Monday, March 04, 2024

The Historical Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

 

THE HISTORICAL CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS 

PRESENTED BY DR. JOHN PIIPPO WITH A Q & A

 TO 
LA-Z-BOY CENTER ATRIUM

MCCC Christ-Centered Community

Is Easter the celebration of a myth or legend of a man rising from the dead? Or is it a bold historical claim that welcomes intellectual scrutiny?

We believe that the historical claim that Jesus of Nazareth rose to life from the dead has strong evidence that any open-minded intellectual should take seriously.

Whether you are a Christian or not, thinking deeply about the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection will help you understand why billions of people throughout the world of every age, race, gender-identity, and economic class think this is good news.

Skeptics, non-believers, pagans, and people of all faiths will be loved, honored, and welcome to hear our case, and ask hard questions!

John Piippo has a PhD in Philosophical Theology from Northwestern University. John taught Philosophy at MCCC for eighteen years. John is the author of six books and serves as a pastor at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Richard Dawkins on Wokery, Sex, and Gender

 

 


If you don't like this, take it up with evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins. He can handle it. 

He likes to discuss. And, he knows more about genetics than you do. ( For Dawkins and theistic geneticist Francis Collins in dialogue, go here.)

Dawkins is still the world's most famous intellectual atheist. And, his book The Selfish Gene has been used in university biology classes.

Dawkins was interviewed by Piers Morgan. The full interview is here. I find it interesting.

Here's a snippet, on sex and gender.

Piers: They (woke-ists) want to de-gender and neutralise language, but they're doing it from a completely false pretext that you can somehow pretend biology doesn't exist, particularly when it comes to someone's sex. A small group of people have been successful in reshaping swathes of the way society talks and is allowed to talk.

Richard: It's bullying. We've seen the way JK Rowling has been bullied, Kathleen stock has been bullied. They've stood up to it, but it's very upsetting the way this tiny minority of people has managed to capture the discourse to talk errant nonsense.

Piers: What's the answer?

Richard: Science. There are two sexes. You could talk about gender, if you wish and that's a subjective.

Piers: But when people say there are 100 genders?

Richard: I'm not interested in that. As as a biologist, there are two sexes and that's all there is to it.

Piers: Why have we lost that ability to actually have an open and frank debate?

Richard: There are people for whom the word discuss doesn't mean discuss, it means you've taken a position.

Again, If you don't like what Richard Dawkins is saying here, I recommend you take it up with him. I simply report this to you. 

🙂 

A heads-up. To dialogue with Dawkins you must understand what he means by 'science' and its limits.

Remember also that Dawkins, as a scientist, despises postmodern thinking.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Renewal School of Ministry - SPRING CLASSES

 

Study with great Christian leaders. Only $10/class!

Renewal School of Ministry

Spring Term Starts March 18, 2024

For more information or to register please go to our web page at www.hsrm.org/rsom.

 

1. Christian Leadership - Pastor John Grove

Starting Monday March 18,2024 @ 8 PM ET for 6 weeks

2. Church History and Polity Pastor Ed Owens

Starting Thursday March 21,2024 @ 8 PM ET for 6 weeks

3. Ambassadorship 101 Seminar - Dr Clayton Ford

Saturday, March 23, 2024 10:30 am to 1:30 pm ET, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm CT, 8:30 am to 11:30 am MT, 7:30 am to 10:30 am PT

4. Ready or Not -Tribulation, Rapture & the Second Coming of Christ Seminar-

Dr. Clayton Ford

Saturday April 13, 2024 10:30 am to 1:30 pm ET, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm CT, 8:30 am to 11:30 am MT, 7:30 am to 10:30 am PT

5. Hearing God’s Voice’ ---- Streams Ministry teachers, Doug & Pam Wantz

Sunday, April 21, 2024 - 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm ET, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm CT,

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm MT, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm PT

 

6. Biblical Answers to Cultural Values Seminar

Panel of Clay Ford, John Piippo, & Holly Collins

Saturday April 6, 2024

8am to 10am (PT), 9am to 11am (MT), 10am to noon (CT), 11am to 1pm (ET)


Church: Performance-Based or Spirit-Formed?


Is your church performance-based or Spirit-formed?
  • Are you trying to attain your goal by human effort or by the empowering presence and leading of God’s Spirit?
  • What would have to change for your church to become a Spirit-formed community?
James van Yperen, in Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, asks these questions. (p. 74). Van Yperen knows that many American churches are performance-based rather than Spirit-formed. This is not good, and explains a lot of church conflict.

