Discuss!1. Why did you become a Christian? ―I became a Christian because _______.‖2. What are 1-2 of the most difficult questions you have heard about Christianity?
Principles Distinguish between tough questions and tough problems ―I don‘t know‖ is fine! Unanswered questions don‘t mean Christianity is false! Love is more important than logic What can YOU learn? The ―seeker‖ issue (or why ‗proof‘ is almost never sufficient); psychological certainty vs. epistemic certainty
Session #1God is Real
There are more than1.5 million galaxies!
Two questions• Did all this come about by chance or did someone have to create all this?• Why is Earth the only planet where life (let alone intelligent life!) exists?
The Cosmological Argument
The Anthropic Principle
The challenge of evolution
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.‖ (John 1:1-3)
Other ‗hot‘ problems• ―There is no truth‖, ―The world is an illusion‖, ―Truth is determined by _____‖• How do I know I exist?• Why doesn‘t God do ‗sky-writing‘? (Rejection of Cognitive Violence)• Nature is all there is…you are being fooled by your brain (Argument from Conditions for Knowledge)
Session #2God is Love
Pop Quiz: Are you a heretic?!
What isthe Trinity?
The best model I can think of thus far…
The Problem of Evil
The problem of pain
Why do bad thingshappen to good people?
The FreeWill / Love Defense1. God‘s top priority is love2. Love requires freedom for the beloved3. True freedom means accepting the possibility or risk of evil4. Freedom must be irrevocable
Responding to Natural Evil• Many people (especially children) die ‗before their time‘• There are too many deaths• Innocent people suffer• God should be able to control the hurricane, earthquake, etc.
Do tragedies mean that God is judging us?!
The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon— todo his work, his strange work, and perform his task,his alien task. (Isaiah 28:21)
The Pattern of God‘s Judgment• Clearly and specifically fore-warned• Characterised by patience and reluctance• Happens only after repeated warnings and chances to repent! (e.g. Noah‘s time, Pharoah, etc.)• Involves rescuing / preserving a righteous remnant
What about hell?
But there is a question we seldom reflect on…
Why do good things happen at all?(The scandal of grace)
Yet by far the best ‗answer‘ to the problem of evil…
What happened on the Cross theologically? (GROUP EXERCISE)
Session #3Jesus is God
What questions do you have about Jesus?
Key Questions• Who did Jesus‘ contemporaries understand Jesus to be?• What was the ‗Jewish problem‘ Jesus was addressing?• What is the ‗kingdom of God‘? (Session 4)• Why all the miracles?• Why does Jesus talk in parables?• Why did He die?
There were (at least)Jewish groups during Jesus‘ time
#1 The Withdrawers
Qumran Community / Essenes• Focus: Purity, separation, complete withdrawal• Victims: Leave the country! Forget politics!• Good: Holy and set apart• Bad: Totally disengaged and thus irrelevant to the world• Not a threat to the status quo
#2 The Assimilators
Sadducees• Focus: assimilation and accommodation• Victims: Join the government, profit from those in power• Good: Works well with the world and within the system• Bad: Selfish and helps perpetuate injustice• Not a threat to the status quo
#3 The Fault-Finders
Pharisees• Focus: other people‘s faults(!), distinguishing between ‗good guys‘ and ‗bad guys‘,• Victims: ―I-told-you-so‖, ―You-should-have-…‖, ―Your-mistake-was…‖• Good: Well-informed and very critical of all parties (except themselves!)• Bad: Creates burdens for people, de- contextualised ‗solutions‘,• Not a threat to the status quo
―Life is like aforensic lab…‖
Zealots• Focus: revolution, violence• Victims: Overthrow the government by force (other means are a waste of time!)• Strongly opposed to injustice, courageous and action-oriented• Bad: Perpetuates ‗violence‘ and ‗hatred‘, equates worldly justice with divine justice• Threatens status quo
Into the midst of these four worldviews…
WITHDRAWERS ASSIMILATORS “Behold I make all things new” (Rev 21)REVOLUTIONARIES FAULT-FINDERS
Jesus• Focus: aggressive kindness and love (for all), self-sacrifice, all-out giving,• Victims: Liberation of the heart, really good news, compassion, hope, peace, joy, promise of resurrection• Oppressors: Sacrifice, radical listening / friendship, forgiveness• Everyone: A New Way of Being Human• A quiet but real threat to the status quo!
