CARM is one of the best Apologetics Resources

rakovsky

Member
Congratulations on getting the Forum back up.
I think that CARM is one of the best Apologetics resources online. CARM has a forum, a radio program, and tons of articles. What other ones can you think of that are comparable? The other one that comes to mind is the Tektonics website.

On the Forum, before it went down, I discussed the basic path of faith, like how the process works and whether one should evaluate religious claims based on inspiration and emotions or aim for objective arguments.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Congratulations on getting the Forum back up.
I think that CARM is one of the best Apologetics resources online. CARM has a forum, a radio program, and tons of articles. What other ones can you think of that are comparable? The other one that comes to mind is the Tektonics website.
Interesting. Never heard of tektonics before. Thank you.


On the Forum, before it went down, I discussed the basic path of faith, like how the process works and whether one should evaluate religious claims based on inspiration and emotions or aim for objective arguments.
Do you happen to recall it? It'd be nice to repost what you do recall of it. (I've done that in the past, and as I begin to work through my thoughts, while typing them out, I've found God will give me recall on those parts which are most important).
I know I've kicked myself in the derriere a few times because I never thought about saving what I've posted prior to its being lost to the annals of the depths of the internet.

Welcome to the new forum.
 

rakovsky

Member
Do you happen to recall it? It'd be nice to repost what you do recall of it.
I used Archive.org or Google Cache to find my old posts, and I posted one of the threads here:
 

SteveB

Well-known member
I used Archive.org or Google Cache to find my old posts, and I posted one of the threads here:
hmm..... ok. while I'm familiar with both sources, I've never considered that before.
What was the process/search parameters you used?
 

rakovsky

Member
SteveB,
Thanks for writing.
I guess that you are the same person as ISteveBMe who responded to the conversation on the old forum. It might have been a year ago, so that you don't remember it, in that case.

When you write "What was the process/search parameters you used?", what did you mean by search parameters? Do you mean to ask me what process I used in trying to evaluate miracle claims, and what parameters/factors did I use in searching for the truth of the miracles?

Certainly it depends on the type of the miracle. To give you a general answer as to what typically I would use for religious groups other than my own, I would point to the article that I wrote on comparing the Charismatic movement to the Orthodox Christian Church. To clarify, the Orthodox Church is generally not a "Charismatic" church like the Pentecostals, and typically has differed from them.

Modern Charismatic Movement Similar to Charismaticism in the Early Church?​

In that article, I considered the question open when we come to some miracle, so that it can have different sources. For instance, the miracle could be a natural event mistaken for a miracle, or it could be made up, or it could be an illusion (some Charismatic preachers use sleight of hand), or it could be a real miracle that uses divine forces even if the particular Charismatics sects' theology is wrong. For instance, there could be divine energy, and God allows believers, even with wrong theology, to use this power. One idea is that sects with some wrong theology still have some right theology. Another potential answer that some people give is that the "miracles" are not actually positive divine events, but rather from demonic forces. I don't really have an answer for those cases, but I tend to disagree with the "demonic" answer. If we are talking about casting out demons or healings, then if it's a real miracle, then the positive nature of it would not make it appear demonic.

When you are talking about the Pentecostals' speaking in tongues, it seems to me as a rational thinking person that the "tongues" are not "miracles" or some special event. Pretty much any person can babble a line of words that pops into their head, and then just let their mind "run with it" if they let it happen. In the case of the Pentecostals, it looks like they are mistaking this ability for a divine miracle.

With basic Christianity, on the other hand, you are talking about an inspiring event that gives people hope, like with Jesus' resurrection. So people like myself have inspiration from that. Plus, we were raised with it and live in a society where some form of Christianity is the most common organized, open religion. Plus, basic Christianity has spiritual and moral truths, like the Afterlife, morality, the Sermon on the Mount, Christ's love, and it isn't just one single miracle, the Resurrection or Virgin Birth. So evaluating the main Christian miracles puts me in a different situation or standpoint than when trying to evaluate whether any Tibetan monks actually have ever levitated. It's much different to try to categorize Jesus' resurrection in that way. Because when you look at the Virgin Birth and say that this kind of thing doesn't happen to humans in the real world, and then conclude that it didn't happen then either, the implication becomes that someone made up the Virgin Birth story and then Matthew and Luke and probably the Christian leaders of the apostolic era presented it as real without enough evidence at best. And if that's true for the Virgin Birth, then the idea that Jesus is God also falls away, and discredits the Gospel, despite its other moral truths, emphasis on honesty, self-sacrifice, love. And then I am stuck with the fact that I believe that some Christian miracles are real, like OT prophecies of Christ. The psychological, spiritual, and moral contradictions involved become like dicing an onion in 10 seconds and then putting it next to your eyes or something.

So to answer your question as it applies to my own religion's basic miracle claims, I don't have an easy clear answer because of the personal factors involved. In a way, it's something that I look to discuss on the forum, or why I read CARM.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
SteveB,
Thanks for writing.
I guess that you are the same person as ISteveBMe who responded to the conversation on the old forum. It might have been a year ago, so that you don't remember it, in that case.

When you write "What was the process/search parameters you used?", what did you mean by search parameters? Do you mean to ask me what process I used in trying to evaluate miracle claims, and what parameters/factors did I use in searching for the truth of the miracles?

