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Is the Bible Inspired by God? Guest Post by Evangelical Apologist Mike Licona

This particular post is free and open to the public.  If you belonged to the blog, you would get five posts a week, for about what it costs to send a letter.  And every penny goes to charity!  So why not join?

Mike Licona has burst on the scene as one of the leading spokespersons for evangelical Christianity and its theological claims, especially that Jesus was physically raised from the dead, that purely historical research can actually demonstrate that it happened, and that the Bible is literally inspired by God himself and to be accepted as inerrant.

As many of you know, I have had three public debates with Mike (on the question of whether historians can proved that Jesus was raised from the dead; the debates were not about whether Jesus was raised from the dead – they were about whether this kind of claim can be proved by historians using historical methods, or, instead, is a theological claim that cannot be demonstrated historically); and recently we shared a stage at an evangelical Christian “apologetics” conference that focused on whether there are contradictions in the Gospels, and if so, how/if they affect whether we can consider the Gospels historically reliable.

Mike and I take different positions on these and many other issues.   A few weeks ago I on the blog I summarized his views about contradictions and the inspiration of the Bible – he agrees that there are some passages that in fact can *not* be reconciled with others  but at the same time he affirms that the Bible is “inerrant.”  I wasn’t sure I was summarizing his views accurately, and so I asked him if he would be willing to write some blog posts for us explaining what he actually thinks.  He has graciously done so, and here is his first of three posts.   (Please note — it took me a minute to realize this — his argument below is cumulative.  That is, he is not making three separate arguments that the Bible is inspired [if you look at it this way, the first two arguments may seem to be non-sequiturs]; instead, the third argument is premised on the truth/validity of the first two argument; if they are true, then the third has probative force).

Feel free to ask him questions or to make some observations!

Mike Licona is author of Why Are There Differences in the Gospels and Evidence for God: 50 Arguments For Faith From The Bible, History, Philosophy, And Science

********************************************

The Case for the Divine Inspiration of the Bible

I would like to thank my friend Bart for inviting me to contribute three posts to his blog. Yes, we are friends, despite our disagreements. Strangely, we became friends through public debates. Those interested in learning how that happened, I describe it in this article: https://bit.ly/32LkMaY. Now, onto my three posts.

Historians do not possess the tools to verify theological claims. Take, for example, the statement “Jesus died for our sins.” While historians can verify that Jesus died, they cannot verify that his death has atoning qualities. As a historian, I do not possess the tools to verify the theological claim that the Bible is divinely inspired. However, I do think it’s rational for a Christian to believe that it is. And I’m going to provide reasons that ground my belief.

To begin, it’s important to ask what it means to say the Bible is divinely inspired. The answer may seem intuitive: To say the Bible is divinely inspired would appear to suggest that it’s the product of divine dictation. However, it’s actually not so simple. In fact, Christians disagree on the matter. And it’s rare to find a Christian who holds this view if she has even a smidge of theological sophistication.

I reject divine dictation as the method of inscripturation, because the human element in Scripture is clear. The human element goes far beyond recognizing the biblical authors’ different personalities, writing styles, vocabularies, and education levels. The human element also includes Mark’s poor grammar that Matthew and Luke often improve. Surely, we are not to imagine God reviewing Mark later and thinking, “I can do better than that. Let’s say it this way in Matthew.” The human element also includes a couple instances of Luke’s editorial fatigue when using sources. Surely, we are not to imagine God catching this at a later time and thinking, “How in heaven did I miss those?” Then there’s Paul’s memory lapse in 1 Corinthians 1:16 pertaining to whether he had baptized anyone outside the household of Stephanus. Surely, we are not to imagine God prompting Paul to take a writing break while he checked heaven’s records! These observations clearly reveal a human element in Scripture; an element that includes imperfections and rules out divine dictation. Accordingly, although the process of divine inspiration is not described in the Bible, our interpretation of what it means to say the Bible is “divinely inspired” must allow for human imperfections in Scripture.

Twenty years ago, Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig argued, in essence, that God, knowing all circumstances that could possibly occur, generated those whereby the biblical authors would write what they did at an appropriate time. In that sense, the biblical literature is divinely inspired, because God approved it. For example, in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, the words are Paul’s. The logic and arguments belong to Paul. If God were to dictate the letter, he may have said things differently. But he approved the letter. (The article was originally published in Philosophia Christi, 1.1, 1999, 45-82 and may now be viewed at https://bit.ly/32u8Rya). Although the scenario Craig posits cannot be confirmed, I think it’s perhaps the best way for understanding what it means to say the Bible is divinely inspired, since it takes into serious consideration what the Bible says about itself as well as the character of Scripture. You can see that this view has implications pertaining to how the doctrine of biblical inerrancy can and perhaps should be understood. This will be the topic of my next post.

