Healing from Institutional Abuse

Source: Healing from Institutional Abuse

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 9, 2021

A cabin was nestled near the top of a mountaintop in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. This cabin served as a vacation home for my family and me. The evening was humid and muggy. Thus, we decided to take in a show in Pigeon Forge rather than exploring the beautiful hills of eastern Tennessee. On this evening, I would suffer an emotional and spiritual panic attack. The catalyst of the event was various reports of institutional abuse. One report discussed alleged cases of rape that went unreported. Other reports mentioned accusations of abuse from a person who would be the last person one would suspect of such behaviors.

Admittedly, I have suffered from bouts of anxiety in the past. Normally, I can sense when a bout of anxiety is about to commence. But in this case, it was as if I felt an overwhelming case of sorrow and distress. After requesting prayer on social media, I was blessed by the numerous supporters offering their prayers and encouragement. Many friends contacted me directly, whereas many others offered support online. It was heartwarming to see how many people truly cared. But this event left me curious as to why I would suffer such distress while on vacation of all places.

It was not until a few days afterward that I realized that the pain I had previously suffered in the pastorate was still unresolved. I still didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. Drs. David and Marybeth Baggett reached out to me. I spoke to them about my feelings and what I believed to be the culprit. Marybeth suggested two books for me to consider reading. The first was entitled Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse and Freeing Yourself from its Power by Wade Mullen. The other was Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church by Diane Langberg.

Mullen’s book truly spoke to me. He mentioned a field of sociological research known as impression management. Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman described impression management as the “process of creating, influencing, or manipulating an image held by an audience.”[1] Impression management especially becomes abusive and unethical when people are put on display to hide underlying problems that should not be hidden.[2] Mullen further notes that “the chief desire of abusive individuals is to attain or retain power—most often the kind of power gained and held through deception.”[3] Because of this, churches can become a breeding ground for abusers to thrive.

But why do religious institutions allow such abuse to transpire? Mullen offers a reason for this as well. He says that many institutions unknowingly permit systems that are conducive for abuse because of image. If people were to know the problems that a place faced, then others may not want to come and take part of what the institution offered.[4] As I read Mullen’s opening chapter, I began to realize two things. First, I came to the realization that I had suffered a form of abuse. Speaking with numerous individuals who were concerned with my well-being, I met many who admitted that they were victims of various forms of abuse. They faced similar emotional and spiritual bouts, some of which were full-blown cases of PTSD. Their professed experiences were eerily reminiscent of my own. Second, I came to realize that institutional abuse, identified as impression management, was far more widespread than I ever considered.

The first step in healing is to first diagnose the source of pain. I cannot say that I am fully healed from the abuse that I encountered. But I do believe that I have taken the first step. Perhaps God permitted me to have this emotional episode to bring me to the place of genuine recovery. Whatever the case, I also believe that many others are facing the same issues but do not understand where their emotional and spiritual hurts derive.

So, where do we go from here? I will occasionally update you on my progress from time to time. But there are two suggestions I would make for the here and now. First, become grounded in theology and apologetics. As my good friend Jerry Bogacz said, apologetics becomes an anchor keeping one stable during times of emotional distress. While it is not understood why I endured some of the things that I have in ministry, all the while understanding my own faults[5]—the goodness of God is a constant wellspring of hope and a constant source of comfort.

Second, cases of institutional abuse must be exposed and corrected. We can no longer stand idly by while innocent people are harmed by abusers hiding behind crosses and policies. The prophet Isaiah writes, “Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).[6] Also, consider that Jesus told the Church of Ephesus that they must “Remember how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5). While I have had an enigmatic relationship with the church throughout my life, I still love Christ’s Bride. If the problems of abuse in the American Church are not corrected, we should not be surprised if Jesus may eventually remove the lampstand from the Church of America. Be on the lookout for future posts as I discover more truths on my pathway to recovery. Continue to deepen your love for God and be kind to one another.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, and a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical chaplain and a Senior Contributor for MoralApologetics.com.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2021. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York, NY: Anchor, 2008); Wade Mullen, Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse and Freeing Yourself from its Power (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2020), 9.

[2] Mullen, 12.

[3] Ibid., 15.

[4] Mullen calls this “dark secrets…facts a person or an organization knows and conceals because if they were revealed, they could damage the image of that person or organization.” Ibid, 17.

[5] By no means am I claiming that I was sinless in all my previous encounters.

[6] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2020).

Why God May Place More on Us Than We Can Endure

Source: Why God May Place More on Us Than We Can Endure

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 10, 2021

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, “God will not place more on you than you can endure.” Another way of phrasing the statement is by saying “God will not place more on you than you can bear.” Christians are known for such platitudes. These cliches are well-intentioned as they do not come from malice. Rather, they come from an attempt to condense Christian truths into short, memorable memes or Twitter-worthy statements. But is it true that God will not place more on us than we can bear/endure?

A careful reading of Scripture shows this not to be the case. For instance, Paul writes to the Church of Corinth, “We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again 11 while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:8-11).[1] Did you catch the phrase in verse 8, “We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength.” From the passage of Scripture, it can be adduced that Paul and his companions were allowed to be tested in a manner that was beyond their ability to handle. This counters the thought behind the aforementioned platitude. It appears that the benevolent God of creation does allow his children to endure hardships that exceed their ability to stand for three reasons.