Certainly it depends on the type of the miracle. To give you a general answer as to what typically I would use for religious groups other than my own, I would point to the article that I wrote on comparing the Charismatic movement to the Orthodox Christian Church. To clarify, the Orthodox Church is generally not a "Charismatic" church like the Pentecostals, and typically has differed from them.

In that article, I considered the question open when we come to some miracle, so that it can have different sources. For instance, the miracle could be a natural event mistaken for a miracle, or it could be made up, or it could be an illusion (some Charismatic preachers use sleight of hand), or it could be a real miracle that uses divine forces even if the particular Charismatics sects' theology is wrong. For instance, there could be divine energy, and God allows believers, even with wrong theology, to use this power. One idea is that sects with some wrong theology still have some right theology. Another potential answer that some people give is that the "miracles" are not actually positive divine events, but rather from demonic forces. I don't really have an answer for those cases, but I tend to disagree with the "demonic" answer. If we are talking about casting out demons or healings, then if it's a real miracle, then the positive nature of it would not make it appear demonic.

When you are talking about the Pentecostals' speaking in tongues, it seems to me as a rational thinking person that the "tongues" are not "miracles" or some special event. Pretty much any person can babble a line of words that pops into their head, and then just let their mind "run with it" if they let it happen. In the case of the Pentecostals, it looks like they are mistaking this ability for a divine miracle.

With basic Christianity, on the other hand, you are talking about an inspiring event that gives people hope, like with Jesus' resurrection. So people like myself have inspiration from that. Plus, we were raised with it and live in a society where some form of Christianity is the most common organized, open religion. Plus, basic Christianity has spiritual and moral truths, like the Afterlife, morality, the Sermon on the Mount, Christ's love, and it isn't just one single miracle, the Resurrection or Virgin Birth. So evaluating the main Christian miracles puts me in a different situation or standpoint than when trying to evaluate whether any Tibetan monks actually have ever levitated. It's much different to try to categorize Jesus' resurrection in that way. Because when you look at the Virgin Birth and say that this kind of thing doesn't happen to humans in the real world, and then conclude that it didn't happen then either, the implication becomes that someone made up the Virgin Birth story and then Matthew and Luke and probably the Christian leaders of the apostolic era presented it as real without enough evidence at best. And if that's true for the Virgin Birth, then the idea that Jesus is God also falls away, and discredits the Gospel, despite its other moral truths, emphasis on honesty, self-sacrifice, love. And then I am stuck with the fact that I believe that some Christian miracles are real, like OT prophecies of Christ. The psychological, spiritual, and moral contradictions involved become like dicing an onion in 10 seconds and then putting it next to your eyes or something.

So to answer your question as it applies to my own religion's basic miracle claims, I don't have an easy clear answer because of the personal factors involved. In a way, it's something that I look to discuss on the forum, or why I read CARM.
I'm not specifically involved in what I'd consider a charismatic church. Nor was I during the time of my ongoing cancer diagnoses, from 1997 through 2004.
In fact, the pastor of the church was more like John MacArthur in his views. He was one of those guys who was convinced that God's Spirit doesn't work today as he did in the bible days.

So, My ongoing healings, or restoration to wholeness kept causing a fair amount of consternation.

He once told me--- Steve, we've never seen anyone who has gone through as much suffering as you, and your family has, so we have no idea what to say, or how to help you.

I only wished I would've had the presence of mind to say--- I don't need you to say anything. I only need you to be there.

God is the same as he was during the bible days. He does the same things. Malachi 3:6, and Hebrews 13:8. Just remember--- yesterday and today were some 1960 to 2450 years ago. So..... we're in the forever part of the--- Jesus/God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.....


It's not about charismania, or chandelier swingers.

It's just about following Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews tells us in Heb 12:1-2.....
Keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, who authored, and who will finish our faith.
 

rakovsky

Member
I'm not specifically involved in what I'd consider a charismatic church. Nor was I during the time of my ongoing cancer diagnoses, from 1997 through 2004.
In fact, the pastor of the church was more like John MacArthur in his views. He was one of those guys who was convinced that God's Spirit doesn't work today as he did in the bible days.

So, My ongoing healings, or restoration to wholeness kept causing a fair amount of consternation.

He once told me--- Steve, we've never seen anyone who has gone through as much suffering as you, and your family has, so we have no idea what to say, or how to help you.

I only wished I would've had the presence of mind to say--- I don't need you to say anything. I only need you to be there.

God is the same as he was during the bible days. He does the same things. Malachi 3:6, and Hebrews 13:8. Just remember--- yesterday and today were some 1960 to 2450 years ago. So..... we're in the forever part of the--- Jesus/God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.....


It's not about charismania, or chandelier swingers.

It's just about following Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews tells us in Heb 12:1-2.....
Keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, who authored, and who will finish our faith.
It sounds like you are saying that the pastor was kind of a strict version of Macarthur, so that the idea of a miracle or surprising healing would go against his worldview.

My sense from reading the NT is that there was alot of miracle-working in that time, so that a woman touched Jesus' cloak and He felt His power go out and she got healed. Or the apostles spoke in tongues and did similar miracles like healings.