So, why think the Bible is divinely inspired? In what follows, I’ll provide 3 key reasons.

 

 #1 Jesus rose from the dead.

I’m fully aware that most readers of this blog do not think Jesus rose from the dead. However, I’m sharing my reasons for thinking the Bible is divinely inspired. Although I cannot devote any space to the topic here, I have argued in great depth elsewhere that there are good historical reasons for thinking the resurrection of Jesus actually occurred. And a historian can arrive at this conclusion apart from any belief that the Bible is divinely inspired. Those interested may consult my book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).

If Jesus rose from the dead, we would have a good reason for giving our serious consideration to his teachings. Of course, one could reply that Jesus could have been an alien from another planet with powers beyond our comprehension and who decided to deceive us. Although such a scenario cannot be disproved, it’s terribly ad hoc. Every worldview, including atheism, requires a bit of faith. Given Jesus’s resurrection, Christians’ believing Jesus’s teachings about himself would require faith. But it would be a reasonable faith.

 

#2 The New Testament preserves significant information pertaining to Jesus’s claims.

Historians of Jesus do not have the luxury of assuming the divine inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible. Historians acting responsibly will consider the data apart from such assumptions and seek to conclude what the data suggest. Using common-sense criteria, such as multiple independent sources, embarrassing sources, unsympathetic sources, and eyewitness sources, we can render a number of conclusions possessing various degrees of confidence. For example, it’s granted by nearly every historian of Jesus, regardless of their theological and philosophical persuasion, that Jesus believed he had a special relationship with God who had chosen him to usher in his kingdom and that he performed numerous deeds that astonished crowds and that he and others claimed were divine miracles and exorcisms. Moreover, a growing number of historians hold that Jesus claimed to be divine in some sense and that he predicted his imminent death and subsequent resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead, it becomes quite probable that he actually had a special relationship with God, that his astonishing deeds were actually divine in their nature, and that his claims of divinity were correct.

 

#3 Jesus believed the Scriptures are divinely inspired.

Jesus’s belief that the Old Testament is authoritative is a clear motif throughout all four Gospels. Jesus appealed to the Scriptures to settle theological disputes. He saw his ministry as fulfilling prophecy. Then there are statements where Jesus says, “David himself said in the Holy Spirit . . .” (Mark 12:36) and “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35); “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail” (Luke 16:17). But why are the Scriptures authoritative? It’s because their authority comes from God. Thus, to disobey Scripture is to disobey God. This was also the understanding of the Jewish leaders who confronted Jesus when he healed on the Sabbath, which they claimed was to break God’s law (see Mark 2:24; 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 5:2-16; 9:1-38).

What about the New Testament? If Jesus was the Son of God in a divine sense, his teachings are authoritative. Although it’s unlikely that the Gospels preserve precise transcripts of Jesus’s teachings – and it’s clear that they often redact them, I’m persuaded by a number of reasons that the Gospels preserve the gist of what Jesus taught. And some occasions may be close to the actual words. Word limitations prohibit my elaborating further.

Outside the Gospels, Paul believed he had received authority from Jesus to teach (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:17; 14:37; 2 Cor. 13:10). And his essential teachings were confirmed by the apostolic leadership (Gal. 2:1-10; cf. Pol. Phil. 3:2). John taught that those who are not from God do not listen to apostolic teaching (1 John 4:6).

Of course, merely claiming to have received authority from God to teach does not give one that authority. However, if Jesus is divine, his teachings are authoritative and we would expect for him to have commissioned his disciples to pass them along. And this he does (Matt. 28:19; John 14:26; 15:25-16:3). That commissioning would bestow authority on them. Accordingly, to the extent that the apostolic teachings are preserved in the New Testament literature, we may say that literature is not only authoritative but also divinely inspired as defined above.

