights as opposed to the nature of the unborn, and they simply ‘assume’ the non-humanity of the unborn in the process.

Remember, this is not so much a pro-choice argument concerning the personhood of the baby in the womb, but rather the moral obligation to keep the baby alive.

Side Issue: If the primary argument is that a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body (“my body, my choice”), why is prostitution illegal? Prostitution doesn’t even inherently involve the potential killing of an innocent child.

Before addressing the “rights” issue, we must see if it applies by seeing how pregnancies/abortions come about:

Reason for Having an Abortion (These are undisputed stats given by both leading secular and faith-based organizations alike, such as the Guttmacher Institute):

93%- Convenience (unwanted child, financial hardship, etc)

3%- Mother’s Physical Health

3%- Child’s Health (potential deformities, etc)

<1%- Rape or Incest (0.5%)

Here we see that over 99% of abortions (and about the same for pregnancies in general) are the result of a choice:

Conception is either a direct choice (someone who wants to get pregnant) or an indirect choice (someone who has sex knowing that there is always a possibility that conception could result).

Quote from Melissa Brunner’s Abortion essay:

“The choice of the mother begins and ends with the choice to have sexual intercourse. If a woman is in control of her own body, she has the “choice” to choose abstinence if she is so opposed to carrying a separate human being to term. For every cause there is an effect, and if a woman engages in sexual intercourse and becomes pregnant with life, she has made her “choice” willingly, knowing the effect. A woman’s body may be her own, but the body of the child that grows within her is not her own body.”

I teach sex ed and the benefit of waiting to have sex until marriage to middle/high school students through the SWAT Program (Speaking Words of Absolute Truth). I always ask if they know where babies come from, and almost everyone is aware by this age. One thing I tell them is that there is no safe sex. 1 in 3 sexually active people will get pregnant or get a girl pregnant by the time they are 20. And almost every single one of those people are shocked and surprised when it happens. However, if you have sexual intercourse and get pregnant, no one has a right to be shocked or surprised, regardless of whatever preventative methods you tried to take, because that’s where babies come from.

Ultimately, the argument about a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body is an argument for sexual freedom. This quote by David Kupelian is one of the best I’ve ever read regarding this.

“The deception-based world of abortion is rooted in our devotion to what has become a near-sacred belief – total sexual freedom. We have determined as a modern, secular, post-Christian society that we have the absolute right to engage in sexual relations with whomever we want and whenever and wherever we want, and we repudiate the notion that we have to take responsibility for the natural result of sex – which is children. Having committed so deeply to this proposition, it matters not how barbaric and inhuman abortion is, how many gorgeous children we see with their throats cut, heads cut off, chemically burned alive, brains sucked [out], or spinal cord “snipped” with scissors. We must allow for abortion on demand or our sacred right to sexual freedom ceases to exist.” -David Kupelian

When someone says a woman shouldn’t be forced to carry an unwanted child and that she is not being allowed her choice, in actuality, a woman can guarantee prevention of pregnancy by not having sex.

What about when conception is not the result of the mother’s choice? The fact that she is ‘forced’ to carry the child does apply to the 0.5% who get pregnant due to rape… so let’s look at this. Even though it accounts for less than 0.5% of abortions, it is the argument used 90% of the time by the pro-choice advocate.

Understand the Playing Field (Who is asking?): Two types of people bring up rape: the inquirer and the crusader. The former can be a person who has experienced rape or knows someone who has, or they could be an honest inquirer who is trying to think through the emotional and philosophical difficulty of the issue. But more often the rape question is used by ‘crusaders’ to make pro-lifers look insensitive by pitting them against rape victims. Remember, if we grant the rape exception, we undercut the foundational principle of our position, that all human beings matter and should be valued. If we deny the rape exception, we appear calloused toward women. This alone has single-handedly neutralized countless pro-life advocates, including pro-life politicians who don’t know how to handle the issue. I’ll handle the ‘crusader’ more in a moment.
Respond with Sensitivity and Compassion: We cannot underestimate the emotional turmoil and physical pain of a pregnancy caused by rape. We need to acknowledge this. If you are talking to someone with whom the rape issue is very personal, it requires we respond with love, not just a sound argument. The assumption made by most is that the child will be a persistent and hurtful reminder to the woman who has been raped, and this may be true in many circumstances. The brutality of rape is one of the greatest evils imaginable. Women understand this better than men, but as a man, we still can’t imagine the horror of our wife or daughter being victimized in this way. Compassion for women in these circumstances should and does come naturally for us. Express that.
Clarify the Moral Issue: We then need to refocus the discussion on the nature of the unborn. When a woman is raped and conceives a child, the question is not “How was one conceived?”, but “What was conceived?” The circumstance under which any human comes into being does not alter his or her nature or intrinsic value; it has no bearing on their worth. Pro-lifers are perceived as insensitive for recognizing the humanity of her child, but by allowing the mother to kill her child perpetuates the idea that hardship justifies violence. The tragic violence of rape does not justify the tragic violence of abortion. Abortion is wrong for the same reason rape is wrong: both are unjust acts of brutality against innocent human beings. Both rape and abortion take something that is not theirs to take: the woman’s body and the child’s life. Should an innocent child die because of the sins of the father? If an unborn child has a right to life, can we justify killing him because of the horrific circumstance under which he was conceived? How is that fair to the child? Should we be able to kill a 6-month-old baby who was conceived due to rape because of the hurtful memories that he represents? If not, the question remains… what is the difference between killing in the womb and after birth? According to countless affidavits collected by the Justice Foundation, many women even report that their abortion was more traumatic than the rape itself.
Be Confident in the Pro-life Position: When one accepts the consensus of human embryology… that a distinct, living, and whole human being comes into existence at conception, it becomes clear that pro-lifers are not the insensitive ones. The insensitive people are those who propose the death penalty for an innocent human being because of the sin of a rapist. The pro-life position is rooted in love. It recognizes the unimaginable pain of rape, but is also rooted in truth, insisting that an innocent little girl or boy should not be killed because they are hurtful reminders of a tragic crime.

Also, be aware that many people who believe in abortion on demand choose to argue the rape situation because it’s easier. They hide behind the hard cases, and want to paint the pro-lifer as an extremist. You can ask them… “If I granted abortion in the case of rape, would you join me in opposing all other abortions?” They won’t, because they want abortion to be legal for any reason. Thus, that is the position that they need to defend, rather than using rape victims. Unless they are arguing that abortion is only okay in the situation of rape, then they haven’t defended their position.

Francis Beckwith says, “Arguing for the abolition of all abortion [restriction] laws because of rape is like arguing we should get rid of all traffic laws because you might need to run a red light rushing a loved one to the hospital.”

What about when the pregnancy causes a health risk to the mother? Some abortionists claim that physical dependence always presents a risk to the health or life of the mother. However, if you delve more deeply into this statement, one can see that in order to say this is true in 100% of cases, they must be referring to pain associated with pregnancy and childbirth. But this was part of the curse put on the woman in Genesis (Gen. 3:16) and certainly not cause to kill the child in the womb. Giving birth is a natural function of a woman. Abortion is an unnatural procedure done within a woman’s womb and generally has far higher physical complications and risks than does giving birth.

Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible in most cases to know whether a woman will live or die if she gives birth, regardless of the potential risk. In the rare case where the mother will die if the baby is brought to term, both mother and child can usually be saved through surgery (i.e. C-Section). In the extremely rare circumstance in which having an abortion truly is the only way to save the life of the mother, abortion may be a legitimate and moral option, seeing as a valuable life is lost either way.

What about the notion that some put forth that abortion is “safer” than giving birth? It is completely debunked here.

Remember, all these cases account for only 3% of abortions.

What about the 3% that are done due to potential deformities or the baby’s health?

To abort a deformed child in the womb rather than to allow him to live is an affront to the thousands of people born with severe handicaps who live happy and productive lives, and the families that care for them. There are numerous examples that could be given of people who made a huge difference in the world despite handicaps. There are plenty of mentally and physically handicapped children who bring great joy to others’ lives despite their dependency, and have a part to play in this world. Nevertheless, these are not the reasons they are valuable. A human life holds value because of his or her very nature, and not what he or she can offer us. The key here is: In the majority of cases, deformities and handicaps are possibilities, or probabilities, but almost never definite. Countless parents are told their child will have some sort of physical or mental handicap, but the child is completely normal upon birth. Is it right to abort a child because of a possibility, or even a probability?

Some argue that abortion would be better for some children than living the life they would live if born. But how can we know? How is it our prerogative to decide that? How is it our right to kill a child because of our determination of the life we think he will live? What about all the people who made so much of their lives coming out of a poor or broken home? Again, we could kill the toddler or homeless man using this same argument. (And once again, the “Quality of Life” Ethic is a very dangerous precedent for determining whether someone has a right to continue living.)

Human Rights?

Most pro-choice advocates believe that the fetus has rights of some sort based on the fact that he is (1) Alive and (2) Human, but that his rights are trumped by the rights of the mother. What are these basic rights? The rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The basic pro-choice argument is as follows: Two entities with equal rights cannot occupy one body, therefore one has veto power over the other. In other words, a baby in the womb has no rights to ‘life’ before birth because they would interfere with, and thus are trumped by, the mother’s rights to ‘liberty’ and ‘happiness.’ Here’s the major flaw in the argument: For them, priority of rights is based on who is more developed, whereas priority should be placed on which right is more important. Consider a scenario where I am a single dad, and my 6-month-old son cries uncontrollably every single night. Let’s say that suffocating my baby would make me happy by giving me a good night’s sleep. No matter who is older or more developed, that baby’s ‘right to life’ trumps my ‘right to the pursuit of happiness.’ Clearly the child’s right to life is foremost.

Many pro-choice advocates claim that the “right to life” of the child automatically cancels out the mother’s right to Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. To the contrary, in the majority of cases, the act of having a child brings incredible happiness to most mothers, thus this blanket statement is false.

IMPORTANT: Again, the issue of “rights vs. rights” tells us nothing of the physiological question of when a fetus has rights. I am simply arguing that it is a logical fallacy to say that a fetus only has a ‘right to life’ outside the womb solely because those rights are trumped by the mother’s while inside the womb.

Certainly the most logical and objective point at which to bestow human rights upon someone is when they are…

Alive (by scientific definition)
Human (having a complete and unique set of gender-specific human DNA)

And these characteristics are all present at the moment of conception (defined as fertilization).

A living human being exists at conception, and EVERY life has inherent value.

