The Perfect Savior 2

The commendable and admirable aspects of the current “American Dream” might be culturally defined as going to a prestigious college, getting a high-paying job that we enjoy working at, having a happy and fulfilling marriage, living in a beautiful house in a desirable location, having a family, having good friends, participating in sports, being active in our community, making a positive contribution to the world, being able financially to support worthwhile charities and to help other people, to send our children to college, to have grandchildren, to live long and healthy lives free of illness, and to be able to travel and to enjoy financial security in our retirement.

Certainly people who are born with easily recognizable gifts…such as the athletic talent to someday run 9.6 seconds in the 100-meter dash in track-and-field…or to play professional sports in the NFL, NBA, World Cup soccer, and the MLB…for example…should pursue these God-given talents…with everything they have in terms of time, effort, and determination.

The same thing goes for people who show promise at an early age on a musical instrument, or display the outgoing people-skills to run for political office, or demonstrate the argumentative skills to become a courtroom lawyer, or have the intelligence to be able to earn a PhD in mathematics.

I have friends who knew in late grade school or early high school that they wanted to become a medical nurse…or work in landscape gardening…or work in commercial building construction…or have a family and be a stay-at-home mom.

But the critical observation within the broad array of moral concepts…is that the biblical narrative stories of faith…the God-composed life-scripts for the people of faith recorded in the Bible…have little or nothing to do with the otherwise positive and commendable aspects of the American Dream…however these universal aspects are translated back in time to the various ancient cultures and geographical locations of the fully detailed, biblical life-scripts of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David all the way through to Paul.

This is the painfully offensive part of the biblical gospel message that infuriates worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

This is the novel and innovative feature of the biblical narrative stories of faith that creates the fork-in-the-road detour away from the narrowly exclusive emphasis by worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…aimed solely upon the pursuit of the current, culturally defined American Dream…through the means of our God-given talents to achieve self-validation and individual achievement…on our own…apart from God.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script…specifically tailored to each of us by the God who created us…is much better than pursuing the positive and enticing features of the current, culturally defined American Dream.

God displacing our ways with His higher ways…as actualized within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…is not a negative…but is the most positive reality imaginable.

Unbelief in the realm of worldly conventional thinking will reject Jesus Christ…but Christians today must comprehend within their discipleship callings…the meaning of the concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.

No matter what are our varied career paths and the individual specifics of our unique callings and mission-plans…the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ applied to our lives…is better than the American Dream procured through self-effort and autonomous individualism (Mk. 8:34-38).

Finally, the rejection of Jesus Christ leading to the cross…is in part…the result of the worldly conventional offense of Jesus not in the slightest way satisfying the expectations of the religious leaders in Jerusalem…that they incorrectly assumed they were entitled to…for the Messiah to provide the new worldly context to inaugurate all of the positive aspects of the first-century version of the American Dream…starting with the military and political expulsion of the Roman occupiers of their country Israel.

But the amazingly divisive and differentiating character of the fully scripted and detailed mission-plans for Abraham through Paul are not about fulfilling the worldly aspects of the past and present versions of the American Dream.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are about enabling God to set-up and manage a program throughout human redemptive history…that allows God to actualize events and circumstances into reality…to fix our world and our lives.

This is an elevated program…that will run above and often contrary to the culturally accepted direction of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Mt. 5:3-12, 6:25-34).

This element of elevated unconventionality explains Abraham waiting in faith for the birth of Isaac…Joseph’s unusual MBA preparation in the house of Potiphar and the prison of Pharaoh…the Israelites in bondage in Egypt…the advance preparation of Moses as a shepherd of sheep in Midian…David being pursued for his life by the jealous King Saul…Peter utterly failing in the courtyard of Caiaphas during the night trial of Jesus…and the incredible conversion of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…creating the radical humility needed for a highly educated Pharisee to take the gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah to the larger Greco-Roman world…without looking down his nose in disdain at the polytheistic, idol-worshipping Greeks and Romans of his day.

These are the scenarios composed by God to fix our world and the problem of sin in our lives.

The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be the invention of human literary fiction…because this divinely composed life-script does not come within miles of the aspects of any universally defined American Dream (Mt. 4:8-10).

The cross on Calvary Hill is the absolute worst thing that can happen to the long-awaited Messiah…the epitome of human failure as defined by the positive aspects of the American Dream.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the absolute best thing that can happen to any person…overcoming and defeating death.

The mission-plan of the Jesus Christ the Son of God…the Passover Lamb of God…”slain from the foundation of the world”…is to experience the absolute worst and the absolute best…in unselfish service to mankind…filling-up and encompassing the entire spectrum of human experience…for our sakes.

If the gospel message of salvation was aimed at…and accessible only…to the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the beautiful, and those few people gifted to be leaders…then we could easily judge in hindsight today that the appeal of Jesus Christ would have been to the religious and political elites in Israel…bypassing and disregarding altogether the common people…and attracting an entirely different retinue of followers than the apostles and disciples that make-up the early Christian church in Jerusalem.

But Jesus Christ instead is lethally rejected by the worldly-minded religious leaders (Jn. 11:47-48)…thus setting-up the context of the cross of Calvary…wherein God validates both the worst and the best events in terms of the worldly perception of absolute failure and success…divinely separating-out and parsing for us the key moral issue within the broad array of moral concepts…of God-sovereignty within the entire range of human experiences…above and outside of the aspects of the American Dream.

The brilliant creative capacity of God to get His arms around the vast stretch of human experience…maintaining fidelity to God-sovereignty in the midst of the lowest failure and the highest success… allows every person of faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and King…to get to know God personally from the least to the greatest…as prophesied roughly 2,600 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah…in anticipation of new covenant believers (Jer. 31:31-34)…all energized by God-sovereignty rather than being fueled by the pursuit of individual achievement according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were in service to mankind…at the peak and pinnacle of moral perfection…the purest essence of virtue.

The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were and are radical measures in the extreme…designed by God to fix the human problem of sin…of going our own way in autonomous individualism.

When this is separated-out and highlighted from amongst the broad array of moral concepts…this provides compelling evidence for accepting Jesus Christ into our lives…as the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…being morally perfect and having sinless virtue.

The humanly inconceivable test of the consistency of God-sovereignty in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary Hill…falls outside of and is entirely immune to the worldly wrong value-judgments placed on the appearances of failure and success.

