The Faith Explained Conference: Search and Rescue conference this summer was a great success! Hundreds gathered at Saint Joseph’s High School in Mississauga (in the greater Toronto area) to hear Patrick Madrid, Cardinal Thomas Collins, and yours truly talk about how to bring friends and family who have left the Catholic Church back home. Patrick’s the distinguished looking, mustachioed guy on the right (I call him the Catholic Church’s answer to Tom Selleck). I’d like to thank everyone who attended for being there, along with my amazing Faith Explained team, and all of our sponsors who made this event possible. I’d especially like to thank Cardinal Collins, EWTN, Verbum Catholic Bible Software, The Daughters of St Paul, and the Fulton J. Sheen Society for their support.
If you weren’t able to join us in person, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Very, very soon, you’ll be able to download all of the great talks from the conference! Keep watching this space for updates. Our own personal Search and Rescue missions are so crucial, that we don’t want you to be without these resources in your apostolic “toolbox”, as it were. We pray they will help you in your efforts to bring your loved ones to Christ.
One of the greatest non-Christian historical references to Jesus was made by Josephus, the great Jewish historian. He lived in the first century (c. 37-100 AD), and was a contemporary of many members of the nascent Church.
There are two mentions of Jesus in Josephus’ great work entitled “Jewish Antiquities”. One refers to the condemnation of James, the relative of Jesus who became the Bishop of Jerusalem after Peter’s departure from the city: James was “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ”, according to Josephus (Ant. 20.9.1). Few question the authenticity of this passage.
Of course, there is the famous “Testimonium Flavianum” (so named because Josephus took on the Roman name of “Flavius”, being known as “Flavius Josephus):
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared” (Ant. 18.3.3).
Scholars believe that Josephus did write this passage, but that it was later edited by Christian interpolators, who added the phrases like “if indeed one ought to call him a man”, “He was the Christ”, and “On the third day he appeared…restored to life”. Josephus was not a believer in Jesus, and certainly would not have written those things.
However, the bulk of what he wrote can be trusted as authentic. This is made even more sure by the fact that an Arabic version of Josephus’ “Antiquities” has been discovered, where the passage in question is present, minus the interpolations.
Josephus corroborates much of what we know from the New Testament’s portrait of Jesus: that he claimed to be the Messiah, was a wise man who was thought to have performed “surprising feats” (miraculous deeds), and that his followers continued to be his disciples in a movement that continued despite his death.
Due to the popularity of The Faith Explained Conference: Unlocking the Book of Revelation this Saturday, Sept 12, we have moved the conference to a larger venue. It will now be held at St Joseph’s Secondary School, 5555 Creditview Rd, Mississauga, Ontario, L5V 2B9 (nearest intersection: Creditview & Bristol).
Start and end times remain the same (10:00 pm – 4:30 pm). Lunches are available for purchase for $8 upon registration, or bring your own.
You can register here.
We look forward to seeing you and your friends on Saturday!
Tickets are now available for The Faith Explained Conference: Unlocking the Book of Revelation on Saturday, September 12. You can get them at www.TheFaithExplained.com/Conference while they last! The conference will take place on Saturday, September 12 at St Joseph’s Parish in Streetsville (Mississauga), Ontario.
The Book of Revelation is the Bible’s most mysterious book. How can we make sense of it all – dragons, beasts, a killer lamb, and the end of the world? What’s the connection between the Apocalypse and the Mass? What message about Jesus Christ did this book hold for its original readers, and what does it mean for us today Together, we will discover the answers, as we learn how Revelation reveals Jesus Christ and his plan to us.
Speakers include the great Cardinal Thomas Collins and Monsignor Robert Nusca (Fellow at the St Paul Institute for Biblical Theology and former Rector of St Augustine’s Seminary). Both Cardinal Colllins and Monsignor Nusca are noted Revelation scholars who completed their PhD under the legendary Fr Ugo Vanni in Rome.
Speaking of legends, we’ll also have Dr Craig Evans joining us once again. Dr Scott Hahn calls Dr Evans “the best Bible scholar in the English-speaking world”, and with very good reason. Dr. Evans was recently invited to the Ratzinger Conference for Bible scholars in Rome, where he met Pope Francis. I will also be giving a talk, and we think your faith will be energized and encouraged by what you’ll learn with us. So don’t delay – click here to reserve your seats now! Priests, Seminarians, and religious enjoy complimentary admission.
Please let others know about our Revelation conference by emailing this post, or share via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media! You can use the sharing tools below. See you on Sept. 12!
I’m very happy to announce today that all the talks from the recent Faith Explained Conference are now available for you to purchase and download in digital format by clicking here:
This resource features a presentation by the great Cardinal Thomas Collins. Speaking as only he can, he enlightens minds and sets hearts on fire with his brilliant talk on discipleship. We are so grateful to His Eminence for taking the time out of his busy schedule to join us and celebrate Mass that day.
There are also two full-length presentations from the incomparable Dr Craig Evans. One talk is on the reliability and authenticity of the New Testament documents, with a special focus on what modern science can tell us. Evans also presents us a talk on Jesus and Archaeology, and how discoveries in this field can shed light on the Scriptures.
