A Short Defense of Christianity (to myself)

I see myself as an evangelical (lower case) Christian (uppercase) apologist. I think every Christian is an apologist to some degree. No, not a “professional apologist” like Rob Bowman, William Lane Craig, or Mike Licona, but we all have formulated some degree of warrant or justification for our faith. Just like everyone is a theologian, every one is also an apologist. But this does not mean that we are good apologists!

Normally apologetics is a theological discipline which seeks to defend the faith to those who are outside our belief system. However, my fascination with apologetics is very personal. It starts with me and often ends with me. What do I mean? I suppose I mean that I engage in apologetics very selfishly. I seek to defend the faith to myself. I am continually wrestling with issues of faith and doubt that are spinning webs in my mind. Therefore, whenever I write about a topic that is docked in apologetics bay, it is normally a subject that I am either currently wrestling with or have wrestled with in the past. I often envy those who just believe. Sometimes I wish that I could flip a switch and turn the critical part of my brain off. It would allow me to get more sleep, that is for sure!

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the big issues (what Paul Copan just called the “main things”) are pretty well settled in my thinking. I have the battle scars to prove it. However, there are a lot of things that I am not settled on…secondary issues, mainly. For those things I have yet to wrestle with in a significant way, I usually put a place holder sign on the door entitled “I will get to you later” or “what he believes.” I have a few people in my life whom I respect and trust so deeply that their view of an issue is enough for me. In such cases I am content with “referred belief.” Why? Because I will never be able to become an expert in everything. As a matter of fact, there will be very few things that I will ever be able to speak about with much personal authority. And there is just enough postmodern blood in me to realize that the human aspiration for exhaustive and authoritative knowledge on any one thing is simply self-deception. None of us are really “experts” on much. None of us are that smart. We never will be. I don’t care how many PhDs someone has, how many articles they have writen, or what school they teach at, the human capacity to truly understand what we are talking about is not anything to write home about. We are finite. However, this does not mean we throw in the intellectual towel. There are things about which we can have a great degree of assurance.

My personal apologetics normally takes a few steps that asks some very basic questions. While I believe that these steps can and should benefit everyone, I know that each of us comes to our faith in very nuanced ways. Your reasons for your faith may not parallel my reasons. But that is okay. Here are the big issues that I start with when my faith is stumbling:

1. Does God exist?
2. Has he communicated to us?
3. What has he said?

The personal avenue that I take (from an intellectual standpoint) when it comes to my Christianity breaks this down and looks at four things:

1. The existence of God
2. The reliability of the New Testament
3. The resurrection of Christ
4. The deity of Christ

1. The Existence of God

A transcendent and personal being is necessary to explain existence as we see it. Something does not come from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit, or “out of nothing, nothing comes”). Since something exists, a transcendent force is necessary to explain this something. At this point I call God a “force” since we have yet to establish personality. This force must be above and beyond time, space, and matter. If he were not, we would be left with the regression of trying to explain what created the force that created us, ad infinitum. You know, the “If God made everything, what made God?” argument. However, if something exists, there must be an ultimate explanation. Call this force the “unmoved mover,” the “undesigned designer,” or the “uncaused cause.” Whatever one names it, it has to be a se (Latin “of itself”) and transcendent to all the laws of nature so as to avoid the cause and effect relationship. Being outside of time, this force does not need an explanation, but is itself the explanation for all things. For me to deny such a force is completely irrational. A universe such as ours without a creator is as illogical as a four-sided triangle. It just cannot be.

This transcendent force must be personal for two reasons: 1) Personality/consciousness/self-awareness cannot come from non-personality. Being cannot come from non-being. Since mankind has personality/consciousness/self-awareness, that from which we came must share the same attributes (though to an infinitely greater degree). 2) Creation itself demands an act of the will. If this creative force did not have a will (an essential component of personality), creation would never have had a time when it came into existence. In other words, creation would have never been created or it would have always been being created. Those are the only two options. Why? Because there is no cause and effect relationship which, at some point in the finite past, could have compelled a force without a will or personality to create. Why create now rather than ten trillion years ago? Therefore, creation must have been a willful act sometime in the finite past. So we have a creator who is a being whose existence and personhood are both warranted and necessary. This is why we sometimes call God the “Necessary Being.” God, as I am speaking of him now, is not “that which we worship or give ultimate allegiance to,” but the necessary explanation for all of existence. Due to this, God must be one in essence. If his ontology (essential being or “stuff”) consisted of a plurality, then his essence would demand a transcendent explanation for its existence.

There. I have one God. But I don’t yet have the Christian God.

2. Reliability of the New Testament Manuscripts

If God exists, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that God has communicated to his creation. At this point, I look into human history to see if there is any evidence that this creator God has communicated with mankind. Of course, communication neither adds anything to, nor takes anything away from, the necessary existence of this transcendent being. Neither does the way he decides to communicate or how often this communication comes. All I am saying is that if God exists, then we have good reason to look for and, if necessary, excavate this communication.