Of course, only a little can be said in such a small space. In my next post, I will discuss the matter of biblical inerrancy.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Avatar
    aar8818  November 21, 2019

    Thank you Dr Licona I know you are a great apologist. I’m glad Dr Ehrman had you on here. I am familiar with the idea of annihilation. I could also say I find it hard to believe that God would not allow people into heaven because they did not believe someone rose from the dead 2000 years ago. ( I used to be a hardcore evangelical -in faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, soli deo gloria. I do find it beautiful) I see the world as certainly plausible an act of God, though not enough proof in the present that Christ is the way. Too left up to debate to deny someone access to heaven. Left up to analyzing history. I think Barts conclusions that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who was thought to have been raised by Peter, Paul and Mary, are just as valid as the apologists. Maybe it happened, maybe not. Not concrete enough to keep out all the muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and athiest who say probably not.

    • Mike Licona
      Mike Licona  November 21, 2019

      Thanks, aar8188. So that there’s no confusion, I wouldn’t say someone is going to hell on the grounds that they didn’t believe ABC. It’s more than that. I think there are going to be those who believe ABC who won’t be in heaven. Jesus is looking for disciples. So, it’s believing ABC and following him.

      • Avatar
        aar8818  November 21, 2019

        What about those who continue to follow the teachings of Christ, but find conclusions like Bart’s regarding the resurrection to be equally as plausible ? I’m thinking you’d probably refer to the biblical teaching that works accompany true faith, but at the same time it doesn’t seem logical to me that a person would be kept from heaven for thinking a certain argument is quite plausible; when we dont know for a fact which one is surely true.

  2. Avatar
    Zak1010  November 21, 2019

    Almighty God sent books / scripture that inspired many prophets and messengers, of them :
    Abraham
    David
    Mosses
    Jesus
    Now, that’s inspiration / revelation to chosen messengers of God Almighty.
    The Bible is one of those books, and it was not composed of the New and Old Testament. It was not preserved.

    The book we see today is not That Bible. The Bible we see today is a compilation of written letters / copies of copies of manuscripts by unknown authors for the most part and the remaining known authors were not prophets nor messenger. It is their word not the word of Almighty God. If anything these letters and writings reflected their understanding of their belief and can call it what they want, not what God The Almighty said nor His inspiration.

    It is ones’ prerogative to accept or not accept the Bible we see today as their book of worship, but, it is not OUR Creators words and we should not ascribe it to Him.

    Teaching or preaching today’s Bible like you mentioned is nothing more than your best understanding of what might be the most probable or what most probably happened…. Not the inspired word of God nor Inspired by God.

    Almighty God, The Creator, The Lord of Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus and all creation is not Probable … Nor is His Word and message probable. It is for sure with all certainty.

  3. Avatar
    Lopaka  November 21, 2019

    Dr. Licona,

    How literally do you take the ascension story? If we had videotape, what do you believe we would have seen? Did Jesus fly high enough out of view and then vanish into another dimension, or did he fly up to a certain location?

    • Mike Licona
      Mike Licona  November 22, 2019

      That’s a fair question, Lopaka. I have not studied the historicity of the ascension story. So, I must refrain from stating an opinion.

  4. Avatar
    michael51  November 21, 2019

    Dr. Licona,
    One of the things fundamentalists are fond of saying is “The Bible doesn’t CONTAIN the word of God, it IS the word of God.” Before you finish your series here, would you give your position specifically on that statement? Thank you.

    • Mike Licona
      Mike Licona  November 22, 2019

      michael51: I think the Bible IS the word of God. Then one must define what one means by the “word of God.” For my definition, see my post.

      • Avatar
        michael51  November 24, 2019

        Dr. Licona, I read what you wrote about the human element. I asked my question because I want to take it a step further…Regarding divorce or separation, in 1 Cor. 7:10-11, Paul passes on a command he explicitly states he received from Christ (which matches what Jesus said in the Gospels), but immediately following in vs. 12-13, he writes something he just as explicitly states is his own advice (not the Lord’s command). Here he has clearly made a statement based on his own wisdom (even though he feels it is divinely approved). My question is this…couldn’t there be other places in the Bible where the writer is speaking from his own personal wisdom and understanding of things, and not necessarily conveying something from God? The writer may feel he is speaking God’s word, or maybe he knows he has no clear direction from God and is just giving his personal opinion or advice which he feels is sound and appropriate for the situation at hand. For example, later in 1 Cor. 11:13-16, Paul makes a statement regarding length of hair. Paul says, “Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” Really? It looks to me that Paul is appealing to tradition and cultural norms to support his position. Sure, I can see that in the ancient world, short hair was best for men because of their roles as hunters and warriors, and if a woman had long-enough hair, it would help to cover the breast area. He can’t be referring to nature because, for example, with the lion, the male is the one with the mane. He says “we have no other practice.” Well, maybe that’s because nobody dared to break with convention. So I’m thinking sometimes the writers just gave their best idea, but not necessarily what God would say.