Affliction Provides the Ability to Comfort (1:3-4, 6-7)

Back in verses 3-4, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). He continues by saying, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort” (2 Cor. 1:6-7). Paul says that their afflictions serve as an example to others. By their suffering and affliction, they are better able to minister to the suffering and afflicted.

Paul denotes a truth that was foreign to the Greco-Roman world in that suffering is not always a bad thing. David Garland writes, “Suffering comes for anyone who preaches the gospel in a world twisted by sin and roused by hostility to God. If God’s apostle experienced so much distress in carrying out his commission, then we can see that God does not promise prosperity or instant gratification even to the most devoted of Christ’s followers.”[2] Roman philosophy presented a different view of their gods. Roman philosopher Cicero believed that the gods produced health, wealth, and security, certainly not affliction.[3] Oddly, many modern Christian circles resemble Roman philosophy more than Christian theology.

Since God is the epitome of the Good, he holds good reasons for permitting afflictions, even those that overwhelm us. Later, the faithful child of God will realize that they were only able to minister to those in need because of, not despite, the afflictions they were allowed to endure. The late Dr. Randy Kilby used to say at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, “You have to get under the spout where the glory comes out.” By that, he noted that the child of God can only spiritually give what they have been given. Thus, the comfort they receive from God can be used to minister to others in need.

Affliction Portrays God’s Strength (1:5)

Furthermore, Paul holds that overwhelming affliction demonstrates God’s strength working through the believer. Paul writes, “For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (1:5). God may allow a person to experience overwhelming problems so that God’s strength is shown through that person. Paul held out hope that as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also the blessings of God will overflow. Paul noted to the Roman Church that “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). That is to say, faithfully enduring hardships while remaining faithful to Christ produces a wealth of rewards that will be fully demonstrated in heaven.

It is often thought that the most important Christians in heaven are those who have the fattest wallets, the fanciest suits, and the biggest homes. However, God’s kingdom is an upside-down kingdom as fully illustrated in Jesus’s Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). On the one hand, the story holds that the man faithful man named Lazarus—though he was poor, downtrodden, and abused by the world—would be greatly rewarded in eternity. On the other hand, a rich man who had everything that money could buy but who neither had any love and compassion for his fellow man nor God landed in the most precarious of eternal circumstances.

But why did a good God design the world in this manner? Paul later answers the question in 2 Corinthians. In chapter 12, he describes an instance where he pleaded with the Lord to remove a thorn in his flesh. He begged the Lord three times to remove his affliction. However, the Lord responded by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Consider why God chose Israel. The Hebrew people were not mighty like the Egyptians or Philistines. However, through Israel, God’s power was exhibited to the world (Gen. 12:1-3). Bethlehem Ephrathah was chosen as the birthplace of the Messiah even though it was a small and minute town on the edge of nowhere (Micah 5:2). As the prophet Zechariah noted, “‘Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies” (Zech. 4:6). Overwhelming affliction may be used by God to demonstrate his power through his vessel to others as an evangelistic tool.

 

Affliction Promotes Divine Trust (1:8-11)

Finally, affliction promotes divine faith and trust in the Sovereign God. Verse 9 is critical in understanding the passage. Paul denotes that “we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (1:9). If a person relied only on one’s strength, where is the need for faith in God? For example, with great practice, a person can become a pool shark. They can run the table on their adversaries. The person trusts in one’s skill set to help the person succeed in the game. However, overwhelming affliction creates a dire need to trust One higher. Since enduring hardships with trust in God produces the fruit of endurance, proven character, and divine hope (Rom. 5:30); it is actually a good thing that God allows us to face overwhelming situations where one’s trust must be placed in the God of creation. Certainly, it will not seem like a good thing while enduring the circumstance. But when God comes through as only God can, then trust is developed. Trust is crucial in healthy relationships. It must be remembered that through the process God is still working out everything for the good of those who love and trust him (Rom. 8:28). The endgame is the most important. Just as parents teach their children hard lessons to help them grow, so God must teach and train us to be the people he desires us to be by permitting hardships in our lives.

Conclusion

I must admit, I have used the phrase “God will not place more on us than we can bear” in my early days as a pastor. While at the time it was thought that the statement was positive and encouraging, it does not necessarily mesh with the teachings of Scripture. In some circles, it is believed that God only provides riches, health, and blessings for his children. Ironically, such belief systems find a home more in the camp of Roman philosophy rather than Christian philosophy. The goodness of the Anselmian God—that which nothing greater can be conceived—may require him to place his children in circumstances that are far beyond what they may endure to produce future blessings that would have only come through their trials of fire. Through the trials of Joseph, God led him to success in Egypt which would eventually be used to save his family and nation from certain doom as a famine ravaged through their land. Through the heartaches and despair of Job, he encountered God in a personal fashion and was eventually blessed double from what he previously owned. Through the horrific execution of Jesus, salvation was offered to the world, and death was defeated. With this in mind, the words of one of my mentors ring true. When facing overwhelming trials, rather than asking, “What are you doing to me, God?” we should rather ask, “What are you doing for me, God?”

 

About the Author

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. Brian is a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as a clinical chaplain.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2021. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2007, 2020).

[2] David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, New American Commentary, vol. 29 (Nashville: B&H, 1999), 62.

[3] See Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.36, 87.

