September 24, 2022

In this episode, Kurt is joined by Matt Heerema as they talk about Is Jesus Really God? This is part of the Explore God series.

Listen to “Episode 135: Explore God – Is Jesus Really God?” on Spreaker.

Kurt Jaros:

Well, a good day to you. And thanks for joining us here on another episode of veracity hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. Very nice to be with you here. And if this is one of the first times that you are joining us, I want to say thank you for tuning in. And, you know, when we got our program started back two and a half years ago, it was a very simple, simple program. And I’m reflecting upon this, because we’re starting to put the old audio into video format, so we can upload it to different channels in 2019, here, and I’m excited about that. So it’s just great. I’m just thinking, Chris reminded me to wave just now because we’ve got this great little animation that Chris put together. And now you know, there’s sort of this see-through window in the building of our logo, which Chris, you know, made really a lot of fun, it’s great to see how far a program has come in two and a half years. And on that note, if you want to support our program, it really helps up our production. And it will help bring our content to new people, to new eyeballs, to new ears. And so if you want a program that presents a strong case for the Christian worldview, which helps us to consider different issues in our society that we’re talking about, and to not always have a Christian guest on the program, if you want to hear from someone else, we do that from time to time, and which also presents just a strong case for the gospel. please consider supporting our program, you can go to veracityhill.com, and click on the patron tab. Before we get going in today’s show, I do have one announcement here which Chris made me bring up: the genocide in Scripture conference, which we at Defenders Media hosted last September, September 2018, I believe that was we put on a wonderful conference top quality conference on the suppose genocide commands in Scripture, we invited four different perspectives, four different Christian perspectives, to present their case, their interpretation of these support of these passages, which seem to support a case where God’s telling the Israelites to kill seemingly innocent people. So it was very fascinating event. And so now I want to say that we have that video live on Vimeo, so you can go to the Defenders Media Facebook page, you can see the link there. If you go to Vimeo, you can search for Defenders Media or genocide in Scripture. And you can you can make that happen. So very pleased for that. There are 14 different videos all from the conference, the main sessions, breakout sessions, and it was just top-notch quality. And so we look forward to bringing you the 2019 Defenders Conference. And we are still working on confirming some speakers for that. And so very happy to have that in the works. We’ve got some great speakers lined up for that. Alright, so on today’s program, we’re continuing our Explore God series. And today we’re talking about is Jesus really God? So last week, I presented a case is Christianity too narrow? And if you were listening in, I actually said yes, it is. So for the for the pluralist for the religious pluralist, Christianity is too narrow. Now Christianity is not too narrow in that the offer of salvation is open to anyone, anyone who should believe and repent, that offers available to anyone. So it’s very inclusive in that sense, but it’s exclusive in the sense that Jesus is the only way for salvation. I made that qualification as well. Not just Jesus is the only way to heaven, but for salvation because well, my in my understanding of the Christian story, heaven is coming to earth and so we’re not going to spend eternity in heaven. We will spend eternity here on the New Earth. And so I like to say that the offer you know, for eternal salvation more so than or am I going to heaven? At any rate, we’ve got great material coming up for you. If you’ve got your questions I’m tuning in. I’ve got the live stream here on my phone. So hopefully I can, I’ll see those comments come in. And also I’ll load up our texting platform as well. We have a program great program called Simple texting. If you text the word veracity, that’s V-E-R-A-C-I-T-Y, veracity, to the number 555888, you’ll get some updates from time to time from us and also it’s a great way for me to engage with people that are tuning in. On our program today, we have invited Matt Heerema he is a I want to say bivocational he’s got he’s a web designer by trade but he’s also a pastor of Stone Brick Church in Ames, Iowa. He’s very knowledgeable guy and as soon as Chris loads his video up, you can see that he is just a masked by books. And so I think the books just by osmosis diffuse knowledge into his mind. If only that were the way it worked on that.

Heerema:

That’s that is osmosis is the way it works. And if you’ve played Minecraft, if you surround a enchantment table with books, it gets more powerful. That’s kind of

Kurt Jaros: 

A Minecraft reference. I’ve never, I’ve never played Chris, that might be the first time Minecraft has been referenced on a program. I know Beth Barker would would like that one of our volunteers for organization. So

Heerema:

I am a bit of a book nerd I have no academic credential. I’m self-taught I do I’ve taken a lot of seminary courses here and there but never compiled them into a degree. But these books are my mentors and my safety rails and things like that. So yeah,

Kurt Jaros  06:46

very nice. Now, Matt, I’m not getting a blue light here from one of my cameras, but we can still hear you and see you. So, alright, just don’t don’t leave us here.

Heerema:

I’ll try not to.

Kurt Jaros:

Okay, so tell me first before we jump into it. You’re a web designer by trade?

Heerema:

That’s right. Yeah, I am bivocational. That’s the right way to say it. I like to make a distinction between tent making pastors and bivocational pastors. So there’s some guys who their church for whatever reason, can’t afford to pay them. And so they tent make like as a reference in First Corinthians, Paul was a tent maker from time to time. But then there’s the idea of being a bivocational pastor, which means you’re called to two different things. So in the same intensity that I’m called to pastor, along with a team, by the way, at Stony Brook Church in Ames, Iowa, I am called to this web career. And so I run a company called Mirror Agency, and we make really good websites of all shapes and sizes for churches and ministries and individuals.

Kurt Jaros:

Nice. That’s great. And so how long have you been a pastor than at Stony Brook?