First, I believe that God’s creation itself communicates information about God. I think there is much knowledge we can gain about God’s personality through creation (God is great, smart, powerful, and organized) and our conscious (God is moral, righteous, and possesses endearing emotions). However, this communication is not very specific and leaves some serious questions unanswered such as, “Why are we here?”, “Is there purpose?”, and “Is there something for us beyond this life?”

Christianity claims that God has communicated in history. Christianity is the only religion whose basic foundation is built on falsifiable historical events that communicate a specific and compelling message. Therefore, when I look across the spectrum of religious claims to “God knowledge,” I don’t find much worth pursuing in other religions. Most other religions claim communication from God coming very obscurely through individuals who have private dreams, angelic encounters, and/or ideas. I am entirely too skeptical to take seriously such subjective claims. They are too easily made up or mistaken and are not testable in any way. However, Christianity has foundational truth claims that are rooted in history. The main events which establish or demolish the Christian faith are claimed to have actually happened in history, in the public eye. Therefore, Christianity not only allows for but demands a historical approach to establish its warrant.

I have used these graphics before, but I think they contain the essence of what I mean.


The central historic events that I look to are the life, death, and resurrection of a man named Jesus from Nazareth. If the stories told about him (most importantly, the story about his resurrection) prove to be true, then I have good reason to believe that God has communicated most directly though him.

But in order to get to Jesus, I have to go through the source documents which tell the Jesus story. We call this the New Testament canon. Now when I am trying to establish my faith, there is no reason to call these documents the “New Testament.” That name carries too much religious baggage. It is best for me to look at these as twenty-seven independent (to some degree) source documents. While theologically, I believe these documents are the inspired, inerrant word of God, all I need right now is for them to be generally reliable historic documents.

The most important of these twenty-seven documents are those we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the Gospels). We have enough manuscript evidence to date these documents fairly early, at least in the first century and less than a generation from when the Jesus story took place. This, along with the other documents of the New Testament and the writings of other Christians in the first century, allow me to be assured that these documents are close enough to the events they describe to be taken seriously.

3. The Resurrection of Jesus

From an apologetics standpoint, the most significant event to which these documents attest is the resurrection of Jesus. They claim that Jesus had a short ministry which ended when he was executed on a cross. While they speak of many of his miracles and give much attestation to his teaching, they all claim that shortly after his death he rose from the gave. This resurrection vindicated his claims to have communication from God.

Again, this is very significant. If they only claimed that he was a man of profound teaching and performed some miracles, I don’t think I would explore Jesus much further, much less devote my life to him. His resurrection is central to my faith. It not only establishes what he said to be true, but it creates purpose, destiny, and hope. My connection to God does not end with the resurrection, but it starts there and is intrinsically tied to it. All my theological dominoes fall from here.

Now, there are certain things that I would look for and expect if the resurrection of Christ actually took place. I will only name a few for the sake of brevity. I would look for evidence of historicity in the accounts which tell of this event, not the least of which an explicit or implicit claim to historicity (as opposed to myth or parable). Historic verification can come in many ways, but for an event of this magnitude (the omnipotent God sending his Son into the world so that many may believe in him and have eternal life) you would not expect these things to be done in secret. Therefore, I am encouraged to believe more when I see details like specific times, dates, places, and people provided. These details give the events in question falsifiability, by placing the events in historical settings. If everything happened in one man’s living room, a cave, or an unknown city, they would be nearly impossible to verify. But these documents tell of a public ministry, public death, and public resurrection. What I mean by “public” resurrection is that it is stated that Christ’s tomb was empty and that he subsequently appeared to many followers, showing himself alive.

I am also encouraged by the historical nature of the narratives themselves. The four Gospels tell the same story, with some variations. These variations never disturb the main events, but complement each other in many ways. As well, there are many internal marks of historicity in the documents themselves. Some were written to specific groups of people. Some to individuals. Luke wrote his account to an otherwise obscure man named Theophilus. They contain just enough incidental details to make it harder to believe someone (or four someones) made the story up.

As well, there is no discernible profitable motive for someone to make up such a story in the first-century world. The crucified-messiah-rose-from-the-grave story is not the type of event one would fabricate, for it held no appeal for the Jews or Greeks. The Jews could not fathom a messiah hung on a tree, much less that same messiah telling his followers to spread his message to the Greeks. And the furthest thing from the aspirations of the Greeks was the resurrection of the body. It was the last story anyone would make up in that culture.

As well, the Gospels themselves did not identify their writers. If the writers were making this story up, why not fabricate a credible source? Why leave it blank? Falsely attributing a writing to another, more credible, source was on par for the culture of the day (pseudoepigrapha). Who would be more credible than the apostles of Christ? Yet the Gospels remained nameless (though early witnesses support the traditional view of authorship). Simply put, it is very hard to find evidence or rationale, internal or external, for the Jesus story to have been made up.

