(Written Dec. 5, 2016)
It’s a modern popular theory that Jesus was a myth fabricated from pagan myths. Ever since 1835, when a German named David Friedrich Strauss wrote the two-vol. book Leben Jesu Kritisch Bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus Critically Examined), countless exotic theories have come out of the woodwork about Jesus. When they aren’t claiming he did not exist, they are saying he was a Marxist revolutionary, a feminist, a businessman, a Gnostic, a gay magician, and a family man, to name a few. While over the centuries there were disagreements about his divinity, his existence was not questioned until relatively modern times.
CHRIST IS SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.
One can still appreciate Shakespeare’s plays even though there is controversy over his authorship. And to some degree one can do the same with Biblical books…but the reality is that Christianity is rooted in history; history that goes back to men like Abraham. I have long advocated that Christ must be spiritually recognized & known…& while that is 100% true, it can also be important to realize that he is not a some made up myth, but was a real life historical figure.
Apostle Paul wrote: “…if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (A) Paul flat out told people that unless the events of Jesus’ life were true, they were wasting their time believing. And if he is for real, it follows like C.S. Lewis, (& Josh McDowell & others) have said that Jesus was either a liar, lunatic, or lord. That is an easy way to break it down. If we believe the accounts of what he said, he claimed so much that the religious leaders realized he was blasphemously claiming to be God. For example, only God can forgive sins.
THAT YOU MIGHT KNOW THE CERTAINTY OF THINGS.
Dr. Luke, who accompanied Paul on parts of three missionary trips (B) wrote, “And we are witnesses of all things which he [Yahshua] did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew…”(C) Luke starts his writing by telling Theopilus that others have previously tried to record events, “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, ….It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order…that thou might know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”(D) This is not an educated man creating a fairy tale, but a sincere doctor trying to record & pass on what he has witnessed; someone interested in historical accuracy. (Bear in mind that Greek culture (which was prevalent in that area) had fairly respectable doctors…and Luke was definitely educated. One can tell that from his excellent Greek in the book he wrote, which was subdivided into Luke & Acts.)
WOULD YOU SUFFER TORTURE & DEATH FOR A LIE??
So 3 decades after Christ is crucified, Christian churches have spread all over the eastern part of the empire clear west to Rome, & the fruit cake Emperor Nero decides in the last 2 weeks of July, 64 A.D. to start exterminating Christians. He fed them to lions & dogs, crucified them, set them on fire as living candles, etc. You know that there were still people alive at that time who were alive when Christ is said to have lived. Keep in mind ships regularly went from Palestine to Rome. If it was all a hoax, the Christians would not have died by the thousands for their faith. Like Paul said, if the events were not true events, esp. the resurrection of Christ, they were wasting their time believing. And for sure people like Luke, who went with Paul to Rome in c.45 A.D. would have told them if Jesus was just a made up myth. But he did not, because he was a witness that it was true.
IT’S WORTHWHILE TO HEAR BOTH SIDES OF A DEBATE.
The arguments that Christ never existed boil down to 2 pts. 1) doubters feel the evidence for his existence is weak, & 2) doubters think the gospel stories are myths. Now how or why do they feel the evidence is weak? Well, they throw out anything written by Christians as biased. And then they throw out half a dozen Roman records of Yahshua by making excuses (lame in my opinion). Next, they claim the Jewish historian Josephus (36 A.D.-100 A.D.) did not write about Christ in his Jewish Antiquities history book that came out around 93 A.D. Supposedly the Christians tampered with the manuscripts of his books. Then having made outrageous excuses for why we should not believe the historical evidence that is there, they say, if he was real there would be more evidence!
I have not heard how they discount the Jewish Mishnah, written by Yahshua’s enemy that says, “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu of Nazareth.” While the Jewish religious leaders were definitely hostile to Yeshua, they never denied his existence. And there are too many clues that could not have been faked by Christians.
