The Question, “Did the Disciples Fabricate the Resurrection Story?”

  • One of the common arguments raised against the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “Conspiracy Theory” option. This argument posits the idea that Jesus’ disciples made the whole story up. There was no resurrection, Jesus died, was buried, and the disciples simply began promoting the claim that he had risen.
  • In response to this charge, one must ask, what would be the disciples’ motivation for inventing such a story? In a hostile, first century Jewish religious culture, paired with the political oppression of the Roman Empire, the disciples had nothing to gain by advancing the resurrection story and everything to lose. In fact, tradition says that all but one of the disciples were eventually martyred for their profession that Jesus was the risen Lord.
  • The conspiracy theory option must also explain the radical transformation evidenced in the disciples’ lives shortly after Jesus’ trials and crucifixion. The Gospels report that when Jesus was arrested the disciples fled, went into hiding, and denied knowing him, fearing they might be next (Mark 14:50, 66-72). And yet, shortly after Jesus’ execution, the disciples are boldly and publicly proclaiming him to be the risen Lord (Acts 2:14; 4:8). What could inspire this dramatic change if Jesus had not truly risen?
  • Along with the above problems for the conspiracy theory option, the skeptic who holds this position must also explain Jesus’ empty tomb, the eyewitness testimonies of the risen Jesus, the rapid spread of the early church in a hostile first century context, and the conversion of hardcore persecutors of the faith like Saul (Paul).

For more information on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, please check out Jason Carlson’s chapter, Jesus: Risen for a New Generation in the book Apologetics For A New Generation, available in our online store.

The “Secret” and “Lost” Gospels Missing from the New Testament

  • Over the years numerous so-called “gospels” have been touted by skeptics as being secret or lost gospels that were intentionally or mistakenly left out of the New Testament canon. Some of the more famous examples are the gospels of Thomas, Philip, Judas, and the secret gospel of Mark.
  • These so called “secret” and “lost” gospels were neither secret, lost, nor truly gospels. They were books known to the early church which were rejected for a variety of legitimate reasons.
  • First, most of these books were rejected outright because they lacked any connection to the biblical apostles or their associates.
  • Second, many of these “secret” gospels were actually heretical works promoting the unbiblical philosophy of Gnosticism. Their errors were readily apparent and thereby rightly rejected by the early church.
  • Third, all of these “secret” and “lost” gospels date from the mid-second to fourth centuries. Thus, they were written well after the accepted New Testament gospels, which were completed by the end of the first century.
  • Christians can be confident that the gospels we have in our New Testament today are the true and authentic gospels inspired by the Holy Spirit and recognized by the early church.

For more information on the history and integrity of the biblical canon, please check out the new CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students available in our online store.

The Question, “Did God Create Evil?”

  • Did God create evil?  The Bible says that God is the creator of all things (John 1:3), but it also tells us that God is perfect, faithful, and just (Deuteronomy 32:4). So, how could a perfect God be responsible for evil?
  • God is holy and knows no sin (Psalm 77:13). Thus, he could not create evil. God did, however, create a world where evil was a very real possibility; and he had a good reason for doing so.
  • Evil is the result of God’s sovereign choice to create human beings with free will. God created us to know and experience a genuine love relationship with him, but to know this kind of love required that men and women have the free choice to say “Yes” or “No” to God. Sadly, we chose wrongly.
  • In Genesis chapter 3 Adam and Eve, the original human pair, living in a paradise free of evil, chose to disobey God’s good plan for their lives. That first freely chosen act of disobedience had disastrous consequences, ushering evil into the world.
  • The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 that because of the freely chosen disobedience of Adam and Eve sin and death entered the world. Furthermore, in Romans 8:21-22 Paul states that because of that original sin all of creation is “groaning” and waiting to be “liberated from its bondage to decay”.
  • God did not create evil, but it also didn’t take him by surprise. God is sovereign over all of history (Isaiah 46:9-10). In his gracious love, and in his desire to have genuine relationships of love with his creation, God set a plan in place “before the creation of the world” that would ultimately see sin and evil defeated for all time (1 Corinthians 2: 7-9; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 21 & 22).

For more helpful answers on the problem of evil, please check out the CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students available in our online store.