This means that the human life lived within a God-composed journey of faith life-script…is independent of the otherwise commendable goals, aspirations, and worldly standards of the American Dream.

This validates the argument that the Bible cannot be the creative invention of human literary imagination.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Perfect Savior 1

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in al points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”                                                                           (Heb. 4:15)

In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders…the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers…that Jesus reacts to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels…in His miraculous examples of healing and deliverance…of preaching to hundreds and thousands of people…in His interactions with His disciples and the common people…we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes and traits of virtue in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah…truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage…to name a few…that give Jesus a grade of A-plus…of perfect 100 percent test scores across-the-board…within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

We can agree with Pilate the Roman governor in Jerusalem…after examining Jesus: “I find in him no fault at all.” (Jn. 18:38).

But the one area where we can…with solid confidence… conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection…above anything that any other human being has ever been able to achieve…is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…to the limits of absolute perfection…because the life-script mission of Jesus Christ would require perfect adherence to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty…Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity…which would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ.

Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…other than Jesus Christ…have God-composed life-scripts that take into account…that have built-in allowances for human error (Rom. 4:6-8)…for the fact that all of these people are morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous…like us…in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts…but also in their inability to perfectly follow…without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way…within their God-composed life-scripts…in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless…and their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith…and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities…plus the creative imagination of God their Creator…as life-script Writer…and not based upon the misguided and inadequate self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon good-works…that as human-driven and human-directed must fall far short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.

But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God…intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent…to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the most difficulty…the area that is the definition of sin…and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

God singles-out and highlights this key element within the broad array of moral concepts…honestly and candidly revealed in the difficulty that Jesus has in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.

Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record…that in the Garden of Gethsemane…the night of His arrest and preliminary trial…that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray”…that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful”…that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him…that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly”…and that He sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42)…tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself…for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body…that manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly inaccessible zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue…yet still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning…in the unconventionally inconceivable test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane…of God-sovereignty consistent within God Himself…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus does not say in perfect faith…without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”…but instead decides to go in another direction…at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two…introducing autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity…Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father…and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

This unimaginably unconventional development…of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose between God the Father and Jesus the Son of God…of unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost…in the Garden of Gethsemane…separates out God-sovereignty as the most important and the highest of issues in all of reality…because all of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).

The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is not just to improve our moral performance in the areas of honesty, integrity, tolerance, and the capacity for unselfish love…because the ancient goal…the prime target…the primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice is to focus and hone-in on the remedy and removal of sin.

If God is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21)…of allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24)…after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane…that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex…at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue…when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty…performed at the far outer-edge of virtuosity…the unique and singular challenge in all of time…past, present, and going forward into eternity…of offering Himself as the loving sacrifice for our sins…in order to restore our severed relationship with Him…on the highest terms yet at the greatest cost…the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

Because this entire scenario of truth, challenge, and drama soars far above the capacity of human literary imaginative invention…in my opinion…this answers the question of how we would know that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins…being morally perfect and having sinless virtue.

A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity should start at some point…with the biblical uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…within the broad array of moral concepts.

God-composed life-scripts for the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…eventually over time lift them up into the victorious positions of becoming overcomers (1 Pet. 5:10)…but not in the worldly conventional sense of self-validation and worldly pride…that is centered upon oneself.

God’s elevation of people into high positions…Abraham the “father of faith”…Joseph the governor of Egypt…Moses the great prophet and deliverer…Joshua the military leader…the Israelites conquering their homeland…Peter the leader of the early Christian church…and Paul the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world…to name a few…is for unselfish service to other people…and not for self-validation and personal achievement.

God-composed life-scripts in the biblical narrative stories of faith…are designed to fix things…to the most radical extent required…at all costs…at the micro-level in the moment…and at the macro-level over the long-range duration of human redemptive history…extending into eternity.

From a Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Broad Array of Moral Concepts 2

In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul lists some of the positive fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Earlier in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists some of the negative “works of the flesh”: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.”

To these two lists of moral attributes and characteristics we could add the concepts of truth, honesty, dignity, loyalty, friendliness, honor, humility, dedication, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, humor, flexibility, empathy, forbearance, consideration, self-sacrifice, gratitude, persistence, commitment, discernment, rationality, logical thinking, being organized, being a peace-maker, fairness, generosity, passion…and a number of other distinct and precise words that describe finely differentiated moral characteristics…and that could be expanded further by listing their negative counterparts.

Could we add another 20 more words to describe moral attributes and virtues?  Could we list another 50 such words?

Could we compile a long list equal in number to the known elements in the chemistry Periodic Table…as a comparative analogy to the breadth, depth, and wealth of the atomic elements that enables an accurate exploration and comprehension of the natural world?

Modern science tells us that the elements in the Periodic Table are consistently and uniformly present throughout the known universe.  The carbon atom…for example…is defined by its exclusively unique number of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  No other element can be a carbon atom…and a carbon atom cannot be anything else.

What specifically defines a carbon atom or a hydrogen atom here on earth…also defines a carbon or hydrogen atom on the far side of the universe.

We may over time discover new previously unknown elements…but these will be relatively obscure…because the uniquely defined elements that have fixed numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons…are already identified and occupy their established, fixed locations in the Periodic Table.

No newly discovered elements will bump the carbon or hydrogen atoms out of their places…because what defines their unique characteristics…is fixed and firmly established.

Modern science can therefore say with relative confidence that we have a nearly complete and exhaustive list of the elements and their defining characteristics…in their exact atomic descriptions in terms of whole numbers…of protons, neutrons, and electrons…because any additional elements that we have not discovered so far…should be within a reasonably close physical reach…accessible to scientific discovery…based upon the general rule of the universality of the elements of the Periodic Table…existing everywhere in the cosmos.

Using the known elements of the complete Periodic Table…we can unravel many of the mysteries of the physical universe…starting at the atomic level.

The incredible human capacity to discover, classify, and organize the elements into the highly specified and coherently integrated Periodic Table…studied by beginning chemistry students worldwide…aligns in parallel with the dual realities of the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world…which makes advanced scientific investigations possible…which makes our natural world accessible to human comprehension…in a truly marvelous way.

In a similar sense…what other basic and fundamental moral traits are undiscovered still…beyond what we can currently observe, experience, admire, and loath…within the tool-kit of moral reasoning…functionally operative for human beings…that allows us to analyze the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…to determine if His claims to moral perfection are justified…as Savior, Redeemer, King, Judge, and Leader…now and for all eternity?

