Monday, March 31, 2008

Jesus Family Tomb

On Sunday, I mentioned that I would post an article debunking The Discovery Channel's progam in 2007 claiming that they had found the tomb and the bones of Jesus. Actually, The Discovery Channel debunked it pretty well itself with a program by Ted Koppel critiquing it. However, I don't have access to it any more.

Here is a link to some of my sermons. If you scroll down to the bottom, there is a sermon called JesusFamilyTomb. It has the information I mentioned, including footnotes. Below it, is the PowerPoint presentation that I used when I preached the sermon. It includes some images that might be helpful.

By the way, I often will preach "apologetic" type sermons, as I did on Sunday. Some may think that I am doing this for evangelistic reasons. That certainly is part of it, but only part. Richard Pratt, in teaching on 1 Peter 3:15, notes that apologetics are for 1) the glory of God, 2) strengthening the faith of believers, and c) answering unbelievers. In doing apologetic style sermons, one of my purposes is always to strengthen the faith of Christians, particularly younger people who are constantly finding their faith under attack.


Matt Long said...

Hey Mark,

Matt Long here. Just wanted to mention a couple of things from 1 Corinthians that have helped me clarify what I believe about apologetics vs gospel.

Pauls says "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (1 Cor 1:17 ESV) This really points in my mind to the problem of putting too much confidence in apologetics. If the cross of Christ is emptied of it's power, then simply making arguments and trying to convince people is dangerous. (BTW, I'm not saying you were doing this in the sermon).

If we try to convince people and our best *arguments* are bested--we have nothing to fall back on and our faith is weakened. Faith is not about evidence. It's either been granted to us to believe (Phil. 1:29) or it has not.

A little while later in 1 Corinthians, Paul says "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." (1 Cor 2:6-7). This really makes Pratt's second point (i.e. strengthening the faith of believers).

Anyhow, I've really come to the conclusion that it's not an either/or kind of thing, but a both/and (again, I'm not saying you were saying otherwise). We need a good strong apologetic, but we need to also understand that the true gospel is in preaching Christ and Him crucified alone. In the end we simply let him who has ears to hear, hear. ;-)

Thanks for a great sermon and for following up on the blog. It's a great way to give people a chance to interact.

Mark Bates said...

Great comments. I certainly agree. When it comes to apologetics, I am a presuppositionalist. Part of what that means is that I think that the human mind is fallen and cannot discern truth without the Holy Spirit. As I said in the second service (and not as well in the 1st), my "bias", as it were, is that I already believe in the resurrection, etc... Any evidence that any one would present to me would be viewed through that grid. I will not (cannot, would not) approach any piece of evidence neutrally--nor does anyone else. Just as the unbeliever will interpret all evidence through his lens of unbelief, I will look at all evidence through my lens of faith. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit--not any sort of evidence--that convinces me of the truth. As the Confession states "The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God" (1.4).

In the tradition of Van Til, Frame, Pratt, and now Keller, I believe evidence has a proper place in apologetics and in building the faith of believers. However, as you state, our faith is not in the evidence, but in God Himself.

Lane Cohee said...


We are a few weeks behind you here in Melbourne FL, but my family very much appreciated the message. It is refereshing to find someone from the pulpit who takes the time to understand the signs/philosophies of the times and engages them with mind as well as soul, and heart. Empiricism not being able to prove its ultimate basis for truth empirically is a great point that can't be made enough.

Matt provides a good warning about depending simply on human means in conversion, but I would propose that 'apologetics vs the gospel' is a false choice. The same apostle who wrote 1 Co, argued at Mars Hill (Acts 17). Nice to see both are being encouraged at V7.