Resurrection: Crucifixion

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’re going to continue our look at resurrection, but I also seek your prayers tonight and for the upcoming future. My wife and I were finishing Scripture reading last night and about to turn out the light. I needed to get up and turn out a light in the kitchen I’d left on. I’d been having some mild stomach pains, but before I got back to bed, I was screaming.

I wound up in the ER and just to make a long story short, I have gallstones at the moment and will likely have to have my gallbladder removed. My diet will have to be different for the time being as well which is the most difficult part. I seek your prayers in this time. We’re wondering about how we’re going to handle everything.

However, that being said, let’s continue looking at resurrection. The first event Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 mentions is that Christ died. While he doesn’t state the manner he died here, he already has at other times in 1 Corinthians. The first piece of information in this creed that needs to be considered as historical bedrock is that Christ was crucified.

To begin with, the Pauline epistles that we know to be authentic all state this. (I do believe all thirteen are authentically Pauline, but I am willing to accept skeptical data for the time being.) There is not a contrary theory in the epistles on how it is that Christ died. Paul never even hints that Christ avoided death somehow or died by beheading or another method.

All of the gospels report the crucifixion as well. More time is spent on the final week of the life of Christ than on any other event and the conclusion throughout each of the gospels is that Christ was crucified. While some might say there are secondary differences as to what happened during the crucifixion, there is no disagreement that there was crucifixion.

Some readers might be saying “All gospels also agree that Christ rose again. Does that mean we should accept it as historical because of that?”

It should certainly be considered as evidence, but no. For one thing, the act of crucifixion can be more easily accepted by all because it does not necessarily entail any miraculous events. Some might think the events in Matthew 27 have to be literal. That’s not the issue here. You can be an atheist NT scholar, interpret that as a metaphor or some sort, or a later embellishment, but still accept that Christ was crucified as that in itself does not involve the miraculous.

Furthermore, we do have outside references that Christ was crucified. We have the writings of Josephus. Now some could say that some of this was altered, and that could be, but few would say the whole thing is an interpolation and those who say part of it is would not say the mention of crucifixion is.

Even if that wasn’t sufficient however, there is the reference to the death of Christ in Tacitus. Although crucifixion is not mentioned, he does speak of the most extreme penalty. Crucifixion was such a horror to the Romans that they did not even want to mention it.

We also have the records of the early church fathers. Even counter-theories have a crucifixion Jesus recovered from.

To which, let’s dispel this nonsense about Jesus surviving on the cross in a swoon. The American Medical Association has undergone a thorough examination of the crucifixion. Jesus was dead. Not only that, David Strauss, a skeptic by all means, years ago said that a Jesus who somehow survived would have been bleeding profusely, somehow pushed aside a huge rock, walked on feet stabbed through with nails to the crucifixion, and had he made it to the disciples, they would not have called him the Lord who conquered death, but would have called him a doctor. One can hardly imagine Peter looking at Jesus like that and saying “I hope one day I have a body like that.”

If anyone tells you Jesus might have survived, they just don’t know what they’re talking about frankly.

There can be no question historically that Jesus was crucified.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Resurrection Preliminary

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I want to thank everyone for their kind support first off in the passing of my grandmother. Some of you might be first time readers and hopefully regular readers who heard me speak at the funeral. We welcome your prayers and donations.

I spoke at the funeral about the resurrection for my grandmother and so I’d like to start looking at that topic here. As I begin it, it occurs to me that the first place we go to to learn about resurrection is not ourselves but rather God. God who is life in Himself can grant life to anyone he desires to, even if that person has already lost it. We also look to Jesus to see what his resurrection tells us about ours.

At the funeral, the first item of business when I spoke on this was to establish a basic defense of the resurrection. I only had a few minutes so there was an emphasis on basis. Here, I no longer have just a few minutes so I’d like to expound on some of the points that I made.

1 Corinthians 15 was the text I used. Let’s look at the first two verses.

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Note what the fact Paul wants them to keep in mind here is the gospel. This is central. If you do not hold to the gospel, then you are not saved. Your faith is in vain. It is no accident that Paul opens up the chapter on the resurrection with talking about the gospel. No resurrection means no gospel.