  5. Avatar
    cristianp  November 22, 2019

    Dear Mike, thank you very much for contributing with your knowledge in the field. I have some questions and observations, but first I need to understand that it is for you “dictated by God” and “divine inspiration.”

    • Mike Licona
      Mike Licona  November 22, 2019

      I’m not clear what your question is, cristianp. If you are asking what I mean by “dictated by God” and “divine inspiration,” I explain the latter in my article. By “dictated by God,” I mean that God superseded the biblical authors’ free will to cause them to write the precise words He chose. Of course, I reject divine dictation as the means by how we came to have the biblical literature.

      • Avatar
        cristianp  November 22, 2019

        So how can we really know if a text was written by divine inspiration? Earlier you answered that YES we may sometimes have a confirmation bias of our “beliefs.” So since only one of the two parties involved in the writing is the one that tells us that a text is inspired by God, since the other part (GOD) has not directly confirmed that what was written He inspired it, I can think that “divine inspiration is nothing more than a biased belief. In this way I can say (and believe) that other (very recent) texts are also inspired by God, such as” A Course in Miracles “and” Conversations with God “?

  6. Avatar
    Hngerhman  November 22, 2019

    Dr Licona –

    A meta-question about method, which might be interesting for the blog community. It appears to lie behind many of the substantive disagreements seen thus far in the comment section.

    For issues that are not corner cases (not issues like the existence of something rather than nothing or the hard problem of consciousness): Do you think miraculous explanations are ex ante less likely than naturalistic ones? If no, why not. If yes, then how does one justify/quantify/determine the probabilistic cross-over point?

    One could frame the question either philosophically or empirically/historically, but it’s a topic that seems to be the wedge between those accepting of miracles as narrated in the texts and those who are not.

    Many thanks again for your thoughts and generous time!

  7. Avatar
    Silver  November 23, 2019

    Dear Dr Licona,
    I wrote a query several days ago but note that it is ‘still awaiting moderation’ despite the fact that you have answered questions posted after my comment. I wonder, therefore, if you missed my post or whether you, in some way, have found it unacceptable.
    In the hope that it is the former I have taken the liberty of reposting:
    “Dear Dr Licona.
    Please may I ask where you stand with respect to the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy? Have you ever during your faith journey subscribed to this? I have read (risenjesus.com) that you now favour the Lausanne Covenant. Are you able to identify for me the key differences re Inerrancy between this and CSBI, please, and indicate where you feel this Covenant best fits your definition of Inerrancy?”

  8. Avatar
    quadell  November 23, 2019

    This is a great article, Dr. Licona! Thanks for writing it and sharing it with us.

    I like what you said about divine Biblical inspiration, but I have a question. You said you agree with the idea “that God, knowing all circumstances that could possibly occur, generated those whereby the biblical authors would write what they did at an appropriate time. In that sense, the biblical literature is divinely inspired, because God approved it.” But couldn’t the same be said for all writings?

    For example, God must have known under what conditions Charlotte Bronte would write Jane Eyre. He could have set things up whereby she would never choose to write novels, or would simply choose to write about something else. He generated the conditions whereby Bronte would write Jane Eyre. How is Philemon “divinely inspired” in a way that Jane Eyre isn’t?

  9. Avatar
    Jon1  November 23, 2019

    Mike,

    Instead of focusing on *past* events that might entail supernatural intervention (e.g., lymphoma rapidly cured after prayer and chemo) in order to support another *past* event (Jesus’ resurrection), why don’t folks in your camp get more serious about making the case for supernatural interventions in the world by bringing in the scientific method? For example, Craig Keener’s statement that “the stopping of storms after prayer is not uncommon” (Miracles, pg. 737), is a *testable* claim. So why not test it? I’m sure you could get funding somewhere, and you could let the test run for many years or decades to strengthen the results over time. I’ll bet even Bill Nye the science guy would sign up for this. Another example would be to connect serious skeptical researchers of the paranormal with those who, according to Keener, can *predict* ahead of time that a supernatural event will occur: “Some circles whose reports I was exploring *invited me to witness* their experiences firsthand; while this deeper investigation would have been ideal, my academic schedule and other factors have so far precluded my plan to do so” (Miracles, pg. 1). Why don’t folks in your camp pursue these kinds of invitations with a trained team of skeptics and appropriate recording equipment?