The mere idea that human beings can adjudicate moral performance at the outer-limits of brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and perfect virtue as demonstrated in the accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ recorded in the biblical New Testament…renders the gradualistic development component of naturalistic materialism…to be plausibly inadequate…to fall far short as an all-encompassing explanation-of-origin for the richness, diversity, and functional coherence of the broad array of moral concepts and virtuous characteristics.

Why is this important?

When anyone…born-again Christian, Bible college student, Christian theologian, atheist, skeptic, or curious truth-seeker…begins an examination of the perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ…by doing so they are acknowledging the existence of the very tools…the myriad of sophisticated and varied concepts available that precisely define moral characteristics…that make such an examination possible…a reality that in and of itself argues as compelling evidence for their divine origin.

Without a complete and exhaustive tool-kit of concepts by which to judge moral characteristics…a personal decision for or against accepting Christ as Savior would fall short of being meaningful…would not have all of the richly differentiated choices to support a valid decision…one way or the other.

This would be like a partially incomplete Periodic Table of the elements…inhibiting an accurate investigation of the natural world.

We could not accurately and realistically produce an oil-painting depiction of a rugged seascape shoreline with waves crashing against rocks…or of forest trees, blue skies, brilliant white clouds, and a peaceful lakeshore…using only three colors.  To create a masterpiece landscape painting, we need the full palate…the full array…of oil-paint colors.

Like the distinctive and well-defined characteristics of the elements of the Periodic Table…adequate in number and quality to support a scientific investigation of the natural world…that strongly suggests an intelligent designer as their source of origin…the question can also be raised as to who or what is the origin of the wealth of diverse and distinct moral concepts…delineated in the brief list of words given above…that would support our ability to make an informed decision regarding the truth-claims of Jesus Christ to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

For a God-less interpretation of reality to be valid…it would require some reasonable explanation for the creative origin of the extremely complex and nuanced definitions of the many words that describe the advanced moral concepts that human beings use and understand every day…that define the essence of what it means to be human.

The complexity, specificity, and integrated coherence of the life-story of Jesus Christ…in support of His being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…requiring moral perfection within the context of a human life…not only requires a reasonable explanation for the origin of this remarkable concept…but also by necessity raises humans up into the elevated zone of being able to cast their informed votes…for or against…the placing of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

The foregoing analysis removes from consideration the gradualistic question of which came first…the chicken or the egg?

The three required categories…the existence of the broad array of moral concepts…our capacity for moral reasoning…and the divinely composed life-script for Jesus Christ…must all be mature and fully developed in-time for the appearance of Jesus Christ into this world…in the first half of the first-century A.D.

In my view, this far surpasses the capacity for an invented, literary fictional Person and life-script for Jesus Christ…and by process of elimination…leaves only a divinely creative origin.

Jesus died on the cross for all of our shortcomings in all of the areas of morality and virtue…listed above.

But this discussion opens the door into a better and fuller understanding of the uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…validating the life of Jesus to be at the top-most point of moral perfection…the topic of the next essay.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Broad Array of Moral Concepts 1

If the Bible and Christians contend that Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…that He was perfect and without sin during His life and ministry on earth…by what or by whose standard do we judge the existence of perfect moral character?

How would we determine that the life of Jesus was at the outer edge of moral perfection…at the peak and the pinnacle of absolute goodness and virtue…having no additional room or space at the highest top-most point of the vertical, graduated spectrum-line of virtue and morality …for further improvement?

What would explain the existence of the diverse categories of moral criteria…defining virtue…of the numerous moral concepts broken down into individual words…accessible to human contemplation…that would enable and support a valid determination of the moral credentials of Jesus Christ?

And finally, where would our highly-advanced capacity to comprehend…to divide, separate-out, and parse these varied conceptual virtues and vices…consisting of finely differentiated realities that are true-to-life?  Where would these originate from?

Yet by simply asking the question and examining the evidence…this in and of itself declares at the outset that Jesus…the person we are investigating…is in fact within the zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue…by reason of the question being seriously entertained at all.

We would not even open such an investigation into the life of any other exceptional person…past or present…because we already correctly acknowledge that only one person in all of history has made a serious claim to have lived a perfect life…and that one person is Jesus Christ.

No sane person in all of recorded history has made a viable and well-substantiated claim to embody and demonstrate the moral attributes of brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and perfect virtue…of being, speaking, and acting like a Deity…proactively anticipated for centuries in the biblical Old Testament messianic prophecies…and documented and fulfilled later in the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus Christ…recorded in the New Testament gospels.

This raises the probing apologetics question into the divine origin of the Bible, Old Testament Judaism, and New Testament Christianity…of how…in the first place…we would “come by” the capacity to accurately judge whether the life and ministry of Jesus Christ exhausts the extent of the possible outer-limits of moral perfection.

How would we determine that our current tool-kit of known virtuous characteristics…of well-defined moral attributes…is absolutely exhaustive, adequate, and complete enough for the in-depth moral reasoning needed to evaluate the life of Jesus Christ?

How would we know whether there are not some additional, outstanding moral characteristics that we are unaware of in this current earthly context…above and beyond those demonstrated and exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…that would raise the bar higher…that would call into question the impeccable qualifications of Jesus…to be the blemish-free and sinless atoning sacrifice for our sins?

The point here is not whether God has some additional, divine characteristics applicable in heaven…that would not concern us presently…that are not relevant here on earth…but whether or not Jesus the Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7)…exhausts the limits of moral perfection as the God/man in order to qualify as the Passover Lamb of God, one-time atoning sacrifice for sin?

But the equally important point in this discussion is the fantastic notion that we would have the moral reasoning tools…in terms of human capacity but also in the broad array of concepts defined in discreet and distinctive words…to be able to make a valid decision for or against salvation faith in Jesus Christ…at this highly advanced level.

The mere existence of this question blows-away the key element of naturalistic materialism…the element of gradualistic development…out of the water…because of the easily recognizable wealth of complex and finely differentiated concepts defining moral characteristics…that are a fundamental and established part of the human reasoning capacity from the dawn of human history.

The critical human invention of writing…as the tell-tale indicator of human intellectual progress…is dated to as recent a time as 3,200 B.C. in the wedge-shaped cuneiform lettering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the cuneiform alphabet in Syria around 2,000 B.C., and in the 22-sign Phoenician alphabet dated around 1,000 B.C.

The Greeks adopt the Phoenician writing script around 800 B.C.