This series also includes my talk on the Resurrection of Jesus, which will help you explain the reality of Easter to your friends and family who have fallen away from the faith – or who perhaps have never known the living Christ.
I decided to release these talks as a set first – keeping the costs low, at only $6.75 per talk. Hey, that’s less than a fast food meal, and more nourishing to your faith! Please note that prices are in US dollars.
Folks, there is still a bit of time left to order tickets for The Faith Explained Conference online at this link: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M. After tonight, one can only buy tickets at the door.
Here are the topics of tomorrow’s presentations:
Cale Clarke: Jesus, Alive Forevermore: The key question is this: Did Jesus rise from the dead? If this didn’t happen, nothing else matters, as St Paul himself said: “If Christ is not risen, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith”. We’ll examine the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Dr. Craig Evans: Talk #1: How Old and How Reliable are the Bible Manuscripts? Many scholars say that one can’t trust the text of the Bible – that it has been hopelessly corrupted over time. Is this true? What do the latest discoveries tell us about the trustworthiness of the Scriptures?
Talk #2: Jesus and Archaeology: Learn how archaeology helps us to understand – and in many cases to confirm what we know of – Jesus of Nazareth.
Cardinal Thomas Collins: Discipleship: What does it mean to truly follow Jesus in the 21st century?
I can’t wait…see you there!
You’ve no doubt heard about The Faith Explained Conference this Saturday, Sept. 27, featuring Cardinal Thomas Collins, Dr Craig Evans, and me. If you don’t have tickets yet, grab them at this link: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M, but hurry, as online sales will end soon.
However, that’s not the only big event we’ve got this week: if you’re in the Toronto area and are looking for a Catholic Bible Study, join us this Thursday night at 7:30 at St Justin Martyr parish in Markham as we begin The Faith Explained Bible Study of the book of Genesis.
The Bible’s first book is endlessly fascinating, and we’ll be exploring a lot of important questions people ask about it. Just what does Genesis teach, for example, about creation?
One of the best Catholic scholars out there, Dr Brant Pitre, has put together a good shortlist of what we need to believe about creation, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The axiom about Church teaching as an interpretation of Scripture holds here:
Fundamental Catholic Doctrines on Creation
1. Creation is a work of the holy Trinity (CCC 290-92)
2. The world was created for the glory of God (293)
3. God created the world from his free will and divine love (295)
4. God created the world ex nihilo (“out of nothing”) (296-99)
5. God created an ordered and good world (299)
6. God transcends creation and is present to it (300)
7. God upholds and sustains creation at every moment (301)
8. God’s providence guides creation towards its perfection (302-305)
9. God gives his creatures free will to share in his providence (306-308)
10. If Creation is good, why does evil exist? (309)
a. Reality of physical evil (310)
b. Reality of moral evil (311)
c. God can bring good out of an evil (312-314)
For much more, join us for our series on Thursday evenings.
The Faith Explained Conference on September 27 (go here for tickets: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M) is fast approaching, and I can’t wait! As we explore our conference theme of “Jesus: Yesterday, Today, and Forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we’ll be spending some time in the presentations on apologetics – offering a reasonable basis for Christian faith.
William Lane Craig is one of the foremost Christian apologists and philosophers active on the world stage today. Over at his Reasonable Faith site, Craig has posted a great talk that he presented at Calvin Seminary on the value of apologetics. Here’s a snippet:
Having sound arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe or evidence for the historical credibility of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit could increase one’s confidence in the veracity of Christian truth claims. On Plantinga’s epistemological model, at least, one would then have greater warrant for believing such claims. Greater warrant could in turn lead an unbeliever to come to faith more readily or inspire a believer to share his faith more boldly. Moreover, the availability of independent warrant for Christian truth claims apart from the Spirit’s witness could help predispose an unbeliever to respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit when he hears the Gospel and could provide the believer with epistemic support in times of spiritual dryness or doubt when the Spirit’s witness seems eclipsed. One could doubtless think of many other ways in which the possession of such dual warrant for Christian beliefs would be beneficial.
So the question is: do natural theology and Christian evidences warrant Christian belief? I think that they do. In my published work I have formulated and defended versions of the cosmological, teleological, axiological, and ontological arguments for God’s existence and have also defended theism against the most prominent objections lodged by atheist thinkers to belief in God, such as the problem of evil, the hiddenness of God, and the coherence of theism. Furthermore, I have argued for the authenticity of Jesus’ radical personal claims and the historicity of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances to various individuals and groups, and the unexpected belief of the earliest disciples that God had raised him from the dead. Moreover, I have argued, using the standard criteria for assessing historical hypotheses, that the best explanation of these facts is the one given by the disciples themselves: God raised Jesus from the dead.
The entire address, which is well worth your time, can be found here.
Here’s a blast from the past: Dr Craig Evans, looking very Magnum, P.I.-ish, delivering a lecture on Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, back in ’99.
Catch the good Doctor in person, along with Cardinal Thomas Collins and me, at The Faith Explained Conference in Toronto on September 27. Get your tickets at http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M while you still can!
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