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The Alex McFarland Show-14-Worldview and Apologetics with guest Dr. Gary Habermas

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July 21, 2022 10:00 am

The Alex McFarland Show-14-Worldview and Apologetics with guest Dr. Gary Habermas

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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July 21, 2022 10:00 am

Within the realm of Christian publishing, the fastest growing segments are worldview and apologetics. On today’s episode of the Alex McFarland Show, Alex talks with a fellow apologist, Dr. Gary Habermas. The two discuss why apologetics is so relevant today and why the resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of it. Dr. Habermas shares his own journey of coming to faith in God, and explains how Christian principles and beliefs compare to those of other religions.

Alex McFarland

The Cove Training: The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus 

The Stand 

Gary Habermas

Gary Habermas Youtube 

Viral Truth Clubs

Lee Strobel Books

Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of Scripture. Welcome to The Alex McFarland Show.

In Christian publishing, it is said that the fastest growing segment of Christian publishing is worldview and apologetics. Hi, Alex McFarland here, and we've got a very special show. today because our guest is Dr. Gary Habermas, well-known figure in the world of apologetics, Christian higher education, and certainly for two decades plus at the forefront of the growth of the apologetics movement. Now, I wanted to have Dr. Habermas on because listen up everybody, he is going to be in Western North Carolina, the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove near Asheville, North Carolina.

Dr. Gary Habermas will be there August 22nd through 26th. The case for the resurrection of Jesus, I would strongly urge you to attend that seminar, and you've still got time. I know that's just several weeks, maybe a month away, but you can go to the Cove and meet Dr. Habermas, hear him speak, and you will learn apologetics, and that most important of all apologetic subjects, the subject of Christ's resurrection.

The website for the Cove is, and I would urge you to go to his seminar, but I want to bring him to the mic, and first of all, Dr. Habermas, thanks for making time to be on the show with us with kind of short notice. I know you're very busy, but thanks for spending some time with us on the Alex McFarland show. Alex, glad to be with you as always, and no better topic to discuss in the world than the resurrection of Jesus, so that's fantastic.

Exactly, exactly. Now, you've really spent your academic life researching the resurrection, and I want to talk about that, but I want to talk about apologetics. I mean, when you entered apologetics, would you have ever believed that the day would come where this was the fastest growing segment of Christian publishing? No, as a matter of fact, Alex, I did my doctoral dissertation at a secular university on the resurrection, and half of my committee members did not believe in it, but they said, you know, we're liberal, but we're liberal in a good way. That being, you can do this if you pull it off according to the evidence.

We don't have to agree with you. We'll listen and see how you do it. And so when I was done with the dissertation, I sent it to three major Christian publishers. I thought, who wouldn't want a dissertation from a guy who does the resurrection at a secular university?

And the biggest name of the three wrote back and a guy I got to know really well, but he was managing editor of that company. And he said, Gary, got to be honest with you. Nobody wants apologetics today. And that was about 1979.

And he said, nobody wants apologetics today. Then all of a sudden, things start happening to the world. I mean, you had the New Age movement in the late 70s.

You've got nihilism and all kinds of postmodernism since then, denying about everything. Atheists have taken over portions of the Internet. And all of a sudden, now they write to me. That was a long time ago, but they write to me and they go, what do you have for us? Can you do something?

And it's just about faith for sure. Sure. You know, I went to Liberty and many of you listening may know Dr. Habermas was my professor in graduate school and a reader on my thesis. Well, you were the mentor of my thesis committee. But when I left Greensboro, North Carolina, to go to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, my pastor and the leader of our denominational, the region we were in, because Angie and I, we were newlyweds, we were involved in youth ministry, and we're going to pack up and go up to Jerry Falwell's college, quote unquote. And the denominational leader met with me and he said, Alex, what are you going to do up there? We have schools. Our denomination has schools.