The invention of human writing…of widespread, functional written communication…that locks into time-and-place the human capacity for mature and fully developed moral reasoning…starts only 5,200 years ago.

We do not have to be a professional anthropologist, sociologist, paleontologist, biologist, or historian to know that there exist no contemporary, eye-witness, written accounts by human authors of the retreat of the Ice-Age glaciers covering the northern continents of America and Europe…starting around 12,000 to 10,000 B.C.

There are no written, eye-witness accounts…by the actual participants…of humans battling wholly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers…during the Pleistocene Ice-Age time-period…prior to the invention of writing.

Are we then to uncritically swallow whole the theoretical paradigm of gradualistic development…as an explanation for the origin of sophisticated and discreetly defined moral characteristics…proposed by the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism…in support of Darwinian macroevolution?

Words have meaning.

Is Albert Einstein more intelligent in terms of higher I.Q. than Isaac Newton, or Leonardo Di Vinci, or Aristotle, or the Egyptian engineers who built the Great Pyramids…going backwards in time?

The great advances in recent history that define the modern Scientific Revolution and the two major Industrial Revolutions are not the product of gradual improvements in the evolution of human mental capacity.

These rapid advances of development are the product of the progressing accumulations of information…spawned by the discovery of the scientific method of investigation.

Einstein is not smarter than Aristotle simply because Einstein comes along later in the historical time-line than Aristotle.  Positive progression over time in human intelligence is not a factor as an explanation for the advancements of learning, technology, and the very recent explosive expansion of knowledge over the last three to four decades…called the new Information Age.

The mental capacity to technologically problem-solve at the advanced level to take us to the moon in 1969…and the moral reasoning capacity to differentiate and comprehend complex moral concepts…are two realities that define the essence of human beings.

The point here is that human beings possess a complete and exhaustive array of tools within the broad assortment of moral concepts …from which to make an intelligent and reasoned judgment as to the divine quality of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Is it therefore more plausible…to recognize that the origin of the entire array and panoply of moral characteristics…appearing suddenly, fully developed in scope and range, and without precursors at the beginning of human cognitive reasoning…front-loaded and operable within human experience that would roughly be concurrent with the invention of writing…that this recognition represents a sharp vertical upward spike on any conceivable graph-line for the time-duration of the human race…and not anything like gradualistic development?

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Public Debates 2

I want to attempt in this essay to articulate what it is about the nature of skeptical unbelief that can boil-down and decompose into the self-interest of autonomous individualism…the life apart from God lived in self-sovereignty…that is the core ideology of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and conversely…what is so critically important about the nature of faith and trust in the God of the Bible…that places such a high value in connecting personally with God within the biblical narrative stories of faith…that demonstrate biblical faith in action…which is the fundamental characteristic of the Bible…the underlying issue of the existence of God debated in public forums.

I would like to build and expand upon what has already been said in Chapters One and Three on the delicate balance between belief and unbelief.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…it is succinctly and brilliantly recorded in John 11:45-48:

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

This narrative story of Jesus…leading up to His rejection and crucifixion…tells us that there was no overlapping middle-ground between letting Jesus “thus alone”…or the huge extreme on the other side of the spectrum of accusing Jesus of the capital offences of blasphemy before the Jewish Sanhedrin court and political treason before the Roman authorities…resulting in His execution on the cross.

Were these religious leaders acting for the good of the nation of Israel in removing Jesus from the scene…or were they acting out of the most worldly self-centered self-interest?

Like the scriptural example of the resurrected Jesus not walking down Main Street and into the Temple…even though Jesus moved freely and openly amongst these religious leaders during His time of public ministry…sharing His message and outreach to them as well as to the general populace…Jesus does not appear to compromise in the slightest regarding the components of faith and trust in Him.

Jesus gives not the slightest hint of surrendering His status and position as the Son of God and eternal King in order to reach a common-ground conciliation regarding self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…of giving-in on principle to these religious leaders in the biblically critical point of self-governance as opposed to God-governance (Jn. 5:36-47)…even though…and by God’s deliberate intention…this principled stand leads to the cross of Calvary.

This tells us that the importance of the components of faith and trust within a personal relationship…are non-negotiable elements that reside at the peak…the pinnacle…the apex of moral reasoning and righteous character.

Paul writes about the faith component in a relationship with God…in Hebrews 11:6…”But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Skeptical unbelief cannot enter into a biblical-quality journey of faith today, following the leading of Jesus Christ…through communication in the Spirit through the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13)…because the atheist does not believe at the outset that God even exists.

The atheist is no more likely to pick up their cross to follow Jesus…than they are to enter into a contractual business agreement with a fictitious and non-existent person.

This explains in part the inability in Christian versus atheist public debates of reaching a common middle-ground of overlapping engagement on the issues…or any semblance of an overwhelming resolution to the specific topic being debated…because the fundamental natures of the worldviews of belief and unbelief are so far apart…they themselves in relation to each other are non-overlapping.

This explains in part why the two people debating the issues in a Christian apologetics public debate…often appear to be talking past one another…each person capably presenting their side but being miles apart in terms of finding common ground.

The contention in this essay is that this reality is by the deliberate and creative intention of God…in order to expose through the dimensions of time and space the un-admirable and non-commendable outcomes of going our own way (Isa. 53:6) both in this current life and in the eternal heavens where God is King and Ruler.

The combination of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…with the complete absence of a happy center between the two opposing sides of belief and unbelief…having a huge hole between these two worldviews…cannot plausibly be the product of human literary invention.

This cannot be over-stated.

Finally, once a person gets past the huge gulf between unbelief and belief…and enters into faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God as our Savior and the Lord of our lives…the equally important question then arises as to why faith is often so difficult and that it must be “tested” and refined within a God-composed adventure of faith life-script (Jas. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:7)…as previewed for us today in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

Once a person is spiritually born-again (Jn. 3:1-21) and receives salvation and eternal life…the journey is just beginning as the new believer steps into their God-composed journey of faith…designed individually and specifically for them…to create a context of life events and circumstances that will produce a personal relationship with God…based upon mutual faith and trust in each other…God-ward toward us…and us-ward toward God.

The delicate balance between belief and unbelief takes us up to the pinnacle of moral reasoning…because mutual faith and trust are critical components within personal relationships.

Going our own way in autonomous rebellion is at the heart of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…Satan in the spiritual form of a talking serpent calling into question the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God’s character in His setting of parameters of do’s and don’ts regarding the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…slandering God by inferring that God’s motivations were suspect.

