apologetics

Evidence of God from Dr. Judge the Leviathan

 

WIT

So, there’s this article floating around the internet that claims scientists have discovered the first evidence of God’s existence. (No need for you anymore, Romans 1…)

The article has been shared almost a quarter-million times on Facebook, where I first came across it. The title was intriguing, so I went ahead and clicked on it. But the more I read, the more things seemed fishy to me. By the time I finished I felt like I was as at a fisherman’s wharf.

Why? Because this article is obviously not real. It’s completely fake.

Let’s count the ways in which this article should raise some red flags:

  1. It’s from the Wyoming Institute of Technology… which doesn’t actually exist. Don’t believe me? Go to their website and try to apply or even get a campus tour. Good luck!
  2. It claims that a fictitious institute joined up with the Human Genome Project and Bob Jones University, but neither of these real institutions make the same claim.
  3. Its author is Dr. Richter DasMeerungeheuer, which means Judge the Leviathan in German – not a real name.
  4. It cites BJU professor Matthew Boulder as being part of the discovery who is about as real as Dr. Judge the Leviathan.

All this reminds us of one simple lesson – you can’t always trust everything you read on the internet, even if you want to.

It’s not bad apologetics, it’s fabricated apologetics.

Not only this, but it’s a false witness. Assuming the author of this article wants to promote faith in God through science, he or she is going about it in a very bad way. This article is worse than bad apologetics for the Christian faith.

Why? Because it’s not bad apologetics, it’s fabricated apologetics.

We are called to defend faith well and honestly. This article is a great example of what it means to bear false witness and misrepresent the very God that the author seems to be defending, which presupposes that God (not faith) needs defending in the first place.

I would say to chalk this article up to bad scholarship, but it doesn’t even deserve that.

It’s a complete lie.

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apologetics

Did Christians Always Worship Jesus?

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I talked to a Muslim missionary at the market this weekend.

During that conversation, he said something that can catch Christians off guard the first time they hear it:

Early Christians did not worship Jesus as God until the fourth century.

This is something that Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach.  More recently, the idea was popularized in mainstream culture in Dan Brown’s Angles & Demons.

The idea goes that early Christians revered Jesus as the Son of God, but not God himself.  Then, in 325CE, the powerful Christian church married the Roman Empire and changed a core doctrine – the divinity of Jesus.  Thus, with Christianity as the “official religion” of Rome, Christians began to worship Jesus as both the Son of God and God himself.

“So early Christianity,” said the Muslim missionary, “was actually more ‘Islamic’ than Christianity post-fourth century.”

Jesus isn’t God. He never was – it’s just a lie.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 325CE?

What happened in the 300s that made Christians “start” worshipping Jesus as God?

Well… nothing, actually. They had been worshipping him as God well before three hundred years after his death, burial, and resurrection.

The reason the Muslim missionary believed otherwise is simply a misunderstanding of the Council of Nicaea in 325CE.

The Islamic, Jehovah’s Witness, and Angels & Demons version of this council goes as follows:

  • Emperor Constantine becomes a Christian
  • Constantine then calls the Council of Nicaea (a meeting of all the Christian leaders throughout the empire)
  • He makes the powerful Christian religion the official faith of the Roman Empire
  • Constantine commissioned the Bible to be created
  • Jesus is officially identified as God and worshipped

What actually happened:

  • Emperor Constantine becomes a Christian
  • Seeking to unify a divided empire, he makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire
  • He enables the first ever global meeting of Christians – after three hundred years of sporadic persecution
  • No commission of the Bible was called – it was pretty much already in place, since they used Scripture to discuss theological points at the council
  • The idea of Jesus as a created being is condemned – the majority view of Jesus as God is upheld

In the end, Christians had been worshipping Jesus from day one.

HOW SHOULD I RESPOND?

So, what if you are met with this objection about Jesus?  What if someone told you that they believe Jesus was not considered God until the fourth century? I would suggest drawing the conversation towards these three points:

1.) The first Christian martyr recorded in history (ca. 35CE) asked his Lord Jesus to receive his spirit – something only God could do. [Acts 7:59]  This was well before 325CE.  And by well, I mean 290 years.

  • “But,” they may respond, “since this is from the Bible, suppose Christians changed the texts sometime in the past.”

