Will My Dog Go to Heaven?

Gracie - John Niven - cropped 1.jpg

People love their pets, and want to know what will happen after they die. The Bible provides an answer. 

About two weeks ago I saw John at a riverboat party. The general mood was light, but he stood alone in the shadows, his face stained with dry tears. John and his wife, their children long out of the house, had been forced to put their beloved dog, Gracie, to sleep. I listened long and said little as he shared his heart, and soon the party was over. A few days later he approached me at another gathering.

“Mark, you are a minister, right?”

“Yes, I was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.”

“Will Gracie go to heaven? I have heard both – some people say that she will, and others say that since she doesn’t have a soul, she won’t.”

He paused. There was silence as I considered my reply. John was still visibly distressed, and I had to be right, but I equivocated.

“Well, the bottom line is that no one knows for sure.”

John’s face fell.

Continue reading “Will My Dog Go to Heaven?”

The Bible Story

What is the Bible about? Can you answer that question?

Technology has made life physically easier and information (and misinformation) more available while decreasing the work of living (farming, cleaning, cooking, maintaining, etc.). As a result, more people have more time to edify or to entertain themselves than ever before. Meanwhile, man’s naïve belief that technology would bring about utopia (embodied in modernism) has given way to a belief that utopia is not achievable or even desirable. There is no meaning in the universe aside from what man puts into it and the best we can hope for is personal peace and affluence, as defined by each person (reflected in post modernism). No religion, worldview or other metanarrative is any better than another, much less true for all people at all times.

Since the Bible makes exclusive claims to truth, it is diametrically opposed to such relativism. Over the millennia, many people have attacked the Bible, and this is also true today. People attack the Book and those who believe the Book. Respectful debate is good, challenging believers to think through their faith and non-believers to honestly consider the claims of Christ. Such debate, however, seems rare. Human nature being what it is, mockery, discrimination and violence are the order of the day. Persecution of Christians throughout the world, and even in the West, is growing. Many people across the globe are shedding Christian blood, but believers should never fear; the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.

Continue reading “The Bible Story”

The Inevitable Incarnation

Many religions tell of God becoming man, because humans sense that we could not know God otherwise. But Jesus is different…divinely different.  

In 1819 using a razor and glue, the former American President Thomas Jefferson, one of the most brilliant men of his age, cut and pasted passages of the New Testament to create The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, popularly known as the Jefferson Bible. Jefferson’s Bible removed all of the miracles of Jesus, most mentions of the supernatural, the Resurrection, and all mentions of His divinity. In a letter to William Short (1820), Jefferson wrote that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God.” Thomas Jefferson clearly regarded the man Jesus as a great moral teacher, but rejected the concept of Jesus as God.

He was not alone. The Koran teaches that Allah has no son, and that those who believe that he does will be destroyed. Many critics throughout history have lauded Jesus for his moral example but lambasted early Christians for making him God. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity; without Him Christianity could not exist. At the same time, Jesus is the stumbling block of Christianity; the gospel as written in the New Testament is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Continue reading “The Inevitable Incarnation”

Singular Events and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Science requires that we repeat events. History doesn’t allow it. Does science prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead?

Last Easter I was reading an article in the Washington Post about the Resurrection of Jesus, a popular topic at that time of year. Considering the source, I knew that the author’s conclusion would be something other than affirming the physical, bodily resurrection that is the cornerstone of authentic Christianity. As Paul wrote, “if Christ is not raised then our preaching is vain and your faith also is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).” Genuine Christians may disagree on many things, but to deny the bodily resurrection of Christ is to deny Christianity; no real Christian can do it. The article met my expectations, stating that the sightings of Jesus after the crucifixion had a “dreamy sense” and suggesting that His resurrection was either spiritual or illusory altogether. This is a standard line of secularists and others seeking to discredit Christianity. Unfortunately, such people never provide reasons for their arguments except that “people can’t rise from the dead.” This apriori assumption makes it impossible for those who hold it to ever believe in the resurrection of Jesus.

On the face of it no other reason is necessary because in all of human history, as far as many people know, everyone has died. There have been many stories of people physically rising from the dead, but most are rendered suspect by the circumstances. Was the person really dead? Did they merely resuscitate? Is the whole story a myth? In most cases, it is impossible to verify the medical diagnosis of death, which is typically brain death. In other cases, the story bears all of the traits of myth, such as the Egyptian story of the “resurrection” of Osiris. Considering the purported resurrections commonly noted in history, it is easy to conclude that since everyone else died and stayed dead, Jesus must have also. If this is true, there must be some other explanation for the story in the Gospels, and Biblical Christianity must be false.

Continue reading “Singular Events and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”