Jun 22nd, 2020
Can a lawyer who is trained to rely on evidence still believe in the God of the Bible? Is faith more about feelings than facts? That’s what we’re exploring today on Bleeding Daylight.
Reverend Doctor Ross Clifford AM is a former lawyer, a theologian, political commentator, pastor, radio personality, and so much more. He has authored or co-authored over a dozen books. In June, 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Australia.
Leading Lawyers' Case for the Resurrection: https://www.amazon.com.au/Leading-Lawyers-Case-Resurrection-Clifford/dp/1945500638
Ross Clifford on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Clifford
(Transcript is a guide only and may not be 100% correct.)
Emily Olsen: Wherever there shadows there are people ready to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. This is bleeding daylight with your host Rodney Olsen.
Rodney Olsen: Can a lawyer who is trained to rely on evidence still believe in the God of the Bible? Is faith more about feelings than facts? That’s what we’re exploring today on Bleeding Daylight.
Rodney Olsen: My guest today seems to have had enough careers for several lifetimes. He's a former lawyer, a theologian, political commentator, pastor radio personality, and so much more. He has authored or co-authored over a dozen books. In June, 2010 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and it's a real honour to welcome Reverend Doctor Ross Clifford AM to Bleeding Daylight. Ross. Thanks for your time.
Ross Clifford: Good to be with you, Rodney.
Rodney Olsen: Do you get worn out just thinking of all the roads that your life has actually traveled down?
Ross Clifford: I don't actually I mean, I find it fascinating, but I think that's going to be the new normal. If I could use that term again that seems to be out there today.
I mean, so many people are exploring, you know, different aspects of life and changing vacation and God taking them into other directions. So for me, Rodney has just really been open to where you think you meant to be and where God's taking you
Rodney Olsen: And a lot of those different careers, so to speak have been simultaneously haven't they?
Ross Clifford: Oh, they were and still are, I'm still doing radio and I'm still principal of a theological college and, and writing. And, uh, you know, I just think that's, you know, who I am, that that's what God's called me to do. And I'm pretty comfortable with it.
Rodney Olsen: Let's go back to those very early days and your training and work as a lawyer. What drew you to that vocation?
Ross Clifford: It was by chance, in some sense, I was looking for something to do and I left school and school had been pretty rocky and I found myself, uh, in the public service, the Attorney General's Department and discovered if I was going to move forward anywhere as a young, 19 year old, I had to study law. So that's basically how it happened, Rodney. And, uh, through that, I fell in love with law and had a real sense that this was somewhere where I could make a difference. Uh, and so I decided to do community law, really work with people and, and, and, and, you know, not the top end kind of law, which I found so distanced.
So I worked at King's cross in Sydney for a while. And then in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.
Rodney Olsen: It must've been some interesting cases that you're working on with the sort of places you were working.
Ross Clifford: Oh, absolutely. And a Tennant Creek, for example, in, in the Northern Territory, it was an honor to stand with, uh, indigenous people and a stand for them before the courts.
But I must say though, you know, the sense of angst that we hear today was not there. You know, you could work with police and work with magistrates and courts, and I don't know, it just seemed to be a more decent society, if I can say that.
Rodney Olsen: So does it concern you that the issues that existed back then don't just still exist, but are being amplified at the moment ?
Ross Clifford: They are being amplified and I just don't know why, uh, you know, one would have thought that we would have moved on.
We were confronting them. 30, 40 years ago and you would've thought we've moved on, but rather it seems even more hostile, more hatred, more underlying ideologies playing out. And I think we're at a real stage in human history where we have to decide what are our values? Where are we heading? Uh, you know, we won't be taken over by people who have, uh, whatever agendas I have, but we'll work together on this in order to ensure that Australia is the place we wanted to be operating on Christian values, all people are equal. All people have human worth and we can do that together. Rodney.
Rodney Olsen: So that wishing that people would move on. That's not a case of, Hey, let's just forget the past. As some people would suggest, of working together to, to overcome that and move on.
