Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

William Lane Craig lectures on radical skepticism and the historical Jesus

 

Brian Auten at Apologetics 315 posted a lecture by William Lane Craig on the historical Jesus.

In his post, Brian doesn’t really say much about where or when the lecture was recorded. But I can tell you! This lecture has a special meaning for me because when I was just learning about apologetics, this was one of the first lectures I ordered. The lecture was delivered in 1996 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as part of the distinguished Carver-Barnes Lecture Series. The title was “Re-Discovering the Historical Jesus”. Hearing this again (I lent mine away and never got it back) was a real treat for me.

The MP3 file is here.

And here is a summary I made so you can follow along as you listen.

Lecture 1: the pre-suppositions of the Jesus Seminar
– the origins of the radically skeptical “Jesus Seminar” group
– what does the Jesus Seminar believe about Jesus?
– what is a pre-supposition?
– how do pre-suppositions affect the study of history?
– the Jesus Seminar’s pre-supposition of naturalism (atheism)
– the Jesus Seminar’s pre-supposition that the NT gospels are late
– the Jesus Seminar’s pre-supposition of political correctness
– does the Jesus Seminar represent the consensus of NT scholars?

Lecture 2A: are the NT gospels historically reliable?
– should the gospels be assumed to be reliable or unreliable
– argument #1: insufficient time from events to written record
– argument #2: gospels contain very little legendary material
– argument #3: Jewish culture was good at oral transmission
– argument #4: eyewitness correction and apostolic supervision
– argument #5: the gospels are reliable where they can be tested
– #1: legendary elements only appear 1-2 generations after events
– but gospels were written within the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses
– sources for the gospels are even earlier, e.g. – 1 Cor 15:3-8
– on the other hand, the apocryphal gospels do contain legends
– #5: gospels are confirmed by history and archaeology were possible
– Luke includes details showing that he traveled with eyewitness Paul

Lecture 2B: the self-understanding of Jesus
– how early and reliable is believe in Jesus’ divinity
– it would be hard to get monotheistic Jews to think Jesus was divine
– the only way this belief could have emerged is if Jesus taught it
– parable of the wicked tennants and vineyard – Jesus’ self-understanding
– passage about no one knowing the father except the son, etc.
– passage about not knowing the date of his second coming
– the healings and exorcisms are well-attested and skeptics grant them

Lecture 2C: the trial and crucifixion of Jesus
– crucifixion is well-attested inside and outside the New Testament
– even the Jesus Seminar considers this an indisputable fact about Jesus
– Jesus was crucified for blasphemy – i.e. claiming to be divine

Lecture 2D: the minimal facts case for the resurrection
– minimal fact #1: the burial in a known location
– minimal fact #2: the empty tomb
– minimal fact #3: the appearances to individuals and groups
– minimal fact #4: the early belief that Jesus was resurrected
– the majority of scholars, including skeptics, accept the minimal facts
– naturalistic explanations are not able to account for these facts

There is a very noisy weird person in the audience who keeps shouting his approval. This lecture is almost identical to a lecture that Craig gave for Stand to Reason’s Masters Series, on the pre-suppositions of the Jesus Seminar. There is no Q&A in this lecture, but there is Q&A in the STR version.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brian Auten interviews Jim Wallace of Please Convince Me

I spotted this on Apologetics 315.

The MP3 file is here. (43 minutes)

Details from Brian’s post:

Today’s interview is with Jim Wallace of PleaseConvinceMe.com and host of the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast. As a cold case detective, Jim brings a unique perspective to his approach to apologetics and a very down-to-earth logical style. In this interview, Jim talks about his approach to the evidence (inference to the best explanation), Tactics and apologetics, debate vs. dialogue, pitfalls to apologists, and more.

Topics:

  • Jim’s background as an Catholic-raised atheist, and cold-case detective
  • Jim believed in the progress of science to answer all the unresolved questions
  • How did Jim become an atheist?
  • Why didn’t Jim respond to Christians witnessing to him without evidence?
  • What approach worked to start him thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • What did Jim do to grow as a Christian?
  • How did Jim’s police training help him to investigate Christianity?
  • What investigative approach is used in his police work?
  • Does “abductive reasoning” also work for investigating Christianity?
  • What sort of activities did Jim get involved in in his community?
  • How Jim’s experience as a youth pastor convinced him of the value of apologetics
  • How young people learn best by training for engagement with opponents
  • How Jim takes his youth on mission trips to UC Berkeley to engage the students
  • Is it possible to run an apologetics ministry part-time while keeping a day job?
  • Do you have to be an expert in order to have an apologetics ministry?
  • What books would Jim recommend to beginning apologists?
  • How the popular apologist can have an even bigger impact than the scholar
  • How the tactical approach is different for debates and conversations
  • Jim’s advice for Christians who are interested in learning apologetics
  • How Christian apologist need to make sure they remain humble and open-minded
  • How your audience determines how much you need to know from study

Jim’s reason for becoming an atheist, (his mother was excluded from the Catholic church after her divorce), is one I have heard before. Without saying anything about the Catholic church’s policy. I like the way he eventually came back to Christianity. No big emotional crisis, just taking a sober second look at the evidence by himself, and talking with his Christian friends. I’m impressed with the way he has such a productive ministry, as well.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greg Koukl responds to cultists knocking on his door

Here’s a commentary from Greg Koukl. He talks about dealing with Mormons, and what their approach to evangelism says about them.