Finally, if the resurrection happened in the way these documents claim, one would expect there to be a tidal wave of impact. If all we had were these documents, without any immediate and lasting historical consequences, it would be hard to believe that a omnipotent sovereign God had intervened in history through the Jesus story. One would expect the resurrection event to immediately begin to evidence itself through the message being spread. And this is exactly what we find. Starting immediately after the resurrection, the “church” Jesus began through his resurrection has impacted the world in a significant way. People, cities, cultures, and eventually an empire were changed within just a few centuries after this event.

Could there be more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? Definitely. Jesus could miraculously appear to every individual ever born since then and show them his raised body. However, what we have is exactly what I would expect to have if Christ rose from the grave and then ascended into heaven like the documents say. When I examine alternative explanations for the resurrection, I find myself having to take much greater leaps of faith than a simple belief that God raised Christ from the dead. I have often said that when I begin to doubt the resurrection of Jesus all I have to do is read detractors’ alternative theories.

For this reason, I believe that God has communicated to us through Jesus Christ.

4. The Deity of Jesus

Finally, what did Christ say about God? The first three are significant apologetically to convince me that God not only exists, but has communicated to us most definitely through his “Son.” But now I must establish what that Son has communicated. First and foremost, Jesus communicated about Jesus. In the first century, Jesus became the central figure of the universe. Before this, we did not even know that God had a “Son.” Even now, we stumble to understand exactly what this means. Christ himself said that there is only one God (Mark 12:29). Yet both by his words and his works, Christ claimed equality and oneness with God. The central message of the Christian faith is that Jesus is Messiah, King, Lord, and Savior.

His unique identity came at his miraculous conception as Mary, his mother, was told by an angel that she would bear a son through the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35). He was given a divine name (Matt. 1:23). Shepherds and wise men worshipped him as a baby (Matt. 2:11). Throughout his childhood, we see that his relationship with God transcended normal human experience. At the inauguration of his ministry, the Father spoke from heaven, informing us of Jesus’ unique identity (Matt. 3:17). Throughout his ministry, he said and did things that evidenced his divine status:

  • He forgives sins (Luke 5:23)
  • He promises blessings for those who are persecuted because of him (Matt. 5:11)
  • He says that he has not come to abolish the Law and Prophets. Could a mere human even suggest that he has? (Matt. 5:17)
  • He says that he determines who enters the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 7:21–23)
  • He teaches others to give up their lives to follow Him (Matt. 16:25)
  • He says that he will repay each person for what they have done (Matt. 16:27–28)
  • The basis of judgment will be man’s relationship to him (Matt. 25:31–46)
  • He speaks of “his angels” (Matt. 13:41; 16:27; 24:31)
  • The only thing the rich young ruler lacks for eternal life is to follow him (Matt. 19:16–21)
  • We are commanded to love Christ more than our own families (Matt. 10:37)
  • Eternal life depends on belief in  Father and in Him (Jn. 17:3)

I agree with C.S. Lewis: these are either the ravings of a madman – or Jesus was God. Even the Holy Spirit does not draw attention to himself, but points to Christ (John 15:26; 16:13–14). At one point, Jesus openly proclaimed himself to be God and the leaders of the day were ready to stone him (John 10:33). The rest of the New Testament is filled with references to Christ’s deity (John 1:1 Jn. 1:1, 18 (not in King James Version), 8:58–59, 10:30–33, 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 2 Thes. 1:12; 1 Tim. 3:15–16; Tit. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1; Heb. 1:3, 8; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15–17, 2:9).

Why did God become man? For one, to communicate God to us (John 1:17; Heb. 1:1-2). What was his message? That he is the center of the universe and that the Uncaused Cause loves us and does not want any of us to be without him. But our sinfulness has separated us from God. For this reason also, God became man and lived a perfect life so that he could be a perfect savior. He is our ransom (Matt. 20:28). He did not come to show us the way to God, but to be the way to God (John 14:6). Eternal life with God is impossible without him. Without Christ, eternal death and judgement are all that await us (John 3:18). But to those who receive (trust in) Christ, he shares his life and glory as he was judged on our behalf (John 1:12). Jesus became man so that we might become children of God.

2 Cor. 5:21
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus Christ is the God-man who takes away our sins and promises eternal life to all who trust in him.


Do I think God could be more clear than this? Of course. Could my faith be stronger than it is? Most certainly. And I hope it continues to grow. I have never heard God speak. I have never seen him with my eyes. I have never died and gone to heaven and come back again. I have never spoken in tongues. I have never even experienced a miracle that could not be explained outside of a belief in Jesus. There are times in my life when I think that the world functions just the way it would if God were not real. Often times I get frustrated with God. I doubt his love and his goodness. There are times when I entertain other worldviews. I have said before that if I were not a Christian, I am fairly certain I would remain a theist (believing in God). More specifically, I would probably be a deist since I don’t think any of the other religious options presented in world history are all that impressive or persuasive. When it comes to the big five parademic worldview options, I think deism (the belief that God created everything and has not communicated or intervened since) is the only option besides theism that is logically possible. As best I can tell, atheism, pantheism, and panentheism are all formally absurd. This means that they are not only less likely, but that they are logically impossible.

