Jon Morrison

Jon Morrison ("Jonny Mo") is the Associate Director for Apologetics Canada. Jon served as a student ministries pastor in Coquitlam, BC for 5 years before studying at Oxford and now at Biola University.

This is his website.

Jon Morrison

Associate Director of Apologetics Canada

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?

The late skeptic Carl Sagan thought he was condemning Christianity when he said that “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” Though my skeptic friends try to use this comment against Christian claims, I think Sagan’s statement is actually in full agreement with what the Bible is telling us.

Extraordinary claims do demand extraordinary evidence. The Bible openly admits that if Jesus is dead, Christianity is also dead with him (1 Cor. 15:14). 

Any human can claim to be God. The real question comes in whether or not they can back it up. To do so effectively, they would need to pull off something dynamic. Christians claim that Jesus backed up his extraordinary claim with an extraordinary resurrection.

If Christians are right; that is, if Jesus is alive, it would be a historical game changer. If we can show the historical evidence that the resurrection of Jesus happened, we can safely conclude that a resurrection is the sort of extraordinary event that could satisfy Sagan and other skeptic’s demand. In this essay, I want to highlight some of the compelling evidence that Christians are right; that Jesus is alive and that Christianity is true. The backbone for these evidences will be the defense of the resurrection taken from Paul’s first letter to a church in Corinth. Scholars believe that Paul wrote this around 55AD. I will then look at a few other pieces of evidence that should be considered and then look at some common naturalistic objections to this miraculous Christian claim. 

THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-9 the apostle Paul builds a case for the resurrection appealing to authorities, testimonies, eyewitnesses, and his own experience as evidence for his Corinthian readership to consider. This circumstantial evidence will provide the structure for the first part of my argument. I believe that Paul’s reasons still hold valid today as no skeptic has been able to refute.

The Changed Life of Peter

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. He was “one of the three” that Jesus spent most of his time with. In the gospel accounts, Peter clearly shows leadership amongst the other disciples. Jesus knows he is secure enough to make an example of him at times. Having spent so much time with Jesus, Peter had front row seats on occasions when Jesus foretold of his death and resurrection. Since Peter was there to hear all this, he should have been the one disciple who after Jesus’ burial, was the most expectant of his return (just as Jesus promised him). Peter should have been parked in front of Jesus’ tomb sitting on a lawn chair with a bucket of popcorn reassuring everyone, “Don’t worry everyone, he told me he’ll be back soon.”

The Bible tells us that this was not Peter’s experience. What happened instead is that after the arrest of Jesus, this disciple did not want to be associated with his friend. Denying him three times, once even to a little peasant girl, Peter’s cowardice was on full display. If you are a gospel writer trying to make up an impressive story, it is unlikely that you would  include this embarrassing episode in Peter’s life, unless, of course it was exactly how it all happened.

Following the resurrection, a new man emerged. No longer the cowardly denier of Jesus, Peter became a bold street preacher, exposing the sin of the Jewish people and the triumph of Jesus Christ. Peter would suffer greatly for this transformation. The accounts of early church fathers, Origen, Tertullian and St. Clement, inform us that Peter’s allegiance to Jesus would cost him his life. Like his friend Jesus, Peter would die by crucifixion.

What kind of event would explain such a change in Peter? Something as drastic as a friend rising from the dead would be a sufficient explanation. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul suggests that Peter’s story is good evidence that Jesus is alive. It was not just Peter’s life that we are told to consider. Let us consider some other lives that met the resurrected Jesus as well.

The Changed Lives of the Disciples

If you went through airport security in August of 2001, took a flight to an uninhabited island for a month and came through another airport in October, you would observe that something dramatic happened while you were gone. Something caused a major policy shift in the air travel industry. We know historically that On September 11, 2001 two airplanes were highjacked and flown into the World Trade Center buildings in Manhattan, New York. Just like September 11 changed airports, the resurrection of Jesus changed the lives of his followers.

For many generations before Jesus came, the Jewish people longed for freedom over the occupying Roman forces that were oppressing the nation of Israel. They awaited the promised Messiah who was supposed to overthrow the Romans and reestablish Israel as a powerful nation. For a long time it would have looked like Jesus was the guy to do it. Established by his miracles, he healed people, fed multitudes, calmed storms, walked on water, turned water to wine, and many other events that could always draw a crowd. Jesus lived like the Messiah and talked like he was the Messiah. Hope was climaxing but was suddenly squelched when Jesus was crucified by the very Romans he was supposed to overthrow. No angels came to his rescue. He pulled off no eleventh hour heroics. He just hung there and died.

