Guest Post: Emanuel “God With Us”

A reflection my Dad, John Kopp, wrote while contemplating Good Friday. Posted with permission:

Emanuel “God With Us”
Betrayed, arrested, abandoned, denied,
Mocked, beaten, scourged.

Emanuel “God With Us”
Questioned, lied to, lied about. Condemned for what?
For telling the truth.

Emanuel “God With Us”
Hanging on a cross. Crucified as a criminal,
Blood dripping from His head, His hands, His feet,
The wounds from the whip make His back raw with pain.
And still he forgives His tormentors.

Emanuel “God With Us”
Rejected by the Father,
Willing dying in our place,
The punishment for our sins falling on Him,
The stripes on His back are for our healing.

Emanuel “God With Us”
Lying in the grave, sealed with a stone, guarded by solders,
Sadness, grief, despair, OUR LORD IS GONE.

Emanuel “God With Us”
The stone is rolled away, the grave is EMPTY!
Death has been defeated by death,
He is ALIVE!
Sadness, grief, despair, vanished. Surprise, wonder, joy, in its place.

Emanuel “God With Us”
Gone now to the Father,
The Spirit is now with us.
To teach us how to be His disciples,
To do His work with His power, His strength.

Emanuel “God With Us” FOREVER!


Evaluating alternative theories to the Resurrection

In On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision and Reasonable Faith William Lane Craig presents the historical case for the resurrection. He outlines three pieces of evidence which historians need to wrestle with: The empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, and the disciples’ beliefs.

After building the case for this evidence, Craig refutes several alternative theories presented for explaining the evidence. Here’s his discussion in a nutshell:

Conspiracy Hypothesis: This theory states that the disciples stole the body and lied about the appearances. There are numerous problems with this hypothesis.

1.       There would be no reason for the disciples to say that women were the first witnesses to the empty tomb. In that culture, this would have made their story considerably less credible because of the role that women played in society. Jewish men would simply not invent that story.

2.       Why didn’t the disciples do more to strengthen their case like including descriptions of fulfilled prophecy, descriptions of the resurrection itself, or the guard story (included only in Matthew) in all four gospel accounts? In other words, if they went through the trouble of a conspiracy, they could have done a more convincing job.

3.       And, most importantly, why would the disciples go through all the trouble of the work of the conspiracy for a story that they knew would get them killed? When other “Messiahs” died, their followers scattered. What made this one unique?

Apparent Death Hypothesis: This theory states that Jesus didn’t die on the cross but that he was buried alive. He then revived and exited the tomb, possibly with the help of the disciples. Again, problems arise:

1.       If the disciples helped, then this hypothesis suffers the same problems as the conspiracy hypothesis.

2.       If the disciples weren’t “in on it” then this flies in the face of everything we know about Roman crucifixion. The guards could be counted on to ensure the prisoner’s death. Especially given the beatings that Jesus endured prior to the actual crucifixion, there is simply no way he could have survived, let alone revived to the degree that his disciples would have concluded that he rose from the dead.

3.       This theory also doesn’t explain why Jesus did not continue on with his disciples. If it is because he died, then it doesn’t explain the disciples’ beliefs or experience.

Displaced Body Hypothesis: This theory is that either Jesus’ body was moved with the disciples’ knowledge or they went to the wrong tomb. In either version, the disciples saw the empty tomb and concluded that Jesus rose from the dead.

1.       This theory doesn’t provide any explanation for the post-resurrection appearances.

2.       This theory doesn’t explain the disciples’ belief, since it’s extremely unlikely that they would have concluded that he rose from the dead. The idea of a resurrected Messiah was still outside of their understanding of what the Messiah would be like. They would certainly simply have tracked down the actual tomb.

3.       If the disciples hadn’t tracked down the tomb, their opponents certainly would have to refute the disciples’ story.

4.       Tombs were well noted so this theory is disconfirmed by what we know about Jewish cultural practices.

Hallucination Hypothesis: This theory is that, overcome by grief, the disciples had hallucinations of Jesus after his death and concluded that Jesus rose from the dead.

1.       This theory doesn’t provide any explanation for the empty tomb. The disciples or their opponents would have produced a body to show that the disciples were merely seeing things.

