I had to write this for my Bib lit II class. The book is one man’s search to prove Chrisianity to be wrong and his findings. This a full Chapter by Chapter summary. I hope this will wet your appetite to read the book or to at least go on your own journy for the truth.
More Than a Carpenter Book Review
There are lots of people out there who have some reason or excuse to not believe in God. They have come with something that takes the Bible from the realm of truth to that of myth. I wonder for how many of these people that their reason or excuse is a legitimate concern. I think if people take the time to honestly set out to find out if God and Jesus are true and ask Him to reveal himself; then they will find Him and see that he is real and His word is true. Multiple cases of this have been reported. Josh McDowell and his book More Than a Carpenter are a great example of this.
As many people in history have done, Josh McDowell set out to prove his Christian friends wrong, that everything they believe is a lie and a sham. He was so dedicated to doing this that he actually took time off school to travel to Europe and start digging. “I decided to start with the Bible. I knew that if I could uncover indisputable evidence that the Bible is an unreliable record, the whole of Christianity would crumble” (pg. 6). Josh was very surprised by what he found. “And I found Evidence. Evidence in abundance. Evidence I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes” (pg. 7). The evidence he found didn’t tear the Bible apart in fact it did the opposite. He came to this conclusion: “…If I were to remain intellectually honest, I had to admit that the Old and New Testament documents were some of the most reliable writing in all of antiquity” (pg. 7).
“And if they [the Old and New Testament documents] were reliable, what about this man Jesus, whom I had dismissed as a mere carpenter in an out-of-the-way town in a tiny oppressed country, a man who had gotten caught up in his own visions of grandeur” (pg. 7)? Some people like to claim Jesus as a wise benevolent teacher, whom we can learn a lot from about being a good person. However, Jesus made some lofty claims. With careful examination of the Gospels you will see multiple times were Jesus either claims directly to be the Messiah or alludes to it in some way. You can infer this to be the case from how the religious leader reacted to the things Jesus says; if he wasn’t making claims to messiah-ship than they wouldn’t have gotten their undies all bunched up.
Since Jesus claimed to be more than a teacher, we cannot take that as a viable answer to whom or what He is. To claim to be the son of God is a big step. There are only three possibilities here. One it was true or, “… consider that his claim to be God was false. If it were false then we have only two alternatives. He either knew it was false, or he didn’t know it was false” (pg. 29). Since the focus of Jesus’ teachings was that He was the son of God and equal with God we cannot call Him a good teacher unless we accept these claims. We would not consider someone who teaches false information a good teacher. “How could he be a great moral teacher and knowingly mislead people at the most important point of his teaching- his own identity” (pg. 30)?
Another way people try to disprove God is through science. The main idea in science is that it is proven by reproducing the results. And since we are unable to reproduce things in the Bible they must not be true. Of course if scientist could replicate it they would say there isn’t anything special or divine about it. Science cannot prove whether or not something happened or someone existed. “We all accept as true many facts that cannot be verified by scientific methods. We cannot scientifically prove anything about any person or event in history, but that doesn’t mean that proof is impossible” (pg. 42). There is also what Josh calls legal-historical proof. “Legal-historical proof depends on three kinds of testimony: oral testimony, written testimony, and exhibits (such as a gun, a bullet, or a notebook). Using the legal-historical method to determine the facts, you could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you went to lunch today. Your friends saw you there, the waiter remembers seeing you and you have the restaurant receipt” (pg. 43-44).
One of the groups out to show the errors of religion namely Christianity is the new wave of atheist. “They believe that not only is religion man-made but that it poisons everything and therefore needs to be eliminated” (pg. 48). These atheists believe you have to be a complete moron to accept God and the Bible as true, that there isn’t any rational proof for His existence. The truth is there is plenty, and McDowell presents many good cases. They also say that Christianity is a curse. “The New Atheists repeatedly point to the maltreatment of Galileo, the atrocities of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials in past history, as well as the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priest in today’s world as evidence of the cruelty of Christianity” (pg. 59). Yes these things were done by people who claimed the title of Christian. But the truth is they were far from it. There is no room in Jesus’ teaching for such things. These actions are a result of the evil in human nature. Their motives weren’t based on the teachings of Jesus, but of their own selfishness, fear, and lack of understanding. The truth is if everyone lived out the teachings of Jesus our world would be free of all the things we hate about it.
