The Compilation of the Bible

  • Much, if not all, of the Old Testament as we know it today was accepted as Scripture in Jesus’ day (Luke 24:44).
  • The historical evidence suggests that by the end of the 1st century A.D. the entire Old Testament that we know today was accepted as Scripture.
  • The New Testament canon was recognized based on strict criteria: 1) they were books written by a known apostle or an associate of an apostle; 2) they were books in wide circulation throughout the early church; and 3) their teachings were consistent with orthodox Christian theology as revealed in other Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures.
  • Internal biblical evidence demonstrates that many of our current New Testament books were accepted as Scripture and in wide circulation throughout the early church (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; and 2 Peter 3:15-16).
  • Ultimately it was God who brought the canon of Scripture together and protected it throughout the centuries by the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit at work in God’s people.

For more information on the remarkable nature of the Bible, please see Dr. Carlson’s lecture titled, The Bible: God’s Word? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

Responding to the Charge that Christianity is Responsible for Many Historical Evils

  • Many critics of Christianity will point to historical episodes like the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, or Salem Witch Trials as examples of great historical evils perpetrated by Christianity.
  • As Christians we can agree that evils occurred in these various examples, but we must also point out that these evils were in no way consistent with the teachings of biblical Christianity.
  • Just because a historical event may have been carried out in the name of Christianity doesn’t mean it’s a reflection of true Christianity. True Christianity must be judged on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament alone.

For more information on responding to challenges against Christianity, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The Reality and Nature of Miracles

  • The Naturalistic worldview denies the possibility of miracles as it denies the reality of God and the supernatural. However, this denial is a philosophical assumption of faith.
  • If God exists supernatural miracles are possible. If God is personal and loving, as the Bible declares, supernatural miracles are probable.
  • The existence of the universe, out of nothing, is the greatest miracle ever. There is no Naturalistic explanation for it.
  • The Bible contains stories of hundreds of miraculous events. However, it's important to remember that the Bible covers thousands of years of human history. Miracles were as incredible and unique in biblical times as they are today.
  • The biblical accounts of Jesus' miracles were written in such close proximity to his lifetime that it is highly improbable that these were legendary accretions into the text.

For more information on the reality of miracles, the nature of God, and the worldview of Naturalism, please see Dr. Carlson's book, Fast Facts On False Teachings, available in our online store.

God’s Commands for Israel to Kill the Canaanites – Where’s the Love?

  • Many critics of Christianity argue that God’s commands in the Old Testament for Israel to kill the Canaanites contradict his teachings on love and forgiveness in the New Testament. How can these seemingly competing realities be reconciled?
  • The answer lies in the nature and character of God. God is holy and just and cannot tolerate sin (Romans 1:18). At the same time, God is gracious and compassionate and wants none to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
  • When God commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites in the Old Testament we see God’s holiness, justice, and judgment. The Canaanites were one of the most perverse cultures in history, committing many abominations in God’s eyes, including child sacrifice (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). In his grace, God had allowed the Canaanites over 400 years to repent, but they persisted in their sin (Genesis 15:16). Therefore, God used the Israelites as his instrument of judgment against them.
  • God is not partial when it comes to violations of his righteous standards. In fact, in the Old Testament we see God judge Israel by the very same standards that he judged the Canaanites; and when Israel persisted in their sin and rebellion against God, God used foreign nations as his instruments of judgment against them (2 Kings 17:16-20).
  • While it is true that in the person of Jesus Christ we see the greatest demonstration of God’s grace and love. It is simply not the case that the New Testament does not equally portray God’s holiness, justice, and judgment against sin.
  • The paramount example of God’s holiness, justice, and judgment against sin in the New Testament is found in Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross, where Jesus took upon himself God’s wrath against fallen humanity’s sin because of his great love for us (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; 1 John 3:16).
  • We also see God’s holiness, justice, and judgment against sin in God’s prophetic revelation about the end of this present age. God’s word is clear that he will one day eradicate sin and rebellion completely (Revelation 20-22). This final judgment will be the most fearsome experience of God’s righteousness the world has ever seen.
  • Thus, the most important question anyone could ask is, “Where do I stand with our holy God?” If you’re not sure, please read John 3:16-18 and put your trust in Jesus.