We do not know a lot about what the disciples did in the following days. We are told that they scattered when Jesus was arrested and few showed up for his crucifixion. We see a glimpse of the despair they must have all felt in the conversation of two dejected disciples as they walked along a road to a town called Emmaus. “We thought he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). 

Again, if you are making the story up, you do not include the bits where the main characters show such weakness. After all, these dejected men were none other than soon-to-be-members of the early church’s core leadership team. Some days later, the gospels tell us that these same disciples were worshipping Jesus as God. Strict monotheistic Jews would have had to quickly readjust their theological paradigms after the resurrection. It is clear that they came to believe Jesus was the God of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Not only did they believe it themselves, they went about boldly proclaiming the Messiah had come and that the Messiah was Jesus, the man from Nazareth. They too, like Peter, were persecuted for this claim; kicked out of synagogues and most of them killed for their belief in the resurrection. 

The question begs to be asked: How did these bunch of cowards transform into courageous martyrs? I am convinced that they changed their behaviour because they encountered the resurrected Jesus. The truth that would forever change the trajectory of human history was standing there, talking to them, cooking with them, eating with them. No longer could they doubt him, no longer could they be ashamed of him. 

The changed lives of the disciples is good evidence to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. If that group of twelve does not convince you, how about another five hundred?

The Five Hundred Eyewitnesses

The eyewitness to the atrocities that happened in Nazi death camps are the most authoritative voices against anyone who would deny that the Holocaust happened. Today, those who have survived the Holocaust are long into old age and few are still alive. If anyone wanted to know what it was like in Nazi concentration camps, the best person to talk to would be those who experienced it firsthand. Paul understood the power of eyewitness testimony. He uses it in his defence of the resurrection. After name dropping Peter and the disciples, Paul plays the numbers card to strengthen his argument: “Then he [the resurrected Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred” (1 Cor. 15:6). 

Paul refers to this large, aging group and says to the Corinthians, “Many of these people are still alive - you should go and talk to them yourself! I can give you names and addresses!” In his book, Jesus and The Eye Witnesses, Richard Baukham has done excellent work showing how important eye-witness accounts were in first century literature. Eyewitness testimony was considered the most important source and carried the most weight. 

As secular and liberal historians scramble to discredit Baukham’s work, I believe like many do today, that the testimony of eye-witnesses is the best way to credit or discredit a claim. Whether it be a witness in a crime, the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, or the witness of a resurrection, simply adding time (in this case two thousand years) to their testimony does not change the trustworthiness of the information. Eyewitness testimony was a priority then and it remains as such to us today.

When You Believe Your Brother Is God

I am an older brother and I know that it would take an awful lot to convince my younger brother that I am God and worthy of his worship. Granted, his childhood would have been much more satisfying for him if he had conceded to a routine of elder brother worship. At the time of writing, he has yet to bow the knee. The Bible tells us that Jesus also had brothers who were just as reluctant to worship him (Mark 6:3, Matt. 13:55). His mother, Mary, may have been a virgin when she had Jesus but it is clear that she did not stay that way. For Jesus’ first brother, James, to worship him as God and devote himself to a life of service in the church is a very big deal. It is a much bigger deal than we probably realize. Paul gives these five quick words but they really are a miracle when you consider how rare sibling worship is. “Then he appeared to James.” (1 Cor. 15:7). 

In Mark 3:31, Jesus is preaching and his family is said to be waiting outside for him to finish. At various other points in the early stages of Jesus’ ministry, his brothers seem quite skeptical and apathetic about their brother’s divine claim (Mt. 13:57; Mk. 3:21, 6:4; Jn. 7:5). Perhaps, (as Jesus represented the whole family in a Middle Eastern shame culture) they were embarrassed by the kind of mixed attention their controversial brother was getting.

However, all that changed at some point because James became one of the leaders in the Jerusalem church, the hub of the emerging Christian movement. James had a position of unrivaled authority in those early days of the church. Josephus records that James’ leadership led to his martyrdom by stoning under the high priest Ananus II in 62AD. 

What brought such a change in James? What caused him to go from a skeptical brother to a willing martyr? I agree with Paul that the most probable explanation is that the resurrected Jesus appeared to his brother, James.