Now we come to a most important verse.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Some of you might be thinking “There are several verses that say Christ died for our sins.” If that’s the case, you’re looking at the wrong part of the verse. I don’t deny that that is important, but for a textual critic and a NT historian, the words “What I received I passed on” are immensely valuable.

The following verses are seen to be part of an early Christian creed. While the letter of 1 Corinthians was written between 54-57 A.D., this material comes earlier. (It is amazing how many atheists I have dialogued with on this topic who when hearing that the material dates early think that seeing sources that say 1 Corinthians was written at the above date disproves my point.)

The letter is at that date as stated, but the letter contains this creedal statement that pre-dates it. The position I take on this is consistent across the board. Talk to atheists. Talk to Christians. Talk to Jews. Talk to conservatives. Talk to liberals. Scholars in the field of NT studies date this material early. The earliest I’ve seen is within five years of the “resurrection event.” (By resurrection event, I mean the event under question and at this time not stating it as a historical event but rather the time that is argued about as historical. That there was a claim of resurrection is historical certainly.) The earliest is within a few months.

How do we know? Receiving and passing on is what is used to speak of oral tradition. Greek scholars will also point to the rhythm of the text and how Paul uses terms he doesn’t normally use. Good commentaries on 1 Corinthians can explain more of these. You can also find relevant information in the works of Habermas and Licona.

Why date it early? Paul says he received it and thus, the material would pre-date him. Receiving would come from Jerusalem, the mother church, and that would mean receiving teaching from the apostles. We note the times that Paul went to Jerusalem and each time, he was checking on the gospel already. He was not receiving it.

Again, if you’re skeptical, don’t just check conservative Christians. Check others. The material is early. In ancient history, a time of five years at the most would be a blip. Most historians of ancient history would love to have accounts five years after the events.

What about content? Well we can start looking at the content tomorrow.

Remembering My Grandmother

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Last night, I told you all about my grandmother and asked for prayers for her. I received the word from my parents this morning that my grandmother passed away this morning. My wife and I will be out of town this coming week so don’t expect a new blog for awhile. I invite you all to go to the Tekton Ticker however this Tuesday for my review of Mike Licona’s book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

For now, I’d like to remember my grandmother. My grandmother was known as Miss Purple. She always wore something with purple in it every day. She loved purple. Her house was the only house with a purple toilet, purple, sink, and purple carpet that I knew of.

I also called her Mommom always. My parents were trying to teach me how to say “Mamaw” and it came out Mommom. It’s a name that stuck. Whenever I’ve heard about anyone else using that name to describe their grandmother, I’ve somehow felt as if I’ve been robbed of something.

My grandmother was part of that great noble career known as teaching and she taught elementary school. Her students remembered her years later, even so that when she was in assisted living and in the nursing home, people would come by and see Miss Purple.

Wherever she went, she was popular. Everyone loved my grandmother. Her room at any of the places she went was the most visited room of all. Everyone loved my grandmother. I can’t think of a single enemy she had. She could be argumentative and stubborn at times, but you just had to love her.

She lived next door to her sister and I often visited both of them regularly when I was a child. My grandmother and I would watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy together. She especially hated watching Wheel of Fortune with me in some ways since I could often solve the puzzles long before she could. I remember the time I went to see her and she said she’d been working on a word in the Jumble for three days only to have me solve it in fifteen seconds. She’d say she hated it, but she also delighted in it. She wanted her grandson to succeed.

My grandmother always delighted in seeing me when I came by. I always teased her about my parents’ cat. I have no idea how it started, but there was a joke made about the cat calling my grandmother “Mamaw Granny.” Now she always insisted that the cat said “Mommom.” We checked though. It was “Mamaw Granny.”

My grandmother was eccentric as could be. I’m a diagnosed Aspie and we suspected she probably had some of the condition herself. She would hold on to items for the longest time. This even meant having pheasant feathers in her attic in the early 80’s where she had once thought about making a hat with those feathers.

My grandmother was very big on manners, so much so however that to his day, I have a hard time saying “Please.” That’s what happens when someone strong on manners has a grandchild who has a bent of a rebellious spirit in him. Still, she meant well as all grandmothers do.

And of course, my grandmother was a devout Christian who would call me with Bible questions. Her husband had passed away 27 years ago. She’s been without him for awhile but today, my grandmother is one step closer to him waiting for the resurrection. We will have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. She lived a good life and her battle is over.

