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David Limbaugh on His New Book: Jesus on Trial -- A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We welcome back to the program my brother, David, well-known author and agent for many highfalutin personalities and celebrities, as well as lawyer, and he's the author of... This is probably the book that he was intended to write his whole life. This is the one he's been building up to. Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel. This is a pretty risky subject. You're dealing with people's faith here, and, in many cases, faith is all people have to sustain them. And you know, one of the refrains is that it can't be proved. That's the test. So why'd you decide to do it? Why'd you decide to write the book?

DAVID: Well, thanks for having me on. It's a big honor. I have been studying the Bible, theology, and Christian apologetics -- which means the defense of the Christian faith -- on and off for years. And it just so happens that two of my grade school friends (you know their names, I can't mention them on the air) and they also were high school friends, of course, and I were having dinner, our annual dinner.

And one of these two made a provocative statement to me. He knows I'm a Christian, and I don't know if he was testing his faith by challenging mine or just being playful and provocative. But he made the statement that he didn't believe a rational person could believe in Christianity. And I've studied this stuff a lot, and I tried to respond to him in a brief time. This wasn't the purpose of our meeting.

And, in the end, I think I failed to even marshal much evidence at all. It wasn't at the top of my mind. I wasn't prepared to do it. So I resolved after that that I'd do a better job. I'd study this stuff, get it on my mind. And then within a few days I got a call from Regnery publishing, Harry Crocker, who is a converted Catholic, and he and I have had discussions over the years.

He's a strong believer, and he invited me to write a book on this very subject -- a lawyer looks at the truth of Christianity -- and just do a book on it. And I said, "Well, Harry, I'm really not equipped. I'm not a trained theologian." So I balked at first, and I finally agreed to do it for two reasons. One, I thought I might be getting providential promptings with those two events occurring in such close proximity.

I don't know that to be true, but I'm open to the possibility.

And the second thing is, I think coming to this as a skeptic, as a former skeptic I can relate to those who are currently skeptics perhaps better than a pastor or a trained theologian. I might be able to reach some of these people. Also, I have a secular platform. Not as vast as yours, admittedly, but somewhat of a platform. So that if I can reach people, maybe I can reach people in the secular world and produce some of this evidence to them and make a slight bit of a difference in their lives.

RUSH: How is your book different from other books on, if not this specific subject, Christian apologetics? I mean, this is quite an undertaking. I mean, God... Another question would be, "Why...?" People ask this all the time in their own way. Pascal, the Pensées, he was driven nuts trying to find proof. "Why does God make it so hard?"

DAVID: Well, the reason I decided to -- or the reason my book is different is the normal classical Christian apologetics approach looks at Christianity through its claims. It looks at the reliability of the Bible, biblical prophecy, the various philosophical proofs of God, the arguments for the possibility of miracles and all that stuff.

And I did all that, but I also added my own unique take to it, which is my own spiritual journey. Because I was a skeptic and I wanted to trace how I evolved from doubter to believer, and I also structured the book that way. I didn't just structure it as a lawyer looks analytically at the evidence, but as an experiential book, relating my experiences and saying how the Bible itself worked as its own apologetic to me.

Studying theology fascinated me so much and contains so much truth, self-evident truth that I believe that the Bible itself affirms the truth of the Gospel, and it's self-evidently true when you start studying it. So I hadn't ever opened my mind to it and opened my eyes to it, and I wanted to share some of these stories. I call 'em "a-ha moments," things that drew me into Christianity.

Some of the attractive teachings, Jesus' teachings and biblical teachings. I call them "the paradoxical teachings." They seem counterintuitive but they are so true once you study them and dig down deeper. I wanted to share these teachings to people because I think the Bible serves as its own apologetic -- that if you'll just give the Bible and theology a chance, you won't even need these other formal methods in classical apologetics, which I am supporting. I included a bunch of that in my book comprehensively. But I also believe that we need to give the Bible a chance. It tells us that we can become believers by reading and studying it. That's its promise.

RUSH: You keep using the word "apologetics." Would you clarify that? Because it sounds like people apologizing for their belief.

DAVID: Right. It's from the Greek root. It means to defend. So we're offering the reasons in support of our faith, defending the faith against those who would attack it, and there are plenty of those as you know.

RUSH: All right. And what was your biggest doubt? You know, do you remember a guy who used to be on the radio named Larry King? You remember him?

DAVID: Oh, yeah. (chuckling)

RUSH: Way, way back, a long time ago, I remember I was working for the Royals. I was driving home late one night, and I found this guy, Larry King, on the radio, and he was talking to somebody that worked for the pope. So this would be back in the seventies, and he asked this emissary, the PR person or spokesman, "Does the pope have doubts?" And this guy said, "Yeah, all the time," which I found stunning for that to be admitted. What were some of your biggest doubts about the truth of Christianity?