Heerema:

I’ve been a pastor for five-ish years, five and a half years. And I’ve been serving there in various capacities for coming up on 19 or 20 years here. So I was a worship leader there for a lot a lot of years and served in the college ministry as a college student back in the day and kind of stuck around and came up through the ranks. That way, if you want to put it that way, I guess

Kurt Jaros:

yeah. Nice. Great. Well, we’re glad to have you on our program today. And I know we were chatting before the program got started. Sounds like you’ve got quite the knowledge base there. And you use the big term form criticism and my, you know, sparkles just stars appears in my eyes.

Heerema:

No, I’ve just I’ve just been around a very long time and made a lot of mistakes and set a lot of stupid things. So I you know, it’s knowledge base. Sure. I guess whatever. I don’t know that that’s necessarily spiritual gifts or anything like that, though. So we’ll see.

Kurt Jaros:

Alright, so to get started on our program, we’re talking about is Jesus really God? And at the end of the day, this is sort of the question many people should be asking. We’re doing this series called the Explore God series here in Chicago and in cooperation with a number of different churches and other organizations, small people doing small groups based on this series. And so for me, this is the big question. At the end of the day, what does someone do with Jesus? Who was he? And so I think of CS Lewis’s famous liar, lunatic or Lord argument. Sometimes now it’s been modified to include legend.  Is he legendary? And some people take that a couple different ways. Some those the Jesus mythicists out there, those are people that believe Jesus never even existed, they would consider that his whole existence legendary, but others and I think there’s a much, much stronger argument for this over the mythicist position, although I would still disagree with this, that the material of divinity, the content or claims of Christ in the gospels were developed over time. And it’s typical for scholars, many non-Christian scholars to say—well, and even many evangelical Christian scholars, when you look at the word of the Gospels and what they were when they were written today, Mark is believed to have been the first that was written. And then you have Matthew and Luke. And then finally, John. And part of the rationale for this, there are many reasons, part of the rationale is you see that you see the greater claims of divinity in the gospel of John. And so you know, “I am the way the truth and the life” is the first one that strikes me. But there are many in there. So people think there’s development. And I’m not sure what your view is on the order of the Gospels, but but I take it that you think that there are Jesus’s claims to divinity appear in all of the Gospels?

Heerema:

Yeah. So absolutely. And I would agree with your order there too, as well, as far as I understand it, as far as the scholars I’ve read. It’s interesting, the mythicist position that Jesus was legendary, he didn’t actually exist. I’ve never heard a serious scholar, say that out loud. And I was reading a kind of brushing up on this idea of this last summer for for a college program, I was being part of it. It was a scholar, FF Bruce, recent recent scholar, and he says that actually, you’ll find more historians fighting for the the claims of the New Testament than, than religion scholars these days, it seems that there is like, an a priori agenda that religion scholars have to discredit the claims of the New Testament whereas historians, because the way they’re approaching it in terms of archaeology and historical, you know, the science of history, and research of history, they just say this is, this is what it is, and this is where it came from. And there’s no doubt about it, you know, we’d have more more reason to doubt all of the Roman historical records, then the New Testament itself. So yeah, but yeah, I find interesting that the religion, it’s the, it’s the religious scholars and the philosophers who are arguing that this stuff is not true, and that this is a myth. And, you know, it’s constructed over time, but the historians who are doing historical research, just they don’t even bother questioning it, because there’s no reason to

Kurt Jaros:

Yeah, I think there has been a tendency among those different fields to present intriguing, coherent models of ways it could have been. But just because something a coherent model is offered, doesn’t mean it corresponds. And in philosophy, there are different views of how we can know truth. And one is called the, the correspondence theory of truth, which is something I also defended last week in my talk about how we can know objective truth, and that reality corresponds to what we see and what we can know. And so when you look at the gospels here, this this is a big question, you know, are we reading what really happened? And so I want to just take a moment here and go through a couple of verses in the gospel of Mark. Because Mark, scholars widely agreed Today’s the earliest some still think Matthew is the earliest and that that had been the position of Christians for a very long time. But at any rate, so let’s just suppose let’s suppose Mark is the earliest and and therefore the least theologically developed, they might say, there are some intriguing passages about Jesus in the gospel of Mark, that I want to read. And I have my Bible, in fact, open. So I always like this one. How about Mark chapter one, verse one, the very first sentence start there in Mark seems like a good place to start. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Now, I mean, right away here we have this claim the Son of God. Now, there is one sense in which Well, everyone is a son and a daughter of God. Yes. Right. But there’s obviously something different about this person, this historical figure, Jesus, as Mark is going to tell us and he reads, and we’re going to read about so for me, I really love chapter two, Jesus forgives and heals a paralytic. So let me let me read here actually, just these 12 verses, first 12, verses chapter two. “And again, Jesus entered Capernaum, after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house, immediately, many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door, and he preached the word to them. Then they came to him bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was.”  Maybe many people if you’re listening, and you recall this story in Sunday school, You’re a kid. I remember learning about the story where the men dropped down that the paralytic man through the roof. “So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts. ‘Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they reasoned this within themselves, he said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?  Which is easier to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk?” But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins. (He said to the paralytic) I say to you arise, take up your bed and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God saying, we never saw anything like this.” So I really like that. Yeah, Matt, you’re feeling it. Yeah, Mark chapter two. Jesus says here, he starts off, Your sins are forgiven. And these these men, according to Mark, say, in their hearts, Jesus knows what they’re thinking. What’s easier to say, just tried or actually heal this guy, or to say your sins are forgiven? So you can you can see here, that it’s implicit in their thinking. It’s implicit in their thinking, only God can forgive sins. And then it’s explicit here that Jesus is forgiving sins. So whether Jesus is wrong is another issue. But at the very least, he’s claiming to be God, he’s claiming to be of divine origin here. Right? And we it goes on and on, you get Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath there and in to I mean, Jesus does all sorts of things, which is part of the whole reason for the plot to have Jesus destroyed. Because the Jews didn’t like him, because of the things he was claiming they picked up stones to stone him at one point. Why is this? It’s because he believed he was God, and that was punishable by death. So in the gospel of Mark here, we have these claims to deity. So you, I don’t think you can say that there’s theological development that occurs, if, in fact, we have the earliest gospel is already making these claims.