Ross Clifford: Oh, absolutely. And having sat with indigenous people and represented before courts and done Aboriginal lists in places like Tennant Creek and being a regular lawyer under settlements, like , Warrabri, you know, it's about sitting and listening and hearing and understanding.
And, and finding structures that work with that. And we certainly had those structures days, years ago, nothing was perfect, but I'm sure we can do it again. And it's, it's honoring who we are, the past, we've all been through and finding solutions together on that basic Christian principle of human worth and human dignity for all people.
But let's be sure, Rodney, we don't let the agenda written take over this. We do it together as decent human beings.
Rodney Olsen: It's interesting that in everything you're talking about, you're bringing this Christian aspect into it and where God is leading you. And that is as a trained lawyer who. Is dealing with the facts who is dealing with the evidence in front of you and yet, so often we hear this dilemma between people of faith and people who are looking at the science and the real evidence. Is there a conflict there at all?
Ross Clifford: Ah look, I'm one who knows what it is to doubt, Rodney. And my story is as a lawyer and exploring my Christian faith and being happy and having a real sense that God wanted me in ministry.
I came back from Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, and I came back to train for Christian ministry and within six months, I really had such a strong sense of doubt that I was leaving. The, uh, the, uh, the early studies for being a Christian minister and heading back to the Northern territory to practice law and to be involved in, in politics.
And it was over the resurrection of Jesus. I still had a God out there, but I wasn't sure that this guy was God. And I wasn't sure what this guy did rise from the dead. And so I was in the, in the middle of that personal angst. So, for me, the resurrection of Jesus and belief in the Christian faith is not just, Oh, that's something that I'd like it to be.
I mean, that's hard earned. I mean, God took me through a real cycle of seeing that I could have confidence to place my faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
Rodney Olsen: We're talking about an event that happened over 2000 years ago. How do you look at evidence? How do you deal with that conflict that in your own mind and come to a place where you can say, I can believe this?
Ross Clifford: Well, that's a really good question. Uh, and I guess why my training as a a lawyer really helped me there. Uh, but you know, it's not rocket science and the stuff I've written, hopefully, you know, the average Australian can see, it's just common sense. I had to go back Rodney and ask, well, how good are these documents that tell the story of Jesus?
And that's just a miracle. Let me tell you. They're better than anything else we have from antiquity. And that's not just me speaking. That's scholars speaking. Yeah. We have 5,000 early Greek copies of the gospels and there's absolutely no doubt, Rodney, that as you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you're reading, as it was written.
And it goes to one of the most, uh, established and important techs for the resurrection of Jesus is one Corinthians 15 chapter 15. And I don't know how a scholar alive, who does not believe that was written by the apostle Paul. It's a very early writing. And it tells us clearly what he believed, what he believed he saw and what the early church practiced and what they're prepared to lose their lives for.
Mate, its just gold mine kind of evidence, if you know what I mean. These documents are good stuff.
Rodney Olsen: In one sense, we've got to say, we can look for the evidence that we want to see. Like for instance, I drive a blue Ford Escape. I really didn't know much about Ford Escapes until I bought one. Then every second car on the road seem to be that, cause that's what I was looking for. How do you overcome the bias of just going to seek for what you're after anyway?
Ross Clifford: Ah, good question again. And I think skepticism is not inappropriate. God's asking us to believe in something that is life changing, and calls you and me to put our life into this movement and this cause, you know, being skeptical is not inappropriate, but Rodney, because of skeptical old Roscoe here, imagine what God gave us. You know, if you read one Corinthians 15, you read the gospels, you find, Rodney, the ones who give the best evidence, the ones who saw Jesus die, the ones who saw him buried and the ones who him rise again, are the women. I mean, it's not that the men are not in there somewhere, but the women give you that unbroken chain, uh, in that day, women weren't allowed to give evidence in a court of law.