Again, this is my trek when I have my doubts. The points I provided above stabilize me. I am not saying they are going to stabilize you in the same way. These four points keep my faith anchored. There is a God. He has communicated. Jesus rose from the dead, demonstrating the truthfulness of his claims. And Jesus is God incarnate (“in the flesh”) who lived a perfect life, making life with God possible to all who put their trust in him.

I could believe more. My faith is not perfect. However, when my faith is challenged, these intellectual benchmarks serve as a powerful  immunity to doubt and disbelief. I could believe more. I hope each day that I believe more. Only in eternity will I have my faith fully vindicated. Only in eternity will my faith be perfect. But until then, these four points are sufficient for me not only to be a Christian, but to sacrifice every moment in service to Jesus.

51 Responses to “A Short Defense of Christianity (to myself)”

  1. CMP you said, “As best I can tell, atheism, pantheism, and panentheism are all formally absurd. This means that they are not only less likely, but that they are logically impossible.”

    This view and conclusion is where I am also at. I don’t pretend to know everything, yet most of the time I remain silent as a graduate student of CTI/TTP, and long time blog reader. If anything I have become solid on the essentials of orthodox Christianity, yet I also struggle with my unbelief in other areas. I thank you for articulating what I could not.

    Lord as we believe, help us with our unbelief.

  2. Sometimes I find myself nailing down what DOESN’T have to be believed in order to be in Him; and I’m slowly crossing off that list. The only thing I AM sure of is what I’ve experienced in my own personal life by way of His goodness and grace. I know that I couldn’t be here on my own “virtue” without His help because I’m not that smart and I knew where I was headed before Him. And that my friend is a faith-fact that I’ll never doubt.

    But when talking with others about my faith and my hope, I always start with Jesus, because He’s easy to be proven as real, where it takes a minute to work you way back to “God” because religious and non-religious people all over the world have more varying opinions of God than they do Jesus.

  3. Robert Eaglestone December 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

    CMP: For me, for now, I think the whole shebang starts with your point #2; in particular, the “falsifiable historical event” of the resurrection. From that I then can reasonably infer the truth of the New Testament, and from there the rest (God, the Old Testament, theology…) falls into place.

  4. Pictures aren’t working for me. Is there another place I can find them?

    They didn’t work in IE9 or Firefox 8.

  5. Good post, but I think there is an important point about other religions here. Most other religions aren’t religions in the typical western sense of the word, but rather are manifestations of cultures. We in the west assume that other cultures must work the same as us, so we understand those other cultures in ways that distorts them. Seeing ‘Hinduism’ as a monothlith or as a religion distorts it. It really just refers to the cultures living beyond the Indus river (thus in India), though these cultures merge metaphysical philosophy into their broader culture in a way we don’t, so it looks odd to us. Really, if you look at the history of ‘Hinduism’, it looks more like a life philosophy with devotional aspects than it does a ‘religion’ in the western sense. Even understanding their avatars (like Vishnu) as ‘gods’ badly distorts Hindu ontology and gives us an idea of something that Hindus don’t actually see.

    In this respect, your comparison of other religions is limited because most other ‘religions’ don’t see themselves as religions at all, but as manifestations of a culture. Ontologically, it is similar to western philosophy or a secular ideology. This is why these other religions almost never are capable of mass evangelisation into new cultures. Even Islam, though ontologically similar, behaves in this way. Unlike early Christianity, early Islam spread the same way other cultures (think the Normans in England after 1066) spread: one foreign elite replaces an indigenous (for Islam, this being mainly Nestorian Christian) elite, and over centuries the culture of this new elite ‘trickles down’ and the culture changes fundamentally.

    This is key I think because any culture has an assortment of ideologies that are real even if not caused by some historical event. Think fashion in our culture, which just happens because it happens. Christianity, on the other hand, never spread this way but spread in the past much like it does today: pure evangelization that isn’t stuck to any culture or cultural norm. Because it isn’t legitimized or enabled by being an aspect of one particular culture, there really is only one other thing that can explain its survival and growth over the years: its truth.

  6. CMP, “Michael”: Solid post again! The Scripture when reading this, that first came to mind for me was, 1 Peter 3: 15 & 16. with “courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience”. (NET Bible) Oh to have a good biblical & theological conscience: as we “set Christ apart as Lord in your [our] hearts”! Thanks to spur us along again!

  7. It certainly is convenient that all the things that you would look for and expect if the resurrection of Christ actually took place are things that you find in the New Testament. It certainly would suck if you happened to expect contemporaneous accounts of the events from secular historians.

    I cannot help but think of Margaret O’Brien’s line in Meet Me in St. Louis: “Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city?”