He writes: 

"Pick up almost any book about church growth or leadership today, and the dominant theme will be performance—how you can do more and achieve more. Words like “effective,” “dynamic,” and “productive” describe the values and goals of leadership. Much is given to models and methods of leadership and growth. Little is said about spiritual formation." (73)

After beginning with the Spirit, many are now trying to "do church" in their own strength and by their own wisdom and efforts. (Galatians 3:3)

This distinction is key to understanding church conflict. The performance-based church creates an "audience," a bunch of "consumers," and audiences and consumers do what they do best: critique and complain. "A Spirit-formed community," in contrast, "is formed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not the personality or gifts of a man or woman." (74) 

The questions of the Spirit-formed community are not: "Do you like the worship?" or "Do you like the pastor?" In the Spirit-formed church people are not worshiping to please you.

Van Yperen is so good here. He writes:

"When a church gathers around a central figure who leads out of his or her knowledge, experience, or gifts alone, the church’s identity is inevitably tied to the ego and self-esteem of the leader. It becomes performance-based. By performance-based, we mean that planning and evaluation are focused on human achievement. Success or failure is measured by the growth and size of the church, the number of conversions, the latest facility expansion, or whether people approve of sermons, music, and so forth. Identity is measured by position, power, and accomplishment." (Ib.)

Real "church" is about God and Jesus, not some pastor or worship team. The consumer-audience will not understand this. Some pastors and worship teams don't want to understand this. This is one reason why, in our context, we don't put some "great musician" on the platform with our worship team if they are not primarily a passionate worshiper of Jesus and walk in humility and self-denial.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Orthodoxy and Progressivism: The Two Rooms

 


                                   (I took this when Linda and I were teaching AME pastors in Trinidad.)



(This is from the Introduction to my book Deconstructing Progressive Christianity.)


This is a book about beliefs.

Progressive Christians are introducing people in our churches to a heterodox kind of Christianity.  

I have officiated at many weddings over the past five decades. That’s a lot of great eating at the wedding receptions! Several of these have been memorable. Here’s one I will never forget. 

Jessica and Jason’s wedding ceremony was beautiful, especially because of the spiritual beauty of this couple. Linda and I love being part of weddings where the bride and groom are passionate Jesus-followers. That was us, too, at our wedding on August 11, 1973! Jason and Jessica had their reception in a banquet hall in Toledo. The hall had two large gathering rooms. These rooms were identical twins, mirror images, of each other. I did not know the other room that was set up exactly as the one we were in. This is important to understand. 

Connecting the two rooms was a long hallway, with rest rooms in the middle that were utilized by both rooms. So, we have two identical rooms, with shared bathrooms between the rooms. Do you understand?

During the reception I needed to use the rest room. I walked out of the banquet hall, down the hallway, and turned right into the rest room. Upon leaving, I turned right and walked down the hallway, through the door, and back into the banquet hall. Can you see where this story is going? 

While I knew many of the people at Jason and Jessica’s wedding, they had several guests and family members I had not yet met. As I walked around the banquet hall there were people I did not recognize. OK. That’s to be expected. Then I saw the table Linda and I were seated at. She was not there. OK. I’ll look for her. What was weird was that strangers were seated where we had been sitting. I admit to feeling upset about this.  

As my eyes scanned the room, there was no one that I recognized. The wedding dance for Jessica and Jason was beginning. I strained my eyes and looked closely at the bride. It wasn’t Jessica! And Jason wasn’t holding her in his arms! I thought I heard the four notes from “The Twilight Zone” in my head. Here I stood, in a room identical to the one for Jessica and Jason. But something was not right. I exited that wedding reception, walked back down the hall, past the rest rooms (where Ishould have turned left), and into the correct room. There, Linda was seated at our table. My friends were there. Jessica and Jason were finishing their wedding dinner at the main table. What a relief! 

This is how it is, for me, with “progressive Christianity.” Some of the furniture seems identical to what I believe. Indeed, some things are good, such as the desire for greater community, and working to bring God’s justice upon the earth. And there’s more than that. But, as I have met with progressive Christians, and read their literature, some things don’t feel right to me. Indeed, some things seem downright wrong, dangerous, and, if I may use the word, heretical. Heterodox. It feels like another religion to me, an offshoot of Christianity. I see Progressive Christianity as being in a different room, with a different story, with different beliefs.

Master/Slave Marriages

Image result for husbands love your wives john piippo
(My back yard)

Linda and I have been privileged to meet with many marital couples over the years. We have seen God heal and renew broken marriages. We have seen marriages that should have experienced healing but remained in their sickness.

