Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The apologetics of Jesus

From Eric Chabot of Ratio Christi. (H/T The Poached Egg via J Warner Wallace)

He lists eight ways that Jesus makes his case.

Here’s one of the ways:

2. Jesus Appealed to Evidence

Jesus knew He could not show up on the scene and not offer any evidence for His Messiahship. In his book On Jesus, Douglas Groothuis notes that Jesus appealed to evidence to confirm His claims. John the Baptist, who was languishing in prison after challenging Herod, sent messengers to ask Jesus the question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3). This may seem an odd question from a man the Gospels present as the prophetic forerunner of Jesus and as the one who had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus, however, did not rebuke John’s question. He did not say, “You must have faith; suppress your doubts.” Instead, Jesus recounted the distinctive features of His ministry:

“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matt. 11:4-6; see also Luke 7:22).

Even in the Messiah Apocalypse, which is dated between 100 and 80 B.C.E mentions a similar theme as seen in Matt.11: 4-6: “He [God] frees the captives, makes the blind see, and makes the bent over stand straight…for he will heal the sick, revive the dead, and give good news to the humble and the poor he will satisfy, the abandoned he will lead, and the hungry he will make rich.”

Jesus’ works of healing and teaching are meant to serve as positive evidence of His messianic identity, because they fulfill the messianic predictions of the Hebrew Scriptures. What Jesus claimed is this:

1. If one does certain kinds of actions (the acts cited above), then one is the Messiah.
2. I am doing those kinds of actions.
3. Therefore, I am the Messiah.

And:

5. The Miracles of Jesus

In the Bible, miracles have a distinctive purpose: they are used for three reasons:
1. To glorify the nature of God (John 2:11; 11:40)
2. To accredit certain persons as the spokesmen for God (Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3–4)
3. To provide evidence for belief in God (John 6:2, 14; 20:30–31). (3)

Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, told Jesus, “‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him’ ” (Jn. 3:1–2). In Acts, Peter told the crowd that Jesus had been “accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22).

In Matthew 12:38-39, Jesus says, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” In this Scripture, God confirmed the Messianic claim when Jesus said the sign that would confirm his Messiahship was to be the resurrection.

It is important to note that not all witnesses to a miracle believe. Jesus did not do His miracles for entertainment. They were done to evoke a response. So perhaps Paul Moser is right on target in what he calls “kardiatheology” – a theology that is aimed at one’s motivational heart (including one’s will) rather than just at one’s mind or one’s emotions. In other words, God is very interested in moral transformation.

We see Jesus’ frustration when His miracles did not bring the correct response from his audience. “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37). Jesus himself said of some, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). One result, though not the purpose, of miracles is condemnation of the unbeliever (cf. John 12:31, 37). (4)

I am forever pointing this out to people. Jesus didn’t get people to follow him because he was nice. And he didn’t just talk to people who agreed with him. He even promised “a wicked generation” his resurrection – which he called “the sign of Jonah”. This is the way we should be – using whatever evidence we can dig up from science, history, law, and even the social sciences (when arguing moral issues).

Read the rest here. Surprise! Jesus loves to convince people, and not just by quoting the Bible to people who already accept the Bible, either.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , ,

Were the earliest Christians willing to die for their beliefs about Jesus?

From Jonathan M., writing at the Cross Examined blog.

Excerpt:

The Martyrdom of Jesus’ Brother James

According to John 7, “After this, Jesus went around Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” Thus, there is good evidence to believe that neither James (Jesus’ half brother) nor any of Jesus’ younger siblings believed his message, nor his personal self-claims, during his life. This is further supported by Mark 3:20-21 – “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

It seems absurd that the early church would invent fictitious stories about the unbelief of Jesus’ own family had they been faithful followers all along. For a Jewish rabbi to be lacking the support of his own family undermined his perceived credibility. Yet it can be confidently established that James and his brothers later became active Christians following Jesus’ execution and subsequent resurrection, even being martyred for their confession. According to Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20:9:1,

“And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.” [emphasis added]

Some skeptics have claimed that the James mentioned in this passage is actually the brother of Jesus, the son of Damneus (a high priest who is mentioned towards the end of this passage). The title of “Christ”, we are told, is to be expected because Josephus would consider any high priest to be a “Christ”. The problem with this argument is that Josephus does not call any priest elsewhere in his writings a “Christ”. Jesus ben Damneus was not a high priest at the time of James’ trial but only became one at the time of his later mention. Thus, there is no basis for thinking that Jesus ben Damneus would have been called “Christ”. Moreover, when Josephus tells us of a character’s parentage, he always does it the first time the character is introduced (not in subsequent references). This means that Josephus’ later mention of Jesus ben Damneus has to be the first time the character is introduced. The passage is also thought by Origen to be speaking of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jonathan has also posted two other reliable martyrdom accounts for Paul and Peter.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is there a difference between Christian martyrs and Muslim martyrs?

I found an interesting post on the Truth in Religion & Politics blog that asks and answers the question.

Excerpt:

What is so unique about the earliest disciples of Jesus being martyred for their claim Jesus was raised from the dead?  Many believers of various religious systems–Muslims for example–die and commit suicide regularly for what they believe to be true.  Christian apologists arguing for the historicity of the Resurrection use the fact that Jesus’ disciples and subsequent followers allowed themselves to be killed, without recanting their conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Is this line of reasoning valid?  Does the fact that others die willingly for their religious faith undercut the veracity of the argument for the Resurrection?

The most important aspect of this detail is the historical proximity of the disciples to the event.  The disciples were contemporaries of Jesus and the Resurrection event.  They were witnesses to Jesus’ life; witnesses to His death; and claimed to be witnesses of His being alive after having been buried.

If we claim the Resurrection was a story invented by the disciples, we have to also have to claim they died for an event they knew they invented themselves.

[...]Keep in mind I am not arguing for modern or even 2nd century Christian martyrs as evidence, but rather the first disciples who claimed to be actual witnesses to the events themselves.  Muslims who die in suicide attacks are not first hand witnesses to Allah, or miracles of Allah.  Mohammad did not perform miracles, he claimed only to be a prophet.  Given this aspect of Islam, Mohammad’s cohorts were getting their theological insight second-hand from someone who claimed to speak for God.  They are not in parallel circumstances as the first martyred disciples who claimed to see with their own eyes the events for which they were killed.  Muslims willingly die for what someone told them was true, and in fact they do believe the message of Mohammad is true, but they lack first hand experience of his claims; they could not necessarily have known his claims were false.  Jesus’ disciples claimed to be eye witnesses to the Resurrection, they would be in the position to know their own story was false.

Lots of people die for their beliefs, but only the first century Christian martyrs were in a position to know whether they saw Jesus after his death or not.

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

Ezra Levant testifies to Parliamentary committee on ethical oil drilling

Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant’s testimony to the Parliamentary Natural Resources committee is a nice summary of his thesis in his new book “Ethical Oil”. (H/T Andrew)

An excerpt from Ezra Levant’s testimony:

One day we might discover a fuel source with no environmental side-effects, that is affordable and practical. But until that day comes, we need oil.

Not just us, but the United States, to whom we sell 1.4 million barrels of oilsands oil every day. And last year, more cars were sold in China than in the U.S. And they all want to be two-car families too, and same for India and the rest of the developing world.

So the choice isn’t oilsands oil versus some fantasy fuel of the future. It’s oilsands oil versus oil from the other places where oil comes from – mainly OPEC countries. I don’t know what God was thinking when he was handing out oil, but he gave it to the world’s bastards – places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria. Out of the top ten countries ranked by oil reserves, Canada is the only western, liberal democracy on the list.

That doesn’t matter if all you care about is driving your car. It all burns the same. But what about the ethics of the oil?

In my book, Ethical Oil, I suggest four liberal values by which we should judge the morality of a barrel of oil: respect for the environment; peace; fair wages for workers; and human rights.

