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INTRO: THE BIG QUESTION

  1. Why do you think Jesus is such a controversial figure?

  2. What are some beliefs about Jesus mentioned in this introduction that conflict with your own understanding of Jesus?

  3. What depiction of Jesus from other religions or worldviews did you find most surprising?

  4. Who do you say Jesus is?

CHAPTER 1: TELEPHONE GAME TRAUMA

  1. Is it possible to be too skeptical? Since it can be argued that we can’t be 100% certain about much of anything, what does it take for something that took place in the past to be plausible and accepted as fact today? 

  2. What’s the difference between empirical and forensic evidence? When are they most useful?

  3. When was the New Testament written? Why is this significant when discussing its portrayal of Jesus? 

  4. When we compare the ancient New Testament manuscripts to other ancient manuscripts, why is the New Testament easily the most well-preserved writing of the ancient world?

  5. What are the significant differences between the transmission of the New Testament manuscripts versus “The Telephone Game”? Why does “The Telephone Game” analogy miserably fail to accurately depict the transmission of the New Testament?

  6. How does comparing the New Testament’s manuscript history to the Qur’an’s manuscript history help us to better understand the reliability of the New Testament?

  7. At the end of the chapter, the author says we need to remember five big take-aways. Which one did you find most important, most helpful, or most surprising?

  8. Homework: Just for kicks, use “knave” in a sentence.

CHAPTER 2: READY THE CANON, MATEY!

  1. What guidelines can we use to determine whether a piece of writing belongs in the New Testament canon or not?

  2. Why is determining the date they were written so important when considering"gospels" not in the New Testament?

  3. Why does the idea that the New Testament canon was created at a church council in the fourth century fail when we look at history?

  4. What evidence do we see in the New Testament itself that some of the writings we find in it were considered holy scripture long before an “official canon” was set?

  5. So, how do we know the right books made it into the New Testament?

  6. Even if we got rid of any disputed books from the New Testament canon, would it change anything about Jesus?

  7. Homework: Go watch Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark now—right now!

CHAPTER 3: ANCIENT DEAD DUDES

  1. What struck you about the list of what non-Christian, ancient sources tell us about Jesus?

  2. Do you think Gary Habermas’ “Minimal Facts Approach” is effective for arguing for the truth of Jesus’ resurrection?

  3. What irony did you find in Pliny’s account? (Hey, I’m a former English teacher… I can’t resist a question about irony!)

  4. Of the three non-Christian, ancient sources we looked at—Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus—which one did you find most compelling? Why?

  5. What do we learn about early Christians in these non-Christian, ancient documents?

  6. What are four big problems with the theory that the story of Jesus is just a rip off of older pagan myths?

  7. Homework: Watch the 1978 Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve. On a scale of 1–10 (10 being the lamest), how lame is the ending?

CHAPTER 4: CONTRADICTIONS & COINCIDENCES

  1. Explain the difference between an actual contradiction and “just a difference” between the Gospels.

  2. What are some good questions to ask when you come across a possible contradiction or Gospel difference?

  3. What are some possible reasons for the words of Jesus’ teachings being different between Gospels?

  4. Briefly explain in your own words:

    • Selective Details

    • Telescoping (Extending or Compressing)

    • Selective Representation

    • Selective Chronology

  5. Have you ever come across anything in the Gospels that appeared to be a contradiction? Did the information in this chapter help to make sense of it?

  6. Why should four Gospels that are exactly the same be more suspect to skeptics?

  7. What is an undesigned coincidence? Which was your favorite example from the book? Why?

  8. How is having four different Gospels actually a help and not a hindrance?

CHAPTER 5: CREED (THE PREQUEL)

  1. What is a creed and how do we know 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 is a creed?

  2. How do we know the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 was created before the writing of the New Testament and extremely close to the event of Jesus’ crucifixion?

  3. Why is the early dating of the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 so significant?

  4. List all the people who witnessed the risen Jesus. Why is it significant that some are “still alive”?

  5. If you have a sibling, what would he or she have to do to convince you he or she is God in the flesh?

  6. What do we know about Jesus’ brother James before Jesus’ crucifixion? What do we know about him after Jesus’ crucifixion?