The Benefits of Active Listening and Moral Apologetics to the Chaplaincy Ministry

Source: The Benefits of Active Listening and Moral Apologetics to the Chaplaincy Ministry

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 3, 2021

For the first article after having been named a Senior Contributor for MoralApologetics.com, it is only appropriate to acknowledge the tremendous benefit that moral apologetics has served in my present ministry as a clinical hospice chaplain. In September of 2020, I joined a team of nine other individuals who care for patients and their families at the point of death. Numerous individuals have inquired, “How do you do that? Don’t you stay depressed all the time? Isn’t that a heavy job?” Yes, the job can be intense emotionally and spiritually. A fellow chaplain told me that the average duration of a clinical hospice chaplain is generally 2-3 years because of emotional burnout. Ironically, I have found the job to be a blessing. I have seen God move in powerful ways to change lives and to impact people in ways that I was never prepared to see.

Two skills have served as a tremendous benefit for helping me help those most in need. By no means am I saying that I have these skills mastered. I am still learning. Nonetheless, I digress. The first is a skill acquired from my chaplaincy training. Fellow chaplain Jason Kline taught me the benefits of a practice known as active listening. Active listening is a technique that carefully listens to what the person is saying and observes non-verbal cues that communicate what the person is feeling and thinking. More on this in a moment.

While active listening is a tremendous tool, it becomes even more powerful when coupled with training in moral apologetics. This writer was highly honored to participate in Dr. David Baggett’s final course at Liberty University before he made his trek to Houston Baptist University. Truly, Liberty’s loss is HBU’s gain. For me, I wanted to take the course because I had already befriended Dr. Baggett but never had him as a professor. Even if Baggett taught a class on the benefits of chocolate ice cream, I would have taken it because I wanted to say that Dr. Baggett was my professor. Nonetheless, it could not have been more appropriate that the class was on moral apologetics. Furthermore, nothing could have prepared me for the enduring benefits that stemmed from this deeply philosophical and apologetic overview of the moral apologetic landscape. The field of moral apologetics prepared me in numerous ways to be able to help patients as a clinical chaplain and deal with the intense situations that I have encountered in my brief time in the profession. As a caveat, HIPAA laws do not permit the use of personal stories and examples in the chaplaincy field. Thus, this article will only speak in generalities as it pertains to the benefits of both active listening and moral apologetics to the task of chaplaincy ministry. As the article will show, the benefits are not only found in chaplaincy.

 

Benefits of Active Listening

As previously noted, active listening is a technique whereby a counselor actively participates in the conversation by observing both verbal and non-verbal cues that speak to the person’s emotional, spiritual, and physical condition. Healthline.com suggests that active listening requires eight tasks: 1. Give the person your full attention. 2. Use body language (show them you are interested in the person, don’t just say it). 3. Avoid interrupting the person. 4. Don’t fear the power of silence. 5. Reflect on the person’s communication, don’t parrot them. 6. Validate the person’s feelings. 7. Ask thoughtful questions. 8. Avoid passing judgment or offering advice.[1] All of these tips work well within the framework of moral apologetics. The eighth tip may sound counterintuitive to the apologist’s task because the apologist wants to guide the person to a personal relationship with Christ and/or strengthen his/her relationship with Christ. However, strategically asked questions can provide the same result and will allow the client to own the information for oneself. Furthermore, this fits well into the abductive argument for moral apologetics. Marybeth Baggett avers that the abductive approach “relies on and encourages bridge building, which isn’t helped by treated difficult questions as easier than they are.”[2] It just so happens that active listening works well within the abductive approach. From the brief time this writer has served as a clinical chaplain, it has been observed that the practice of active listening brings about four tremendous benefits.

  1. Encourages dialogue. Just as Baggett argued for the abductive moral argument, so also active listening encourages dialogue. There is a distinct difference between dialogue and monologue. Monologues occur when a person gives a lecture. While this is nice in the university setting, it is not preferred for one-on-one communication. If the counselor or apologist only gives the person what-for, enshrouded in the ideology of “telling it like it is,” the listener will quickly turn off his/her ears and will no longer engage in the conversation. The conversation will quickly devolve and end. However, the effective communicator is willing to hear what the other person says and how they feel. Speaking as an apologist, this is something that is missing in many circles these days.
  2. Identifies personal concerns. Active listening encourages the person to speak about their personal issues and concerns. The counselor and apologist will quickly learn why the person believes what they do. More often than not, a person’s experiences help shape one to become who they will be. Recently, an A&E documentary on the life of WWE legend Rowdy Roddy Piper spoke to the tragic events of Roddy Toombe’s early life that led to his self-destructive habits. Active listening helps to identify and detect those issues.
  3. Allows for self-assessment. The best counselors and apologists are those that can lead individuals to own the information for themselves. This is the very tactic that Jesus used. For example, Jesus asked the disciples who others said that he was before asking them poignantly, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15, CSB). Simon Peter owned the information for himself which came from Jesus’s strategic inquiry.
  4. Reveals personal biases and worldviews. In correlation with the second point, active listening reveals what the person believes. Non-verbal communication can serve as a huge help. Does the person wince or squirm when more difficult theological or spiritual questions are asked? What does this say about the person’s beliefs? Did the person have experiences that led them to their current spiritual reservations? Knowing the seven major worldviews is of immense value as it helps one know the foundation upon which the person’s belief system is based.[3]

Benefits of Moral Apologetics

As was shown, active listening is a powerful technique used to engage and develop a conversation with others. However, questions cannot be one-sided. Sometimes people want to know why a loving God would allow their loved one to suffer. Why is God allowing them to endure hardship and suffering? Simply answering, “Just believe God and all will be well” is not enough. Furthermore, the counselor and/or apologist needs to have a goal in mind. In the case of the moral apologist, the goal is to teach and move a person to accept the good moral nature of an Anselmian God.[4] The use of active listening within the framework of an abductive moral apologetic makes for a powerful means to assist those suffering from moral doubt for the following reasons.

