Image for post
Image for post

CS Lewis famously remarked that “the gates of hell are locked from the inside.” In other words, the residents of the damned are there based on personal preference. It’s not because they’d rather be in heaven but only lacked sufficient information.

Echoing Lewis, Christian philosopher Dallas Williard wrote that hell isn’t “an ‘oops’ or a slip. One does not miss heaven by a hair, but by a constant effort to avoid and escape God.”

But are these famous Christian thinkers correct? Doesn’t it seem crazy that anyone would prefer hell? Based on the statements of many influential skeptics and atheists, the answer might surprise you. Many hardheartedly reject the Biblical picture of God. …


Image for post
Image for post

One of the most popular arguments for God’s existence is the moral argument. It can take different forms, but a popular version runs like this:

  1. But moral values and obligations exist — objectively.
  2. Therefore, God exists.

It’s true that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument. But do we really know of many good atheists? …


Image for post
Image for post

Bart Ehrman says that the author of Luke can’t seem to get the story of the Ascension of Jesus right. In his Gospel, Luke says that Jesus ascended into heaven the day of his resurrection. In The Acts of the Apostles, Jesus hung around for 40 days before leaving his disciples. Dr. Ehrman writes in his blog:

“In Luke 24 (you can read it for yourself and see) Jesus rises from the dead, on that day meets with his disciples, and then, again that day, he ascends to heaven from the town of Bethany. But when you read Acts 1, written by the same author, you find that Jesus did not ascend on that day or that place. Jesus instead spends forty days with his disciples proving to them that he had been raised from the dead (it’s not clear why he would have to prove it! Let alone do so for forty days!), and only then — forty days after his resurrection — does he ascend. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Enrique Vidal Flores on Unsplash

Noted agnostic NT scholar Bart Ehrman says that the Gospels are cannot be reliable eyewitness accounts because they’re riddled with contradictions. The very center of the Gospel message is that Jesus was crucified. But according to Bart, the evangelists can’t even agree on what day exactly Jesus died. Ehrman brought this objection up in his debate with William Lane Craig.

“[When you read the Gospels] you come up with major differences. Just take the death of Jesus. What day did Jesus die…? Did he die on the day before the Passover meal was eaten, as John explicitly says, or did he die after it was eaten, as Mark explicitly says?”


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Skeptical New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman says that Mark and Luke tell two irreconcilably different stories about Jesus’ death. In his book Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman describes Mark’s account:

Jesus is silent the entire time, as if in shock, until his cry at the end, echoing Psalm 22…Mark is trying to say something by this portrayal. He doesn’t want his readers to take solace in the fact that God was really there providing Jesus with physical comfort. He dies in agony, unsure of the reason he must die. Jesus, Interrupted p 65–66

Ehrman says this stands in sharp contrast with Luke’s calm and collected version of…


Image for post
Image for post

The New Testament has archaeological and historical evidence in spades, lame pun intended. For example, we have Caiaphas’ ossuary, an inscription of Pontius Pilate, the discovery of the pool of Siloam, and a lot more. We also have external confirmations of Jesus’ existence found in Tacitus and Josephus, among others.

When Christians share this information online, untrained skeptics will snarkily accuse believers of committing the “Spider-Man” fallacy. The ever-reliable and usually offbeat Urban Dictionary defines the ‘Spider-Man fallacy’ like this:

“Often used to illustrate the flaw in the assertion by evangelical Christians that archaeologists unearthing biblical cities today “proves” that the Bible was written by a supernatural force. The Spiderman Fallacy is committed any time the discovery of a mundane element from a myth, legend, or story is taken to mean that ALL other parts of that story, even the supernatural, are also true.” …


Image for post
Image for post

Skeptical Biblical critics like John Shelby Spong say that it’s impossible that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John. Spong writes:

“There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over 25 to 30 years.”

Spong isn’t alone in this criticism, even some conservative evangelical Christians have cast doubt on the traditional authorship of John for various reasons. …


Image for post
Image for post

Agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman says, “the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information about the life and teachings of Paul.” In his book, Jesus, Interrupted Dr. Ehrman provides five examples of contradictions that exist between Paul’s letters and Acts.

Ehrman writes,

“These are just a few of the discrepancies that one can find when one reads Acts horizontally against Paul’s letters. Many more can be discovered. What they show is that Acts cannot be relied upon for completely accurate detail when it describes the mission of the early apostles such as Paul.”

Since these contradictions are the five he handpicked for his book, he must feel like they’re some of the best. If the strongest examples aren’t even really contradictions, then that gives us a good reason to doubt Ehrman, not Luke. …


Image for post
Image for post

A few weeks ago, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon said: “But here’s the thing, Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on the Earth. So why are we deifying the Founders?”

As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir over social media and on the blogs, since the Bible clearly teaches Christ’s sinless perfection. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

When arguing for the traditional authorship of John, you’re going to encounter a significant amount of pushback. Skeptics will often say that there’s a vast scholarly consensus against Johannine authorship, but when you look at their arguments, many of them are quite weak. In this post, I’ll address some of the more common ones.

1. Wouldn’t someone close to John sound more like the Synoptic writers?

No, not if John had different purposes for writing his Gospel. The early evidence from the church fathers says that his Gospel was intentionally supplemental. Clement of Alexandria wrote:

“Of all those who had been with the Lord only Matthew and John left us their recollections (hypomnēmata), and tradition says that they took to writing perforce…. John, it is said, used all the time a message which was not written down, and at last took to writing for the following cause. The three gospels which had been written down before were distributed to all including himself; it is said he welcomed them and testified to their truth but said that there was only lacking to the narrative the account of what was done by Christ at first and at the beginning of the preaching…They say accordingly that John was asked to relate in his own gospel the period passed over in silence by the former evangelists.” …

About

Erik Manning

I am the Reasonable Faith Chapter Director in Cedar Rapids and the writer for isjesusalive.com. I’m interested in the intersection of Christianity and history.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store