Heerema:

Right. And I think one of the assumptions when you’re talking, we’re using that form, that term form criticism earlier that this idea that scholars are, are there’s an assumption that the texts that we have in our hands right now, the Bible developed over maybe even hundreds of years. And you know, that the early skeptical scholarship, tends to say, you know, hey, 300 AD, that’s when the real the Scripture, as we have announced, first started coming on the scene. It was after the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire, and therefore, they were trying to insert all of these things to bolster the claims, that sort of thing. That was a pretty popular thought around the mid 1800s, late 1800s, and was pretty thoroughly debunked by historians in the early, early 20th century, after they discovered a lot of other archaeological evidence, a lot of a lot more manuscripts, a lot more fragments and things that placed it that these are copies, obviously, these are copies of the original. And we don’t have any of the originals. And I think God, by the way, sidebar, God did that we don’t have any of the original letters of the original gospel. Otherwise, we probably set them up in worship them. That’s, you know, that’s what we humans tend to do worship the text on the worship the literal piece of paper rather than the message on it.

Kurt Jaros:

But there are still some people that do worship the text.

Heerema:

Okay, fair enough. We take our Bible and I don’t write in the margins, because this is a holy book, right? It is a very special book that I write in my margins all the time because it’s a holy book I want to make sure I’m understanding it. Yeah, I totally get it. Yep. Father, Son, Holy Bible that. Right. So but the with the with the scholarship that we have, we’re finding no actually the earliest copies of this stuff that match even the complete text we have in the 400s to 300s and the 400s, these, these are more like early first century, the copies are early first century, you know, and so let me give you a target. Let me give you a prime example here. So scholarship, from the past couple centuries, had believed in this view of theological development and If you know development takes time, so the scholars theorized that the gospel of John was written in like the 300s or the 400s, you know, so late, I mean, maybe some would bring in the 200s or something like that, along comes this discovery of these manuscripts that Matt has mentioned, one of those is called P-52. And this is it’s Papyrus 52. So when you discover the manuscript, they usually get analyzed and labeled, you know, to make sure things stay categorized, P-52. You can go see for yourself at the john Rylands, but high risk in Manchester, England, and P-52. is a fragment from the Gospel of John. And when scholars did their dating on this, there are different ways to date, a manuscript, you can run tests on the actual material of the pirate, you can also look at the calligraphy the way that the lettering is written, the handwriting, those types of tests. So the projected date of P-52 is between 101-150 ad and they average that range and say, for simplicity sake, 125. AD, really second century, yeah. Early, early second century. So So here, you’ve got 125 ad. And, and yet scholars had theorized, “Oh, the gospel of John couldn’t have been written until the 300s or 400s. So discoveries like P-52, and there are many more out there. To this day only confirm what the Bible has been telling us. This is true, not just in the New Testament, but also the Old Testament. So for example, the pool at Salone that Luke talks about was discovered. We have Caesarea Philippi  discovered, I mean, we have all these ancient discoveries which are occurring, which are corroborating what we’re being told, and then the manuscripts help to date, you know, when these gospels were written, and so if tradition has told us, oh, they were written in the first century, look, now the manuscripts are proving that case. So so this is important, because we don’t see the development that goes on, that scholars had been theorizing occurred. And now they’re forced to modify their positions and say, Well, if there is development, it occurred a lot more quickly than they thought. And I think even when you get into a text, like First Corinthians 15, one of the earliest Christian creeds, you’re talking about content, pre-written content, which really proves the divinity of Christ. And so I’m really skeptical of the claim that there is this theological development over time, where Jesus is maybe just this good moral teacher, he’s a good member of society or something like that. And he develops or Bart Ehrman’s book “How Jesus became God.”  That I don’t think that happened that way at all.

Heerema:

In fact, so I referenced FF Bruce a little earlier as a New Testament scholar had a lot of credibility in that even the secular scholarship world, which is why we like to go to him. And one of the things that he says is, even if we give some credibility, this idea of form criticism that the apostles were writing down an oral tradition, or the early church fathers are writing down oral tradition, which undoubtedly happened. I mean, they the apostles didn’t sit down directly after they started fulfilling the Great Commission going to the ends of the earth. Thomas didn’t sit down on his missionary journey to India to write something quick. First, they were spending decades doing this amazing explosive work of ministry of expansion of the church and then later in their life when they were in prison, or something like that. That’s when they had time to write things down. So undoubtedly, there was verbal tradition and verbal things that they were handing people oral tradition that they’re handing to people. So there’s some validity to this idea of form criticism that that you can construct the gospel texts that we have from pieces of oral tradition. The problem is FF Bruce says, when you get things like you’re talking about is it first or second Corinthians the early creed

Kurt Jaros:

First Corinthians 15

Hereema:

First Corinthians 15 that early creed you know, “what I delivered to you what I received first importance, you know, and he recites this creed, the problem is the contents of those Creed’s is Jesus is God, yeah, essentially and so you don’t get less divinity you actually get more concentrated divinity in those forms. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s the strongest reply to this idea that I’ve heard.

