Did A Crucified Man Named Jesus of Nazareth Really Bodily Rise From the Grave 2000 Years Ago?

It is a glorious thing that on this day all around the world billions of Christians celebrate the bodily resurrection of their Savior. Those who don’t, think that those of us who do are deluded. Maybe we are, but the vast majority of those who reject the bodily resurrection of Christ have never given a single solitary minute to examining the evidence. Most of these don’t believe a man coming back from the dead is possible, so why bother with evidence. I’m sure there are others who don’t want to engage the evidence because they don’t want it to be true. If God did become a man, died for their sins, and was raised for their justification, then they are confronted with a choice. Rebels have a hard time giving up their rebellion.

For me, if this resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth really did happen, it is, by very far, the most important historical fact of human history. And orthodox Christians don’t believe Jesus’ resurrection is a “spiritual resurrection” in our hearts, a beautiful idea about new life and some such thing. No, we believe the man himself, a human being just like you and me, was killed by the Romans, was laid in a tomb, and three days later revealed himself as risen to his followers. We believe this because there is a significant amount of historical evidence that it in fact happened. Jesus himself knew we, and his followers at the time, needed evidence because, well, people don’t just rise from the dead!

God Gave Us His Law, and The Created Order, That We Might Flourish

We live in the age of The Sovereign Self. Phrases  heard throughout the culture like, “Just be true to yourself,” or “As long as it makes you happy” are common. Such ideas reflect the triumph of the subjective, which basically asserts that each individual can determine their own reality. This almost ubiquitous mentality could not have been put any better than by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in a decision from 1992:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Actually, this is more like a recipe for anarchy. What if I define my concept by taking away someone else’s liberty? On what basis could Justice Kennedy say that is not valid? After all he said It’s my “right” to define reality (“the universe”) as I wish. No, the Justice’s sentiments are sentimental nonsense. Realty will never bend itself to my wishes, no matter how hard I wish. And if we let our kids drink this dangerous cultural Kool-Aid, they will suffer for it because as I often say, reality doesn’t take any jokes.

No, Time, Truth is Not Dead

On this day in 1966, Time Magazine published it’s (in)famous cover story, “Is God Dead?”  It was about some radical theologians who decided to take the theos out of the ology. It has not exactly proved to be prophetic. In some parts of the world God is more popular than ever, even in countries that are officially atheist like China. Europe, on the other hand, instead of being the vanguard of the future, as predicted by secularists for decades, is dying on the spiritual vine. Not only are churches empty, but most Western Europeans are not even having enough children to replace their populations. Growing Muslim populations, by contrast, are filling the spiritual vacuum (which we know nature abhors) because they value the next generation and are passionate about their God.

No, God is indeed not dead, but here comes Time almost 51 years later again asking another question of negation: “Is Truth Dead?” I will give the magazine credit for logical consistency. If there is no God, there is no truth. As I often ask my kids, if all we are is lucky dirt, then what makes one thing true and not another, or what makes something right and not wrong? Nothing. In the moral realm, you cannot get ought from is. If all we are is lucky dirt who’s to say torturing babies for fun is wrong. And if God is dead truth is dead. Without God the only thing that can make one thing ultimately true or not is power.

Notable Quotation

[T]he most significant contribution of the natural philosopher of the Middle Ages was to make modern science even conceivable. They made science safe in a Christian context, showed how it could be useful and constructed a worldview where it made sense. Their central belief that nature was created by God and so worthy of their attention was one that Galileo wholeheartedly endorsed. Without that awareness, modern science would simply not have happened.

—James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, p. 342.

The Human Circulatory System – There is a God!

I recently finished reading a book called The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution by James Hannam. The title appealed to me when I first heard of the book because of a fiction that has been promulgated since the mid-1800s of a war between religion and science. Nothing could be further from the truth. All the great strides of early science were made by Christians because they wanted to glorify their Creator by discovering how a universe created for us worked.

While some science was done by ancient Greeks, and Muslims and Chinese of the Middle Ages, it was in the Christian West where science as a continually expanding discipline was established. How ironic, then, that science has been used by secularists for the last 150 years as a battering ram against Christians. How even more ironic that we can thank Jesus of Nazareth for all the blessings of modern science and technology! Of course Christians know this, and do thank him for these blessings all the time, but just in an historical sense, without Jesus we’d still likely be stuck in some kind of “dark ages.”

The Phantasmagoria of the Atheist Immagination

Modern “New” Atheists (there is nothing “new” about them) are fond of painting Christians as wishful thinking Neanderthals who may as well believe in Unicorns and leprechauns. A Creator God, parted seas, resurrection, and various and sundry other miracles are no different, they confidently assert. I would say this is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black, but I don’t want to insult kettles.

