I have had persons who argue for liberal rights give me this answer as to when life begins, but is this true? A direct quote:
“As for when life begins, it begins when the child is viable outside the womb without having to subsist on the female body for support. There are many tenets of Christianity that bothers the heck out of me. It’s ok to force a woman to bear a child, but those same individuals who would regulate my body and medical decisions have no responsibility to care for it afterwards. Its ok, to force a woman to bear another person (which incidentally is slavery and violates our 14th amendment rights) but it’s not ok for her to say that’s NOT ok for her body, or to realize it’s too much for her psyche after it has begun, which does happen. Even animals recognize when they are sick and will terminate pregnancies early for their health. I believe strongly in individual rights and those of self-care of the woman, as less men care for me than they would themselves, so I have my duty to do so for me. I owe no-one else a thing in this life, much less accountability about my physical person. Now, that is not to say I would ever make this personal choice as I love others and I love children, but I also choose not to dominate others with my religious beliefs as certain Christians deem proper thru law.. My love is appropriate to me and not my will on others. I also do not believe in using them as a means of birth control. Self-defense is self-defense even if you don’t agree with how the person protects themselves (for example, not bearing the body of another and risking your your life or mental state) because it affects someone elses religious sensibilites.. it may not be their religion, it may just be something less than human until its born.”
“Thats what I meant by comparing killing a person in self-defense, to having an abortion.”
Let me ask you an honest question; I hope it will help you grasp what you said.
When did your life begin?
Mine began in my mother’s womb.
Mine began when the sperm and the egg joined together.
If my parents did not have sex I would not be a person. My parents chose to have sex and were never forced to have sex. The only way I would not be born after the egg and the sperm joined together would be if something went wrong or someone or something interrupted the growth cycle of my early development.
We must also ask when is a growing fetus not a human child? The answer is never. We are always in stages of development. Children live outside of the womb who are three or four months old.
Someone may say, “Well, fetuses are dependent upon someone.” Yes, children are dependent upon someone to live, just like all new-born children and every one-year old, two-year old, four-year old and up.
So to use logic that says a baby still in utero is not a child until they’re born because they’re dependent cannot be right. A young human life is always dependent upon a grown up, so is not wise to use this type of logic.
A two-year old needs his mom too.
Using this logic, should we be able to kill the two-year old child since he still needs his mom? For us to choose to terminate a child before it is born does not change that it was a developing child any more than it does to kill a two-year old under the same pretense.
Abortion as self-defense?
Now, let’s look at the last part of this logic: that people are forced to take care of a child that they did not want merits self-defense. That this child was forced into me so I need to kill and remove it.
First, let’s be honest. A person almost always has the choice to have sex or not with another person.
Most people beyond a 4th grade education know sexual union can produce a life as it’s the God-given process most people were brought into the world (aside from some newer, modern science techniques.)
Yes, a person choosing to engage in sexual union outside a marriage commitment may decide afterwards they don’t want to be with this person so they terminate the life inside them. That’s not self-defense. Who forced you to have sex?
You had a chance to “defend yourself” by saying no, right?
If you use this logic, the real problem becomes that unwritten law that says that we can have sex when we want and with whom we want. Especially throughout the West, peddled largely through Hollywood and social media, we are told we have an unhindered right to sex.
But the GOD who created us calls this fornication.
It is sex outside of marriage where we first disobey God. Marriage with a person who is committed to us for life is beautiful.
The first variable in this equation is that we have done wrong by having sex as we chose—outside of marriage. Plus, now we want to kill the child because of our willful “mistake”! This math doesn’t work.
As we approach this subject on abortion, I want to say there is hatred on both side of this issue. Some groups have the view that it is the woman’s right to choose and no one should interfere with that choice. Another group says that abortion is murder, and they have no tolerance for an opposing argument. Both of these camps, when let out of their cages, go at each other like two pit bulls in a fighting arena. Is there a middle ground? Or will there always be no agreement on this issue? As Christians and light to the world, where are we to stand on this issue?
I personally have strong beliefs on this issue, but my beliefs are nothing if not centered in the word of GOD. So let me start with you.
How in the world did you get here?
To begin with, your mother and father got together in a sexual union, and sperm and an egg got together in your mother’s body, and life began. From this beginning, 9 months of development had to pass before you became the person you are; that is, before you were born into the world. At which point were you a human being? Dr. John Rice says at the point of conception your sex was determined, the color of your eyes and hair, the way you look, your special talents, all that is you today. The only difference is that you had to develop in your mother’s womb. Now this is the natural process for you and me to become an infant child. As Sen. Paul Ryan said in the Vice Presidential debate,
“If you have any children today you probably have pictures of the baby before it was born, maybe of him or her sucking his thumb or making a fist. Sometimes the nurse would have a hard time getting us their ultrasound picture because they were moving around too much. Just as we were alive in our mothers’ body so was our boy or girl.”