    One other question. Do you still believe that Jesus’ resurrection is the *only* plausible explanation for the three minimal facts outlined in your 2010 book (The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach), or do you now draw somewhat on Gospel reliability to make your historical case for Jesus’ resurrection?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      Let me add there are lots and lots of “scientific” tests on thinks like the efficacy of prayer. They regularly show that prayer has no effect whatsoever on natural disasters and the like.

      • Avatar
        Jon1  November 24, 2019

        Bart,

        If able, can you please provide references to the rigorous prayer studies related to natural disasters that you refer to? I am aware of none that are scientifically rigorous. The only scientifically rigorous prayer studies I am aware of are those on *health* outcomes, with the most rigorous to date showing nil results (http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/06-04-05/). However, health outcome prayer studies are very expensive and I assume Mike’s opinion is that the sample size or something about the method was inadequate, so that just punts everything down the road until someone can marshal tens of millions of dollars for a better test of the prayer hypothesis on health outcomes. However, testing the effect of prayer on *storms* should entail a fraction of the cost, the experiment could be run for a very long period of time (years or decades, or just leave it running continuously so every generation can see the results), could amass an indisputably large sample size, and the methodology and ways of measuring outcomes would seem easier than in a medical outcome study. That was my reason for asking Mike why his community does not test for the effect of prayer on *storms*, which matches up perfectly with the testable claim of his colleague Craig Keener: “the stopping of storms after prayer is not uncommon” (Miracles, pg. 737). Testing for the effect of prayer on storms seems like a fantastic opportunity for Mike and his community to show that “naturalism [is] so improbable as to be beyond reason” (https://ehrmanblog.org/is-the-bible-inspired-by-god-guest-post-by-evangelical-apologist-mike-licona/#comments). Why hide behind events that have all happened in the past when there is clearly an opportunity to subject this hypothesis to the scientific method that we all learned in middle school?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 25, 2019

          I’ve read them, but I haven’t made any bibliographical notations, so no, I can’t give references. You can probably find plenty on line.

          If you want anecdotal evidence, get a hundred of your friends to pray about a drought that is happening somewhere in the world today, and see how that goes!

  10. Avatar
    Gary  November 23, 2019

    Dr. Michael Licona is a professing evangelical Christian. By definition, evangelical Christians believe that at the moment of their conversion (being “born again”), the spirit of Jesus comes to “dwell” within them and instructs them in wisdom and truth. As a former evangelical myself, I know as a fact that evangelical Christians pray to this inner spirit, living inside their bodies, for practically everything! “Jesus, bless our food.” “Jesus, help me in my job interview today.” “Jesus, help me to select the right wife (husband).” Evangelical Christians believe that they have a personal RELATIONSHIP with this spirit living inside their bodies; a spirit that communicates with them “in a still, small voice”. Is Dr. Licona, in his statement above, disavowing the core evangelical Christian belief that the spirit of Jesus lives inside of him giving him secret wisdom and insight?? Wow! Isn’t there a Blble passage where Jesus says, “If you deny me before men, I will deny YOU…”?

    The bottom line: Dr. Michael Licona’s beliefs in the divine inspiration of the Bible and the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus are NOT based primarily on evidence and reason. Anyone who believes he has a ghost/spirit whispering secret wisdom in his head CANNOT objectively examine the evidence on matters related to this spirit when it was human. Dr. Licona’s views on these issues should not be taken seriously until Dr. Licona publicly and emphatically disavows any belief that the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth lives inside his body giving him secret wisdom and insight on matters related to the person and alleged historical events involving this ancient first century peasant!

  11. Avatar
    Damian King  November 24, 2019

    “God, knowing all circumstances that could possibly occur, generated those whereby the biblical authors would write what they did at an appropriate time. In that sense, the biblical literature is divinely inspired, because God approved it.”
    In that sense, it would follow that every work of extant literature was divinely inspired.

  12. Avatar
    Gary  November 24, 2019

    Evangelical Christian apologists such as Dr. Licona, Dr. Craig Keener, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig believe that the spirit of a man who lived 20 centuries ago lives inside their bodies and communicates with them. They even believe that sometimes this dead man speaks to them in an AUDIBLE voice! Here is an excerpt from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) on this shocking evangelical Christian belief.

    How does God speak to us? There are many ways.

