What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This is one of my favorite subjects - a·pol·o·get·ics.

The dictionary tells us that apologetics is a:
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of
Christian doctrines.
2. Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.
The term comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning the defense of a position against an attack, not from the English word apology (Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Apologetics is not about proving that our faith is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s about putting forth evidence that suggests reliability and reasonableness. In my opinion there’s much more evidence than most people realize.

For example, Jesus is mentioned a number of times outside of the New Testament. You might have heard of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. He was born in the year 37 AD. He wrote this about Jesus:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

Roman writers in the early 2nd Century, such as Pliny the Younger and Suetonius, also wrote about Jesus, as well as, a guy named Cornelius Tacitus, who wrote about "Christus," the founder of a new religious sect, who was put to death by Pontius Pilate.

In the Hebrew Talmud, we read that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock, gathered disciples, made blasphemous claims about himself, and worked miracles, but these miracles are attributed to black magic and not to God.

Here are some other topics of Apologetics:

A. The reliability of the scriptures, especially the Gospels.
For example, in 1920 archaeologists discovered the oldest fragment of one of the Gospels that we have to date. It's called P52 and records John 18:31-33. What's fascinating is that the discovery was made in Egypt and the fragment dates to 125 AD. Think about that! By the year 125 AD, copies of the New Testament had already made it to Egypt. This suggests First Century authorship of the Gospel and also demonstrates how the four Gospels in our Bible gained authoritative status in the church very, very early in the history of Christianity.

B. Evidences for the Resurrection
Early church writers claim that 11 out of the 12 disciples were martyred for preaching the Good News of Christ's life, death and resurrection. If they had made up the Resurrection of Christ, would they have willingly died for a lie?

C. The Prophesies
The Old Testament predicts that the Messiah would be born in Jerusalem, to a young maiden/virgin, ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and suffer an unjust death. Coincidences?

D. Archaeology
Archaeological discoveries have done much to demonstrate the accuracy of many passages of scripture. There’s even an Archaeological Bible which notes the evidence that has been uncovered. For example, for years scholars doubted the existence of Nazareth and believed it to be a fictional name. Then in 2009 archaeologist dug it up. One of the more startling findings concerns the Battle of Jericho, where "the walls came a-tumblin' down." In 1931 John Garstang, concluded: "As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city." If an army had stormed the city, the walls would have most likely collapsed inward. As Time Magazine put it, "Score One for the Bible." And that's the point.

Thought for the Day: The "Leap of Faith" may not be such a big leap after all.
Question: Do the evidences cited above strengthen your faith or not effect it at all?
Prayer: Strengthen my faith, O Lord. Add to my faith, knowledge and conviction. Amen.

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