Miracle Type Mark Matt Luke JohnIn all four gospels 1. Feeding of 5,000 nature 6.35f 14.15f 9.12f 6.5fIn three gospels 2. Walking on water nature 6.48f 14.25f 6.19f 3. Peters mother-in-law healing 1.30f 8.14f 4.38f 4. Man with leprosy healing 1.40f 8.24f 5.12f 5. Paralyzed man healing 2.3f 9.2f 5.18f 6. Man with shriveled hand healing 3.1f 12.10f 6.6f 7. Calming the storm nature 4.37f 8.23f 8.22f 8. Gadarene Demoniac(s) exorcism 5.1f 8.28f 8.27f 9. Raising Jairus daughter revivification 5.22f 9.18f 8.41f 10. Hemorrhaging woman healing 5.25f 9.20f 8.43f 11. Demon-possessed boy exorcism 9.17f 17.14f 9.38f 12. Two blind men healing 10.46f 20.29f 18.35fIn two gospels (Mark, Matt) 13. Canaanite womans daughter exorcism@distance 7.24f 15.21f 14. Feeding of 4,000 nature 8.1f 15.32f 15. Fig tree withered nature 11.12f 21.18fIn two gospels (Mark, Luke) 16. Possessed man in synagogue exorcism 1.23f 4.33fIn two gospels (Matt, Luke=Q?) 17. Roman Centurions servant healing@distance 8.5f 7.1f 18. Blind, Mute, and Possessed man exorcism 12.22 11.14Only in one gospel (Mark) 19. Deaf mute healing 7.31f 20. Blind man at Bethsaida healing 8.22fOnly in one gospel (Matt) 21. Two blind men healing 9.27f 22. Mute and possessed man exorcism 9.32f 23. Coin in fishs mouth precognition/nature? 17.24fOnly in one gospel (Luke) 24. First catch of fish precognition/nature? 5.1f 25. Raising Widows son at Nain revivification 7.11f 26. Exorcism of Mary Magdalene exorcism 8.2 27. Crippled woman healing 13.11f 28. Man with dropsy healing 14.1f 29. Ten men with leprosy healing@distance 17.11f 30. High Priests servant healing 22.50fOnly in one gospel (John) 31. Wine miracle at Cana nature 2.1f 32. Officials son at Capernaum healing@distance 4.46f 33. Sick man at Pool of Bethesda healing 5.1f 34. Healing of the Blind Man healing 9.1f 35. Raising Lazarus revivification 11.1f 36. Second catch of fish precognition/nature? 21.1f
Did it reallyhappen?<Did it really happen?>
Consider…• All evidence suggests that Jesus really died (water from body, unbroken legs, burial)• Jewish leaders claimed the disciples stole the body but tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers (whose lives were at stake)• More than 500 people saw Jesus resurrected, and who was present for days (hallucination cannot explain this!), see Acts 1• The first witnesses were women! (not good for credibility or conspiracy!)• What motives did disciples have for lying? So they could ‗look good‘? So they could be persecuted and die as martyrs?!
More ‗hot‘ questions• What about those who didn‘t get to hear the Gospel through no fault of their own?• How do we even know Jesus existed?• What about Da Vinci Code?!• Why does God create all people sin-less? Won‘t that be the case in Heaven?• Was Jesus gay?
The Temptations of Christ in the Wilderness: A Study of Sin, Truth, Man & Politics
―I will allure her and bring her into thewilderness and speak to her heart‖(Hosea 2:14)
Why do Christians still sin?
5 Views• Lutheran – fall on the grace of God (we can‘t help but sin)• Reformed – keep obeying (new creation overcomes sin)• Keswick – encounter the Spirit (sin requires a crisis)• Wesleyan – why still sin? (sin entails non- surrender to Christ)• Joseph Prince – no more sin? (radical grace)
The 1 st Temptation
"If you are the Son of God,tell this stone to becomebread." (Luke 4:3)
The Devil doesn‟tappear like this
―Man shalt not liveby bread alone…‖
Sin is the „Cutting Short‟ of akingdom process!
Biblical Inerrancy• Does the Bible need to be 100% error- free? (A theo-philosophical question)• Is the Bible actually error-free? How do the OT and NT compare historiographically with other ancient documents?• What about 2Timothy 3:16?
The ‗miracle‘ of NT Preservation
The 2 nd Temptation
"If you are the Son of God…throwyourself down. For it is written:He will command his angels concerningyou, and they will lift you up in theirhands, so that you will not strike yourfoot against a stone‖(Luke 4:3)
He willcommand hisangelsconcerningyou…‖
Sin = „CircusStunts‟ to gainkingdom peace / protection!
Man• A creature who lives and works by every word that comes from God (Ephesians 2:10)• A derivative being who finds life and meaning in trusting God, refusing to rely on the world‘s power and tricks and looks to God‘s power in all things (Psalms 20:7)• A worshipful agent who finds purpose in God alone
The 3 rd Temptation
"All this I will give you," hesaid, "if you will bow downand worship me."(Luke 4:9)
“All this I will give you!”
What about faith and politics?
Sin is a ShortCut towards akingdom goal!
Idolatrous „victories‟ are the worst defeats
What’s the Common Thread?
The absence of the “sensational”…
Final Session We are Jesus
In 165 AD, a devastating epidemic sweptthrough the Roman empire, killing 1/3 of thepopulation, incl. Emperor Marcus Aurelius…
In 251 AD, another plague hit the empire, thistime both rural and urban areas were affected…
“Most of our brothers showed unboundedlove…never sparing themselves andthinking only of one another…Heedless ofdanger, they took charge of the sick,attending to their every need and ministeringto them in Christ…drawing on themselvesthe sickness of their neighbors andcheerfully accepting their pains…”Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, AD260
“The heathen behaved in the very oppositeway. At the first onset of the disease, theypushed the sufferers away and fled fromtheir dearest, throwing them into the roadsbefore they were dead and treated unburiedcorpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert thespread and contagion of the disease; but dowhat they might, they found it difficult toescape.”Bishop Dionysius
Result?„Miraculous‟ healing Huge ConversionsGrowth of Christian populationSpread of Christian love/principles throughout empire!
The kingdom of Godis like a team ofresistance fighters...
If a country starts mobilizing itstroops, preparing its airplanes, testing its weapons, sending spies to other countries, etc. – what does that tell you?
The kingdom of God islike flying jet-planes oflove into towers of hate
The kingdom of Godis like a cigarettesmoker…
The kingdom of God isliving in Wonderland…
Jesus‘ strange kingdom…• It‘s ―weak‖ and ―foolish‖ (1Cor 1) – relevant to apologetics?• It‘s lowly and despised…it‘s something that is NOT (1Cor 1)• It‘s not of this world (John 8)• It‘s perfected in our weakness i.e. we need to be very ‗teruk‘ before New Creation becomes very ‗terror!‘ (2Cor 12)