  8. Vinny: Indeed the Resurrection of Christ, as is the NT itself, is a presupposition of faith and even mystery, but a faith and mystery historically given and believed in the reality of mind and matter, finite and infinite, nature and supernature, faith and reason. For Christians the starting point is the Incarnation, “in which the the infinite became finite, the natural became supernatural, Spirit took on matter, the deathless died and mortal became immortal.” Such is the faith of Christians and Christianity, historical and yet transcendent!

  9. @Vinny – Yes it is convenient, but you’d be amazed at how many people and events that are accepted as “true” history have even less evidence for them.

    Of course you’ll ask me to name names and explain myself. I wish my recall was better.

    I’m thinking of Galen. But without quite a bit of work I won’t be able to provide more than a vague recollection that there is very little proof he even existed except references to him in other works and books that claim to be translations of his works.

    And while there are no “smoking gun” accounts of the resurrection or the “dead rising and walking around” (see the P&P post on Licona/Geisler), I would think that four books by different authors would be pretty convincing if they weren’t in the Bible.

    Much of the history we accept doesn’t even have one book to support it.

    Yes, the claims of Christianity are outrageous. But how much higher should the standard be that we hold them too?

    I’ve got to work on my recall. Ok, I found it. Dr. Gleason on the Janet Mefferd show talked about the 100% standard. He was talking about the death penalty, but I think that the idea applies to many areas of human thought.

    There are very few things we can be 100% certain of. There is little we can prove 100%. So the goal is to set a standard high enough for you to be certain in your own mind since quite frankly some people will never accept it even at 100%. (Right Theodore?)

    It is good to ask your question, but how many people would believe in Jesus even if secular historians wrote about it? How many books have been written on the historicity of Jesus by contemporary secular writers and some people still don’t believe he even lived. (Maybe we should find a Muslim writer to write a book about Jesus, then maybe more liberals would believe he existed.) (Did I actually write that? Bad BlueCat57, bad boy.)

    Oooo! Oooo! Here’s a good one! How many BILLIONS of dollars are they spending to find the Higgs-Bosen particle and dark matter? And will they actually see it? No, they will infer it from how it affects other things. And then they will dance around and say “We found the god particle.” Will you believe them?

    Something tells me I’m rambling. Better stop while I’ve only insulted Vinny (not trying to), Muslims (I thought it was funny, but maybe it wasn’t.), Liberals, scientists and Theodore.

    Did I even make a point relevant to the subject of the post?

  10. @Fr. Robert – yet again you say it with more pith and less sarcasm.

  11. Thanks Michael.
    Having done TTP I think I go through the same or similar motions. I had far more faith before, well actually blind belief as opposed to faith. I find these moments of doubt to be sharpening tools that when I beat them my faith is strengthened. I enjoy the feeling I get when I come out the other side and realize ‘hey, I was right because…’

  12. @Bluecat,
    you’ll have a fatwa on your head!

  13. @BlueCat.. I always enjoy yours posts mate! Btw, can you tell I am mainly a presup guy, Van Til, John Frame, etc. I will go evidential too, but this seems the last for me? As I wrote today, I am an Anglican Pauline mystic, but always simply ‘In Christ’, by faith as a gift! ;)

    Say I think we ran Theo off? I hope into his Bible, and some theological history also?

  14. BlueCat57,

    I think the standard depends on the use to which a thing is being put. If my lawnmower engine starts by the fifth try and only dies two or three times while I am cutting the lawn, I consider it reliable. If I am getting on an airplane, I think I might want the engine to meet a little higher standard.

    I think I treat most everything from ancient history as provisional based on the available evidence and I don’t put the information to any use for which greater certainty is required. Conservative Christians infer from their belief in the resurrection that the Bible is a magic book whose teachings should trump the conclusions of psychologists and sociologists concerning homosexuality and the conclusions of biologists concerning evolution. Many Christians believe that American foreign policy should be determined by the land use policies of an ancient tribal deity. If it mattered that much for society whether Shakespeare actually wrote the plays that are attributed to him, I would be demanding better evidence on that question as well.

  15. “The true Light came into the world but men loved the darkness.”

    That about sums it up.

    But that didn’t deter the Living God. He continued to the cross that He might save some.

    So do actually ‘hear the gospel’ and come to faith in Christ.

    Only by His good and gracious will, and NOTHING at all that ‘we do’.

    Thanks. Merry Christmas to all on this blog.

  16. Well Vinny just because a peg fits in a hole it doesn’t mean it belongs there.

    Not sure what you mean by “magic” but I’m pretty sure no one here thinks the Bible is “magic.”

    As for trumping things, I’ll leave that to The Donald.

    CMP – feel free to delete this post if you feel that it is inappropriate.

  17. Indeed some real “bagage” there Vin! I myself could care less about “homosexual” pyschology. Now here is some “magical” thinking. Sorry! CMP, like BlueCat, delete this if needed!

  18. Ok, what about Horus, Attis, Mithra, and all the similarities to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These stories were written long before the New Testament. Do you just ignore these as pure coincidence, do they not speak some truth of their own?