Love you and miss you Mommom, and little Reagan loves and misses his Mamaw Granny.

Don’t Be Confused By Truth

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! First off, I ask your prayers for my grandmother. She’s not doing well. My wife and I will be away from Wednesday to Sunday night definitely for Thanksgiving, but if I’m seemingly absent earlier, you can know that the worst has happened.

We’ve been talking about becoming a thinking Christian and using logic to do such. Tonight, I’d like for you to keep an important principle in mind when evaluating a syllogism. Do not be confused by the truth. This sounds odd coming from an apologist, but when evaluating a syllogism, we are not evaluating right off if it is true or false. We are evaluating if it is valid or invalid.

Consider the following syllogism:

Lassie is a turtle.
All turtles have wings.
Lassie has wings.

There is no truth to this. Lassie is a dog and turtles do not have wings, but the syllogism itself is entirely valid. It has three terms. It follows the proper rules of distribution. A way to check is to replace terms with ones you know would be true without changing the form.

Lassie is a dog.
All dogs have four legs.
Lassie has four legs.

The form is exactly the same and that’s what we’re interested in is the form. All you want to know at this stage of thinking is if the form is valid or not. You don’t care if the conclusion is true. After all, there wouldn’t be much of a system if it was simply “Any argument is valid as long as the conclusion is true.”

For instance, as an apologist, I definitely defend the proposition that God exists. However, it does not mean that I am forced to defend every argument for God’s existence. It might be controversial, but I do not support the ontological argument. Now I definitely agree with Saint Anselm’s conclusion. That does not mean that I have to support an argument that I do not think works. If someone thinks it works, then they’re free to defend it. If you don’t think the five ways of Aquinas work, I disagree, but I won’t obligate you to defend them.

So what if the conclusion is one you don’t think is true? Then you can either examine the form or question one of the premises. There are no other choices. Of course, if Christianity is true, there is no logical argument that can be brought against it that truly succeeds. You can always find something questionable about one of the premises and that is exactly what you will need to do in order to be a good thinker.

This is the technique I use as well. When attacking an argument, I find it more important to look at the underlying presuppositions to the argument rather than the argument itself. In fact, that is where the argument is won, in the premises. When looking at the argument, do not be fooled by truth. Examine the argument as a whole.


Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at becoming a thinking Christian. We started discussing logic some last night and tonight, I’d like to continue that by having us look at terminology.

Words. Words are wonderful things. It is amazing that they can convey information often so well. Those who doubt what I am saying are proving what I am saying as my words to you right now are conveying my thoughts. It could be that some of my thoughts are wrong, to which I’m sure some are, but I would hope that I am at least conveying what is wrong truthfully so it could be corrected if need be.

My wife is one who knows about my usage of words. I have a joy of taking words literally at times to laugh about them. For instance, if we’re going down the highway and I see a billboard that says something like “McDonald’s: Exit now!” I can just say “Well I guess if we want to go we have to drive right off of this bridge!”

In logic, your words are important also. All syllogisms only have three terms. Those are the minor, major, and middle. What’s important is that we be clear on what the terms mean. Terms also does not mean that they are one-word only. They can be, but they do not have to be. I could say “The lamp that is sitting to my right of me as I type on my computer” and have that be a term. “Everything in the kitchen except the kitchen sink” is a term.

Of course, there is a danger that a term could be identical in word and different in meaning. To illustrate this, a simple syllogism.

The edge of a river is a bank.
Banks contain money.
Therefore, the edge of a river contains money.

The premises to this are true. (Although granted that an agnostic friend of mine pointed out to me that the second premise can easily be questioned today) The AAA type proposition is usually valid entirely. However, the problem to this is that the term bank is ambiguous.

In the second premise, when we speak of a bank that contains money, we refer to a place of business that has the responsibility of holding money if need be for your safekeeping. (Again, I do realize that that is questionable today) In the first premise, we are speaking of the edge of a river.

The fallacy then is that while we’re using the same word, we refer to two different things. In essence, this becomes the four-term fallacy. This is also important in informal debate and one reason I try to make sure my opponent and I define our terms clearly. What do you mean by God? What do you mean by good? If you are using the same term and you have a different referent to that term, you’re going to be talking past each other.

God takes words seriously. Let’s make sure we do the same.


Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been looking lately at what it means to become a thinking Christian and the next step to take is to learn something about thinking. That means logic. Logic doesn’t just mean right thinking. There are rules to thinking. There are a number of people who think that they are logical and they do not know the first thing about forming a syllogism.

Keep in mind this important truth. Logic is not a tool to discover truth per se. It is a tool to guide your thinking to see if something is true or false, but it itself cannot determine if something is true. It can determine if an argument is false if it is invalid, but that does not mean that the conclusion is false. I will demonstrate this with a few syllogism as I go along. Let’s start with the classic one.

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Socrates is mortal.

This is a valid syllogism and a true one. The important point with validity is that if a syllogism is valid in its form with true premises, then the conclusion MUST be true. The first sentence is called the major premise because it contains the major term, which will be the predicate in the conclusion. The second sentence is the minor premise as it contains the minor term, the subject of the conclusion. The term showing up in the premises but not the conclusion is the middle term.

Now let’s consider this syllogism.

All angels are rational.
Gabriel is rational.
Gabriel is an angel.

If you are a Christian, you could be quite tempted to immediately say that this syllogism is valid. We can agree with the conclusion, but the argument to get there doesn’t work. Want the proof? Take out Gabriel and put in your name and then tell me if you’re ontologically an angel. (I know some of you are really good people, and I don’t mean an angel in that way.) Gabriel could be the name of your next-door neighbor and while he is rational, he is not an angel.

The fallacy that has taken place is that of undistributed middle. A classic example of this was committed by a poster on Theologyweb with this syllogism. (To this day, he has not admitted it is invalid.)

All basketballs are round.
The Earth is round.
The Earth is a basketball.

The fallacy is called undistributed middle. In logic, there are four types of propositions.

A = All S is P.
E = No S is P.
I = Some S is P
O = Some S is not P.

A term is distributed if it refers to the entire class of which it speaks. In an A term, the subject is distributed. In an E term, the subject and predicate are distributed. In an I term, none of them are. In an O term, the predicate is. A rule is that the middle term MUST be distributed at least once.

Looking at the first syllogism, we find that rational is not distributed as rational is a predicate in both premises that are A premises. Therefore, the syllogism is invalid.

Note also that if you have a term distributed in the conclusion, it must be in the premises. Consider the following:

All snakes are reptiles.
No turtles are snakes.
No turtles are reptiles.

The problem is that reptiles is distributed in the conclusion, but it is not in the premise. Since this is the major term, it is the fallacy of illicit major. To do so with the minor term would be the fallacy of illicit minor.

This has been a brief look. We’ll discuss more tomorrow.

All I Need Is Jesus and the Bible

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at becoming a thinking Christian. I wish to thank Joel for his suggestion for tonight’s topic as he played Devil’s Advocate saying essentially that there was no need for this thinking stuff. Just give me Jesus and the Bible!

Unfortunately, this is an all too common idea in Christian circles. Of course, this isn’t to dismiss Jesus or the Bible. They are essential. It’s to deal with this attitude that the life of the intellect does not help the Christian. It’s a kind of position taken that sounds so spiritual but is oh so not.

To begin with, which Jesus do you mean? Do you mean the Arian Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who is the archangel Michael and is in no way God? Do you mean the Jesus of the Mormons who is the spirit brother of Lucifer? Do you mean the Jesus of Islam who is the greatest prophet before Muhammad and is virgin-born and a Messiah? Do you mean the Jesus of orthodoxy who is the second person of the Trinity?

Of course, the last one is the correct answer, but the answer is important. Those are all different Jesuses that Paul warned us of in 2 Corinthians. When it comes to Jesus, any old Jesus won’t do. How do you know which Jesus is the correct one? That’s when you get into Christology and thinking.

We get our doctrine of Christology from Scripture, although it does take philosophy to understand a lot of it. What about the Bible? A lot of people pride themselves for instance upon interpreting Scripture literally. The reality is however that there are several parts of Scripture that are not to be taken literally.

How do you know what hermeneutic to use? (Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation) You get that from an understanding of reality. The Bible does not tell you how to read it. It assumes that you are a good reader. In many ways, you must approach the Bible like you do other texts. You realize there are ways that languages operate to communicate reading and whether to take the text literally or not.

