Tag Archives: Good Friday

Tony Campolo & homosexuality

I appreciated this analysis about Adventures in Missing the Truth: Campolo and Homosexuality*.  Many years ago, our Sunday School class read a book by Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren (noted “emergent” type false teacher) called Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel.  Someone picked it as a book that, in theory, would have conservative and Liberal views on various hot topics.  The problem was that we didn’t realize Campolo wasn’t really conservative.  So the book ended up being a “debate” between a theological Liberal/moderate and a drunk-naked-running-down-the-streets theological Liberal, which meant it wasn’t a debate at all.  McLaren was presented as a Christian, even though his core views mock the cross.

Sadly, many in the class liked their views even though, as outlined in the link, the book was a train wreck of unsupported claims, bad logic worse theology.  Not one person asked, “So what does the Bible have to say about this?”

Run, don’t walk, from teachers like Campolo and McLaren.  Campolo is actually more dangerous because he poses as being orthodox.  He also is involved with the “red-letter Christian” movement that ignores a rather obvious point: Jesus is God, and He authored all of scripture.

* It is a 3-part series.  The link has them out of order, but you’ll be able to follow it.


The tomb is still empty


Spoiler alert: The text at the bottom gives away the ending of the Gospels.

My favorite part of The Passion of the Christ movie was the understated scene where Jesus is sitting in the tomb on Easter morning and then He just stands up.  That’s it.  No humans saw him get up, though angels may have.

The resurrection is the greatest and most central event in human history.  Good Friday is when Jesus died for our sins, but the resurrection conquered sin and death for all time for those who trust in Jesus.   Everyone spends eternity somewhere.  Trust in Jesus and you have hope in this life and an eternity in Heaven.  Don’t trust in Jesus and you have neither.

Bonus link: Ten resources to help you defend the resurrection of Jesus as history.  Yes, He really died and rose again, He is really God and He is really the only way to salvation.

He is risen!

John 20:1-18 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Evidence for the resurrection

tomb.jpgThis is a summary of the “minimal facts” approach, which points to commonly held historical facts as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and the truth of Christianity.

Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucificion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.

75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

I submit that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

There is a great set of PowerPoint slides here outlining the “minimal facts” approach.


I am confident that we can defend the inspiraton and innerancy claims of the Bible, but the discussions are wide and deep and it is easy for them to get off track.

An interesting approach is to consider what the skeptical historians tend to agree on – that is, what elements of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus do the well educated skeptics concede?  You can actually build a very strong case starting with those.  If nothing else, it helps annihilate the “blind faith” accusations often lobbed against Christians.

When virtually all historians agree on something – believers and skeptics included, we have a term for those views: Facts.

I readily concede that God used the writing styles and experiences of the humans who wrote the Gospels, but I don’t concede that it didn’t turn out exactly as God wanted it to. He is sovereign over his creation and could easily guide the people and circumstances to achieve what He desired.

I think those doctrines are quite defensible but not necessary to share the Gospel. There are several important facts that even skeptical historians will concede, and we can work from there:

  • Jesus really lived and then died on a Roman cross.
  • The disciples really believed He rose physically (even if the historians don’t believe He rose physically they agree that the disciples believed that He did).
  • The Apostle Paul persecuted Christians then converted after claiming to see the risen Christ and wrote at least Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philipians, Galatians and Philemon, which record key doctrines and traditions at early dates.  Paul was originally hostile to the faith and had no reason to believe.

Mike Licona is a New Testament historian, author, and Christian apologist. He is a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Pretoria and has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Liberty University.  He has a great web page that addresses these in a very accessible way.  Here are a couple excerpts.  Go read the whole thing.  I also put a link in the apologetics section to the right.

1. Jesus’ disciples believed he appeared to them. (% of scholars from 1975-Present who agree: Nearly 100%)

No less than 9 ancient sources from an eyewitness, very early oral traditions dating within 20 years of Jesus’ crucifixion, and several written sources testify that Jesus’ disciples were claiming that he had risen from the dead and appeared to them.

“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which He appeared to them as the risen Christ.” -Atheist New Testament Scholar Gerd Lüdemann, 1995

2. A few skeptics believed Jesus appeared to them. (% of scholars from 1975-Present who agree: Nearly 100% for Paul; ~90% for James)

Paul experienced an immediate change from a persecutor of the Church to one of its most aggressive advocates.  He said the change was because the risen Jesus had appeared to him, and he willingly suffered and died for that belief. (Sources: Paul, Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth, Origen)

Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, the brother of Jesus named James was a skeptic (Sources: Mark, John).  An appearance of the risen Jesus to James is reported within 5 years of Jesus’ crucifixion (Source: 1 Corinthians 15:7).  James became a leader of the Church in Jerusalem (Sources: Paul, Luke).  James willingly died for his belief that Jesus was the Messiah (Sources: Josephus, Hegesippus, Clement of Alexandria).

3. The original disciples were willing to suffer and die for their belief that Jesus rose and attests to the sincerity of their faith, which strongly rules out lies on their part.

Sources: Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Origen.

4. “All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of [the empty tomb], and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history.”-William Wand, Oxford University, 1972) (% of scholars from 1975-Present who agree: ~75%)

Since Jesus was publicly executed then buried in Jerusalem, it would have been impossible for Christianity to get off the ground there had the body still been in the tomb.  His enemies in the Jewish leadership and Roman government would only have had to exhume the corpse and publicly display it for the hoax to have been shattered.

Rather than point to an occupied tomb, the Jewish leadership who had Jesus crucified accused His disciples of stealing the body. This move seems to have been an attempt to account for a missing body, since it is highly unlikely that this claim would have been made if the body had still been in the tomb. (Sources: Matthew, Justin, Tertullian).

When we come to the account of the empty tomb, women are listed as the primary witnesses.  This would be an odd invention, since in both Jewish and Roman cultures woman were not esteemed and their testimony was regarded as questionable; certainly not as credible as a man’s. Given the low view of women that existed in the first century, it seems unlikely that the Gospel authors would invent testimonies, place them in the mouths of those who would not be believed by many, and then make them the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.  If the Gospel writers had invented the story about the empty tomb, it seems that they would most likely have depicted men discovering its vacancy and being the first to see the risen Jesus.


a. A number of people claimed to have seen Jesus alive after his execution.  These were friends and skeptics, individuals and groups.

b. Jesus’ tomb was empty

c. Since these facts are well established historically and are accepted by the majority of scholars, any theory of what happened has to account for all of the facts.

d. Jesus’ resurrection certainly accounts for all of the historical facts.  But can any natural explanation (opposed to a supernatural one) explain these facts too?

Competing theories

Psychological phenomena, fraud, legend. [see the web site for refutations of these theories]

The New Testament wasn’t first compiled into a single volume until the middle of the second century.  Thus, we have no less than 9 New Testament authors who write about Jesus in the first century.  Furthermore, 11 additional early Christian authors, 4 heretical writings, and 7 non-Christian sources make explicit mention of Jesus in their writings within 150 years of his life. This amounts to a minimum of 31 authors, 7 who are non-Christian, who explicitly mention Jesus within 150 years of his life.

Good Friday – “It is finished.”


Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus’ last words on the cross are in John 19:30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished” came from the Greek word tetelestai, which literally means “paid in full.”  Our debt to God for our sins had been paid in full.  All of our sins – past, present and future – if we trust in him.

That is one of my favorite words in the Bible.