Atheists and skeptical critics can choke on the idea of a past angel of God…Satan… transforming himself into the spiritual form of a beautiful serpent possessing enticing speech…but the issues at stake in this classic confrontation in the Garden of Eden are simply too profound and way too complex in their spot-on application to human nature…to be the mere product of human literary fiction writing…to be mythology…in the composition of the first book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible…our modern Old Testament…in ancient times around 1,450 B.C.

This delicate balance between belief and unbelief…makes a subtle case for the divine origin of the Bible and of Christianity…because this issue of faith and trust…that goes both ways between people and God…is the central through-line of the biblical narrative stories of faith…which is inaccessible and incomprehensible to people choosing to be skeptical unbelievers living in self-sovereignty…but which is the priceless gift of God to believers through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross…prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34 to occur for new covenant Christians…knowing God personally from the least to the greatest.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Public Debates 1

When a world-renowned atheist comes into a public debate with an equally well-known and respected Christian apologist…to debate topics such as Does God Exist?…or Is God Great?…or Is God a Delusion?…the atheist enters into the debate auditorium thinking they can win…and whether they actually win or lose the debate…they leave still thinking they are right.

The idea that the issues in these public debates cannot arrive at a conclusive ending…cannot be so overwhelmingly convincing one way or the other towards a consensus conclusion…for the audience listening to the debate…as well as for the two antagonists…in an absolute resolution to the specific topic being debated…in my opinion is not only an amazing reality worthy of further thoughtful analysis…but in a subtle and counter-intuitive way is itself a positive evidence for the theistic viewpoint.

This again dives right into the complexity and integrated coherence of information question…regarding its origin and source…being clearly too complicated for material particles and fields of energy to produce…and way too complicated for human literary invention to conceive of…or to set in motion a program of the delicate balance in the area of belief and unbelief…that could stand the test of time for literally thousands of years.

From the Christian perspective…this superbly ingenious reality of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…has a divine origin at least as ancient as the existence of “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)…allowed to actualize into human experience through divine foresight and foreknowledge…and adjusted and fine-tuned over the course of human history…for the highest and best reasons imaginable…at the pinnacle of moral reasoning.

It is not a blundering miscalculation…it is not a glaring oversight by God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit…to not make the most of the resurrection of Jesus by having Him walk openly down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and straight into the Temple…on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection.

This would be a golden opportunity to empirically demonstrate the divine status of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior…beyond any debatable doubt in the future.

Yet instead God skillfully moderates and calibrates the extent of the physical appearances of the risen Jesus…so as to leave just enough of a personal witness of His resurrection and Godhood to inaugurate and sustain the exponential growth of the early Christian church…and for His followers to write the New Testament…yet at the same time enables the space for the unbelief of the religious elites and a portion of the populace in Israel…to continue in skeptical unbelief in Jesus Christ…as Messiah…that coalesced and solidified in the Jewish community and in the secular Gentile world in the first-century…and is still debated up to this day.

That this delicate balance between belief and unbelief would continue down the centuries to our current time…with brilliant antagonists squaring off in public debate today over the very question that Jesus posed to His disciples two thousand years ago: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Mt. 16:13) coupled with the follow-up question: “But whom say ye that I am?” (Mt. 16:15)…which from the Christian viewpoint are arguably the two most important questions in all of history…still out there and fully in play…and in the opinion of this writer defies humanistic explanation as to the precise longevity of this delicate balance.

Daniel 12:9-10 tells us that this delicate balance of belief and unbelief will continue to the end of time on this earth:

9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”…by which we can infer that the world at the end of time is still in need of evangelical persuasion…that the world is still on the fence in terms of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…as to who Jesus Christ is.

Revelation 12:11 gives us a window into the high cost of discipleship in the last days in fulfilling this calling to take the gospel of the kingdom to all of the world…before the end: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the power of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

The fundamental divide that partially explains skeptical unbelief…is that atheists think that Christianity is a man-made religion.  Skeptical unbelief universally downgrades all religions into the horizontally flat category of fictionally created gods and mythologies.

This overarching mindset creates an impassible gulf…an unreachable chasm to cross from skeptical unbelief to belief…because the starting premise for the atheist is that the Bible is an elaborate fiction concocted out of the religious imagination of men…which then renders all of the tenets of the Bible…even the cross and salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ…as being mute, insignificant, and untrue.

The starting premise of atheism…that there is no God…thereby undermines the credibility of the Bible at the outset…creating this non-overlapping separation between the two worldviews that prevents a “meeting of the minds” between atheists and Christian apologists in debate…because no meaningful dialogue can occur when atheists think the arguments and evidences of the opposing side are universally invalid to begin with.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Mechanism versus Agency 2

What this new recognition of the role of complex and coordinated information means…as a product of modern scientific investigation…is to debunk the centuries-old contention by atheists and skeptical unbelievers that the miraculous components in the biblical narrative stories of faith…disqualify the credibility of these stories…based alone on the philosophical pronouncements of some atheistic scientists and critics of the Bible.

If our laws of science merely explain what normally occurs…of what we observe as repetitive phenomenon in nature…and an independent agent God is the source of the orderliness and intelligibility in this ongoing pattern of recurring phenomenon…then the centuries-old objection by skeptical critics about miracles in the Bible…turns out not to be an empirical fact of scientific investigation itself…but merely a philosophical conclusion based on an inference that natural phenomenon will continue along this same path of orderliness that we now observe.

The idea of a biblical miracle…such as the parting of the Red Sea…defined as this independent agent God inserting more of the same divine creative input via unique and non-repeating events…this objection then by skeptics to the Bible can no longer be categorized as a scientific objection…but merely a philosophical objection.

What is interesting in this new Age of Information…is that the centuries-old skeptical objection to miracles in the Bible as being unscientific…is a misunderstanding in the most profound way.

Miracles in the Bible are only unscientific in the sense that they fall outside of what we normally observe to occur in a repetitive pattern over time.

The extrapolation of what we normally observe…into a rigid axiom that says that absolutely nothing else…without exception including miracles…can occur within the closed system of what we observe over some extended interim of time…that falls outside of what we have historically observed and recorded so far…is a philosophical conclusion…is merely a hypothetical inference…and not science…because the reach of scientific investigation…by definition the study of mechanism…does not encompass this issue of agency that produces creative information.