Paul’s Personal Testimony 

Jesus taught us to love our neighbours even when they do not love us. Richard  Dawkins lived about a block away from my old room at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford. When Dawkins was out walking his dog, I always made a point to say hello. He was always cordial to me but I know how he talks about people like myself. He does not like Christians. He thinks we are plagued with a “religious virus” and has made it part of his life’s mission to eradicate this virus from the earth. I would love him to see Jesus, not as Dawkins’ favourite problem with the world, but acknowledged as the Creator, Saviour and King of it. 

Paul was a fierce persecutor of Christians. He hated them and wanted to have them killed. Paul tells the Galatians, “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:13).

Acts 9 records Paul’s dramatic and sudden conversion to Christianity, a conversion which he later understated to the Corinthians. “He [the resurrected Jesus] appeared also to me” (15:9) was all he says of this conversion story that would forever change history. Paul went from a man on a mission to destroy churches to a fearless man on a mission to plant them! This would cost the converted apostle everything, including his very life. For Paul, the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to him was enough to compel such a change at such a cost. 

Jesus’ appearance to Peter, the disciples, the five hundred eyewitnesses, James and Paul all serve as evidence in Paul’s resurrection apologetic to the Corinthian church. There is still further evidence for us to consider before we must declare our own verdict.

Day of the Week for Worship Changed

As one who attends and works at a church, my two critiques of fellow church people are as follows: our coffee is consistently terrible and we despise change.

There was one historic change that was so drastic that something drastic must have happened to catalyze it. During the time of his ministry we see that Jesus and his disciples were comfortable meeting in Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath day (Saturday). Once Jesus was resurrected, the Christians started meeting on Sundays instead. They called it, “The Lord’s Day.”

We read this in early literature as such letters from Pliny the Elder, the Didache or the historical writings of Eusebius. Why did the early church change their worship schedule? Though Christians may not be so keen to embrace change, an incident as dramatic as a resurrection might be enough for them. 

The Testimony of the Women

On resurrection Sunday, the gospels tell us that Jesus’ female disciples were the first to arrive at Jesus’ tomb. These women were the first to break the story to the eleven disciples. This is another part of the resurrection story that first century writers would not have included if they were making it up. In those days, a woman’s testimony held no authority. It could not have been considered evidence in a court case.

If you are inventing a story that you want to sell to the world (as skeptics accuse the disciples of doing), you do not begin by establishing it with the testimony of a doubting woman or any woman for that matter. God, however, knew better. Once again he shows that he not only values women and their testimony but that Jesus saw them as so valuable as to make them the first eye-witnesses of history’s most dynamic miracle!

These first reports spread to the disciples, rippling throughout Jerusalem which was right in the heart of where all the action was. This too is another convincing piece of evidence we must look at.

The Jerusalem Factor

The epicenter of the Christian movement happened in close proximity to the location of the death of Jesus. His resurrection was not reported in Galilee, Rome or Africa - but right in the heart of all the controversy. As a historian of antiquity, Paul Maier says this of the spread of the early Christian movement: 

But this [Jerusalem] is the very last place it could have started if Jesus’ tomb had remained occupied, since anyone producing a dead Jesus would have driven a wooden stake through the heart of an incipient Christianity inflamed by his supposed resurrection. 

All it would have taken is for one of the Roman guards to walk out with Jesus body and announce, “Ok stop all this commotion about a dead leader rising, here is the body.” That never happened. Nobody produced the body. Instead the Christian movement started and blossomed in the heart of and throughout all Jerusalem. It continued to spread to the corners of the world.

The Rapid Spread of Christianity

The book of Acts tells us that the resurrection was big news on the lips of the early church. What do you make of the spread of Christianity from a handful of eyewitnesses to the estimated 31.7 million around the Roman Empire in the next three hundred years?

Cambridge scholar, C.F. Moule, tells us there is one very compelling argument to be made by the global explosion of Christianity, “The birth and spread of Christianity remains an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself.”

Resurrection was the explanation of the early church for why people should believe in Jesus. 

The church exists because the first Christians believed that Jesus rose from the dead. They were so convinced that they spread the news all over the known world. As they were spreading this news, other alternative stories were also being told by skeptics to explain what happened to Jesus’ body. Those alternative stories remain with us today.

THE ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS

Skeptics have come up with various other alternatives for what could have happened to the body of Jesus. Let’s look at the three strongest. 

