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Is Christianity an Escape From Intellectualism?

By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008

Jesus and the Intellectual

By Dr. Bill Bright

As an ambitious young businessman in Hollywood, I met a group of people who spoke of Jesus Christ as their dearest Friend, Savior, and Lord. They told me that He had been raised from the dead and was alive and that I could know Him personally. I had never heard anyone talk this way before. As a matter of intellectual integrity, however, I was forced to investigate the claims of Christ and Christianity.

I soon concluded that, historically, there was indeed one by the name of Jesus of Nazareth who had lived on this earth almost 2,000 years ago. I became convinced that He had lived an exemplary life, the most holy life of anyone who had ever lived. I was convinced that His teachings and His influence were superior to those of any other person in all of recorded history.

But there were two problems that plagued me and prevented me from accepting Him as the Son of God. If I could find satisfactory answers to these questions, I would have no problem about not only receiving Jesus as my Savior, but also following Him as my Lord.

The first problems concerned the prophetic statements made by various Old Testament writers hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. They told of His coming, His place of birth, His life, death and resurrection. Since I did not believe in the supernatural, I couldn’t accept the fact that God had inspired holy men hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth to prophesy concerning these details. I was skeptical. Surely, these were interpolations made in the Scriptures after the fact of Jesus’ life here on this earth, I decided. I discovered after careful study that this was a theory no reputable scholar holds.

The more I studied and the more carefully I analyzed the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life of Jesus, the more obvious it became that there was only one conclusion I could reach. Jesus was indeed the One about whom the prophets spoke and wrote. He was the promised Messiah.

Fraudulent Claims?

My other problem concerned the resurrection. How could a human being who had died be raised from the dead? No reliable, modern evidence has ever indicated that anyone has been raised from the dead. Apparently the people of Jesus’ time were superstitious, gullible and naive. I believed that they were victims of fraudulent claims.

So I pursued my study. How could I believe the claims concerning Jesus of Nazareth without committing intellectual suicide. I was willing to believe, but not at the risk of losing my intellectual integrity.

One of my first discoveries was that no other religion claims that its founder has been raised from the dead. Christianity is unique in this regard. If Jesus of Nazareth actually rose from the dead in His own body on the third day as He predicted He would do, could I really be sure of this? If so, I would have no trouble believing all the other claims of the Christian faith.

Any argument for the validity of Christianity stands or falls on the proof of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is for this reason that His resurrection has been ridiculed and contested through the centuries by all kinds of skeptics. It is for the same reason that men of faith from all walks of life and disciplines of learning have dedicated their entire lives to proving that Jesus truly was raised from the dead.

Six Irrefutable Evidences

I would like to share with you several irrefutable evidences that have brought me to the firm conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead, thereby proving Himself to be the Son of God.

First, the resurrection was foretold by Jesus Christ. Matthew writes, “From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21, NKJ). Although His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time, they remembered His words and recorded them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe the predictions in their accounts of Christ’s life.

Second, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for His empty tomb. If, as some have claimed, Jesus had not been killed, but only weakened and wounded by crucifixion, the stone and the soldiers would have prevented His escape from the tomb. If Jesus’ friends had tried to steal His body, the stone and the soldiers would likewise have prevented them. Jesus’ enemies would never have taken the body since its absence from the tomb would only serve to encourage belief in His resurrection.

Third, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the appearances of Jesus Christ to His disciples. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared on at least ten occasions to those who had known Him. The Lord proved that these appearances were not hallucinations by eating in the presence of the disciples and allowing them to touch Him.

Fourth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian church. More than half of the first sermon ever preached dealt with the resurrection (Acts 2:14-36). Obviously, the early church knew that this was the foundation of their message …

Changed Lives

Fifth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the transformed lives of the disciples. They all deserted Jesus during His trial and crucifixion. After the crucifixion they continued to be discouraged and fearful. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Luke 24:11, 41).

It was these same men and women who, convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, went out to turn the world upside down. Many died as martyrs after Pentecost for their faith and others were terribly persecuted. Their behavior does not make sense unless they knew without question the resurrection to be fact.

The witness of the apostle Paul and the transformation of his life can only be reasonably explained because of the resurrection. The apostle Paul, under his earlier name, Saul, devoted his energies and time to the self-appointed task of seizing and killing those who proclaimed Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. But his life was irrevocably changed when he met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. From that time on he was a new person, courageously preaching the resurrected Christ and willing even to die as a martyr for his faith in the One whom he had once sought to destroy.

Finally, only the resurrection can explain the transformed lives of millions through the centuries who have received the living Christ into their lives. Second Corinthians 5:17 has become a reality for me and others: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (NAS).

These evidences satisfied my questions on the validity of the resurrection and as a result, I invited the living Christ to come into my life almost 50 years ago.

From Jesus and the Intellectual, by Bill Bright, NewLife Publications, ©1959, 1992. Used with permission. Dr. Bill Bright is founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ International. He has a degree in economics, has done graduate studies at Princeton and Fuller Theological seminaries, and holds five honorary doctorate degrees. More than 1.5 billion copies of his booklet, The Four Spiritual Laws, are in print.


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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

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— Congressman Robert K. Dornan

Running time: 85 minutes

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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