Think about this: What if the general public recognized the personhood of the pre-born? I mean, truly saw the baby in the womb as no different from the infant or toddler. How utterly horrified would we be that we allowed over 60 million of these innocent be brutally killed for any reason we saw fit over the last 45 years? Can you imagine the shame we would feel as a nation? A civilized, developed nation! Our view of the Holocaust would pale in comparison… we can’t imagine how we used to think slavery and racism were okay, but can you imagine looking back on a time when we thought there was no moral problem with the murder of tens of millions in their mother’s womb? This is the reality we live in, and it’s up to our generation to stand up for the unborn who have no voice. As Christians, or even just human beings, we should be up in arms over this! And I do want you to know, if you are in a tough situation with a pregnancy, there are resources that you can use that will guide you every step of the way. I work with the Women’s Clinic of John’s Creek, among other crisis pregnancy centers. We talk to countless women who had considered abortion, but decided to carry the baby to term. They look back and can’t imagine if they’d made a different decision. A lifetime of experiences and joys that were almost not made possible. At the same time, countless girls who decide to abort their babies live with that decision the rest of the lives, with all its physical and emotional consequences. Even though there is healing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I don’t want this to be you, or any of your friends.

No matter how small, no matter how developed, no matter how dependent, no matter what age, no matter what race, no matter what status, ALL humans have inherent value given to them by God Himself having been made in his image, and should be protected and defended. We should treat others with this mentality, and we should see the unborn the same way.

Though I believe the argument against abortion can stand on its own without any reference to faith or Christianity, let’s look at what the Bible has to say…

The Bible

Sometimes Christians are criticized for being “one-sided” on the issue of abortion. However, with the exception of one or two potentially difficult verses, Christians are typically one-sided because the Bible is one-sided. The personhood of the unborn is assumed throughout Scripture.

First, let’s look at a couple of verses that I personally choose not to focus on, but are popular among pro-lifers:

Ex. 20:13, and similar verses- As explained earlier, these verses against murder are not very helpful in a debate concerning abortion because most pro-choice advocates don’t believe abortion is murder, for one reason or another.

Ps. 139:13-16, These beautiful verses describe how God formed us in the womb and played the largest role in our creation. However, these verses do not necessarily prove our personhood during that development, and thus aren’t especially helpful when making a case for the unborn. We can glean some evidence here when we read how King David refers to his earlier stage in the womb as “I,” making no distinction between his identity in the womb and his current adulthood.

Jeremiah 1:5- This refers to a time before Jeremiah was conceived, so this is not helpful.

Let’s look at verses that are helpful:

[Many references can be made to verses that talk about the sanctity of life given by God, and God hating the shed of innocent blood.]

Overarching Point: The Bible makes no distinction between the born and unborn.

Luke 1:39-44

We’ve already shown cognition of the fetus in this passage
Compare Luke 1:36 (“conceived a son”) vs. 1:57 (“gave birth to a son”). The same Greek word is used in both passages for ‘son.’
Compare Luke 1:41 (“the baby leaped in the womb”) vs. 2:12,16; 18:15 (other references to ‘baby’). The same Greek word (brephos) is used in all passages
In Luke 1:43, Mary is addressed as ‘mother’ before Jesus was born.

Numbers 12:12- Even if a baby dies before birth, the woman who conceived is still considered a “mother.” The word “mother” (in Hebrew- EM; in Greek- METER), in context, refers to physical human reproduction, or one who has procreated a separate and distinct individual from the mother.

Luke 1:15- John the Baptist will be “filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”

Throughout Luke 1, an angel speaks to Mary about her unborn child, and to Elizabeth about the child in her womb.

Ruth 1:11- Refers to “sons in the womb”

Gen. 25:21-22, Refers to Esau and Jacob interacting in the womb

2 Kings 19:3- Refers to “children in the womb”

Romans 9:11- Refers to “the twins” or “children” not yet born

In reference to pregnant women, “with child” occurs 26 times in the Bible (not ‘what will become a child’)

Throughout Scripture, the same word is used for a child inside and outside the womb, also referencing the unborn as “man, woman, child, son, daughter, or baby.”

Gen. 5:3-4, 28-30; Acts 7:29, Refers to parents who “begat sons and daughters;” the Hebrew and Greek words for “begat” refers to conception.

Job 3:3- Refers to a “man-child” being conceived (Heb. GEBER). This word always strongly denotes a person, usually a fully mature man. Compare with Job 10:5, Ps. 127:5, 128:4, where the same word is used for an adult. It is used 66 times in OT.

Job 10:8-12, The child in the womb was not something that might become Job, but someone who was Job already.

According to Scripture, the baby is not just a part of a woman’s body, but a separate human individual. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 says our body is not our own; it is a temple.

Some Christians make an argument that, biblically, “Blood = Life.” They argue that a fetus is a person once it has its own bloodstream, which occurs approximately 17 days after conception. They base this on verses such as Lev. 17:11 and Deut. 12:23.

Let us now deal with a few potentially difficult passages that some pro-choice advocates attempt to use in justifying abortion.

Ex. 21:22-23

“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she [‘gives birth prematurely’ or ‘has a miscarriage’], yet there is no [further] injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23But if there is [any further] injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life.”

The pro-choice argument here is that if only the unborn child is injured or killed, there is a lesser penalty, but if there is further injury to the mother, then the death penalty is mandated. This argument reflects a serious misunderstanding of this passage on several levels. In the first verse, most translations say either one phrase or the other, referring to the bold phrases above. For instance, older NASB translations say the latter, whereas newer editions of the NASB say the former. The Hebrew word used here is “yalad,” which means literally “her children have come out” or “cause her offspring to be brought forth.” This Hebrew word refers to a live birth 11 other times in the OT. It never refers to a miscarriage, although it is once referred to as a stillborn. The bracketed word “further” was added by later translators. There’s a few possible answers to the pro-choice argument regarding this passage:

The most simple way to understand this is that the baby was ‘brought forth’ prematurely. If there is no injury, the punishment is a fine, but if there is injury, either to the mother or if the baby dies, then the death penalty is mandated.
Some pro-choice advocates will claim that the reference to ‘further injury’ only applies to the mother. Though their argument is faulty that the phrase should definitely refer to a miscarriage, it is true that the vast majority of preemies would die as they did not have the modern technology to keep them alive. So, for the sake of the pro-choice argument, let’s assume that this passage refers to the death of the child. Look at the case at hand. This is a struggle between two men, and implies that the striking of the woman was an accident. Accident or not, if the woman dies as a result, the death penalty is required. However, the death of the baby would be considered “involuntary manslaughter,” which deserves a lesser punishment than “pre-meditated murder.” In both cases, a human life was lost. The man who accidentally struck the woman may or may not have known that she was with child, and in this case, certainly didn’t have the pre-meditated intention of killing the unborn child. The whole conflict was between two grown men in the first place.
No matter how you understand this passage, certainly abortion is the intentional killing of a living human child whereas this situation describes at most, involuntary manslaughter, making this passage nearly impossible to use as evidence in the defense of abortion.

Eccl 6:3-5

…Then I say, “better the miscarriage than he…”

This verse is sometimes used as a pro-choice argument to show that abortion should be allowable in light of a potentially futile or poor quality of life. First of all, a miscarriage is not intentional. There is certainly no argument that killing a baby is morally acceptable because upon retrospect it would have been better for him to have died in the womb. Secondly, this is the author’s soliloquy on the futility of life if he did not know anything about God and his purpose in life. This is not God speaking, which is made even more clear by the words “then I say.” So in actuality, the author knows that what he is saying is not true.

Eccl. 4:1-3

“So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.”

This passage has nothing to do with abortion. It refers to “never having existed” whereas fetuses do exist. Also, as mentioned earlier, these are the author’s words of how he would feel if he knew nothing about God.

Job 3:2-4, 11-19; 10:18-19

These verses talk about the hopelessness Job felt when he had everything taken away from him.

Job cries “why did I not die?” not “why was I not killed?” There’s a big difference. A miscarriage is unavoidable death, very different from someone making the arbitrary decision to kill the baby/fetus.
Job has a right to regret his own life, but this does not imply a right for someone to have killed him before his birth.
If Job’s wish had come true, we would not have the powerful story of Job’s faith. Job said this in the depths of despair, not knowing that in the near future God would restore everything and more to him. In fact, he could only appreciate this newfound joy and blessing because of the season of despair he had to endure. This is Job talking out of depression, and is not to be taken literally, whether for him personally or especially as a practice on the whole.
Is these passages, there is a reference to a “boy” being conceived.

Lev. 27:6, Numbers 3:15

These verses refer to the fact that a child did not have a monetary value placed upon him until they reach the age of one month. Unless a person is arguing that killing any child under the age of one month is acceptable, these verses are useless for the pro-choice advocate.

Gen. 2:7, Ezekiel 37:8-10

These verses refer to God creating Adam from inanimate dirt, which was a once-in-history event. A fetus is not an inanimate thing. Adam was never a fetus, so of course, he came alive when God made him and breathed life into him. In Ezekiel, God is doing the same thing out of inanimate bones, not to mention this is only a vision. If one wants to argue that “breathing” is what gives life, then we know that the process of respiration (i.e. transfer of oxygen) begins at conception.

Gen. 38:24

This verse refers to a woman being condemned to death despite being pregnant; however, this was not a law of any sort and certainly does not refer to God’s approval of such a decision.

Hosea 13:16

This text says that the judgment upon the Samaritans will include ‘their little ones being dashed to pieces’ and ‘their pregnant women ripped open.’ Somehow, some pro-choice advocates believe it follows that this condones or even mandates abortion to correct errors of an undesirable conception. How does this possibly follow? Some questions may arise regarding God’s willingness to allow these unborn to die, but certainly it doesn’t follow that this gives us the mandate or right to allow abortions. Keep in mind that God alone has a right to give and take life as He sees fit. One person’s sin has unfairly affected the innocent throughout history.

SO…if biologically and biblically, we can show that the fetus is a separate, distinct individual person with the right to life from the moment of conception (fertilization), then the laws and commands in Scripture against murder should apply. Thus we can say that abortion is indeed murder.