DAVID: Well, some of my doubts were the problem of evil and suffering in the world. Why would an all-loving and all-powerful God -- a God who presumably could prevent it, why would He -- allow the kind of suffering we witness in the world? And why would this God...? We are told, Christians are told, the Bible tells us that we have to believe in Jesus Christ in order to attain eternal salvation. Why would God base his judgment on our very salvation on whether we believe something to be true? Can we really control what we believe? And I also... By the way, there's great answers for all of these.

RUSH: Does your book do that? Does your book give the answers here?

DAVID: Absolutely.

RUSH: All right.

DAVID: Absolutely. Very thoroughly, in my humble opinion. And is Christ really God? I had difficulty with the deity of Jesus Christ, until I studied the Book of John where He unequivocally claimed that He was the great "I am," the name for Jehovah. Before Abraham was born, "I am." Not I was. Not I existed in the past 2,000 years ago. Before Abraham was born 2,000 years ago, I was, "I am," meaning eternal existence.

Clearly He was claiming to be God using that term, the term that Jehovah, the Old Testament Jehovah used and self-identified Himself, and He was stoned, or attempted to be stoned as a result. So there was no doubt that he claimed to be God. But coming to study these things and overcoming these doubts really did a great deal toward tipping me toward the faith.

RUSH: So how did you come to accept this challenge of a loving God, who -- and I say this in quotes -- "permits" such suffering?

CALLER: Well, I think that the God of the Bible, the triune God of the Bible, we know because the Bible tells us that He created us in His image. That means to me that He created us as intelligent beings, as distinct from all other creatures. He gave us, I believe, free will. Some of the hardcore Calvinists out there might disagree, but I'm fully acknowledging God's sovereignty and His control of the universe.

But I believe that He created us to have a special, intimate relationship, a spiritual relationship with Him, and that would not have been possible had He created us as automatons, as robots. We have to have some free will in order to be capable of having love. You can't command someone to have love in the genuine sense. So He created us with free will, and with that, creating us that way opened up the possibility that we would sin. And when you enter...

And actually the inevitability that we would sin because when you sin, it ushers in evil in the world, and so for God to have denied the possibility of evil, He would have not been able to make us in His image. But ultimately you have to look at a few things. One is -- and this is not to diminish the suffering that people go through. You can't just cite some glib passage of scripture and make people feel better.

No, but you do, in the abstract look at the problem, the temporal nature of suffering, compared to the eternal existence in heaven with God, you do that, you look at that. But the more important and more compelling reason, the answer for evil in the world is that God created us knowing we would sin, knowing that in order for us to be redeemed, satisfying His perfect holiness, His perfect justice, He would have to send his son, who would experience the very same types of suffering that we did.

The excruciating pain on the cross, and more important than the excruciating pain on the cross, was his spiritual separation from the Father with whom he lived in the Holy Trinity in eternity past in complete bliss, he decided, knowing that we would sin, that he would come down and suffer all these indignities, the separation from the Father, which is unbearable, causing him to sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane and then take and accept the full force of God's wrath for all of our past, present, and future sins. And he did that just so we could live.

So as John, the theologian or evangelist said, some people envision our God as sitting indifferently, apathetic to sin on a celestial deck chair, but the God of the Bible is the God of the cross who became incarnate, to come down and suffer every bit as much as we did, experience every kind of suffering that we have ever experienced and way more than we could ever imagine, just so that we could live. And the ultimate answer, then, for suffering from the Christian perspective is the cross of Jesus Christ. And that's what it's all about.

RUSH: We're talking to my brother, David, regarding his new book, Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel. I was in Israel in 1993, and it was basically a political trip. But I took some time, 'cause I wanted to visit the Christian sites. I have never been more shocked than when I was taken to Golgotha, where they think Golgotha -- now, my point in bringing this up to you is, here is something, Christianity, and of course the resurrection of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ is essential to the Christian faith. If that didn't happen, then everybody's in trouble, right?

DAVID: Yes.

RUSH: So you would think that where that happened would have been noted, would have been marked, would have been a tourist spot, people could visit it and see it. You know what it is? It's the Jerusalem mass transit parking lot. I go into this place, and there's some Christians there from the UK that day, and I walk in and I'm eager to see where Christ died on the cross. They said, "It's right there." I'm looking at a parking lot with mass transit buses spewing their global warming emissions. I said, "No, no, no, where?" They said, "No, right there. That's where we think it was."

I was just stunned that you can't find evidence in a physical sense. It's made really hard. That's why faith enters into this, because, you know, people have gone crazy trying to find proof. It's amazing that you've been able to do it for yourself, and it's why I think your book is gonna be overwhelmingly valuable to millions of people who are looking to find evidence because they want more than their faith, and if you've done that in a persuasive way for people, it's gonna be great.

