by Josh McDowell
Chapter 1: The Uniqueness of the Bible
An intelligent person who is seeking truth would certainly read and consider a book that has the historical qualifications of the Bible. These unique qualifications separate the Scriptures from any book that has ever been written.
Chapter 2: How Was the Bible Prepared?
What materials were used? When did chapter and verse divisions come about? Why is the Bible divided the way it is?
Chapter 3: The Canon
Why do we have just 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books? What about the Apocrypha? Why are the other books not included in the Bible?
The accusation that the Old and New Testaments are not reliable is dealt with here. Several tests for the reliability and accuracy of a piece of literature are outlined; these tests are applied to the Scriptures and then a comparison is made between the historicity of the Bible and classical literature. The logical conclusion based upon evidence is that if one rejects the Bible as being reliable, then, if he is consistent and uses the same tests, he must throw out all classical literature and disregard their historical testimony.
Part 2 - Confirmation by Archaeology
The trustworthiness of Scripture is confirmed by specific, documented, archaeological discoveries. Testimonies are given of skeptics who have had their attitudes toward the Bible radically changed as a result of archaeological investigation.
Chapter 5: Jesus-A Man of History
Documented sources of the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth apart from the Bible.
Chapter 6: Jesus-GOD's Son
An explanation of the character of Christ and His claims to deity, with an emphasis on secular and Jewish sources.
Chapter 7: The Trilemma-LORD, Liar or Lunatic?
This section deals with who Jesus was and rules out the possible conclusion that He was just a good man or great prophet.
Chapter 8: The Great Proposition
The use of the "if...then" argument is applied to Christ. In other words, "If GOD became man, then what would He be like?" or "Did Jesus possess the characteristics of GOD?" Incorporates many quotations and observations of great men, Christians and non-Christians, about the person, character, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and His impact on the world for 2,000 years.
Chapter 9: The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
This section contains several illustrations of the probabilities that all these prophecies could be fulfilled in one man to answer the critic who says, "It is all just a coincidence." There is a great emphasis on Jewish sources confirming these predictions as being Messianic to answer the accusation, "That's the way you Christians look at them, but what about the Jews?"
Chapter 10: The Resurrection - Hoax or History?
This heavily documented section treats the proper historical approach to the resurrection, the positive evidence for it and a refutation of each theory set forth to explain away the miracle of the historical event of the resurrection of Christ.
Chapter 11: Prophecy Fulfilled in History
This unique section deals with one of the great proofs that there is a living GOD behind the Bible and history. Twelve prophecies are dealt with in detail. There is a listing of the prophecies, their dating, historical background, and an outlining of the historical fulfillment of each prediction.
Chapter 12: The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience
So often the Christian negates the authority of a transformed life as evidence of Christ's reality because it is a subjective experience or argument. This section shows that it is supported by an objective reality - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
HE CHANGED MY LIFE
The testimony of how a relationship with Jesus Christ transformed the author's life.
ADDITIONAL HISTORICAL SOURCES OF CHRISTIANITY
Use of Apologetics
"But sanctify Christ as LORD in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence..." (I Peter 3:15).
The word "defense" (GK. apologia) indicates "a defense of conduct and procedure". Wilbur Smith puts it this way: "...a verbal defense, a speech in defense of what one has done or of truth which one believes..." 19/481
"Apologia" (basic English translation is apology) was used predominantly in early times "but it did not convey the idea of excuse, palliation or making amends for some injury done". 2/48
"apologia" translated by the English word "defense" is used eight times (including I Peter 3:15 above) in the New Testament:
The manner in which the word "defense" is used in I Peter 3:15 denotes the kind of defense one would make to a police inquiry, "Why are you a Christian?" A believer is responsible to give an adequate answer to that question.