Why do you want to go there? And I said, well, Liberty has a master's degree in apologetics. Now, folks, this is like 27, 28 years ago. And I want you to respond to this quote, Dr. Habermas. The denominational leader, big national guy, he said, Alex, most people will never meet an atheist or a Muslim unless they go on the foreign mission field. He said, you're just not ever going to need that C.S.

Lewis stuff unless you're like at Yale University. He said, I'm afraid if you study apologetics, you're just not going to be relevant. Now here we are in the 21st century, and literally every day of the week we interact sharing Christ with atheists.

I can drive a mile from my house and be able to talk with Muslims. I really think that those, and you and I both give God the glory, but those of us that a quarter century ago saw apologetics on the horizon, it was really ahead of the curve, for lack of a better phrase, wasn't it? Yeah, you're right. And your experience in mind, the one I said about the publisher and you about your church, that was 15 years apart, too. So it took a long time to catch on. I'll tell you, Alex, it's like it's like things today, like drugs, crime, things that have been issues in this country for a long time. Nobody gets involved until it's their home, their child, you know, and they can't get the kids to go to church and all the friends, they work like everything to keep the certain people away.

And I mean, when it comes inside your house, you change. And that's when people start reading those kind of books. And I kept up with it and you did. By the way, I mean, Alex, just this morning, I got a letter from an atheist. And he said, hey, you're really kind of a nice guy to talk to, you know, we don't have to get into war here. But I don't think Christianity is true. And he said, it's pretty fake to me.

And they do a lot of harm in the world, like slavery and killing people. And he gave me a long email. And he said, but I want to listen.

Why don't you talk to me? And I took some time and send him an email and send him some sources. I mean, it comes daily for me. And I'm sure for you, Alex, and my students. Yeah, that comment about not meeting atheists is just you don't have to look, you're a mile from your home to go to other, you know, to see other religious places. But all anybody who has to do is turn on their computer. And if they're equipped to answer the questions, they can do it all day long if they want to.

Yeah. And, you know, it is a blessing that the mission field has come to America. I mean, you know, some people lament the fact that America, the demographics have changed. But I mean, my goodness, any and every worldview is in every American community.

And in a way, I think the church ought to look at that as an opportunity, not a burden. Hey, we've got to take a brief break. Folks, stay tuned. We're going to come back. We're going to delve deeply into the subjects of apologetics, the resurrection, our conversation today with our very special guest, renowned author, defender of the resurrection, Gary Habermas. Stay tuned. We're back after this brief break. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.

Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. We live in a country where we have a lot of luxuries. We have a lot of things that we can get pretty easily. How convenience and comfort can be obstacles. An article by Will Addison. If we allow those things to be a priority in our lives, we'll find it hard to do the things that really matter, like preaching the gospel.

We need to be careful that it don't stop us from fulfilling the great commission, which is making disciples. To read this article, visit forward slash the stand. He's been called trusted, truthful and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland show. We're talking with Dr. Gary Habermas. And by the way, Dr. Habermas, I want you to give your website. I know you've got a lot of content on your website. Where can people find you online?

My website is I also have a YouTube station with, I don't know how many, 140 maybe videos. And we usually do either the resurrection or historical Jesus or dealing with personal issues like doubt.

And many of the clips there are only three, four, five, six minutes long. So we know a lot of people like to get in and get out and be a good place to go for answers. So I've got a twofold question. What are some of the major apologetics topics and then specifically, why did you hone in on the physical resurrection of Christ? Well, first I got to tell you, I just saw a note this morning again from another person saying the resurrection is a central topic being discussed today in apologetics. So if you're going to do the field of apologetics, you go to the resurrection. And I think the reason for that is if the facts of the gospel are always defined as the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus. And that's the Jesus to whom we say I do when we become a Christian. And I say those words I do because that's what the Greek word means to believe doesn't mean I believe George Washington's first praise the United States. I believe in the New Testament sense means you jump in with both feet and decide to follow. And it's about the resurrection. Paul said, if there's no resurrection, those other two things don't make any difference.