  1. Provides confidence to handle the most difficult situations. Nothing can prepare someone for the outpouring of emotions when tragedy strikes. Different people mourn in different ways. Some may become loud and boisterous, whereas others become depressed and guarded. Having a moral apologetic background grounds the counselor and apologist with the confidence needed to stand amid the turbulent chaos. Like CPR for the EMS worker, ingrained moral apologetic truths become second nature to the trained moral apologetic counselor and apologist and can be quickly accessed.
  2. Grounds a person’s confusion and doubt. Eventually, the counselor and apologist will face a situation that causes them to wonder about why a certain instance occurred. This is natural. The person suffering through the tumultuous time is asking the same question with sevenfold intensity. Nonetheless, the tools in the moral apologist’s toolbox are readily available to assist both the counselor and client during the most difficult of days. Holding fast to God’s benevolent nature anchors one’s emotional and spiritual state.
  3. Reminds of the loving character of God amid the storms. Moral doubt has led many to dark places. Habermas estimates that 70-80% of doubt comes from emotional doubt.[5] Moral apologetics affords the ability to focus on the benevolent nature of God even in a world full of evil and despair. In the end, God’s moral nature is the best explanation for knowing that moral good exists and the intrinsic moral value held by all people, as they are made imagio Dei. Baggett and Walls word it well, noting that “God’s nature as the best explanation of moral good, and the fact that he has created us in his image, constitute an excellent explanation both of why we cannot avoid making moral judgments about the world and of why we cannot escape seeing evil as a problem if there is indeed a gap between the way the world is and the way it ought to be.”[6] Rather than leading the counselor and client away from God because of their moral plight, moral apologetics equips them to come closer to God during the occasion because of the goodness of God and the necessity of God as the best explanation as to why one can make moral claims in the first place.
  4. Acknowledges a better day to come. Hope can help a person through the most decadent times. Viktor Frankl reminisces on the power of hope after having survived the torturous Nazi death camps. He recalls, “The prisoner who had lost faith in the future—his future—was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”[7] What hope does materialism offer with one’s suffering? Nothing. Moral apologetics acknowledges that a benevolent Anselmian God holds the very best in mind for his children’s future. While things may appear grim at present, a better day is coming. As I hope to show in a book I am currently writing—if God is that than which nothing greater could be perceived, then the final hope for his children is that than which nothing greater could be anticipated. The believer has hope for a perfect world created by a perfect God.

Conclusion

Quite honestly, this article has only skimmed the surface of the great depths that the combination of active listening and moral apologetics extends to the counselor and apologist. However, this combination is not only limited to chaplaincy, but it can also be useful for every field and profession. From the academic professor to the local pastor and everyday Christian, these practices can enrichen one’s life and relationships. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the practice of active listening disarms a person from being on edge from thinking that he/she must prove one’s intellectual prowess. In most cases, the active listener allows the other person to do the most talking. Additionally, the strength from having a moral apologetic background encourages both counselor and client alike that they are not defined by the bad situations endured, but rather they are defined by a God who loves them and cares for them more than one could ever realize. What could be better than that?

 

 

Notes

[1] Crystal Raypole, “Active Listening: Why it Matters and 8 Tips for Success,” Healthline.com (December 15, 2020), https://www.healthline.com/health/active-listening.

[2] David Baggett and Marybeth Baggett, The Morals of the Story: Good News about a Good God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 51.

[3] See Brian G. Chilton, Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics: Bridging the Essentials of Apologetics from the Ivory Tower to the Everyday Christian (Eugene, OR: Resource, 2019), 40-43.

[4] That is, “God is the ground of being without whom nothing else can exist.” David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls, God & Cosmos: Moral Truth and Human Meaning (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016), 64.

[5] Habermas in Chilton, LMOCA, 75.

[6] Baggett and Walls, God & Cosmos, 96.

[7] Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (Boston, MS: Beacon, 2006), 74.

 

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, and a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical chaplain and a Senior Contributor for MoralApologetics.com.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

Resurrection Defense Series (Part Eight): How the Resurrection Impacts Theology

Source: Resurrection Defense Series (Part Eight): How the Resurrection Impacts Theology

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 26, 2021

 

In September of 1993, my grandmother, Eva Chilton, passed away from a long battle with congestive heart failure. She was the first of my grandparents to pass. My grandmother was a kind, loving woman who used to play board games with us grandchildren. Her smile was illuminating, and her laughter was infectious. Having grown up in church, my young ears heard numerous stories about the afterlife and divine promises. However, being the ever so skeptically minded person as I am, I wanted to know if those promises were true. How could I know that my grandmother was okay?

Previously, I had read a story in Guideposts magazine about a person who prayed that God would send a sign after their loved one’s passing to confirm that the loved one was okay. The article noted that God sent a lightning bolt to verify that the loved one was okay. My mind began to ponder that if the prayer worked for that person, surely it would also work for me. Thus, a few days before my grandmother’s passing, I asked the Lord to do the same for me. I asked for God to send a lightning bolt to assure me that my grandmother was okay when she passed. It was in late September which was not as conducive for lightning storms in the foothills of northwestern North Carolina, as opposed to the balmy, humid months of July and August. That is not to say that lightning storms never happen in late September, just that they are not as likely.