The Religious Motivation of Islamic Extremists

  • Dastardly terror attacks such as the one that took place in New York City yesterday (Oct. 31) have sadly become a far too common reality around the world. What is the religious motivation driving the Islamic radicals who commit such atrocities?
  • The Islamic holy book, the Koran, contains 109 “war verses” advocating the killing of Jews, Christians, and other infidels (See for example: Surah 8:12-13; Surah 9:5-30,123; Surah 47:4). This is significant, as Muslims believe the words of the Koran come directly from Allah.
  • During his lifetime, Mohammed, the founder and prophet of Islam, ordered or led 73 attacks against non-Muslim Arabs, Jews, and Christians. The example of their prophet is powerful motivation for the Islamic extremist.
  • Islam historically has divided the world into two distinct camps: the dar al harb (house of war) vs. the dar al Islam (house of Islam). Thus, according to Islamic extremists, you are either a Muslim or you are at war with Islam.
  • Islam is a religion of works and entrance into the Islamic paradise must be earned. However, because Allah is capricious by nature there is no assurance of salvation in Islam. The only certain way to gain paradise in Islam is to die as a martyr in jihad or “holy war” for Allah (Surah 4:47; Surah 9:89).

For more information on the history teachings of Islam please check out Dr. Carlson’s DVD lecture, The Religion of Islam available in our online store.

The Question, “Where did Cain’s Wife Come From?”

  • Many skeptics have used this question to challenge the Christian’s confidence in the biblical testimony that all of humanity descended from Adam and Eve. The basic claim is that if Cain found a wife in the land of Nod (Genesis 4:16-17) there must have been other populations on earth not descended from Adam and Eve. This challenge can be easily refuted.
  • In Genesis chapter 4 we are told that Adam and Eve conceived 3 sons (Cain, Abel, and Seth). However, in Genesis 5:4 it is further revealed that the original pair “had other sons and daughters.”
  • Given the fact that Adam lived to be 930 years old, it is very likely that Adam and Eve conceived many other sons and daughters. Most of their stories are not told in Scripture, but we see the evidence of their presence. For example, in Genesis 4:14 Cain fears that he will be killed in revenge for murdering Abel. Obviously the most likely to want revenge would be the blood relatives of Abel, the “other sons and daughters”.
  • So, who did Cain marry? Cain would have married one of his sisters. This is consistent with the biblical testimony that, “From one man he (God) made all the nations” (Acts 17:26). This was God’s plan for populating the earth (Genesis 1:28).
  • Modern day fears of biological deformities caused by the marriage of close relatives wouldn’t have been an issue in the early days of the human race. Prior to the full effects of the Fall, the early ancestors of Adam and Eve would have had very few abnormalities in their genetic code.
  • God’s laws prohibiting marriage between close relatives did not come into effect until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18-20), some 2,500 years later. Prior to that time, marriage between close relatives was permitted and of no concern. Even Abraham was married to his half-sister, Sarah (Genesis 20:12).

For more information on God’s plan of creation please check out Dr. Carlson’s DVD lecture entitled, Evolution vs. Creation available in our online store.


  • Buddhism originated in Southeast Asia, but today its popularity is growing worldwide. Many are attracted by the perception that Buddhism is a tolerant religion, others to the hope of inner peace promised by Buddhist meditation techniques.
  • Today there are numerous schools of Buddhist thought. However, the three primary branches are known as Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism. While each of these bears the name “Buddhism”, there are vast differences between them.
  • Despite the diversity within Buddhism, all Buddhists adhere to a basic core of beliefs known as the Four Noble Truths: 1) Life is suffering; 2) Suffering is caused by desire- our attachment to this world of illusion; 3) Freedom from suffering comes by eliminating our desire; 4) Desire can be eliminated by following the Eightfold Path- eight actions and attitudes that can help one find freedom from the endless cycle of reincarnation by attaining liberation or Nirvana.
  • Millions of people have attempted to find peace by following the teachings of Buddhism, but right actions and attitudes cannot save us from the real source of human suffering, our sin and rebellion against a holy God (Romans 3:10-11, 23).
  • True peace and liberation is found only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only Jesus has the ability to free us from our bondage to sin and give us new life, now and for eternity (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:9).

For more information on Buddhism please check out Dr. Carlson’s book Fast Facts On False Teachings available in our online store.


  • Hinduism, native to India, is one of the oldest religions in the world and its philosophical influence is far reaching. For example, in contemporary Western culture Hindu concepts like Karma, Reincarnation, and Yoga are widely embraced.
  • Hindu philosophy is founded upon two main ideas: 1) Monism – everything is one or spiritually interconnected; and 2) Pantheism – everything is god. So, for the Hindu, all is god and all is one.
  • Humanity’s basic problem according to Hinduism is that we’ve lost touch with our divine nature, our spiritual interconnectedness to the impersonal, universal force that is god.
  • Hinduism teaches a concept known as “Maya”, the belief that this physical, material world is an illusion. Humanity is trapped in this world of illusion and caught in an endless cycle of Reincarnation.
  • Reincarnation is based on one’s Karma, where a person’s good and bad deeds will determine how they will be reborn in the next life. Most Hindus believe they will be reincarnated countless times.
  • The goal of every Hindu is to experience liberation from this endless cycle of Reincarnation. This is done by attaining enlightenment, the experience of transcending this world of illusion to become one with the impersonal, universal force they call god.
  • There are three paths to attaining enlightenment in Hinduism: devotion to the gods through idol worship, practicing meditation and yoga, or by ethical living and good deeds.
  • Hinduism is like every other religion that seeks salvation through human effort, it can never provide ultimate deliverance and freedom. Humanity’s problem is not ignorance of our divine nature, it’s our sinful hearts and rebellion against our holy Creator.
  • When witnessing to a Hindu the greatest hope we can offer is that Jesus came to truly free us from our bondage to sin and our fear of the grave. The Christian can know with certainty they’ve been forgiven and will experience eternal life with God.