Could Jesus’ Body Have Been Stolen By His Disciples?

Even the enemies of Jesus knew the tomb was empty. Historian Ron Sider concludes, “If the Christians and their Jewish opponents bot

h agreed that the tomb was empty, we have little choice but to accept the empty tomb as an historical fact.”

The story that the disciples stole the body from the tomb is the oldest alternative explanation to the resurrection. Each with their own various reasons, contemporary critical scholars unanimously reject this hypothesis. One has to think about a motive for the disciples stealing Jesus’ body. People could die for causes that they believe to be true but would they die for lies that they have invented? Philosopher Peter Kreeft asks: 

Why would the apostles lie?…If they lied, what was their motive, what did they get out of it? What they got out of it was misunderstanding, rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks.

Consider the disciples reaction after Jesus is crucified. Their preaching of the resurrection was not motivated by fame, power, or the desire to be rich. They received none of these things for their efforts. Their response was a testimony to proclaim what they had witnessed in Jerusalem and they were willing to give their lives for it.

These men were conservative, orthodox Jewish fishermen. Based on the credibility of the martyred disciples, the conversion of genuine skeptics like Paul and James, and the changed lives of all the eye-witnesses, scholars have not taken the stolen body view seriously for two hundred years now.

Maybe Jesus Never Really Died 

A second alternative explanation is that Jesus merely fainted on the cross and then later revived himself. His later appearance to his disciples was the reason why they thought he was resurrected. This idea became popular at the beginning of the 19th century when the liberal, naturalistic era grew in influence. This hypothesis holds little power today. 

The Romans were experts at execution. Roman soldiers showed up to work and and killed people by crucifixion. When Roman soldiers were ordered to kill someone, they killed them. It was their job after all. 

Perhaps Jesus only appeared to be dead and then recovered enough to regain consciousness after a few days. This would be quite a feat for him to move the rock that blocked his tomb and then sneak by the guards patrolling his tomb. If Jesus was to roll the stone away, the guards would have caught him and killed him; finishing him off for good. They would not have reported back to their boss that the disciples stole him (as we have recorded in Matt. 28:13).

It is an unlikely idea that, in his weak and bloody state, Jesus limped to his disciples’ house and there convinced a crowd of depressed, fearful doubters that a “resurrection miracle” had occurred. To have such an event explain the transformation of the disciples into fearless martyrs is a big ask. These points are sufficient grounds to dismiss the idea that Jesus never really died.

Perhaps the Disciples Hallucinated

The last most prominent alternative explanation to the Christian claim that Jesus was resurrected is known as the hallucination theory. This theory considers the possibility that Jesus’ disciples merely thought they had seen Jesus alive when actually, he was still very dead. Though we know that individuals can be prone to hallucinations, it is highly improbable that multiple people hallucinate over the same event.

The five hundred eyewitnesses that Paul references in 1 Corinthians 15:4 makes the impossibility of such a united mistake even stronger. Lastly, the hallucination theory does not take into account the claim that the tomb was empty and Jesus’ opponents were unable to produce his body at any time (in history). 

CONCLUSION

History tells us that Jesus died, that he was buried in a rich man’s tomb and that three days later his disciples reported the tomb empty. If the disciples did not steal the body nor hallucinate into thinking they saw him, what happened to the body of Jesus?

With those three eliminated as alternative explanations one is left to either concoct other explanations or accept the conclusions for which, I believe, the evidence demands. 

Any alternative explanation would need to explain why Peter and the rest of the disciples transformed from cowards to radical witnesses of a bodily resurrection. It would have to explain the transformation of Paul of Damascus and why Jesus’ brother worshipped him as God.

Furthermore, an alternative explanation to the resurrection would have to give a reason for the credible testimony of the women disciples, the day of worship being changed to Sunday, the rapid spread of Christianity in the very center of Jerusalem and the fact that Jesus’ enemies were never able to produce his body. 

The resurrection is the most supported explanation for what happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ resurrection gives us certainty that God exists, that Jesus backed up his claims of divinity with a resurrection and that this resurrection gives hope of eternal life to all who believe in him (John 3:16).

"Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain."



Great to see Clear Minds & Dirty Feet at House of James. In the presence of great books.  (at House Of James)

Great to see Clear Minds & Dirty Feet at House of James. In the presence of great books. (at House Of James)

New Position

I am excited to announce that I’ll be teaching two Spiritual Formation classes as an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Life Bible College.

