Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rob Bell Agrees with Atheists on Hell

If you think Jesus threatens you with eternal torment unless you believe in him, you’re out of step with traditional Christianity. For those of you critical of this faulty concept, you're in the company of Rob Bell and numerous atheists he seems to agree with on this point. In the promo for his new book, Bell implies that if God is loving, he wouldn’t send people to hell (click here for his two-minute video speech).

As it turns out, this is an objection we usually get from atheists. In December 2009 I was in a panel debate on the topic, “Does the God of the Bible Exist?” where the atheists brought up this very objection. (click here for a five-minute video clip from the debate) For their objection to work, it must be based on: 1) an accurate representation of classical Christianity’s teachings on hell, and 2) a logical flow of thought. I will show it meets neither.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gospel Tip Line: Reliability of Anonymous Reports

Connecticut residents can breathe a bit easier now that the “East Coast Rapist” was caught after an anonymous citizen called police leading to an arrest. Anonymous tips are nothing new. I get them in my narcotic investigations where they solve crimes and uncover new ones. Drug cases are commonplace for anonymous tips because the retaliation can be swift and violent when the reported party’s identity is disclosed. 

But it’s not just drug investigations where anonymous tips are used. Police departments often have anonymous caller programs with dedicated “tip lines” to encourage citizens to do what the Connecticut caller did. Beyond crime reporting, tip lines are employed to expose corporate abuse, dirty restaurants, bad customer service, breaking news, and unsafe driving. They obviously are a valuable source of information and embraced by our culture, so why are people so skeptical about anonymous reports when it comes to the Bible?

Authorship of many books in the Bible, including all four gospels, are commonly disputed. Some early gospel manuscripts don’t explicitly attribute them to the traditional authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So, if we can’t know who wrote these books, skeptics allege, how can they be trusted? After all, if we don’t know the writers, how do we know what position they were in to report an accurate description of events? Or worse, maybe the writers deceptively made it appear as the authoritative works of early church figures.