Kurt Jaros:

Alright, so I think that’s probably enough for for talking about sort of the claims here. I think in terms of the claims, when you read the Gospels, you see Jesus claiming to be divine. And so that that I think should be troubling for some people. It should be a welcomed discovery for others. But I don’t think there’s any other way around it. This guy claimed to be of divine origin and so what then do we do with that man?

Heerema:

Right? So I’d like to say, my favorite line when I’m talking to any skeptic, who’s who’s interested, I said, when when a man lives, performs miracles, claims to be God, predicts His resurrection, and then is actually killed for claiming to be God and then actually does rise from the dead, we should listen. Like, that’s the ultimate. So what of all of this? We should listen because he claimed to be God was killed for it, and rose from the dead. And so that’s that we have to deal with the historic claim of the resurrection. That’s where I like to go in any conversation like this as well, let’s, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the resurrection. And if we want to argue, textual criticism, textual reconstruction, that’s fine. Let’s start with the resurrection though. Because that is the most crucial piece and if Jesus did rise from the dead, like, this is the CS Lewis liar lunatic Lord thing like Jesus doesn’t leave us the option of treating him as a as a good teacher, or anything along that line. He claimed to be God and demanded obedience and and that’s a really scary phrase until you find out what what it was that he was commanding us to obey Him to do, which was love God and love your brother, right? And so it’s less scary when you find out the contents of that obedience. But that’s what we need. We need to listen up He is God. And so we need to listen up. And if he wasn’t god, there’s some some pretty big problems not just with his teaching, as in like he was lying to us, but also the the core Christian claims about forgiveness of sin. For example, if he wasn’t God, His payment for sin couldn’t have been sufficient for our salvation and, and things along that line. So let’s talk about there. Yeah.

Kurt Jaros:

Yeah, I’m working on loading up your chart, which is great. It comes for Yes, charts. I like charts. I’m not a type a type guy. But charts are nice. Let’s see here. I’m going to put it over on my screen here. Let’s see. It comes from Craig Hasan. And he has this great chart on the resurrection and how we should be able to go through discussions with people. Chris, if you could put that up there. As I’m trying to go fullscreen There we are. Alright, so. So when you talk about the resurrection. Again, this chart comes from Craig Hasan. Biola, university, Christian apologetics department, my alma mater, whoo. So the tomb of Jesus was either occupied or empty. Okay, either occupied or empty. Let’s, let’s first look at the occupied route here. And I’m not sure we’ll have enough time to get through this before our break, but we’ll get started on it nonetheless. So we’ve got here a couple different theories, we’ve got the unknown tomb. Well, maybe it’s the case that we don’t really know where the tomb is, but Jesus’ body is there. Or maybe there’s just the wrong tomb, the disciples went to the wrong tomb. These theories don’t pan out for a number of reasons, historical reasons when we look into it. And one of one of those reasons is, for example, we know the name of the guy whose tomb it was. So you know that that doesn’t work out. You’ve got the legendary material. Well, the claim that it’s all legendary. Well, this doesn’t work out either. Because these various facts we know, for example, that Paul became a Christian, why would Paul become a Christian if it was all just legendary, he would just keep on killing the Christians in his former Jewish lifestyle. So these different theories don’t really pan out, given the historical facts that are known. In one debate against William Lane Craig one, one fellow suggested that there was a twin theory, Jesus lived his whole life claiming to be God did these divine miracles and he died. And that was that. And then, three days later, miraculously, his long lost twin comes along, identical twin, of course, comes along, and, you know, apparently knows everything about Jesus and everything he said. And the disciples thought this was Jesus Himself,

Heerema:

The most effective con in the history of the world.

Kurt:

Right. What about the hallucination theory that the disciples just were having a mass hallucination of the resurrected Jesus? Well, it doesn’t work. This doesn’t work either. For a number of different facts, Paul wouldn’t have been part of the hallucination. James, the brother of Jesus wouldn’t have been part of the mass hallucination. And also, there’s never been anything in the history of humanity known as a man hallucination because if you have a mass hallucination, not only do I have to see the pink elephant in the room, you have to see the pink elephant too. And so the hallucinations have to correspond to one another. And that’s never been proven ever to have occurred. Very, very, very, very improbable. existential resurrection. Well, Jesus, he’s risen in our hearts. Isn’t that nice? So, the tomb there, you know, remember, the tomb is occupied, Jesus’s dead body is still there to this very day. But it’s nice Jesus lives on in our hearts. I don’t think Jesus leaves us that option. Nor is it merely a spiritual resurrection, the early church proclaimed a physical resurrection of Jesus. So this sort of puts off all of the occupied theories. And let me just quickly run through the empty ones. Well, if the tomb of Jesus is empty, there’s either a naturalistic explanation or there’s a supernatural explanation. Let’s look at the natural explanation. disciples stole the body. This is the earliest theory by the Jews. In the Scripture, it’s in the scriptures. So the Roman guards say, well just tell people that the disciples stole the body. Maybe the authorities hid the body. Well, this doesn’t make sense because it would be easy to defeat Christianity just say, hey, look, here’s your dead Messiah. The swoon theory is the idea that Jesus—I know I’m going through a lot here, that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, that he just went into a comatose-like state. That doesn’t work because the Roman guards check that he was dead. The Passover plot, this is the conspiracy theory, that the disciples came together and came up with this grand plan to proclaim Jesus was risen from the dead. They said, Well, again, that still doesn’t work for a number of facts, Paul, James becoming Christians, among others, Jesus was an alien, that has a naturalistic explanation. But it doesn’t explain all the data, there’s still a number of lingering questions. I’m actually fine saying Jesus was an alien, if we understand alien from a foreign context, a foreigner from from not this world, that that works for me, you know, honestly, you know. So I have no problem saying Jesus was an alien, in a broadly construed definition of the term. But I think that a bodily explanation of bodily resurrection does make sense of all the historical facts we have of the empty tomb of Jesus. And so what do we do here about this? We have a guy who claims he’s divine, works miracles, is put to death for these claims, and he rises from the dead. Is Jesus really God? Take a look, folks.

