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Articles by Sean McDowell



  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Perhaps the toughest question parents ask me is how they can help their wayward kids. The difficulty of this question stems not solely from the intellect, but from seeing the pain in the eyes of parents who are genuinely hurt and disappointed in the choices of their kids. What can we do? Here are some humble thoughts from my work with students ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my last post, I evaluated the tradition that the apostle Thomas ministered in India. While the evidence for Thomas in India is not as strong as for Peter and Paul in Rome, it is at least probable that he founded the church in India. But did Thomas die as a martyr?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my recent book The Fate of the Apostles, I examine the evidence the apostles of Jesus died as martyrs. Because the evidence is early and consistent, there is widespread agreement that Peter, Paul, and both James died as martyrs. But scholars are much more divided over the tradition surrounding “doubting” Thomas. Did he really make it to India, as tradition suggests, and die there as a martyr? ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my recent book The Beauty of Intolerance, my father and I discuss how a new view of tolerance has crept its way into the church. One powerful way this is seen is how an increasing number of Christians approach Scripture. For instance, in his book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines begins by affirming the final authority of scripture on questions of morality and doctrine.[1] And yet when Vines discovered his own same-sex attraction, his perspective began to change based on his personal experience. Now he has become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights within the church, and his goal is to lead a movement to convince Christians that they can affirm the full authority of scripture and also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    It seems strange to be writing a blog with advice for young apologists. After all, I still think of myself as young! There are many “seasoned” apologists I turn to for advice and direction that are much older and more experienced than me (don’t worry, dad, I won’t mention any names!). But since I’m turning 40 this May, I do have some insights for younger apologists that I have learned along the way ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    My entire family went to see The Jungle Book this past weekend. From my 3 ½-year old son, to my mother-in-law, we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Disney is to be commended for making an engaging, creative, and faithful “live” version of this classic story. Like all fictional movies, The Jungle Book offers a story, which has worldview implications. Two questions lie at the heart of the movie: What does it mean to be human? And secondarily: How does man relate to nature? Specifically, these questions are explored through the life of Mowgli—a young boy whom wolves raise in the jungle ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Since writing my book on Same-Sex Marriage, I have been reading almost every book I can get my hands on related to homosexuality and the church. While there are some great books, there has been a huge need for a book that addresses the “plausibility” problem. I recently came across the book Same-Sex Attraction and the Church by Ed Shaw, and was pleasantly surprised that it dealt with this exact issue with clarity and insight. In my view, this book is one of the top five most important books for Christians to read on the subject. Pastor Ed was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy! ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    I recently received a copy of an intriguing book in the mail called Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. One of the authors, Dr. Clinton Arnold, is a friend and colleague of mine at Biola University. This father-son pair tackle some of the biggest theological questions raised about Christianity today, such as, “Is Hell a real place?” “Do angels and demons really exist?” and “Does God hate sex?” If you’re looking for an easy-to-read, insightful, and timely book that tackles these types of questions, then I highly recommend this book. To give you a sense of the content and approach of this book, the Arnolds answered a few of my questions ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    One of my favorite presentations to do at universities, schools, conferences, and churches is my Atheist Encounter, in which I interact with the audience while role-playing an atheist. After briefly setting up my character (which involves putting on my “atheist glasses”), I then take live questions from the audience and do my best to defend atheism so Christians can see how well—or how poorly—they defend their faith ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my first post, I discussed two underlying reasons why pornography has such a stronghold on many youth today. In this post, my goal is to offer six practical insights so we can best help students resist the lure of pornography. These are some of the points I will be sharing at the upcoming Set Free Global Conference on pornography.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    For the past two decades, I have been speaking, teaching, writing, and counseling students on a variety of issues. Yet in the past few years, no issue has become more critical to address with students than pornography. And yet, sadly, many parents, youth workers, teachers, and other adults simply ignore it ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    I love stories. And I know that you do too. Whether it’s a captivating novel, an enthralling movie, or an anecdote from a friend, human beings love stories. We love to tell them and we love to listen to them. In fact, we can't resist them. In The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall says it beautifully: “Human minds yield hopelessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, not matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.”