The Jewish historian Lapide says the fact that it's women at the forefront is a sign that this is not an invention. This is not made up in order to get you convicted to these guy's bias. You you'd have Peter and Paul or whatever, being the primary witnesses. It's the women, it's a ring of truth. And then you've got people who were skeptical, who didn't believe in him at all.
People like the apostle Paul people, like his half brother James, they were skeptics. They were total skeptics. What turned them around? The resurrection of Jesus. You've got 500 witnesses, Paul says who were out there most are still alive. In our terms, Rodney, it's basically saying, look, here's the app. It's got the list of everybody.
You need to know who's around Jerusalem at the time. Uh, you know, check them out. They even throw in stuff like Joseph of Arimathea. They give you the name of the guy who was involved in the burial of Jesus. And they say he's from the Jewish council, the sanhedrin. It's giving you data. You don't do that if you're creating lies,.You can check it out. No, one's come back and say, Oh, Joseph didn't exist. No one came back and said he didn't bury him. I mean, it's just extraordinary. You just sit there and go, Oh my gosh, God wrote this for me.
Rodney Olsen: There's a reliance there on the Christian scriptures, but how do we know that they're for real?
How do we know that they haven't been reinvented over the years? Is there any evidence coming from outside that, that Christian scripture, that Bible that we know today?
Ross Clifford: Oh yeah. I can tell you the whole Jesus story without going to the Bible. I can tell you that he's locked death crucifixion and believed resurrection believed resurrection without going to the scriptures.
I mean, from the Jewish Talmud, from historians, like Josephus, uh, from, uh, stories like Tacitus, the Roman historian, you know, that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilot. That's, that's how they understood as historians. And it was believed, says, Josephus. By his disciples that he rose from the dead. So mate, you can get that all out there.
Look, Christian philosophers by the name of Moreland had Habermas and they dedate this at Oxford University and whatever, and you and I don't need to do this, but they say there's a number of agreed facts by even the skeptical historians that we could all put out, you know, we could all say, yeah, this happened, the agreed facts are simply things like Jesus existed.
Jesus died upon the cross. The disciples believed the disciples believe he rose again. The disciples gave their lives for that belief. And you've got the incredible transformation historically of people like James, his half brother, who was a skeptic, who became a leader of the church and the apostle Paul, who was the major antagonist against the church.
He believed Jesus died, but didn't believe in any of this resurrection stuff. He encountered the resurrected Christ and he became a believer. So they say you take those five facts together. You don't need to open your Bible to get those five facts from history. That enough is to say there's a case to answer here.
Rodney Olsen: And yet there are still people who are writing books, looking back at history and saying the facts don't stack up. So are they not looking at the evidence? Are we looking at different evidence? How do we account for that?
Ross Clifford: Oh, well, you're looking at times, uh, at people who have not looked at the evidence. I remember a debate that took place, uh, in Sydney with a mentor of mine called John Mark Montgomery.
Who's a well known lawyer historian. He's got three doctorates. He communicates well with the public and he was the biding, a guy called Plummer from Melbourne who was a lawyer, and it was over these particular matters and someone from the audience asked Montgomery how he could be so sure Jesus existed, died and rose from the grave and the gospels are reliable.
And Montgomery took him through the whole thing, 5,000 copies. That means that whether you're Christian or not. 5,000 copies from early dates, different places. You can check the gospels, check the reliability, and you can come as a scholar with a conviction that as you read, these gospels is as they were written.
There's no debate about that. With respect to what Paul writes in one Corinthians 15, then you've got to ask, okay, as I read it is, as it was written, but are these truthful witnesses, are they seeking to tell the truth and this basic tests look how they're honest. Look how they share everything. Look at how they believe this.
Look, how they died for it. You guys, for all of this. And then Plumber. Who's a lovely guy. a leading lawyer, uh, represent the Skeptics Association. Then someone said to him, well, Mr. Plummer, why don't you believe the gospels are reliable and they told the truth about Jesus and his answer, I kid you not Rodney, his answer was, well anything that Robert Schuller follows must be doubtful.