The construction of a Steinway concert grand piano that entails the technical know-how information of mechanism…does not stretch to the creative intellectual information that can compose a musical composition like Chopin’s Black Key Etude…Etude number 5 in Opus 10.

The insertion of information into the creation of the natural world and of subsequent biblical miracles…belongs in the categories of both agency and mechanism.

The occurrence of unique and non-repeating events defined as miracles…fall outside of the resolution of scientific investigation to study…and thus also fall outside of our above-mentioned example of our physics and chemistry understanding of how ink always bonds to paper…and our understanding of how the printing press machinery always works to print the headlines…in the New York Times analogy.

The fixity of the laws of science…that these laws apply in every case without exception…is a human philosophical construction we impose over a repetitive pattern of facts we observe and study in the natural world.

When an independent agent God is introduced into the equation…who conceived of and ingeniously created these realities of orderliness and intelligibility…this human imposed fixity evaporates.

When the fixity of the laws of science are used philosophically to invoke a closed-system in nature that excludes miracles, undermines the credibility of the biblical narrative stories of faith, and argues for either a non-existent God or a non-participating God…it turns out these arguments are not only circular and self-refuting…but they miss the point.

In the analogy to the newspaper headlines…the only realities that are fixed…belong in the category of information relating to mechanism…ink bonding to paper and the continued operation of the printing press machinery.

The category of information that is not fixed and repetitive…that is variable…is the creative information produced through agency that forms the daily headlines on the front page of the newspapers around the world.

The argument that the biblical God does not exist because miracles are impossible in a closed-system of natural laws according to modern science…assumes that the system is closed to begin with.

The skeptical critic must first prove that the system is closed…that the natural world cannot have a new insertion of divinely creative input…which turns out to be a mere philosophical objection…rather than an empirical fact of science…because human scientific research can never say with absolute certainty that a biblical-quality miracle did not occur…like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The general statement from scientism that “science is the only reliable source for truth”…internally self-destructs because this statement itself is unprovable through the means of scientific investigation…thus falling short of its own exclusivistic high standard for identifying and defining truth.

The remarkable event of the last few recent decades is that the knowledge-base of science has expanded beyond the point where it will no longer fit within the philosophy of naturalistic materialism…as a working theoretical hypotheses…because information has now been added to matter and energy…as the third fundamental component in the universe…thereby requiring an explanation for its origin.

The reasonable and rational conclusion from modern science…based on the sheer quantity and functional integration of all of the material pieces and parts that would be required at the Big Bang creation of the universe…along with the insertion of the accompanying laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics…and the invention of the fourth dimension of time…now completely and totally refutes any objection coming from the philosophy of naturalism that our natural world is a “closed system”…that God is barred by His own physical laws that He invented…from entering in to perform miracles like the ten plagues in Egypt or the manna provided the Israelites in their exodus to the Promised Land.

The perfectly reasonable idea…that the same Intelligent Designer who invented the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics at the time of the Big Bang…as well as inventing the incredible dual axioms of orderliness and intelligibility that are fundamental in our scientific understanding of the natural world…axioms that enable us to discover and to understand these natural laws…that this Intelligent Designer who first introduced these laws into the natural created world…is also therefore free and capable again within modern times to temporarily suspend or alter them according to His goals and plans…whenever and however He wants…in the history of life on earth.

It is the existence of these dual realties of orderliness and intelligibility of the laws of nature…also created by God at the Big Bang beginning of the universe…that allows human beings to differentiate the everyday ordinary stability of phenomenon in our natural world…from miraculous one-time events that fall outside of these parameters of orderliness and intelligibility (Mt. 9:8).

Christians therefore contend that commonplace stability in the natural world…and the miraculous…are both wrapped-up within the capacities of God.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Mechanism versus Agency 1

To use an analogy to American football…I think that the atheistic philosophy of naturalism (that science is the only reliable route to establishing empirical truth) was starting the final fourth quarter of play with a big 17-point lead in the 1960’s and 1970’s…but that Intelligent Design has scored three quick touchdowns (worth 7 points each) in the last two or three decades…and has taken the lead in this fourth quarter football game analogy…by a narrow 4 points…at the time of the writing of this book…the year 2018.

The discovery of the vast quantity, complexity, and functional coherence of information systems…is analogous to the information content that is conveyed in the headlines on the front page of the New York Times newspaper…thought-filled information intelligently arranged on paper in the English language…totally independent of and having no correlation or connection to the basic science…in terms of physics and chemistry…of how ink bonds to paper.

How ink bonds to paper…and how ink is arranged in newspaper headlines to convey information in a particular language…are two entirely separate things.

Absolute knowledge and expertise about the first…ink bonding to paper…does not explain the second…intelligently organized and highly specified information.

This brilliant realization has clarified and separated forever the concepts of mechanism…how ink sticks to paper…and agency…the underlying creative intelligence that arranges the ink on paper to convey meaningful information.

In this easy-to-understand example of the dual aspects of the information content in a New York Times front-page headline…even the addition of a full mechanical engineering comprehension of the operation of the printing press machinery…along with the physics and chemistry understanding of ink bonding to paper…will not take us across the wide gulf that separates this scientific understanding of mechanism from the totally different character quality of the creative intellectual information of agency.

This insightful modern perception of the unique and distinctive qualities of information…has actually eclipsed all unguided, mindless, gradualistic, trial-and-error, random chance explanations for the existence of complex information systems in a host of phenomenon in the natural world…and has been dubbed in this unique time-period in history as the Information Age.

In an amazing turn-around from where we were only 50 years ago…modern science has scrubbed away folklore, old-wives tales, superstition, and witchcraft…one of its primary missions starting in the 1500’s at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.

But modern science has also scrubbed away all gradualistic explanations for the development of complex systems…there being simply too much information content coherently integrated within the microscopic molecule of DNA…or the incredibly complicated folding of amino acids into proteins…or the mind-boggling molecular machinery involved in the replication process taking place inside living cells…to be the product of gradual, mindless, step-by-step, unguided random progression over time from the simple to the complex.

The Information Age has knocked the legs out from under the atheistic philosophies of naturalism and materialism…even though Darwinists are still fighting back with everything they have in their common descent interpretation of the facts.

Mechanism needs agency to supply the creative information to produce complex systems having guided coherence directed toward a functional outcome.

In housing construction…the mechanism of technical trade-craft know-how of putting together the parts of the building…does not assume or replace the need for the agency of the architectural plans that provides the information for the floor-plan layout of the interior walls, the locations of doors and windows, and the front elevation design of the structure.