So I ask you, what keeps a baby from being a baby? What would keep us from becoming a baby? Something unnatural must take place to stop the growth of this child, and that something unnatural in an abortion is when the baby is killed. This is the interruption, the stopping of the heart, the seizing of the developing brain waves occurring through a traumatic end. There can be no denying that if the fetus is left alone it will become a child. This is the only way that any of us have been brought into this world. You and I are proof of the miracles of God. He has given men and women the power to procreate, and we are here today because we we’re not a mistake, and that’s because God doesn’t make mistakes.
Now that I have shared these truths with you, I will say to you I am pro-choice.
However, I must say it very differently than the pro-choice of modern politics. My pro-choice is that everyone has a choice to wait until marriage before engaging in a sexual union with another of the opposite sex. You and I have a choice since you can wait until you’re in love with the one person you want to spend the rest of your life with, or have sex now. If you choose to fornicate, and break God’s command, then natural consequences come to that choice. You can get a venereal disease, you can get pregnant, and you can have your heart broken. If you get pregnant, you have already made a choice to break God’s command; so you have made your choice. I don’t believe that you should have another choice to kill the baby.
You have already made a choice.
This is pro-choice, the real choice, but now men and women want to erase their choice by eliminating a child because they choose to have sex outside of God’s place of commitment in marriage. The world (Satan) is teaching us that we all should have freedom to have sex with anyone, and have no responsibility to those we have sex with. But the act in God’s eyes is the act of commitment, and to faithfulness to the one who you have had sexual union with. Having sex outside marriage–and then killing the child–will never be right because two wrongs don’t make a right, and they never will.
Since we have established it is a child in the mother (like we were), and that the developing child will–if it is left alone–become a child. Then, that choice is something you have to make before engaging in sex. Once you have gotten someone pregnant, or have become pregnant, accept the responsibility of your choice. Remember you “had” a choice. Since this child is alive just as we are, then it follows that Christians must choose life and defend the rights of the innocent, the weak (the ones who can’t protect themselves); the unborn! What excuse can you give on Judgment Day for turning away from the little ones? Jesus said if you lead one of these little ones astray it would be better that a millstone be tied around your neck and be cast into the sea. These laws that condone abortion clinics are not only leading them astray, but killing them! Are you your brother’s keeper? The blood of the innocent cries out to God as it did against Abel.
On to answering the arguments for abortion, and closing the mouth of the lion:
Argument #1: The fetus is not a human life, therefore it may be killed.
The words fetus and embryo are Greek and Latin words that simply mean “young one.” When scientists speak of a human embryo or fetus, they are not putting it in the category of another species, but are simply using terminology for a stage of development (like the words infant, child, adolescent, or adult). A fetus is a very young person developing in the womb. In pregnancy books it is natural and correct to speak of the fetus as my baby or your child.
As we have stated earlier, from conception the child has its own genetic code. Dr. John Rice says at the point of conception your sex was determined, the color of your eyes and hair, the way you look, your special talents, all that is you today. The only difference is that you had to develop in your mother’s womb. The child has a distinctive genetic code separate from the mother; it shows us all that the child is, and that the child is not a part of the mother’s body. The child is thus a distinct individual, living temporally within her body. Ultrasound imaging reveals this to be true. You can literally follow from your child’s fertilization to its birth in baby books. A fetus is in development until it grows into the known recognizable human form.
At three weeks, a developing baby’s heart begins beating and at six weeks a baby’s brain waves are traceable. At eight weeks the arms, hands, and feet are developed with a distinct set of finger prints being formed. The ultra sound can see a baby making a fist, sucking its thumb, watch it kick, spin and make facial expressions by he/or she’s first trimester. By any reasonable standard, a human fetus is a young human being.
Thus, to kill a baby is murder no matter how young. Have you seen the horrific photo’s of aborted babies? Severed hands feet and heads wrapped up in bags and discarded as trash. This should never be hidden from those who support and vote for those who say this evil is a choice. Each person should get an education on the reality of what happens at an abortion clinic by visiting them, getting to know the procedures by watching the process. Reality will awaken the hardest advocate of abortion to the truth. I will explain three procedures in the next e-mail. Unborn children are precious human beings and must be protected, not sides of beef or drum sticks.
Argument #2: The fetus is not fully human because it is dependent on another to live.
The simple truth is that a baby that has been born cannot live without the care and sustenance from an outside source as well. The baby is dependent on others just as the unborn is on its mother. Is a kangaroo not a kangaroo because it lives in its mothers pouch? Of course not, as with human beings the location and situation does not make him or her less human. If dependency makes a person less human, then on these grounds we should have the right to kill infants outside of the womb. We should kill people on dialysis, war veterans with missing arms, people with pacemakers, the diabetics, and people in comas, handicapped people and the elderly. These people are all dependent on something outside of themselves to keep them alive.
