REASONS FOR BELIEF
A HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE
Copyright © 2001 by John M. Oakes, Ph.D.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be duplicated, copied, translated, reproduced or stored mechanically or electronically without specific, written permission of the author and publisher.
Published by Great Commission Illustrated Books (GCI). Second Printing, November 2001. ISBN 0-9653469-7-8
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Scripture references marked NAS are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright The Lockman Foundation 1977. Used by permission.
To Jan, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Kathryn
"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into." Jonathan Swift
I would like to thank a number of friends who have helped me to complete this project. I am grateful to those who helped edit the manuscript, including Brian Craig, Amy Morgan, Rex Geissler, Douglas Jacoby and of course, my mother, Ruth Oakes. William To deserves credit for enthusiastic attention to the cover art.
Also helpful have been those who provided encouragement and support over the years to my pursuit of these topics. Gary Bishop and Gregg Marutzky got me going, John Clayton provided inspiration with his example, Douglas Jacoby called me higher spiritually and intellectually, Mike Taliaferro provided enthusiasm for the task and Foster Stanback spurred me on (and even gave me financial support). Thank you.
Rex Geissler deserves great credit, both as a friend and as the publisher of this book. It makes me tired just to think of his unbounded energy and devotion to the task, without which this book would not exist at all. Many thanks go to Rex.
Above all, I am thankful to my wife Jan, who has put up with late nights, priorities reshuffled and mental energy redirected without complaining-in fact with great support and love.
John Oakes has done us a great service with his new book, Reasons for Belief. Reading it here in South Africa, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Every page is packed with detail and information. John has a knack for taking complicated issues, and crystalizing the truth from all the confusion. This book will help all those who believe in Jesus, but have a whispering voice in the background somewhere telling them that science has proven their faith to be outdated. This book will move those who are not Christians to see just how rational the Christian faith really is. I know that the reader will return to these pages again and again, finding answers, information, and inspiration.
This is a topic I love. I often speak on Christian evidences. In my travels as a minister, I have had the opportunity to speak on six continents in almost fifty nations. Everywhere I go, faces light up when evidences for our faith are presented. Campus students love to get factual answers to some of the attacks against Christianity they hear on campus. Parents love to get factual answers to some of the questions their kids are asking. Those who are just beginning to study the Bible, rather than Non-Christians, love to get factual answers that help them to give their lives in faith to Jesus. Whether it is in Africa, Asia, or America, this is an important topic and John has placed before us a thorough explanation. We are all joyfully indebted to him.
I know that this book will encourage many disciples. I also know that many skeptics will get their questions answered so that they can move on to becoming disciples of Jesus. My encouragement to you: Don't just enjoy the book. Rather, master the material. Share it with others. Let the confidence that it instills impact your campus, neighborhood, and work place. Let us all recapture the confidence and excitement of those early disciples from the first century.
Mike Taliaferro - October 2001
Johannesburg, South Africa
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15
Almost twenty years ago, three graduate student friends, Gary Bishop, Mark Hermsmeyer, Paul Keyser, and I set about to make a list of basic areas of evidence that support Christianity. In about five minutes we came up with a list that is basically the outline of this book. Since that time, I have spent countless hours researching these issues and have had the opportunity to speak on them in many situations. After reading dozens of books on Christian apologetics, it became clear that there is no book available that deals with all these subjects in a concise yet comprehensive way. Few if any books cover all these topics. Some are too simple to be a useful reference tool. Others only delve into one or two areas of evidence, sometimes with such technical detail as to make them inaccessible to most readers, while at the same time skipping other very important areas of evidence.
Therefore, upon the encouragement of friends, I set out to write this book. It is not my intent to provide an exhaustive treatment of each subject, as each could justify an entire book in itself. I have attempted to provide sufficient background to deal with most of the common issues that come to mind for those who ask good, hard questions. I have attempted to provide additional references for those who would like to develop a particular topic more thoroughly.
In collecting material for this book, I have taken great pains to use only that evidence which will hold up well to criticism. It is my experience that many authors in apologetics tend to throw in anything that may appear to support their point, whether or not the evidence will actually hold up to the scrutiny of those who have thought carefully on these subjects. In areas that are more subjective, particularly in the last chapter, I have tried to point out that I am expressing my own opinion.
Many who ask basic questions regarding Christian faith do so as a smoke screen to hide more basic issues of the heart. It is hoped that those who read this book are in a sincere search for what is true. If this work is of some help to those who with humility and sincerity of heart seek for the truth, then to God be the glory.
San Diego, California