Rodney Olsen: And right there, we have a bias
Ross Clifford: Right there. He lost the debate.
Rodney Olsen: Does this come back to that thing I was mentioning earlier in that sometimes we're looking for what we want to find?
Ross Clifford: Oh, absolutely. I couldn't agree more. And look, I did say healthy skepticism. I'm not saying I can prove that Jesus died and rose again historically a hundred percent.
I mean, I can't tell you a hundred percent that Robert Menzies lived and died. I mean, history is always probable. We need to remember that history is always probable, but there's more evidence for Jesus' death and resurrection than there is for Julius Caeser. So, you know, come on. Um, so we know we need to remember that we do have bias.
Uh, not dismissing any of that. Uh, I remember Barbara Thieirng, who's a leading Australian skeptic and a really nice woman. I did some study with her, but Barbara said to me, Ross, you just believe this stuff because you have this great need to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. And I said, well, thanks Barbara for pointing that out.
And you obviously don't believe this stuff because you have a great need, not to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. And she said, Oh, Ross, come on. Absolute rubbish. This is not just emotion. I don't believe because the facts. Oh, well guess what Barbara? The same thing happens for me. Why do you assume I want the Jesus story to be true?
I was very happy being a lawyer, Barbara. I would really love to be in politics. I liked money. I had a happy life. I wasn't running around, saying I need a Jesus story, Barbara, and she got it. We were friends. I'm standing here, not because I don't think any of that other part is relevant. I'm standing here. because mate, I actually believe it happened.
Rodney Olsen: And going back to your court days, we hear about this idea of beyond a reasonable doubt. So is that how you convinced yourself? You thought the evidence stacks up and it stacks up beyond a reasonable doubt?
Ross Clifford: Yeah, basically. Uh, and of course, you know, that's kind of working, you know, at sort of a God factor.
And there are people here that are listening, who may not be Christians and that's fine. Take an honest, look at the evidence for the resurrection, you know, pray. The doubters prayer. Lord, help me, show me if I'm meant to be leaving here or not, but let's look at it. Make and take that sort of strong look at, and I'll be very confident, you'll come to a conclusion that there is a case to answer. But Rodney it gets deeper than that. In my life, when that's happening, you've got the work of the Holy spirit that then brings the conviction that what is mounting up here is more than probable. It is actually true. That's the work of God in your life, but it's not just the truth of the resurrection historical fact.
That's nice. That's out there. When you start thinking about it, you all of a sudden discover, that this resurrection thing is mind boggling, Rodney, absolutely mind boggling. Cause we all are looking for worldviews to follow. You have foundations for our life. And the resurrection says if Jesus has resurrected, as Paul says, you and I will be resurrected.
It says that God is concerned for you and I, as whole people will be changed and transform yes but our life in the future, Rodney, is as resurrected people before God. And if God's going to raise you and I up to be with him forever, that means he's concerned for you and I now. And that's why it's transformed me.
That's why there's Christian hospitals, that's why we're in the forefront of edge of education. That's why Christians have been the forefront of compassion. Resurrection says God's concerned for the whole of me. It's one of the most profound understandings of the world that you can have. And there's atheists out there now all over the place saying, Oh, we mustn't have the fact of the resurrection, but we want the theology, the worldview of the resurrection.
I've got news for you. You can't split the package. You can't take, Oh, I want a resurrection but without actually believing in one. Um, and the resurrection has this incredible foundation, Rodney, that, uh, it is true, but more than that, it is life changing. It changes the whole way you see the world. There's a common argument.
Rodney Olsen: I hear where people talk about this idea of a moral code or of having morals and they can be quite indignant to say, how dare you say that it is only through religion, only through a faith in a God that, I don't believe in, that I can have a moral stance. I have morals beyond that. What is your answer to that?