Suppose there are two women several months into their pregnancies. One child is born premature and the other remains in the womb, the premature baby girl is utterly dependent upon medical intervention to survive, and the other is dependent upon the mother’s body to survive. How would the hospital staff react if the mother entered the baby ward with a knife to kill the premature baby girl? Is it a right to kill the baby girl? If it is not the right to kill the premature girl, then why is it right to kill the child in the womb? Both are dependent, both are children, both must have legal protection!
Argument #3: A woman has the right to do with her body as she desires.
We affirm that a women has authority over her own body. She should have the choice of who her husband will be, where she goes to college, where she will live, what kind of car she drives, what she eats for breakfast, if she wears makeup or takes a shower (we would frown at missing too many showers though). As stated earlier, a women has a choice to lay down with a man or not, but after she has, there is no right to take back what she/ they did. It is not okay to murder the innocent child. There are limits to what we can do with our bodies; including causing harm to another human being. Abortion involves the death of an innocent child. As in the US court of law, where there is due process before someone can be brought to a judgment, there is even a stricter scrutiny in the law if a person is to face capital punishment (the death penalty). Those babies have committed no crime, and are given capital punishment without a trial. For what? What evil atrocity have they committed? Let’s punish the bad people! Why do these innocent children who have done no wrong face the death penalty?
Now, to argue further that the living fetus is apart of her body, in which she can do what she wishes, I ask what part of the body is the fetus? What organ? When the child’s heart starts to beat, whose heartbeat is it? When the fetus’s brain waves can be traced, whose are they? When the body has arms and legs, whose are they? Now, both the baby and the mother have bodies; than it follows that both the fetus and the mother’s rights must be considered.
Whenever we speak of the rights of human beings, we must guard against the more powerful person taking advantage of the weaker person. It is the responsibility of the more powerful person to protect the weak. It is especially the responsibility of the mother to protect her children. Does any mother have the right to do whatever she wishes with her children? On the contrary, she has the responsibility of caring for them, or seeing that someone else cares for them. Certainly motherhood calls for sacrifice. We should expect adults to make sacrifices of their resources and freedoms when necessary to preserve the lives of children.
Argument #4: Sex and reproduction are a private matter in which we must not intrude.
Human sexuality expresses the deep intimacy that a husband and wife share. Sex has very public consequences. How we exercise our sexuality contributes to the restraint or spread of disease, the treatment of women with honor or rape, the nurture or sexual abuse of children, and the strengthening or dissolution of families that are the foundation of society. Until the sexual revolution of the 60’s adultery was considered wrong and shameful, now it is accepted as normal. This has directly effected the treatment of women and even affected marriage by creating no fault divorce laws. We have seen the moral fabric of this country slowly unwind as we have stepped away from what used to be absolutes. Society therefore should have a compelling interest to guard the dignity of marriage; women and children with respect to sex and reproduction for can see their outward effects.
People sometimes assume that the constitution guarantees the right to privacy in sexual and reproductive matters. That is not the case as you read the constitution. The fourth amendment acknowledges the right of security against “unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant” but nothing about sexuality, children, or abortion.
Someone might sarcastically say, “I thought what I did in my bedroom was my own business.” That should be the case but, what if someone is killing a child in your bedroom? Wouldn’t that merit public intervention by the authorities? Privacy is not an absolute moral right, but killing a child is an absolute moral wrong.
Argument #5: Making abortion illegal would force women into dangerous, back-alley abortions.
The idea of the crudely done abortion resulting in a bleeding, dying mother (and dead child) has been widely used by abortion advocates. In reality, 90% of abortions were performed before they were legal were done by physicians in their offices. The idea of thousands of women dying yearly until abortion was legal is a myth that pushed society for its acceptance. In 1972, thirty–nine mothers died in the United States from abortions. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (March 26th, 2010) admits the legalization of abortion has had no impact on the number of women dying of abortions in the U.S.
In fact, legal abortion is now the leading cause of death related to maternal deaths in the US.
Every woman who dies from a botched abortion is a tragic loss. But so is every child who dies from a successful abortion. We should not make it legal to kill babies in order to make the killing safer for the adults involved. Furthermore, abortion has medical and psychological risks; making it illegal would protect the lives and health of millions and millions of women.
Argument #6: It is better to die before birth than to live as a unwanted child.
To give a human being the power to determine the future life of another individual based on whether he or she is wanted or unwanted is most dangerous. Do we have the right to kill on the basis if we want them or not? Such a view point leads highly-cultured societies to commit genocide against the mentally and inferior races. You see that those who advocate the murder of the unwanted baby will be advocating later–as did Hitler–the murder of others that are unfit or retarded or those who are an extra burden on society. When you justify murder, there is always a next step.
Secondly, is the child never wanted by anyone? Many mothers who did not want their child prior to birth experience a change of heart after birth. There are so many parents that want to adopt a child, therefore these children are very much wanted. To say the child is not wanted now does not mean that the child will never be wanted. Did you know that Apple founder, Steve Jobs, was unwanted by his birth mother and adoptive parents?