    • Tex, there are hundreds more than that. Both before Christ and after. Some claim a righteous God who needs appeasement. Some claim a gracious loving God who seeks to forgive. However, what I do is put all of the to the tests of historicity like I do the claims of Christianity. Not only are these lacking in any historical falsifiability, but most are of a completely different religious genera which does not demand historical verification, much less call for it. So I would just challenge you at two points: 1) don’t mistake similarity with historicity. 2) put those options you have listed to the tests of history and see how they fair.

  19. Btw, BlueCat: My wife and I split a gut almost with your statement about the “peg”! We will leave it at that! ;)

  20. Since we are cracking open a new can of worms let’s look at human history.

    We’ve got Adam around 6,000 years ago; Noah about 4,000; Babel about 3,900; and Moses writing about 3,500. These are very approximate.

    Now if Adam was smart enough to do all the stuff attributed to him then do you think he might have been able to write? At the very least he gave oral history. The gaps between Adam and Noah, and Noah to Moses are small. If memory serves me there was only one person between each. Basically your Grandfather telling you stories of his Grandfather. That means Noah may have had Adam’s writings or at the very least fairly accurate oral history on the Arc. I’m guessing his family heard these more than once during their time on the Arc. Moses would have heard or possibly read Noah’s information. And he could very easily have had written records in front of him while writing.

    Now the oldest non-Biblical writing also dates back around 3,500 years to about the same time as Moses.

    Tex’s assumption is that Moses and the other Biblical authors borrowed from these other stories.

    My assumption is that these other stories borrowed from Adam and Noah. And that the stories were confused along with language at the Tower of Babel.

    I’m not sure why most people assume that there was no other writing or communication going on in the world. Just because we haven’t discovered it yet doesn’t mean it didn’t exist or occur. Just think of it this way. If you personally recorded what you did every day that would be a good sized book every year. But quite frankly who cares? All it is is paper. Good for starting fires and wiping things up.

    People in the past (or for that matter most of those in the present) didn’t have the same reverence for all things old that many have today. That beautiful marble and stone building the Greeks built, heck easy material for my new Roman villa. All that precut stone on the face of the Great Pyramid, good material for the walls to protect my city.

    Just think of all that has been lost. But also think of all that lies in the vaults and storage areas around the world. Read “How the Irish Saved Civilization” or check in on the Associates in Biblical Research’s project to photograph books from the Orthodox Church’s archive. Can you imagine what is “lost” in the Vatican’s storage areas?

  21. Let’s go back to consulscipio236’s comment about culture and religion.

    I heard a very interesting segment by Dennis Prager with BR Myers about his book The Cleanest Race: How the North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters. It is American Conservative University Podcast 559. Also available through iTunes and at Dennis Prager’s site. Podcast 558 is also about North Korea. Timely because of recent events.

    Back to how this relates to consulscipio236’s comment. As mentioned sometimes what we think of as a religion is not viewed that way by that culture. When we look at North Koreans we have trouble understanding them. We see a failed communist regime. We see a successful capitalist society in South Korea. In WW2 we saw Japanese willing to die for their emperor and commit, in our view, inhuman acts on non-Japanese.

    In this podcast Myers points out that the Koreans (and I believe the Japanese) view themselves (though not each other) as the purest race and all other races as inferior.

    If you can wrap your mind around that point of view you can begin to understand why the Japanese acted the way they did in WW2 and why the North Koreans act the way they do now. Their leader is their “god.”

    It is important to understand a person’s culture. While my nickname while on a mission trip was mono-cultural Mitch, I now try to understand other cultures.

    Of course I never forget that there are absolutes, and right and wrong that transcend all cultures.

  22. BlackCat57 & Father Robert,

    Feel free to substitute “supernatural book” for “magic book.”

  23. Indeed myself as born Irish Roman Catholic, in the land of Saints, Scholars & Kings, of course Ireland, I tend toward a kind of scholasticism, but now I tend to press this thru a Reformed Protestant Scholasticism, rather than the Roman. So as Michael and BlueCat (Mitch), I have my own presuppositions. Which are certainly cultural, western, and from my time of the Baby Boomers. And as CMP, “my faith is not perfect”, and as stated, “only in eternity will I have my faith fully vindicated.” But, it is as I feel certainly providential! So is not our faith and salvation, a “common” or shared reality as ‘In Christ’? (Jude 1:3) Myself, I really think it is! And this brotherhood of redemption ‘In Christ’ is very much a common or “communis” (Latin), thing itself. Though always personal and individual. But always as Paul said and wrote, a commonwealth and citizenship (politeia, Gk.) as ‘In Christ’.

  24. @Vinny, Indeed the Holy Scripture is a book of God’s “supernatural” power and intervention, but only for the People of God, those in “covenant” with God In Christ, both Jew & Gentile! The “Book” (Bible) means nothing (in this life) really to those who don’t believe. But as God’s revelation, it will in the next, or eternity!