Ross Clifford: Look, I believe there's truth in most understandings of the world, but it doesn't mean they're necessarily true and I'm sure there's decent people have fair dinkum morals that might be based on Christianity and the like, but in the end, Rodney, what's the test? What's the ultimate test? What puts your moral code against somebody else's moral code?
What puts your understanding against another person's understanding? Both of you might be decent, but have very different moral codes. Well, what puts the difference here is if there's a person who died and rose again, and he says, that's the moral code. You have a test, you have a foundation, you have a certainty to the moral code that you are following is just not coming from the pack, it's just not coming from a bunch of good people creating something. As the philosopher. Rousseau said years ago, to have a moral code that you can actually base your life on must come from the gods. Guess what? There is one that does come from God. The resurrection affirms it. .
Rodney Olsen: I spoke earlier about the fact that you have authored or co-authored over a dozen books. Let's go back to that first one. You put together something by the title of Leading Lawyers look at the Resurrection. Tell me about that early book.
Ross Clifford: Yeah, look, it was actually written for Russia. That's interesting thing. Uh, I was over there with a mission group in Russia after the Gorbachev stuff was all unfolding.
And, uh, they said, look, Russians, like to think about things. Can we have a book? We haven't had one that actually points the case for the resurrection. And someone said, Oh, you've done a thesis on stuff like that. And I said, Oh, yeah I could make it very popular, and I did, but the way God works an Australian publisher, John Waterhouse, found out about it, uh, from Strand and then Albatross originally Albatross.
And he said, Ross, could you put that into English for us? You know, it was in English, but can we have an English edition and it was, and Rodney it was my privilege really to launch that book in a real way at the Gorbachev Foundation, with the director of the Gorbachev Foundation, uh, who indicated she'd handed it out to a thousand judges and lawyers at a recent conference.
She said the reason why is we are a people of kind of faith, religious faith. We've lost it through communism. We're trying to come back to that. Your book has the faith component, but more than that, she said, you know, the KGB told us how to decide cases. Whether we were the judge, the prosecutor, defence lawyer.
We'd all get a phone call the night before telling us you better, you know, do whatever. We're not used to arguing or presenting a case and not does only your book open us up to the question of faith again, but it shows us how to logically and legally and in a popular way, get our case together. And so that's, that's how it happened, but, uh, you got to remember it's life transforming a number of those lawyers actually brought me out of the darkness.
I read this stuff and I looked at the gospels again and I was born again. So, uh, this was very precious to me.
Rodney Olsen: So these lawyers have looked at the evidence they've said, yeah, it does stack up how many lawyers were there and are they all believers?
Ross Clifford: Yeah, they're all believers. Many of them weren't believers until they started doing, uh, you know, exploring as I've indicated.
Oh, there's just a pile of them, uh, including senior lawyers in Australia. Like, Sir Leslie Herron, I mean, The world's most famous lawyer, the world's. most successful lawyer was a guy called Sir Lionel Luckhoo, who was knighted twice by the queen, Rodney. Now I see that Perry Mason's making a comeback, can't wait, all of you who remember the old Perry Mason legal series.
Well, Perry Mason got to about 70 murder acquittals, which he won. Then they thought he had to lose one that so no one would believe it. Sir Lionel Luckhoo got 240 murder aquittals, 240 in a row. Um, and he was 63 he had everything, the world's best advocate, you know, knighted twice by the queen, and then he says I had absolutely nothing. And he took a look at Jesus. And Sir Lionel Luckhoo stood up after looking at the evidence and reading the gospels, et cetera, totally convinced that this Jesus had died, buried and rose again. And he committed the rest of his life to sharing the message of Jesus.
And it was my privilege. And he came out from the West Indies and launched this book with Clarrie Briese. And so Clarrie Briese was the Chief Magistrate of New South Wales, who's also in the book.
Rodney Olsen: There seems to be two sides of this. There is the evidence that as you say, does seem to stack up, it does seem to take us beyond a reasonable doubt, but at the same time, you're speaking about something different. You're speaking about something that goes beyond just reading a set of beliefs and saying, yep. It seems to stack up. I will follow that belief. Tell me more about that.