Third, this argument has horrifying implications for the “unwanted.” Consider these three “cases” for abortion:
while a woman is pregnant, she finds that the child may be deformed and deaf
another mom finds out her child may be a mongoloid, affected by Down’s Syndrome
another pregnant woman’s boy may be retarded
All of these mothers are considering abortion. Now in these cases we wait until their children are born and find that just one of the children is born with a defect; deafness. Will we kill the baby for it being born deaf? Is this not a good thing because the boy was unwanted? You say that is wrong and we shouldn’t do that! You are shocked at the thought of killing one deaf baby but are not moved when all three of these children were going to be killed by abortion.
Wake up, if it is a right to kill those who may be defective, wouldn’t it be logical to kill those who are already born who are defective, or a burden to society? Using this logic, it is the next step for a society with this worldview.
Finally, what gives us the right to decide whether it is better for a person to live or die? The 14th amendment says no one is to be deprived of life without due process of law. Where is the justification to determine the death of a person without due process? Did you consult the child? Are you the owner of that person’s life? Do you know without a doubt the future of that child? Do not many “unwanted” children overcome severe physical and mental handicaps in their life times and become useful adult citizens? Do not many people in very painful situations choose wisely to live than to kill themselves? You and I don’t know what this child’s life will be so how can we kill a child when she has not committed any crime? In the end, what seems to be a compassionate argument for the “unwanted” child makes no sense at all. At best it is an emotional, illogical appeal; at worst it is a mask for selfishness and a murderous heart.
God’s word in Proverbs 8:36 says, “Those who hate me (GOD) love death.” There are many who claim they love God, yet God is the God of life. If you can vote with or condone murder at any level except for biblical life-for-life are you a Christian? You can say a lot of things but your heart is revealing the truth: you hate your unborn brother and are a murder. Revelation 21:8 says that no murderer has eternal life but will be thrown into the lake of fire. You are called to choose between blessing or cursing, life or death. I beg you to choose life. We all will stand before our Maker and give account. Choose life.
Thank you for reading the answers to a set of hard questions. Jesus said what you have done to the least of these you have done to me: it is the will of God that man protect those who cannot defend themselves. Protect life! There is no greater issue facing the American people than abortion. This is the only issue that is truly a matter of life and death: 53,000,000 have been killed in abortions and counting!
We are able to stop this evil, so don’t vote for, nor support anyone who is for the killing of a child; no matter how young that child is.
You are your brother’s keeper!
God bless you as you defend the rights of unborn children; it is God’s will.
Hearing the word “apologetics,” many immediately think of our modern understanding of what it means to apologize for something as an expression of regret. This could be understandably confusing since we are talking about Christian apologetics, potentially implying that we regret being Christians. However, to do apologetics ironically means quite the opposite of “apologizing” for something.
The word comes from the Greek prefix “apo-”, which indicates a separation or a deflection of something, and the word “logos”, which is unsurprisingly where we get our term “logic.” So, the Greek word apologia paints a picture of something that is being deflected by way of logic. The most common definition of the word apologetics is “a reasoned defense.” (Think Jude 3.)
Side note: Imagine how the conversation would go next time you needed to apologize to someone, and you offered “a reasoned defense” of your actions.
There are apologists everywhere. Every political position, sports fan base, and brand loyalty has its apologists. Every religion has apologists who defend their faith as the one true religion. Even the nonreligious have apologists who defend the secular mindset that all religions are ultimately wrong.
When it comes to us Christians, however, we take the role of the apologist to an entirely different level. Christianity is not simply supposed to have apologists; as we shall see, every Christian is supposed to be an apologist. For Christians, apologetics is not something we simply leave to “the experts.” It is something that is very much a part of what it means to be a Christian.
The most famous usage of the word in the New Testament comes from the Apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 he gives both a directive and a definition of apologetics. There Peter states:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
The phrase translated into English as “give an answer” is actually one word in Greek. You guessed it: apologia. The command is clear. We are always to be ready with an answer, always ready to do apologetics.
Among a few qualities of what a good answer may look like, Peter zeros in on the main subject—“the hope that is in you.” Christian apologetics is a focused discipline with a singular goal, namely to bring people to the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world and preach the gospel; Peter reminds us to be ready with an answer when they have questions about it.
The Need for Apologetics
As much as the world has changed since the first century, the Great Commission has not. All Christians have been tasked with preaching the gospel. The only alternative to evangelism, as they say, is disobedience.
Apologetics has always played a pivotal role in our evangelism. Christian apologist James Patrick Holding observed, “What we call ‘apologetics’ was, in fact, what the apostolic church would have called ‘evangelism.’” He goes on to explain, “Early missionary preaching testified to the historical realities upon which the Christian faith was grounded and called for repentance on those grounds.”
Indeed, if you were to review the evangelism of the apostles, personal and public, there is very little reliance on personal experience or emotional appeal. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-25), for example, Peter gave a textbook example of what he describes in his epistle. He appealed to Jesus’ miracles, culminating in his resurrection, and his fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. On the basis of the historical reality of what Jesus had done, Peter calls his audience to repent and believe.