Heerema:

Well, and simplify a lot of this, I like to say the way I like to put it is that the most powerful religious and military forces in the area at the time, had everything to lose by this resurrection claim being true, and everything to gain by being falsified, right, so all they had to do is produce a body, they had the military at their disposal, and they had all of the religious and political clout at the time. And all they had to do was produce a body and they were unable to do so that tells me a lot. And and so at that point, what you’re left with is is development theory, which is why scholars go to that this idea that these claims developed over time, which that’s where we started the program was debunking that No, these claims have been around since the very beginning. This was the core message. So all they had to do is produce a body that’s By the way, the falsified every theory, every valid theory needs to have a falsifier, the thing that could disprove it, and the body of Jesus is all it would take. And you had you had the government, the military, and the religious institution of the day, a threat of this thing being real, and they were unable to produce a body. Why? Because he actually did rise from the dead and actually did ascend into heaven as the scriptures predicted, and then reported.

Kurt Jaros:

Yeah, that’s great. A good place to take our break here. So if you’re, if you’re just recently joining us here, we’re gonna, we’re talking about is Jesus really God and we have covered sort of the claims of Jesus, that there is a lack of theological development. So we can we can have a strong confidence that Jesus did claim to be God, it’s just not it’s not something the Christian community came up with over time. But that he really did claim these things. His actions said as much the actions and thoughts and statements of others also said as much for confirming that, and so he did these miracle claims, and then the resurrection. seems there’s a strong case for thinking. Jesus actually resurrected physically What does that all mean, then? So, in the second half of the program, we’ll talk more about this and the and what it means for us to come away thinking that Jesus really is God. So stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.

Kurt Jaros

Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you’d like to learn how you can become a sponsor, you can go to our website veracityhill.com, click on that patron tab and the sponsor options are there and sponsors there are a number of different ways you can become a sponsor, get your logo up on our website and get an advertisement played during our break. And also, not only does your sponsor ad air here on our live broadcast, but also now on our radio program. We have partnered with the Wilkins radio network and our our small little Veracity Hill program airs now in Augusta, Georgia, which is a great little start for us as we expand our program. And it’s with folks like yourselves who are helping us to keep going and growing. That’s our our theme, our vision theme, if you will for the program. On today’s program we’re talking about “Is Jesus Really God” and we’re joined by Matt Heerema, who is a pastor of Stony Brook Church in Ames, Iowa. He’s bivocational he’s also the owner, director and web strategist at Mir agency. So if you need a website, if you’re if you’re looking for an apologetics website, maybe come to Defenders Media first, but it looks like Matt makes some great websites too. So and of course, his agency I think works beyond the apologetics circle as well. So Alright, Matt, now we’ve got a program of our show here called rapid questions. And I hope Chris didn’t tell you about about this. So, yeah. Alright, so basically we ask fun goofy questions to get to know more about you. Alright, and 60 seconds we’ll have on our game clock here. And the key is to answer as many as you can. I think our record a record is actually I think my pastor, Nate Hickox, he answered, I think it was like 22 or 23 questions, which is pretty crazy when you think about it. All right. And now we’ve added some questions since that time, too. So, and I think Nate had listened to the show, so he knew what was coming. It’s a little unfair, a little unfair. Alright, sorry. I’m gonna start the game clock here and we’ll get the questions rolling. So you ready? All right. All right, here we go. What’s your clothing store of choice?

Heerema:

Target.

Kurt:

Taco Bell or KFC?

Heerema:

KFC.

Kurt:

What school did you go to?

Heerema:

Iowa State University.

Kurt:

Do you drink Dr. Pepper?

Heerema:

Yeah.

Kurt:

What’s your favorite movie?

Heerema:

The Last Samurai.

Kurt:

Would you ever consider living abroad?

Heerema:

Probably not.

Kurt:

Okay, what type of music do you dislike the most?

Heerema:

Country.

Kurt: What’s one thing you’d be sure to keep with you if you’re stranded on an island?

Heerema:

Oh man. A pocketknife.

Kurt:

Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?

Heerema:

Yes.

Kurt:

Pick a fictional character you’d like to meet.

Heerema:

Aragorn.

Kurt:

If you were a baseball pitch, which one would you be?

Heerema:

The pitcher!

Kurt:

Have you ever ridden on a motorbike?

Heerema:

No.

Kurt:

Do you have a garden?