The Church by the time of St. Augustine (4th century AD) seemed to take the view that these kinds of experiences were alot less frequent.

Then in the time of Calvin you had the 16th Century Age of Discovery. Augustine had figured that since people across the Atlantic couldn't get the Gospel preached to them, there must not be anyone living there. But in the Discovery of America, it turned out that there was a whole continent of people on the other side of the world. There seemed to be more emphasis on what we today think of as natural science.

Calvin in the 16th Century took the view that miracle-working as they happened in the Bible times had "ceased." Calvin used criteria of ridiculousness and skepticism and "anti-superstition" and "the natural order" to decide that medieval miracles like relics were fake. Luther disagreed with Calvin on much of this, but commonly today Reformed Protestantism carries on the heritage of Calvin on these topics. For instance, keeping saints' relics would probably be treated with derision as "Catholic" and "superstition."

A big problem that is typically missed in Calvin's approach to miracles (The Real Presence, the Eucharist, saints' miracles, relics, etc.), is that if this kind of approach was applied to the Bible, the implication is that Calvin's criteria would also be Skeptical about the Biblical events. So for instance, if you are going to reject Saints' relics with the criteria that physical matter can't carry any miraculous power and that the relics are at best just a waste, and idolatry at worst, then you have the problem of judging Paul passing out cloths that had touched his body for healings. If you use the criteria of "natural order" and anti-"superstition" to judge the Resurrection and Virgin Birth, then it looks like those things didn't happen either, as Paul himself calls Christ's killing and Resurrection "foolishness to the Greeks", meaning that the story by its nature would sound foolish to gentiles.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
It sounds like you are saying that the pastor was kind of a strict version of Macarthur, so that the idea of a miracle or surprising healing would go against his worldview.
He didn't believe that tongues, or the "generally accepted gifts of the Spirit" were for today.
By the time I left, he had come to the place where he believed that tongues were used for preaching the gospel.
I think my recurrent cancer, and recoveries were working on him.

My sense from reading the NT is that there was alot of miracle-working in that time, so that a woman touched Jesus' cloak and He felt His power go out and she got healed. Or the apostles spoke in tongues and did similar miracles like healings.
Yeah.... Ever heard of Nik Ripken?
He's a missionary, who has written a couple of books on his work in asian, and African countries.
The Insanity of God
The Insanity of Obedience.
I encourage you to read them. They're both quite good.

The Church by the time of St. Augustine (4th century AD) seemed to take the view that these kinds of experiences were alot less frequent.
Perhaps they were. I think that the gospel had spread sufficiently far by then that those who'd been in the middle of centuries old works of God had become sufficiently ensconced as to no longer "believe" that God needed to do anything, so suffered the same as what Jesus saw--- "he didn't do many mighty works because of their unbelief..."
But, out along the fringes, God was still doing what God does--- the miraculous.


Then in the time of Calvin you had the 16th Century Age of Discovery. Augustine had figured that since people across the Atlantic couldn't get the Gospel preached to them, there must not be anyone living there. But in the Discovery of America, it turned out that there was a whole continent of people on the other side of the world. There seemed to be more emphasis on what we today think of as natural science.
Those are past ages, upon which we who now live, "stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, allowing us to see farther, and do greater things because of what they developed for us."
The past should be this. We can see more, so we can do more. It should never limit us to stop us from dreaming bigger, greater, and more.
God has limited himself to our trust in him to grow, learn, and understand. But there appears to be a time coming when he will no longer limit himself to what we will believe him to do-- which is why the Revelation describes angels flying through the heavens, crying out the everlasting gospel.

Calvin in the 16th Century took the view that miracle-working as they happened in the Bible times had "ceased." Calvin used criteria of ridiculousness and skepticism and "anti-superstition" and "the natural order" to decide that medieval miracles like relics were fake. Luther disagreed with Calvin on much of this, but commonly today Reformed Protestantism carries on the heritage of Calvin on these topics. For instance, keeping saints' relics would probably be treated with derision as "Catholic" and "superstition."
Yeah. sounds like the kind of christianity that I grew up with..... God's all done working, so you're just too little, too late. A day late, and a dollar short.
I always felt cheated, and that if I'd only been born sooner, I could've enjoyed what had taken place in those stories, but now I just have to be content with what others experienced before me.
Thankfully, God is not done working, and is still working, and building his kingdom in the hearts of men and women and children who will believe him, and his word.


A big problem that is typically missed in Calvin's approach to miracles (The Real Presence, the Eucharist, saints' miracles, relics, etc.), is that if this kind of approach was applied to the Bible, the implication is that Calvin's criteria would also be Skeptical about the Biblical events. So for instance, if you are going to reject Saints' relics with the criteria that physical matter can't carry any miraculous power and that the relics are at best just a waste, and idolatry at worst, then you have the problem of judging Paul passing out cloths that had touched his body for healings. If you use the criteria of "natural order" and anti-"superstition" to judge the Resurrection and Virgin Birth, then it looks like those things didn't happen either, as Paul himself calls Christ's killing and Resurrection "foolishness to the Greeks", meaning that the story by its nature would sound foolish to gentiles.
Which is why I keep learning the bible, and keep praying so I can learn how to see God at work, even when it seems too natural to perceive.
 

rakovsky

Member
Steve,
I don't remember if I heard of the Ripkins earlier, but I read an overview of The Insanity of God.
I want to ask you what they meant by the title. Did they mean that they were staying in a tough place, Somalia, and the concept of God felt alien to the situation that they were in, so that it felt sometimes insane to continue belief?