In our post-Christian secular age, the presence of apologetics in our evangelism is as important as it ever has been. Our culture is moving ever further away from a time when people had the same general understanding of God, the Bible, and religion. However, the popular consensus has changed in virtually every category. To talk to someone about the gospel today is a vastly different endeavor than it was years ago. Apologetics professor Travis Dickinson notes,
“More and more, apologetics does the work equivalent to what Bible translators do for an unreached people group. The Bible translator must get the content of the Gospel into the vernacular of the people for an individual to even grasp this content. Could the Holy Spirit miraculously allow the tribesman to understand the Gospel in a foreign language? Absolutely. However, it typically takes the hard work of translation. Likewise, God can bring conviction if He wants, but it often takes the hard work of engaging in apologetic discussion for someone to be able to grasp the content of the Gospel.”
In our evangelism, we declare what the gospel is, and what people ought to do about it. Yet, increasingly people ask why. Why should someone believe in any God, much less the one described in the Bible? Why should someone believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh and that he rose from the dead? If God loves us so much, why do so many bad things happen to us? If God went to such great lengths to save us, why did he put us in a situation in which we need saving? These are precisely the questions Peter was talking about.
“I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what. “You have to believe because Jesus is the Son of God.” But that’s answering the why with more what. Increasingly we live in a time when you can’t avoid the why question. Just giving the what (for example, a vivid gospel presentation) worked in the days when the cultural institutions created an environment in which Christianity just felt true or at least honorable. But in a post-Christendom society, in the marketplace of ideas, you have to explain why this is true, or people will just dismiss it.”
If the only alternative to evangelism is disobedience, which I believe it is, then the only alternative to apologetics is ineffectiveness.
The Point of Apologetics
While apologetics is vital to evangelism, it is also substantively different. There are two major objectives in apologetics that contrast from evangelism.
The first major objective is to provide reasons to believe. While evangelism declares what to believe, apologetics gives people a reason to do so. For example, many people are unaware of the abundance of manuscript evidence that demonstrates the reliability of the New Testament as a historical document. So, as astounding as much of the New Testament narrative is, we can give people reasons to believe what it says.
The second major objective is to remove reasons to doubt. While evangelism warns of the consequences of not believing, apologetics demonstrates that there are no good reasons not to believe. For example, many people have a problem with believing in the miraculous features of Christian belief because they supposedly conflict with modern scientific understanding. Yet, many Christian apologists have demonstrated that there is no real conflict between science and faith.
This is illustrated by one of my favorite metaphors for the relationship between apologetics and evangelism. Apologist Matt Slick gives the illustration of “what apologetics really is.” As he tells it, the gospel is like a garden in the middle of a field. That garden has one gate, which is Jesus. One path takes you right up to the gate. That path is evangelism, leading people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, for many people the journey to the garden is difficult. There are many paths that appear to head toward the garden but eventually veer off into some other direction. There are massive rocks and heavy brush obstructing the way. Then, in steps the apologist, pointing people back to the right path and clearing any obstacles ahead. The apologist may not be the gardener, and he is definitely not the gate. In fact, he needs the path, the gate, and the garden every bit as much as the people he helps. Nevertheless, he helps as many as he can along the way.
It is important to note the differences between apologetics and evangelism, or else we run the risk of treating apologetics as an end in itself. Even still, noting the differences helps us focus on the primary purpose of apologetics. It is easy to get bogged down and sidetracked by neverending debates and peripheral issues. But, doing so renders our apologetics fruitless.
Here’s the thing…
Apologetics is the process of getting people to the gospel as soon as possible.
It may be more than that, but it should never be less.
Travis Satterfield is a family man, teacher, and blogger. Here’s the thing… is a blend of his personal story of doubt and faith, his professional experience of teaching the Bible, and his passionate insight into theology, apologetics, and culture. Subscribe to receive email updates, follow on Twitter (@h_t_t_blog), and join the conversation on Facebook (@httblog).
“And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18)
Prophesied: Around 1500-1300 BC Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38
The genealogy of Jesus laid out in the book of Matthew and Luke details Jesus lineage through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
PROPHESY: Descendant of Jacob
“A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” (Numbers: 24:17)
Prophesied: Between 1446-1260 BC Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38
The genealogy of Jesus laid out in the book of Matthew and Luke details Jesus lineage through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
PROPHESY: Virgin Birth, Immanuel
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Prophesied: 740 BC Fulfilled: Matthew 1:20-25, Luke 1:26-35
“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
PROPHESY: A Child Will Be Born
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Prophesied: 740 BC Fulfilled: Luke 1:32-33; 3:23-38, Matthew 1:1, 6-7
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
PROPHESY: The Time of Messiah’s Arrival
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:25-26)
Prophesied: 605 BC Fulfilled: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
“(1) This passage tells us when Messiah will appear on the scene. (2) It tells us that after His appearance, Messiah will be rejected by His people, and (3) that Messiah will be cut off temporarily, an obvious reference to the cross.”