The deity of Christ, the death of Jesus, if he's not raised, he failed in a big way. So, but for me, to answer your question, I get asked this on a number of interviews and they'll say, I'll bet you did it just to help people, right? I said, I wished I were that altruistic.

I wished I could say that's what I did. But I went through doubts for all of 10 years and partially for 10 years after that. I didn't even know anything about the resurrection. And one day someone said to me, you know, if Christ was raised to the dead, Christianity is true. I said, Well, I hear you, but I think I better check that out. How long in the world am I gonna know the resurrection happened? I remember where I was sitting when that comment came up.

And it's changed my life. So I was doing it to answer my own questions. And I figured found out bingo. Anybody who has questions has the same questions. And they seem to know Alex, they seem to realize that if Jesus is raised to the dead, that's very momentous for Christianity. So non-Christians, I think, are wanting to know about that, too. So how do we help people understand the correlation between the resurrection and the truth of the gospel? If Jesus really did rise from the dead, I mean, what does that tell us? And how should that influence our response to the gospel? Well, I think that's a great question.

Look at this way. In the New Testament, there are over 300 verses on the resurrection. And when you think of the resurrection, you usually think of two areas, either evidence or salvation, those two topics. It's central for salvation. It's central for apologetics. But in Scripture, those 300 verses are related to almost every single area of theology and most areas of Christian practice. In other words, pastoral subjects over and over again in Scripture are centered in the resurrection.

I mean, I can sit here and give a bunch of examples right off the bat. I mean, for funerals and for hope and for giving people reason to put one foot in front of the other. All of those are grounded in the resurrection of the New Testament, not to mention ethics as a whole. At the time that you began to write on the resurrection and defend it, I mean, were there others that were also kind of having that light bulb come on and say, oh, okay, this is the key. I mean, of all the apologetics topics, this is the most important that Christ did conquer the grave. Or were you kind of at the forefront? Well, first of all, there were already a lot of books out there when I started reading, so I had a lot to pick from.

But I don't want to say intuitive, that's too easy or too mystical. But Christians realize, because I read Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul says twice, if Christ is not raised, our faith is vain. Well, the New Testament virtually never says your faith is vain. That's the I do part, the walking with Jesus.

It doesn't say that that's vain. But Paul said if Christ has not been raised, you've got nothing to walk with him about. But it's also true that when you talk to believers, they will simply concede, I'll often ask them at the beginning, do you think the resurrection will be significant for your search? And they'll say, well, I think it's baloney.

But if it happened, yeah, I don't know anybody else who claimed to have been raised to the dead. I mean, you know, it's worth looking at. So you're right there.

You're ready to start. Historically, let's talk about the credibility of the four gospels about the life of Jesus. How does the historical evidence for Jesus and the facticity of the gospels, how does that stack up against other historical figures that we take for granted that they're real? Well, there's a real disconnect on this point.

Critics, especially the kind who aren't really grounded in critical theory, they're just kind of armchair critics, but they fill the internet with all kinds of sometimes decent, sometimes inane comments. And they'll say, the last gospel is 60 years after Jesus died. Who can remember something for 60 years?

And first of all, I do that in crowds. Now I'll say how many of you remember something from your life that's very, very special, a wedding, a death, a birth of a child, a birth of a grandchild. And you remember being there and hands go up all over the auditorium. I say 60 years, really? Yep. I'm positive.

I can remember like yesterday. And so it's not too long, but here's the crazy thing. They blame the gospel of John for being too late at 60 and Mark is only 35 to 40. And Paul goes back just 20 years after the cross. And Paul sources the early creeds go back, according to atheists, go back to a year or two after the cross. That's the Christian data. But if they go to other look at other religions, I go down the list. I'm not picking bad examples.

The sources for Buddha, the ones that are usually used 500, 800 years after he was born, Zoroaster, Zoroastrianism, theology, a thousand years later, the Upanishads of Hinduism, earliest copy, 1800 years later, Bhagavad Gita, 4200 years after Krishna was supposed to have lived. I mean, those are just some examples. They think that 40 to 60 is ridiculous and the next closest one is 500 or 600. It's no comparison whatsoever.