  25. So Vinny you are a naturist and don’t believe in the supernatural. Is that right?

    If so, I’m curious as to why you read the Parchment and Pen blog.

  26. BlueCat57,

    I have found methodological naturalism to be the most reliable way to make sense of the world around me. In my knowledge and experience, the overwhelming majority of supernatural claims are the product of some combination of human foibles like ignorance, gullibility, wishful thinking superstition, and prevarication. I know of no objective method of determining that any particular supernatural claim is the product of an actual supernatural event. Neither am I aware of any way to establish conclusively that none ever has been.

    I started reading blogs like this a few years back after some supernaturalists in my community began agitating to have my children’s high school curriculum altered to conform to principles which they believed to have been supernaturally revealed in the Bible.

  27. Father Robert,

    When an American President pursues a disastrous war of choice in the Middle East based in part on his interpretation of biblical prophecy, I think the meaning of the Bible is no longer confined to the hereafter.

  28. Vinny,

    I am a Brit, but I am in America right now, but what American president would that be? And any person that reads his Bible, and believes it, can see that “Israel”, and this would be a Modern and National Israel, does play a very central role in any Eschatological and End time scenario. Of course people that don’t believe in the authority and prophetic nature of Holy Scripture will not understand any of this, and no doubt will reject this, as it appears you do. It is rather historical, in the last 60 years or so (really even before in so-called Palestine, the territory in the region – and not a so-called people) that Modern Israel, has been very central in the Middle East, as we see today.

  29. @Vinny: Also note here what a British PM, and himself a Fulfilled Jew said: “The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.” (Benjamen Disraeli, 1804-1881)

  30. Vinny, Fr. Robert – You guys are killing me! Please carefully read my last post again.

  31. @BlueCat,

    I am an old Irishman now, what did I miss? ;)

  32. My very good and highly respected friend sent me this link. Over the past few years he has become far more spiritual in Christianity. I definately respect him for his spritual and leadership growth, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the doctrine. Throughout our professional careers we have had many “Leadership” studies (alla Bible Studies). Here is what I wrote to him, regarding this article…

    The very last statement was all that really mattered. In the end, “sacrifice every moment in service to Jesus” is the key tenant. I suppose Christianity fits people of all shapes and sizes and there are people like C Michael Patton who want to approach it as intellectually as possible. However, I think that does a disservice to Christianity to try to “compete” with the scientific principles to explain a Relational God versus a Deist (Clockmaker) God. Maybe I’m not qualified to speak on it, but I look at Chrisitianity as the ULTIMATE LEADERSHIP Book. I would never try to empirically prove Stephen Covey or John Maxwell from a scientific perspective. I have “faith” that this is the best way to lead a good life (FOR ME). I don’t need those principles to be scientifically proven to believe they work for me to treat people well, and be healthy and happy.

    Well “The Bible” is an entire culture and multiple generations of tried and true leadership principles to follow. By trying to “disprove” Aetheism, Pantheism it might make his faith stronger, but I think it really only accentuates his self-doubt (as he insinuates). His logical progression was very easy to refute scientifically, but unfortunately he opened himself up to that, by going down that path. He should simply have “faith” that he is trying to be as Christ-like as possible. But he should NEVER rest of those laurels. While imperfect, he should try to be a better Christian every day of his life, hence “sacrifice every moment in service to Jesus”.

  33. On Israel – Here is a good article on the topic. Speaker Gingrich’s “Newtonian” logic » the Jerusalem Connection Blog – BY VICTOR SHARPE

    I’m going to check to see if CMP has posted on Preterism/Dispensationalism. That makes a big difference on one’s view of Israel.

    Vinny – if you haven’t heard of Preterism then check out Gary DeMar at American Vision. Gary North may also be of interest to you. He would cover Dominionism and related topics. Both are big on home schooling so their viewpoints may be of interest to you as well for that reason.

    I too try to read a variety of blogs to get different viewpoints. It can be tough to sometimes to just accept that it will be a learning experience. I applaud your efforts.

  34. Vinny writes:

    When an American President pursues a disastrous war of choice in the Middle East based in part on his interpretation of biblical prophecy…

    And you were talking about verifiable claims? I see you have your own areas where you’re willing to believe whatever the common sentiment is, regardless of evidence. Your use of “disasterous” alone exposes your bias.

  35. Fr. Robert – Did you ever watch Monarch of the Glen? Duncan rented out the campground to a group of naturists thinking they were naturalists. I’ve been waiting years for an opportunity to use that “mistake.”

  36. Blue-Cat, I missed that, but sounds interesting?

  37. Fr. Robert – I guess I watch too much BBC America. I thought y’all in the UK called Nudists, Naturists which is easy to confuse with Naturalists (in the Methodological Naturalism sense, not someone who studies nature).

    And I thought that line was going to be my cleverist of the year. I saw you spewing coffee on your keyboard when you read it.

    Oh well – Happy New Year to all!