APPENDICES: ADDITIONAL SUBJECTS CONCERNING THE ABORTION ISSUE

Abortifacients or Chemical Abortions

RU-486 (Mifepristone) or “The Abortion Pill”: This is used 4-7 weeks after last menstrual period. The pill is given to block the hormone progesterone, preventing the embryo from staying implanted and growing. Two days later, misprostol is given to contract the uterus and expel the embryo.
Methotrexate: Approved by the FDA for cancer treatment, it is also used to end pregnancies by attacking the growing cells of the newly formed human and stops embryonic cell division.
Emergency Contraceptive or “Morning-After Pill”: Taken within 72 hours of having sexual intercourse, this prevents the implantation of an already-fertilized egg.
[Abortifacients have come to the forefront with ObamaCare which mandates that businesses must offer these in their health coverage, such as with Hobby Lobby who refuse to include abortifacients as part of their coverage.]

RESPONDING TO OBJECTIONS:

“Abortion is legal, so it must be morally acceptable”

What is legal does not equal what is morally correct. If that were true, then there can and could have never been reformation, such as the outlawing of slavery. And it was certainly legal to kill Jews during the Holocaust, so under that thinking, it was also right.
Even our own laws are not consistent… (see beginning of notes)

“If re-criminalized, how should women be punished if they have an abortion?”

Pro-choice advocates always think they can stump pro-life advocates by asking how women should be punished if they obtain the procedure after abortion is re-criminalized. This is worth examining.

First we must frame the question correctly. What penalty should be prescribed by law if a mother deliberately murders her 2-year-old child? What if her child is 7 years old? What if she pays someone else to murder her children? We know that this would be considered, at the very least in our liberal society, as manslaughter, which is punishable by a jail sentence. If we know that the child in the womb at the time of conception is just as much a child as the child of 2 years old, we must not allow mis-directed compassion for the mother to suggest that she and the person she hires to kill her baby be above the law and receive no jail time.

Once it’s illegal, women could no longer claim that they were un-informed and did not know it was wrong. Without permission based on the mother’s health, doctors would be sued for medical malpractice for performing abortions and serve jail time.

“Penalties in law are designed to discourage criminals from carrying out actions that are illegal. Laws do not change hearts, but they control the heartless. The desire for justice demands that severe penalties be given for crimes against the lives of defenseless people. Our society has denied justice for unborn children who are killed daily in their mothers’ wombs at the request of the mother. We need to correct this and return that protection to the unborn. It then follows that jail time for those who commit the crime of abortion is not only just, but absolutely necessary.”

One of the greatest saints of our time, Mother Teresa, who is known for her kindness and compassion to everyone she met, was asked the question regarding jail time for women who sought abortions and she answered unequivocally that a jail term would be necessary, because the life of a human being had been deliberately taken.

Note: Of course, punishment should not be retroactive. A woman/doctor could not be punished for having/performing an abortion while it was legal.

Posted by Ben Jones

Jesus Christ, Part 2: Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

(continued from Jesus Christ, Part 1)

Jesus’ Credentials that He was and is the Messiah, the Son of God:

Impact of life, through miracles & teaching
Fulfilled prophecy in life
Resurrection

How does the resurrection prove that Jesus was the Son of God? (i.e. Lazarus, little girl rose from the dead) Difference is He rose by His own power. He had power to lay down His life and power to take it up again.
If resurrection is not a historic fact, the power of death remains unbroken, and we are still in our sins.

Importance of the Resurrection:

1 Corinthians 15:1-22 (hangs Christianity by a thread, a titanium thread)
Jesus referred to rising again 16 times in the NT. When He told His disciples that He would be crucified and on the third day rise again… he said something only a fool would say if He expected longer the devotion of the disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. Moreover, Jesus’ critics asked Him for a sign, and He said that He would give them one- His resurrection. It was a test by which they could know if He was telling the Truth. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then He was a false prophet and a charlatan, and no rational person should follow Him. If He did rise, however, that’s a different story…
quote, Craig: “Without belief in the resurrection the Christian faith would not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, his crucifixion would have forever silenced any hope of his being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of his career. The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God raised Jesus from the dead.”
quote, Green: “Christianity does not hold the resurrection to be one among many tenets of belief. Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. The Christian church would have never begun; the Jesus-movement would have fizzled out with His execution. Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. Once disprove it, and you have disposed of Christianity. Christianity is a historical religion. It claims that God has taken the risk of involving Himself in human history, and the facts are there for you to examine with the utmost rigor. They will stand any amount of critical investigation.”

Minimal Facts Approach

Only data that is so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the very skeptical ones. 1) strongly evidenced 2) nearly every scholar accepts it, even skeptical ones.

Acts 1:3 – “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God (“tekmerion” = “demonstrable proof”)

Fact 1: Jesus died by crucifixion

Reported in all four Gospel accounts

Christian and Jewish writers with major references to the historicity/death of Jesus Christ:

Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Quadratus, Epistle of Barnabus, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Polycarp, Eusebius of Caesarea, Origen (E), Dionysius of Corinth (E)

Non-Christian or Anti-Christian Sources

Flavius Josephus (37- 100AD)

Jewish Historian, “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified…”

Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD)

Roman Historian, lived through 7-8 emperors; Highly respected, wrote “Annals” and “Histories;” Refers to death of Christ and existence of Christians

Lucian of Samosata (150 AD)

Greek Satirist, spoke scornfully about Christ/followers, “The Christian, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”

Suetonius (70 AD)

Roman Historian, annalist of Imperial House under Emperor Hadrian; Talked about Christ in “Life of Claudius” and “Lives of the Caesars”

Pliny the Younger (112 AD)

Gov. of Bithynia in Asia Minor; He wrote Emperor Trajan- the problem was that he had been killing so many men, women and children who proclaimed Christ, should he continue to kill all of them or only some?

Thallus (52 AD)

In “3rd Book of Histories” makes reference to an odd darkness that enveloped the land during the late afternoon when Jesus died on the cross. He did not doubt Christ crucified or that a strange occurrence happened. He needed to find a reason. Said it was possibly an eclipse of the sun (but is not possible at full moon).

Phlegon (2nd Century)

Referred to darkness on the day of Christ’s death. (“Chronicles”)

Mara Bar-Serapion

Non-Christian polytheist, Syrian Philosopher who wrote soon after 70AD to his son from prison about Jesus, and compared him to philosophers such as Socrates and Pythagoras… referring to the Jew’s murder of their ‘Wise King.’

Only the beginning- Trajan (punishment of Christians), Macrobius (slaughter of babies in Bethlehem), Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Juvenal, Seneca, Hierocles

We know more specifics about the death of Jesus and the nature of his burial than any man in the ancient world.

Fact 2: Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose from the dead

Across the board, there is almost complete consensus among scholars that subsequent to Jesus’ death by crucifixion, the disciples both claimed and believed themselves that Jesus had risen.

Two Parts: 1) The disciples CLAIMED that He had risen from the dead. 2) The disciples actually BELIEVED that He had risen from the dead.

They Claimed It:

Origin of Christianity: We all know that Christianity sprang into being sometime midway through the 1st century AD. Why did it start? What caused the movement to begin? Even skeptics believe that it Christianity had its origin in the disciples claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Testimony of Paul: Paul claims in multiple letters that the disciples had passed on to him the claim that Jesus had risen. (Bible proving Bible? No! We are only regarding the NT as 27 separate books and letters that weren’t compiled into the NT until later.)
Oral Tradition: There weren’t recorders back then, so disciples and early church fathers had creeds and sermon summaries that were memorized and we know that these were orally passed down in the early first century.
Written Tradition: All four gospels testify to the resurrection of Christ. Now, that doesn’t mean it actually happened, but it does show us that the authors claimed it happened. Lots of works by the early Christian fathers that either portrayed, assumed, or outright stated the disciples claims

They Believed It:

Change in the Disciples: Disciples were running scared, hiding in upper room, disheartened, all of them deserted their savior when He was arrested, Peter denied Him three times  confident saints, world-changing missionaries, traveling ambassadors for Christ, courageous martyrs
The disciples had nothing to gain by lying and starting a new religion. Why would these defeated men suddenly decide to perform this massive hoax? By doing it, they faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and torture, ending in gruesome martyr’s deaths for most of them. In light of this, they could have never sustained such unwavering motivation if they KNEW what they were preaching was a lie…
Now, you could say, well, people die for their faith all the time. We see that when the terrorists flew into the Twin Towers. Suicide bombers, etc. No, this is different. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true on faith. The disciples of Jesus would have been tortured and killed for something they knew to be true or false. In other words, if the resurrection hadn’t happened, they would have died for something they KNEW to be a lie they had made up!
Not only this, but the disciples took convincing that the resurrection had even taken place. In Luke 24:21, a couple of disciples are talking and they say “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” Some didn’t believe the women at first, so they ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Thomas wouldn’t believe until he saw Jesus for himself. We see Jesus going out of His way to convince the disciples that He was the real risen Jesus.

Fact 3: The postmortem appearances of Jesus

We have witness statements and documentation of His appearance to Peter, James, the disciples, the apostles, and Paul!

Let’s break it up:

Appearance to Peter: Paul personally spent time with Peter and this was part of the creed passed on to him which he relates in 1 Cor 15. Luke also verifies this tradition in 24:34, “The Lord has risen indeed, and He has appeared to Simon!” Very few critics deny that Peter believed He saw the risen Christ and it is well-founded historically.
Appearance to the Twelve: This is undoubtedly the twelve main disciples minus Judas. This is the most well-attested appearance in the old Christian tradition and is independently reported by Paul, Luke and John. This is where Jesus shows his wounds and eats in front of the disciples to prove that he is not only physically raised, but is also the same Jesus who was crucified
Appearance to 500 brethren: Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians that over 500 people personally witnessed Jesus alive after the resurrection, and before the ascension. (1 Cor. 15:6). Paul could never had said this if it had not been true. In fact, Paul was basically saying… “if you don’t believe me, ask one of the 500 other people who saw Him over a 40-day period.”
Appearance to James: Jesus appeared to His younger brother, James, who had not believed in Him as the Messiah, a prophet, or anything special at all! Suddenly, after this, James is one of the main apostles. In fact, Paul calls James one of the pillars of the Christian church along with Peter and John. (Gal. 2:9) He is also the sole head of the Jerusalem church and council of elders. Then we learn from Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria, that James was stoned to death illegally by the Jewish leaders for his faith. I mean, what would it take for you to believe that your brother was the Lord and die for that belief??
Appearance to Saul of Tarsus: Remember Saul was one of the main persecutors of the Christian church- in fact, he was hired to do just that! He was known everywhere for that. Then suddenly everything changed. After what he said was an appearance of the risen Jesus, his name is changed and Paul becomes one of the greatest promotors and evangelists of the faith to ever live. This is all documented by Paul himself, Luke, early Christian tradition in Judea, Clement of Rome, Tertullian, Polycarp, Dionysius of Corinth, and Origen for starters.