2.) Early Christian writings and letters, written hundreds of years before the Council of Nicaea, are saturated in the admiration of Jesus as God. 1 Corinthians 8:6 is a prime example, which New Testament scholar Dr. James Dunn (University of Durham) believes is “mind-blowing” in its attribution of “divine agency” to Jesus.[1]

  • “Again, this evidence is from the Bible,” – regardless of the fact that we can verify original content far greater than other ancient writings – “I don’t trust the Bible.”

3.) There is ample extra-Biblical evidence that supports Christian worship of Jesus as God well before the Council of Nicaea in 325CE.  One such piece of evidence is from The Didache.

From Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew:

“The Didache is a well–known document used by early Christians as a sort of guide for the early Christian faith. The Didache, from the Greek for ‘instructions,’ was passed around from home to home or church to church much like the four Gospels and Paul’s letters were before the Bible was formed.

It contains instructions on how to baptize new believers, stating that the baptizer should, “baptize in running water, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The source of this quote may be found in the Gospel of Matthew, which was written closer to the time of Jesus. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The name in which Jesus instructed Christians to baptize new disciples is a trinitarian title for God. Notice that we are not called to baptize in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the name, singular.

If the early church taught that God was a separate god from Jesus or even the Holy Spirit, then why copy the trinitarian title for God in Matthew into your instruction manual? The Didache is clear evidence of the Trinity outside of the Bible in the early church.”

At the end of the day, Christians have been worshipping Jesus as God since the day they witnessed his resurrection.

And there’s good reason for that – he lived a blameless life, preached the good news, died at the hands of both religious people and bad government, then rose again to prove for us that his good news really is good.

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[1] James D. G. Dunn, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence, (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 110.

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apologetics, theology

God’s Egotism Issue

Every Thursday night we host a small group at our house.  It’s an awesome time of fellowship with good friends as we go through scripture and pray for each other.

This past week an interesting question was posed to the group by one of the members.

Is God egotistical?

The member who posited the question had been asked the same question at their place of work and wanted to discuss it with other Christians.

The question they were asked was – Is God egotistical for creating human beings only to worship and praise him forever?  Doesn’t it seem a bit arrogant to create something that must worship you forever?

If God is truly god, with everything this entails (being perfectly content on his own), why go to the trouble of creating humanity to worship you?

As if God is a cosmic toddler who surrounds himself with building blocks just to do with them as he pleases (i.e., tears them down, builds on them, forgets about them and waits for his parents to put them away, etc.)

So what’s God’s deal?  What’s God’s egotism issue?

To begin, this question presupposes that God is a single being.  As true as this may be for many of the world’s religions, it is not for Christianity.  Before the universe existed, God was not lonely pondering what to do one Saturday night before concocting the idea of creating humanity to satisfy his boredom and egotism.

God has always existed in community with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[1] He is self-sustaining in his own worship and admiration.  Were human beings never to come on the scene, God would still be worshiped, loved, and adored.

God’s existence and fulfillment is in no way dependent on his creation.  Period.

Since God does not need our worship to be satisfied or complete in his being, he is not egotistical for creating humanity to worship him.[2] In fact, just the opposite is true.  God would actually be egotistical not to create human beings to worship him forever.

Here’s a thought experiment;

There is a being (Being A) that exists.  Being A’s very existence is absolute love, power, beauty, justice, perfection, righteousness, and magnificence.  Being A also has the power to create ex nihilo, from nothing.

Being A chooses not to create beings (little beings) to enjoy the most powerful, beautiful, just, perfect, righteous, magnificent being existing far beyond their comprehension.  Being A is by definition selfish for not creating little beings to enjoy its very existence.

In other words if God is absolute love, power, and beauty, and he has the ability to create something which could enjoy that, would it not be selfish of God to not create us?

Would it not be egotistical of God to keep him all to himself?  To never share his love with anyone but himself?

God’s egotism issue is not that he created humanity to forcibly worship him for all eternity; God’s egotism issue is his created humanity who let their own egos prevent them from realizing their very purpose of existence…

…enjoying absolute love, power, beauty, justice, perfection, righteousness, and magnificence.


[2] This is not to say, however, that he does not desire it.  Not for his sake, but for ours.  We need to worship God far more than God needs us to worship him.