For more information on the nature and character of God, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, What is God Like? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

Killing in the Bible in Light of God’s Command, “Thou Shall Not Kill”

  • A common challenge from critics of Christianity is that the Bible is inconsistent when God says, “Thou shall not kill”, but then we find God’s people involved in killings and warfare throughout its pages. In reply…
  • It’s important to first note that “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13) is not the most accurate translation of the Hebrew text. Most contemporary English translations use the more appropriate word, “murder”. A proper translation here is crucial.
  • Throughout the Bible God makes a distinction between killing and murder. Murder is the wrongful taking of another human life, which God condemns universally (Genesis 9:5-6). Killing, however, is biblically justifiable in cases of capital punishment (Exodus 21:12-14) and in certain instances of warfare. In fact, Paul reminds us that governments have been ordained by God and possess the power to bear the sword to punish wrongdoers (Romans 13).
  • Many of the references to God’s people killing and engaging in warfare in the Old Testament are in the context of God establishing and preserving the nation of Israel within the Promised Land.
  • As the Creator and sustainer of all, God directs the affairs of humanity to bring about his will (Acts 17:24-26); and at times throughout history this has involved killing and warfare.
  • The question then becomes, how is the God-ordained killing and warfare found in the Bible consistent with God’s grace and love? We’ll address this question in next week’s Fast Facts.

For more helpful answers to challenging skeptics’ questions, please see the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Why We Cannot Earn Our Salvation

  • Salvation is a gift of grace that we receive through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • We are justified, or made right in God’s eyes, through faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law (Galatians 2:16).
  • Jesus removed the debt we owed, and its obligations, through his death on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15).
  • The Bible declares that human efforts to obtain our own righteousness are misguided (Romans 10:1-3).
  • Jesus taught that outer works of righteousness don’t address the inner, spiritual problem of our sin (Matthew 23:25-28).

For more information on the incredible nature of the gift of salvation available through Jesus Christ, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, World Religions & the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ available in MP3 or CD in our online store.

The Extra-Biblical Testimony for Jesus Christ

  • While the four Gospels are the primary records of the life of Jesus Christ, there are many other early references to Jesus outside of the Bible that corroborate the Bible’s testimony.
  • There is the witness of ancient historians such as Tacitus (1st century), Josephus (1st century), Thallus (1st century), and Suetonius (early 2nd century). All of who confirm aspects of Jesus’ life and death, as well as the existence of early worshippers of Christ.
  • A number of Roman government officials mention Jesus and the beliefs and practices of the early Christian church which led to their persecution, such as Pliny the Younger (early 2nd century), Emperor Trajan (early 2nd century), and Emperor Hadrian (early 2nd century).
  • Lucian of Samosata (2nd century) was a Greek writer who critiqued early Christianity. His critique highlights that Jesus was crucified, that Christians worshipped Jesus, that Christians believed in immortality, and that they were devoted to Jesus’ teachings.
  • Within the Jewish Talmud (1st-2nd Century) there is a reference in “Sanhedrin 43a” to Jesus’ crucifixion on the eve of Passover as a result of charges of sorcery and blasphemy.
  • There are a number of other early references to Jesus Christ and early Christianity as well.
  • The extra-biblical testimony to the life of Jesus Christ, the reality of his crucifixion, and the fact that early Christians worshipped him as the resurrected Lord is more extensive than many people often realize.
  • This extra-biblical testimony is positive affirmation for the historical reliability of the biblical record of Jesus Christ.

For more information on the historicity of Jesus Christ and early Christianity, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Advent Apologetics – What About Santa Claus?