Fact 4: The empty tomb

There is extremely strong evidence that Jesus’ tomb was found empty a few days after His death, and the majority of critical scholars will agree on this.

Jews silence concerning the empty tomb:

Disciples belief in resurrection would have been easily discredited since the location of tomb was close and well-known. Jerusalem was the starting place of Christianity. The Jews would have easily produced the body to suppress Christianity and stop its spread before it even started.
In fact, they never once argued against the empty tomb. They actually acknowledged it by trying to give reasons why the body was not there. In other words, we have enemy attestation that the tomb was empty.
Many hostiles believed in Jerusalem after resurrection, who didn’t believe before it. (Paul, James, others)

Women’s Testimonies: If this was made up, would not have used women’s testimonies. At this time, a woman’s testimony was virtually worthless. A woman was not allowed to give testimony in a court of law. No one would have invented a story and made women the first witnesses to the empty tomb. In fact, the presence of the women was more of an embarrassment (that’s why Paul didn’t mention the women in 1 Corinthians), but the gospels wanted to tell it like it actually happened. No other explanation for this fact.
Reports: Early church tradition, along with the four gospels, and Paul, indicate the empty tomb. Attested to by multiple early and independent sources.
Joseph of Arimathea: Joseph would not have been an invention, as he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin and would have been the last person that Christians would have stated would have taken proper care of Jesus’ body, especially giving Him his own new tomb. There was already hostility between the Jewish leaders and Christians since Christians outright blamed them for the judicial murder of Jesus, even if they had an understanding of why Jesus had to die.

Other Evidences

A better understanding of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ burial will help us investigate whether the resurrection was a hoax or actual history. We need an explanation which best fits the evidence stated above.

Matt. 27:62-66

The lengths to which people went to make sure a resurrection story was not spread serves to help prove the resurrection.

The Stone (Golel):

Large, heavy disc of rock; used for protection against men and beasts (this one probably larger). Takes many men to move it.

Codex Bezae in Cambridge Library- addition in margin of Mark 16:4 (20 men could not roll stone away)

All gospels refer to greatness of stone

The Seal:

Cord stretched across stone, sealed on each end and had Roman Stamp/Seal.

Seal made in the presence of 10-30 Roman Guard.

This was an Imperial Seal of Rome, it affixed in wax the official stamp of the procurator himself.

A Roman seal must be broken before writing could be inspected- same with tomb. To open tomb, one must break seal, incurring the wrath of Roman Law

The Roman Guard:

Power of Rome was built upon strict discipline of soldiers.
4 People in a Roman Guard
Punishment for quitting post was death. Roman Antiquities, Polybius VI (prestigious author of time). This makes for faultless attention to duty.
18 individual offenses punishable by death leaving night watch was one, or falling asleep on duty. (Dig. 49.16.3.6- Justinian Digest)
They would have guarded the tomb just as strictly and faithfully as they had executed the crucifixion. Their sole purpose was to rigidly perform their duties as soldiers of the empire of Rome. The Roman seal affixed to the tomb was the most sacred thing in the world to them.

Grave Clothes: Bound, cemented together with myrrh- would have been very difficult for someone to have unwrapped Him

Non-biblical Sources: Many refer to a ‘curious mystery/rumor’

Alternative Theories

The Swoon Theory- Christ never died, only swooned. When placed in the tomb, he was actually alive. After several hours, he was revived by the cool air, arose, and departed.

Does it FIT:

Death by Crucifixion? NO

Belief of Disciples? YES (barely)

Postmortem Appearances? YES (barely)

Empty Tomb? YES

Witness of everyone that He was dead, including soldiers whose life depended on it. Pilate required certification of Christ’s death before giving body to Joseph of Arimethea (Mark 15:42-45). The punishment for the Roman soldiers being mistaken in thinking Christ was dead would be execution. Roman soldiers had lots of experience in knowing whether someone was dead or not- this was their job.
All corresponding contemporary documents tell of Christ’s death (Christian and secular)
Spear in the side instead of breaking bones because He was already dead
Blood and water could not have flowed (medical condition in only dead people)
With no medical attention, he revived? And survived for three days in that condition with no food or warmth?
He had to unwrap Himself from the tightly-bound grave clothes which were cemented around Him
He had to roll away the huge stone covering the tomb, and in His condition
He had to roll away the stone without disturbing the guards. OR He had to fight off the whole Roman guard in His state (and naked.)
No one saw Him dragging out of the tomb, there were no signs of physical weakness, then walk seven miles to Emmaus.
Jesus would have to be a liar

The Theft Theory- The disciples came during the night and stole body (Matt. 28:11-15). Most popular of the time. Actually helps because it asserts the empty tomb.

Death by Crucifixion? YES

Belief of Disciples? NO

Postmortem Appearances? NO

Empty Tomb? YES

Matt. 28:13- See a problem?

The guards would not have risked execution by sleeping at their posts
If they were asleep, how did they know it was the disciples?
The disciples had to have rolled the massive stone away without waking up the guards
Guards would have never admitted this unless given protection/impunity by the chief priests

Every measure was taken so disciples couldn’t steal the body guard, seal, and stone
Grave clothes still there. Disciples would have had to take the time to unwrap the body which would have been difficult and steal the body naked? Why would they do that?
Disciples’ depression and cowardice! 3 days earlier they fled from Jesus and were running scared. Now they are going against a Roman Guard? These cold-blooded soldiers with full armor and weapons are not ones to be taken down by a few timid disciples from Galilee.
Disciples took convincing that Christ was alive
Disciples willing to face arrest, prison, beatings, and death for something they knew to be a lie- hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff
The Roman guards story was never questioned, it was accepted as being entirely true, they knew the guard had no reason to lie
Could someone else have taken the body?

Disciples- no power!
Jews- What motive?? And when the resurrection started to spread, why didn’t they produce the body?
Romans- The whole reason Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified was to create peace! The guard certainly had no motive. They would had to break their own Roman seal which went against everything they stood for.
What is left? It was a divine work. Simply the most logical.

Hallucination Theory- Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were only supposed, they were actually hallucinations

Death by Crucifixion? YES

Belief of Disciples? NO

Postmortem Appearances? YES

Empty Tomb? NO

The entire church is built upon the credentials of the apostles having seen Jesus and been eyewitnesses to the fact. This would mean that the entire Christian church is founded on a hallucination experience of a few people in the 1st century!
500 people of average soundness of mind, at all times, in different places should experience audio, visual, and even physical interaction with a hallucination

Groups of people saw Him at once- Visions or hallucinations are very individualistic and subjective. Even 2 at a time is unlikely.
Certain mental/psychological states must be present in every person, which is not so

Experiences were prolonged- road to Emmaus. Hallucinations are short or at least in one sitting.
Disciples took convincing. It was forced upon their minds from without rather than from within
The hallucination, on 3 separate occasions, wasn’t recognized as Jesus
Reaction of women and disciples because unexpected
Vision suddenly came to an end for everyone

The Wrong Tomb Theory- There were lots of rock tombs, and they went to the wrong tomb. A young man guessed what they were doing and pointed them to the correct tomb. Embarrassed at their mistake, they fled. In the actual story, an angel tells the women, Mark 16:6- “He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.”

Death by Crucifixion? YES

Belief of Disciples? NO

Postmortem Appearances? NO

Empty Tomb? YES

Visit to the tomb is well-documented.

Matt. 27:61- “sitting opposite tomb”
Mark 15:47- “observed where He was laid”
Luke 23:55- “observed tomb and how He was laid”

Would they forget where they laid their son and loved one only 72 hours before?
Peter and John made the same mistake?
If young man, what was he doing? Suggest a gardener, but it would have been too dark for a gardener.
No one suggested that it was a gardener instead of an angel until the 20th century
Jews would have gone to the correct tomb to produce the body
Joseph of Arimethea would have cleared up the misunderstanding- it was his tomb!

The theory that the women were approaching the wrong tomb has no evidence, it only arises from a disbelief in the possibility of the supernatural emptying of the Lord’s tomb.

Most logical conclusion which fits with all evidence is that this was a supernatural act of God Himself!

“People don’t reject the resurrection because of the lack of evidence; they deny it in spite of the evidence!”

-Quote, Thomas Arnold, “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead”

Posted by Ben Jones

What About Those Who Never Hear Of Christ?