For more information on the religion of Hinduism please check out Dr. Carlson’s book, Fast Facts on False Teachings, available in our online store.

Modern Day Judaism

  • Many students of the Bible are often confused by the diversity of beliefs found in modern day Judaism.
  • The Jewish faith of biblical times was radically changed in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. From that point on the sacrificial system of Old Testament Judaism was no longer the focal point of the religion.
  • Today there are three main branches of Judaism: Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative.
  • Orthodox Jews believe that by strict adherence to the Mosaic Law one can remain close to God. Orthodox Jews believe that the Jewish Messiah is yet to come and that the temple in Jerusalem will one day be rebuilt and the sacrificial system restored.
  • Reform Judaism (or Liberal Judaism) can be seen as an attempt to adapt the Jewish faith to the modern world. Reform Judaism is primarily concerned with maintaining Jewish cultural identity. Ethical and moral practices are emphasized over ceremonial religion.
  • Conservative Judaism can be understood as a “middle ground” between the two branches mentioned above. Conservative Jews value divine revelation and tradition, but they would say our interpretations of these can change depending on the cultural context.
  • When witnessing to a Jewish person the most important thing to do is point them to the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. Walk them through the numerous Old Testament prophecies pointing to Jesus, show them how Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb of God, and then highlight the truth that Jesus is a risen savior.

For more information on Judaism and witnessing to those of the Jewish faith, please check out the new CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Responding to the Mormon Practice of Baptism for the Dead

  • Mormons practice an unusual ritual in their temples called baptism for the dead. They believe it is possible to save non-Mormons who have died and are in “spirit prison” by having them baptized by proxy today. This is one of the reasons why Mormons are so interested in genealogies.
  • When discussing baptism for the dead with a Mormon it can be helpful to point out the following…
  • Mormons have formed this doctrine upon a single verse of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 15:29. Many Bible scholars disagree over the exact meaning of this reference and thus it is a highly questionable verse to build a major doctrine upon.
  • Show the Mormon that the context of 1 Corinthians 15 has nothing to do with baptism for the dead. Rather, it is an argument for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the future resurrection of believers.
  • Ask the question, “If this is such a central doctrine of true Christianity, why is it not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture?”
  • Read 1 Corinthians 15:29 and point out that this verse says nothing about the act of baptism for the dead producing salvation for the dead.
  • Highlight the fact that there is no historical evidence that baptism for the dead was ever practice by the Church in New Testament times.

For more information about the Mormon Church and witnessing to Mormons, please check out the book Fast Facts on False Teachings, available in our online store.

The Age of the Earth Debate

  • When it comes to issues related to science and the Bible one of the major topics of interest and debate is the age of the earth.
  • The majority of modern-day scientists hold that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old.
  • Many Bible-believing Christians would affirm the popular consensus of an earth that is 4.5 billion years old. These Christians would hold positions that interpret the creation account and genealogies of Genesis in a variety of non-literal ways, allowing for an old earth (e.g. The Gap Theory, Theistic Evolution, Progressive Creationism).
  • Other Bible-believing Christians would argue that the earth is much younger, possibly only 6,000-10,000 years old. These Christians read the creation account and genealogies of Genesis in a more literal manner.
  • Our ministry, Christian Ministries International, holds to a Young Earth Creationist position. We believe that both the Bible and the observable scientific evidence affirm a young earth.
  • When it comes to this debate, however, it is important for Christians to recognize that the age of the earth is not a central doctrine of the Christian faith. Is it an important issue? Yes. Is it a salvific issue or one that strikes at the heart of orthodoxy? No.
  • As we reach out to the unbelieving world we should not allow secondary matters like the age of the earth to distract people from the essential message of the gospel. Some skeptics will use the debate over the age of the earth as a reason to dismiss all of Christianity. We must continue to point them to matters of first priority, their sin and need of a savior.
  • The world is watching how we treat one another as Christians. God’s word says we are to be known by our love (John 13:34-35). We may disagree and debate one another over the age of the earth, but we must strive to do so graciously and in a spirt of brotherly love.

For more information on the age of the earth please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture series, Answering Skeptics’ Questions, available in our online store.