How about the Christian acrostic found in recent years buried in Pompeii by the volcano that covered Pompeii in 79 A.D? And how about all the ruins of churches scattered everywhere? And what about the Roman soldier’s graffiti mocking Christians found by archeologists?(E) Are you going to tell me all the writers of the NT conspired to create a hoax, and that tens of thousands of people across the Roman empire were involved also? The truth is this…the teachings and the Christian traditions had to come from somewhere. And fragments of the NT show that parts had been written not that long after Christ was crucified. (Certainly not centuries later like skeptics want to believe!) Now critics claim the Bible books were invented by various people–in one theory supposedly an elite Roman invented them. Yeah right. I would like to see anyone in the elite invent something like the NT–and the teachings of Christ did not support the Roman elite…which is why every few years the Romans tried to exterminate the Christians. What convoluted thinking. No matter what evidence surfaces or is mentioned, you will continue seeing skeptics say, “There is no contemporary evidence outside of the New Testament that Jesus ever existed.” And that is patently false.
NITPICKED TO DEATH.
Practically everything that could be, has been nitpicked and questioned. For instance, supposedly Matthew did not write Matthew. Well Matthew was an educated tax collector who knew math & writing. It is thought that he was the unofficial historian for the 12 disciples. So there is no problem with him writing the book MT. Why isn’t there more contemporary writings documenting Jesus?? 99%, if not more, of the writing from that first century are forever lost. Two of the four Roman historians of that period mention him.
For instance, Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus describes Christ suffering under prefect Pontius Pilate. He began writing his Annales (Annals) in 95 A.D. about the time John was writing the Apokalypsis. Speaking about Pilate, supposedly he was too brutal to have ever said Christ was innocent. But if we look at all the details about Pilate’s personality, he may have been brutal but he was also an astute politician. He did not want to execute a popular preacher/healer on the eve of the Passover…so the NT account is very consistent with his personality. He had been a governor in Celtic Britannia before transferring to Judaea, and a very prominent question the Celtic bards taught him was, “What is truth?” There are only thousands of other ridiculous nit picky issues raised by people.
THE MYTHICIST ARGUMENT.
On the surface it sounds legit…the mythicists take a little of this and some of that pagan myth…the problem is they borrow from all over & a close look at the pagan myths show they don’t resemble the account of Jesus at all. You can’t take myths from different places and sources and clobber them together to explain Jesus. Pagans did believe in dying & rising gods…but Yahshua’s resurrection was grounded in the messianic beliefs of the Jewish people that God through an eschatological event i.e. the resurrection, would regain control over the earth. Yahshua was a public figure appearing to many thousands of people.(F) Within 30 years of his crucifixion, the various gospels were already in circulation about this very public figure. Where are all the writings by the multitudes of people who lived in the lands he travelled in, who would have written about how no one remembers anything like that??? An obvious hoax about a public figure would have been easy to spot. But we find no one protesting how the Christians have created a mythological person.
When you read the first epistle of John, you don’t get the feeling the man is trying to teach you a myth. Listen to his words: ”That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life–the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you…”(G)
While the gospels are full of hard-to-believe miracles, if we switch over to books like Galatians that have been proven to have been written by Paul, he testifies of knowing James, the brother of Jesus.(H) He also knows Peter & John. James the son of Zebedee was martyred early on.(I) So it is obvious that Paul is referring to James “the brother of our Lord“,(J) who was leader of the Jerusalem congregation. If James had a brother Jesus, or vice versa, if Jesus had a brother James, guess what? then Jesus existed. CASE CLOSED! Historical records also give the account of the martyrdom of James, our Lord’s brother, the leader of the Jerusalem church. Brothers & sisters, don’t let the lies of the World steal the truth from you.
(A) 1 COR 15:14 The church at Corinth was founded during his 2nd missionary trip
(B) Paul calls him “beloved physician”-COL 4:14, and mentions him also @ PHILEMON 24, 2 TIM 4:11
(C) ACTS 10:39
(D) LK 1:1-4
(E) This 1st century graffiti showed a cartoon ass being crucified & the caption, “Alexamenos worships his god”.
(F) The references everywhere to his public ministry are overwhelming in no.
(G) 1 JN 1:1-2b
(H) GAL 1:19; 2:9, 12; 1 COR 15:7
(I) ACTS 12:1-2
(J) GAL 1:19