It is an amazing opportunity to be able to teach future leaders at an institution I have been recommending to students for many years. 

Camp Imadene Teen Camp All Done

I just completed an awesome week at Camp Imadene on beautiful Mesachie Lake on Vancouver Island. It was a fun filled but also spiritually intense week for both staff and campers. 

One of my favourite moments was on Thursday night after students stood up to commit or rededicate their lives to Christ, we each took a rock, wrote our confessed sin on it and then threw it to the bottom of Mesachie Lake. This was a symbol of what God promised in Micah 7:19:

"You will cast all our sin into the depths of the sea."

What an amazing promise! Campers said that they felt a burden lifted like they had never experienced before. 

Just wanted to thank the staff at Imadene. I was blessed by your friendship, prayers and tireless heart to serve Jesus by serving the campers. To the campers, you guys were a lot of fun and I am proud of the commitments that you made this week.

The journey of the rest of your life begins. You go with Jesus now. He will lead you. Get a good start with the Dirty Feet Devotions, get involved in a church and embrace the role as a messenger of the good news we have been talking about all week.

I look forward to seeing you all again someday.

I also look forward to seeing Hayley now…but you all already know that.

The Dirty Feet Devotional

I’m pleased to release a new one week devotional that I am using as a follow up for campers once they complete a week at summer camp. 

The Dirty Feet Devotional digs into topics such as prioritizing the gospel, rejoicing in suffering, embracing the lifelong discipleship journey, engaging in the mission, loving the church and understanding the importance of servanthood. 

It is my hope that this devotional will springboard campers into a lifelong journey with Jesus. May dirty feet lead to devoted lives.

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"D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “We must contemplate men in sin until we are horrified, until we are alarmed, until we are desperate about them, until we pray for them, until having realized the marvel of our own deliverance from that terrible state, we are lost in a sense of wonder, love and praise.”"



- Martyn Lloyd Jones



Why I Wrote Another Book On Apologetics

My five years of being a student pastor shaped me immensely. I was asked questions from students that I need to help as their pastor but also as a disciple of Jesus myself. To find these answers, I went on a journey to find truth that involved writing a book with my friend, Chris Price. It was a book of answers to questions, namely titled, “Questions.” That book was well received but is now out of print and will hopefully be re-published in the coming years.

I wanted to write a new book that included more of my journey and a more comprehensive explanation of what Christians believe and why they offer a resource our world so desperately needs to discover.

My Journey Continues

In the summer of 2011, I resigned from a really fun and fruitful young adult ministry at a healthy church in a beautiful city. I left for the University of Oxford in order to get some training in how to help youth and young adults become strengthened in their faith and equipped to defend it with others.

Two years later, I have collected arguments, analogies and my favourite stories. After the many dollars spent, papers written, conversations had and time spent burning my eyes out staring at a laptop screen, I have a book that, I believe, fills a huge need in the church today. It’s an apologetic book that people (so far) actually enjoy reading!

Clear Minds & Dirty Feet offers timeless content in a timely way.

The Timeless Content


I wanted to take the major topics that people are struggling with today and present a rational case for historic Christianity. I have a chapter on faith and science, three chapters on evidences for the existence of God, a good response to why God allows suffering and evil; the trustworthiness of the Bible; the Christian doctrine of hell; the exclusivity of Christianity and the reasons to believe that Jesus is really alive today. 

The Timely Way

Studies show that people will still read books if they are books worth reading. That is why throughout every page of my new book, I have worked hard to mix in my own personal struggles, stories and, of course, a few cartoons to help keep things novel.

I wrote this to serve the church as a book people can hand to someone struggling in their faith or to keep for themselves in order to answer some of their own questions. Clear Minds & Dirty Feet will encourage Christians that the truth of Christianity is a message worth sharing with everyone. You can pick up a copy for yourself by contacting me personally or through Amazon.

Gary Habermas lectures on the Shroud of Turin. One of the best lectures I have ever taken in. (at Biola University)

Gary Habermas lectures on the Shroud of Turin. One of the best lectures I have ever taken in. (at Biola University)

Do You Know When You’re Being Suckered?