[1] Good public speakers know that the best way to engage an audience is through storytelling. Whenever I feel like I’m losing an audience, I quickly tell a story and they’re right back with me! ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings—or it is the most remarkable fact of history.” My father has often shared these words to me in person, and he’s written them in his books. The older I get, the more I realize they’re unmistakably true. There’s no middle ground with the resurrection of Jesus. Either it is a colossal fabrication or the most important event in history ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    ... If the bones of Jesus were found, then Christianity would be false. Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17, NASB). Some religions may make untestable claims about reality, but Christianity makes claims about real events in history that can be tested. Let’s put it to the test ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Recently my newest book, A New Kind of Apologist, was released. One of the unique chapters, written by my friend Mark Mittelberg, is about how to motivate people in the church to care about apologetics. Enjoy the selections below in which Mark focuses on equipping church leaders and motivating church members ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my recent book The Fate of the Apostles, I examine the claim that the apostles died as martyrs for their faith. One apostle who often gets overlooked is James, the brother of Jesus. While James wasn’t one of the Twelve, there is good reason to believe he was not a believer of Jesus during his public ministry (Mark 3:20-35; John 7:5), he saw the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7), and became the key leader in the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9; Acts 21:17-26) ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Since the release of The Passion, faith-based films have been coming out from Hollywood at an increased rate. On the one hand, faith-based films are often cheesy and unrealistic. On the other hand, many lose the spirit of the original story and are utterly inaccurate (Noah, anyone?) With a bit of hesitancy, my wife and I went to see Risen last night. All things considered, we were both pleasantly surprised! ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In The Fate of the Apostles, I argue that the willingness of the apostles to die for their faith provides convincing evidence that we can trust their testimony. However, as critics have pointed out, this rightly assumes that the apostles had a resurrection faith. If the apostles believed for some other reason, then their willingness to suffer and face martyrdom would be inconsequential to the truth of Christianity. So, how do we know the apostles had a resurrection faith?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    he willingness of the apostles to die for their faith is one of the most commonly cited arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. And yet in my research and experience, it is one of the most widely misunderstood. It is important we neither overstate nor understate the significance of this point. In my book The Fate of the Apostles, I carefully state the argument this way ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Pastors, apologists, and other Christians love proclaiming the deaths of the apostles as evidence for the Christian faith. As I lay out in The Fate of the Apostles, the willingness of the apostles to be martyred for their faith is one critical piece of evidence for the reliability of the resurrection accounts. Despite the popularity of this claim, there are no early, reliable accounts that the apostles were given the opportunity to recant their beliefs before being killed. Does this undermine the claim that they were martyrs? ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    The traditional view is that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero AD 64-67. In my recent book The Fate of the Apostles, I make the case that the apostles were all willing to suffer and die for their faith. While the evidence for individual apostles varies, there is very good historical reason to believe that Paul died as a martyr in the mid to late 60s ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Could the apostles have been sincere but misguided in their convictions about Jesus? In my recent book The Fate of the Apostles, I make the case that all the apostles were willing to suffer and die for their faith, and some of them did. A common objection, however, is that they were sincere but misguided. In other words, the apostles were not liars—they just mistakenly died for something that was false ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    In my recent book The Fate of the Apostles, I make the historical case that the apostles were all willing to suffer and die for their belief that they had seen the risen Jesus. This does not prove the truth of their claims, but that they were sincere. But what about Joseph Smith? Didn’t he die as a martyr for his faith? Does that mean he was equally sincere, and hence Mormonism may be true as well?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Sean McDowell — 

    Perhaps the most common claim regarding the martyrdom of Peter is that he was crucified upside down. As the story goes, Peter refused to be crucified upwards as his master Jesus, and so he requested an upside-down death. And the Romans were more than happy to oblige ...