Heerema:

Yes.

Kurt:

If you had to have dinner with someone you disagreed with, who would it be?

Heerema:

Oh, man. Christopher Hitchens.

Kurt:

Do you carry a donor card?

Heerema:

No.

Kurt:

Okay, good. That means the doctors will not leave you to die as background on that. So, you know, if you carry a donor card, and like let’s say there’s this, you know, 10 car pile up, and there’s just, you know, if you’ve got a donor card, they’re gonna work on the other people first. I mean, that’s, that’s the sad. Yeah, no, it really is. You can read stories of anecdotal stories. I don’t think there’s been any scientific research formally done. But I mean, that’s, that’s what I think, you know, if you got a donor card, and at any rate, okay, I got to ask a few questions usually asked just one follow up. I got to ask a few. But first, good man, Dr. Pepper drinker. All right. That’s great to hear. The Last Samurai, really, dude?

Heerema:

Absolutely. The whole question in the movie was, what does the world do with a warrior when the world no longer has places for warriors? Yeah, I know. It’s Tom Cruise. And that gets minus points for Tom Cruise. But

Kurt Jaros:

at least in that film, yeah.

Heerema:

Right. in that film.  Yeah. No, no, it was the first thing that came to mind when he asked the question as well. So, you know, I could have deliberated over 10 different ones. That’s the one.

Kurt Jaros:

Now it, um, Christopher Hitchens as an answer to someone you’d have dinner with. But yes, we have gotten that answer before, though. And then we’ve also gotten Richard Dawkins, those seem to be two of the most popular. Why is that? Why do Christians want to have dinner with an atheist?

Heerema:

Well, when you said someone I disagree with and I wanted to be a relatable answer, that’s probably why I chose Hitchens, more than Dawkins for me because Hitchens seemed actually open to conversation and more reasonable than Dawkins seems to be that’s, that’s from a distance. I didn’t know either of them. I have a friend who was friends with Hitchens, and had some great conversations over the years. And I just would always love to. I love sitting down with a different viewpoint than myself and picking their brain. But the one that one that most people who would listen to this would know, I guess, is probably why I picked him. So yeah.

Kurt Jaros:

yeah. Okay, nice. All right. So we’re talking about is Jesus really God on the program today. And in the first half of the program, we talked about the claims in the gospels, and we sort of rejected this view that there’s theological development. And to illustrate that, I went straight to the gospel of Mark, why did I do that? Because the gospel of Mark is claimed to have been the earliest gospel, and we can see claims of divinity, in his speech in his action in this speech and act of others, especially his opponents. So, to me, the claim of development can be defeated. Of course, there’s some development, Matt rightly pointed out, there’s some that that occurs. You can look at the oral tradition you can look at the early creeds. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing of the type of development which suggests Jesus didn’t claim he was God.

Heerema:

The development I mean is not constructive development where they add theology, they add facts and add truths. It’s more no there was definitely something that they were preaching before they wrote everything down. So that’s when I say development. That’s what I mean. Yeah.

Kurt Jaros:

And so we come away thinking yeah, Jesus is God he does these miracles, but he dies. Oh no, the disciples run and hide their Messiah is dead. Three days later, voila. I mean, maybe Jesus didn’t say that, you know, when that happened. So and we looked at the chart from Craig Hazen, which is available online. If you Google search Craig Hazen chart “resurrection,” you’ll find that chart and we can Oh, I guess Chris has put a link to it as well. We’ve got some comments are I’ve got to check the live stream today. I apologize for anyone who’s been commenting. So we come away with that chart thinking given the historical facts we have we have good reason to believe that there was a bodily resurrection. So where does that leave us? What does that mean for us, man? And I’ll let you answer that. And then later on in a little bit, I want to get into sort of Christian orthodoxy. So but where does that leave us if Jesus claimed to be God, and was resurrected from the dead? Does that mean he’s really God?

Heerema:

Well, so where we left off, I said, at the very least, you should grab our attention, because there have been very, very few historic resurrections from the dead, right? There’s been a few. There’s been more than one, but, but all surrounding the ministry of Jesus. And so when he it has to do more with he claimed to be God. And he predicted his death and predicted His resurrection. And then he rose from the dead. Kind of the ultimate final attesting miracle: I am who I say I am. And so the question is, who is he? Who did he claim to be? And what should we do about that? And since he claimed to be God, we should probably listen up and figure out something about that. Because if in fact he is God, that’s pretty significant. Right? And at this point, you’re kind of with your with no, what’s his name?  Pascal’s Wager,y eah, if I’m wrong about him being God, that’s pretty significant. So I want to kind of do my due diligence, even if I am a skeptic, which I was for a period of time in my life, I want to kind of do my due diligence, I shouldn’t be afraid of reality, I shouldn’t be afraid of what’s true, as a human being, generally speaking, no matter who you are, you should want to know what the nature of reality is. Right? And that’s kind of a fundamental, 10,000-foot existential question. But if Jesus claimed to be God, and he performed this miracle, and this miracle actually did happen, of him rising from the dead, we should we should listen up to what he has to say. So that that points me back then, at all of his claims in the scriptures. And so what does he say there?  And that that’s why that’s why it’s significant.