The problem one faces in those situations and what it sounds like they mean is a "Theodicy". Namely, God is all God, so how could he allow such a bad situation?
A common Christian answer is the Creation Story where Adam ate the Forbidden Fruit. It seems that some angels fell even before Adam, since Satan tempted Adam.

So you could ask how could God create angels who fell or whom He allowed to fall? And a common answer is that God gave his creations free will as a gift out of love instead of making them robotic.

I want to clarify what I was saying about the process of Christians' ideas on miracles like healings. I get a sense in the Bible that Jesus or Paul would go someplace and heal people he found there. A woman touched Jesus' robe and Paul gave out cloths from his body in Acts. Augustine and others in his generation 300-400 years later thought that such miracles were now less common but still happened. But they still let relics and sometimes resorted miracles. Then in the 16th Century came the Age of Discovery. Calvin and the nonLutheran Protestants used the Natural Order and criteria of anti-superstition to say that those kinds of miracles had "ceased". So today the general Protestant line is that keeping relics like cloths from Holy People like Paul is Catholic style superstition.

This creates a kind of hidden conflict in Protestant thinking on the topic. If a cloth from Paul in 45 AD was involved in miracle working, why wouldn't that cloth from Paul in 2020 AD? The Catholic or Orthodox answer is that it still could be. I think that Protestantism doesn't have an answer. But in general Protestantism would call this idea superstition. As one Protesrant told me, objects don't hold "holiness." The underlying thinking appears to be based on criteria of the natural order and anti-superstition. And if that same criteria were applied to the same kind of Biblical events, the implication would seem to be rejection of the Biblical events.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Steve,
I don't remember if I heard of the Ripkins earlier, but I read an overview of The Insanity of God.
I want to ask you what they meant by the title. Did they mean that they were staying in a tough place, Somalia, and the concept of God felt alien to the situation that they were in, so that it felt sometimes insane to continue belief?
According to 1 Corinthians 1:18-29, Paul describes the foolishness of preaching the gospel. In Hosea 9:7, it talks about how the sin of people would become so great, they'd become increasingly hostile towards all things godly. Moreover, they'd consider the prophet a fool, and the inspired people insane.
The insanity of God is that he's chosen means to make himself known to us which are insane based on our own perspectives.
It's when the suffering of God's People is increased that God's Grace is most profoundly experienced, and people come to Jesus. It's when the people of God suffer, that they experience the Grace of God in ways so utterly profound as to be inescapably obvious to us, and those who know us.
Paul described it in Phil. 3 as the fellowship of his sufferings.


The problem one faces in those situations and what it sounds like they mean is a "Theodicy". Namely, God is all God, so how could he allow such a bad situation?
Habakkuk felt the same. He struggled with how God could allow an evil king, in Nebuchadnezzar, and the Babylonian armies to overthrow Israel, because of Israel's own violations of God's law.

Just because people can come up with ideas to attempt a quantification, or qualification of some biblical concepts does not mean they got it right. It simply means they leaned on their own understanding to do so--- which we're told to not do. Proverbs 3:5-7.
We who follow Jesus are told also to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. While this has long been believed to simply be about our moral conduct, I've learned through the years that it includes our own problem solving skills and thinking processes.
We're then told in Isaiah 55 that God's ways/thoughts are not ours, and as his ways/thoughts are higher than ours, like the difference between earth and heaven.....

So.... we, like Job, need to learn how to trust God, especially when things seem to be going in a manner which is completely antithetical to the ways we hoped they would, or wanted them to go.

We serve God. He is Sovereign.



A common Christian answer is the Creation Story where Adam ate the Forbidden Fruit. It seems that some angels fell even before Adam, since Satan tempted Adam.
that is what is taught in the churches I've always attended, and what I read in the bible too.... when I read the whole bible.
At some point in eternity past, before man inhabited the earth, Lucifer, and a third of the angels in heaven rebelled against YHVH, and then, once God created Adam, Lucifer, who was now satan (the word meaning adversary)/serpent, turned his attention on the humans, to destroy God's plans.
Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, Revelation 12.



So you could ask how could God create angels who fell or whom He allowed to fall? And a common answer is that God gave his creations free will as a gift out of love instead of making them robotic.
God values the freedom to choose. Love cannot exist without freedom to choose. Being a preprogrammed automaton removes the faculty for genuine love to take place.
Love is defined in 1 corinthians 13:4-8.
Patience, kindness, not being boastful, proud, forceful/pushy, demanding. Delighting in Truth, and not taking delight in wrongdoing/iniquity. Love endures, believes in spite of, hopes, and never fails.
This is the kind of Love God has for us, and as it's written in Romans 5--- demonstrated by giving us his son, while we were in direct opposition towards him, and his enemies.

