Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How would you prove the God of the Bible?

A guy at work said I should get involved with so I have been spending a bit of time on that site interacting with it (my thoughts on online democracy is another topic). The question of Is there a way to prove the God of the Bible? came through. In the answers the standard philosophical arguments for a god came up, but also rightly pointed out these arguments don't get you to the God of the Bible.

Photo from ryamilani on flickr
Now I don't think Christianity is a blind faith, so this question made me think about the reasons why I do believe the God of the Bible and how I would answer this question. Firstly I think the God of the Bible is Jesus, so then I would have to establish a case as to why Jesus is God, so I go to the resurrection for that. Below is the answer I posted (and no I am not bitter that I don't have many votes, nor am I appealing to anyone to vote up my answer). I'd like to know what you think and if I am conflating  the Trinity; if my logic is screwy, or I am forgetting something:

Jesus claimed to be the God of the the Bible a few times, and he even used the scriptures to support his case (here is only a few verses to make this case):

Jesus claimed to be God:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9 ESV)
I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 ESV)
Jesus invoked the name of God that was revealed to Moses in Exd 3:14:
Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59 ESV)
Jesus claimed to fulfil a reading from Isaiah (61:1-2a):
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21 ESV)
Jesus used the scriptures to explaine his death and resurrection:
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:26-27 ESV)
Paul also held that Jesus' death and resurrection was from the scriptures:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 1:1-4 ESV)
And Paul stated that if Jesus did not rise from the dead (according to the scriptures) then the Christian faith is futile and Christians are misrepresenting God:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV)
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. (1 Corinthians 15:14-15 ESV)
Jesus and Paul seemed to think that the resurrection of Jesus proved that Jesus was the God of the Bible. If you can prove the resurrection then you have a good case that Jesus is who he said he was. There is no way to prove this scientifically, but historically there is some evidence that may imply it happened. This also depends on how strongly you take the historical sources, but most historians can agree that:
  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
  2. Jesus was honourably buried in an easily accessible public tomb. 
  3. The death of Christ caused His followers to lose all hope in His Messianic claims
  4. Three days later, the tomb was empty.
  5. The disciples had genuine experiences that they were convinced were literal appearances of the risen Christ. 
  6. The disciples were radically transformed from skeptics and doubters to bold proclaimers of Christ’s Resurrection. 
  7. Eleven of the twelve apostles suffered martyrs’ deaths for their convictions.
  8. The Resurrection message was absolutely central to the early preaching of the Church.
  9. The Resurrection message was central to the entire New Testament. 
  10. The Resurrection was first proclaimed in the very environment most hostile to it, Jerusalem. Even there, those motivated to disprove the Resurrection could not do so. 
  11. The Church exists only because of the disciples’ conviction that the Resurrection occurred.
  12. The Sabbath Day was changed to Sunday.
  13. James, Paul, and many other skeptics were only convinced as a result of personally seeing the risen Jesus
Some other resurrection theories (swoon, stolen body, hallucination, mistaken identity, wrong tomb etc...) try and account for either (1) the empty tomb, (2) the resurrection appearances and (3) the transformed lives of his followers, but no theory, besides Jesus' resurrection adequately explains all three.

Resurrect? An Atheist and Theist Dialogue, Gary R. Habermas and Antony G. N. Flew, edited by John F. Ankerberg


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