The day came when my grandmother passed. The family met in my grandparent’s home. It was an old house built in the early 1900s. The shutters were filled with asbestos insulation, fine as long as you do not perturb it. An old closet had been transformed into a bathroom, replacing the former outhouse used years before the home’s indoor plumbing was installed. The front of the home led into a large living room which was closed during the colder months due to the woodstove being on the other side of the home. A door led to a bedroom to the left. Across the living room was a door that led into a family room/bedroom. To the left of the family room was the kitchen which led out the back door. The kitchen and family room normally received the most traffic.

On this evening, I found myself in the quiet confines of the living room and peering outdoors into the empty darkness of the sorrowful September night. Everything seemed much darker on that evening because my grandmother was gone. However, the darkness would soon be replaced with brilliant colors of white and blue as two lightning bolts struck on either side of the house. A bolt hit near to where I was sitting, while another bolt hit on the other side of the home where my grandfather and Reverend Gilmer Denny, a pastor friend of the family, were sitting. Outside of losing power for a few brief seconds, nothing in the home was damaged. After a few minutes of initial shock, the Spirit of God reminded me of the prayer that had been previously appealed. At least to my teenage mind, the sign confirmed that my grandmother was just fine. She was in her heavenly home.

Even though this story is told 28 years after it occurred, the memory still vividly resonates in my mind because of the impact it made on me. In like manner, the resurrection of Christ impacts our theological framework. The apostle Paul taught that if the resurrection were not true, then people would be most pitied, the Christian message would be untrue, and Christian teachers would be found to be liars (1 Cor. 15:12-19). But if the resurrection is true, then, everything changes. Paul notes, “But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20-22).[1] The resurrection’s veracity impacts the totality of a person’s theological worldview. Much could be said of this issue, but to constrain the article’s scope, only three theological areas of impact will be described.

 

The Resurrection Impacts the Theological Views of the Afterlife and Eternity

 

If the resurrection is true, then one has firsthand evidence that life exists beyond the grave. 1 Corinthians 15:20 holds that Jesus’s resurrection serves as the firstfruits for those who have already passed. The aspect of firstfruits refers to the Jewish practice of taking the first and best portion of a harvest and giving it to God.[2] The people were to bring the first sheaf of the harvest to the priest for him to wave the sheaf before God (Lev. 23:10-14). Figuratively, Jews understood that this taught them to place God first in all that they said and did. In the NT, it was understood that Jesus represented the best of us all. In like manner, just as Jesus had risen from the dead, so shall others be raised from the dead. Life exists beyond the scope of this world. The proof of the afterlife is found in an empty tomb and by the transformed lives who have encountered the One who defeated death.

 

The Resurrection Impacts the Theological Views of Purpose and Value

 

If there is a resurrection and an afterlife, then that must indicate that people have an innate purpose and value. God’s creation is important. Even more, the human race bears the divine imprint—otherwise known as the imagio Dei. As such, no life is a mistake. No person is without value and purpose. This writer spoke at a church on one occasion where a mother and father were in attendance, along with their numerous foster children. The mother said that because she was unable to bear children, she wanted to share her love with children who did not have parents. The message was on Jeremiah chapter one. The point was made that God foreknows each person before the person is born, just as was the case with the prophet Jeremiah. The point continued to note that because of God’s foreknowledge and calling, no one is worthless and without value. Furthermore, every life has a purpose. One of the children began crying as she looked at her mother. The mother wrapped her arm around the child. After the service, the mother expressed her appreciation to me for the message. She said that the child’s biological mother had told her that she was a mistake and was worthless. However, the mother emphasized that God had given her a purpose in this life and that her life was highly valued.

The resurrection of Christ confirms the value and worth of each person. If the resurrection is true, then, retrospectively, the atoning sacrifice of the cross is confirmed, and the mission of Christ is validated. The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval for the mission of Christ. The mission of Christ is evidence of God’s benevolent love and compassion for all of humanity. For Christ was not sent to condemn the world, but rather that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17)—emphasis again on the world, not just the frozen chosen.

 

The Resurrection Impacts the Theological Views of Ethics and Virtue

 

If the resurrection confirms that there is an afterlife and that human beings hold purpose and value, then, practically, the resurrection impacts ethics and value. If the resurrection is true, then how people treat one another matters. Why? Because the resurrection confirms the message of Jesus. Ben Witherington notes that “Jesus expected his audience to respond to his works in faith and with repentance. This suggests that his duty was more than just performing acts of compassion. Rather, he was calling God’s people back to their source in view of the inbreaking dominion of God … the power of God must be used to help people.”[3] Jesus commanded his disciples to love others and to even pray for those with whom they differ (Matt. 5:44). Doing good for others is not only commanded and exhibited by Jesus, but it also illustrates the kingdom of God to those in need and compels others to enter this domain.