Kurt Jaros:

And so if Jesus really is God, then it has an affect on our life. It could be a wonderful blessing, or it could be an adverse effect. And all of that depends upon what we do with that information. And so, Paul, in the book of Acts, he’s preaching the gospel, he goes and appears at the Areopagus, and he says, “Men of Athens, you are religious people, I see that, here’s this idol to an unknown God, let me tell you about him. He is the God of the universe. He’s determined the boundaries and times that mentioned live and, and he sent his son to save humanity.”  I’m, of course, paraphrasing.  “He commands your allegiance. He says, repent for your sins, He calls all men to repent of their ways. Scripture says.” So, if Jesus is really God, that means we have to stop doing these sinful things that we continue to do in our lives, it means we have to deal with bitterness in our hearts, for people that have wronged us. And for a lot of people, this is uncomfortable, they don’t want to do that. And it’s ultimately, as I say, things a matter of the will for for people, and why they don’t choose salvation when the gift is offered to them.

Heerema:

Now, always a matter of the will. It’s all it’s always a matter of the desire, actually the desire to continue to do the things you’ve always been doing the desire to be in control of your own life and things like that. Yeah, you were going over the question?

Kurt Jaros:

Yeah. Well, I with the time that’s limited to us. Now, I do want to talk you’ve mentioned that you like to think about and you’ve probably spoken on the Trinity. And I want to talk about Christian orthodoxy. Why well, is Jesus really God? What does it mean to be God? And so that left the early church, asking questions about how we can understand Jesus’ relationship to the Father, which is how he phrased these things. And so Oh, sorry, I’m just seeing a comment popped up. Jeffrey’s wondering where that chart is, and we got it for good. Problem solved. Okay. So this left the early church with questions about how they could communicate doctrinal truths that they knew about. And they even invented, if we can say, words to explain these concepts, which were discovered. And so I’ll let you talk about what the Trinity is.  That word itself doesn’t appear in the Scripture, right? Maybe unless you have a King James Version, possibly. By the way, I have a New King James that I was reading out of earlier.

Heerema:

That’s even worse for King James. So what’s interesting, we spent a lot of the time discussing like the secular skeptic, right and their view of it, or secular or maybe an atheistic or agnostic skeptic and what their views of scripture might be, then there’s the whole discussion with Muslims and with Jews and other religious skeptics as well, or people who are skeptical of Christianity themselves are religious, or even Universalist. So they say that, although all paths lead to God, and we have an exclusivist claim, which you dealt with last week, it sounds like, in your last episode. So, so this question of Trinity is, is very interesting to me, if God is God, and the father is God, and we said, The Spirit is God, also, do we have three Gods then? And so are we tritheists? and that would really cause some problems with the old Old Testament scripture and even the new By the way, but the Old Testament scripture says, “I am God alone, there is no one like me,” you know, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one worship the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” So then Jesus comes along, and is he also God, or, you know, how does that work? And so this is where the idea of Trinity came about. And just a real quick summary of it. There are some doctrines in the Bible that are very explicitly lined out like the doctrine of justification, which has to do with how our sin problem, our rebellion against God is resolved in the sort of sort of courtroom of heaven, where we are guilty, we are a guilty party before God. Paul, in the letter to the Romans lines out in a very orderly fashion the doctrine of justification. So we read and are taught the doctrine of justification. The doctrine of the Trinity is a trickier sort of doctrine. And it’s one that the way I heard it put was, it’s not so much that we hear the doctrine of the Trinity like with the doctrine of justification, but we overhear the doctrine of the Trinity. So if we see all of the things that God says about himself, and then all of the things that the scriptures say about Jesus and this Holy Spirit, and how they interact, and how they work together, we come up with this very, very confusing picture. It can be confusing to our natural mind, because there’s nothing else like it in creation. And the word “triune” we sort of had to invent in order to describe it. So triune, three in one, it’s a three in one, you’ve heard of unity, if something is, is unified, or is a unity, it’s one thing, well, this is a three unity, you know, a trinity. It’s a three in one, it’s a three-part whole, or something, in part is a problematic one. Yeah,

Kurt Jaros :

right. Right, right.

Heerema:

And so it’s so hard to talk about, because God does say, when God reveals himself, “There’s no one like me,” he’s unique. There’s nothing we can compare it to all in all creation, because there’s only one thing that is Trinity. And that is the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So that that’s in terms of Christian orthodoxy, that is the thing that distinguishes a true Christian from any other any other religion out there. And there’s a lot in every and I would venture to say that every single heresy in the church or or false doctrine that leads you away from now you’re no longer a Christian, and he’s outside the gates of Christianity, has it some in some way to do with your understanding of the Trinity, i.e. who was Jesus? Who was the Father, who is the Spirit? How do they interact? At the core of, I think, I think I’ve thrown a lot of things at this, at the core of every major false religion, every Christian cult that is split off. And any breakaway, that has ceased to be Christianity, the Trinity, the problematic understanding of the Trinity is at the heart of that.