2.       In a Jewish context, a vision of a deceased person wouldn’t tell the person seeing the vision that the person was alive, but dead. There were others who experienced such visions and they confirmed that the person was dead and in heaven, not that they were raised from the dead.

3.       The bodily nature of the appearances makes such hallucinations extremely unlikely. Jesus didn’t appear as a ghost but interacted bodily with those who saw him.

4.       The sheer number of people who witnessed Jesus – including the 500 described in 1 Corinthians 15, many of whom were still alive to be interviewed, basically disproves this hypothesis.

If you take the philosophical position that miracles cannot happen than you may be forced into one of these implausible theories. But, even if you only accept the possibility of miracles, then an actual historical resurrection is the best fit for all the historical evidence available to us.

Book Recommendation: 

Almost all the books that I’ve read in defense of the resurrection cite N.T. Wright’s book The Resurrection of the Son of God

The Resurrection: Does it matter?

A Christian friend once asked me, “Does it really matter if Jesus was raised from the dead?” Can we still have the Christian faith without the resurrection?

Let’s see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. There was apparently a group of teachers in Corinth who were teaching against a final resurrection. But, says Paul, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor 12:13). But if Christ has not been raised then “our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor 12:14).

If Christ was not raised:

  • The apostles were “false witnesses of God” (1 Cor 12:15) since they made the resurrection the foundation of their faith. And if they are false witnesses about the resurrection then we cannot trust any of their testimony.
  • “Your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 12:17). Jesus took the penalty for our sins on the cross, but it was His resurrection that proved Christ’s divinity. And His divinity is necessary for his sacrifice to be sufficient to cover the sins of the entire world. If he was not divine, his sacrifice could not cover the sins of the world, nor my sins, nor yours.
  • “Those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Cor 15:18). Without the resurrection we don’t have a foundation for hope after death. Those who die are lost forever.
  • “We are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19). Christians are called to daily take up their cross and follow Jesus. The Christian life is one of sacrifice, which Paul knew first hand: “I face death every day… If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained” (1 Cor 15:31,32). Indeed, if Christ has not been raised then we should be hedonists: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Or, to put in another way: YOLO.

But, since Christ has been raised:

  • Not only has Christ been raised, but his bodily resurrection is available to those who put their faith in him. Why? Because He is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:20)
  • The reign of death which came through Adam has been overcome by the resurrection, ushered in by Christ. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Christians are not merely children of Adam and inheritors of sin and death, but children of God, living now with his resurrection life (1 Cor 15:22).
  • Christ has defeated every enemy. In his death he disarms Satan by paying for our sins. In his resurrection he proves his power over death itself (1 Cor 15:23-26).
  • Our mortal, perishable, dishonorable, and weak bodies will be clothed with immortality, glory, and power (1 Cor 15:42-44).
  • Our “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:59). What we do on this earth matters because it matters for eternity.

Must it be a bodily resurrection? Can’t we have the same sort of hopes with a mere spiritual resurrection? No. The Christian hope is not only a hope of being rescued from a fallen world (though it is), but of the redemption of the physical world, including the redemption of our physical bodies. Our final hope is not that our spirits will go to heaven to live with God, but that God will dwell with us on a new earth. We don’t have this final hope, though, if we don’t have the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Tim Keller’s three barriers to faith

In his introduction to The Reason for God Tim Keller shares some of his own spiritual journey and describes three “barriers” to embracing an orthodox Christian faith. I found his categorization especially helpful because these barriers resonate with many of the same barriers I see others experiencing today.

Keller’s religious upbringing vacillated between conservative and liberal forms of Christianity. The conservative side of his upbringing emphasized traditional Christian doctrines and the liberal side expressed doubts about those doctrines and emphasized social activism. Keller thought he saw something wrong in both of these camps:

“The people most passionate about social justice were moral relativists, while the morally upright didn’t seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world. I was emotionally drawn to the former path… But I kept asking the question, ‘If morality is relative, why isn’t social justice as well?’… [Yet] How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? Christianity began to seem very unreal to me…”

This “unreality” stemmed from three barriers that lay across his path; an intellectual barrier, a personal barrier, and a social barrier.