I came across a version of an atheist creation story at Evolution News that is typical of the illogical leaps atheists have to make to imagine a universe and life springing up without a Creator God. The guilty part in this case is famous atheist and “materialist philosopher” Daniel Dennett. These paragraphs come from a New Yorker profile on the man and his thought, and specifically how life evolved:

Four billion years ago, Earth was a lifeless place. Nothing struggled, thought, or wanted. Slowly, that changed. Seawater leached chemicals from rocks; near thermal vents, those chemicals jostled and combined. Some hit upon the trick of making copies of themselves that, in turn, made more copies. The replicating chains were caught in oily bubbles, which protected them and made replication easier; eventually, they began to venture out into the open sea. A new level of order had been achieved on Earth. Life had begun.

The tree of life grew, its branches stretching toward complexity. Organisms developed systems, subsystems, and sub-subsystems, layered in ever-deepening regression. They used these systems to anticipate their future and to change it. When they looked within, some found that they had selves—constellations of memories, ideas, and purposes that emerged from the systems inside. They experienced being alive and had thoughts about that experience. They developed language and used it to know themselves; they began to ask how they had been made.

The Historical Apathy of the Modern Evangelical: The Case of Baptism

Modern Evangelicalism is a hybrid of Christian traditions that came out of the Reformation. When I became a Christian in college I had no idea this was the case because I was taught that Christianity, the real kind, was just me and the Bible. My relationship with Jesus mediated through the Bible was the very definition of Christianity. Little did I know that the Christianity I was living in college had historical antecedents. Unfortunately, history wan’t real important to the Christians who introduced me to the Faith. Such historical apathy is indicative of far too much of Evangelicalism today, as it is of general American culture.

Modern Evangelicals have far more in common with 19th century revivalist Christianity than their Reformation forebearers. The Second Great Awakening transformed much of Protestant Christianity from a confessional (a la Lutherans and Presbyterians) and sacramental faith, to an experiential and conversionist faith. George Marsden’s Fundamentalism and American Culture is an essential read for anyone wanting to understand why conservative Protestant Christianity (i.e. Evangelicalism) is the way it is today. You’ll find out that modern Evangelicals are historical fundamentalists. In other words, our faith today is more informed by the revivalist Christianity of the 19th and early 20th centuries, than the Reformation of the 16th.

How the Law of Non-Contradiction Proves Reza Aslan is Wrong

It wouldn’t be surprising if you haven’t heard of Reza Aslan, but he’s becoming increasingly famous among secular cultural elites because he confirms their bias against truth. Azlan is an Iranian-American author, public intellectual, religious studies scholar, producer, and television host, according to Google. But you’ll immediately know he’s suspect because he’s on CNN. His new documentary called Believer proves the point. CNN is always pushing an agenda, and whether it’s politics or religion, they always come down on the liberal side. The documentary fits comfortably in their worldview.

I learned about it from a John Stonestreet piece at Breakpoint. He captures Aslan’s basic assumption:

Quoting the Buddha, Aslan likens the religions of the world to different wells, which believers dig in order to drink the same water. In other words, all religions are equally true. All roads, so to speak, lead to Heaven, resurrection, enlightenment, Nirvana, or whatever else your endgame may be.

FX’s The Americans: Everyone Lives by Faith

The FX show The Americans is set in the Reagan era Cold War 80s. Two Soviet intelligence agents, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, pose as a married couple to spy on the American government. They didn’t know each other prior to meeting in America, and are tasked with living a completely normal suburban American life, helped along with their two kids who have no idea mom and dad are agents of America’s sworn enemy.

For those too young to remember life in a Cold War world, The Americans an excellent pop culture introduction to the time. For those old enough to remember, it’s a great nostalgia trip. And for those who like solid drama with a lot of moral ambiguity, there’s plenty of that too.

The reason I wanted to write something about the show isn’t to necessarily promote it, although for adults not squeamish about television portrayals of  sex and violence it’s well worth the time. Rather, I came across a piece at an online (generally liberal) publication called Vox that affirms one of the central tenants of my book about keeping your kids Christian: “The Americans has always been a show about faith.” Having watched the show over four seasons, it is about anything but “faith,” as most Americans would understand the term; i.e. it’s not about religion. A liberal version of Christianity is part of the show, but the show itself if focused on two communists who are atheists. When I read the piece I was pleasantly surprised by the case the author was making: Everyone lives by faith.

God To His Exiles, Strangers in a Strange Land – Do Not Decrease!

In my previous post I made the argument that, for Christians, having children is not an option. Just this morning I was reading Jeremiah and discovered God actually agrees with me! I’ll admit, though, that I did get the idea from him first.

The book of Jeremiah is a tough read. Knowing that it was written by what some have called “The Weeping Prophet” gives you some indication that it’s not for the faint of heart. The northern kingdom of Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, and now God was warning Judah, the southern Kingdom, that if they didn’t repent and change their ways, they too would suffer the same fate as their northern brethren. The Lord tells Jeremiah to warn his people that the Babylonians are coming, and that they must submit to King Nebuchadnezzar and allow themselves to be taken into exile. Do not, he seems to be saying, resist the Lord’s judgment and your lives will be spared.