Mechanism itself cannot be mistakenly confused as the explanatory agent for the origin of creative intellectual information…as the substitute factor for agency that can be plugged into the equation of the diversity for all living things as the explanation for the production of new informational input…any more plausibly than the machinery and the mechanical processes of the printing press…along with the properties of ink bonding to paper…can explain the creative information content generated in a New York Times headline.

The immediate survivability demands of function in living things require that all of the required parts be coherently integrated…up and fully running…at initial start-up…having nothing less than operable function at a bare minimum.

This is unimaginable and unachievable through the slow progression of numerous incremental steps as theoretically contemplated in the gradualistic development of Darwinian macroevolution…producing hypothetically long and continuously connected chains of innumerable transitional intermediate living creatures and plant life…having functional survivability at the precise snapshot moments in time…to the point of being able to produce each successive edition of new offspring possessing genetic, physical trait characteristics, and lifestyle habit improvements.

This gradualistic component of Darwinian evolution…given the quantity, quality, and complexity of the information content involved…is no longer plausible as the wholesale all-in-one explanation for the vast diversity of the living and non-living world…according to Darwin’s branching tree of life that would encompass all living things.

The more plausible explanation involves microevolution…built-in genetic variability and adaptability that occurs over long periods of time and responds favorably to changing ecological environments…like the example of Darwin’s finches on the 13 Galapagos Islands…displaying microevolutionary radiation (change)…yet still remaining finches.

The various series of development in the paleontological fossil record…such as the horse series…wherein horses remain horses…in my layman’s opinion can be more plausibly explained through intelligently designed, built-in microevolutionary genetic variability and adaptability.

For roughly the past 160 years, Darwin’s bold extrapolation that microevolution blends into macroevolution…is still scientifically unsubstantiated.

If God is clever enough to design horses and finches…He is also clever enough to factor-in genetic variability to enable species to adapt to changing earth environments.

Our modern scientific understanding of the implausibility…more honestly in many cases the impossibility…of massive amounts of complex information systems to self-assemble themselves to reach easily identifiable final outcomes…to achieve functional coherence on their own without the input of information coming through intelligent guidance…having foresight…is no longer a viable working philosophy that holds water within the field of science.

The information content is simply too great in size and far too complex for unguided, mindless, trial-and-error search strategies.

This is a relatively new development…in the rapidly expanding marketplace of knowledge and ideas in the early twenty-first century.

If the reader will bear with me a little longer…I am going somewhere important with all of this. 

Once the atheistic philosophies of naturalistic materialism and scientism fall behind in points in the fourth quarter of the American football game analogy…they will never regain the lead.

The reason for this is because the “game” is scored on discoveries from scientific investigation…producing empirical evidence.

The complexity and functional coherence of the information content found in DNA, proteins, the living cell replication process, and the mechanism by which amino acids fold into proteins…will not change…will not revert back to the simplicity of past partial knowledge…will not reduce in complexity with more research.

More investigative scientific research into every area of the natural world…will increase our recognition and understanding…of the vast quantity and the integrated complexity of information.

To borrow a popular phrase…”the toothpaste is out of the tube…and it will not go back in.”

Continued scientific research will unearth more complex and specified information having coherent and coordinated function…in living and non-living systems…and thereby further make the scientific conclusions based upon empirical data…increasingly stacking-up against unguided, random-chance, trial-and-error, incremental progression as a plausible explanation for the assemblage of complex systems.

In other words…the score will continue to run up in favor of Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the complex systems of information we see in the natural world…because the trend…the trajectory…of the data in this regard will continue to go in this same direction of increasing complexity and integrated coherence.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition

There is a narrow bandwidth of definition in the natural world…that supports the scientific activity of biological taxonomic classification…that defines the essence of every living and non-living thing…which recognizes horizontally constraining definition lines below and above…describing the characteristics, architectural design, and lifestyle habits…of billions of unique and distinctive things in the natural world…a reality that is fatal to the theory of the open-ended boundaries of random change in Darwinian macroevolution, naturalistic materialism, and scientism.

The characteristics, architectural body designs, and lifestyle habits of an apple tree compared to the olive tree or to the rose bush…or the distinctive and unique characteristics that define the African elephant compared to a giraffe or a hippopotamus…not to mention a salmon fish or a falcon bird or a spider insect…all are part of unique and discontinuous, narrow bandwidths of definition that fall within their tight spaces of horizontal lines above and below that lock into place the essence of each and every living and non-living thing…that stay that way without any observable major changes… toward some future, hypothetical, currently unimaginable outcomes…beyond their essential characteristic definitions.

There is an extremely narrow and precise bandwidth of complex, specified, and coherently integrated information…of enormous quantity…front-loaded inside the seed of an apple tree…that tells the seed planted in the ground to burst upward through the surface of the ground and rise with incredible energy, momentum, and direction…to become a very specific type of tree producing a specific type of fruit…apples having nutrients, a sweet taste, and a pleasing aroma.

What tells the apple tree when to stop growing and when and how to start producing fruit…is again front-loaded within the informational package that uniquely and distinctly defines what it means to be an apple tree.

The compelling evidence of ordered and intelligible information integral to this reality of an apple tree…that argues through commonsense for the need for an intelligent designer God setting all of this in motion…along with billions of other brilliantly coordinated systems of information making up the vast diversity of living things in the natural world…seamlessly translates over into the narrow bandwidths of definition found in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

What is beyond humanistic explanation is how each biblical narrative story of faith could hone-in on its own unique mission-plan and outcome…between tightly spaced-apart top and bottom defining horizontal lines…while finding just the right mix of the supernatural and miraculous…while establishing and maintaining a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…a powerful process yet incomprehensible and undetectable to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

When Jesus says to Thomas: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (Jn. 20:29)…Jesus is not being critical of Thomas.

Jesus…in that very moment…is engaged in physically revealing Himself in His resurrected body…again to the disciples…this time while Thomas is not absent elsewhere but present amongst them.

Within the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…these physical appearances of Jesus to the disciples and to other select people…to the extent of the numerical limits as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8…were more than adequate for the inauguration and empowerment of the early Christian church…as historically seen in hindsight.