The intellectual barrier came from tough questions posed against Christianity: What about other religions? What about evil and suffering? What about God’s judgement? This barrier was overcome in part through reading books and examining arguments.

The personal, interior barrier, came from the transition from an inherited faith that rested on the authority of others, to a personal faith. This barrier couldn’t be overcome intellectually, but through Keller coming to grips with his own needs, flaws, and problems, and by developing a personal relationship with God.

The social barrier stemmed from his search for a group of Christians who cared about both justice and objective truth about God. Finding this group was an essential turning point for Keller.

These three barriers were intertwined and dependent upon each other. He didn’t work through them one at a time, but together.

I can especially relate to the first two barriers – the intellectual and the personal. My intellectual doubts were bound up with my personal struggles. And, as I worked out my relationship with God, some of my intellectual doubts became less difficult as I learned to simply trust God without knowing all the answers. Yet, the intellectual answers gave me more confidence that I was trusting in an objective reality, and not my own wishful thinking.

I was blessed with never having a major struggle with the social barrier. I have always been able to be part of a community of faith that, while always far from perfect, encouraged me and aided my spiritual journey.

Yet I see that many others either separate from a faith community because of the intellectual or personal barriers, which only makes those barriers more formidable, or the separation from the faith community precedes intellectual and personal barriers. In other words, the social barrier for many is tied inextricably to the personal and intellectual side of faith.

As a pastor concerned with helping people overcome barriers it’s important for me to see and properly diagnose these three barriers. Not every barrier is intellectual, or internal, or social. Intellectual answers won’t help everybody, at least not in the same way they did for me. Nor should we dismiss all intellectual questions as ways of avoiding the commands of God. And, we should see the importance of community, which give the context in which those struggling can overcome their personal and intellectual barriers.

Book Recommendation

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

A Positive Case for the Bible

In the last post I answered several objections to the Bible as God’s Word. In this post, I want to offer a positive case.

The Bible is unique

Why should we think that the Bible might be such a word from God in the first place? For one thing, the Bible claims this position for itself. That’s not sufficient to believe that it is, of course, but if it didn’t make that claim we could rule it out. Second, the Bible stands out among all the other books. Most astounding to me is its breadth, depth, diversity, and unity.

The Bible was written over a 1500-year period by over 40 authors. The authors were from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. They spoke and wrote in different languages. They wrote using different literary genres. They spoke about many controversial topics. And yet, the Bible is remarkably unified. It tells a single grand story. All the pieces fit together (though how they fit together is often the topic of fierce debate). It bears all the marks of human authorship that you would expect from a such an array of authors, but its overall continuity speaks to a grander scheme.

The Bible transcends cultures. Each book, of course, is written in its own cultural context, with its own questions and concerns. Yet none of them simply accept the norms of the culture out of which they were written. They affirm and reject different aspects of that culture, and the basis of that affirmation or rejection is the same: the presence and character of an unchanging God. When the books of the Bible are taken together, we see clearly how the Bible stands above culture. This isn’t a typical line of reasoning for a defense of the Bible, but a book that transcends culture is what I would expect from a God who transcends culture.

A church member who just started reading her Bible came up to me and said, “the Bible is weird.” It sure is, and that’s often the case because it doesn’t fit our own cultural expectations. And what else should we expect from such a book, if it really came from God? Unless you think any single culture is the embodiment of the whole truth, you would expect such a book to affirm and challenge aspects of any culture in which it was written and is read.

The Bible constantly shows itself to be reliable

As I’ve read the Bible, it has shown itself to be a reliable witness of the truth. First, I find in it great wisdom. Even those who don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word recognize the truth with which it speaks on any number of topics. Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is widely recognized as an ethical masterpiece. Second, its historical accounts reliably match what we know from archaeology and cultural investigation. We can’t prove the Bible through archaeology, but because the Bible contains historical accounts, those accounts can be checked against other historical data.[1]

The Bible interprets my world

Finally, I find in the Bible an interesting scenario in which if fits with and interprets the world around me. Let me give an illustration:

The Bible says that people are made in God’s image but that they have fallen into sin. This doctrine fits with what I see in both myself and the world around me. I see both beauty and ugliness, goodness and evil. The Bible helps me see where the goodness and beauty come from, God’s creation. And, it helps me see where evil comes from, the rebelliousness of man. I see both in my own soul, recognizing that I am a person, higher and distinct from the animals, and at the same time, that I am a worm, fallible and driven by selfish desire. In that sense, then, the Bible provides a worldview with which my own experience fits. I spoke in a previous post about the explanatory scope of theism. The same is true for the Bible. The worldview it presents has a broad explanatory scope for the ethical and spiritual world available to my senses and intuitions.