Here’s the problem:

When LDS missionaries knocked on my brother Dave’s door while he was working, he took off his tool belt and sat down to talk with them. When he began to press them on their case, though, they took offense. “We just came here to share our point of view and now you are trying to have an argument with us,” they said. “We’re not here to argue with people. We just want to talk about our view and our experience.” Dave pointed out that they knocked on his door for the purpose of changing his point of view. They weren’t just “sharing.”

Sometimes they’ll take another tack. When you try to offer evidence counter to their view they’ll say, “You’re persecuting us.” I have heard that as well. I’m not sure if LDS missionaries are actually taught to take that approach when challenged. Maybe they just see it modeled by their mentors, or maybe they have a persecution complex, but this is ready on their lips the minute you offer an objection to their point of view.

How do you get around that? If those young men I saw pedaled up to my house and knocked on my door, I’d want to politely set some ground rules.

And here is the ground rule for dealing with Mormons:

Here’s the way I’d introduce the first question: “Great. I’d be glad to talk to you. I just want to be clear on a couple of things before we get going. Do you think your religion is actually true, I mean really true?”

Now this is a “yes” or “no” question. Either they’ll say “yes” which is the right answer, because they do think their religion is true and that’s why they’re proselytizing or they’ll say “no,” in which case I would ask, “If you don’t think Mormonism is true, then why are you knocking at my door?” So they are probably not going to say that. They might say, “Well, it’s true for us.” Then I’m going to ask what that means. If it is just “true” for them that is, just their opinion that works for them then why should I listen? I have my own “truths” that work for me. What we are getting at is the fact that they actually believe their view about religion is right and ours is wrong. It’s not just true for them. That’s why we should change our religion and become Mormon.

Of course, that’s a politically incorrect way of putting it, and they may be uneasy having their position stated so baldly. (I had one LDS young man say, “I would never say anyone else is wrong in their religious view,” a statement he ultimately retracted after my probing questions forced him to think a little more carefully about that remark in light of his missionary efforts.) To ease the discomfort you might say, “I’m not in the least offended by that view. My religion is a missionary religion, too. We think we’re right and others are wrong in so far as they differ from our beliefs. I just want us both to be clear on our positions. We both think we’re right and the other is mistaken. That’s all.”

We continue. “Okay, so you believe your view is correct. That’s why you’re here. If my view is different from yours, then mine is incorrect and I should change my view if I’m a reasonable person and become a Mormon. So what this discussion is about is who’s view is true, yours or mine. Is that fair? Great — come on in.”

I can remember like yesterday my encounters with Mormons in high school. I told them about the evidences for the Big Bang, and then asked them to square their view of eternally existing matter with the Big Bang. And they replied “we don’t really try to make our religion fit with what science shows”. Later on when I started working, I got into a debate with another Mormon. I noticed she was reading the Book of Mormon. So I asked her why she had chosen Mormonism out of all the other faiths. And she said “because it makes me feel good”. It just doesn’t seem like Mormonism is a religion that you arrive at after some careful investigation, because none of the ones I’ve know or read seem to be able to defend it to me when I ask them.

Here’s another commentary from Greg Koukl. In this one, he gets a visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses. They come to his door, ring the door bell and ask him if he wants some of their apocalyptic literature.

So Greg says this:

“I’m a Christian pastor,” I said, directing my comments to the younger convert, the one less influenced by the Watchtower organization and more open to another viewpoint.  “In fact, I’m studying theology right now.”  I held up the tome I’d been reading, Turretin’s 18th century Institutes of Eclentic Theology.

“It’s clear we have some differences, including the vital issue of the identity of Jesus.  I believe what John teaches in John 1:3, that Jesus is the uncreated Creator.  This makes Him God.”

And they run away!

“You’re entitled to your opinion and we’re entitled to ours,”  was all she said.  No question, no challenge, no theological rejoinder.  This was a dismissal, not a response.  She turned on her heels and started for the next house–young cadet in tow–in search of more vulnerable game.

Greg reflects:

Third, they don’t take the issue of truth very seriously.  Religious evangelism is a persuasive enterprise; the evangelist is trying to change people’s minds.  He thinks his view is true and other views are false.  He also thinks the difference matters.  Follow the truth, you win; follow a lie, you lose–big time.  A commitment to truth (as opposed to a commitment to an organization) means an openness to refining one’s own views, increasing the accuracy in understanding, constantly searching for more precision in thinking.

A challenger could always turn out to be a blessing in disguise, an ally instead of an enemy.  An evangelist who’s convinced of his view would want to hear the very best arguments against it.  One of two things is going to happen.

He may discover that some objections to his view are good ones.  The rebuttal helps him make adjustments and corrections in his thinking, refining his knowledge of the truth.  Or it may turn out he’s on solid ground after all.  Developing answers to the toughest arguments against him strengthens both his witness and his own confidence in his religion.

But my visitors didn’t wait to hear my thoughts to inform their own beliefs, so they might know the truth more accurately.  They didn’t pause to hear the reasons I reject the Watchtower’s authority, so they might try to refute me and gain confidence in their own view.

I remember my own days of dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses who were trying to convert a member of my family. They came back to our door and I stepped outside the house and shut the door behind me. Then I asked them about the failed predictions for the end of the world that their organization had made, especially 1914, 1975 and so forth. They had never heard of the predictions that their organization had made, so I showed them the printouts I had made. Then I asked them why I should trust their organization to tell me the truth, if they were trying to make these prophetic statements and failing so miserably. They left and never came back.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do universities really feature a diversity of thought on intelligent design?

Check out this article from Evolution News.

Excerpt:

We were delighted to discover that students at the University of Arizona are getting a well-rounded education. “Evolution, Intelligent Design Face Off at Humanities Panel,” reports the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Hey great, finally a serious academic institution is taking the time to make sure kids hear both sides of the evolution debate! Reading down the article we noticed only a couple of things they might have been done differently and better.

The panel at UA included an evolutionary biologist and two religious studies profs, but no one actually representing the ID side. Only ID critics were allowed to participate. Well, that is disappointing. It’s like staging a “debate” between the Democratic and Republican contenders for a particular public office but inviting only the Democratic candidate, joined on stage by his campaign manager and chief of staff.

Also, no one on the panel even seemed to know what intelligent design means.

[…]Professor Karen Seat confused ID with Young Earth Creationism, explaining to students and colleagues that it was all about a defense of “the traditional, literal meaning of the Bible.”

[…]Professor Lucas Mix, who’s an ordained Episcopal priest, got tired of paying lip service to the idea of a “face off” on intelligent design and spoke instead about “creationism,” which, again, means something very different.

[…]Joanna Masel, the evolutionary biologist, summed up with a non sequitur: “Once you pick out a theology that is incompatible with evolution, it becomes incompatible with all science.”

This is what your children get for paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in tutition and fees. They get an indoctrination, not an education. (Assuming they don’t get expelled or denied their degree for disagreeing with their secular leftist overlords). It’s a perplexing problem – how can you raise world-changing children if this groupthink is what they’ll face on the university campus?

Does anyone else find it sickening that the radical left can be paid to GRADE STUDENTS to force them to agree with views at odds with their own parents, and reality as a whole? Darwinism is – like global warming, Marxism and feminism – the equivalent of flat-earthism. Why pay to learn that? And why be coerced to agree with grade-granting flat-earthers who only know one side of every issue?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brian Auten interviews Jim Wallace of Please Convince Me

I spotted this on Apologetics 315. This is really well done.

The MP3 file is here. (43 minutes)

Details from Brian’s post:

Today’s interview is with Jim Wallace of PleaseConvinceMe.com and host of the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast. As a cold case detective, Jim brings a unique perspective to his approach to apologetics and a very down-to-earth logical style. In this interview, Jim talks about his approach to the evidence (inference to the best explanation), Tactics and apologetics, debate vs. dialogue, pitfalls to apologists, and more.

Topics:

  • Jim’s background as an Catholic-raised atheist, and cold-case detective
  • Jim believed in the progress of science to answer all the unresolved questions
  • How did Jim become an atheist?
  • Why didn’t Jim respond to Christians witnessing to him without evidence?
  • What approach worked to start him thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • What did Jim do to grow as a Christian?
  • How did Jim’s police training help him to investigate Christianity?
  • What investigative approach is used in his police work?
  • Does “abductive reasoning” also work for investigating Christianity?
  • What sort of activities did Jim get involved in in his community?
  • How Jim’s experience as a youth pastor convinced him of the value of apologetics
  • How young people learn best by training for engagement with opponents
  • How Jim takes his youth on mission trips to UC Berkeley to engage the students
  • Is it possible to run an apologetics ministry part-time while keeping a day job?
  • Do you have to be an expert in order to have an apologetics ministry?
  • What books would Jim recommend to beginning apologists?
  • How the popular apologist can have an even bigger impact than the scholar
  • How the tactical approach is different for debates and conversations
  • Jim’s advice for Christians who are interested in learning apologetics
  • How Christian apologist need to make sure they remain humble and open-minded
  • How your audience determines how much you need to know from study

Jim’s reason for becoming an atheist, (his mother was excluded from the Catholic church after her divorce), is one I have heard before. Without saying anything about the Catholic church’s policy. I like the way he eventually came back to Christianity. No big emotional crisis, just taking a sober second look at the evidence by himself, and talking with his Christian friends. I’m impressed with the way he has such a productive ministry, as well.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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