This article comes on the heels of seven months spent in clinical chaplaincy ministry. Quite honestly, God’s power has been exhibited more in these past seven months than was personally experienced in the past 20 years of pastoral ministry. Prayers have been answered in remarkable ways; people have expressed their deepest appreciation for the work being done; people have had encounters with God; and souls have come to know the Lord. Those things occur in pastoral ministry, but not to the level that has been witnessed in chaplaincy ministry. Why is that? Perhaps it is because chaplains find themselves on the front lines of ministry. Rather than sitting in an office, quarantined from the quagmire of human experience, the chaplain finds oneself in the trenches with those most in need. Chaplaincy has taught the value of Jesus’s teaching, firsthand, that when a cup of water, or a good deed, is given to one who thirsts, it is also given to Jesus (Mark 9:41). This is not to discredit pastoral ministry in the least. I have many fond memories of the pastorate. Who knows? God may use me there again in the future. Nonetheless, the point simply advocates that to demonstrate the love of God, believers must be willing to serve those most in need without judgment. In other words, believers must be willing to get their hands dirty. Christ died and defeated death to give life to humanity. That means that every person is worth saving. That also means that every person is of dignity, worth, and value. The book of Revelation portrays a scene where individuals from every tribe, nation, and tongue surround the throne of God while giving him praise (Rev. 7:9). If true, then the resurrection allows no room for racism or favoritism based on socioeconomic standards. The resurrection demands a superior ethical and moral code to be held by each believer.

 

Conclusion

 

The article began with a story of a lightning bolt that fixated my attention heavenward. Later in life, two other lightning bolt experiences transformed my life. The final experience will be shared another day. Insofar as this article goes, the second lightning bolt experience occurred when the resurrection of Jesus was understood to be a historical fact. My life has been transformed just as has the lives of countless others. The resurrection not only serves as the linchpin for the Christian worldview, but it also validates the entire theological framework upon which the biblical worldview is built. Christians may differ on modes of baptism, Bible translations, and styles of singing. However, a Christian cannot deny the historical resurrection of Christ. If the resurrection is denied, then the entire foundation for the Christian worldview collapses, and the walls come tumbling down. Paul verifies that very line of thought in 1 Corinthians 15. Yet if the resurrection did occur, then everything changes. A person may find it revolutionary to acknowledge that Jesus’s resurrection is not some comic book tale told on framed color-filled pages. Jesus’s resurrection is a historical fact that validates the afterlife, ethical values, and human purpose. The world’s woes will not be solved by political pundits and legislation. Rather, the solution is found in an empty tomb and on an occupied throne at the right hand of God the Father. But one day, the throne will be unoccupied as numerous other tombs are left emptied. That is all because the resurrection is true.

 

About the Author

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, and a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical chaplain.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2021. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman, 2017).

[2] A. Boyd Luter, “Firstfruits,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary, John D. Barry, ed, et al (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[3] Ben Witherington, III, The Christology of Jesus (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1990), 176.

Resurrection Defense Series (Part Seven): Archaeological Evidences Supporting the Resurrection

Source: Resurrection Defense Series (Part Seven): Archaeological Evidences Supporting the Resurrection

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 13, 2021

Over the past few weeks, we have examined various lines of evidence that support the notion that Jesus literally rose from the dead. As we wrap up the series, it may prove beneficial to describe a few pieces of archaeological evidence that supports the resurrection of Jesus. Archaeological evidence can neither prove nor disprove an event of history.[1] However, it can lend itself to probabilities that an event did or did not occur. The resurrection poses an additional problem as no one was present when the event took place. Even still, certain artifacts lend credibility to the belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

The Nail Spiked Ankle Bone of Yehohannan

In 1968, an ossuary was discovered that contained the heel bone of a young man named Yehohannan. Living 2,000 years ago, Yehohannan died by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Evidence suggests that he was only in his twenties when he died. The description of his crime has been lost to us. However, the nature of his execution was preserved by the young man’s extant heel bone. A traditional Roman spike pierced the heel of Yehohannan. But unlike other nails which were reused to crucify victims, this spike bent most likely after striking a knot in the wood. The heel bone, bent spike, and even a piece of wood confirm that nails were used, at least at times, to fasten victims to the cross. For Yehohannan, his executors nailed his ankles to the opposing exterior sides of the vertical beam rather than through the feet. The young man’s preserved heel bone reveals two things about Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection.

First, the find proves that Romans did nail victims to the cross, confirming the details of the Gospel narratives related to the death of Jesus. Crucifixion was a nasty form of execution. The victim would slowly die from asphyxiation which led to heart failure. The chances of Jesus surviving crucifixion, as proposed by some, are slim to none.

Second, the find also proves that the Romans permitted families to grant crucified victims a proper burial. In ancient Israelite culture, a body was buried in a tomb. A year later, the bones were collected in the linen wrappings and placed in a common family ossuary (bone box). It was not until the time of Emperor Caligula that the practice of granting proper burial to crucified victims ceased. Caligula began his reign in AD 37 which was 4-7 years after the time of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Thus, the claim that Jesus was merely buried in a shallow grave rather than a tomb loses its impact in light of the discovery of Yehohannan’s heel bone.

Nazareth Decree

The Nazareth Decree is a fascinating find. In 1878, a French scholar acquired a slab of stone in Nazareth dating to AD 44.[2] The decree was given by Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) who charges that if anyone is found extracting or exhuming bodies from tombs, then the graverobbers would be charged and promptly executed. Interestingly, the decree also mentions one moving stones enclosing tombs. The Gospel of Matthew notes that the Jewish leaders deceitfully contrived a rumor that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus (Matt. 28:11-15). While a direct correlation cannot be drawn between the Nazareth Decree and the rumor arranged by the Jewish Sanhedrin, one still finds a strong probability that the growth of Christianity accompanied with the rumor could have necessitated such a decree in the emperor’s mind.[3]