Ross Clifford: Yeah. Look, Rodney. Most Aussies approach things like this two ways.
Is it true? Does it work? And many of us start with, does it work? And if we think that it works, then we'll ask , is it true? Others of us ask, is it true? And then we'll say, well, so what. Well, we've been talking about is it true? Yeah. Does it work? Does it change my life if we hinted at this? Yes. Because the resurrection of Jesus points to resurrection as a state of eternity, you know, transform change.
Let's not get literal, but the whole sense is, the whole of Rodney goes to be with God forever. When you get that kind of context, Rodney, the resurrection brings you incredible message of hope. Hope. I mean, in one of my books, I talk about George Gittoes, who's the war photographer, you know, one of the world's best.
And he's in Rwanda at the, you know, at the end of all that incredible civil violence and, uh, ethnic cleansing and he's with a particular tribe with the United Nations and Australian medical team taking photos and whatever. They've been told to leave, because another tribe is coming in to clean out that tribe that they're with.
So they get in their cars and whatever you already to leave, can't do anything. And I've got the picture. He took a picture and this guy stands up in the crowd, that's just about to be massacred with machetes, a guy stands up, opens his New Testament and starts reading out the, the hope they have in the Lord, Jesus Christ and Gittoes, and I paraphrase basically said, now I know what religion, Christianity is all about. I mean with all our technology, with all our care, we had to leave and hopefully come back and be able to patch some people up. He stood up in the crowd and offered them, hope, offered them hope. I mean, how powerful is that?
I mean, we go through coronavirus. We go through all sorts of situations in our world, and we're reminded today that for many people around our globe, crisis is normal. This is their every day existence. You know, the Corona virus is just one more step in a crisis as normal. And we can say to them, we care for you, we love you. We're going to support you. We're going to support compassion. We're going to support you because simply we understand God cares for everyone, the whole person. Resurrection tells us that cares for all people. And as we care for you and minister to you and seek to share our assets and resources at the same time, we want to hear you, we want you to hear the message. That even in this God, in death, there's only resurrection. There's no other worldview that offers this. Mate, whatever trial, whatever situation. The resurrection of Jesus says God cares. God loves God's understanding. God's been there. He's been on a cross, whatever we faced legally or morally or spiritually or sense of abandonment, he's been through all of that. He's been through false trials. Uh, you know, he's been disowned by friends. Uh, he's physically suffered, been through all of that, and he's the one who's risen. And says, I'm there with you. I'm there with you, Rodney. I mean, it's just profound. It's just, it's just incredibly profound.
Rodney Olsen: You're talking about that sense of hope, even in very difficult circumstances. And you touched on that story there from Rwanda of someone standing up with hope for the future because of their faith in Jesus., and yet there's still a massacre. I've been to Rwanda. I've been through the Memorial and, and read the, the heart wrenching stories.
And many people would turn around and say, Well, if this God does care for us, if this God does care for the whole person, as you say, why does he not step in at moments like this and hold back the hand of the person who brings the massacre?
Ross Clifford: Every understanding of the world, whether you're Christian or Buddhist or atheist really struggles with this issue.
It's not just the Christian faith that struggles with it. And I heard a former Prime Minister of Australia, who's an atheist. His the answer to that was, and this guy, achieved so much, he became Prime Minister of Australia. He said, well, I'm just half a grain of sand on the beach. In other words, who cares?
Who gives a stuff? It doesn't matter. There's no, God, there's no purpose, and I'm just a half a grain of sand on the beach. And who cares about half a grain of sand on the beach? I mean, I can give a more philosophical answer about, you know, God created a world, which is, which is fair to create where we, as a people had a choice of loving him or not loving him.
And we decided to go our own way and there's consequences for all of that. And in those consequences, you know, sin and darkness fill-in, and I can do that mate with time and do that very reasonably, I believe better explanation than any other worldview. But for our purposes today, let me just remind people that in that darkness and that situation, why does God not?
