Category Archives: Conversion

Television and the Human Psyche…

It is inevitable; television shows, plots, characters, etc… will affect society.  We are a culture that absorbs a lot of information from the television set, both good and bad information, accurate and falsified, reality based and dramatized.

I’ve noticed a trend in my college students…and that is picking majors based upon television shows.  No, I’m not kidding.  And here is the problem with that.  Television shows of the kind I’m talking about are dramatizations of real life, not real life itself.  Shows like CSI, Bones, Law & Order, etc… are held up as reasons why some of my students are pursuing certain majors.

Now, this is all well  and good if the students 1) realize that the shows are dramatized and 2) realize to incredible amount of work and formal education it takes to be, oh, I don’t know, a forensic investigator for example.  As it stands, these TV shows make certain jobs look far more glamorous than the really are, and often do not include the downsides of the jobs at hand.  Students get hyped up and then when they realize these things, it’s like a pin being stuck in a balloon.

And it isn’t just college kids and career choices.  Here is how I wound up writing about TV and the human  psyche for this blog; I was watching Fox News this morning, and they discussed a research finding.  People in one study reported switching from the Christian faith to practicing Wicca (especially women) because of…wait for it; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, there’s nothing like picking a religion based on a television show.  Forget truth, serious study, and conviction, go with a TV show, because if it is hip and cool for Willow, it’s hip and cool for me.  I would love to see the actual study and the questions asked.

Folks, it is up to each of us to use those critical thinking skills when it comes to this stuff.  I’m definitely not against television by any means, as my readers know by now…but we need to make sure that we have our feet firmly grounded in reality and don’t make life decisions solely based upon a television show that we happen to like.  Can it be one of the factors we consider, can we be inspired by things on TV?  Absolutely…there are examples of people watching things like Star Trek and being motivated to get involved in the space program, or watching medical dramas and deciding they’d like to help people.

The problem comes in when we allow the TV to give us unrealistic pictures and ideas about aspects of life that are radically different than those portrayed on television; romantic love, life and death situations, careers, religion, parenthood, etc…  Always check ideas garnered from the small screen (and the silver screen) against real-life, and don’t abandon logic and reason in decision making.

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Apologetics: The Disciples…

In this post, I’ll be discussing one of the evidences for the Resurrection via a look at the Disciples themselves.

  1. What message did the Disciples preach?
  2. What we can learn by looking at the change of attitude and personality of the disciples pre and post-Resurrection, and their manner of death.
  3. Examining how their deaths are fundamentally different than the deaths of believers of other faiths and beliefs.

The Disciples were eye witnesses of the happenings around Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They were Jesus’ close companions and had first-hand knowledge of His claims. After Jesus’ crucifixion they preached Him raised. Not only that, they preached Him raised amongst other eye witnesses to Jesus’ life and death, even in the very city where He was crucified!

This is Peter speaking in front of the crowd, post Jesus’ resurrection, in Jerusalem:

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Paul speaks of this quite clearly as well:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
15:11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Study the Resurrection, it is the lynchpin of the Christian Faith. A lot of my POV on this is from Dr. Gene Scott; who lost his faith in college, then studied the resurrection for three years knowing that either these disciples were preaching a lie, or they were preaching the truth. At the end of those three years, he closed the last book with the knowledge that Christ had risen indeed.  Here is a write up from a sermon, as one will be able to tell, I formed a lot of my ideas from Doc’s different sermons touching upon the resurrection of Christ: http://www.pastormelissascott.com/pdf/Resurrection.pdf

If Jesus came out of that tomb, then we too can have faith in Him and His Father. Jesus claimed He would raise, so that is the question to answer – did He? We have other evidence that the body was missing, we know that in Matthew we have a popular theory crop up from the disbelieving Priests:

28:11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
28:13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

28:14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
28:15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

So, we have the Disciples preaching Jesus had risen and in fact they preached He walked and talked and even ate with them after the Crucifixion. Remember, they were His close companions in life, eye witnesses to His teaching, death, and resurrection. We also know that the disciples were persecuted both directly after the resurrection, and in centuries later.

Now, we examine the evidence of the changing Disciples, let’s look at some examples:

We’ve got Peter. Before the resurrection Peter denied the Lord three times for the sake of his own skin. He fled and hid, he could not be counted on. After the Resurrection, and then the coming of the Spirit, Peter finally fulfills the name Jesus gave him and becomes so firm in the faith he could not be intimidated. He came out in front of the hostile crowd at Pentecost and proclaimed Christ risen. How did Peter die? Crucified upside down for his teachings.

