Textual Reliability of the New Testament

Last week, we looked at the reliability of the Old Testament text that we have; this week, we’ll look at the New Testament, and especially the Gospels. I’ll present the following measures by which we can make a determination of the reliability of the text:

1. The age and number of the available manuscripts
2. The amount of time between the original writing and the earliest known manuscripts.
3. The number and type of differences between available manuscripts
4. Citations or quotations of the NT from other early writers

While none of these alone may provide definitive evidence of the reliability of the text, I believe that the cumulative evidence is more than sufficient to give us reasonable proof that what we have is an accurate text. Continue reading

Signpost – Textual Reliability of the Old Testament

One of the most common objections to Christianity among academic crowd is “It doesn’t matter what the Bible says. We don’t really have any idea what the original manuscripts said anyway.” The reasoning goes something like this: The copies of the Biblical text that we have are just copies of copies and are so much newer than the originals that we can’t possibly know what the original writings actually were.

This week, we’ll address this idea by looking at how we can be reasonably certain that the Old Testament texts that we have today accurately present the content of the original manuscripts. 

Continue reading

Signpost – The Nature of God

This week, we’ll take a quick look at what we can determine about the nature of God based on what we can observe from the natural world, and next week jump right into what I consider the really exciting stuff! Much of the reasoning behind the foundational assumptions of this week’s Signpost has been explored in earlier articles in the series, so it might be a good idea to go back and do a quick review if you feel that you’re missing something.

The first thing we know about God is so obvious that it is often overlooked: Continue reading

Signpost – Design

For this installment of the Signposts series, I’ve chosen to start out with a frozen pizza. Stay with me, I think you will figure it out long before I get to the conclusion.

Let’s say you have a box of frozen pizza in your kitchen freezer. If you examine it closely and objectively you can determine quite a lot. For example:

-) The box is made of a light weight, inexpensive, fairly sturdy material. The cardboard construction also indicates that it is intended to be either discarded or recycled after use.

-) The graphics and text printed on the box give a lot of information about the contents – type, size, nutritional and cooking directions.

-) The dimensions of the box make it the most efficient size required to protect the contents from crushing or bouncing around inside the container during transport and storage.

Now, having determined all of that, I have one simple request. Without invoking forces outside the freezer, tell me how that pizza got there. Continue reading

Signpost – Consciousness vs Materialism

Along our road from atheism to Christian discipleship, the first stop is Theism, but before we even get that far, we must get to the point where even the possibility of a God is seriously considered.

We explored the road of absolute moral truth, and have seen that the existence of God is necessary for there to even be moral absolutes. But what if our atheist friend declares this road a dead end? What now?

Well, we back up and follow the sign reading “consciousness”.  Keep in mind that, I’m using the term ‘consciousness’ to describe the state of being self-aware.

Our naturalist friend, denying the existence of moral truth (even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary), will say that, according to his world view nothing exists but that which is material. The super (or extra) natural is simply a figment of imagination.

Darwinian evolutionary naturalism, as currently taught, says that all life evolved from undirected, random, natural processes and that everything that exists is a product and part of the natural, material world. Continue reading

Signpost – Moral Law, pt. 2

Last week, we established that there is absolute moral truth; this week we will propose the necessity of an absolute moral truth giver.

Without a transcendent source, moral truth cannot be anything other than subjective, and changeable. Since there are moral absolutes, there must be a source, and that source must be good, powerful and a person. In short, God.

=) The source of moral law must be powerful enough to enforce that law. The only being both good enough and powerful enough to do so must transcend both time and space in order to enforce a law effective for all people at all times.

=) The source of moral law must be good. Since it has been determined that moral law by definition is good, the source of that law must also be good. Because that source must be a person, it must be God. God is by definition good, so any being that is not good is not God.

=) God must be a person, as moral laws, like civil or criminal laws, can only be enforced by persons. Continue reading

Signpost Series – Moral Law

I’ve recently been asked to give a blueprint for how to present the Gospel to atheists, sort of a ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ or ‘Way of the Master’ approach to those who don’t even believe God exists, much less that the Bible is authoritative.

It isn’t that easy. The atheists that I know are a very diverse group in that they present a wide variety of objections to the existence of God. While most of the time, these objections are little more than a way to avoid dealing with the underlying emotional reasons for their stand, their stated reasons must be shown false before any meaningful look at the Scripture can take place.

So, instead of a blueprint, let’s take a ‘roadmap’ approach. The beginning point is atheism, and the endpoint is discipleship. While the goal is fixed, there can be a variety of roads to get there. I’ve decided to post an article each week detailing one of the major signposts on the map. I call it the Signpost series. Continue reading

Should We Welcome Mormons into Fellowship, pt. 4

In part 1, I defined terms and explained why it is important to look at the historical and archaeological accuracy of the Mormon scriptures, the history of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS, or Mormons), and the honesty and character of the founder, Joseph Smith. In part 2, I examined the accuracy of the Book of Mormon, and in part 3 I dealt with the early history of the LDS and Joseph Smith.

My conclusion is that the LDS claims that the Book of Mormon and other LDS writings and teachings were at a par with the Bible and orthodox Christianity are baseless.

Therefore, if the LDS doctrines deviate from the clear teaching and instructions of the Bible, then the Mormons are not Christian, and cannot be accepted into Christian fellowship. I refer you to part 1 of this series for a definition of what Christian fellowship means.

So, let’s take a look at some LDS doctrines, and see whether they are Biblical or not. Continue reading