Well, you know, they're very difficult questions, but I can say this in answer the God who goes the God who goes through this with us fully understands because he's been there every kind of predicament we could imagine, his son, Jesus went through all of that. So he clearly identifies with us as Hebrews four says, we can cry out to him in honesty, but more than that in the resurrection of Jesus, he says, well, whatever they throw at you in me, there's only resurrection, whatever life throws at you, there's only hope whatever happens is only the empowerment of the Holy Spirit upon you and in your life and grab hold of that truth.
Nothing gets close to it. I'm not a half a grain of sand on the beach. The story of the resurrection says I'm valuable. The most significant person in the universe loves me so much, he would die upon a cross for me. Mate when I know that nothing can touch me. Absolutely nothing.
Rodney Olsen: I find it interesting that there's not a complete or a, uh, an immediately satisfying answer for that question of why does God allow suffering?
There are many attempts that we've heard over the years to come to that. And yet you're saying that, the evidence still stacks up to say that this is for real. So does that mean we don't have to have absolutely everything straight in our mind before we can believe and put our trust in this hope?
Ross Clifford: I agree fully. Let me just repeat though. I can give a philosophical answer to the question and if you're interested in people like plan together. Done that. And most secular philosophers have agreed that, that, that it's, it's possible to be an all powerful, all loving God and still create a world where there's freedom and freedom of choice, because you believe that your created beings, your highest created beings, human beings.
If you really love them, you're going to give them the choice of whether they love you back. And in that world, there will be evil, and suffering because people choose to go their own way, and Plantinga's philosophically done that question to the satisfaction of the Academy, but I'm trying to work here with myself and everybody else out there, Rodney, and I'm simply saying, you know, we don't have answers to everything. It doesn't mean we shouldn't ask the questions, but when you get an answer that brings you an understanding of the world that is so powerful. So embracive. So empowering and based on a central fact in history, that is just overwhelming, then, you know, I'm moving on.
I'm moving on. Some things I'm just going to leave to eternity. You know, Rodney, a few years ago on that program, Q and A, they had a guy on Peter Hitchins. Peter Hitchins is the brother of Christopher Hitchens, who was one of the best known atheists of our time. Now Peter himself had been an atheist, but then he was converted to Christianity.
And this Q and A was during the festival of dangerous ideas, and Peter was the only Christian on the panel, and some of you would not be surprised to hear that, and Tony Jones said, well, okay, let's finish. Let's talk about what we think is the world's most dangerous idea. And he turned to Peter and said, what's the world's most dangerous idea and I paraphrase, but basically said the world's most dangerous idea is that 2000 years, a guy called Jesus lived. died buried, and rose again, because if that's true, it changes and transforms everything. It's the world's most, dangerous idea, mate. Nothing is the same. If this is true, nothing is the same again.
Rodney Olsen: I find it interesting that that is so transformative, as you're saying. But what does it mean for the here and now for those people who say, yep, I believe in the resurrection, does it stay as a belief or does it dramatically alter the way we live our lives?
Ross Clifford: Oh it dramatically alters. Mate if this is true. You've got the risen, God walking with you. Um, if this is true, uh, you celebrate no matter what, that's, why Paul could celebrate in shipwreck and, in hardship, and even facing death because he knew the one who had defeated death was there with him and poured out his Spirit upon him.
If it's true, it means that we care for those who are disadvantaged and poor and vulnerable because there's human, dignity and human worth. The basic. Oh, you know, the basic human rights documents like the 1948 declaration of human rights. It's the foundation for the United Nations. That's based on the 10 Commandments. Numerous human rights documents are based on this premise of love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
It transforms you mate, you've got to care. You've got to be involved. You know, God loves and cares for you. You know, there's a moral code, like a sermon on the Mount that you can live by and put your life to. So it's discipleship changing, right? It's it's, it's the, world's most dangerous idea.