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Protestants often prefer the serene location of Gordon’s Tomb over the iconic and liturgical nature of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. However, if one pursues truth over preference, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is hands-down far more likely to be the actual tomb of Jesus rather than the irenic counterpart. In AD 132, Emperor Hadrian barred Jews from Jerusalem and attempted to eradicate evidence of both Judaism and Christianity by building Roman temples and statues over sacred spots. In AD 313, Constantine legalized Christianity. His mother Helena, a devout Christian, sought to discover the most sacred sites of Christianity. Hadrian had placed a statue of Venus atop the tomb of Christ in an effort to desecrate the tomb. When Helena asked local believers where the tomb was located, they pointed her to the tomb with the erected Venusian statue. Helena immediately ordered the removal of the statue and the preservation of the tomb. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was later built around the tomb and crucifixion site. A few years ago, in an effort to restore key sections of the holy church, researchers were allowed to peer inside the slab of marble used to protect the bedding. The upper part was removed. Underneath, they discovered a broken piece of metal with a Crusader’s cross engraved. Under the metal, they found a stone bedding that dated to the first century. The discovery proved that the Edicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been revered as the burial place of Christ for two millennia. This adds considerable weight to the idea that the empty tomb of Jesus is either in the Edicule or very nearby. Personally, the Edicule holds a strong probability of being the actual burial site of Jesus—a probability greater than 95%.

Shroud of Turin

Finally, we end with one of the most mysterious archaeological finds of all time. Just when skeptics seem to debunk the Shroud of Turin, something comes along that later confirms it. The Shroud of Turin is a highly controversial linen cloth that measures 14 feet, 5 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches. It bears a negative three-dimensional image of a crucified man in his thirties and includes bloodstains of actual AB hemoglobin.[4] Additional discoveries have found pollen grains of plants based in Israel and dating to the first century along with evidence that the Shroud had been exposed to a high dose of radiation, perhaps from the resurrection event itself.[5] Although the Shroud had been dated to the medieval ages in a carbon-14 test conducted in 1988, those tests have proven false. The debate surrounding the Shroud of Turin will most certainly continue until the return of Christ himself. The Shroud of Turin is not necessary to prove that Jesus rose from the dead, as has been shown by this series. Nonetheless, if the Shroud of Turin is authentic, it not only proves that Jesus rose from the dead, but it also provides a snapshot as to how Jesus may have looked.

Conclusion

Admittedly, the archaeological evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is largely circumstantial. The only direct piece of archaeological evidence for the resurrection would be the Shroud of Turin, if genuine. However, the Shroud is enshrouded in mystery (pun intended). Because of the nature of the resurrection event, one should not expect a slam dunk discovery to be made. Why? Because Jesus is no longer in the tomb. The most direct evidence has been removed and is no longer available. Regardless, the data provided when taken together affords a strong case that something mysterious and amazing transpired on the first Easter Sunday. The artifacts described prove the high probability that Jesus died by crucifixion, was buried in a tomb, the tomb was found empty, and that the tomb was revered for two millennia. Taken together, that is a compelling case for the resurrection event. For more information on the archaeological evidences for the Bible, see chapter 13 of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, and be sure to check out Ted Wright’s page EpicArchaeology.com.  

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. Brian is a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as a clinical chaplain.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2021. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Randall Price and H. Wayne House, Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology, 26.

[2] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 48; Ted Wright, “10 Significant NT Archaeological Discoveries,” EpicArchaeology.com.

[3] To read the full transcript of the Nazareth Decree, see Brian G. Chilton, Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, 123.

[4] Chilton, Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, 127-128.

[5] Ibid., 128.

Resurrection Defense Series (Part Six): Transformation of Eyewitnesses

Source: Resurrection Defense Series (Part Six): Transformation of Eyewitnesses

 

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 6, 2021

 

One of the most fascinating historical aspects of Jesus’s resurrection is the transformation it brought to individuals who claimed to have experienced the risen Jesus. Interestingly, these experiences occurred so early that Richard Bauckham contends that the “earliest Christology was already in nuce the highest Christology. All that remained was to work through consistently what it could mean for Jesus to belong integrally to the unique identity of the one God.”[1] Of the minimal facts accepted, Gary Habermas notes that the four “core” facts accepted about Jesus consist of Jesus’s death by crucifixion, the experiences the disciples had which led them to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, the transformation of the disciples, and the conversion of Paul.[2] Thus, the transformation of the disciples occurred early in the history of the church and, thereby, holds tremendous value for the historical researcher. These experiences profoundly impacted the disciples’ theology—accepting that Jesus was now exalted to a “position of heavenly glory”[3]—and even emboldened them to the point that they were willing to die for what they knew to be true. The resurrection appearances of Jesus profoundly affected four men which will be the focus of this article.

 

Transformation of the Troubled Peter

While Peter was excited to see the risen Jesus to the point that he willingly jumped out of a boat and swam to shore just to see Jesus (John 21:7), he was dealing with his own inner turmoil. In the courtyard during Jesus’s trial, Peter had denied that he had known Jesus three times to a woman who served as the high priest’s maid (John 18:25-27). Jesus had already prognosticated Peter’s denial beforehand which led Peter to a time of great despair and agony (Luke 22:61). Peter must have thought that Jesus would never use him again for ministry. Why would Jesus ever trust him again? However, multiple pieces of evidence suggest that Jesus appeared to Peter privately (Mark 16:7; Luke 24:12; and 1 Cor. 15:5). Yet the story of Peter’s ministerial transformation comes from an encounter he had with the risen Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. While eating breakfast by a fire on the seashore, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him (John 21:15-19). Peter acknowledged that he did. The risen Jesus reinstated Peter back into the ministry. After his encounter with Jesus on the coast—the third time that Jesus had met exclusively with the disciples after his resurrection—Peter never again denied that he knew Jesus. Rather, he boldly proclaimed Jesus up until the time that he died for Christ. Church tradition holds that he was crucified upside down at Rome in c. AD 64 because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. This was documented by historian Eusebius of Caesarea[4] and Origen of Alexandria.