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You probably remember the ad campaign that Apple ran a few years ago. There were two guys, one was cool, casual and represented the face of an emerging movement of Apple consumers. On the other side was a pudgy, nerdy-looking guy in a business suit who was adamant that Microsoft products were superior to anything Mac could throw at them. The point of the commercial was easy to spot:

"Look at the old-school, old way of doing things. What a joke! You do not want to be like these kind of guys, do you?"

The campaign was effective because we all bought into the idea that being cool and progressive is better than being a dork. Apple stock skyrocketed.

Humbly, I admit that I am writing this post on my Macbook, a product I purchased at the same time as the ads were being run. If I’m honest, I bought the computer because I think it is better machine, not because of the cool ads. If I’m honest again, I often showed these funny new commercials to my dad as gasoline to fuel our “Mac vs. PC” rivalry. I used them to make fun of him and his stubborn refusal to climb aboard the Apple-train.

Buyer Beware

I reference this campaign to highlight a popular, yet fallacious argument tactic that Apple used to sway us. It is called “Ad Hominem” and it is used when someone dismisses an idea by attacking the character of one who holds it. You can use it when you call a person out of fashion, too traditional, “fundamentalist” or “what bad people believe” and then dismiss their position on something. 

An ad hominem can used in many ways from the obvious,

"I don’t believe what my teacher is saying because he is dressed poorly."

to the more subtle,

"Since Christians are hypocritical, I could never be a Christian."

Somewhere in the middle, is the premise that an old fashioned belief should be dismissed because its time has passed or because it was embraced by a community you do not happen to like (or, if you are more clever,  you know your audience will not like). Rob Bell has made his millions doing this.

Where The Conflict Lies

A discussion about what is true has to happen along the lines of ideas. Something can either be false or true regardless of what I am wearing or how I am behaving. Here are two things to be aware of when it comes to ad hominems:

First, be careful not to commit ad hominem fallacies yourself. We do this all the time with other worldviews or religions. It’s lazy but it is effective. Politicians thrive off of it. As do Christians. Richard Dawkins may be wrong but he is not wrong because he is always grumpy. A particular idea in Christian literature may be wrong but it is not wrong because the book was poorly written.

Second, be aware of ad hominems you see in discussions with others. They can be used to intimidate you and are really nothing more than another form of bullying. Learn to spot ad hominems and you eliminate many of the attacks against you or the gospel you stand for. As a general rule, remember that the abuse of a certain doctrine does not negate the truth of that doctrine. Nor is the truth of Christianity  negated because Christians fail to live like Jesus. 

Let’s be aware of this next time. Apple may be a better product but it will not be evaluated because its advocates dress better than others. Have the discipline to keep the argument to the idea being discussed and you will find that the historic, orthodox gospel will emerge as the truth.

Not because we live like it is true, but rather, because it is true.

This was originally posted on Grounded In The Gospel

A Fantastic Weekend At Bonnyville Alliance

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On June 14-16, I got the chance to hang out with old friends and make new friends up in Northern Alberta. The congregation of Bonnyville Fellowship Alliance church was a joy to work with.

It once again reminded me of the importance of bringing apologetics to the local church level. I saw people equipped to reach their friends, family members and whoever else they encounter on mission in Northern Alberta.

Just wanted to say thanks to Pastor Steve McLean, his family, the Driedgers and everyone else in the community for all their support and encouragement. It was a wonderful weekend of ministry and I hope to return again.

Exciting Announcement

After years of studying and a year of writing, editing, writing, praying, trashing, writing, editing, drawing and pleading for help, I am pleased to announce that my new book, Clear Minds & Dirty Feet is officially ready for release.

I have drawn from my database of apologetic resources, illustrated with my experiences, tapped my network, and am ready to share it. Here are some of the topics that I cover in it:

I have provided a a sample chapter called “Faith And Science: What All The Fuss Is About”.

Clear Minds & Dirty Feet has been published by Apologetics Canada Publishing and is available on Amazon today.

A Few Things I Learned About Dating

On May 31, 2013, Hayley and I, after dating a short while, decided we should get married. That is, I asked and she agreed. It was an amazing moment and we are excited to prepare for the rest of our lives together. 

As I reflect on my journey to this point, there are a few half-baked ideas I want to share about dating. I’m sure more will be published in a book one day. There is a lot to be said. Here’s are three points I’ve learned:

1. Dating Can Be A Wonderful Experience

Even though you don’t really know the person, there can be a lot of excitement getting to know a member of the opposite sex. Thank God for this. When you think of how comfortable and intimate couples get with each other after many years of marriage, it is great that God has put excitement and “fun” into these early, awkward days of getting to know each other. Everything is interesting. Everything is new. It’s fun.