This is one of the most hotly-debated topics in all of Christian theology; however, it is only an issue if Jesus Christ really is the only way to restore our relationship with God and spend eternity with Him. Is this a basic tenet of Christian belief? If the Bible is our source of authority on the Christian faith, the answer is clear. For your own study, look at passages such as Romans 3:23, John 14:6, John 3:16-18, Matt. 11:27, Luke 12:8, 1 John 5:12, and 1 Tim. 2:5-6a. Peter says in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” When pressed on the issue, many Christians, including evangelical leaders, have a difficult time standing on the concept of Jesus being the singular way to God. It is hard for them to wrap their heads around the fact that only a small fraction of the world’s population (past, present, and future) will believe on Christ’s name and be saved. The vast majority will be condemned. But if you read Matthew 7:13-14, this is exactly what Jesus Himself anticipated.  Jesus’ exclusive claims to being the only way are not just an important part of his teaching, but the foundation on which all His teachings rest. No other religious leader made the type of claims Jesus did. Jesus was very narrow-minded in His teaching, thus, we should be likewise in our core beliefs. As many know, the disciples of Christ were called followers of “The Way” long before they were ever called Christians. This was based on the exclusivity of their claims. Also, if Jesus is not the exclusive avenue to salvation, why did He die? Why would God send His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience and self-denial, and then suffer torture and execution in one of the most horrific ways imaginable, if there are other ways to be saved? Only a cruel and sadistic God would do such an evil act. No, it is made explicitly clear that Christ’s death and resurrection is the only way by which man can be saved. So this leaves us with a very real conundrum. What about those die never having heard the name of Christ? How is it fair for them to be eternally condemned without being given the opportunity to accept salvation? There are bad answers to this problem, a possible answer, and then what I believe to be the best explanation.  First, the bad answers: They can be saved through faith and obedience to their own religion or version of God. This takes away the exclusivity of Christ being the Only Way. They are saved because they are not held accountable for what they do not know, similar to small babies who die. This takes away all rationale and urgency of missions, and leaves no motivation for evangelism at all. If this was the case, we would be better off not telling them about Christ. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person who then has the opportunity to reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. If the point is to have as many people experience heaven as possible, under this belief, we should let the majority die without ever hearing about Christ. The following are points of support from proponents of this belief: God has called us to mission work and we should obey: This supplies no rationale as to why God would have issued such an apparently pointless command. It would just be blind obedience to a command with no rationale. Missions is broader than just securing peoples’ eternal destiny: This brings us back to the idea of the Christian peace corps. Missions should be positive, not an ultimatum: Yes, but this takes away any urgency surrounding mission work around the world. Why would a career missionary sacrifice the comforts of home, and bring their whole family to a foreign country to struggle as missionaries for most of their lives? Christ is revealed to every person and given a choice sometime before their death. There is little to no evidence to support this belief; it also takes away the need, and especially the urgency of mission work, among other problems. (Important Point: Throughout history, God has chosen to reveal Himself to countless people through dreams and visions. We see this regularly, especially in nations that are largely Muslim. These dreams usually prompt the dreamer to seek out someone who has more information about Christ, and therefore hear the full gospel message.) A possible answer: They are lost because they never heard and therefore never believed on Christ, and will spend eternity in hell. Is this possible? Yes. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, people have been born with a sinful nature, a tendency toward sin. Every human is deserving of judgment and punishment for his sin in the face of a perfect and holy God. Think of the sun. The sun is good, allowing life to exist on earth. But it also burns, bearing down on us all, and rightfully so. A just God must punish sin. But God so loved us, that He introduced sunscreen into history. The sunscreen of salvation. He gave us His only begotten Son, so that those who believe in Him will not face the wrath of God’s righteous judgment. The people who don’t hear about Christ are still rightfully punished for their sin in hell. Some suffer this punishment because of the sin of others, such as Christians who have the Good News but are not willing to get out of their comfort zone to tell people about Him. God shows amazing love and grace in saving anyone at all. This explanation, though unsatisfying to many, still doesn’t actually violate the nature of God. Nevertheless, I believe there is a better answer… The best answer: First let me give credit where credit is due. My favorite answer to this age-old question is explained by Dr. William Lane Craig in his book “Hard Questions, Real Answers.” Most of the material below originates with him (and sections are direct quotes from his book).  We need recognize the concept of General Revelation. Although many people do not know the full revelation of the gospel, none of us are totally ignorant of him. Pull out your Bible and read Romans 1:19-20. Also, Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The created universe speaks so clearly of a Creator. It is difficult to take a walk in the country or gaze at the night sky and not see something of God’s creative flair reflected there. Many have set ‘science’ against God, but science is simply better understanding how God designed things, and if anything, should make us more in awe of Him. Then there is the witness of our conscience. Read Romans 2:14-15. Though defective since the fall, our consciences still function and give us a sense of a moral order, a morality that we generally know to be correct, even though we fail to live up to it. Hence there is no one that is totally ignorant of God. According to Paul, all mankind can know through nature that a Creator God exists, and through their own conscience about God’s moral law and their failure to live up to it. Romans 1 and 2 indicates that God doesn’t judge people who haven’t heard about Christ by the same standard as those who have. He judges them based on the info he does have, as God has revealed it to all mankind in nature and conscience. But the truth is that most ignore the Creator and morality, and go on to worship gods of their own making immersing themselves in immorality (we see this throughout Scripture). It is conceivable that a few might recognize God and His moral law, and turn to Him in repentance and faith and that God might accordingly apply to them the benefits of Christ’s blood so that they might be saved without the conscious knowledge of Christ. This is what happened with Old Testament figures like Job. He had no conscious knowledge of Christ, but still enjoyed a saving relationship with God in virtue of Christ’s atoning death. If their lack of knowledge before Christ’s first coming was not an absolute barrier to salvation, is there any reason why sheer lack of knowledge after this time should be an absolute barrier? Those who have really never heard the gospel today are in a similar position to those who lived before Christ. Is it not possible for them to respond to the knowledge of God they do have in the way those Old Testament heroes did? I believe salvation is universally accessible to anyone at any time through a faith response to God’s general revelation through nature and conscience. But if we take Scripture seriously, and are honest with ourselves, these are the extreme exceptions. We know that very few people actually access salvation in this way. Most people freely ignore a revelation of only nature and conscience, but only come to Christ after they hear the gospel. So we still have a problem. How could God be all-powerful, and all-loving, yet for some people never to hear the gospel and therefore be lost? More specifically, why didn’t God bring the gospel to people who reject the light of general revelation that they have, but who would have believed had they only heard the gospel? Answer: How do we know there are such people? We know that not everyone believes the gospel and is saved when missionaries finally succeed in bringing the Good News to some previously unreached people group. We know that some people who never hear the gospel and are lost would not have believed in it even if they had heard. What if God has providentially ordered the world that ALL persons who never hear the gospel are precisely such people. In other words, everyone who never hears the gospel and is lost would have rejected the gospel and been lost even if he had heard it. As Dr. Craig says, no one could stand before God on Judgment Day and say “Sure, God, I didn’t respond to your revelation in nature and conscience, but if only I had the gospel, I would have believed! God would say, “No, I knew that even if you had heard the gospel, you wouldn’t have believed it. Therefore, my judgment of you on the basis of nature and conscience is neither unfair or unloving.” What about missionary work? Why do it if all the people who are unreached would not receive Christ even if they heard of Him? This is an important clarification. We are talking about people who NEVER hear the gospel. God in His providence can so arrange the world that as the gospel spreads out from first century Palestine, he places people in its path who would believe it if they heard it. In His love and mercy, God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if they heard it remains ultimately unreached. This makes missionary work a divine appointment!  Read Acts 17:24-28a! Paul describes God’s providential arrangement of the world’s peoples (both the time and place) with a view toward reaching out and finding God. To sum up with a couple other questions that are raised when talking about this (again, from Dr. Craig): Why didn’t God create a world in which He knew everyone would freely receive Christ and be saved? It may not be within God’s power to create such a world. It’s a logical impossibility to make someone freely do something. Given His will to create free creatures, God had to accept that some would reject Him and be lost. Why did God create the world, if He knew that so many people would not receive Christ and therefore be lost? God wanted to share His love and fellowship with created persons. This is an immeasurable ‘good.’ He knew that this meant some would freely reject Him, but the blessedness and happiness of those who would accept Him should not be precluded by those who would freely reject Him. Those who willingly forfeit salvation should not have a ‘veto power’ over worlds God could create. Why didn’t God bring the gospel to people who reject the light of general revelation that they have, but who would have believed had they only heard the gospel? Perhaps there are no such people. God has so arranged the world that those who would respond to the gospel if they heard it are born at a time and place in history where they do hear it. Those who do not respond to God’s revelation in nature and conscience and never hear the gospel would not have responded to it even if they had heard it. Hence, no one is lost because of a lack of information or due to historical or geographical accident. Anyone who wants, or even would want to be saved, will be saved. Is this answer theologically accurate? Only God knows. But even if it’s a possibility, then this question doesn’t create a theological non-starter for the Christian faith, and we don’t have to settle on one of the bad explanations given earlier. Just remember, Isaiah 30:18, which says “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” Trust in that.
Posted by Ben Jones

