Since 1964, Josh McDowell has
been a traveling representative for Campus Crusade for Christ and heads
the Josh McDowell Ministry international organization located in Dallas.
He has spoken to more than 7 million young people in 84 countries, including
on 700 university and college campuses. McDowell is the author or co-author
of more than 75 books. Among his most popular books are several offering
clear defenses for the Christian faith: New Evidence That Demands
a Verdict, More Than a Carpenter and Right From Wrong: What You
Need To Know To Help Youth Make Right Choices.
McDowell recently spoke with
Scott Harrup, general editor.
Evangel: How has Christ changed
After I set out to refute Christianity intellectually and couldnt,
I came to the conclusion the Bible was true and Jesus Christ was Gods
Son. On December 19, 1959, at 8:30 at night I placed my trust in Christ
as Savior and Lord and asked Him to come into my life and forgive me.
Over time things began to change.
Where I once constantly lost my temper, I found myself arriving at a
crisis and experiencing peace. Where I once believed people were there
to be used, I started thinking of other people first. I once had a lot
of hatred, mainly toward my father, an alcoholic. I despised him. After
I came to Christ, I could look my father in the eyes and say, "I
love you." That shook him up after some of the things I had done.
As a result, it brought him to Christ also.
Evangel: Some might say that
your testimony is just subjective experience. What makes a Christians
claims more valid than those of a Buddhist or atheist, for example?
McDowell: I always ask people,
"What is the objective basis for the subjective experience?"
I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because
of my convictions about who Jesus Christ is. He is the Son of God. He
died on a cross for my sin, was buried, was literally raised from the
dead on the third day.
Evangel: What distinguishes the
Bible from other religious works?
McDowell: It is a book that
is based in history with historical evidence and data. In Luke 3, for
example, there are eight or nine historical references in the first
verse. The Bible is not just a theological dissertation; its a
theological dissertation set within history that can be checked out.
I once thought all I had to do was
refute Christs philosophy and my case was won. But I came front
to front with history with a Person named Jesus Christ, with
a book called the Bible that was based within history.
Another difference is in the message
of the Bible that man is sinful, man has fallen and there is
nothing man can do to get out of it without God taking initiative to
reach him. That message separates the Bible from so much other religious
Finally, the Bible presents God
becoming Man. Its whole message is revolutionary.
Evangel: Critics say that Jesus
never claimed to be more than a teacher. Where does Jesus claim divinity?
McDowell: I wrote a book,
Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity, because the deity of Christ
is found from Genesis to Revelation. Several passages in the Gospels
are some of the strongest. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus said to a paralytic,
"My son, your sins are forgiven." Now, whenever you read any
historical document, you always evaluate it in light of the historical
context. When you consider the audience He spoke to and the meaning
in that context, it was a bold statement.
Were commanded to forgive
others who wrong us, but Jesus took a person who had sinned against
God the Father and said, "I forgive you." Immediately the
Jews said, "Why does this Man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And Jesus said, "Thats
right. I forgive you." Thats one of the boldest claims to
John 10 talks about Jesus
sheep. Jesus says, "My Father who has given them to me is greater
than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my Fathers
hand, for I and the Father are one." You might say, "I and
the Father are one" in spirit. But thats not what Jesus said
in the context of His audience. He said, "I and the Father are
one" in essence and meaning. Look how the Jews, Jesus audience,
responded. They picked up stones to stone Him. And Jesus answered: "I
showed you many good works from the Father. For which of them are you
stoning Me?" And the Jews answered Him, "For a good work,
we do not stone You. But for blaspheming, because You, being a Man,
make yourself out to be God." To the audience He was addressing,
Jesus made a direct claim to deity.
Those are two of about 40 related
Evangel: Why are Christs
McDowell: My presupposition
is that Jesus claims are valid because He is God in human flesh.
But Jesus said, "If you do not believe me for my words only, at
least believe me for the sake of the miracles that I have done."
He said, "The blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed."
Christ confirmed His message, as did the disciples, through miracles
Christ also fulfilled prophecy,
substantiating His claims. I have a whole section in my books on 333
messianic prophecies in the Old Testament all fulfilled in one Person,
Another point would be how Jesus
appealed to the Father and gave credit to the Father and stated He was
God in human flesh. The Resurrection was probably the biggest proof.
I recently did an interview for an Easter special on CBS on the Resurrection.
I went over and over how the Resurrection confirms that Jesus Christ
is the Son of God. And here is what is unique and even makes the Bible
different from other books: Other people claim to have been raised from
the dead, but their power is always from someone else. Jesus claimed
He had the power to raise himself from the dead and His followers would
be raised from the dead. Thats a unique claim in the literature
Evangel: Some say Christs
disciples made up the story of His resurrection. Is there evidence of
McDowell: Heres the
simplest answer: Within weeks, the disciples proclaimed the resurrection
of Jesus Christ, that He had been bodily raised from the dead and appeared
to them. Where did they do that? Jerusalem. Where did the Resurrection
allegedly take place? Jerusalem. If they had connived a scheme, and
Christ had not been raised from the dead, where would have been the
hardest place on the face of the earth to convince anyone? In Jerusalem.
A 15-minute walk would have exposed the body in the tomb. They preached
it in the hardest place in the world to convince anyone that Christ
had been raised from the dead if it was a fraud.
Evangel: How can one Persons
death 2,000 years ago change someones life in the 21st century?
McDowell: If Jesus was not
who He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Redeemer
then it couldnt. He might be a model for you, a motivation.
If you study the life of Abraham Lincoln, you might live for others
and take bold stands. But Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed that unless
we are personally related to Him we are still in our sins and we are
If Jesus Christ was who He claimed
to be, and He did die on a cross at a point of time in history, then,
for all history past and all history future it is relevant because that
is the very focal point for forgiveness and redemption. So, a Person
who died on a cross for the sins of humanity has an impact on a persons
life today in forgiveness.
Second, Jesus not only died on the
cross for sins, but also was buried and raised from the dead, ascended
to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. Because Christ lives, 2,000 years
later He has that capacity to enter a mans or a womans life
and to change that life from the inside out. Jesus is relevant in forgiveness
and through indwelling power.
Evangel: In your travels what
continuing evidence do you see of Christs influence on the world?
McDowell: One of the biggest
is the impact through His followers in compassion for the hurting
like the Convoy of Hope. I wish every denomination had a ministry like
that. Convoy of Hope, Operation Carelift, Samaritans Purse, World
Vision everywhere I go there are demonstrations.
And theres the power of forgiveness
that I see in so many believers in some of the most heart-wrenching
Then there is the growth of the
Church. In some of the most difficult parts of the world people are
responding to Christ in spite of the circumstances, showing the power
of God at work today.