“The seven weeks with the sixty-two weeks combine to make 69 weeks of years (483 years) until the coming of Messiah. The starting point for the 483 years was the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This is a reference to the decree given in the time of Nehemiah in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. (Neh. 2:1-8). After this, Messiah would appear on the scene.”
“The words ‘until Messiah the Prince’ refer to a time when Messiah would be manifested as the prince of Israel. This would be around A.D. 30-33, so the time of His birth as the Immanuel of God would have to be around A.D. 0-4.” (Keathley.)
PROPHESY: Born in Bethlehem
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
Prophesied: 742 BC Fulfilled: Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 2:1-6, John 7:42
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) […] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
PROPHESY: Destruction of the Children
“A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
Prophesied: 597 BC Fulfilled: Mathew 2:16-18
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
PROPHESY: Return from Egypt
“Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Hosea 11:1)
Prophesied: 755 BC Fulfilled: Matthew 2:13-15
“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Lorenz, J. November 2, 2014. Prophecies About Jesus: 6 Birth Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ. Newsmax. Retrieved from https://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/prophecies-about-jesus-birth/2014/11/02/id/604203/
Keathley, III, J. Prophecies of the Birth of Christ. Bible.org. Retrieved from https://bible.org/article/prophecies-birth-christ
Chaffey, T. December 24, 2012. Fulfilled Prophecies at the Birth of Christ. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved from https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/birth/fulfilled-prophecies-at-the-birth-of-christ/
The exclusive claim of salvation by Jesus Christ is oftentimes one of the most offensive claims by Christianity. The world just doesn’t want to be held accountable to this one. First seen on Facebook, this thread was a good example of folks holding a respectful debate in the public square. Thank you to all those who contributed. Matthew
[Matthew] Either Jesus was crazy, lying or telling the truth. The exclusive claim by Christianity is one of the hot-buttons for non-believers who want to believe there are many paths to God. Christians are called to love others in all they do, including when sharing truth. Be salt, but do it in love.
[Joe] What if Jesus wasn’t being literal? What if Jesus was the personification of love, and love is the only way to the Father?
[Lauren] Our small group just discussed what salt is and what it means. We’re doing an Andy Stanley study called “What Is Christian?” He made the point that salt was a preservative at that time and was used to keep meat from rotting. So followers of Jesus are to be preserving those around us by surrounding them with love and meeting their needs. Because we love beyond what anyone else would think reasonable, we show people who God is.
[Molly] That way is the Way of LOVE. Jesus opened the gate for us to return to God, it is up to us to seek that path for ourselves.
[Matthew] Well, if Jesus wasn’t being literal and was simply saying He was synonymous with love, someone should have told His apostles, Peter and John:
Acts 4 (NKJV)
4 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'[a] 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
[Kelly] John 4.8 NiV Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
[Kelly] Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love
[Kelly] Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
[Kelly] John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him
[Matthew] Sooo… you’re saying Peter and John were wrong?
[Kelly] You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion. Meister Eckhart
[Molly] Jesus reconciled the old law and created the Law of Love. That is the one to follow.
[Matthew] I don’t dispute for a second that Jesus taught love. The opening sentiment on this thread (which is backed up by the apostles) doesn’t lessen a message of love. That there is a shared moral ethic among many world religions is not in question. What is being asserted by these verses is a claim of exclusivity and the hope of eternal salvation offered under a single name. Though many world religions offer a shared message of love, they vary widely in their portrayal of life purpose, the afterlife, and a need for salvation. It is the claim to exclusivity that is the point of common contention. It does seem to be what Jesus taught.
[Joe] So you give equal weight to the Apostles as you do the word of Jesus Himself?
[Matthew] So, you’re saying the apostles were wrong. After three years of living with Him, witnessing His resurrection and receiving the Holy Spirit, they were still confused about His precepts? I guess I’m more willing to believe you and I are confused before I’m willing to believe they were confused. Joe, do you believe in the deity of Christ? If so, what was God’s first commandment to the Israelites?
[Joe] Excellent argument. God’s First Commandment is “I am the Lord Your God. Thou shall not put other gods before me.” Therefore you must NOT weigh the opinions of the apostles the same as you would God or Jesus, lest you put the opinions of men before God’s.
[Kelly] Apostles are men, whom receive their own interpretation which is always subject to flaw and self explanatory experience that in itself can be misinterpreted.
[Matthew] I’m not saying the apostles’ words ring louder than Jesus’ teaching. God forbid! But to dismiss their teaching as errant is to say Jesus failed in His mission to establish the early church through the apostles. If the apostles were guilty of spreading false doctrine and that false doctrine is now Scripture, God is either inept or wicked. Inept, in that He was quickly undermined by human error after Jesus’ departure and could not protect His Word. Wicked, if He chose not to protect it and has allowed His truth to be contorted. So I think we probably need to understand that Jesus chose these men; not the other way around.
