He had been reading articles on the Internet about objections to the credibility of the New Testament
- Conspiracy theories of the church suppressing information
- Edits to the text that introduce conformity to the established doctrine.
- The search for the historical Jesus.
- Secret gospels that the church suppressed.
How would I answer such questions? How could I help my unsaved friend evaluate such evidence?
How would you approach your friend who tossed similar questions at you.
That’s a Great Question
This is where a book like That’s a Great Question: What to Say When Your Faith Is Questioned, by Glenn Pearson, can be a helpful tool for you.
The book is focused on helping you analyze objections that are commonly found to the New Testament, specifically claims against the reliability of the New Testament.
Pearson focuses on worldview filters that skeptics and believers bring to the reading of the New Testament. I’m grateful he recognizes that he himself brings a filter that starts with the NT being reliable.
I found myself laughing at his humor, his funny stories, and his first hand adventures in talking about his faith in Christ.
It is a book on apologetics I found hard to put down. No boring list of data facts here.
One reviewer on Amazon said:
In a manner unknown to many authors today, Glenn skillfully blends humor and intellect to produce a great work of apologetics. This book will be a valuable resource
Pearson himself writes:
The purpose of this book, then, is to demonstrate that a commitment to academic excellence and intellectual integrity is consistent with belief in the Bible. I hope to equip you with valuable perspectives and insights that will help you identify and confidently respond to filters often used by those outside the historic Christian faith. Furthermore, I will arm you with practical principles that can clarify some tough challenges to Christian beliefs.
Part 1 is an introduction to filters that skeptics bring. Filters strain out evidence that is unwanted, or creates blindness to likely alternatives.
For example, chapter 3 is a discussion of two types of filters that add to the stories of Jesus, based on secret or suppressed documents, conspiracy theories. This chapter made me laugh out loud a few times.
Chapter 5 tells the story of a college class and the Jesus seminar and shows about how anti-supernaturalism leads to forgone conclusions, stacking the deck with similar thinking minds that filter out other explanations or possibilities.
Skeptics have a basic problem when it comes to explaining Jesus’ message. They claim that the Jesus of the Gospels was a remarkable but mortal man whom his followers elevated to divinity. But they never seem able to explain adequately just who did the extreme image makeover or who wrote his amazing speeches.
Part 2 is applying filters that a Christian believer brings to the same objections.
Part 2 of this book presents eighteen principles that provide a solid interpretive approach to the Bible. I call these “Pearson’s Principles for Approaching Puzzling, Perplexing, and Problematic Passages.” If the principles are valid and if the Bible is reliable, this approach should address critiques colored by various filters and which question the validity of the biblical text.
Some apologetic books focus on difficult questions about particular texts (God Behaving Badly). Other focus on learning and challenging religious worldviews (Evangelism Slightly Less Difficult, or Tactics).
Others focus on Reasoning from the evidence to the existence of God (God is not Dead). Pearson’s approach is to expose the presuppositions that a skeptic brings to a Bible passage and how a Christian can reasonably deal with objections and still have intellectual credibility in belief.
Do I have biases about the Bible?
Of course. I have concluded that it is reliable and accurate and is, in fact, God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible, and historically reliable revelation to humanity. This is not simpleminded acceptance, but an opinion backed by considerable research and study.
Are there problems with my position? Of course. I am fully aware of the intellectual challenges inherent in this theological view, but there is strong supportive evidence for my stance.
Do skeptical critics have biases? Of course. They, too, would say their positions are based on careful research, and they are correct.
Are there intellectual problems with their positions? Of course. There are enough complicated factors that neither side can claim victory based solely on the academic arguments.
The point, however, is that it is possible to be a thoughtful, well-educated, well-adjusted person and to believe that the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible revelation to all people in all ages.
Who is That’s a Great Question for?
I found That’s a Great Question: What to Say When Your Faith Is Questioned to be a great book for Christian believers who need to know how to analyze plausible objections to the credibility of the NT.
Young adults headed to college or already in the university will find this book helpful. If you regularly engage non-believers in meaningful conversations about your faith, you’ll run into objections and questions that are addressed in this book.
If you are a skeptic, than this book may bother you. Pearson politely shows you the presuppositions you bring to your own analysis. He admits he brings his own as well.
If you are spiritually thirsty and honestly searching for how a bible believer can believe the Scriptures, you’ll find a honest assessment of the evidence and plausible explanations of alleged contradictions in the text.
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