But these physical appearances of Jesus after His resurrection…were also brilliantly and carefully moderated so as not to extend over into the area of  mass-public appearances…beyond that of the more than 500 disciples described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6…into the public domain of undeniable, empirically observed reality…like isolated cases of the undeniable persuasiveness of the temporary blindness of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, or the temporary loss of being able to speak for Zacharias in Luke 1, or the potential of Jesus praying to the Father for legions of angels to save Him from the upcoming ordeal of the cross.

All of these examples of visual, observed reality…along with all of the signs and wonders recorded in the Bible…would and did generate a type of faith that Thomas obtained when he examined the hands and the side of the resurrected Jesus (Jn. 20:28)…an empirical acknowledgment of the risen Christ that Thomas would need for the intense storms of opposition and persecution he and the other disciples would face in the immediate days and years to come.

The quality of being able to hear God’s voice in the Spirit…to understand our unique calling…and to be able to follow God’s lead within a narrow bandwidth that defines who and what we are and what we were created to become…derives its high-value because faith and trust is an invaluable part of personal relationships…and is not the same thing as the mere acknowledgment of visually observed events and occurrences…even divine miracles (Jn. 12:37).

Many Christians in the days ahead may need the empirical evidences of divine appearances of God and of angels…in dreams, visions, or visitations (Joel 2:28-29)…to boldly and confidently carry out their challenging missions…like Paul in Acts 23:11.

But the standard stock-in-trade of the Christian life is to commendably and admirably follow God in-the-Spirit…without physical, empirical evidence of His presence and participation in our lives.

The enormous importance of this reality of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…is the two-fold coupling of the apologetic evidence this unfolds…of its divine origin and continued maintenance…along with the equally important inspirational value to the believing Christian of God’s masterful brilliance demonstrated in the tight definitions of the biblical narrative stories of faith…each as unique, distinctive, and having purposeful direction…as the unique informational packages contained within the seeds of apple, orange, olive, or fig trees.

Jesus actually says to the disciples that it is imperative that He go away…that He return to the Father in heaven…so that the Holy Spirit…the divine Third Person of the Trinity…invisible and un-seeable to human beings…can lead them…and us…into all truth (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15).

This reality of a walk with God through life…in the Spirit…applies to modern-day Christians as well as to the early Christian disciples in the first-century.

The ability to invent and to utilize a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…only has tangible application within real interactions with the living God…who is capable of initiating and sustaining personal relationships with His followers (Jer. 31:31-34)…through God-composed journeys of faith.

This distinctive feature of the biblical narrative stories of faith…balanced precisely within the narrow bandwidths that define the original and innovative storylines of the callings of the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…has no plausible explanation of origin coming from man-made religions having imaginary gods.

The Bible has this unique and distinctive component of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…because the Bible is a divinely inspired composition…co-authored with human beings by the Creator God of the universe.

Any other explanation for its existence within the marketplace of ideas…is nonsensical.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A Delicate Balance between Belief and Unbelief 2

Jesus says to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelves legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Mt. 26:53-54).

The first Christian disciples have to physically see and speak with…to personally interact with…the resurrected Jesus.

Their message to the world…then and now…is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead…that Jesus is the Messiah…the Savior…and that He has the keys to hell and death.

Their bold and uninhibited message is that Jesus has defeated death and sin…having successfully made a full atonement…payment-in-full…for mankind’s sins as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice…Himself being sinless and blemish-free.

The free offer of God is a full pardon…amnesty…for our rebellion-in-sin apart from God…obtained through looking to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

For this salvation to be completely free and un-coerced…to be a willing and voluntary coming to God by exercising faith in Christ…the critical element of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief must be in-place and functioning…otherwise the commendable and admirable feature of exercising faith in God has no meaning…has no independent value.

The vehicle that God has invented whereby we can get to know Him personally…must be on His terms…and not a human invention.

That vehicle is a walk…a journey…an adventure of faith…patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

This divine blend of the physical appearances of the resurrected Jesus to the first Christian disciples…on the one hand…with Jesus the first week after His resurrection not walking down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…on the other hand…is a reality too complex…too highly-specified, and too coherently integrated within the biblical Old and New Testaments…to be the inventive product of human literary imagination.

Atheists and skeptics…over the past three to four hundred years…have used the immerging field of science to question the validity of the miracles and the supernatural in the Bible.

An equally important and valid question in support of the Bible…is where and how would the delicate balance between belief and unbelief come from…other than from God?

An even larger and more profound question in support of the Bible…is the WHY of its existence?

In my opinion, one reason for this delicate balance is that it enables a high-level type and quality of faith…defined succinctly in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6…that creates the context…the free-will environment…for the development of a personal relationship with God…based primarily upon faith, trust, and mutual love (Jn. 20:29, 21:15-17)…which rises far above the mere acknowledgment of empirically observed facts.

The biblical narrative stories of faith of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…are not just exciting bed-time stories for children.  They are a real pattern for a life of faith with the living God.

The question here is not whether the Bible contains supernatural communications between God and people…like the calling of Abraham to go to Canaan or the appearance of Jesus to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…or miraculous events like the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The critical question here…from the standpoint of a compelling apologetic evidence for the defense of the Bible and of Christianity…is how and why this delicate balance between belief and unbelief…clearly discernable in the biblical narrative stories in the Old and New Testaments…could or would plausibly be the product of human literary invention…as a universal through-line skillfully moderated in the Bible…from beginning to end?

The dawn of modern-quality literature…arguably begins with Shakespeare in the early 1600’s A.D.  The composition of the “Joseph novella” (Gen. 37-50) is dated by conservative biblical scholars at around 1,450 B.C.  Some biblical scholars will date its composition to around 1,250 B.C.

This story of Joseph and his uniquely unconventional rise to power to become governor of Egypt during a widespread famine…is considered to be one of the great short stories of literature…ever written…in any time period.

With a composition date of 1,450 B.C. the Joseph novella predates Shakespeare by about 3,000 years…with nothing of equally comparable high-quality in-between.

Regardless of whatever date we assign in the past for the writing of the biblical Old and New Testaments…conservative or liberal…articulated within God-composed adventure of faith life-scripts like the story of Joseph…this unique feature of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…has no parallel in any other system of human experience, religion, philosophy, or worldview.

It is utterly and completely unique to the Bible…subtly interwoven into the biblical narrative stories of faith…in such a skillful and innovative way as to be undetectable and hidden to those people who choose to live in unbelief (1 Cor. 2:6-10)…charting their own life-course through self-sovereignty…rather than a journey of faith following the living God…after the biblical pattern.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

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