One type of troubled marriage is the "master/slave" marriage. We also call this the "controller/controlee" marriage. Instead of the mutual submission marital model given us in Ephesians 5:22-23, the husband takes on a false, dictator-like position on being "the head of the house." He imprisons his wife in a world of his own making. He fails to see his role as head of the house as being like Christ to his wife, and loving her as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her.

I meet a lot of control freaks and controlees. Many marriages are the coming together of these anti-types. Every control freak needs a controlee, and vice versa. 
This is very, very bad. Keith Miller writes: "control is the major factor in destroying intimate relationships." (Compelled to Control: Recovering Intimacy in Broken Relationships., p. 7) 

Why do we do this? Why try to control others when we can't control our own selves, and are often out of control? Miller writes:

"The fear of being revealed as a failure, as not being "enough" somehow, is a primary feeling that leads to the compulsion to control other people. When we were children, the fear of being inadequate and shameful was tied to our terror of being deserted or rejected and we had little control over getting what we needed. To counteract that basic terror, we have evidently been trying all our lives in various ways to "get control" of life. This includes controlling other people." (14)

A controlling person is an un-free person. Insecurity is the emblem of control. Instead, God wants to free us from the terrible burden of always having to get our own way. "Walking in freedom" and "controlling other people" ("always getting our own way") are oppositional.

The control-freak-husband (or wife) crushes the spirit of the other person, who wears a sign saying, 'Crush me." The destructive cycle is: "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" - "I'm in control of you"/"Control me," and so on, round and round they go. This destroys marriages and relationships. The antidote is trust. Because where trust is, control is not.

Begin breaking free by learning trust in God. Pray to be less controlling than you now are. Pray to be less controlled by others than you now are. Trust God even when you don't trust other people.

Go basic, repeating and praying Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! (The Message)


Get help for your marriage.

You can be a team, a loving, mutually submissive partnership, the kind of kingdom marriage we see in Ephesians 5.


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Why I Pray

Image result for john piippo pray
(Glen Arbor, Michigan)

(From my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God. All Scripture references are in my book.)

The beating heart of my praying life for the past forty-two years happens on Tuesday afternoons. So, this Tuesday, I will get in my car, drive seven miles to the Lake Erie shoreline, and pray. I'll be praying anywhere from two to five hours. (If you would like me to pray for you, please send me an email - I'll share the request with Linda and no one else. johnpiippo@msn.com)

Why do I do this?

Because everyone in the Bible prayed.

In the Old Testament people prayed 

Abraham prayed. “Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again…” 

Isaac prayed. “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” 

Jacob prayed. “Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper…’”

Moses prayed. Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD.

When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. 

The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Samson prayed.

Hannah prayed.

Samuel prayed.

David prayed. “Nathan hears from God and shares this with David. Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

Elisha prayed.

Hezekiah prayed. “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign.”

Solomon prayed. [The Dedication of the Temple] “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”

Ezra prayed. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”

Nehemiah prayed. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

Job prayed. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

Psalms – the word “prayer” is used thirty-four times in the Psalms.

Isaiah prayed.

Jeremiah prayed.

Elijah prayed.

All the prophets prayed. Jonah prayed. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.”

Daniel prayed. “Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”

The early church prayed. 

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

And: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

And: On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.

“Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

Peter prayed. About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

Paul and Silas prayed. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.

Paul prayed. “God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times…

And: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Paul counseled Jesus-followers to “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

Jesus prayed. 

Jesus was often found praying, in various contexts; e.g., in the synagogue, in lonely places, etc. Jesus spent time in solitude. “Jesus began his ministry by spending 40 days alone in solitude and prayer.”

“Before choosing the Twelve Jesus spent the entire night alone in the desert hills praying.”

“When he heard of John the Baptist’s death Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.””

“After feeding the 5000 he dismissed the crowd and “went up into the hills by himself” where he prayed.”

After a long night of work, “in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place.”

After healing a leper, Jesus “often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.”

Before his time on the cross he went alone to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed.

Jesus went out as usual [as was his custom; as was his habit] to the Mount of Olives, to pray…

If the God-followers in the Old Testament prayed, if the early church prayed, if Peter prayed, if the apostle Paul prayed, and if Jesus took habitual solitary times of praying out of his own need to be in contact with the Father, should I do any less?

(Pages 254-259)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Did Jesus Actually Exist?

Door, in Jerusalem

Today I heard someone in our Monroe community make the claim that there's no evidence that the Jesus of the four gospels actually existed, and that the "Jesus" presented there is a myth. I think that view is false.

Perhaps the best explanation of and refutation of "the legendary Jesus theory" is Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus. While the whole book needs to be read, here's a summary of reasons why the synoptic Jesus tradition can be considered reliable.

