We had a very interesting evening of apologetics last night at the Williamsburg Community Chapel. Lee Strobel, Mark Mittelberg, and Michael Licona presented the Case for Easter in a simulcast to churches throughout North America.
Please use this post to make comments, ask follow-up questions, or share anything related to this event. We also offer the following materials and resources from the simulcast producers:
- The Case For Easter Program Guide (43 Mb), and
- Recommended Resources (from the Program Guide—including materials referenced in the presentation).
Based upon questions from attendees after the event, here are a few apologetics resources we recommend:
- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
For larger lists, check out our Toolbox, or this post. If you’d like to dive into apologetics, here’s a sampling of Veracity’s apologetics posts.
For those new to—or unsure of—the Christian faith, here is a presentation of the Gospel in an interactive ebook that uses apologetics to share the joy of personal discipleship.
Have a question, comment, or something to share? Please use the “What do you think?” box in the Comments section below. We look forward to sharing with you!
HT: Shirley Vining, Judy Williamson, Martha Karam, Dave Rudy, Clarke Morledge, Cliff Roebuck, Arlene Vander Loon, Eileen Grant, Andy Flint, Kevin Wilkins, Steve Flanary
April 7th, 2014 at 9:24 am
Last night, Mittelberg, Strobel, and Licona were presenting what could be called the “minimal facts of the resurrection” argument in support of the “Case for Easter”. Some asked about where you can find the references mentioned in the presentation regarding non-Christian sources for Jesus’ death and resurrection claim in ancient history, including Tacitus, Josephus, Lucian and the Talmud. I found a relatively concise essay detailing the “minimal facts of the resurrection” argument at PleaseConvinceMe that gives the references. Most can be found online (either John or myself might go hunting for the actual online sources, but if anyone finds them before us, please post!!), but at least you’ll have the references here:
Also, we had a bunch of really good questions about the relationship between Christ’s death on the cross and how that actuality impacts human sin: What is sin? What is the basis of the idea of sacrifices in relation to sin? How do those Christian traditions that practice infant baptism (christening) understand sin and the purpose of baptism? What does the death of Christ accomplish really in terms of sin?
These are incredibly HUGE questions that simply can not be answered in a quick blog post. The answer in a nutshell at the risk of confusion is to start by reading Romans 5:12-21:
Here Paul is unveiling the New Testament understanding of that most contentious of Christian doctrines: “original sin”.
One thing that helps is to understand the distinction between “sin”, in terms of our sinful nature or bent or inclination to disobey God, and “sins”, which are the actual sins of omission or sins of commission performed as a result of our underlying sin nature.
The question regarding infant christening can be answered in brief as follows: since all humans have a sinful nature, a bent towards sinning, all humans, including infants, fall under God’s judgment, even if no actual “sins” have been performed from our vantage point. Traditions that emphasize infant baptism do so because they see the sacrament of baptism as a sign of grace. In other words, infants (just like everyone else) can be saved only through God’s grace, which the sign of baptism signifies.
This quick explanation is probably as clear as mud for many people, which accounts for why a number of Christians do not practice infant baptism, and why “original sin” is sometimes misunderstood and even rejected by some people in the Christian community. But the basic concept remains well attested by all orthodox, believing Christians: all of us as humans are sinners, and therefore we need God’s grace in order to have our sin cleansed and dealt with in order to enter God’s presence.
Hopefully, on Veracity we will do better justice to these issues in future posts to try to clear out the mud, but there is a discussion about this particular issue regarding original sin and infant baptism within a series of posts on the topic of religious pluralism. I would suggest starting here and reading in sequence to get the full flow:
But if you want to go straight to the question of infants and salvation, you could jump to here:
but if you find yourself befuddled, you might have to go back and read the whole series of posts anyway to grasp the argument:
Thanks to everyone who had some great questions! Please keep them coming and post them here on Veracity!
April 7th, 2014 at 9:33 am
The presentation was quite inspirational last night. Thanks to all involved who worked so hard to bring this program to us. Brenda Birney
April 8th, 2014 at 6:54 am
Thanks Brenda for your encouragement and kind words. We look forward to sharing more apologetic material like this, and hope that people will engage each other in normal conversations that use the teaching that is available. Thanks for commenting!
April 7th, 2014 at 10:49 pm
Thank you for all of these resources.