  • The name Santa Claus is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name, Sinterklaas, which means, “Saint Nicholas”.
  • While today’s popular depictions of Santa Claus are clearly mythological, Nicholas was a real and very interesting historical figure. Nicholas was the 4th century Bishop of Myra, a city in present day Turkey.
  • Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift giving. For example, he was known to leave coins for people to find inside of their shoes.
  • Not only was Nicholas a generous gift giver, but he was also one of the Bishops present at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. where the biblical doctrine of the Trinity was defended and explained.
  • Tradition states that Nicholas was actually so upset by the heresy being promoted by Arius (the Arian heresy denied the deity of Jesus Christ) that he actually slapped him across the face during the council and was arrested. He later apologized and was freed.
  • Nicholas of Myra is an interesting figure in early church history and his story is worth sharing. It can even open up terrific witnessing opportunities with non-Christians when the topic of Santa Claus comes up at Christmastime.
  • As for our popular cultural depictions of Santa Claus, while the story of Santa can be fun and harmless, Christian parents should teach their children about the true nature of Santa Claus at an appropriate age.
  • Santa Claus and God can be easily confused in the minds of young children. Therefore, it is essential that Christian parents distinguish the fictitious Santa from the real God. God is the One who truly is omniscient and omnipresent; and He has given us the greatest Christmas gift of all (John 3:16)!

Advent Apologetics – December 25th as the Date of Christmas

  • There is no historical evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. However, while this date is improbable it is not impossible. A springtime date, though, better fits the gospel accounts of the birth of Christ. So, where does the December 25th date for Christmas come from?
  • Historical evidence shows Christians observing December 25th as the date of Christ’s birth as early as the 200’s A.D. However, the first official Christmas celebration occurred on December 25, 336 A.D. after Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.
  • The most likely reason the early Church chose December 25th as the date to celebrate Christ’s birth was simply because of the metaphorical significance of the winter solstice to the arrival of the Messiah (i.e. the idea of light, new life, etc.).
  • It is also possible the Church chose December 25th as a rival to certain pagan religious practices in the Roman Empire that were centered on the winter solstice and the “birth” of their sun gods (Saturnalia, Mithra, Sol Invictus, etc.).
  • Some Christians become concerned when considering the possibility that our December 25th celebration of Christmas might have any association with pagan religious practices, even if as a rival.
  • However, while it is right to be concerned as Christians about syncretism with non-Christian religious practices, we must also remember that the Church has historically viewed the reshaping of culture as a positive endeavor.
  • When it comes to our celebration of Christmas on December 25th, like Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), we can affirm that, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”

Give the gift of apologetics this Christmas! We’ve got some great resources, like the book, Apologetics For A New Generation, available in our online store.

Advent Apologetics – Prophecies of the Messiah

  • Advent is the season in which the Church celebrates the coming of the Messiah into the world, an event that was prophesied for over 4,000 years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • In Genesis 3:15 God reveals that the Messiah would be of the seed of a woman. This was significant because every other human is of the seed of a man, but the Messiah would have no biological, earthly father.
  • In Genesis 12 God makes a covenant with Abraham, telling him that he would become the father of a great nation and through his offspring all the peoples of the world would be blessed.
  • In Genesis 49:10 when Jacob (Israel) blesses his sons it is revealed that Judah would be the tribe of kings and through his line the Messiah would ultimately come.
  • In 2 Samuel 7 God tells David that the throne of his offspring would be established forever. The Messiah, Jesus, was from the line of David (Matthew 1).
  • In Micah 5:2 God reveals that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and he would be “from of old, from ancient times”. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2) and he declared his divine origin (John 8:58) as the Ancient of Days.
  • In Isaiah 7:14 God tells the house of David (king Ahaz) that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and would be given the name, Immanuel, meaning, “God is with us”.
  • All of these prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. God had foretold His plan for the salvation of the world going back to the Garden of Eden. And as the apostle Paul records in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son”.

For more information on the incredible prophecies of the Messiah, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.