|I am going to make a recommendation that you may not like, but here it is: Don't get ANY book on defending the faith.
Yes, it can help you "defend the faith" from amateurs, but try to use it on the big guns, and you can wind up humiliated. Worse, it can cause others to think that Christianity has been proven wrong.
I used to be into apologetics big time--especially after reading "Evidence that Demands a Verdict." But in time I realized that while, yes, some issues were addressed, there were often other issues that might have been "answered, but did not at all sound reasonable.
For instance, try to reconcile the different resurrection accounts in the scripture. It's just crazy. Yes, technically, it can be done...but it is so convoluted that, were this used to defend some other religion, we'd laugh it to scorn.
In time, I came to several important conclusions--and they have never let me down....
First, INERRANCY is a manmade doctrine that basically claims that since every single word--EVERY SINGLE WORD--of the scripture was inspired, then if ANY of the Bible can be shown to be in error, then NONE of it is divine.
If I were the devil, this would have been the doctrine I gave the Church. Why? Because as anyone knows who reads the scripture, there are TONS of textual difficulties, perhaps even actual contradictions, in scripture. How do inerrantists "solve" this? Why, they simply say, "In the original texts--which are long gone and we can't use for evidence--there were no contradictions, etc."
What would we say if an atheist said, "In the original, there were hundreds of outright contradictions, but over time, the nefarious Church has sought to eradicate them. But trust me, there used to be LOTS of contradictions"?
Second, I believe the Bible to be written by men of God. Do I believe every word was inspired? No, but I believe every word is sincere. Moreover, most of it IS inspired, I believe. But even if parts are not inspired, that doesn't mean they are worthless. The true history of Abraham Lincoln may not be inspired, but that doesn't mean it's not true. So, there may be things in the Bible that, even if not divinely inspired, are still valuable.
Third, about those resurrection inconsistences.... While the chronology of events varies, there is one thing on which ALL the scriptures and accounts agree: Jesus was the Son of God, was crucified, died, was buried...AND ROSE AGAIN.
And if that is true--and it surely is--then all this other stuff is just background noise and empty static. You and I may die for Jesus because of what we BELIEVE. But the apostles were willing to die for what they KNEW. And who in the world would die for what they knew to be an absolute lie? That is, if Jesus didn't really rise from the dead, those guys are not going to sacrifice their lives. EXCEPT THEY DID.
About inspiration. There is no reason on earth to believe that the writers of the New Testament were inspired in some way different than we are. When I get a little word from the Lord, it may be just a thought...or just a few words. But then I build a sermon around that. Now, the INSPIRED part is that part that God gave me. The rest of the sermon may be absolutely true--or maybe just mostly true--and it is certainly sincere...but while I would vouch that what God gave me is inspired, would I claim that every word of my sermon was? NOPE.
Same with the scriptures. A person gets an insight and writes about it. Are all the words equally inspired? Probably not. Sometimes, just like preacher, we give our best advice...we give our best understanding of what the scriptures require of folks...but while that may be heartfelt and encouraging, it doesn't mean it's inspired. At the same time, it doesn't mean it's worthless either.
Just my thoughts.
|Hon. Dr. in Acts-celeratology
10/19/20 9:28 am