Why can’t you get it from the Bible? Because you have to interpret the Bible when you read it to understand it. Even if you are interpreting the text literally, you are still interpreting it. Where do you get the hermeneutic from? Basically, reality. It’s the same way you believe your five senses are giving you valid information about the world.

Do you always interpret the Bible literally? No. Consider it like reading Shakespeare. There are times you will interpret it literally and times you will not. How will you know? It will require you study literature and understand genres. It’s not an easy task, but it must be done. One can pride themselves on taking the text literally and then see what happened when Dake did the same thing in his Study Bible. Ever wonder where Benny Hinn got the idea that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit each have a body, soul, and spirit? Look to Dake.

What about the Holy Spirit? Unfortunately, a lot of people when wanting to interpret a passage of Scripture point to the Spirit as telling them what the text means. This is not the role of the Holy Spirit and frankly, I get concerned when people toss the Holy Spirit around to justify their interpretations because of a lack of study on their part. There’s nothing spiritual about doing that. In fact, I’d say it’s an insult to God that we punt to Him often to excuse our ignorance.

The idea is instead that the Holy Spirit works with you in interpretation by illuminating you on the meaning of the text when you understand it. When you understand the text, the Spirit helps you in seeing how you are to live under the truth of the text. The Holy Spirit is not to be a personal answer-man for when you don’t understand something in the Bible.

Also, if you are a believer in the book, you should be familiar with many books. Don’t be so arrogant as to think you have been the sole beneficiary of the truth of Scripture. Instead, read from those who have spent their lives studying the biblical languages and the art of interpretation. (And some of us could be greatly helped by taking the time to learn those languages, myself included)

Remember. Because something sounds spiritual, that doesn’t mean it’s good. Not everyone is to be an intellectual, but no one who is a Christian is to be an anti-intellectual.


Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been talking a lot about becoming a thinking Christian lately and I’d like to touch on the aspect of memorization tonight. If you’re going to be equipped to deal with what you see out in the world, you will need to know what to say and when.

When you read a book, you want to take in as much information as you can. When you meet the skeptic on the street, you can’t say “Let me look this up” or “Let me get out my notes.” You need to know what to say then and there. How can you get your memory in that kind of shape?

To begin with, rely less on technology. Make sure you have some phone numbers in your memory. Most numbers put out that are meant to be memorized follow the seven plus or minus two rule. In other words, the number will consist of five to nine digits. Your phone number minus area code has seven. Your zip code has five. Your zip code more precise has nine. Your social security number has nine.

It is easy to use the contacts list on your cell phone, but make sure you’re not totally dependent on that for every number. If you always let technology remember everything for you, then your own memory will suffer for it. The memory is like any other muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will become. The less you use it, the more it will waste away.

Start off small if you’re working on this as well. Don’t be trying to memorize a highly extensive list. I recommend starting with a list of three items and then moving up from there. There are several games you can get such as games on a phone that can help you with this. Think of the old Simon games with four colors and having to push the colors in order.

Music can also be an excellent aid to memorization. If you listen to a song, you can usually remember it easily because there’s a tune that sticks in your head. Most of us know the words to song easily, which really shows we can memorize things. When I meet someone who says they can’t remember something, I often like to see how many songs they know, what they can tell me about their favorite sports team, favorite jokes they have, or lines they love from a favorite movie or TV show.

The reason that works that way is that you can remember it if you connect it with something important. Try to establish connections in your mind with what you’re wanting to remember and see if it helps. Repetition will also be helpful. When you hear something you want to remember, repeat it.

Memorization is important to a Christian and was to the Jews as well. In fact, the ancient rabbis said that someone could not comment on a verse of Scripture unless it was memorized. It was not uncommon to meet a Jew who had the entire Old Testament memorized in biblical times, hence Jesus probably made more allusions to it than we recognize because we don’t remember it like they did. We can even place great stock in oral tradition in the ancient Middle East due to their great memories. This still goes on in the Middle East in fact. Muslims memorize the Qur’an.

Knowing the facts entails remembering them. Work on memorization today and remember to work on it tomorrow.

Leisure Time

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re looking lately at what it means to be a thinking Christian. I’ve spoken on many aspects of this so far and tonight, I’d like to turn and look at the idea of leisure time and how that is to be spent.