  7. What changed James from being an opponent of his brother Jesus to being a devout follower of his brother Jesus to the point of death?

CHAPTER 6: THE ABSURDITY OF A CRUCIFIED GOD

  1. Why would the idea of worshiping a crucified person be both absurd and offensive to both Jews and Romans?

  2. Did the details about crucifixion teach you anything new about the death of Jesus?

  3. What are the three corners of the “Historically Testable Triangle”?

  4. How does applying the Historically Testable Triangle to Christianity and other religions show us the uniqueness of Christianity’s origins?

  5. What details in the Gospels show us that the writers were from the time and place of the events recorded?

  6. How are Jesus’ first disciples significantly different from other people who die for their religious beliefs?

  7. When we consider that Jesus changed the world in only three years and became the most influential person in history, what feelings arise and thoughts come to mind?

CHAPTER 7:
ONE PERSON, TWO NATURES, MANY CONFUSED PEOPLE

  1. Before reading this chapter, did you already have a good grasp of the concept of the doctrine of the Trinity? How would you explain the Trinity to a friend now?

  2. In the past, what analogies have you heard to explain the Trinity? Why do analogies ultimately fail to accurately represent the Trinity?

  3. What is Modalism? Why does it not hold up to biblical scrutiny?

  4. What evidence do we see in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit ain’t an “it”?

  5. What is the “Economic Trinity”? How did this concept help you in understanding the Persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

  6. How does the “Economic Trinity,” the Hypostatic Union, and Philippians 2:6–8 help us to understand the “problem verses” where Jesus appears to have the same limitations and weaknesses as all humans?

  7. How does Bruce Wares’ analogy of the swimmer help us to understand how Jesus functioned as both God and man?

  8. Homework: Go listen to the song “Hypostatic Union” by Shai Linne right now!

CHAPTER 8: GOD COMPLEX, LITERALLY

  1. If you were raised in the Christian faith, was it shocking to learn that some outside of orthodox Christianity try to argue that the New Testament does not portray Jesus as divine?

  2. What are some big issues with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation of John 1:1?

  3. Though the Gospel of John is a narrative, how is it structured like an essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion? 

  4. What evidence do we see in the New Testament that the writers believed Jesus to be the God of the Old Testament?

  5. How should we understand Colossians 1:15, where the apostle Paul calls Jesus “the firstborn of creation”?

  6. What’s the big mistake in translating monogenes in John 1:18 and 3:16 as “only-begotten” or “only-born”? What’s a better understanding and translation?

  7. In John 8:56–59, why did the crowd pick up stones to kill Jesus when he said, “before Abraham was, I am”? Was it his poor grammar?

  8. What are some of the implications of God calling himself “I AM” in Exodus 3:14?

  9. How do we see the “I AM” theme throughout John’s Gospel? (Make a list of each instance and the chapter and verse numbers.)

  10. The Gospel of John is certainly the most explicit of the Gospels to proclaim Jesus’ divinity, but how does Jesus show himself to be God in the Gospel of Mark?

  11. What is the significance of Jesus referring to himself primarily as “the Son of Man”? What is its connection to the Old Testament?

  12. Summarize C.S. Lewis’ “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord” argument.

CHAPTER 9: SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS

  1. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m spiritual, not religious”? (Or maybe you have said it yourself.) What did the person mean by that? (Or, what do you mean by it?)

  2. What feelings or thoughts arise when you read Jesus’ tough words to the religious leaders of his day?

  3. Why is it significant that when speaking of the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, Jesus says, “do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do”?

  4. How do we know Jesus expected his followers to have no division between their daily lives and their religious lives?

  5. What’s a pluralist? What does Jesus say to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well that shows he is no pluralist?

  6. How do we know Jesus’ first followers believed he was “the One”?

  7. The author writes, “[I]f we were to ask Jesus, ‘What’s true spirituality?’ I think his answer would be brief: ‘Trust me.’” What does the author mean by this?