The Bible also surprises. For instance, it tells me that I can be saved from my guilt and sin by the sacrificial death of the man Jesus born 2000 years ago. What!? Where did that come from? And, incredibly, I believe it! Is that something I would have come up with on my own? No way. Is that something I think humanity would have come up with on its own? I don’t think so. The “be good and God will accept you” seems like a lot simpler path to salvation to me! In fact, that’s the path every other theistic religion presents. They are all about how we get to God. But in the Bible we have the story of how God reached down to us.

When I consider the message of the cross this story makes perfect sense! If God is holy and we are not then we’re not able to save ourselves. And if we need someone to save us, that person would have to be both God and man. And that Person would have to take the punishment we deserve, etc. So, there’s a logic to it, but it’s a logic that is clearly from God, and not from man. It’s a wisdom, but it’s a heavenly and not an earthly wisdom.

Not proof, but confidence

The reasons given above do not prove that the Bible is God’s Word, but they do give me confidence that it is what it claims to be, and that is sufficient for me.

If you’re unsure about the Bible, I encourage you to read it. Even if you don’t think that it is God’s Word, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with its contents. I can describe it in a post, but there’s really no alternative to reading the source material. From there perhaps you’ll be able to discern if it is from God or not.

A different way to get to the Bible. Looking ahead…

There’s another way I get to the truth of the Bible: The historical resurrection of Jesus. But how those two relate, and why it’s not a circular argument, is the subject of another post.

[1] Note: The two biggest contemporary objections to the reliability of the Bible are in the fields of the origins of life and the existence of miracles. I’ll deal with those in a separate post.

Book Recommendation

Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions

Answering objections to the Bible

In the last post I said that for us to be able to know specific things about God He would have had to communicate with us, and the most likely form of that special communication would be through written language, through a book.

Christians believe that God has spoken to us through the Bible. The defense of that belief takes two forms, a positive affirmation of the uniqueness of the Bible, and an answer to objections against it.

In my experience, the conversation usually starts with the objections, so I’ll start there. In my next post I’ll present the positive case for the Bible. Here are six common objections:

Objection 1: The books of the Bible were written long after the original events took place and are therefore historically unreliable.

At this objection’s most extreme level, I have heard people argue that the New Testament was written by Shakespeare! That simply flies in the face of the facts. The truth is that even the liberal biblical scholars, those who don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, date the majority of the New Testament manuscripts to the lifetimes of the apostles. Even when examined through a critical lens, it can be demonstrated that the New Testament was written very closely to the events that took place.

There are more variations in interpretations when it comes to the dating of the Old Testament books, though archaeological discoveries have tended to confirm earlier dates. For instance, we now have evidence of writings similar to the books of Moses from around the time when he was said to have lived, demonstrating that previous assumptions that those books could not be dated that far back were false. Some Old Testament books (see Daniel) are assumed to have a late date because they contain predictions about the future which did, indeed, occur (thus, they must have actually been written after the events took place). But this is based on the presupposition that predictive prophecy can’t happen. If God is behind the writing of Daniel, though, it certainly could.

Objection 2: Even if the original were God’s Word, the copies we have of them are corrupt and therefore cannot be trusted.

Biblical critics like to point to statistics that say that there are as many as 400,000 textual variants in the New Testament texts, that is, 400,000 differences can be found between the many manuscripts and manuscript fragments we have available. This, they say, proves that the text we have of the New Testament has become corrupt and that we must then be unable to get back to the original manuscripts.

But we need to take a more critical look at this statistic. What do we really know about textual variations and how they relate to whether or not we can faithfully reproduce what the originals actually said? First, they are spread over around 25,000 manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts. Second, they are condensed in just a few areas. Third, the vast majority are so minor (i.e., variations in spelling) as to be completely negligible.