I've gotta take a break. We'll continue this right after we get back.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Welcome back, and we're talking to my brother, David, about his latest book, Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel. If I may say, folks, this book is rewarding, it is confidence inspiring, it's heartwarming, and it's impossible to explain it in a half hour on the radio. It's an amazing piece of work. It comes across as a skeptic overcoming skepticism and proving to himself that what he believes is true and that it can be proven, and that's something that so many people are looking for. If that's you, folks, this book is right up your alley. Why are you, after all of this, so confident that you can trust, that all of us can trust, the Bible? Because you know it's a source of great controversy for everybody.

DAVID: Do you mind if I hit that resurrection of Christ that you asked me about before the break?

RUSH: No, go ahead.

DAVID: Because that's so pivotal. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is so essential to the Christian faith, and Christianity is grounded in the historical fact of Jesus' bodily resurrection. I want to be clear of that. So we Christians don't deny history. In fact, the apostle Paul said if the resurrection didn't happen, then we Christians are more to be pitied than any other people because we're gonna die in our sins, and we have no faith, we have no hope. He fully admitted he was basing his claim on the true historical resurrection of Christ.

So when Jesus died, his apostles and disciples were dejected and dispirited. They were cowards; they had denied him. They didn't really believe. His own brother James didn't believe in him. But then they appeared over a period of 40 days. And there's no reputable scholar that denies the tomb was empty, by the way, or that he died a medical, actual death. He appeared to different ones of them at different times, seven, nine, 11, at one time 500 witnesses. They saw him. They touched him. They ate with him over a period of 40 days. And then they were transformed -- this is critical -- from cowardly deniers to bold proclaimers of Christianity.

And you say, "Well, what's the difference in them and those people, the adherents of other faiths or ideologies? They died for their faith. What's the difference? Some still do." The New Testament scholar Gary Habermas says, like all other religions, of course the followers believed in the teachings of their leader. But, unlike all others, they had seen the resurrected Jesus. So which is more likely: that an ideology we believe in is true, or that we and a number of others saw a friend several times during the last month, would you rather believe in an abstract idea or our own eyes?

So if they had not seen Jesus after he died, if his tomb was not empty, would they have died for something they absolutely knew wasn't true? It's inconceivable that they would have done it. Christianity is based on the physical facts of the resurrection. And, by the way, it's not just that they say this in the Bible reliably; we have proof of that. When the Bible stands up, when subjected to the textual criticism, compared to any other ancient book, that it is more accurate, that it comes down to us exactly as it was written. Any scrivener's errors over the 2,000 years or over the years we see do not affect the substance. So we have more copies, more New Testament copies, 5,800 copies, existing copies and some 19,300 in other languages of the New Testament, not as many for the Old Testament. But after the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery, an amazing amount. We don't have anything like that for the other ancient Greek and Roman documents. Most of them there's only 10 or 20 copies. The Iliad, you have 1,800 which is less than 10%, and yet everybody accepts those as accurate. And they have been subjected to textual criticism. The reason the number of --

RUSH: Well, look, you know why this is fought against so hard, because people assume Christianity is judgmental, and if it can proven to be true, well, that's a problem for a whole lot of nonbelievers who don't want to think of themselves in sinful ways or what have you. Look, I've got one minute here.

DAVID: Okay.

RUSH: Who are you really trying to reach with this book?

DAVID: I'm trying to reach fellow skeptics who haven't really given this a chance. The Bible claims it has the power of converting people if they'll just give it a chance. If you study the Bible and open your heart and mind to the Bible, I think you will see, like I did, that it is the true, inspired, inerrant Word of God. So I'm writing for those people, but I'm also writing to believers, believers who need their faith reinforced from time to time. I'm also writing for young, early Christians who just became Christians. I put a primer on theology in here, kind of two chapters on paradoxical teachings of Christianity, because I think theology is its own apologetic.

It is so fascinating, if you study theology, your faith will be enhanced. You may even become transformed from a nonbeliever to a believer. The Bible's the Word of God, give it a chance, it will shock your socks off. It will knock your pants off. I'm so excited about the Bible. I know I sound like a nerd. I'm not one of these charismatic type of Christians, but I firmly believe the Bible is the Word of God, and I'm excited about it and I want to be contagious in my enthusiasm for the Bible to inspire a like interest in other people so that they can explore it and receive the life-changing benefits that I have received.

RUSH: All of that is true, folks. I've grown up with my brother, obviously, and I'm familiar with this quest of his. He can barely contain his excitement over all this, and he just wants to share it. Jesus on Trial by David Limbaugh.

END TRANSCRIPT

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