I have thoroughly enjoyed dating Hayley. I love opening doors for her, surprising her with flowers, leaving notes on her car, peppering her with silly and deep questions, listening to her dreams and praying for her. Though those things will never stop at engagement, our time dating was a season of discovery that I will always look back on with joy.  

Dating can be very exciting. Dating can also be very broken. Since the life-long commitment is not yet there, sometimes dating goes horribly awry.

2. Dating Can Be A Very Broken Experience

I have thought a lot that if someone can design a process that doesn’t involve the pain caused by dating, I think they could become very rich, very quickly.

If you have dated much, you know it can be an awful experience.

At the fall of humanity in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness. Now exposed for their true selves, they became ashamed of who they were, lost trust and hid from each other. The Bible says that they sewed fig leaves together in an effort to cover up their shame.

We all do the same today. Dating even encourages this kind of behaviour. Sometimes we hide who we are in light of promoting our best accomplishments, travel experiences, flattering character traits and everything else that we are proud about in ourselves. We say things we don’t really mean. We mean things we do not really say. 

The process of dating is getting the courage to be who you really are; to slowly peel away the metaphorical fig leaves (with your clothes still on) in an effort to see if you can one day trust the other person with your naked self. To summarize what Tim Keller says in The Meaning Of Marriage, “To be fully known and accepted is our deepest desire. To be fully known and rejected is our greatest fear.” 

In dating, you are essentially holding your heart out to a stranger and saying, “Here, you can take a look at this and do what you want with it.” Often we offer our hearts like this to people at an age when they are completely unable or unwilling it to cherish it with the care it deserves. Some will trample it. One will cherish it. It is no wonder the Bible says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). 

I learned that you can abstain from sexual sin, do your best to honour Jesus with all your heart and yet still hurt another person very deeply, even while maintaining the best of intentions while doing so. 

Dating is entering the risk of trying to sort out who is who: Is this the person who will trample or cherish my heart? Dear friends, proceed here with caution.

Since I have not come up with a better alternative that will work in Western culture, we are stuck with dating. If you can find an alternative and you will sell a lot of books and make millions. Thankfully, there is redemption available.

3. Dating Can Be A Redemptive Process

God is a redemptive God. He can make anything good. He promised the prohet Joel, 

"I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25). 

You can claim that verse over your past. God redeems history. He knows how broken all of us truly are. He can make good of any bad situation. He promises it. 

I learned most about the redemption in the gospel because of my experiences dating. I learned how broken I am and how to interact with broken people. I learned that my biggest problem was not that I had not found “the one” but that I was a sinner. I learned that I, the winsome, Jon Morrison, was capable of really hurting God’s precious daughters. I was the common denominator whenever a relationship did not work out. I could blame no other than the person staring at me in the mirror. Owning your sin and sinful nature is the first step to repentance and restoration. This is because it is the first step towards Jesus. 

I learned that the only solution for my sin problem was that I needed a Savior. Dating led me to Jesus. I could turn nowhere else.

While my friends were learning about their sinfulness and need for the gospel through their preaching, marriage, alcoholism, porn addictions or through raising kids, I was learning about it through dating. I learned the importance of being Grounded In The Gospel. I learned to renew my love for Jesus whose fountain filled with his shed blood for me never ran dry.

The Present Redemption

Thankfully and ironically, through the broken process of dating, that process I had grown to despise,  God surprised me with a gift of grace at a time I would have never expected.

He slammed a door to do further studies at Oxford and then opened another for me at Apologetics Canada. That brought me to Northview Community Church which led me to meet Hayley. I chased her for awhile, we dated and then we got engaged. One day we will get married and seek to be a picture of Jesus’ relentless love for the church. She is a picture of redemption that I will always thank God for.

Once again, God has shown he is willing to give amazing grace to even a wretch like me. This gift of grace came as a result of my very own achilles heel, dating.

Conclusion

If you are single or wading through the murky waters of dating, may God can use this to teach you some amazing truths about himself and the good news that Jesus is good, sufficient and faithful. Remember that God knows you better than anyone and he fully loves you. He will redeem anything the locusts have eaten in your past.

For me, he has even redeemed the wonderfully, broken process of dating. 

I could think of little else to write about today.