  8. According to Christian theology, why is the Hypostatic Union essential for Jesus winning salvation for the world?

  9. How is Christianity both the easiest and hardest religion?

CHAPTER 10: POLITICALLY INCORRECT

  1. What is a false dichotomy? Where do you see this sort of thinking in culture and politics today?

  2. Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God a lot. How is the Kingdom of God an essential part of proclaiming the good news of Jesus in its fullness?

  3. What’s your thoughts on the quote by Tertullian? Is he brave? Nuts?

  4. How are the citizens of Jesus’ kingdom "in" the world but not "of" the world? What implications does this have on the lives of Jesus’ followers today?

  5. What does it mean that God’s kingdom is “already/not yet” (i.e., How is the Kingdom of God already here but also coming)?

  6. How is Jesus' kingdom both exclusive and inclusive?

  7. What are some metaphors Jesus uses to describe the Kingdom of God? What insights do we gain from these? How would our idea of the Kingdom of God be different if Jesus used metaphors like a tsunami or hurricane?

CHAPTER 11: KING OF CREATION OR THE DUDE?

  1. What caricatures of Jesus have you come across? What inaccurate understandings of Jesus have you held in the past?

  2. What evidence do we see in the Gospels that show us Jesus was a complex person just like all of us?

  3. What are some examples in the Old and New Testaments where we see both God's mercy and God's judgment? 

  4. How do we know that Jesus took sin very seriously?

  5. What's universalism and how do we know Jesus wasn't a universalist?

  6. What does it mean that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father?

  7. Despite his crucifixion, why isn’t Jesus a victim?

  8. So, is Jesus a gentle lamb or a fierce lion?

OUTRO: WHAT ANOTHER EMPTY TOMB TELLS
                 US ABOUT JESUS

  1. Why does Jesus purposely wait until Lazarus dies to act on Mary and Martha’s plea for him to come?

  2. Why did Jesus become outraged (“deeply moved”) when he arrived?

  3. What does the fact that Jesus wept with the mourners tell us about the character of God?

  4. The author writes, “the good news of Jesus Christ tells the followers of Jesus that they don’t worship a God who stayed far off in the heavens, casting down judgment from afar… [but he] entered into our physical world, into the brokenness, into the messiness and mud and filth and blood and tears.” What are your thoughts on this?

  5. How does the resurrection of Lazarus point towards the “New Heaven and New Earth” of Revelation 21?

  6. Now that you have finished the book, who do you say Jesus is?

EXTRA CHAPTER: OKAY BOOMER (PART 1 & 2)

​PART ONE

  1. So, what the heck is a Marcionite? (And who was Marcion?)

  2. What parts of the Old Testament do you find most difficult to understand?

  3. What can we conclude about Jesus’ view of the Old Testament based on his use of Psalm 82 in John 10:30–38?

  4. In Matthew 22:31–32, Jesus uses the past tense of a single word from Exodus 3:6 to make his argument against the Sadducees. What does this tell us about Jesus' view of the Old Testament?

  5. Of all the Old Testament references Jesus makes, which one jumped out at you most? 

  6. How is the Old Testament and New Testament a “MEGA-REVELATION”?

  7. Why can’t Jesus and the New Testament be severed from the Old Testament?

PART TWO

  1. Explain the big story of the Bible by using the words Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration to guide you.

  2. Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration are regularly used to explain the big story of the Bible. Did you find the author’s additions and adjustments to the framework—i.e. Creation, Fall, Preparation, Redemption, Restoration, Completion—helpful or overkill?

  3. How does the idea of the Messiah being not just a king, but also a prophet and priest shape our expectations of the Messiah?

  4. What is typology and how is it different from prophecy? Can you think of any examples of typology from the Bible not mentioned in the book?

  5. Which Old Testament prophecy from the Psalms or Isaiah did you find most compelling?

  6. What are some similarities between the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 and the life of Jesus found in the Gospels? (Make a list.)

  7. In the first extra chapter, we saw how Jesus is all about the Old Testament, but in this chapter we saw how the Old Testament is all about Jesus. What are some things Jesus said to show he believed the Old Testament was pointing God’s people to him?

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