 

Transformation of the Skeptical Thomas

Thomas had followed Jesus from the very beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Oddly, he was not found with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them (John 20:24-25). Where was Thomas when Jesus first appeared to the disciples? Had he given up on the ministry? Did he seek to reopen his old business, whatever that may have been? No one could not blame Thomas as he had just witnessed his leader crucified to a tree. His investment in Jesus died when Jesus’s corpse was placed in a tomb—or so he thought. Regardless of his activities, he doubted the validity of the disciples’ claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Again, no one could blame Thomas for his skepticism. While different Jewish sects held divergent opinions concerning the Messiah, none of them anticipated that the Messiah would rise from the dead before the end of time. Additionally, dead people do not normally rise from the dead. Thomas was justified in his disbelief. However, everything changed when Thomas encountered the risen Jesus. Jesus challenged Thomas to place his fingers in the nail prints of his hands and to thrust his hand into Jesus’s side (John 20:27-29). Then, Jesus challenged Thomas by saying, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).

Thomas did not remain “doubting Thomas.” Rather, he became “believing Thomas.” According to tradition and the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, the church cast lots to see which part of the world each disciple would serve. Thomas’s lot would lead him to India. The disciple would encounter the kings of the region and would not have the best relationship with them. The wife of King Misdaeus converted to Christianity to the king’s disdain. The king’s wife disobeyed him and instead followed apostolic Christianity which enraged the king. Eventually, the king ordered Thomas’s execution in Madras, India. While not all the information about Thomas’s ministry in India can be verified, it does appear that there are good reasons to believe that Thomas died in some manner for his faith while in India.[5]

 

Transformation of the Envious James

“Envious James” is used for this section, but it is merely one possibility to describe why James did not believe in Jesus during his earthly ministry. The Gospels note that the brothers and sisters of Jesus did not initially believe in him (John 7:5). However, James later had a change of heart to the point that he served as the pastor of the Jerusalem Church. What happened? The 1 Corinthians 15 creed lists James as one of those who witnessed the risen Jesus. James’s life was radically transformed because of the resurrection. The Jewish historian Josephus records the later martyrdom of James the brother of Jesus. He writes,

“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others … and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”[6]

 

Like Peter and Thomas, the resurrection transformed James to the point that he was willing to give his life for the Jesus that he previously spurned. The resurrection changed James’s negative connotations about Jesus into worship. Quite an extraordinary thing, don’t you think?

 

Transformation of the Adversary Paul

Paul’s transformation is the most popular of the four. Paul, otherwise known as Saul, was a persecutor of the church. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a disciple of the famed Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and on track to become a member of the Sanhedrin. Yet Paul was dramatically changed on a road trip to Damascus. Paul had hoped to imprison or even murder the disciples of Jesus (Acts 9:1). He had written permission by the Jewish authorities to imprison any disciple of Jesus in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:2). As Paul made his march to Damascus, the risen Jesus appeared to Paul in a dazzling array of power. The risen Jesus inquired, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Jesus identified himself and instructed Paul to go into the city. From that moment, Paul became a disciple of Christ. The disciples were not overly keen on the idea of accepting Paul into their fold. They thought that Paul was staging a sabotage. But as the risen Jesus told Ananias, “This man is my chosen instrument to take my name to the Gentiles, kings, and Israelites” (Acts 9:15).

Paul would suffer for the cause of Christ as he endured many hardships throughout his lifetime. Nonetheless, he endured until the very end. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome around the same time that Peter died by crucifixion. This is verified by Tertullian, implying that Paul was considered a martyr by the end of the second century at least in northern Africa.[7] In his seminal work, McDowell lists Paul’s death as “the highest possible probability”[8] and that the beheading of Paul is “more probable than not.”[9]

 

Conclusion

From the four individuals listed, it is evident that the resurrection of Jesus brought about a major transformation in the lives of those who encountered the risen Jesus. Furthermore, the loving compassion of Jesus is shown by the way he forgave Peter of his past indiscretions, his willingness to provide evidence to the skeptic, his willingness to bring in even those of his family who had hurt him in the past, and the powerful means by which he accepted even the repentance of his former enemies. The risen Jesus continues to transform lives even today. Only eternity will tell how many souls have been transformed by this mysterious, powerful, and loving Savior who continues to seek and save the lost.

 

About the Author

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, the author of the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, and a Ph.D. Candidate of the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as a clinical chaplain.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Laymans-Manual-Christian-Apologetics-Essentials/dp/1532697104

 

© 2021. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 235.

[2] Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996), 162.

[3] Larry W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism, 3rd ed (London, UK: Bloomsbury, 2015), 93.

[4] Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 5.3.1.

[5] Despite the difficulties surrounding the Thomas martyrdom tradition, McDowell argues that the martyrdom of Thomas is “more probable than not.” Sean McDowell, Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus (London, UK: Routledge, 2008), 173.

[6] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.200-203.

[7] Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics 36.

[8] McDowell, The Fate of the Apostles, 113.

[9] Ibid., 114.