It's no comparison. Hold that thought, folks. We've got to pull away. We've got a brief break. We'll continue our conversation with apologist, author, scholar, beloved Christian figure Dr. Gary Habermas when we come back after this brief break.

Don't go away. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Christian author and speaker Alex McFarland is an advocate for Christian apologetics, teaching in more than 2200 churches around the world, schools and college campuses. Alex is driven by a desire to help people grow in relationship with God. He arms his audiences with the tools they need to defend their faith while also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at He's been called trusted, truthful and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland show.

Welcome back to the program. We're talking with Gary Habermas. And again, folks, he is going to be at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center in western North Carolina. Super easy to get to right off of I-40. Gary Habermas will be there August 22nd through 26th.

The case for the resurrection of Jesus. And first of all, folks, if you've never been to the Cove, I was just there. Angie and I did an event at the Cove about three days ago. It is world class. Please, folks, trust me, go to the Cove. For one thing, you'll hear Gary Habermas and you will be blessed.

You will be equipped. But the scenery is wonderful. The sun coming up over those Appalachian Mountains will inspire you. The food is world class. It's either a five or four star chef, I forget.

But it's just exquisite in every way. And so you won't be disappointed. The website is T-H-E-C-O-V-E.

Again, August 22nd through 26th. The Billy Graham Training Center. And I would urge you to go there and experience the content brought by Gary Habermas.

The other thing I want to say, and we'll resume our conversation with him. Our clubs, Viral Truth. Okay, folks, this is huge. And God's allowed us to be involved in a lot of ministry. But there is a movement and it is the Viral Truth apologetics clubs that middle school and high schoolers are starting.

We've even got several campuses that are college students. But it's age appropriate, peer to peer ministry. We provide talking points. And in a Viral Truth club, kids get together, they talk about God, culture, morals, apologetics.

And then we train the leaders to give what we call the biblical bottom line. So you might want to go to my website, which is or We'll send you the information. We'll help the youth in your community start an apologetics club, and they'll confidently share their faith, reach their friends for God and country. And I do want to say, folks, to everybody listening, we're able to do what we do.

Events, broadcasting, shipping out thousands of books and pieces of literature a year. Your prayers and support make this possible. We're going to do our utmost to stand for God and country and to present, explain, and defend the Christian message. So please, as you feel led, keep us in prayer.

Your tax-deductible financial contributions make all of this possible. And we thank you for your involvement. Well, I want to continue talking with Dr. Gary Habermas. And you know, the evidence before the break, we were talking about the early dating of the Gospels. Early eyewitness testimony, multiple testimony. I want to, with the time we've got left, talk about what sometimes are called creedal statements. Help us understand within the New Testament, the basics of the Gospel are stated and reiterated in what are called creedal statements.

Dr. Habermas, what are those, and why should we view these as significant? Well, scholars now say that Jesus's audience was probably up to 90% illiterate. So when you're trying to teach illiterate folks, they can listen and they can memorize, and Jews were very good at it. But maybe they couldn't write their name. And so you often teach them little ditties, little, it could be a song, it could be poetry. And we've all grown up with that.

Jack and Jill went up the hill. Christian example would be Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound That Saved a Wretch Like Me. And children can say Jack and Jill, or they can sing Amazing Grace and not be able to write their name. So in the early church, in order to spread the Gospel of the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus, they put the creedal comments into little tiny dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, and it's done. And they would be talking about the death of Jesus, his deity, resurrection. Almost all the creeds are about Jesus, they're Christological. And a good many of them, about 80% or more are on the facts of the Gospel. So if I said, guess what topic they're most interested in, and 100% of these things are in Jesus, and 80% of them are in the Gospel, you'd say, I get the point, Jesus and the resurrection. And these things are woven into the New Testament text. Critics, even unbelieving New Testament scholars know where they are. Gert Ludemann, he passed away recently, but a well-known German atheist, New Testament scholar, Ludemann said, they started preaching this material immediately after Jesus was crucified.