Kurt Jaros:

There were in the early church, and I’m glad you qualified that most of the program had been geared towards her the skeptical or secular view, but that there are you know, for instance, Muslims, they say, Well, God can’t become a man. So there’s still religious but they don’t think Jesus can be God. Everything is blasphemous to say it, yeah, right, right. And so I want to read here from Colossians one, because when we’re talking about is Jesus really God? There are different. There were different theories and continue to be different theories about how this is the case. For example, Mormons believe that Jesus is just an exalted man that we call God. And in fact, if you’re a holy Mormon, only the males, by the way, not the females, you can become an exalted man yourself and rule over a planet. Really, this is their view. And then you have the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who, you know, basically hold to the ancient form of adoptionism, this view that Jesus is a created being and that he’s wasn’t eternal. And now we’re getting into this ancient heresy of Arianism as the term Arianism.  Arius was a fellow that believed that Jesus was created. And so when we talk about is Jesus really God? Well, what do we mean by that? So I want to read from Colossians chapter one. This is the NIV here, I’ve just loaded up online. Verse 15:  “The son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” What does firstborn here mean? I always got sort of confused by this, does that mean he’s the first created thing? No, it just means the best of the best. That the firstborn overall creation, “For in him all things were created.” Okay, all things were created. So that means he couldn’t have been created. Of course, you’re gonna hear the fire truck go by now. We’ve right here in downtown West Chicago, out of our offices, we get that fire truck probably once every four weeks. “So for him, all things were created things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through Him. And for Him, He is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church, he is the he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy, for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on Earth, or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.”  That is just packed of theological language. And what I love is, Paul then applies it. He says, verse 21, “Once you are alienated from God, and we’re enemies, in your minds, because of your evil behavior, but now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death, to present you holy in His sight without blemish, free from accusation. If you continue in your faith, established and firm and do not move from the hope held out in the Gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that I have been proclaiming to every creature under heaven, and of which I Paul had become a servant.” So there he applies it. Why is this important? Oh, this is why. So it’s just packed full of language. What does it mean? Jesus is really God. This is what Paul was teaching people. He is YHWH, and how we explain that is something that the early church painstakingly had fights over. I mean, literally fights.  Who needs to deck the halls, right?

Heerema:

Well, and also to me, this is it’s not just Paul, it’s all the apostles were writing against this early, I think early Arianism type teaching John, I think John’s Gospel. The reason is this gospel is written a couple of decades after the others. It’s a later writing. And some people say, “I see theological development.” I say, “No, I see early error developing that he had to go back and correct.” And he starts in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things were created through him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” And so similar language to Colossians. And then it goes on in this as the Word became flesh, the Word was made flesh and became, became flesh was made man. So there was the Word took on flesh to come dwelt among us, so that he could reveal Himself to us, you know, that kind of thing. So we find out that Jesus was with God in the beginning, was with the Father in the beginning, at that whatever the beginning was the Word, even beginning is a problematic translation. And you know, ever since ever since it’s kind of what “the Word” means. Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a galaxy far away, or something like that.  But this is so clear that every Christian cult that that exists, or every aberrant theology that exists has to retranslate what is what is the most clear Greek translation here in order to get around this idea that the Word was God?

Kurt Jaros:

Yeah. And you see that literally the Watchtower Society, which oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their “translation” of this is not “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” it’s “the Word was a god.” Right? So they really changed the scripture itself, in that, so yeah, you’re being quite serious when you say the translation is changed. Because it’s so clear, otherwise, yeah. They can’t get around it. Yep. Well, we’ve got to come to a close today. Here, Matt. I know this has been very great going through the claims of Jesus and what that meant the resurrection, talking about the Trinity and how the early church dealt with how to communicate these truths. About what it meant for Jesus to really be God. And there are a number of great works. For me, historical theology is my area of study. So I really have enjoyed over the years learning more about the early church and the issues they dealt with. It helps to, for me, to understand Christian doctrine, to learn from history, because you could come away with looking, “Look at this verse. Doesn’t mean it could be this or it could be that?” Well, guess what? People have asked these questions already. And they’ve developed discourses on these questions. And so if only we would learn, if only we would submit ourselves to Christians before us to learn to and see how they dealt with it. Not that we have to agree with them, but just see how they dealt with it. It can really open up a light on the issue of how they’ve understood it and how we should understand it. So Matt, if more people want to learn more about you and your work, what’s a great way for them to get in touch with you?

Heerema:

You know, I suppose mattheerema.com would be the way and I set that up, because it’s what I do I make websites and so why not have a place where people can send me a message or find me on Facebook or whatever, that’s probably the easiest way.

Kurt Jaros:

Great. Well, thank you for coming on our program today. And you know, maybe bring on we could just do an episode just devoted to the Trinity. That’d be amazing. That was I’m not sure if we’d act. I mean, Oh, my gosh, we’ve done this two and a half years and haven’t done an episode. I’m sure we brought it up from time to time, but nothing sort of devoted to that. So we’ll have to, we’ll have to bring it back for that. Matt, thank you for joining us on our program today.

Heerema:

Thanks for having me, guys. This was a blast. Great.

Kurt:

All right. Well, coming up next week, we’re talking about the question of the reliability of the Bible. And presently scheduled guest is Ted, right? Whether he will be here in person or through Skype is still up for debate. I’m currently talking with Ted who will be in town. That should be a lot of fun talking about the reliability of the Scriptures. And then after that, in two weeks, we close our Explore God series, talking about Can I have a personal relationship with God, and we have invited Lon Allison of Wheaton Bible Church to come back. And you might remember Lon, he wrote the biography on Billy Graham, one of many biographies out there, of course, but that was his most recent publication. So we’re excited to have him back in studio in two weeks’ time. All right, well, that does it for our program. today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. They are Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, the Illinois Family Institute and Fox Restoration. And I want to thank our technical producer, Chris, for all the fine, fine work that he does, week in and week out here. Please don’t take weeks off in March. And I want to thank our guests today, Matt harima, for his wonderful presence here. enlightening us on a number of these important issues in the scriptures that we might be dealing with, and that we really should come away with how we should understand that and what it means for life. And last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in, and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.

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Seth Baker

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