by Rob Lundberg
In just a few weeks, I will be addressing students at an Apologetics Boot Camp on some of the most popular questions challenging the faith. In this post I am reminded of recent conversations with church members and family members of church members who have questions about truth, and other issues on the Christian faith (God’s existence, the Bible and the resurrection of Jesus). These are the biggies, if you will and what I would like to give short popcorn responses in this post. There are four questions or objections that are quite popular.
The answers to these topics affect one’s faith in one way or another, and are what I call the BIG FOUR:
1) the matter of whether or not truth is absolute or relative;
2) God’s existence;
3) Biblical authority; and
4) the credibility and historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.
In this post I would like to provide for you some quick responses so that you can keep them at your fingertips or in a folder and refer back to them when you need them. Also I pray that what is provided here, will put you in a mode, and hopefully energize you to research and reinforce these answers and make them personal in your own articulation of the truthfulness of the Christian faith.
Objection/Question #1: Is truth absolute or relative?
Many people today wrestle with this idea of truth being relative. Having left the postmodern mindset to a post-truth culture, some still are even questioning, whether or not truth exists. Some people take things that are mere preferences (subjective) and try to make them absolute (objective).
But truth is not like favorite ice cream flavors or brands of clothing. There are three major laws of logic.
One is the Law of identity where A = A. This laws is where we definitions, like a never married man is called a bachelor.
Another is law of non contradiction, where there cannot a be statement that is both truth and false at the same time (A not = non A).
The last one undistributed middle where something is either this or that. It cannot be something else. So if a professor were to use the argument, 1. Jesus was a moral teacher. 2 Buddha was a moral teacher. 3. Therefore they are the same. They would be violating the law, because Jesus and Buddha may be good moral teachers, but there are major differences between them that are more significant.
So truth by definition is that which corresponds to reality and is objective whether the one embracing relativism likes it or not. Truth ultimately points to the One who gave us truth, because one of the most important of His attributes is truth (John 14:6).
Objection/Question #2: How can we know that God exists?
Can I open this response by saying that if truth exists then God exists? You might be saying, “okay Rob, I’ll play. How did you get there?” Here’s my explanation.
If God exists, He is absolute, invisible and unchanging. In like manner the laws of logic are absolute, invisible and unchanging as well. Truth has a starting point, in that starting point is reflected by the fact that truth exists.
However let me open this response up a little more. Let’s say we start with our five senses to discover our surroundings. But there is something inside us, causing us to investigate outside of our five senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.
That investigation pushes us to empirically examine the origin of the universe, asking questions like where do I come from? Why am I here? What is the starting point of right and wrong? And where am I going after this life is over?
From science we can see that the universe has a beginning, and that it shows incredible design. From there, we can also see that there is a moral element to the universe.
Anything that has a beginning has a beginner. Anything that has a design has a designer. And the very fact that morals exist let’s us know that there is a Moral Lawgiver. That beginner and designer of the universe must be Uncaused. That Uncaused Cause is who we know and understand to be the God who started and designed the universe and us and gave us a moral law.
Objection/Question #3: Have the New Testament documents been changed or corrupted?
This is a popular charge by many Humanities professors teaching a Religion 101 course that the local colleges and universities.
Given the fact that the original documents no longer exist, some might charge that there are over 400,000 variant texts. We are not nor should we be intimidated by this because there scholars engaging in a science what is called textual criticism.
The goal of textual criticism is to reconstruct the wording of ancient texts. We have over 5800+ Greek New Testament parchments and fragments along with hundreds of Syriac, Coptic and Latin manuscripts. With the plethora of manuscripts (handwritten copies), and early manuscripts, this science can be done with a great deal of precision.
The New Testament documents have more manuscripts and earlier manuscripts with a few being within 25-30 years of the original texts with more accuracy than any work of ancient classical literature. The very fact that the New Testament has been copied to a precision of 99.5% accuracy, and with all the over 400,000 variant texts out the .5% in question doesn’t impact a single core doctrine of the Christian faith.
You can “take it to the bank” that the translation you take to church and read, study or “do devos” with is what was written back then in then, only in an understandable language.
Objection/Question #4: How do we know that Jesus’ resurrection really happened?
There are many challenges from skeptics and critics about who Jesus was, and whether or not He existed. One of the best in this discipline of Jesus studies Liberty University Historian and New Testament scholar is Dr. Gary Habermas. Dr. Habermas has collected over 1,400 of the most critical scholarly works written on historical Jesus studies between 1975 and 2003 and many of those writings are zeroed in on Jesus’ resurrection.
These works range from ultra-liberal to far-right conservative scholarship. Over this timeframe, Dr. Habermas has discovered that virtually every scholar on both sides of the aisle agreed on several points that can be verified outside of the Bible as well as inside the Bible, surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. Here are four of them :
1. It is a historical fact that Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2. Jesus’ disciples believed He rose from the dead and appeared to them, and they were willing to suffer and die for these beliefs.
3. Saul of Tarsus was the great persecutor of the early church who encountered the risen Jesus and became the apostle Paul. After his encountering the risen Jesus, he became one of the greatest defenders of the faith and evangelists, writing about 31% of the New Testament. Paul’s conversion experience is irrefutable and verifies that the tomb of Jesus is a valid possibility along with the other factors listed here.
4. None of Jesus’ half siblings believed He was who He claimed until after the resurrection. James, the brother of Jesus was a skeptic James who suddenly converted after he believed he saw the risen Jesus. This same James is the one mentioned in Acts 15 as the overseer at the Jerusalem Council. He also has a book of the New Testament attached to his name.
One final note, Dr. Habermas noted that around 75% of scholars also agree that Jesus’ tomb was found empty. The best explanation of these “minimal facts” is that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected from the dead!
I pray that these responses will aide you in giving a reason for your faith. These are some of the popular one. Let me invite you to take these four responses and use them to share with those who are challenging your faith and the faith of your family and friends. If you have any other objections that have come across your path, send them to email@example.com and I will be more than happy to blog a response to them and send the link to you.
Rob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.” He is available to come and speak to your church, college club, or group. Find out what people are saying.
If you would like to book Rob for a speaking event, you can do so by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org If you have other questions about apologetics or doing apologetics, or if you are looking for apologetics resources, contact our ministry by email.
As to point 3 above, it is not the New Testament that had been altered or “corrupted” but the OT was in oral tradition for centuries before being written down. And, at after the Babylon captivity, the OT texts were modified and revised at the time of Ezra the priest.
Actually the Essene community which produced over 1100 scrolls included the full OT including one complete copy of Isaiah. I would like to see your source for this nevertheless. Thanks for commenting. Rob
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