Once you drill down to textual variations of any possible importance you’re left with very few, and those appear as footnotes in your Bible. Open it up and scan through the pages. You’ll see a few footnotes on each page. I just opened mine and turned to a random page and scanned the footnotes. I came across Mark 7:9 which in the NIV reads: “And he continued, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!’” The footnote in my Bible says, of the word “observe”: “Some manuscripts set up”. What’s the impact if we decide to read Jesus’s words as “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to set up your own traditions!”? Nothing. The sense is the same. This is the case with the vast majority of these textual variants.

Now, there are two New Testament variants that are worthy of further discussion. One is the story of the woman caught in adultery. In this story Jesus says the famous line, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Given the discovery that this passage is not included in the earliest manuscripts, and the observation that it appears in different places in older manuscripts, it is unlikely that this passage is part of the original text of John. We see the same thing with the “long ending” of Mark (Mark 16:9-20).

But do these examples show that we can’t get back to the original text? No. In fact, because of the massive number of manuscripts we have available, scholars can be very confident that we can, indeed, know what the originals said. These two passages are the exceptions that prove the rule, for even in these cases, we have a high degree of certainty about their place in the original text. In the cases where we lack that confidence, the sense of the passages are not seriously changed. Significantly, there are no orthodox Christian doctrines which are called into question because of textual variations.

Objection 3: The selection of books for the canon was a political decision, so we can’t trust that the ‘right’ books were selected.

The process of canonization is a longer conversation than I have time for in this post. For a clear explanation I’ll refer you to chapter 2 of Craig Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible?.

Briefly I’ll say that this objection comes either from giving too much weight to fictitious accounts of the process (see Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code) and from an assumption that the canonization of the Biblical books happened suddenly and without process at some later church council. In fact, very early writings of the church fathers demonstrate that books were considered Scripture long before councils made it “official”.

Objection 4: Because the books are written by human authors, they must be filled with errors.

I recently read an article that assumed that Christians believed that the Bible was dictated, that the human author was basically nothing more than a pen, controlled without his will. This is not what Christians believe (or, it’s not what they should believe anyway).

God used humans to write the books of the Bible. The personalities and perspectives of those authors come out clearly from the text. Each has a unique style. But that doesn’t guarantee that they erred. Christians don’t believe that the Bible was dictated, but that it was inspired. This doesn’t mean that the authors themselves were infallible, but that God could have made what they wrote while writing Scripture infallible, all while their minds and emotions were fully engaged in the process.

Fallible humans write true things all the time. How much more could such a human write truth if they were also being guided and protected by God? Human authorship doesn’t ensure human error in the text.

Objection 5: There are contradictions in the Bible which means that it cannot be God’s Word.

It’s not hard to find lists of apparent contradictions in the Bible. They key word here is “apparent.” Actual contradictions in the originals would be a problem for the believer in the Bible. The question, then, is whether these apparent contradictions are real contradictions.

These supposed contradictions fall into a few categories, not all represented here. Some come from a misunderstanding of the biblical genre. For instance, I was told there was a contradiction between the phrases “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud” (1 Kings 8:12) and “God lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16). But these texts are obviously speaking figuratively and communicate different aspects of truth about His character, not about a literal dwelling.

Some come from theological interpretation. Was Abraham justified by his faith alone (Paul), or was he justified by his works (James)? James himself clarifies this by showing that “faith without works is dead.” We’re justified by a living faith. Or, rather, faith is proved genuine by works.

Many come from different eyewitness accounts found in the gospels. But these aren’t contradictions so much as differences in emphasis, or retelling of a similar but different event. Some of these can be quite difficult to harmonize, but after more than a decade of deep study of Scripture I have yet to find one that is a true contradiction.

Summary: I have learned that the Bible is trustworthy. So, whenever I come across a supposed contradiction, I have confidence that a reasonable answer can be found, and all that awaits its discovery is a little research, usually from a good commentary.

Objection 6: Miracles prove that the Bible is mythical and unreliable.

What about the miracles? Do they show that the Bible is more of a myth than a reliable source of knowledge?