I compare oilsands oil to OPEC oil using these four measures.

I come to the conclusion that oilsands oil is the “fair trade coffee” of the world’s oil industry.

And a bit later, he explains why Canada needs to drill more, and sell more oil to other countries.

The leader of the opposition has said it’s important to increase trade with China and India. I agree. Right now, those countries are forced to buy terrorist oil, dictatorship oil, Darfur oil. Because we only let Americans buy our oil.

I love our American neighbours. But it’s dangerous to have just one customer for our product. We’re at the mercy of protectionism and taxes. And sometimes we’re taken for granted. That’s why the pipeline to the West Coast is so strategically important – it makes us an independent country, with options.

I find it very irritating that so many of the anti-oilsands and anti-pipeline activists in Canada take their funding from U.S. lobby groups like the Tides Foundation. Of course it’s in America’s interest that no other customers are allowed to buy Canadian ethical oil.

But it’s in Canada’s interests that we are able to sell to whomever we choose. And if you care about industrial ethics, it’s in the world’s interest, too.

A lot of people are watching how Canada handles the oilsands miracle. Not just Canadians. The American Ambassador is watching, too. He hopes the Gateway pipeline is strangled, so he can have our oil all for himself.

The Saudi Ambassador is watching too. He hopes the pipeline is killed also, so he doesn’t lose any market share in Asia.

The United States should buy things from other countries – but not if they cause more pollution than we would, and not if there are sponsors of terrorism. When we buy things from other countries, we should do it because they can do it better and cheaper than we can. We should not be restricting our own domestic energy production, which is what the Democrats want to do, so that we can enrich countries that pollute and sponsor terrorism against us and our democratic allies.

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

Leaked CRU e-mails reveal pattern of deception and suppression of criticism

Here on Watts Up With That.

Here are a few of my favorites, with links to the original e-mails.

  • Phil Jones writes to University of Hull to try to stop sceptic Sonia Boehmer Christiansen using her Hull affiliation. Graham F Haughton of Hull University says its easier to push greenery there now SB-C has retired.(1256765544)
  • Michael Mann discusses how to destroy a journal that has published sceptic papers.(1047388489)
  • Tim Osborn discusses how data are truncated to stop an apparent cooling trend showing up in the results (0939154709). Analysis of impact here. Wow!
  • Phil Jones encourages colleagues to delete information subject to FoI (Freedom of Information) request.(1212063122)
  • Phil Jones says he has use Mann’s “Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series”…to hide the decline”. Real Climate says “hiding” was an unfortunate turn of phrase.(0942777075)
  • Kevin Trenberth says they can’t account for the lack of recent warming and that it is a travesty that they can’t.(1255352257)
  • Tom Wigley discusses how to deal with the advent of FoI law in UK. Jones says use IPR argument to hold onto code. Says data is covered by agreements with outsiders and that CRU will be “hiding behind them”.(1106338806)
  • Reaction to McIntyre’s 2005 paper in GRL. Mann has challenged GRL editor-in-chief over the publication. Mann is concerned about the connections of the paper’s editor James Saiers with U Virginia [does he mean Pat Michaels?]. Tom Wigley says that if Saiers is a sceptic they should go through official GRL channels to get him ousted. (1106322460) [Note to readers - Saiers was subsequently ousted]
  • Later on Mann refers to the leak at GRL being plugged.(1132094873)

It goes on and on. There are FORTY-SEVEN of these.

Is this science?

Comments in CRU source code

Check out these comments in the source code of a CRU program that explains why CRU uses some data, but not other data.

From documents\harris-tree\recon_esper.pro:

; Computes regressions on full, high and low pass Esper et al. (2002) series,
; anomalies against full NH temperatures and other series.
; CALIBRATES IT AGAINST THE LAND-ONLY TEMPERATURES NORTH OF 20 N
;
; Specify period over which to compute the regressions (stop in 1960 to avoid
; the decline
;

Is this science?

Note: a search engine for the leaked e-mails is now online.

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

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