I want to clarify what I was saying about the process of Christians' ideas on miracles like healings. I get a sense in the Bible that Jesus or Paul would go someplace and heal people he found there. A woman touched Jesus' robe and Paul gave out cloths from his body in Acts. Augustine and others in his generation 300-400 years later thought that such miracles were now less common but still happened. But they still let relics and sometimes resorted miracles. Then in the 16th Century came the Age of Discovery. Calvin and the nonLutheran Protestants used the Natural Order and criteria of anti-superstition to say that those kinds of miracles had "ceased". So today the general Protestant line is that keeping relics like cloths from Holy People like Paul is Catholic style superstition.
Generally speaking, I'd agree with the idea of relics somehow having special value not being a good thing. I.e., superstitious.
My medically defined miracles (a gunshot wound in 1978, and cancer from 1997-2004) had nothing to do with relics. They did have to do with God's answer to prayers of mine, friends, loved ones, etc...

I don't think that the miraculous has ceased. I think it's actually become more frequently, and just dispersed so much that it's not as noticeable by people who are not on the inside, where it's taking place.
This is why I encouraged you to read the Ripken books. In the second one--- Insanity of Obedience-- he mentions how that churches in China are experiencing raising people from the dead.
So.... it's not that the miraculous has ceased, it's just not being heard about outside those who are experiencing it.


This creates a kind of hidden conflict in Protestant thinking on the topic. If a cloth from Paul in 45 AD was involved in miracle working, why wouldn't that cloth from Paul in 2020 AD? The Catholic or Orthodox answer is that it still could be. I think that Protestantism doesn't have an answer. But in general Protestantism would call this idea superstition. As one Protesrant told me, objects don't hold "holiness." The underlying thinking appears to be based on criteria of the natural order and anti-superstition. And if that same criteria were applied to the same kind of Biblical events, the implication would seem to be rejection of the Biblical events.
Cloth typically doesn't last for 1955 years.
And considering how popular relics are, I'd be really surprised if it lasted more than a few years.

Consider what took place during the reign of Hezekiah. People had turned the Brass Serpent made by Moses, for the serpent event, into an idol, and so revered it that Hezekiah got really pissed one day, and rebuking the people, said--- nehushtan!
Nehushtan means--- it's a thing of brass.
I.e., it's just brass.

The power does not reside in the object. It resides in God.

Another event was the bones of the prophet, elisha. Apparently there were some guys who were burying a friend, and something happened, so they threw his body into Elisha's grave (I have no idea why it'd been opened up), and the guy jumped up, and have come back to life.

All of these things are about whom God decides to have mercy on, and to whom he will be gracious towards. Just as is written in Exodus 34.

Jesus did after all tell us--- these things you will do, and greater than these.
 

rakovsky

Member
Steve,
Do you think that there are other Apologetics sites at least about as good as CARM's?
W.L. Craig is a well known Apologist who has a site with a forum... but he said things in his Apologetics that he should have known are false, like "all scholars agree on _______". For instance, he wrote: "All NT scholars agree that the gospels were written down and circulated within the first generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses." (https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/historical-jesus/jesus-resurrection/)
But not "all" NT scholars agree on that. Besides, the second half of John 21 seems to imply that it was written after John's lifetime.

On the same page, he writes:
"Even the most skeptical scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. ...

But of course there have been other explanations proffered to account for the resurrection appearances... A. The disciples stole Jesus' corpse and lied about the resurrection appearances. ... The theory has been universally rejected by critical scholars and survives only in the popular press."
I highly doubt that "the most skeptical scholars" and "critical scholars" have a consensus on what he is saying.

So in terms of being well known and educated, W.L. Craig would be comparable to CARM, but it doesn't feel like the material has the same reliability in terms of, how would you put it... I feel like Craig should know better on these points.

I don't want to get sidetracked into negativity on Craig. I am just trying to think of the best sites...
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Steve,
Do you think that there are other Apologetics sites at least about as good as CARM's?
W.L. Craig is a well known Apologist who has a site with a forum... but he said things in his Apologetics that he should have known are false, like "all scholars agree on _______". For instance, he wrote: "All NT scholars agree that the gospels were written down and circulated within the first generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses." (https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/historical-jesus/jesus-resurrection/)
But not "all" NT scholars agree on that. Besides, the second half of John 21 seems to imply that it was written after John's lifetime.

On the same page, he writes:

I highly doubt that "the most skeptical scholars" and "critical scholars" have a consensus on what he is saying.

So in terms of being well known and educated, W.L. Craig would be comparable to CARM, but it doesn't feel like the material has the same reliability in terms of, how would you put it... I feel like Craig should know better on these points.

I don't want to get sidetracked into negativity on Craig. I am just trying to think of the best sites...
There are dozens.
J Warner Wallace (coldcasechristianity.com)
Dr. John Lennox (johnlennox.org)
RZIM (www.rzim.org)
Dr. Clay Jones (clayjones.net)
A lawyer by the name of David Limbaugh, (davidlimbaugh.com) He's Rush Limbaugh's brother
Another lawyer, from the 1800's, Simon Greenleaf. He was a cofounder of Harvard's School of Law.
He wrote a book analyzing the four gospels.
Testimony of the Four Evangelists: using the rules of evidence as administered in courts of justice.
C.S. Lewis

This is enough to get lost in, so I think it'll get you started.

I do however want to warn you.....
Our job as followers of Jesus is to get to know God. God gives us the wisdom to know how to proclaim the gospel.

Here's an article from CS Lewis which dealt with a problem for apologetics, during his lifetime.

It seems to me that most of the problems people have with Christianity, indeed the bible, is their cultural understanding of it.
A lot of people grew up in churches, which had more a cultural version of christianity, than biblical. I've been learning to follow Jesus for 43 years now. I'm 60, so I came to Jesus at 17. It's only been in the last 2 decades that I've found I had a lot of bad ideas, and have had to jettison them, where God is cleansing me of those cultural ideas.
Thankfully, according to Jeremiah 1:10, and 2 Corinthians 10:4-7, he's in the house-cleaning business.
So..... learn to follow Jesus, and be ready to be called upon to jettison genuinely unbiblical ideas, which have the appearance of being religious. We're not called to be "religious" in modern understanding of it. We're called to follow Jesus. And everything we need in following Jesus is given to us, by God. 2 Peter 1:3.
 

rakovsky

Member
Steve,
Thanks for sharing this part:
I think that this is true, but there are cases where it has the opposite effect where apparently good believers who suffer become disenchanted because of the "Theodicy" problem. Like how can God allow so much suffering in cases that the disenchanted people are faced with?

I liked how you were talking about this in your Message #10.

You write:
This creates a kind of hidden conflict in Protestant thinking on the topic. If a cloth from Paul in 45 AD was involved in miracle working, why wouldn't that cloth from Paul in 2020 AD? The Catholic or Orthodox answer is that it still could be. I think that Protestantism doesn't have an answer. But in general Protestantism would call this idea superstition. As one Protesrant told me, objects don't hold "holiness." The underlying thinking appears to be based on criteria of the natural order and anti-superstition. And if that same criteria were applied to the same kind of Biblical events, the implication would seem to be rejection of the Biblical events.
Cloth typically doesn't last for 1955 years.
And considering how popular relics are, I'd be really surprised if it lasted more than a few years.
It sounds like your answer to the question "If a cloth from Paul in 45 AD was involved in miracle working, why wouldn't that cloth from Paul in 2020 AD" is that my question is not relevant because relics from 45 AD don't survive. But as to the situation where a relic did survive....

Your answer seems to be that you would take a derisive view of it working miracles like Hezekiah destroying the brass serpeant:
Nehushtan means--- it's a thing of brass.
I.e., it's just brass.

The power does not reside in the object. It resides in God.
I don't want to be negative toward you. I want to make clear to you the problem, as well as my own challenge. My observation is that if you and other Protestants took your same Skeptical "Natural Order" standpoint toward the Biblical relic miracles as you do to those same kinds of relics as they have been handed down by pre-Protestant Christians, you would also dismiss the Biblical relic stories.

First, it's not true that cloths and bones and relics from 2000 years ago wouldn't survive. Archeologists have found and Carbon-dated and tested what are likely bones of Peter (the Vatican catacombs), Paul, and Luke. You can google this. Some Protestant Apologists believe that the Turin shroud is from the 1st Century AD. I don't know if that's true, but we have lots of relics like that from either Jesus, Mary, or the Apostles. Probably out of all of those relics some are real.

Second, the point of my question was hypothetical in order to show the inner conflict resulting from modern, Protestant Skepticism. The point is that if we did have Elisha's bones or Jesus' robe or Peter's shadow or Paul's cloth, the mentality and approach of naturalistic Protestant Skepticism would treat hat those objects as superstition. To put it another way, if you sent a Protestant back to the First Century and put him in Paul's audience without him knowing that such relic stories were in the Bible, the Protestant would not take an interest in the Biblical relics due to the Protestant attitude to such things.

Third, Hezekiah destroyed the serpeant because supposedly people were treating it like an idol. It was a time when idolatry was common. The Bible does not say that the serpeant of brass in Moses' story was "just brass". The story says that looking at the serpeant would cure you. Your attitude in contrast seems to be "It's just brass".

Fourth, your answer about Biblical relics is "The power does not reside in the object. It resides in God." Your point seems to be that there is no sense in caring about Biblical relics like caring about Jesus' robe or Peter's shadow or Elisha's bones, because "The power does not reside in the object. It resides in God." However, according to the theory that God can heal things, then depending on how you want to phrase it, then power does reside in an object. If God heals your body from cancer, is God's power not residing in your body while it is healing?

For power to "reside in an object", it sounds like you are talking about something like magnetism or electricity, where if something touches it, then the object transfers some power and effects the other object. In the Biblical story, a woman touched Jesus' robe and it said that He felt the "power go out from Him". Based on this line of thinking, power did reside in Jesus' body and robe, so it did reside in objects. But the naturalistic Protestant approach would say that No, this does not happen because it's "superstition." And yet the Protestant POV is stuck with the Bible saying that it did happen.

So there is a hidden conflict between the modern Protestant attitude on miracle relics and the Biblical stories. The Protestants won't say that "the Bible is wrong. This can't happen." They are stuck with saying that it happened in the Bible because the Bible says so. There is not really a way for Protestantism to address this conflict.

Did I explain this well enough?

My challenge
is that being in the modern world with modern scientific thought, my mind has sympathy to some extent with your modern-era, naturalistic Protestant approach, and so it automatically attempts to apply that to the Biblical stories even though Protestantism does not.
 

rakovsky

Member
There are dozens.
J Warner Wallace (coldcasechristianity.com)
Dr. John Lennox (johnlennox.org)
RZIM (www.rzim.org)
Dr. Clay Jones (clayjones.net)
A lawyer by the name of David Limbaugh, (davidlimbaugh.com) He's Rush Limbaugh's brother
Another lawyer, from the 1800's, Simon Greenleaf. He was a cofounder of Harvard's School of Law.
He wrote a book analyzing the four gospels.
I appreciate your responses. I am familiar with J W Wallace.
RZIM is dedicated to Ravi Zacharias. Wikipedia's article on him notes:
Four months after Zacharias's death in May of 2020, three women who worked at two day spas he co-owned in Atlanta came forward alleging that Zacharias had sexually harassed multiple massage therapists over the course of a period of about five years[50] . His former business partner expressed regret at not stopping Zacharias and issued an apology to one of the alleged survivors; Ravi Zacharias International Ministries denied the claims and opened a subsequent investigation.
So... he was running day spas with massages...
I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan. He had a lot of negativity.
I like Simon Greenleaf, but unfortunately it's dated.
I like C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity, but he did not have the same clarity and conciseness of Craig or CARM. For instance, in Chronicles of Narnia he gives the OT Prophecies argument, which I sympathize with. But he did not lay out the argument in an open way, but rather worked it into his story.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
I appreciate your responses. I am familiar with J W Wallace.
RZIM is dedicated to Ravi Zacharias. Wikipedia's article on him notes:

So... he was running day spas with massages...
I heard about this recently.
I'm not worried about accusations. Jesus said that people would accuse his followers of all kinds of things. John 15
If they get a post-mortem conviction, then I'll deal with it from there.

I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan. He had a lot of negativity.
I don't listen to Rush. Probably haven't listened to him for 30 years. I just don't like news talk shows. They get really wearisome.
I do however think David writes well. Furthermore, he's a lawyer, who writes extensively.
I like Simon Greenleaf, but unfortunately it's dated.
And his books on Rules of Evidence are still used in courts, and schools.

I like C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity, but he did not have the same clarity and conciseness of Craig or CARM. For instance, in Chronicles of Narnia he gives the OT Prophecies argument, which I sympathize with. But he did not lay out the argument in an open way, but rather worked it into his story.
Lewis is from the 40's through the early 60's. So, it's probably an age thing.
I don't use these guys things because I agree with every jot and tittle they write.
They do however all agree on the veracity of the resurrection, and who Jesus is.

fwiw, you're never going to find anyone other than yourself with whom you'll agree 100%. It's the nature of being human. And I'll forewarn you--- if you ever do find someone other than yourself with whom you agree 100%, without reservation, you'll cease being you, and become them.

Here are some thoughts for you to consider....

Who is Jesus?
Are the writers of the gospels reliable witnesses?
Were they eyewitnesses, or secondary inquirers to the eyewitnesses?
Did Jesus rise from the dead?
What happened to them to make them go from men who hid once Jesus died, to becoming bold witnesses to the resurrection, that they'd willingly die maintaining their testimony of the resurrection?

It's one thing to die for a lie you believe. It's another altogether to die for what you know is not true, if it's not true. These guys, all but one, died because of their testimony regarding Jesus' resurrection.
Paul went to his death, promoting the resurrection of Jesus.
John was exiled to Patmos--- a prison colony/rock quarry, after having been boiled in oil, for his testimony of the resurrection of Jesus.

I know several apologeticists use this one quite extensively---- you cannot use our form of reasoning today to deal with writings from the ancient world. They thought differently, had different worldviews, wrote differently, etc....

Here's something else for you.
Wallace discusses this.
Ever heard of--- Forensic Speech analysis?

It's actually quite interesting. Police use it to deal with the way people describe things, and how those words betray them, without their knowing it.
 

rakovsky

Member
Steve,

You ask:
Were they eyewitnesses, or secondary inquirers to the eyewitnesses?
I believe that 2 were witnesses, and the other 2 were also if Mark and Luke were witnesses. It makes sense to follow Church Tradition as to naming the authors. Mark and Matthew and probably Luke don't name their authors so we have to rely on the titles as the Church Tradition transmitted it. This brings up another feature of Protesrantism, which is a standard Skepticism toward Church Tradition. They draw an exception to their Skepticisn around the Bible, even though the Bible is in fact "traditio", a book that the Church "handed down."

You ask:
Who is Jesus?
Are the writers of the gospels reliable witnesses?
Did Jesus rise from the dead?
What happened to them to make them go from men who hid once Jesus died, to becoming bold witnesses to the resurrection, that they'd willingly die maintaining their testimony of the resurrection?
Discussing these kinds of questions is why I come to the forum. And to begin to address them I consider first what approach to try to use. First, should we follow inspiration or aim for an objective path that puts aside biases and follows critical questions?