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Quit Denying Joy

depression
John Piper is famous for saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Christian hedonism, it’s called. The more we delight and enjoy in God, the more God is glorified and we are joyful.
This seems easier said than done.
Most Christians hold to the unfortunate idea that we should not be purposefully seeking joy in our life. That, in some way, the Christian life is a hard one, and to deny that is to deny faith. That our treasures and joy are stored up in Heaven, but until then, have fun living a dull, meaningless, joyless, hard life.
This is total garbage.
Just because we seek after and desire joy, and an abundance of it, does not mean it’s wrong. It just depends where the source of that joy comes from. If
our joy comes from God, and lining up with the rhythm of life God is trying to get us into, then let the joy come.
There’s nothing more joyful than knowing your right standing with God through Christ, and that you are living a life intentionally laid out for you.
Joy from God transcends life – crappy jobs, small bank accounts, broken relationships. But most of us don’t get that.
Instead, we secretly think that the purpose of a Christian’s life is to please a sadistically, tyrannical God through persevering in life’s obstacles, hardships, and whatever else the big bully in the sky will throw at you. To see who can outlast who in a hard life by pleasing an attention-starved God.
Church becomes a chore. Christian fellowship becomes awkward. Prayer because insincere. All because we feel our purpose is to give God what he wants – attention.
But here’s the problem with that: God is not attention-starved and hasn’t been for all eternity, neither will he ever be.
He has all the community and relationship he needs within himself as a triune being – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Relationship with God is not something that can break just because you screw up here and there. He doesn’t need a relationship with you – but he desires nothing less.
Why? Because when we have a relationship with God, we incline our life towards him. And when we incline our life towards him, we glorify him.
So, why do we assume that God is a being who needs to be pleased? He doesn’t. He needs to be glorified.
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” If we want to please God, and we want to glorify God, then we need to start by satisfying ourselves in him. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37.4).”
There isn’t a single verse in all of scripture, not a single one, which condemns us from wanting to have joy in our lives. Morose is not the way we were designed to live.
Start delighting in him. In prayer, wrestle and argue with him over issues. Dive into his word to hear back. Earnestly pray to discover his will in your life even in the little things. Lean on him for everything.
The more we delight in him, the more he is glorified. The more we understand his will for our lives, the more joy we have.
Stop denying joy in life by trying to serve a caricature of God. Stop looking for it in the wrong places.
Delight in God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom 15.13).
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Justifier God

I drive past a church on my way to work every day whose church sign reads, “It is God who justifies.” Now, I normally don’t pay attention to church signs because seriously, I get embarrassed for churches when their sign says, “Read Your Bible, It’ll Scare the Hell Out of You!” or “Free Coffee; Eternal Life. Membership Has Its Perks”

But this one was short, simple, and to the point; and a really good one at that.

“It is God who justifies” is half of a verse from Romans 8:33 where Paul previously asks the rhetorical question, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” This verse should seriously comfort Christians since it absolutely demolishes any sense of works or self-attained righteousness in order to be justified before God. People who say that Christianity is just like any other religion seriously neglect the fact that Christianity is the only worldview which understands God doing all the justifying work for man and not the other way around.

Romans 8.33 tells us that God, through Jesus Christ, has already done everything necessary for justification in God’s eyes; we can neither add nor subtract from that work. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less than He already does and will for all eternity.

God is often referred to as our Father and ‘Abba’ which literally translates as ‘daddy’. How sick would to be for a Father to tell their children that his love for them depends on how well they behave or how well they do in school? Likewise, how much sicker would it be for the God of the universe to refer to Himself as the daddy yet tell us we must achieve a certain level of morality before He’ll love us?

When it comes to being justified in God’s sight, “Christ reconciled us to himself”1 and “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”2. We don’t have to add anything to that at all in order to make God love us! This should lead us to a posture of humility, a spirit of thankfulness, and the love-driven work of living out the Gospel in our lives through what is called sanctification. But all those things come separate from the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, given to you as a free gift.

In fact, that’s why Jesus yelled it; “It is finished!” If we try add something to our justification, like abstaining from hanging out with non-Christian friends or labeling the pub as sinful and thinking that will make God love us more, then we are actually telling Christ that His sacrifice on the Cross was not sufficient or good enough for us. And that is way arrogant.

Rest easy in your justification, because it is God who justifies. And now that you’re justified, try to live like Christ and spread the word.

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1 2Co 5.18

2 Phi 1.6

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