  38. DaveZ,

    I don’t think that the precise extent to which eschatology influenced Bush’s thinking can be verified, but I’m persuaded that Rumsfeld wouldn’t have covered his intelligence briefings on Iraq with biblical quotes if he wasn’t confident that they would influence Bush’s reception of the reports. There is also a report that Bush told French President Chirac that the invasion of Iraq would thwart Gog and Magog which I think was corroborated by the priest that Chirac called because he didn’t know who Gog and Magog were.

    The word “disastrous” may reflect my bias, but it also reflects my analysis.

  39. BlueCat,

    I think I have seen the term “naturist” used to refer to nudists, but I did not make the connection when you used it. I just assumed that it was one of those words like “scientism” that conservative Christians like to use to describe the thinking of skeptics.

  40. Blue-Cat, I rarely watch TV, save FOX News! (BBC? whats that, kidding of course) ;) Btw, I am an old conservative both biblically and politically! Well at least from the British perspective. I am baffled by some American conservatives, like Ron Paul? He reads the American Constitution like a fundamentalist! Btw, have you seen the I read it for information, but I am classic Historic Pre-Mill and a PD, with the likes of Irenaeus somewhat.

  41. Btw, Vin, I am an Old Earth Creationist, and follow something of the Framework idea. The first chapters of Genesis are foremost “theological” for me. My father was a scientist and physicist, and moderate Roman Catholic, but a real Catholic Christian Theist.

  42. Vin, I think ya need to go back to Reagan myself, now there was a guy who fought the evil of the “Bear”, and won somewhat. But sadly, the Bear is alive and well yet today! Of course I think ya need to be concerned about what is on the horizon, with many of the enemies of the so-called Free World! But then I am an old combat vet myself. History, especially military repeats itself!

  43. This world (as well as it’s inhabitants) is not progressing…but coming to an end.

    There is no fixing ourselves or this pride-soaked world.

    It needs a Savior. And thanks be to God that we have One in Christ Jesus.

  44. @Steve: Amen! This world system is under judgment and the wrath of God! (Rom. 1:18, etc.) And surely God’s judgment will come!

  45. I followed the link over to the blog: An Apologetic Existence « The Evangelical Calvinist, and read what is going on there. Listen guys, I don’t see how this argument is really all that beneficial. Great fodder for entertainment, but does it edify or clarify anything on what CMP said? Since when does a persons Christological view hinge on a lack of a particular instance of a concept. What is the point of all of this nit picking? Is the lack of a instance the reason to void a concept, totally or in part? Apologetically speaking, I don’t think that any of us have to have it totally together in the first place, both for ourselves, or to others to be used by God for His purposes. Who are we to argue with God. Just look at any biblical character, or ourselves for that matter. Nobody is that smart, albeit pride is one the three areas of sin that nobody is immune of. Tread lightly fellas, we all have our sin issues to contend with, both believers or non-believers alike.

  46. Doc Pagala: Indeed not a good day for me, I was on my laptop, and as I lost a patient today (he died), I do some hospital chaplain work. And then to run into this post at the so-called Evangelical Calvinist, I should have just bowed out, and fought another day. It is so easy for some of these high tower blogs! Very sad really!

  47. You may need to include that the one God, as uncreated, infinite simplicity and that Who grounds being, necessarily needs to be triune in hypostasis to properly create, will, or even know who He is in the first place – the subject (John 1:1), object (Ex. 3:14), and the mind comprehending (1 Cor 2:11) are distinguishable, but are all essentially the singular God. This is not a unique Christian recognition, either, but is something written about in Greek philosophical theism, some denominations of Hinduism, and perhaps later (and early, by some readings of Genesis and the Psalms etc) pre-Christian Judaism.

    The act of creation attendant to the Will of God wasn’t just to wind up and fart out the universe – that’s the Deist mistake. Creation is still contingent – no part of it essentially exists. Their movement in change and the atemporal guiding principle behind such interactions must always be present and active in creation, as well, lest you fall to Hume’s skepticism about both induction and causation as a whole. And bringing about change in being attendant to a goal is precisely what a will is, so that, contrary to Deism, the Creator must be always attendant and ever-present in creation. For me, if something rolls along to somehow falsify Christianity, the triune God of *at least* the Greeks of old would still stand.

    Oh, and don’t forget the importance of Luke 1:38 in the story of Mary’s role. Whatever your soteriology, that angel didn’t just leave after telling her what was to happen – he left only after her willful submission to God’s desire. :)


  1. An Apologetic Existence « The Evangelical Calvinist - December 28, 2011

    […] post is a response to and reflection on C. Michael Patton’s recent post: A Short Defense Of The Christianity (To Myself). He summarizes the gist of his post in his concluding remarks when he writes […]

  2. Christianity & Other Religions | - January 5, 2012

    […] Comments /* */ TweetC. Michael Patton posted two helpful illustrations in his post “A Short Defense of Christianity (to Myself).” They’re worth a […]

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    […] Patton gives a defense of Christianity to him­self. Can you, in your own mind, give a defense for the hope […]

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