Paul Little quotes John Stott saying, "We cannot pander to a man's intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to his intellectual integrity" [And, I add, questions of honest inquiry must be answered]. 10/28
Beatty concludes that:
"Christianity is either EVERYTHING for mankind, or NOTHING. It is either the highest certainty or the greatest delusion...But if Christianity be EVERYTHING for mankind, it is important for every man to be able to give a good reason for the hope that is in him in regard to the eternal verities of the Christian faith. To accept these verities in an unthinking way, or to receive them simply on authority, is not enough for an intelligent and stable faith". 2/37,38
The basic "apologetic" these of these notes is:
"There is an infinite, all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving GOD who has revealed Himself by means natural and supernatural in creation, in the nature of man, in the history of Israel and the Church, in the pages of Holy Scripture, in the incarnation of GOD in Christ, and in the heart of the believer by the gospel". 15/33
Christianity is a FACTual Religion
Christianity appeals to history, the facts of history, which P. Carnegie Simpson calls, "the most patent and accessible of data". Simpson continues that "He [Jesus] is a fact of history cognizable as any other".
J.N.D. Anderson records D.E. Jenkins' remark, "Christianity is based on indisputable facts..." 1/10
Clark Pinnock defines this type of facts:
"The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of religious fact. They are the cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based". 14/6,7
One of the purposes of these "notes on Christian evidences" is to present some of these "indisputable facts" and to inquire whether the Christian interpretation of these facts is not by far the most logical. The objective of apologetics is not to convince a man unwittingly, contrary to his will, to become a Christian.
Clark Pinnock writes:
"It strives at laying the evidence for the Christian gospel before men in an intelligent fashion, so that they can make a meaningful commitment under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false". 14/3
During a philosophical apologetics course in graduate school, I had to write a paper on "The Best Defense of Christianity". The writing of it was constantly being put off or avoided, not because I didn't have the material, but rather because, in my thinking, I felt I was at odds with what the professor was expecting (obviously something based on the ream of my lecture notes from his class).
Finally, I decided t voice my convictions. I started the paper with the phrase, "Some people say the best offense is a good defense, but I say unto you that the best defense is a good offense". Then I continued by explaining that I felt the best defense of Christianity is a "clear, simple presentation of the claims of Christ and who He is". I then wrote out "The Four Spiritual Laws" and recorded my testimony of how, on December 19, 1959, at 8:30 p.m., my second year in the university, I accepted Christ. I then concluded the paper with a presentation of the evidence for the resurrection.
The professor must have pondered it quite laboriously. However, he must have agreed, for I got a grade of 96.
William Tyndale was right when he believed that "a ploughboy with the Bible would know more of GOD than the most learned ecclesiastic who ignored it". In other words, an Arkansas farm boy sharing the gospel would be more effective in the long run than a Harvard scholar with his intellectual arguments.
"For the word of GOD is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart".
We need a balance of the two above ramifications. We must preach the gospel but also "be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in [us]".
The Holy Spirit will convict men of the truth; one does not have to be hit over the head with it. "And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of GOD, was listening; and the LORD opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14).
Pinnock, an able apologist and witness for Christ, appropriately concludes:
"An intelligent Christian ought to be able to point up the flaws in a non-christian position and to present facts and arguments which tell in favor of the gospel. If our apologetic prevents us from explaining the gospel to any person, it is an inadequate apologetic". 14/7
LET'S LAY SOME CONCRETE
Before one approaches the various evidences for the Christian faith, he ought to have some misconceptions cleared up and understand several basic facts.
A rather common accusation sharply aimed at the Christian often goes like this: "You Christians make me sick! All you have is a 'blind faith'". This would surely indicate that the accuser seems to think that to become a Christian, one has to commit "intellectual suicide".
Personally, "my heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects". My heart and head were created to work and believe together in harmony. Christ commanded us to "...love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).
When Jesus Christ and the apostles called upon a person to exercise faith, it was not a "blind faith" but rather an "intelligent faith". The apostle Paul said, "I know whom I have believed" (II Timothy 1:12). Jesus said, "You shall know [not ignore] the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
The belief of an individual involves "the mind, emotions and the will". F. R. Beattie is quite right when he says, "The Holy Spirit does not work a blind and ungrounded faith in the heart..." 2/25
"Faith in Christianity", Paul Little justifiably writes, "is based on evidence. It is reasonable faith. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it". 10/30 Faith is the assurance of the heart in the adequacy of the evidence.
(Avoiding the Issue)
The Christian Faith Is an Objective Faith
The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object. The Christian concept of "saving" faith is a faith that establishes one's relationship with Jesus Christ (the object), and is diametrically opposed to the average "philosophical" use of the term faith in the classroom today. One cliche that is to be rejected is, "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe it enough".