Rodney Olsen: I hear ofpeople who say, I've looked at the evidence. I don't believe it and I don't want to believe it and they'll just walk away. But there are other people I hear these voices who say, I can't believe that, but I really wish I could. What would you say to those people?
Ross Clifford: Look to the first, I support you've got to live by your own conscience, and if you really believe that's the case.
Then, you know, that's what, that's the step that you take, but there are eternal ramifications for that. Many people just turn their back on this thing because they don't want to be controlled by anybody else, but themselves. I mean, they don't want a God out there who tells them how to live life and tells them what the values are and not might actually tell them that they've got to go overseas and make a difference, you know?
Um, that's that first group, the second group I understand. And I'd simply say suck it and see. Taste it. Actually ask, what would the resurrection, what would it make a difference in my life? How would it transform my values? How would it transform how I see other people. And uh, if I can see that really making a difference to how I live my world, then step out and say, God, I'm really not so sure about this, but, you know, give me the strength, give me the conviction.
Uh, give me people that I can speak to that allow me to cement this. So take a step, take a step towards Jesus. And you'll find that after one step two steps, three steps, four steps, five steps. You'll wake up one morning and think, Oh my gosh. I'm in.
Rodney Olsen: It's interesting that there are those camps that you're talking about, but there are also those in the camp that say, I've seen what Christians are like.
They're a group of people that are against this against that, and they seem to be very hateful.
Ross Clifford: Oh, and I understand that. I mean, the McCrindle research shows that the number one objection, that people who are open to faith have to the Christian faith is Christians themselves. The basic problem that the community or they seeking a faith have is not God.
The number one problem they have is us and I understand that. And that's a real call for us to get our lives together, but just remember Rodney, that we have charities, Tim Costello, you know, who was the CEO of World Vision a again, I quote, but I think he said something like 90% of charities and NGOs in Australia began from a Christian involvement and movement.
So we need to bear that in mind. Mother Teresa. I mean, you can just go global, all sorts of people. Catherine Hamlin who's just passed away in Ethiopia. Who must be the Australian of the last 10 years who spent 50 years there, uh, creating fistula hospitals, so women could give birth, have, uh, awkward results and not be outcasts in tribes, but actually come back and live with their kids and their husband in the major community.
She's committed her life to that, man. We can repeat that, time and time again. And just remember how we started this. Plummer said why don't I believe in the gospels, he said anyone who believes, anything Robert Schuller believes in, I can't believe. And that's no answer. You know, it's a concern that you find people that you don't think you're authentic, but you know, I'm offering you Jesus.
I'm not offering you me. I'm not offering you Rodney Olsen. I'm offering you Jesus. Look at him. Transform and change world's most dangerous. I didn't, no one is perfect, but my gosh, mate, it is it's mind boggling stuff.
Rodney Olsen: So if anyone has heard something today and they think. I need to investigate this further. Where would you send them?
Ross Clifford: Oh, well, you know,without being rude, Leading Lawyers Look at the Resurrection, is a book that I've written that people might find helpful. There's some books out there that guys like John Dickson have written. Some of you might've heard, uh, that, uh, that name, I mean, you find some of those helpful, um, it's really not hard to find a book like that, that gives you that kind of background and impetus, but also don't forget to just read your gospels.
Maybe you've never read one before. Read John's gospel look up in your index in a Bible and you get Bibles anywhere. Look up in your index, or you can even Google it. You can Google John's gospel for nothing. Uh, look for the NIV translation. Just read it through, ask God to go with you on the journey and then read one Corinthians 15, uh, chapter 15 of the book of one Corinthians written by Paul.
No doubt about that. Early read what he says about what happened and transformed and who saw that and just go to those texts with an open heart.
Rodney Olsen: There's plenty for people to think about and to investigate further. I love your passion for what you're doing. I love your passion for that resurrection message that you carry. Ross. I want to say thank you for spending some time with us today.
Ross Clifford: Good to be with you, mate. God bless you, Rodney. God bless everyone.
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