Alcohol: Why I Personally Do Not Drink

Let me begin by saying that I am not sure that I consider the act of drinking in moderation (otherwise known as social drinking) to be a sin in and of itself; I would never condemn or sit in judgment of those who participate in such social activity. Having said that, I want to share the reasons why I personally have decided not to make drinking, or even social drinking, any part of my lifestyle. I believe my decision not to drink at all is a personal conviction that each individual has to make as they are so led by the Holy Spirit. It is also important to mention that I do not isolate myself from those that drink. I feel I can support my conviction in this area both in conjunction with and separate from my Christian perspective. First, I’ll mention the primary reasons why I do not drink, which have little to do with my faith and beliefs. In the second part, I’ll talk about the Scripture that deals with alcohol and “strong drink” and implications therein. I simply do not like the taste of alcohol. Granted, the very brief sips that I have accepted from my friends does not give me a strong opinion on the taste of all types of alcohol. But those few sips tasted quite terrible to me, and was enough for me to have no desire to try it again. Drinking is expensive. Alcoholic beverages are almost always more expensive than their non-alcoholic versions. I have been amazed at the amount of money that my friends and acquaintances have spent on alcohol. On a larger scale, alcoholism is cited as one of the biggest reasons for homelessness. When there are bills to be paid, many times the needed money goes to the local bartender. I don’t like the smell. Why would I want to drink something that I don’t even like to be around because of the scent? Though wine has little scent, the smell of strong liquor, and especially beer, have a terrible smell to me. I have no desire to experience the after-effects of drinking. I have seen the way a night of drinking has ended for so many of my drinking friends. The vomiting and the morning hang-overs I have witnessed certainly does not make me want to participate in what caused all this discomfort and pain, even in moderation. I don’t like the way drinking affects the body physiologically. Whenever any person consumes alcohol, it ALWAYS affects them to some extent. Actually, the way alcohol distributes itself throughout your entire body is unlike any other food or beverage, and quite frankly, creeps me out. An excerpt from the encyclopedia might explain more easily: “Alcohol is not digested like other foods. Instead of being converted and transported to cells and tissues, it avoids the normal digestive process and goes directly to the blood stream. About 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood through the stomach walls and 80 percent is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine. Because it is distributed so quickly and thoroughly, the alcohol affects the central nervous system even in small concentrations. The brain, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and every other organ and tissue system are infiltrated by alcohol within minutes after it passes into the blood stream. ” Effects of alcohol on a few body systems: Liver- Imbalances can be created which can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperuricemia (as in arthritis or gout), fatty liver (which may lead to hepatitis or cirrhosis), and hyperlipemia (build-up of fats sent to the bloodstream which leads to heart problems). Central Nervous System- When alcohol acts on the CNS, intoxication occurs, affecting emotional and sensory function, judgment, memory and learning ability. Smell and taste are dulled. The brain is the organ that is most affected by alcohol, and proves that it is being damaged through the drinker’s behavior changes and emotional distress. Three noticeable effects of alcohol injury to the brain: memory loss, confusion, and augmentation. (Augmentation is a physiological response to alcohol which results in hyper-alertness to normal situations, perceiving light as brighter or sounds as louder than usual, or the drinker’s becoming extremely sad or angry for no apparent reason.) Blackouts, or loss of memory for a period during drinking, are a physical effect of alcohol on the brain. They occur as alcohol cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain. Lack of oxygen supply to the brain can kill tens of thousands of brain cells every time a person becomes intoxicated. Blood- One effect of drinking alcohol is “blood-sludging” where the red blood cells clump together causing the small blood vessels to plug up, starve the tissues of oxygen, and cause cell death. With this increased pressure, capillaries break, creating red eyes in the morning. Other effects of alcohol on the blood include: anemia; sedation of the bone marrow (which reduces the red and white blood count, and weakens the bone structure); lowered resistance to infection; and a decrease in the ability to fight off infections. The Gastrointestinal Tract- Alcohol increases acid in the stomach. That can result in gastritis or stomach or intestinal ulcers. Drinking causes a steep rise in the blood sugar; the pancreas responds by producing insulin which causes a fast drop in blood sugar and the symptom of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, lack of ability to concentrate, depression, anxiety, light-headedness, tremors, cold sweats, heart palpitations, loss of coordination, and upset stomach. In time, the drinker’s overworked pancreas may stop producing insulin and diabetes can result. The Muscles- Alcohol reduces blood flow to the muscles, including the heart, causing muscle weakness and deterioration. One outcome is cardiomyopathy (sluggish heart). Another outcome, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The Endocrine System- This system controls the body’s hormones and includes the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, and the ovaries or testes. Alcohol sedates these glands, resulting in under-production of hormones; effects include increased susceptibility to allergies. In higher doses, it can decrease sexual functioning: in men, by decreasing the frequency of erections, decreasing the maintenance of erections, decreasing penile size during erection, and increasing the amount of time between erections, in women by interfering with normal processes of sexual stimulation, and blocking orgasmic response. Prolonged use of alcohol can cause infertility in both men and women. — Alcohol affects practically everything in your entire body! Probably the most disturbing effect to me is the change in synaptic response within the brain which occurs with the consumption of any alcohol whatsoever. This results in at least SOME level of impaired judgment, lack of alertness, slower response time, impaired motor skills, and the list goes on. I hope we all would want to be in control of our actions. The consequences of not being in control, even only once, could prove to be life-changing – for us as well as others. I don’t want a foreign substance in my system to be making decisions for me. I want to be completely in control of myself at all times, and I think it irresponsible to have it otherwise. Also, I always think of a situation where I am with a female and someone attacks her. Any alcohol in my system would affect my ability to defend or protect her, as is the nature and instinct of most men. It also has been proven that an affinity for alcoholism is passed down in your genes. Most of the worst situations, problems, and tragedies in our society are directly linked to alcohol. There is no denying the damage and social ills that alcohol has had on our generation. Alcohol is the PRIMARY catalyst in child abuse, spouse abuse, and car accidents. 6000 babies are born deformed every year because of alcohol. A pregnant mother who drinks 2 ounces of wine a day has a 74% higher chance of having a deformed baby. This is not to mention the part it has played in prostitution, marriage problems, divorce, medical conditions, anger problems, poor job performance, and suicide, which are just a few more on a long list of problems that can be directly or indirectly attributed to the part alcohol has played in our society. I recognize that most would say that these things come about from the misuse of alcohol, but why would I want to have anything to do with something that leads to so much pain and suffering in so many lives? Is something that has caused so much death and sorrow really a part of the Christian life? I have never spoken to a social drinker that intended on becoming an alcoholic, but every alcoholic I have known first drank socially. Do I believe that a person can be a social drinker all their life and it never lead to anything more than that? Yes, I do. But what about their children? That leads me to my next point: I don’t want to be responsible for increasing the chance of my children developing a drinking problem. What I might be able to handle in moderation, my children may handle in excess; if it’s in my home, it’s available. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism gave a revealing statistic. Statistically, 1 in 3 people that drink any alcohol at all will become hooked to some degree and be considered as having a drinking problem. People who have a family history of alcoholism have 3x the risk of becoming alcoholics. In a home where mom or dad drink at all, the chances of their child developing a drinking problem is quite high. Is it worth the risk? Let me use my extended family as an example for why I will have an alcohol-free household. There are eight specific cases in my extended family where the parents drank socially and only in moderation, but their children developed a major drinking problem. In three of these cases, it led to the child committing suicide under the influence of alcohol. The lives of the other five children consist of failed marriages, jail time, rehab, wife and child abuse, drug use, and children out of wedlock. Does having an alcohol-free home guarantee my children will never develop a drinking problem? No, but it certainly decreases the chances, and that’s enough for me. I would never want to contribute to the possibility of bringing such a destructive habit into the lives of the ones I love the most. At the very least, if they do choose to drink, and later develop a problem, I know that they did not get it out of my refrigerator. They didn’t see drinking modeled in front of them at home. I also don’t drink because of personal experience with drunk drivers. When I was seven years old, my dad and I were blind-sided by a drunk driver. I temporarily lost my eyesight and both of us could have died. This is not to mention many other cases where personal friends have lost babies, wives, and loved ones to a reckless drunk driver. My dad works with college students as a campus minister, and has had to sit at numerous bedsides where parents have lost their children to accidents due to drunk driving. Alcohol is to blame for so much heartache. My dad’s story is eye-opening to me. Finding nothing in the Bible clearly stating that drinking in moderation was wrong, he continued to drink after his salvation experience. After going away to college, and desperately trying to win his drinking track buddies to the Lord with no success at all, he decided to do something different. He felt the Lord leading him to give up drinking beer for a while. Dad LOVED the taste of beer, so this was not an easy commitment to make. Nevertheless, he was willing to go the extra mile and at least try and see what would happen. Before that semester was over, two of his track buddies made professions of faith in Dad’s dorm room. Dad decided then and there: If Christ would lay down His life for him, then he could lay down his beer for Him. He’s never had a drink since. My parents decided to raise me and my sister in an alcohol-free household and we both have chosen to do the same when we have families. Both of us have friends that drink A LOT, but we love them all the same. It is a personal conviction and decision of mine. With the exception of a few of my experiences within a Christian fraternity, I should add that I have never been put down, made fun of, or excluded from anything because I don’t drink. The only other person that I would want to hold a similar personal conviction is my future wife. I don’t think that God would place that strong of conviction on one life partner without it being the conviction of the other. So though it’s quite rare to find these days, even in the church community, I trust that God will send me a mate that shares this conviction, or eventually decides to. —- All of these factors are reason enough for me to choose to abstain from drinking, even without consideration of religious conviction. But what about the Christian for whom none of the above reasons are a factor? Let’s say they love the smell and taste of alcohol; they can afford it, and they aren’t concerned with the small physiological effects or morning hangovers since they don’t plan on getting really drunk in the first place. For them, the role alcohol has played in society is simply gross abuse of an otherwise good thing, and they have every intention of teaching their children proper limits of alcohol consumption when they are of age. Is there any other reason for them to reconsider the issue of drinking? At this point, its worth turning to Scripture to see what it has to say. Most Christians would agree that the Bible is quite clear on the fact that becoming drunk is a sin. Here are a few examples: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit” -Eph. 5:18 “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness…” -Rom. 13:13 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” -Prov. 20:1 “Drunkards… shall [not] inherit the kingdom of God” -1 Cor. 6:10 “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine. Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper, Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of mast. They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it, When shall I awake? I will seek another drink” Prov. 23:29-35 I feel like I know lots of people like the person described in Proverbs. There are 627 scripture verses referencing drinking wine or strong drink. All but a few are warnings about the dangers of alcohol. In fact, there is more said about alcohol consumption than adultery, lying, cheating, idolatry, or blaspheming. There’s also plenty of verses about the sinfulness of any kind of addiction. Christians are commanded to not allow their bodies to be “mastered” by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Drinking alcohol in excess is undeniably addictive. So again, yes, drunkenness is a sin and addiction is a sin, but what about drinking in moderation? Alcoholism in our country is a serious problem, a growing epidemic worsening every year. I am regularly told that it’s all about responsibility and moderation, but where do we draw the line on moderation? Is it when we feel light-headed? Is it after just one beer, or maybe one beer and one glass of wine? Should we not stay as far from the line as possible? This principle indeed applies to other issues in the Christian life, beyond that of alcohol, some of which may be an even greater personal struggle for me, but for now, the topic is alcohol. At what point should you be considered drunk? This is only to say that ‘social drinking’ or ‘drinking in moderation’ seems to be a very subjective matter. I am often quoted the Scripture verses in which Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. As His first miracle, this is frequently used as justification for social drinking. The story can be found in John 2:1-11. Jesus attended a large wedding in which the wine had run out. Jesus ordered six waterpots containing 20 or 30 gallons each to be filled with water. When the headwaiter tasted the water turned wine he stated, “Every man serves the good wine first and when men have become drunk, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.” Think of the contradictory implications that seem to rise if this was indeed alcoholic wine. First, the headwaiter’s statement implies that most of the people were already drunk, and now Jesus was going to provide 120 to 180 more gallons of wine to allow them to become even more drunk (which we’ve already seen to be a sin)? Second, pregnant women would certainly have been present at the wedding and should not drink alcohol due to the increased chance of child deformities. Third, any kind of priest (Leviticus 10:9) or king (Prov. 31:4) was not supposed to partake in wine at all. Would Jesus have held himself to a lower standard than these? Fourth, there is evidence that ‘good wine’ was less intoxicating, and the finest wine in the land was not alcoholic at all- it was the purest, freshest form of “the fruit of the vine” or grape juice. Remember that there was no refrigeration in these times, so grape juice standing in the heat of the Middle East would ferment very quickly. The finest wine was wine so new and fresh that it had not begun to ferment. Samuel Lee from Cambridge University wrote, “The root of the Greek word in Hebrew is ‘yow-when’. The word does not only refer to intoxicating drink made by fermentation, but more so to a thick unintoxicating syrup or jam produced by boiling to make it suitable. They stored it in skin bottles, this grape syrup was stored in new wine skins to prevent fermentation. It was referred to as ‘the best wine’ and as ‘new wine.’” Classical writer, Horace, in 65BC, wrote of “unintoxicating wine being the best wine.” Aristotle wrote of a “sweet wine,” called glucus, which “does not intoxicate as ordinary wine does.” He goes on to describe a process still used at the time of Christ, during Roman times, by which “new wine” was absorbed, or stored, and dissolved in scrapings which would water it down and be served as a delicious grape drink. These are just a few pieces of evidence that show that the best wine may not have been intoxicating. But just for argument’s sake, let’s say that the wine was fermented and alcoholic to some extent. We know that in New Testament times, the water was not very clean. Without modern sanitation efforts, the water was often filled with bacteria, viruses, and all kinds of contaminants. The same is true in many third-world countries today. As a result, people often drank wine (or grape juice) because it was far less likely to be contaminated. In that day, wine was fermented (containing alcohol), but not to the degree it is today. It is incorrect to say that it was simply always grape juice, but it is also incorrect to say that it was the same as the wine commonly used today. In fact, most wine in those times was 8 parts water and 1 part wine; wine was basically used to disinfect the water. This meant that it took a great deal of wine to become drunk. Some people cite 1 Timothy 5:23 as justification for drinking. Here, Paul was instructing Timothy to stop drinking the water (which was probably causing his stomach problems) and instead drink wine. We’ve already seen the reason for this, and to use this logically, you would also have to stop drinking water, which is nonsense. If one studies the scriptures closely and takes the time to research the context, time period, situation, alcohol content, and the lack of alternatives, these scripture references fail as a convincing argument for drinking. Scripture also forbids a Christian from doing anything that might offend other Christians or might encourage them to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). Here we see verses about not causing another brother to stumble. A perfect example of this lies in the situation with one of my closest friends. He was dealing with depression and also attending a discipleship group for support and encouragement. But the group would regularly get together and go to a bar to drink. They may have been able to drink ‘in moderation,’ but in my friend’s state of mind, he was very susceptible to the effects of the alcohol. He had never drunk alcohol before, but due to the influence of his Christian discipleship group, he has turned to alcohol to deal with his issues and currently has a serious drinking problem. Let’s say you are a baseball coach, or youth pastor, or history teacher and you are out with the boys having a drink. If you happen to run into one of your students or players, how can they know how much you’ve had to drink? How do they know it’s your first and only beer? By your example, they may formulate in their minds that ‘if it’s ok for him and he turned out pretty good, then it must be ok for me.’ But what if they can’t handle it the way you can? Is it worth that kind of risk? I would hope the answer to that is an easy ‘no.’ Some may argue, “If I stop everything that might cause a weaker brother to stumble, then I guess I can’t dance at clubs, wear make-up, pierce my belly button, get a tattoo, etc.” My response would be that none of these carry the consequences and have the potential of destroying a life like alcohol addiction. So with the extra cost and all the alternatives, why do people drink in the first place? For the vast majority of them, it is because they like the “feeling” alcohol gives them. It livens up their life for a short time. It soothes their mind; it helps them relax and forget their troubles if only for a short time. Even for those who say they just like the taste, it is a fact that the most conservative of social drinkers will more than likely turn to it when they are in trouble, depressed, in pain, broken hearted, stressed, over-whelmed, angry, treated unfairly, in a crisis, or just have that overall feeling of hopelessness. In other words, in many cases, they are looking for something else to fill the void that only Jesus can fill. The relief that alcohol can provide is only temporary; the problem is still there in the morning. What Jesus has to offer will get us through the next day, and the next day, and the next. God made us with a hole in our soul that only He can fill. Until we truly find Jesus, that hole produces emptiness – something alcohol can only fill for a short time. Alcohol does not heal the heart; it only makes it numb. It doesn’t bring joy, fulfillment, or peace – all of which every individual hungers for in one way or another. These are all things Jesus can and wants to give us if we give Him the opportunity. What an awesome way to be a witness about what God can do in a person’s life! In summary, I would say that the Bible does not explicitly forbid the consumption of alcohol altogether. Alcohol, consumed in small quantities can be neither harmful or addictive. However, though it is a personal decision, due to the biblical concerns regarding alcohol and its effects, due to the easy temptation to over-consume alcohol, and due to the possibility of causing offense and/or stumbling of others, it is my opinion that it is usually best for a Christian to abstain entirely from drinking alcohol. Sometimes the question is not “Is it right or wrong?” but the question is “Is it wise?” Sometimes it is hard for me to see how the Christian life of seeking a growing relationship with God mixes with drinking alcohol. I think it would be extremely difficult for any Christian to say he is drinking alcohol to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), therefore I believe a strong case can be made linking alcohol consumption to one’s level of spiritual maturity. I freely admit that I don’t live up to this standard in some other areas of my life. Some would say I’m very ‘conservative’ in this area, and less so in others, which may be true. The point still stands on its own however. Today the topic of social drinking is very controversial among Christians, so much so that I felt led to write about my own conviction in this area and why. I hope it gives the reader better insight into the perspective of those who choose not to drink. The more you pray and earnestly seek after Him, the more He will reveal His will for you, not only in this area, but in every area of your life.
Posted by Ben Jones