    1. He may speak in an audible voice.
    When John baptized Jesus, a voice spoke from heaven and said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). There are other instances in the Bible where God’s voice was heard, and He still speaks today.

    I know many people who have heard the audible voice of God. A woman who was going through a painful divorce heard Him say, “I am with you. Everything will be all right.”

    When I asked how she knew the voice belonged to God, she said, “I just knew.”

    Hearing the audible voice of God is not a common occurrence. But it does happen, and when it does, it’s not to be taken lightly.

    2. He may speak in a still, small voice.
    I love this passage from 1 Kings 19:11–13:

    The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

    Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

    The most frequent way God speaks to me, and, I believe, to most Christians, is through that still, small voice. He spoke the universe into existence, but He also whispers quiet messages into the hearts of men. Did He really give you a specific message to deliver to that person over there? Or is your imagination just running away with you? The only way you can find out is by listening to God, more with your ears than with your heart, and learning to recognize His still, small voice.

    Source: https://www1.cbn.com/questions/how-does-god-speak-to-us

    • Avatar
      Gary  November 24, 2019

      “The most frequent way God speaks to me, and, I believe, to most Christians, is through that still, small voice.”

      There is no possible way that Mike Licona, Craig Keener, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig can objectively investigate alleged supernatural events involving a dead first century prophet when they believe the spirit/ghost of this dead man lives inside their bodies, communicating with them in “a still, small voice”…or worse yet…in a voice they claim they can audibly hear!

      This is irrational, biased thinking, folks. These people are sincere, good people but they are operating under a MASSIVE delusion. Don’t let the “Dr.” in front of their names bamboozle you. These gentlemen are peddling snake oil—they may not realize it—but that is what it is: snake oil. Telling children and gullible adults that a first century human sacrifice is going to give them life after death in a mansion of gold on a gold paved street in outer space is snake oil!

  13. Avatar
    flyboydh1  November 24, 2019

    Dr. Licona,

    Having watched much of your content online, I, as a Jew, realize you have never considered the question, “Why don’t Jews believe the claims of Christianity?” You only seem to focus on the NT, without putting it in the context of Jewish beliefs and texts. You must measure the claims of the NT/Christianity, against the classic Jewish understanding of the Hebrew Bible BEFORE you can determine if the claims of Christianity are true. With all do respect, it’s hard for me to regard you as a scholar/historian since you really haven’t done your homework with regard to classical Judaism. I encourage you do this before posting any more content in any way or speaking to any churches about your belief that the resurrection happened or any other defense of Christianity.

  14. Avatar
    Frankie Ting  November 25, 2019

    To make a long story short, for Christians, it is about FAITH. Believing despite the ABSENCE of strong proof/evidence. As a former born-again Christian who used to believe that every single letter,comma & period of the the Bible is the word of God, I have now come to realize the foolishness of this type of thinking. If there is a “God”, the fact that he placed our mind/brain on the topmost portion of the body shows that he must be a rational entity who has a “scientific” mind as can be seen in the laws of nature & the “order” found in the universe.

  15. Avatar
    Gary  November 30, 2019

    ..He shall come with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils. And these things also have been foretold as yet to be, we will prove.

    –Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter 52

    In this discussion with skeptics, evangelical scholar and apologist Michael Licona said this above:

    “There are numerous Christian views on the actual nature of hell. The Dante sort of literal fire is not embraced by most Christian theologians today. This is not because they reject the biblical teaching. It’s because they seek to understand it within its cultural milieu.”

    Notice that Dr. Licona does not clearly express his position on the issue of literal hell fire but he certainly insinuates that the traditional view of Hell is outdated and even ignorant. Many other conservative Christian apologists with whom I have engaged in discussion also hesitate to confirm or they outright deny the existence of literal hell fire and literal eternal punishment in hell fire for unbelievers. Why do they do this? I believe it is for one simple reason: They see how horribly unjust such a punishment is! How could their loving and just god do such a terrible thing? What crime deserves being burned alive forever and ever??

    So to make their ancient supernatural tale more palatable to modern, civilized people, Christian apologists desperately attempt to hide this ugly facet of their belief, claiming that Jesus and the earliest Christians did not believe that the fires of hell were literal. So why did Justin Martyr think they were?? Conservative Christians trust Justin Martyr regarding everything else he says, so why reject his statements on this issue? Answer: to avoid an inconvenient truth. The early Christians believed that non-believers would suffer horrific eternal punishment in literal fire! And who did they get this from: Jesus of Nazareth!

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