We’ve got John. One of the Sons of Thunder, as Jesus called the brothers. He’s one of the pair that asked the Lord this:

Luke 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
9:53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did ?
9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

Beloved John, ready to burn the unbelievers for their unbelief. We also have record of these Sons of Thunder being so bold and prideful to ask Jesus to be seated at His side…not only this, they sent their momma to ask Him for them. What happens to John after the Resurrection? He becomes the Apostle of Love, so from Son of Thunder to the Apostle of Love. How does John wind up? He is banished for his unmovable, un-recanted teachings, based on the fact that Christ rose from the dead.

We’ve got Thomas. Skeptics love Thomas, as they should. The problem comes in when they don’t let Thomas teach them. Good ol’ doubting Thomas. Thomas doubted the Lord the whole time he walked with Him. He questions everything. After the Lord was resurrected we see Thomas questioning again. He’s not going to be happy ’til he physically touches Jesus. After the Resurrection what do we have? Thomas never questioning the Lord again, taking the Faith to India, never waivering put to death by spear (some reports a sword) proclaiming the Resurrection of our Lord.

We’ve got many other examples amongst the disciples; Bartholemew flayed to death with a whip in Armenia for proclaiming the Resurrection, Andrew crucified, Luke hanged, Mark dragged to death.

We’ve got Paul; number one persecuter of the Christians. Loathed Christians, hated them. Jesus knocks him on his behind in the dirt, appears to him resurrected and Paul is a new man.

These men were changed folks. Fundamentally, their very personalities changed. What changed them? They, all but perhaps one, were too scared even to be at the crucifixion of the Lord, hiding…but then what?! The Resurrection. Then what? These men willing to put all on the line for what they literally witnessed with their own two eyes.

These disciples died alone, thousands of miles apart from each other. They died horrible deaths for their eye witness testimony. Did these men back the wrong horse, a dead man, and perpetuate a known lie? Or were they telling the absolute truth, a Truth they were willing to die for? They claimed and taught not just a faith, or a belief, they taught a FACT. That Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ate with them, that Thomas put his hand on Him, etc… They never ever waivered!! I’ve also heard several atheists/agnostics admit that these men did indeed change, and that they can’t explain why, but it couldn’t have been because of the resurrection, because miracles can’t occur, therefore it didn’t occur, and anyone who says they did is wrong, because miracles can’t occur, therefore they didn’t occur, and anyone who…. Basically they fell pray to circular logic in an attempt to explain away the changes in these men.

Some say, “Well, what about all those other people that died for their religion?” In my college Logic class I teach all about comparisons. One of the first rules in comparisons is to ask some very important questions, the main one being; are the two things even comparable? In this case, these eye witness disciples deaths are not even comparable to the deaths of others defending their religions, even modern Christian martyrs. How so?

All those other people died for firm belief, no doubt about it. Early muslims died for a belief, they died for their faith, they died for what they thought was the truth. Atheist skeptics would have us believe these Disciples of Christ would have died for a known lie. Again, how is this different? The Disciples didn’t spread the Gospel based on teachings, belief, faith, or private revelations from God, they spread the Gospel based on an Historical Event, or FACT, or Person that they claimed to be eye witnesses to — the Resurrected Christ.

There is no such objective, historical event, objectively varifiable at the time, that the Muslims, or any other believer has died for; the Muslims died for the belief that Muhammed has received instruction from God via private revelation, and for those beliefs passed on. We have the disciples preaching this FACT of the Resurrection to individuals who were free to go check out their story. The preaching of Jesus’ resurrection was spread during all of these eyewitnesses lifetimes. These radically changed men did not die for a known lie that they had concocted.

So, with the Disciples as eye witnesses, with the Disciples who gave up their lives for the message of the Resurrection, I too proclaim that Christ is risen! I too proclaim that this Historical Fact withstands the test of time! And I too proclaim that with Christ as our example we can hang our bodies and souls on the Promises of the Father. Our faith and beliefs are not blind, as skeptics would have other believe, but are based on historical events, logic, reason, and the Grace of God.

For all the skeptics reading this, go make your own serious study of these facts, and make your choice.  For those of you who do not trust the reliability of the witnesses in all of this, here is a good bit of free reading: Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf; “Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen.”