The Bible and Homosexuality

The Question: Is the Bible silent, condemning, or supportive of engaging in homosexual activity?

Clarification: This is not an argument concerned with having homosexual tendencies, feelings, or desires towards a member of the same sex. We are only concerned with what the Bible says about actually living a homosexual lifestyle or engaging in homosexual activity. We all have desires that we don’t act on. A heterosexual person may want to have sex before marriage, but even if that person never gets married, it will always be wrong to act on those desires and have sex before marriage.

First, it’s undeniable that males and females are physiologically designed for one another. The male genitalia is made to fit into the female genitalia. Also, this combination is also how God created the ability for human reproduction. When it comes to sexuality, logically, same sex organs do not fit or function together.

Does this mean homosexual practice is necessarily wrong? Not necessarily. So let’s look at the biblical evidence:

Gen. 2:24- “for this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”

Certainly it seems that from the beginning of time, God commanded man and woman to live together and become one flesh. Jesus Himself quotes these verses again in Matthew and Mark. Multiple times the Bible and Jesus explicitly state that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that only within marriage is sex acceptable. This already eliminates the possibility of same sex marriage and behavior.

Gen. 19:4-9

Before they [the angels visiting Lot to judge the wickedness of Sodom and determine whether or not to spare it] had gone to bed, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them [lit., ‘have intercourse’ or ‘have relations’ or ‘so we may know them’].” Lot went outside to meet them… and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men… .” …And they said, “We’ll treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.

Traditional Position: The men of Sodom were attempting homosexual contact with Lot’s visitors. Sodom was subsequently destroyed for its great wickedness, homosexuality playing a major role in its destruction.

Pro-gay Objection #1: Sodom was destroyed because of the inhospitality of its citizens, not because of homosexuality. This is based upon two assumptions: 1) Lot was violating Sodom’s custom by entertaining guests without the permission of the city’s elders, thus prompting the demand to bring the men out “so we may know them.” 2) The word used yada, “to know” does not necessarily have a sexual connotation, so the men of Sodom had no sexual intentions towards Lot’s visitors.

Response: This doesn’t make sense in light of Lot’s response. He responds, “Don’t do this wicked thing” which could hardly apply to a simple request to get to know his guests. His second response is even more telling: He answered their demands by offering his two virgin daughters- another senseless gesture if the men wanted only social knowledge of his guests.

Also, why, if these men had innocent intentions, was the city destroyed for inhospitality? The complete and utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would be harsh punishment for inhospitality.

Pro-gay Objection #2: Sodom was destroyed for attempted rape, not homosexuality. This is more common and makes more sense than the inhospitality theory. This means violence, not homosexuality, was being punished when Sodom fell.

Response: Partially true, the men of Sodom were proposing rape, but for such an event to include all the men from every part of the city of Sodom- both young and old, homosexuality must have been commonly practiced. Also, extra-Biblical evidence connects Sodom with homosexual practices:

The second-century BC Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs labels the Sodomites ‘sexually promiscuous’ (Testimony of Benjamin 9:1) and refers to ‘Sodom, which departed from the order of nature’ (Testament of Nephtali 3:4). From the same time period, Jubilees specifies that the Sodomites were ‘polluting themselves and fornicating in their flesh’ (16:5, compare 20:5-6). Both Philo and Josephus plainly name same-sex relations as the characteristic view of Sodom (i.e. “Lot was oppressed by the sensual conduct of lawless men”)

In light of the number of men willing to join the rape, and the many other references to Sodom’s sexual sins, it is likely that the homosexual practice for which they were known was one of the many reasons judgment finally fell upon them.

Leviticus 18:22-23 “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.”

Leviticus 20:13 “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”

Pro-gay Objection: Leviticus contains outdated ritual laws that we, as freed Christians, no longer need to abide by.

Response: The prohibitions against same-sex intercourse occur in the context of other types of sexual activity that we all agree is wrong, like incest, adultery, and bestiality. Not only this, but the indictment of same-sex intercourse is particularly severe, as suggested by the Hebrew term “to’evah” which means ‘detestable’ and ‘abominable,’ and is considered a capital offense. There are at least 6 more points that I won’t go into here that explain why these particular commands from God’s law apply to us today.

Romans 1:18-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

In this passage, Paul uses homosexuality as indicative of man’s deep seated rebellion against God and God’s proper condemnation of man. This text is a crystal clear condemnation of homosexual behavior in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul right in the middle of his most brilliant discourse on general revelation. Paul is saying that homosexuality is worse because it’s an immoral act based on the perversion of a natural function.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

It is clear here that un-repentant practicing homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God (i.e. go to heaven). The Greek term is “arsenokoites,” which means ‘a sodomite,’ and is made up of the root words “arseno” meaning ‘male’ and “koites” which is where we get the English term ‘coitus’ meaning ‘sexual intercourse.’ People have been trying for years to re-translate and re-interpret the meaning of this word to refer to some version of pedophilia, however, there is no real foundation for this based on the original Greek. I also think that it’s important that we don’t single out homosexuality here and shrug off the other sins listed in these passages. For instance, how many of us have never coveted? We are all guilty of sin, and no sin is worse than another, even if the consequences may be different. The point of this study is to call out sin when we see it, and concerning homosexual behavior, to see it for the sin that the Bible clearly states it is. And don’t forget the next verse… 1 Cor. 6:11 which says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” This shows that God is willing to forgive sinners, including homosexuals, but they must turn from (repent of) their rebellious ways and place faith in Christ alone.

1 Timothy 1:10 “and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…”

Again, this is talking about how God’s Law points out these sins to people and how they are against sound teaching.

There are also a reasonably large number of other texts that explicitly or implicitly indicate opposition to same-sex intercourse, leaving little doubt that such opposition was the consensus position of both Testaments, as well as of the historical communities out of which these texts arose.

This doesn’t even include all the Scripture which talks about God’s proper parameters for Christian marriage, all of which pertains to one male with one female.

The Bible is extremely clear on the subject of homosexual practice. Again, you can even say that having homosexual desires is not wrong. The sin is giving in to these desires and acting on them. This makes the issue of genetics totally irrelevant. Whether you were born that way or whether your desires changed, the issue of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ doesn’t matter. A tendency toward alcoholism has been linked to genes, but that doesn’t mean becoming an alcoholic is okay.

