Category: Apologetics

Fake news and false prophets

Touching News On Mobile SmartphoneNews flash: Ireland is now accepting Trump refugees from the U.S.

From our Washington bureau: Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS while secretary of state.

And in sports: The Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

Fake news is everywhere. (Okay, that last story might be true.) And one of the biggest breaking stories of 2016 was the widespread impact of verifiably false news hosted on bogus websites and amplified through social media.

“Yellow journalism” has long been with us — the use of sensationalism and exaggeration to increase a news outlet’s share of the market.

What’s new about today’s fake news is that anyone — not just journalists — can create and disseminate it. Thanks to the Internet and social media, nearly anyone with a smart phone and an imagination can say anything and make it look like reputable journalism.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to minimize the fake news running on his social media platform, while some media outlets are redoubling their efforts to more carefully vet stories, even at the expense of being first with the news.

Even so, consumers of today’s news content should view everything with discernment.
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Did Jesus descend into hell? (part 2)

Save us from the fireThis is the second in a two-part series on the whereabouts of Jesus between His death and resurrection.

In the previous column we addressed different views about where Jesus went between His death and resurrection.

Now, we briefly examine five New Testament passages that in some way touch on the subject. Keep in mind the most biblically faithful view: Jesus neither went to hell (Gehenna) nor to Hades (the temporary abode of the dead) but to heaven after His death.

Acts 2:27 – “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. “(KJV)

In this portion of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he quotes from Ps. 16:10, a psalm of David and a Messianic psalm that Peter applies to Jesus.

The word translated “hell” in the King James rendering of Acts 2:27 is the Greek term Hades, which is similar to the Hebrew word Sheol. In both cases, it is a flexible term that most often refers to the temporary abode of the dead but can mean “grave.”

The New International Version (NIV) translates this, “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” This is preferable because the context emphasizes that Christ rose bodily from the dead as opposed to David, whose body is still there.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) renders this passage, “because you will not leave my soul in Hades, or allow your Holy One to see decay.” This translation acknowledges that David’s soul went to Hades without assigning Jesus’ soul to the same place.
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Why many non-Westerners reject the gospel

Missionaries to Muslims often report resistance to the gospel message – not because Muslims reject Jesus as a great prophet, but because the Qur’an denies the doctrines of original sin and the atonement.

The idea of natural-born sinners runs counter to the Islamic belief that man is basically good but ignorant of Allah’s will. This may be overcome by repeating the shahada – “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” – and by embracing the five pillars of Islam.

In addition, Muslims deny Jesus’ substitutionary death because they cannot believe Allah would allow his second greatest prophet to suffer shame on a Roman cross.

In other words, many Muslims reject the gospel because it does not align with their cultural perspective that stresses shame and honor rather than guilt and innocence.

So, how can Christians, who embrace the doctrines of original sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus, present the gospel cross-culturally? Is it even possible?
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What good is Christian apologetics?

Traffic signsApologetics simply is a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means “a defense.” Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?

Apologetics has at least four practical applications. We may use apologetics to:

Build. There is a positive case to be made for Christianity, and apologetics helps us get there.

The Bible, history, archaeology, and other sources help establish that a real person named Jesus burst onto the scene 2,000 years ago. He claimed deity, performed miracles, spoke the truth, modeled compassion, died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose physically on the third day. His coming to earth was the most important event in human history.

Further, apologetics helps us know who God is; who we are; why there is purpose in life; how we can be restored to a right relationship with our Creator; why we can face death without fear; and what God is doing about evil in the world.

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The Apologist’s Tool Kit

apologists_ebook_iconThank you, Missouri Baptists, for enthusiastically supporting the MBC’s new apologetics ministry. Over the last year, I have been privileged to speak or lead workshops in many churches across the state to help Christians “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3).

Topics have ranged from “How do I know the Bible is true?” to “What do false prophets have in common?”

As many of you know, apologetics simply is “a reasonable defense of the Christian faith.” For followers of Jesus there has never been a more important time to know what we believe, why we believe, and how to share our faith with an increasingly skeptical world.

The apostle Peter urges us to “set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

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