To begin with, Christians should have leisure time. Speaking as a married man, I know my wife would be very disappointed if I spent all my time with books. While I do have a booklight for night time reading in case she wants to sleep early and I’m not ready to nod off just yet, I only do that when she’s asleep. Now I can do that throughout the day from time to time such as if she’s playing a game system or on her laptop, but when it comes time for a date, be it a movie or going out to eat, then it’s time for a date and the books go away.

Of course, we also know that it will be a problem if all we have is leisure time, and the rise of technology has helped us in giving us more leisure time, but the problem is that we are not spending it well. We can spend all our time in the pursuit of many other pleasures without spending that time learning the great ideas or enriching our minds, particularly through reading.

If one wants to be a thinking Christian, one will need to spend some time enriching their mind through activities like this. I do have television shows that I like, namely Smallville, but one should not watch too much television. Otherwise, the images on the screen quickly do one’s thinking for them and becomes their imagination.

I recommend that the reader always have a book with them. Waiting in line at the bank or the check-out aisle? Pull out a book and start reading. At a long red light and you know it will be awhile? Get in a paragraph or two. (You could also while driving try audiobooks or podcasts or check out from your local library works like “The Portable Professor” and “Modern Scholar.”)

When it comes time to read, read hard and try to think about what you’ve read. Digest it. This could involve improving your memory, which will be another blog post. Your mind and memory are like any other muscle in your body. If you use them, they will grow stronger. If you do not use them, they will grow weaker.

However, when it comes time to play, Christians should not be opposed. Aquinas himself said in Question 138 of the second part of the second part of the Summa that

In play two things may be considered. On the first place there is the pleasure, and thus inordinate fondness of play is opposed to eutrapelia. Secondly, we may consider the relaxation or rest which is opposed to toil. Accordingly just as it belongs to effeminacy to be unable to endure toilsome things, so too it belongs thereto to desire play or any other relaxation inordinately.

Play is meant to restore us so we can do the work that we ought to do. Thus, I recommend that when it comes time to play, play hard. Don’t think about all the work that has to be done. There is no sin in enjoying yourself. When you get back to work however, work hard. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:31. Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God, including the usage of your leisure time.

Know The Opposition

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I’ve lately been wanting to impress on you the importance of being a thinking Christian. Toinght, I’m going to tell of another important step that will help you with learning how to think.

A few months ago, I did a debate on the topic of abortion. I thought it was an enjoyable debate and the audience thought I made the most convincing case I believe. However, there was a little problem with all of this. I was arguing on the side of being pro-abortion.

Now readers know that I’m not pro-abortion. What was going on then? It was a project for a friend and while there was a real pro-abortion person supposed to speak, he couldn’t make it and at the last minute, I was asked if I could be devil’s advocate and argue for abortion which I did. (Rest assured also my entire audience knew I was pro-life.)

Why I bring this up is that the reason I was able to argue pro-abortion enough to make an audience think I’d made a case is because it is important to know the arguments of your opponents. When you go to present an opinion on a certain issue, you need to know not only what you believe, but you also need to know what it is that your opponent believes as well and I would argue, you need to know it better than they know it.

What is enjoyable about this is that you can be debating your opponent and have them make an argument finally that they think is the killer argument and then you can say “Well it’s about time! I thought you’d never get to that argument! Here’s why it fails!”

This is also a lesson that the new atheists need to learn. Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, and others have been quite clear that they don’t think they need to understand Christian theology. One of the worst mistakes you could make with someone however is to claim to obliterate their worldview when the strongest minds in that worldview can tell you lack sufficient knowledge of that view.

If Stenger and Dawkins think that Christianity is nonsense, that’s their right to do so. However, they need to know what it is that Christianity actually teaches. For instance, when Bill Maher in Religulous talks to some truckers at a trucker’s chapel, he brings up a list of Christian doctrines although two of them are doctrines that are held by Roman Catholics. Maher is too unfamiliar with what Christians believe to realize what any Protestant in the audience who knows his faith would recognize immediately.

Thus, I recommend that you read the literature of the other side. Have fun doing it as well. It’s a great encouragement to know you’ve read the books that your opponent has read and have read your own as well. To argue against the new atheists, you need to be fluent not only in Christianity but atheism as well. That will again require study.

Know your opponent and how he thinks, and you’ll learn more about how you are to think as well.