Immediately. That's how we know early it is. Well, and some of these statements that were known by the early church, memorized, recited, I mean, these don't come decades after the crucifixion, but really more like months and maybe even weeks after the crucifixion, right? Yeah, I could give a footnote with many critical scholars who would say these things were in circulation. One major scholar, James Dunn, he says that they were in circulation within months after the resurrection. Months. And there's a lot of scholars who say one to two years after the cross. So, you know, if you think John is a long way away at 65, which is great in the ancient world, try sources that are one to two years after.

Yeah. And I often say to audiences, I'll say, look, I can accurately remember things from one to two years ago. I mean, we all can remember things from months ago. And so when we talk about that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, was crucified, three days later, the tomb is empty. We're not talking centuries or even decades or even years, but very close to the events in question. And we all know that we can accurately remember things from that soon. Plus, I mean, we know, those of us that believe in the inspiration of Scripture, we know the Holy Spirit was presiding over the recording of these facts. So bottom line, it's a compelling case that we can trust what the New Testament says about Jesus, isn't it? It is.

It is. And there's so much data. I've studied world religions repeatedly. In fact, a long time after I started my studies, I came close to becoming a Buddhist. So it's not because I wasn't being fair with the literature, but I just want to say something is that no religion, none is close like this to the sources.

There's nothing to compete. I've got a book here on Buddhism where the author starts on page one and says to all my Christian readers, we cannot compete with Christianity on the closeness of the data to the lives of our lords, he calls them. We don't even, he said, we don't even know what Buddha taught, literally said that.

Wow. Well, so when you're at the Cove in a month, what will you be teaching at the Cove, Dr. Habermas? Well, they've actually titled the lecture, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Now, Mike Licona and I, a former student who was there back when Alex was at Liberty, Mike and I wrote, co-authored a book by that title, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. And they want me to spend some time on application, like to questions like doubt and ethics and meaning in life, but they want most of the time spent on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

Well, people are going to learn so much and, you know, regrettably, we're just about out of time right now. And folks, hey, I'm biased. I'm a huge Gary Habermas fan because I had the privilege of sitting in his classrooms for several years and doing my degree. For one thing, I want to say, Dr. Habermas, thank you for your stand for Christ. Thank you for investing in countless students like myself. But thank you for just helping people understand, like 2 Peter 1.16, we have not followed cleverly devised fables, but this is real. So for your life of faithful scholarship and witness for the gospel, I know I speak for millions, but I just want to say thank you. Alex, I appreciate that because as guys like you who take the material and reach far more than people that we can reach by printed and spoken word and film, you can reach far more than we do.

So that's one of the practical results. If you've got it, you give it, and you're excellent at giving it. Well, hey, one last question for those that might be new to apologetics. Do you have a book you could recommend that's just a good entry level point for defending the Christian faith? You know, I often recommend Lee Strobel's books, The Case for Christ, and then the second book, The Case for Jesus. He's got one now on miracles today. He's got one on life after death, an ever popular topic. I wrote to the atheist who wrote me today, and I introduced evidence for the afterlife. Not that that's going to get you to Christianity, but it might make a person think and say, what must I do to be saved?

You know, what must I do to get down with this program? And so there's, you know, hooks in books like Lee Strobel's and in topics like life after death. And we hope people will come on and ask more questions.

Absolutely. Strobel is wonderful. Well, folks, we're out of time. Hey, let's visit again really soon.

And again, folks, August 22nd through 26th at the Cove, Dr. Gary Habermas. Folks, tell somebody about the show. Share this on social media.

Like us, you know, all the Facebook, social media stuff. Tell somebody about the program, but most of all, tell everybody about Jesus. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you.

For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for the truth. Learn more and donate securely online at You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-YES-GOD1. That's 1-877-Y-E-S-G-O-D1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-11 07:41:58 / 2022-11-11 07:54:03 / 12

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