Yes, God loves us all, and Christians are to love everyone, and do not have the right to condemn others. However, it is akin to blasphemy to say that God and the Bible actually support engaging in homosexual behavior, or even to say that God doesn’t care if you engage in it. To believe this is to be in obvious denial of Truth. Anyone who knowingly engages in sin will have to live with the consequences of those choices, myself included. However, a Christian dare not try to justify his actions or fool himself into believing that God or the Bible actually supports or is even silent on the issue of homosexual practice.

For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend Dr. William Lane Craig’s “A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality” which can be found here:

Thanks to Joe Mulvihill for source material used in this study.

Posted by Ben Jones

Absolute Truth and Christian Exclusivism

The chanting outside grew steadily louder as the Roman governor stared at the condemned man before him. Little did he know that this interrogation would be the most important in all of history. The roar of the rioting crowd echoed off the walls, but one question was finally asked that would reverberate throughout the ages: “What is Truth?” Two thousand years later popular culture has started to agree on an answer: “There is none.”
Today, many reject the notion of Absolute Truth, and espouse relativism in its stead. ‘What is true for you may not be true for me.’ ‘If it feels right, it is right.’ ‘If it feels good, do it.’ Absolute Truth refers to that which is true and right for all people, in all places, and at all times, as opposed to relativism which contends that all truth is relative or subjective, based on the individual. As such, relativists view those that hold strong beliefs, values, and standards, as ‘narrow-minded,’ ‘intolerant,’ and ‘arrogant.’ However, we can quickly see that not one person on Earth actually lives as if there is no absolute truth. Without truth, we would be unable to function as human beings. We cross the street based on whether traffic has stopped, not because we prefer the road to be clear. If we don’t conform our thinking to the external truth of traffic conditions, we will die. Truth about the external world dictates our daily lives. Relativism, even on its face, is self-refuting. To quote a popular Lecrae lyric, “If what’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me, what if my truth says your’s is a lie? Is it still true?”
On the same token, we live in a society of pluralism, where all religious claims are seen to have equal truth value. In fact, if an afterlife even exists at all, the mere idea that there is only one way to heaven is considered deeply offensive. Many believe that most religions have the same core beliefs, thus it doesn’t really matter which one they choose to follow. Or consider the atheist. They don’t worry about how religions differ as they believe they are all equally false; however atheism is still a belief system. We aren’t just talking about religions, we are talking about your belief system, whatever you think is true.
Let’s say you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and were told you were going to die. But there is some medicine you could take that will save you, and several pills were spread out before you. You could decide you don’t believe the doctor and take your chances and just not take any medicine (atheism, agnosticism). Or maybe you believe the doctor and he is telling you that one of these pills will save you. You could say they are basically the same because they come in tablet form, they are the same size, and have similar colors. Thus, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. In that case, you would naturally choose the one that tastes the best or is the easiest to swallow. This is how many treat their choice of belief system or religion. But what if we put labels on the pills? Now one says “Aspirin” and the other says “Arsenic.” If you take the wrong one, it will kill you; if you take the right one, it will save you from your terminal illness. This is the reality of Truth. Belief systems and the major world religions are drastically different upon even the most cursory of study. Even when stripped down to their most basic tenants, the major religions differ greatly. Let’s just choose one… their belief about God. Atheism believes there is no God. Hinduism has millions of gods; New Age belief systems say we are god. Islam has an impersonal God who requires work for salvation; Christianity has a personal God who offers the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They cannot all be true because they maintain opposing beliefs.
If Truth is out there to be found, shouldn’t our life goal be to find it? And if that Truth includes an afterlife, what could be more important than discovering the Truth that will dictate where you spend eternity? I mean, this life is a flash, over in an instant, compared to eternity. I am an apologist, which does not mean I’m a professional apologizer. Apologetics comes from the word “apologia,” which simply means ‘defense’ in Greek. An apologist simply defends with evidence what he believes to be true. You can be a Christian apologist, a Muslim apologist, or a global warming apologist. For Christians though, it’s particularly important because in the Bible, we are instructed in 1 Peter 3:15, that we must “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverance.” The word ‘defense’ in Greek is ‘apologia.’ Why would a loving God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? How can we know the Bible is true if it was written 2000 years ago? Why do you even believe God exists? Apologetics answers these questions from a scientific, philosophical, and/or historical perspective.
I want you to be skeptical of Christianity. I want you to be skeptical about Jesus, and especially about something seemingly as incredible as the resurrection of Christ. If you are going to believe in a dead man coming back to life, you need some solid reasons and evidence to back up this belief. But you must also have an open mind and open heart and honestly consider the evidence laid before you.

In bullet form, here are five objective reasons to consider Christianity first when choosing a belief system:

Salvation is a free gift of God.

Grace is unique to Christianity. Other religions offer hard ways to earn salvation. Living as a Christian may be hard, but becoming a Christian is easy. If you believe in an afterlife, then Christianity is the way to go.

The worldview matches real-life experience.

Christianity paints a picture of the world that matches the one that really is. People hurt, and experience evil and pain. Christianity acknowledges pain and suffering and confronts it, with an ultimate solution. With others, such as Buddhism, it is denied as an illusion. CS Lewis says “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

It allows for a non-compartmentalized life.

Science and Faith go together. There as no two sets of rules. For many other belief systems, there are a set of rules that apply in everyday life, but in spirituality, anything goes; there is no logic or reality.

Christianity has Jesus at the center.

Everyone wants a piece of Jesus. Some religions consider him a great prophet. Some consider him enlightened. Some consider him as simply a great historical ‘influencer.’ Christianity not only explains why Jesus is such an important historal figure, but puts him at the front and center of all reality.

Christianity is testable, evidential, and historical.

All but four of the major world religions are simply ‘ways of thinking’, or philosophical propositions. However, Christianity absolutely hangs by the thread of the historical event of the Resurrection of Christ. 1st Corinthians 15 says that if the resurrection isn’t true, then Christianity is not true. The resurrection is an historical event that can be investigated. It either happened or it did not. If it’s not true, move on. But with others (Buddhism, Hinduism), you are in for the long haul to figure out if it is true or if it works. Also, consider this. If you wanted to set up your own religion, what would you do? You would make sure that all divine knowledge is found in you, and you alone. This is the case with most major world religions. Jesus, however, recognized the necessity of outward evidence to help with peoples’ internal faith.

One of the purposes of apologetics is to make you more bold and confident as you proclaim Christ’s name as the only means to salvation and heaven. But this bold claim was never intended to be based on a blind faith. 1 Peter 3:15 mandates that we all be ready to gently and reverently defend our faith and ‘the hope that is within us.’ Apologetics helps us use reason and evidence to do just that. How do we come to know truth in the court of law? We look at the evidence. Faith is actively trusting in what you have good reason to believe in. The plagues in Exodus were evidence for the Egyptians so that they could know that the Lord is God. In 1 Kings 18, God answered Elijah with fire so that all would know He is Lord. Christ did miracles on earth as proof that He was who He said He was. In Mark 2, Jesus tells a paralytic that his sins are forgiven, but the scribes thought it blasphemy. In response, Jesus declares, “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” He showed the people physical evidence to prove that he was capable of this faith-based, and much greater, spiritual deed, that is, the forgiveness of sin. God is asking us to trust Him, and He is willing to earn it. He has given us a wealth of philosophical and historical evidence to support the exclusive claims of Christ. John 20:31 says “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
Consider this: If Christ is not the exclusive avenue to salvation, why did He die? How cruel a God to have sent His only Son to die a horrific death if there were other ways to be saved. How foolish the Son to endure ridicule, torture, and crucifixion at the hands of men if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. But no, only out of a boundless love for mankind and a sense of necessity did Christ say, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.”
Twenty centuries ago, Pilate asked the question “What is Truth?” The Answer, Jesus Christ, stood before him having just proclaimed, “…for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Jesus being ‘full of grace and Truth’ (John 1:14), proclaims, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). The Truth of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation. These exclusive claims are not just an important part of His teaching, but the very foundation on which all His teachings rest. Peter proclaims, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Apostle John declares that “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). Despite the explicit claims of Christ, an astonishing number of Christians, many of them evangelical leaders, when pressed, fail to stand on the exclusivity of Christ. It is difficult for them to conceive that only a small fraction of the world’s population will believe on Christ’s name and be saved, and that the majority will be condemned. But does not Christ address and acknowledge this very truth in Matthew 7:13-14? “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
Your belief system should be able to answer the four greatest questions in life. Where did I come from and how did I get here? (Our Origin) Why am I here? (Our Purpose) How am I supposed to live? (Our Morality) Where am I going? (Our Destiny) Jesus Christ answers them all Absolutely. We “have been created by and for Him” (Col. 1:16) to “live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Whosoever puts their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, eternal life with Him is secure. For those who choose a different answer, or believe there is none, their destiny is sure as well. Despite the clear evidence, people will still reject this Truth because it requires them to recognize their own sin, and because of the moral implications involved in how they are to live their lives. Pride has been mankind’s greatest struggle and greatest sin since the Garden of Eden, but eternity is a high price to pay in order to maintain it. If Jesus Christ is the basis on which we answer the questions of Origin, Purpose, and Morality, then our Destiny is set as well. Heaven and Hell are real places. Hell will be eternal separation from God… eternal regret, eternal hopelessness, eternal darkness. Heaven will be eternal joy, fulfillment, and communion with our Creator. These are realities. And remember, reality is not based on our desires. The Truth is true regardless of whether we choose to believe it. In the end, tragedy, suffering, and the fear of death causes many to suddenly want answers, absolutes, certainty, and Truth. We must be bold in proclaiming that Truth can only be found in Jesus Christ.
But this isn’t all about ‘them;’ it may be about you. When you are presented with Truth, and evidence that backs up that Truth, you must accept it or reject it. So what will you do with Christ? And if you honestly believe He is Lord, proving it through His resurrection, then what will you do with that knowledge? God has given us every reason to believe in Him, and He wants so badly to save you, to give you security that you will find nowhere else, to give you a joy and fulfillment that nothing else can provide, and to give you a spot in heaven. See John 3:16. When Jesus died on that cross, he died for you. And if you were the only person on the planet, He still would have died for you. And if you place your trust in Him, then all your sins become paid for at the cross of Christ. He took your place. Then when He rose from the dead, He showed us that He has the power to conquer death itself. My simple mission is to spread the Truth, and just a fraction of the evidence that backs up that Truth, because only the Truth can truly set you free.

Posted by Ben Jones