Posted 12/22/13 at 7:29 PM | Mikel Del Rosario |
Each Christmas, I hear the story of Jesus’ birth read publicly from the Gospel of Luke. And it often seems like the timing of Jesus' birth and the census under some guy named Quirinius gets read pretty quickly, almost like it’s an unnecessary interjection no one really cares about. For most people, it probably is.
But here’s why I started to care about the Quirinius part: Skeptics often say that Luke must have messed up on the timing of the Christmas story. In this post, I'll explain one of the most common challenges to the historicity of the Bible. I'll also share the other side of the story---the one skeptical friends may not have considered.
But first, let's go to the primary source. Luke 2:1-6 is ground zero for this conversation:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. FULL POST
Posted 12/20/13 at 10:45 PM | Mikel Del Rosario
Why History Matters
I once heard a well-meaning Christian say something like, “Why study all this history stuff? The Bible says it. I believe, it. That’s the end of it!” But what about this? Reading what “the Bible says” is one thing. Getting “what the Bible means” is another. Case in point:
Most people summarize the Christmas story like this: “Joseph & Mary went to Bethlehem and needed to stay in the inn. Since there was no room in the inn, Mary had to give birth to Jesus in a manger.” Not too far off from how the old 1984 NIV translated Luke 2:7:
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
But here’s what we miss by skipping out on studying the context of Jesus’ birth:
There was probably no “inn”
The Greek word, kataluma, means “lodging place” and it’s usually translated “upper room” not “inn” (1). It can refer to a room of a house where out of town guests could spend the night or even just a dining room. For example, in Mark 14:14, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples in an “upper room” (same word used here). This is why the 2010 NIV translates Luke 2:7 like this: FULL POST
Posted 10/5/12 at 4:27 PM | Mikel Del Rosario
Did Jesus Have a Wife?
So your skeptical friend just heard about something called, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” But unlike the fiction Dan Brown created in the Da Vinci Code, this wasn’t in a movie or a novel. She just caught another sensational segment on the evening news talking about how controversial this new find is. And the media is jumping all over it.
But this really isn’t rocking anyone’s world. Especially in the academic community.
In fact, Karen L. King, the Harvard Professor who actually presented this at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies said:
…this new discovery does not prove that the historical Jesus was married. This gospel (is)…too late, historically speaking, to provide any evidence as to whether the historical Jesus was married or not
In this post, I’ll share a simple way to respond to this fragment. Because we’ve really only got two real options here. But first, here’s what scholars are saying about the fragment itself. FULL POST
Posted 5/5/12 at 1:43 AM | Mikel Del Rosario |
Maybe you’ve encountered well-meaning Christians who look down on the practice of providing evidence for Christian truth claims. I used to get that a lot. How should you respond?
Just Point to Jesus
What’s his example look like? Turns out, Jesus provided evidence—reasons to believe—in many different ways. For example, Luke said Jesus “gave many convincing proofs” of his resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:3).
In To Everyone an Answer, Craig Hazen noted:
Jesus demonstrated the truth of His message and his identity over and over again, using nearly every method at his disposal, including miracle, prophecy, godly style of life, authoritative teaching and reasoned argumentation.
Remember the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2? First, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” But then, he actually performed a miracle and healed the man. Why? Because you can’t tell if his forgiving the guy really meant he was forgiven by God. Without the miracle, observers would be left there going, “Well? Did it work? Can anyone else besides God really forgive sins?” FULL POST
Posted 4/8/12 at 3:11 AM | Mikel Del Rosario |
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally
One Easter, a relative cornered me at a family reunion and wanted to talk about the resurrection of Jesus. Let's just call her my dear Aunt Sally. Some people try to stay away from politics and religion a parties. Not Aunt Sally. :-)
Aunt Sally was Religious Studies major and she started off by telling me that Jesus didn’t come back from the dead in any real sense--that the story of Jesus' resurrection just emerged over decades after the crucifixion. She said that Jewish peasants who missed Jesus and needed a Messiah figure basically made the whole thing up--probably because it helped them feel better emotionally and things like that.
But she said something else, too. She said that it doesn't really matter if the resurrection of Jesus actually happened. After all, can't we draw inspiration from a story even if it’s not true?
In this post, I'll share how you can respond to these two challenges:
Does it really matter if the resurrection of Jesus is a total lie? I'll bet you've heard this kind of question before: "Can't we draw inspiration from a story even if it’s not true?" FULL POST
Posted 3/22/12 at 3:03 AM | Mikel Del Rosario |
Many years ago, while I was in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, my wife and I attended a family gathering. A relative heard I was in grad school and asked me, “What are you getting your degree in?”
I said, “Um… Apologetics.”
She replied with a chuckle, “I’m SO sorry!”
“It’s not really that bad,” I said, looking kind of confused.
Today, I still get odd responses at family gatherings when this comes up. But even Christians who come to my live apologetics workshops at area churches ask me, “Why does it sound like apologizing?” I get it. Our discipline has a weird name.
In this post, I’ll explain what Christian apologetics is, two general kinds of apologetics and what I like to call “the three essential elements of everyday apologetics.” So what is Christian apologetics?
What Is Apologetics?
An “apologetic” just means a defense. Peter commanded Christians to be ready with answers when people ask about the faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, the word translated as “answer” (in the NIV) is the Greek word, apologia. And that’s why the word apologetics kind of sounds like apologizing. But it’s actually more like what a lawyer does when he or she presents an opening statement or argues a case. FULL POST
Posted 3/22/12 at 2:53 AM | Mikel Del Rosario |
Is religion evil? A post on CNN's Belief Blog says: "Before 9/11, many atheists kept a low profile. Something changed, though, after 9/11. They got loud... Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults, was no longer taboo after 9/11." Indeed. In fact, this weekend, Richard Dawkins will be championing his message in Washington D.C., at a large atheist event called The Reason Rally. And Americans will be asking this question all over again: Is religion really evil?
Is Religion Evil?
This question reminds me of reading Sam Harris' The End of Faith years ago. I remember when he started to get popular by insisting that religion itself is dangerous and evil. Although he's got a lot of fans, it's interesting that a Religion Dispatches article called him "more charismatic than credentialled" as a speaker. In the same article, Harris is quoted as saying, "I’m kind of self-taught in religion...I’ve never studied it formally with anyone." But he's not the only one who's taken the spotlight. FULL POST