Josh McDowell on Defending the Bible
- Wednesday, April 07, 2010
After he has exhausted his own Scriptural knowledge, he searches for other Scriptures he may not have thought of to support his view. A fan of Logos Bible Software, McDowell uses the program frequently to explore and cross-reference every passage he can find that relates to his topic. He attempts to exhaust every verse he chooses, from Genesis to Revelation. "I'll record everything relevant," says McDowell. "I always over-study. I probably study and collect 400% more material than I can ever use in teaching. It gives me a greater confidence that I am speaking the truth."
"This is where Logos is good," he continues. "I'll search out all the biblical writers who have addressed the topic and pull out everything that is relevant to the text I've chosen." McDowell also examines modern commentaries and dictionaries. "When I've got all that information, I create an outline. The second-to-last thing I write is the introduction, and the last thing I write is the conclusion."
It is clear that McDowell has a tremendous amount of Scripture in his heart. Whether discussing why he writes books or exploring some favorite passages, his conversations burst with biblical references. One has to wonder, when an apologist looks for apologetic writing in Scripture, what gets his attention? "Gosh, all of it!" he says. "First Corinthians 13-15. The book of Acts—where the constant appeal for the foundation of the Church and their martyred lives is the eyewitnesses of what Jesus said and did, his crucifixion, burial and resurrection."
"Luke is phenomenal," he continues, "because Luke was not written by an eyewitness. Luke says he got his material from those who were eyewitnesses, to record the exact truth of the things ‘that were taught among us.' And he tried to be exact. I think the Gospel of Luke is probably one of the greatest apologetic pieces of all time." McDowell points out that in Luke 3:1-3, there are between twelve and fifteen historical references, helping to clarify exact timetables and preserve an accurate historical record.
The more he talks about the Bible, the more enthusiastic and animated McDowell becomes. "Then there's John, which records the miracles. In john 21, the author says that there were many other things that Jesus did, things that prove that he was the Messiah, which are not included in his gospel. John says that these things are a testimony that Jesus was the Christ, so that all who believe in him may have eternal life. John is saying there that the evidence for Christianity in the Scriptures is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient. John says, ‘These have been recorded that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and in believing, have eternal life'—John was an eyewitness. In 1 john chapter 1, he confirms that he and the other apostles got their information as eyewitnesses. He says, ‘What our eyes have seen, what our ears have heard, what our hands have handled'—not somebody else's, our own. In other words, ‘We have first-hand information of what he said and what he did.' That makes John pretty strong apologetically."
McDowell believes that Christians should always be ready to explain why they believe in Jesus. "First Peter 3:15 says, ‘Be ready always to give an answer for the hope you have received,' which simply means, if someone asks you why are you a Christian, why you believe in Jesus, why you believe the Bible, you should be ready to give an intelligent answer for it."
Is there a need for new books on evangelism and apologetics? McDowell offers a resounding yes, for the simple reason that there is new evidence regularly being discovered. "I have re-written Evidence That Demands a Verdict several times, and the latest one was a complete rewrite. I named it The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict because there have been so many new discoveries made since the last version.
New archaeological discoveries are made all the time, corroborating biblical records and adding credence to the Bible's historiography. Nonetheless, culture changes, worldviews develop, and communication patterns change. McDowell understands this well. "Truth remains the same, but culture changes. So, the way we present truth needs to change. Often the reason why we need new books on evangelism is that there has been a shift in culture, among adults or youth. Some of the questions we deal with are different from those addressed five years earlier." The postmodern generation, for example, is characterized by a resistance to absolute truth, making the exclusive claims of Christianity a hard sell. Yet McDowell sees the present generation, both at home and abroad, as among the most receptive he has seen. "I have seen more young people come to Christ lately, than I have in forty-six years of ministry, in the U.S. and overseas." At a recent conference in Poland where McDowell spoke, an estimated 6,800 young people turned out. "When I gave the invitation, 5,000 stepped out to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord." McDowell was also in Romania recently, speaking at a youth conference where approximately 6,200 people attended and 1,800 went forward at the invitation to put their faith in Christ. He goes on to say that in the U.S., he is finding young people to be more responsive to the gospel today than ever before.
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