  1. "The general religious environment of first-century Jewish Palestine would not have provided a natural environment for birthing a legend/myth centered around a recent, Torah-trumping, cruciform-messianic God-man." (452)
  2. Core "countercultural and embarrassing features of the Jesus story provide further evidence against the Synoptic portrait(s) being significantly legendary." (Ib.)
  3. "The claims that Jesus's identity was inextricably bound up with that of Yahweh-God and that he should receive worship, the notion of a crucified messiah, the concept of an individual resurrection, the dullness of the disciples, the unsavory crowd Jesus attracted, and a number of other embarrassing aspects of the Jesus tradition are difficult to explain on the assumption that this story is substantially legendary." (Ib.)
  4. "The fact that this story originated and was accepted while Jesus's mother, brothers, and original disciples (to say nothing of Jesus's opponents) were still alive renders the legendary explanation all he more implausible. In our view, it is hard to understand how this story came about in this environment, in such a short span of time, unless it is substantially rooted in history." (Ib. See also Richard Bauckham's excellent Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.)
  5. "Attempts to argue against the historicity of the Jesus tradition on the basis of the alleged silence of Paul or ancient secular writers have not been forceful." (Ib.)
  6. "Much of what we have learned about oral traditions in orally dominant cultures over the last several decades gives us compelling reasons to accept the earliest traditions about Jesus as having been transmitted in a historically reliable fashion." (Ib.)
  7. "The Synoptics themselves give us plausible grounds for accepting that the basic portrait(s) of Jesus they communicate is substantially rooted in history. Yes they are "biased," but no more so than many other ancient or modern historical writers whom we typically trust." (Ib., 453)

Eddy and Boyd conclude: "Where does all this leave us? We suggest that these lines of evidence, viewed from the standpoint of an "open" historical-critical method, provide reasonable grounds for the conviction that the portrait(s) of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels substantially is rooted in history. At the very least, this probability is greater than the probability of any competing hypothesis, which leads us, at minimum, to the conclusion that the a posteriori burden of proof should be born by those who claim the Synoptic Gospels are unreliable vis-a-vis their essential representations of Jesus." (Ib.)

That's a lot of quoting. It's Eddy and Boyd's summary of their book. Read the whole thing to see these bullet points reasoned for and filled out.

(On the historicity of the four gospels, see Craig Keener's new book, Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels.)

Everyone Has a Grand Narrative




After explaining my faith in Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life, the young "progressive Christian" said, "Well, that's your narrative. My narrative is different." When they responded to me this way I smelled the spirit of postmodernism.

As a philosopher, I am uninterested in your narrative. I am interested in you, in understanding you. But the philosophical view is one that concerns Grand Narratives, or metanarratives, and whether or not one of them is true. And, the conviction that everyone has a Grand Narrative.

Postmodern theorists such as Jean Francois Lyotard reject the idea of Master Narratives, or Grand Narratives (metanarratives). Here's an explicative quote from Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge:

Modernity is "any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse of this kind [i.e., philosophy] making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth." 

Postmodernism, in turn, is ". . .incredulity toward metanarratives."

Philosopher Charles Taylor says, on the other hand, that "people always tend to understand themselves in terms of some big-scale narrative. The only remedy for a bad Master Narrative is a better Master Narrative." (And not, as postmodern philosophers think, scrapping them, as if one could.)

Everyone has a Grand Narrative, which is mostly pre-thematic (i.e., unreflected on). In this, everyone makes a truth claim.

***

See, e.g., Jurgen Habermas's devastating critique of postmodernism. (Explained here - scroll down to #9.) 

***

In their incredulity towards metanarratives, the postmodern thinker employs the metanarrative they dismiss in the critique of metanarratives. This results in self-contradiction. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains it this way:

"Habermas also criticizes Derrida for leveling the distinction between philosophy and literature in a textualism that brings logic and argumentative reason into the domain of rhetoric. In this way, he says, Derrida hopes to avoid the logical problem of self-reference in his critique of reason. However, as Habermas remarks: “Whoever transposes the radical critique of reason into the domain of rhetoric in order to blunt the paradox of self-referentiality, also dulls the sword of the critique of reason itself” (Habermas 1987 [1985], 210). 

In similar fashion, he criticizes Foucault for not subjecting his own genealogical method to genealogical unmasking, which would reveal Foucault's re-installation of a modern subject able to critically gaze at its own history. Thus, he says, “Foucault cannot adequately deal with the persistent problems that come up in connection with an interpretive approach to the object domain, a self-referential denial of universal validity claims, and a normative justification of critique” (Habermas 1987 [1985], 286)."

***


At MCCC March 21 - A Historical Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

 


 


I look forward to presenting this at MCCC on March 21st!