Here it’s important to remember where we started, with the assumption that it is at least possible that God exists. Unless you believe in the impossibility of miracles, then this argument shouldn’t hold much weight. After all, if God really does exist, and if He wants to make Himself known, wouldn’t He perform miracles to show us that there is something “beyond” this world? And isn’t it not only possible, but likely, that these miracles would be recorded in His book? I think so.

“The Bible is weird”

Some people object to the Bible because what they encounter therein is odd and offensive. There are a lot of strange things in the Bible, and many are offensive in our current cultural milieu, but I’m not sure that this is a case against the Bible. Should we really expect a transcultural book – which we should expect a book inspired by God to be – to be a perfect fit with our culture? I don’t think so. The fact that the Bible both affirms and challenges the cultural values and expectations of every culture (including ours) is a point for the Bible, not against it. But I’ll explain that more in my next post.

Book Recommendation: 

Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions

Should we all be agnostics?

Let’s say you find the Moral Argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, or some other argument for God compelling, does this mean you should be a Christian? Not necessarily. What do these arguments really say?

What can we know from logic and our senses?

First, they show that some Supreme Being exists (for brevity I’ll henceforth refer to this Being as God). It is not irrational to believe in God. In fact, the evidence points strongly in the direction of theistic belief. Second, they say something about God’s nature.

From the cosmological arguments we can see that God must be outside of the universe, He must be timeless, He must be uncaused, He must be a necessary being (from Leibniz). On top of that, he seems to be some sort of Mind or Will which could decide to create one sort of world as opposed to another. We would then describe Him as a Creator. He must be free, for if He were constrained then that higher constraint would be what we mean by God.

From the moral argument we can see that He is the source and foundation of all moral goodness, and from that goodness, issues commands which are to us the foundation for our moral obligations.

We might add to this knowledge evidence from the world we see around us. God has created a world of life, a world with recognizable beauty, and the capacity of His creatures to recognize His existence. Yet we also live in a world of great pain, confusion, and a proliferation of different perspectives on life.

The limitations of our logic and senses

This observational evidence is ambiguous. It requires an interpretation. It tells us something, but we’re not exactly sure what. From our observations and logical capacities, we can confidently say some things about God, but there’s much more we would have to leave unsaid.

Add to that the fact that we are finite and limited creatures seeking to understand an Infinite and Unlimited Being. Given such a vast ontological gap, how could we even begin to say anything intelligible about this Being. I recently read a quote that said: “Show me a worm that can comprehend man and I’ll show you a man that can comprehend God.” This was written by a Christian preacher intended to invoke worship, but in me it was a temptation to despair. The worm is too limited to think or speak intelligibly about man. Are we too limited to know or say anything intelligible about God?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the list of things we can say about God are limited if, that is, our knowledge comes only from our own seeking.

But there’s another way in which we might know God and be able to believe and say more than a limited number of things about Him: He would have to communicate with us.

The nature of revelation

At this point it will be useful to bring in the theological word “revelation”. When applied to God it refers to God showing Himself to humanity. We’ve already seen two ways in which He does this – the physical and moral world. He made a physical and moral world which are accessible through physical and moral senses. However, as we’ve seen, this is insufficient to say a great many other things about God, for that we need a more specific form of revelation, what theologians call “special revelation.”

Here’s where language comes in. Given that we have the capacity for abstract thought through language, that seems like the mostly likely means by which God could give us such a revelation. He could speak to us in a number of ways. He could verbally communicate (a voice from heaven), he could communicate directly to our minds (think an inner, real, but inaudible voice). He could send supernatural messengers. Etc.

Now, this communication, if always private in nature, could create a problem. What would prevent someone from claiming to speak on behalf of God? (Indeed, what does today?) It would make sense, then, for there to be some sort of authoritative source written down which could be referred to again and again to test a supposed “revelation” against.

In this way God could communicate truth about Himself, about us humans, and about our world in a way that is both comprehensible and authoritative. But, the question is, did He in fact do these things and, if He did produce such a book, which one?

And that takes me to the end of this post. Christians, myself included, believe that God has indeed communicated to us in this way, and that this communication is what we find in the Bible. The defense of that argument is the subject of the next post.