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More Than A Carpenter (Josh and Sean McDowell)

Josh McDowell once focused his energies on discrediting the Bible and the resurrection of Jesus. But after examining the New Testament, Josh was forced to conclude it was an accurate historical document. The result of his research was this book entitled More Than A Carpenter.

More Than A Carpenter (Josh and Sean McDowell)

Chapter 3: Lord, Lunatic or Liar

Josh McDowell quotes C.S. Lewis;

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse"

Then Lewis adds:

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." 28

As a sceptic I (Greg) read the Bible basically to prove my friend wrong. In the process, I was confronted with this person called Jesus who kept telling me; “I tell you the truth” and who did and said incredible things. In the end, I concluded Jesus was indeed telling the truth!

Chapter 4: What About Science?

As a sceptic I would say to Christians; “Prove the existence of God scientifically and I will believe!” I thought the only things that were real where those things that could be proved scientifically. In relation to Christianity, I was really saying “Prove the resurrection of Jesus and I will believe.”

But as Josh McDowell says; "The scientific method can be used to prove only repeatable things. It isn’t adequate for proving or disproving questions about person or events in history.” “Did George Washington live? ... Was Jesus raised from the dead? These questions are outside the realm of scientific proof, and we must place them in the realm of legal-historical proof." 44

If you ask someone to show the reality of the resurrection of Jesus using the scientific method, it is like asking them to show that, with the use of a stop watch only, the distance between two points is 100 metres!

If you use the right tool (a tape measure) you can show a distance is 100 metres. But with only a stop watch you can NOT measure distance.

If you use the right tool (historical methods) there is massive evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. But you can NOT repeat in a science laboratory a non-repeatable event like the resurrection of Jesus.

Chapter 6: Are the Bible Records Reliable?

Using the three tests of historical reliability, Josh McDowell shows that Clark H. Pinnock was right when he said in relation to the Bible;

“There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based on an irrational [i.e. antisupernatural] bias." 88

Here is summary of the types of arguments put forward by Josh McDowell,

TEST 1: The Bibliographical Test - Number of copies & closeness to the original

Compared to its closest 'rival' the "Iliad", written by Homer, the New Testament has far more existing copies. It also has a much shorter time interval between when it was written and the earliest existing copy we now possess.

TEST 2: The External Test - Agreement with other historical manuscripts

What the Bible says:

"When Pilate heard this, he bought out Jesus ... 'Here is your king', Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, 'Take him away! ... Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar' ... Finally Pilate handed him over to be crucified (Bible, John 19:13-16).

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar - when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother..." (Bible, Luke 3:1).

"The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Bible, Acts 11:26).

What other historical documents say:

"The persons commonly called Christians ... Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea for the reign of Tiberius..." Cornelius Tacitus, Roman historian, 112 A.D.)

"They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as a god and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word..." (Pliny the Younger, Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor in A.D.112 writing to emperor Trajan seeking counsel as to how to treat the Christians.)

Even people who were enemies of Christianity confirm many of the basic historical details of the New Testament!

TEST 3: The Internal Test - Closeness of writers to the action

The writers of the gospels were either eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) or people like Luke who received the story from eyewitnesses. These writers were very close to the action!

Chapter 7: Who Would Die For A Lie?

As a sceptic if someone had said to me; ”The disciples were convinced of the truth of Christianity because they were prepared to die for their belief” I would have responded; “Yes, but many people are prepared to die for their cause.” Although this is true, I wish I had read Josh’s book years ago.

Josh McDowell points out; "If the Resurrection had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. I can find no way that these particular men could have been deceived. Therefore they not only would have died for a lie – here’s the catch – they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. 90

I totally agree. I would not die for something I knew was a lie and I know no-one who would!

Chapter 9: Did You Hear What Happened to Saul?

The miraculous change in Paul the Apostle is very hard to fathom. Something happened that transformed Saul (a person who hunted down Christians and cast his vote so they would be put to death) into Paul the Apostle who wrote many books that ended up in the New Testament, who died for his belief that Jesus did rise from the dead and who wrote such words as “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).

Josh writes; “Two Oxford-educated friends, author Gilbert West and statesman Lord George Lyttleton, were determined to destroy the basis of the Christian faith. West was going to demonstrate the fallacy of the Resurrection and Lyttleton was going to prove that Saul of Tarsus never converted to Christianity. Both men came to a complete turnaround in their positions and became ardent followers of Jesus. Lord Lyttleton writes: “The conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a Divine Revelation."  He concluded that if Paul's twenty-five years of suffering and service for Christ were a reality, then his conversion was true, for everything he did began with that sudden change. And if Paul's conversion was true, then Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for everything Paul was and did attributed to his witnessing the risen Christ." 123

I very much encourage anyone to read More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell,

Greg (Read my life story)

Numbers refer to page numbers from More Than A Carpenter" by Josh and Sean McDowell , Tyndale House Publishers, Great Britain, 1977, 2005.

Learn more about Josh McDowell

Read the first chapter of More Than A Carpenter

Read Josh McDowell's story of a sceptic who changed his mind

Read an article from Josh McDowell entitled Evidence for the Resurrection

Read chapters of books by Josh McDowell online

Order an audio book of More Than A Carpenter