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Jewish Misunderstandings…

I’ve just read an opinion piece printed at the Jerusalem Post, and I felt compelled to comment on it, as it is full of straw man fallacies, and misinformation.  Here is the article:  How to reply when the doorbell rings… First, the author twists the idea of a Triune God into polytheism…which is very odd because Christians proclaim “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one” Deut. 6:4  And, we are careful to note the use of the plural noun Elohim for “God” and the use of echad for “one.”  This is important because, unlike the word “yachid” in Hebrew, which denotes a completely single unit; echad can be used when there is a unity of things comprising a single unit.  The word yachid is never used in connection with God.  There is indeed only one God, not three; He is triune in Nature, but there are not three Gods, there is only One!

Also, the idea was presented that Christians try to claim that Judaism and Christianity are exactly the same; this is not true, I’ve never heard a Messianic believer, or a Christian make that claim.  Christianity has its roots in Judaism, and Jesus is the awaited Messiah of Judaism.  Jesus was Jewish as were His earliest disciples.  To have a true understanding of Christianity, one must study and come to understand that Christianity is basically pointing to the fact that the Jewish Messiah has indeed come, and through Him, there is a new covenant, a new way to righteousness buy the fulfillment of the old law by Jesus (Yeshua, which was His Hebrew name), and His sacrificial death, His role as the Kinsman redeemer, and our Passover, etc…

As for there not being a Son or mother of God; I agree with the “mother” part, as Mary was the mother of Jesus, she carried God in her womb and gave birth to Him; but God has no beginning.  Also, the language used is a nod to humanity’s limited understanding.  The Lord has to reveal Himself in a way that our minds can comprehend, and also take into account the fact that we are stuck in a limited “dimensional” understanding.  Proverbs 30:4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? Psalms 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. There is little doubt that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and the idea of being begotten is to help underline the fact of His divinity.  John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. And that leads to the point that Jesus is indeed God’s word made flesh, or the wisdom of God; Jesus:God’s Wisdom is a good write up that connects this aspect of Christ back to Old Testament, Jewish understanding, in support of the Trinity.

There was also a claim that Messianic Jews are not persecuted; this is a deliberate falsehood as far as I can see.  There have been many interviews, and even documentaries done on the treatment of Messianic Jews living in Israel; they are often persecuted for Jesus’ sake.  For one example, see this Time article: Israel’s Messianic Jews Under Attack… Also, those coming to a belief in Jesus as Messiah often get labeled “Traitor” by their own people, and many are disowned from their own families.  You can read it in the author’s tone that he does not believe that one can come to a faith in Jesus, and still be Jewish…that has to be a slap in the face to our Messianic Jewish brethren.

In the comments section, there are even more misunderstandings; Christians realize that Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jew, and died a Jew…He also resurrected as a Jew, albeit He is also the Light of the Gentiles, and He would have had a glorified body.  Also, there is the false idea that the gospel, and the evidence for Christ only comes in the New Testament.  This is patently not so; the gospel message, and the prophecies pointing to the Messiah are also found in the Old Testament.  In fact, this is made plain in New Testament scriptures that point out that the OT was what was available as evidence for Jesus fulfilling the prophecies, and also by conversion stories shared by modern Jewish believers; many come to faith in the Messiah Jesus precisely because the OT scripture points straight to Him.

You can’t read the article and not sense the underlying anger in the words…and while not excusable, is understandable given the persecution the Jewish people have faced, some of that persecution was carried out by those labelling themselves Christian.  It is a very sad thing that many Jewish individuals don’t examine the claims of Christ through logic and OT scripture, with an open heart and eyes, but rather through (understandable) emotion; it is sad for He is their awaited Messiah.   What prophecies He did not fulfill during the time He walked the earth, He will indeed fulfill at His second coming.  The Jewish people still hold a special place in God’s heart, according to scripture, and He will fulfill His promises to them.

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The Church in China…

If interested about the growing number of Christians in China, here is a news article in the LA Times:  Christianity is Flourishing in China The Holy Spirit sure does seem to be at work.  God can enter into all things, hopefully the upcoming Olympics will somehow be an aid to our church family in China.  Also, don’t forget that the persecution of belivers is a very very serious issue there, and more than anything they seek aid through prayer.  Edit to add: We should probably be praying that the True Gospel be spread like wildfire, while any false gospels are stamped out along the way…

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