[Jeannie] So you don’t believe in free will? That God can either be all good OR all powerful. Not both?
[Kelly] Isn’t his truth contorted already with other versions of Christianity
[Matthew] Kelly, what people do with truth once they have it does not reduce the truth itself. People will reject and bend truth as their fallen natures call, or they will adopt a humble heart, die to self-will and bend themselves to align with the truth.
[Matthew] Joe, of course I believe in free will, but the prayer is “Thy will be done,” not “my will be done.” Subjecting your free will to His is still exercising free will. I’m not saying the Christian claim to exclusivity is a comfortable one. I do assert as we step under His lordship, we must cast aside all other notions that there are many paths to God. That’s not what God taught the Israelites. That’s not what Jesus taught the apostles. That’s not the Gospel taught by the apostles to the early church.
[Matthew] As for God being all good and all powerful, those things are true.
[Joe] Matt, if you read the bible carefully you will see vast majority of Jesus’ teachings were in parables. Yet, his apostles took his words literally. I believe the literal interpretation, while well-intentioned, was and is a mistake.
[Matthew] I guess I’m assuming His apostles knew Him better than we do?
[Matthew] I just want to say how much I appreciate being able to have a calm, engaging debate about this topic. Thank you, all.
[Joe] Forest for the trees?
[Joe] Also, you are assuming the bible has never changed from its original Aramaic, was never manipulated to justify control (why are there two versions of the New Testament?), or eliminated voices of any female followers like Mary Magdaline too.
[Michele] This string is fascinating, and like Matt I am impressed to have witnessed a civil dialogue about religion. I find it a bit ironic that you’re using the argument that the word of the apostles shouldn’t have the same weight as the ones of Jesus himself when in fact the entire Bible is the writings of others. You either think it can be relied on to explain the words of the lord or you don’t. I too believe some versions/translations aren’t as accurate as others – but that could just as easily support Matt’s point.
[Kelly] I find truth in many places but I don’t limit my search for it either.
[Joe] Michele, why not? If you’re going to use the book as the basis of the argument (which in itself is debatable to its lack of completeness and accuracy as I’ve already pointed out) then the argument over who said what and what’s more important is a valid argument to have.
[Matthew] Joe, actually, the argument for both translation and transmission errors has long been laid to rest. Of all the books of antiquity on the planet, the 66 books that make up the Bible prove to have the greatest historical evidence of authenticity. We have over 5700 copies, shreds and pieces of the Greek New Testament documents alone. The next best documented book? Homer’s Iliad at around 2300 copies. Funny, no one ever refutes that we have the Iliad. I think that’s probably because there’s not much accountability called out in the Iliad. Most errors found in the copies we have are simple spelling errors.
[Joe] Matthew, then why are there two versions of the New Testament? King James and Catholic.
[Michele] You can’t on one hand say the apostles writings can’t be relied on because they mischaracterized Jesus’ intentions and on the other point to other writings and say – this part is really what he meant. You are essentially picking and choosing to fit what you’d like to be the case or what you think it should be. You’re by no means unique in that – people across the globe manipulate religious teachings to suit their own needs. At the end of the day it comes down to faith – even if there wasn’t reams of archeological evidence to support biblical writings – I’d still believe it was true.
[Joe] Michele, I think you’re misunderstanding my comments. Yes, I do question the absolute validity of the bible. I believe it most likely has been manipulated, and at the very least exclusionary based on the heavily patriarchal mindset of the time it was written. However, for the sake of this argument, I am allowing the assumption that it is at least reasonably accurate. Therefore, my argument of weighing the words of Jesus heavier than the words of the Apostles holds according to either version of the new testament. I have a spiritual concern with the thought of God not allowing those who care for others, but are not Christian, being excluded from Heaven, but a serial murderer who accepts Christ on death row doesn’t. I have a moral concern with those who take Matt’s argument much, much farther and kill others based on the belief only Christians get into Heaven. In respect to the latter, there is no fundamental difference between this form of Christianity and terrorism (radical Islam or others.)
[Matthew] Joe, I hear your heart-cry, man. I am also in the process of wading through the doctrine of hell to get a better understanding for the heart of our Father. I would clarify one thing though: true Christian fundamentalism looks like Jesus, the same way true Islamic fundamentalism looks like Mohammad, the same way true Buddhism looks like Buddha. You know the tree by the fruit it bears. If “Christian” behavior or teaching doesn’t reflect Jesus, it’s just wearing a Christian label. Further, if you can’t see it in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t reflect the Father. Jesus is our intercessor. As the “Last Adam,” He models to us what a perfect human life was intended to look like. Through Him too, we also know the will of the Father. Jesus modeled crazy, supernatural love. He also taught there is a judgment and a need for repentance and a saviour. I guess I want to confirm the confusion you feel around the doctrine of hell and salvation; I’m right there with you, brother. I’ve recently stumbled across some teaching that is helping me make sense of it, but I’m still working through that process. That material explores where the notion of eternal conscious torment for sins came from and how the Bible may not actually teach that at all (though the context we understand seems to point to it.)
