Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Circular Reasoning

When I arrived with my team to preach the gospel at Huntington Beach recently, we noticed 4-5 atheists were standing with 4-5 signs, which said that they had found contentment in life, and were good people. The signs then said, "Ask me why." One of the atheists (Bruce) had kindly taken me to lunch a year or so earlier. He and another member of the group (Jordan) heckled me, and then went back to stand beside their signs.

Someone asked me why they would bother to go to such trouble when they didn’t believe that God existed. As I watched Bruce share his worldview with four pretty females, it was no mystery. That didn’t worry me. What did concern me was that he had a Bible in his hand that had so many paper markers sticking out of its pages, it looked like a spring cabbage. Those markers were Bruce’s "evidence" as to why there was no God. He was like a dying man who nit-picked a doctor’s prescription, that provided a cure to his otherwise terminal disease.

However, thanks to Bruce and his Bible, I was inspired during the following night to begin a comprehensive atheist Bible study on the Gospel of Luke. Why Luke? Because that’s what I had been reading and thinking of how atheists should read this wonderful book.

So, we are going to give Luke an autopsy and dissect every verse, scrutinize it, find out its meaning, and leave the conclusion to the skeptic who has dared to set aside his prejudices and look solely at the evidence, wherever it may lead him. My hope is that, as with each of the four gospels, it will lead you to the cross. Feel free to join me. Get your scalpel ready. Here goes:

The Gospel of Luke

Chapter One

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. (Luke 1:1-4).

Many times I have heard skeptics say that the Bible was written by men. They are right. It was written by men, however, it says of itself that it was given by "inspiration" of God (see 2 Timothy 3:16). And, no, it’s not "circular reasoning" for the Bible to disclose the Author; every book does exactly the same thing.

God was the author, and men were simply the "pens" He used to communicate His Word to humanity. Does it live up to this claim? After searching the Scriptures daily for almost 40 years, I am persuaded beyond doubt that it does.

Luke was also the (Ghost-writing) author of the Book of Acts. As a doctor, his narrative is methodical, and very meticulous. The book was written around 60 years after Christ (1).

It begins, as does the Book of Acts, by addressing a man named "Theophilus." It would seem that this "most excellent Theophilus" was a Roman official, and not merely a friend or associate of Luke. Yet nothing is known about him from other historical evidence. Perhaps he was simply a Roman officer who expressed an interest in Christianity, and who better to write to him than a man who said that he "had perfect understanding of all things from the very first"? So the question comes down to, do we trust Doctor Luke? Should we unquestioningly swallow everything he prescribes in this letter? Of course not. More than 200,000 people die each year because they trusted the medical profession(2). Honest skepticism is healthy.

The reason why Luke wrote to Theophilus "an orderly account," was that he "may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." In a world of uncertainty, Luke was hoping to give him the certainty of a solid rock upon which he could build--an "anchor of the soul" upon which he could trust.

(1). See www.harvardhouse.com/Luke_date-written.htm
(2). "An average of 195,000 people in the USA died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records that was released today by HealthGrades, the healthcare quality company." http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/11856.php