At the end, I believe Micheal gave his closing advice on studying evidence etc. He said keep in mind that there are no absolutes , with any of it , historical absolutes etc. I believe I’m saying this corrects. If need be , correct or clarify what I’m reporting. However , my point is that to make a statement that there are no absolutes in the historical evidence etc. Can be dangerous. First of all he could clarify , in regards to Gods law there are absolutes. However he didn’t , and I believe that could be confusing to someone of little biblical knowledge and could also be confused with no absolutes period. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it. Not sure why he threw that in at the closing.
April 8th, 2014 at 3:19 pm
Without getting too deep, there is a difference with respect to what can be known by historical research and what can be known on the basis of faith theologically. Historians can only know things with certainty on the basis of evidence that can be analytically measured to some degree.
As a professional historian, Michael Licona was telling us that historians can have reasonable knowledge of past events but not absolute knowledge of past events.
For example, I am reasonably certain that I was born in a hospital in Richmond in 1963. Am I absolutely certain of that? No, I am not. It is possible that my mother was mistaken or that perhaps I was adopted and my parents simply never told me? Sure, it is possible that I was not born in a hospital in Richmond. But is it probable? No. I have faith that my parents are reliable witnesses and that my birth certificate was not faked.
So, I do not need to lose sleep over wondering whether or not I am secretly John Paine’s missing twin brother.
Likewise, while we can not have absolute certainty of any past event, even the resurrection, we can have the reasonable confidence of faith through the witness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is truly Risen from the dead.
Hope that helps.
April 8th, 2014 at 5:18 pm
Thank you for the response. I understand what you are saying. I was thinking with an unbeliever or skeptic in mind. If they hear there are no absolutes in the historical evidence. They may take this to mean that Christians don’t believe there are absolutes. The doctor was there to speak on historical evidence I understand. I just believe as a Christian he could have said more … There are absolutes in Gods law and evidence without a doubt in our lives and experience due to our father through His Jesus and His Holy Spirit within us. I guess I though he had the chance to point this out in the end and not just stop at historical evidence. I do understand there is no historical evidence that is absolute in this regard. But in my own life yes there is absolute in regards to resurrection. We as a community of faith are blessed, honored and humbled with this reality. Great work on all of what was done Sunday night 🙂
April 8th, 2014 at 6:50 am
Janet, I think it’s important to hold up plumb lines, as you are doing. The apostle Paul said we are to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5), and he had a great deal to say about the importance of sound doctrine (search for the word ‘teaching’ in the Pauline epistles using the NIV). What I understood Mike Licona to be getting at with the statement you question is the standard or burden of proof that many people want before they are convinced. There generally aren’t smoking guns in the hands of perpetrators and multiple crime scene videos. But the dots are connected, and if we are careful in our research there is enough evidence to demand a verdict.
That said, I am encouraged when someone (even better an expert) says something that causes me to question their statement or position. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, and to me it is a warm reminder that the Holy Spirit is alive, well, and working within me. Often that kind of questioning will cause me to grow as I reconsider and research the issue (that’s a large part of what personal discipleship is all about). Sometimes I’m just thankful that I know enough to be able to question and stand firm in my faith.
One example was Mike Licona’s statement that he couldn’t think of any clear prophecies about the Resurrection. Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg tried to help him with that statement, and that’s a great example of this concept.
One other comment–we don’t have to agree with everything someone says or thinks to gain from their teaching or example.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!
April 9th, 2014 at 12:38 am
Thanks John. Both you and Clarke always put time and thoughtfulness in to responses. I like that good reminder at the end of your comment here. It was inspiring the time and energy Michael put into his study of scripture. Wonderful to have ones like him to learn from. I do understand people need that burden of proof many times. I like how Ravi points out that we answer the questioner more than the question itself. People who are questioning the resurrection may ultimately be questioning the “real ness and aliveness ” of Jesus. I’ve heard which I’m sure you have , I believe in God but not Jesus. This is the harder of realities and resurrection maybe no different. I sometimes think it’s the easier to challenge/ pick on and challenge the proof. But really what is the real challenge maybe : that we are in need of savior and The reason behind conquering death (resurrection) : sin. Sin is can be the real reason behind the seemingly need for proof. Because that would be admitting if it’s all true , maybe the rest is true to he died for us. And that would mean there is something wrong with us. Maybe that’s the proof we don’t want to really have proven.