[Joe] Matthew, I can appreciate that and also appreciate this conversation. I can tell you I am at peace in my relationship with God and His order. I do believe in Jesus and His purpose in showing us love as the way. In my spiritual journey, I’ve gone from obedient Catholic alter boy to a person who no longer actively subscribes to organized religion, or as I affectionately refer to them as “God’s dealerships.” I no longer feel the need to attend a dealership for my soul’s maintenance. I do not fault those who do believe in organized religion, though those who take it to extremes do bother me. For a great many people they serve as a regular reminder to be good and kind to one another. I find no fault in that. I’ve learned to seek His wisdom through love and understanding, and pray for His peace when I cannot understand why things the way they are. None of us will know for sure who is right (if there’s a right at all) until we can ask Him for ourselves. Until then, the more I can model and encourage others to show love and acceptance. And hope He has a sense of humor.
[Jeannie] Of course He does! You’ve seen a giraffe haven’t you!
Challenge: Students aging out of 6th grade Sunday school are pressed into adult service before they may be ready.
Solution: Offer an additional class for young students to continue the faith development.
Audience: 7th to 8th grade, 9th-12th grades optional.
Format: A typical segment may include verbal instruction, video, guest speakers, breakout groups, extracurricular field trips and supplemental reading.
A proposed curriculum would target the following three approaches:
The world attempts to shape us in accordance with its shifting trends, fads and events. It drives to distract, lure and establish strongholds that last for generations. Our identity must be rooted in what the Father says about us through the life of Jesus Christ. Without this understanding, our so-called “Christian” walk will be sin-conscious, confused and void of the power and authority necessary to weather life’s storms and certainly won’t represent the glory of God’s kingdom. We know we’re told we are made in His image, but what does that really mean? Are all events, good or bad, really ordained by God? Topics may include the character of God and mankind, how the life of Jesus should affect our walk, spiritual gifts and the power of prayer.
Establish a strong foundation for understanding, communicating and defending the proof-claims behind the Christian worldview (1 Peter 3:15). According to a 2006 study by Barna Research, 61% of young adults who were once churched are now spiritually disengaged. As our children mature, are they ready to take on the world without being shaped by the world? Does Noah’s ark still look like a bathtub brimming with cartoon animal heads? Discussion topics may include young Earth creationism in the face of “billions” of years, global flood accounts, evolution, fine tuning of the universe, the authority of the Bible (including archeological evidence for Sodom and Gomorrah and the Red Sea crossing,) atheism, world religions, the problem of evil and the argument for God.
Whether at school or at home, our children will be confronted by varying forms of relativism. The life decisions they make in the blink of an eye will be shaped by how well-grounded they are in their faith and their moral code. If absolute truth doesn’t exist and we are simply living for ourselves, matters of morality become a personal choice. Issues such as drugs, abortion, bullying, sexuality, body image, social media, academic and peer pressures, on-screen violence, depression, morality and ethics may be covered.
The testimony of college students (from the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding – www.cpyu.org):
1) Alysia at the University of Illinois said:
My youth group was fairly useless in preparing me for college. A short course in different religions helped me, but what helped me more was attending Worldview Academy for two summers. The challenging of my faith and teaching me the apologetics, leadership, and evangelism helped the most–especially by helping me determine why I personally believed in Christianity and by giving me the tools to help share that with others…My youth group was a place where the leaders were trying everything from games to parties to entice people to come, but they wouldn’t dive deep into any theological or social topic. We were treated as intellectual babies and thus never grew to understand the importance or the relevance of the Christian faith.
2) Daniel at Erskine College said:
I wish my youth group had done more to prepare me for the academic challenges to Christianity instead of focusing on high school drama. I was fortunate to make great and knowledgeable friends, but I have known others who have turned away because of professors and students raising tough objections. I wish my youth group had taken things more seriously and done more apologetics and less of worrying about the drama of high school.
3) And Gabrielle at Chatham University said:
I was in several youth groups in high school and unfortunately found that youth group was too ?soft—we played a lot of games and had a lot of fun retreats, but rarely learned about the fundamentals of faith, why we believe what we believe, and what it is that we do believe. Now that I am in college, my faith is under constant scrutiny and always being tested by scientific concepts and the secular slant of most universities. I wish I had been equipped with a more solid justification for my faith: knowing how to answer the tough questions, how to respond to arguments, and how to stand firm in what feels like a storm against my spirituality.
We can’t let up “in here,” in the church, because they’re not letting up “out there.”
Listen to philosopher Richard Rorty, quoted in Rorty and His Critics, chapter 1 entitled “Universality and Truth” (Blackwell Publishing 2000), page 22:
…we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own . . . The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students . . .
When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization….So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable..
Kunkle, Brett. 2009. Who‘s Waiting for Your Kid. Stand to Reason.