Let me illustrate.
I had a debate with the head of the philosophy department of a midwestern university. In answering a question, I happened to mention the importance of the resurrection. At this point, my opponent interrupted and rather sarcastically said, "Come on, McDowell, the key issue is not whether the resurrection took place or not; it is 'do you believe it took place?'" What he was hinting at (actually boldly asserting) is that my believing was the most important thing. I retorted immediately, "Sir, it doesn't matter what I as a Christian believe, because the value of Christian faith is not in the one believing, but in the one who is believed in, its object". I continued that "if anyone can demonstrate to me that Christ was not raised from the dead, I would not have the right to my Christian faith" (I Corinthians 15:14).
The Christian faith is faith in Christ. Its value or worth is not in the one believing, but in the one believed - not in the one trusting, but in the one trusted.
Immediately after the above debate a Moslem fellow approached me and, during our most edifying conversations, he said very sincerely, "I know many Moslems who have more faith in Mohammed than some Christians have in Christ". I said, "That may well be true, but the Christian is 'saved'. You see, it doesn't matter how much faith you have, but rather who is the object of your faith; that is important from the Christian perspective of faith".
Often I hear students say, "Some Buddhists are more dedicated and have more faith in Buddha (shows a misunderstanding of Buddhism) than Christians have in Christ". I can only reply, "Maybe so, but the Christian is saved".
Paul said, "I Know whom I have believed". This explains why the Christian gospel centers on the person of Jesus Christ.
John Warwick Montgomery says:
"If our 'Christ of faith' deviates at all from the biblical 'Jesus of history', then to the extent of that deviation, we also lose the genuine Christ of faith. As one of the greatest Christian historians of our time, Herbert Butterfield, has put it: 'It would be a dangerous error to imagine that the characteristics of an historical religion would be maintained if the Christ of the theologians were divorced from the Jesus of history". 12/145
The phrase, "Don't confuse me with the facts", is not appropriate for a Christian.
The writers of the New Testament either wrote as eyewitnesses of the events they described or recorded eyewitness firsthand accounts of the events.
II Peter 1:16
"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty".
They certainly knew the difference between myth, legend and reality. A professor of a world literature class in which I was speaking asked the question, "What do you think of Greek mythology"? I answered with another question, "Do you mean, were the events of the life of Jesus, the resurrection, virgin birth, etc., just myth?" He said, "Yes". I replied that there is one obvious difference between these things applied to Christ and these things applied to Greek mythology that is usually overlooked. The similar events, such as the resurrection, etc, of Greek mythology were not applied to real, flesh and blood individuals, but rather to mythological characters. But, when it comes to Christianity, these events are attached to a person the writers knew in time-space dimension history, the historic Jesus of Nazareth whom they knew personally.
The professor replied, "You're right, I never realized that before".
S. Estborn in Gripped by Christ explains further the above. He relates that Anath Nath "studied both the Bible and the Shastras. Two biblical themes in particular deeply engaged his mind: first, the reality of the Incarnation, and second, the Atonement for human sin. These doctrines he sought to harmonize with Hindu Scriptures. He found parallel to Christ's self-sacrifice in Prajapati, the Vedic creator-god. He saw, too, a vital difference. Whereas the Vedic Prajapati is a mythical symbol, which has been applied to several figures, Jesus of Nazareth is a historic person. 'Jesus is the true Prajapati', he said, 'the true Saviour of the world.' " 6/43
J. B. Phillips, cited by Blaiklock, states, "I have read, in Greek and Latin, scores of myths but I did not find the slightest flavour of myth here. Most people who know their Greek and Latin, whatever their attitude to the New Testament narratives, would agree with him...
"A myth may be defined as 'a pre-scientific and imaginative attempt to explain some phenomenon, real or supposed, which excites the curiosity of the mythmaker, or perhaps more accurately as an effort to reach a feeling of satisfaction in place of bewilderment concerning such phenomena. It often appeals to the emotions rather than the reason, and indeed, in its most typical forms, seems to date from an age when rational explanations were not called for.' " 3/47
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