There are many people who want to discredit the Bible and call it unreliable. The problem with that is it stands up to rigorous test put in place to verify the accuracy of a historical document. “Military historian Chauncey Sanders list and explains the tree basic principle of historiography: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test” (pg. 70). McDowell goes into more detail than I will. The main point he makes is that the Bible far surpasses all other historical documents in these test. Yet it is the only one that people try to claim as inaccurate.
Ok, let’s just say that somehow Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. How do you think the disciples would have acted? The disciples along with all the other Jews were expecting the Messiah to be a victorious political leader, someone who would come in and free the Jews from the oppression of the Romans, much like the early Judges. The disciples were crushed by His death. All their hopes and dreams of freedom and being in with the Messiah were gone. When news of the resurrection came the disciples were still reluctant to believe. It wasn’t till Jesus revealed Himself to them that most of them were convinced. If anyone would have known the truth about what happened, it would be the disciples. If all this were a lie the body would have been produced, there would not be mass reports of people seeing Jesus after his “resurrection,” and the disciple would have probably fessed up to the lie rather than face death and torture. “The apostles went through the test of death to substantiate the veracity of what they were proclaiming. I believe I can trust their testimony more than that of most people I meet today. I grieve to find so many who lack enough conviction in their lives even to walk across the street for what they believe, much less to die for it” (pg. 103).
There was a Jew named Saul who was a very zealous Pharisee bent on destroying this new sect of Judaism known as “The Way”, because it went against everything He believed to be true. “The Encyclopedia Britannica states that the members of the new sect of Judaism calling themselves Christians struck at the essence of Paul’s Jewish training and rabbinic studies. He became passionate about exterminating this sect (see Galatians 1:13)” (pg. 115). At some point his name is changed to Paul and he becomes a major leader in what has now become known as Christianity. The only thing that could explain this is that Jesus did rise from the dead and appeared to him in a vision. “Paul states again and again that the living, resurrected Jesus had transformed his life. He was so convinced of Christ’s resurrection from the dead that he, too, died a martyr’s death for his beliefs” (pg. 122).
There are many attempts refute the resurrection of Jesus. They try to say it was a matter of going to the wrong tomb, they all had hallucinations, Jesus didn’t really die but merely fainted, the body was stolen, moved, or relocated or that it merely a copy of mystery religions. All these explanations crumble under scrutiny. “Dr. William Lane Craig concludes that ‘when you… [use] the ordinary canons of historical assessment, the best explanation for the facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead’” (pg. 138). All these other theories jump through hoops at an attempt to disprove the resurrection of Jesus because they simply do not want to believe it is true.
Another major proof that Jesus is the Messiah is that Jesus fulfills 60 major Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and 270 ramifications. The odds of 8 of them being met in one person are 1 in 10^17. These are prophecies that at best are written 400 years before He was born.
The major problem people have with Christianity is that it claims Jesus is the only way to God. “In today’s open climate, people seem offended by the exclusive claims that Jesus is the only way to God and the only source of forgiveness of sin and salvations. This attitude shows that many people simply don’t understand the nature of God” (pg. 151). What people don’t get is that God is not only defined by His love; He is also holy and just. He is perfect and must punish sin. Fortunately, when Jesus died on the cross he took the punishment for our sins. All we have to do to cash in on this amazing gift is believe He did so and turn our lives over to Him. The exclusivity of Christianity isn’t a matter of trying to keep people out but a matter of natural law. The fact is Christianity offers the only way of being absolved of our sins, which, allows us to come before God as righteous. We are not trying to say we are better than everyone else but it is that we have the only solution to the human condition.
Even with all this proof in people’s faces they are still prone to looking for other answers there is something within us that wants to do things our way. “But in spite of the abundant evidence, I felt a strong reluctance to make the plunge” (pg. 159). To make a chapter a paragraph, Josh could not continue living in a manner opposite to the truth he knew. He eventually trusted his life to Christ, and he is no longer the person he once was. “You can laugh at Christianity; you can mock it and ridicule it. But it works. It changes lives. I should say Jesus Christ Changes lives. Christianity is not a religion; it’s not a system; it’s not an ethical idea; it’s not a psychological phenomenon. It’s a person. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives” (pg. 166).
This book is one man’s testimony of his search for the truth and what he found. He didn’t find a list of rules to help play nice and get his ticket to heaven. What he found was the truth, that there is a God who loves us and longs to be with us. He even paid the price for the wrong we have done to ensure this happens. My advice to those reading who are skeptical of this is to perform their own search for the truth, and ask God if He is real and to make himself known. I guarantee that an honest open search for the truth will come back with a resounding YES.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart