Give an Answer to Everyone

(The following originally appeared on the website  About 550 years before the birth of Christ, the nation of China was in a constant state of civil war, involving 7 regions and known as the Age of Warring States.  It was during this time that there arose a general, from the state of Ch’I, whose name was Sun Tzu.  Two and a half millennia later he is still regarded as one of the greatest military leaders in history. To hand down the wisdom he had gained, from his years of battles, Sun Tzu wrote a book, The Art of War, that been translated in most languages and reprinted hundreds of times.  The book details a complete philosophy on how to decisively defeat one’s opponent and provides a holistic approach to strategy that remains powerful and deep.  As former US General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell said, “I’ve read the Chinese classic The Art of War written by Sun Tzu.  Sun Tzu has been studied for hundreds of years.  He continues to give inspiration to soldiers and politicians. So, every American soldier in the army knows of his works.  We require our soldiers to read it.”
Today, Sun Tzu’s appeal has extended far beyond that of the military and has become an important resource in the world of business, sports, and any situation involving dynamics and a contest of wills.  One of the principles taught by Sun Tzu is:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.  If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” In our world, Christianity is at war in our own nation and culture.  Christians are used to hearing the passage from scripture about being in a spiritual warfare as the Apostle Paul explained to the church at Ephesus: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens.”  (Ephesians 6:12 Bible in Plain English) This passage is just as relevant today as it was 1,970 years ago.  Increasingly, Christians are faced with challenges, not only from government and entertainment, but from our own education system and business communities.  Christians must realize that we are called upon to defend our faith and confront a growing hostile environment.  John Godson, in the article Spiritual Warfare: Arise, Fight, and Never Give Up!  (2009) wrote: “The Christian life is spiritual warfare. Many Christians are prone to overlook or minimize this; however, we cannot run away from the fact that we are in a war. The day we decided to become disciples of Christ we declared war against the kingdom of the devil and all his works in our lives and in our communities.  This war is real. We can either decide to fight or be defeated. Many of us are not experiencing any warfare because we have long been defeated and the enemy doesn’t bother us anymore. “ The last line from this quotation is powerful. 
Many Christians simply nod appropriately when the topic of spiritual warfare is discussed.  Certainly, they agree but see no need to become better equipped to face the challenges.  They don’t see a danger and, for them, things remain about the same.  However, the implications are that these very sincere Christians may have already lost the battle and simply embrace the status quo.  Essentially, they have pulled the covers over their heads and ignore the fight. It is for these reasons that the next several articles I intend to write will deal with confronting and rebutting popular criticism related to Christianity, specifically those that deal with the historicity of Jesus and the resurrection.  I began to think of this topic when I recently read an article by a Christian writer who maintained that “the fact of the resurrection of Jesus is a matter of faith and not of history…one cannot prove the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus apart from using the scriptures.”   This is an uneducated statement at best and a complete surrender by a person claiming to be a Christian. In these articles, I intend to employ some of Sun Tzu’s recommendations, especially when it comes to knowing our opponent.  Of course, our opponent is ultimately Satan and, while I do not propose to know him, I do intend to examine the motives and arguments issued by our worldly adversaries. We cannot fully answer our critics until we attempt to understand why they reject God and oppose His Word.   Many people who are critical of the Bible are not motivated by hate or contempt.  They simply react out of ignorance.  This is not to say that they are ignorant people, it simply means that they have not bothered to find out the truth on a particular topic. 
Take, for instance, the often-repeated statement that no references to Jesus appear in ancient documents outside of the Bible.  Anyone who states this is simply unaware history.  We can look at several ancient writers who alludes or mentioned Jesus, but here I will focus on only one. The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between A.D. 70-500. Obviously, any early references to Jesus in these works are more likely to be historically reliable.  In his book, The Historical Jesus, Gary Habermas cited The Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a, 281 (written sometime around A.D. 70):  “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald … cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.” Here, “Yeshu” (or “Yeshua”) is how Jesus’ name is pronounced in Hebrew with the passage signifying that He was crucified.  “Hanged” was another way of explaining crucifixion and the term was employed by Paul in Galatians 3:13.   Notice also, that the passage in the Talmud pinpoints the time; just before Passover.  It also backs up the Gospel’s claims that the Jews had been planning on stoning Jesus before the Romans crucified Him.  Additionally, the passage tells why He was put to death and has a strong similarity to the accusations made against Jesus by the Pharisees, when they claimed He cast out demons “by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
In his work, Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources, Michael Gleghorn wrote: “Such a charge actually tends to confirm the New Testament claim that Jesus performed miraculous feats.  Apparently, Jesus’ miracles were too well attested to deny.  The only alternative was to ascribe them to sorcery!  Likewise, the charge of enticing Israel to apostasy parallels Luke’s account of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of misleading the nation with his teaching. Such a charge tends to corroborate the New Testament record of Jesus’ powerful teaching ministry.  Thus, if read carefully, this passage from the Talmud confirms much of our knowledge about Jesus from the New Testament.” Christians need to understand that our faith is not built on just belief or superstition.  It is based on eye-witness history, facts, and reason.  We all need to understand Sun Tzu’s principle “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” For if we know our enemies then we know that any criticisms or accusations can be answered and if we know ourselves then we know that God is with us.  Certainly, we need to exalt and proclaim Romans 8:31: “What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?”