Take for instance whether the writers are reliable. In terms of my inspiration, Yes. In terms of some kind of objective certainty, there are weak aspects in reliability because of lack of some details. For instance, was a real fish sitting on the table and then Jesus picked it up, ate it, and the fish disappeared with Jesus? Or did the apostles have a vision of Jesus and a fish? Or for instance, we have Matthew's telling of the story, but we don't have Andrew's personal detailed individual telling. So there is reliability and weakness in reliability when looked at objectively aside from our preferences.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Steve,

You ask:
I believe that 2 were witnesses, and the other 2 were also if Mark and Luke were witnesses. It makes sense to follow Church Tradition as to naming the authors. Mark and Matthew and probably Luke don't name their authors so we have to rely on the titles as the Church Tradition transmitted it. This brings up another feature of Protesrantism, which is a standard Skepticism toward Church Tradition. They draw an exception to their Skepticisn around the Bible, even though the Bible is in fact "traditio", a book that the Church "handed down."
Mark was Peter's (being the eyewitness) documentor.
Luke was Paul's co-traveler, and gathered eyewitness accounts from numerous eyewitnesses.
John and Matthew were both eyewitnesses.


You ask:

Discussing these kinds of questions is why I come to the forum. And to begin to address them I consider first what approach to try to use. First, should we follow inspiration or aim for an objective path that puts aside biases and follows critical questions?
I think part of the problem is that a lot of the people who are non-believers here simply don't want to learn, they just want to be force-fed, and told what to think, and then complain about that, saying they don't want force-feeding or told what to think.
I've been here since November 2012, and have provided copious resources. they've refused to read those resources for themselves, and just want me to comment about my thoughts about them.

I just noticed a good quote----

Hyper-skepticism is-- for the secular skeptic, to be skeptical about everything, except for their own hyper-skepticism.


It seems to me that they feel 100% justified in their hyper-skepticism, ignoring the blindspots they have because of it.


Take for instance whether the writers are reliable. In terms of my inspiration, Yes. In terms of some kind of objective certainty, there are weak aspects in reliability because of lack of some details. For instance, was a real fish sitting on the table and then Jesus picked it up, ate it, and the fish disappeared with Jesus? Or did the apostles have a vision of Jesus and a fish? Or for instance, we have Matthew's telling of the story, but we don't have Andrew's personal detailed individual telling. So there is reliability and weakness in reliability when looked at objectively aside from our preferences.
I think this one falls under the need to be hyper-skeptical, in order to dismiss it, because of the nature of the magnitude of the event.

essentially in this case they're calling the writers liars.
 

rakovsky

Member
Steve,
You wrote:
"Discussing these kinds of questions is why I come to the forum. And to begin to address them I consider first what approach to try to use. First, should we follow inspiration or aim for an objective path that puts aside biases and follows critical questions?"
I think part of the problem is that a lot of the people who are non-believers here simply don't want to learn, they just want to be force-fed, and told what to think, and then complain about that, saying they don't want force-feeding or told what to think.
I've been here since November 2012, and have provided copious resources. they've refused to read those resources for themselves, and just want me to comment about my thoughts about them.

I just noticed a good quote----

Hyper-skepticism is-- for the secular skeptic, to be skeptical about everything, except for their own hyper-skepticism.

It seems to me that they feel 100% justified in their hyper-skepticism, ignoring the blindspots they have because of it.
I don't know if you are referring to my mindset as Hyper-Skepticism. Well, actually I am being "skeptical" about Skepticism even in the thread title. By asking whether we should judge Miracle Claims based on (A) inspiration (b) objective arguments and evaluations, I am not automatically endorsing either view, but rather leaving room for one to make the argument if one wants that we should not be skeptical when evaluating religious claims.

You asked me if the Biblical witnesses are reliable, and I replied that if you look at what inspires you, the answer is Yes. If you try to look at it in an Objective way that puts aside your preferences for the witnesses being reliable, then there are strengths and weaknesses in their reliability. A strength is that the early Church endorsed the Biblical Gospel writers. A weakness is that the accounts have limited details, like whether the fish that Jesus ate was on the table before Jesus showed up or whether the witnesses had a vision of Jesus eating a fish.

Let me give another reliability issue. Imagine that there was a two-car accident and a police officer noted the stories of the two cars' participants. Then, you only got the testimony that the officer got from the passengers in one car. The weakness in their reliability is that they are only one of the two parties in a likely area of disagreement. Even if their version was very convincing, one would feel that they are not necessarily getting the whole picture.

So by comparison, we have the four gospels reporting what the apostles saw. And we have Matthew's report of what happened to the guards at the tomb. But we don't have the direct reports of the tomb guards or of Pilate (unless you count the apocryphal Acts of Pilate). We don't have reports of anyone else on the Road to Bethany or where Jesus Ascended. There is a debate among mainstream Christians as to whether Jesus' appearances were objectively visible to other bystanders, eg. If you had a camera at Jesus' appearances, would it record Jesus?

Seeing potential weaknesses doesn't mean that the witnesses were liars or intentionally dishonest. It has to do with evaluating how reliable their testimony is when put in rather neutral terms or when looking for more neutral analogies. Does that make sense?
 

balshan

Well-known member
Congratulations on getting the Forum back up.
I think that CARM is one of the best Apologetics resources online. CARM has a forum, a radio program, and tons of articles. What other ones can you think of that are comparable? The other one that comes to mind is the Tektonics website.

On the Forum, before it went down, I discussed the basic path of faith, like how the process works and whether one should evaluate religious claims based on inspiration and emotions or aim for objective arguments.
Sounds interesting topic.
 
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