Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are Seven Enough For You?

When I think of all the evidence that atheists reject, a priori reject no less, it amazes me how one of Jesus’ closet friends wrote, “I wrote these things so that you might also believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” Of course when you’ve been right there, in the midst of it all. When you’ve been a disciple of the Rabbi for a really intense three years (as Plato said, “A disciple is a vessel so tightly sealed that not one drop of your leader’s teaching leaks out”), it would be hard for for John to comprehend how someone, anyone WOULDN'T believe what he’s experienced.

I’ve written pages and pages and pages of information. I’ve described it backwards and forwards. I’ve given citations and citations regarding citations. All in an attempt to show atheists that Jesus is not just historical, but His life, death and resurrection are detailed by numerous extra Biblical writers. All to no avail. There is no evidence great enough or clear enough to convince those determined to deny the existence of God. And yet, John, in all seriousness presents seven signs to prove that Jesus was and is Creator God. That’s all. Seven miracles or what John calls signs that he believes should be enough to show the reader that Jesus was exactly who He said He was, God in human form.

John describes Jesus’ first sign that was performed in the town of Cana. This is where Jesus turned water into wine. He made the wine in containers that were made to hold ceremonial water.

Then John tells about Jesus healing an official’s son. A Roman officer’s son!

Pushing the social envelope further, Jesus heals an invalid - on the Sabbath. It’s like Jesus was trolling for Pharisees.

Next, Jesus feeds over 12,000 men, women and children with a little bit of bread and a couple fish. In contrast to assuaging physical hunger, Jesus calls Himself “the bread of life” and states that those who come to Him for spiritual nourishment will never hunger again.

Everyone knows about Jesus walking on the water, demonstrating that He who created matter has demonstrable power over the physics of matter.

Then, a man born blind from birth is healed, again on the Sabbath and finally

Jesus raises Lazarus after he’d been in the grave for four days.

Seven signs. That’s all. Seven signs that were enough for the officials of the time to plot to kill not just Jesus but Lazarus as well. Seven signs that John says should be enough to prove to us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God - Jesus the Christ.

Finally, of course, come Jesus resurrection from the dead. An empty tomb that John himself inspected. Repeated post burial encounters with the risen Jesus are also described by John. He ate with Jesus, walked and talked with Him and John was taught by Jesus for about 50 days after His resurrection. And then John writes, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
John 20:30.

No amount of evidence is enough for atheists. How much is enough for you?


feeno said...

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but it's a spiritual battle. I also know that Atheists make fun of folded hands in prayer, but I pray for many of them everyday. And the only way to fight this battle is through prayer. Yes the evidence is there, we don't need more evidence, just more prayer.

I found your site just clicking from name to name. Good stuff.

Peace, feeno

Volker The Fiddler said...

What you describe isn't evidence, I fear, Makarios.

Modern biblical scholarship has fairly definitively shown, that all of the gospels are pseudepigrapha--in other words, these supposed witnesses of Jesus were not written by the persons to which they are attributed, and, even then, Luke never knew Jesus personally (being a disciple of Paul, who also didn't know Jesus personally, thus making his knowledge at least twice removed), and neither did Mark (also a disciple of Paul, making his knowledge of Jesus third hand).

As for the other two gospels, John is generally given a date of between 90 and 100 A.D., so it was written at least 57 years after the fact of Jesus existence (and very likely not written by John the apostle), and Matthew’s generally given earliest date is 70 A.D. (and again, it is very unlikely that Matthew the apostle wrote it) .

The references you give outside of the gospel, are invariably written long after the death of Jesus, by those who knew not Jesus at all, yet had faith in him—which is not evidence, but a testimony of faith—faith being liberally granted to the entire human race. (So liberally in fact, that faith in thousands of gods existed in Jesus' time and continues to exist to this day).

When the atheist (or indeed, the faithful member of a non-Christian faith) tell you there is no extra-biblical account of Jesus, they are not in error. What they mean is, that no contemporaneous (the key here is contemporaneous) extra-biblical source exists which chronicles Jesus life and deeds. Which is absolutely true. None of the sources you list knew Jesus personally, nor knew of his existence outside the gospels. In fact, that you continue to disparage this claim of the atheist, shows how disingenuous you are concerning the facts of history as we know them. (Truly, Makarios, it disheartens me that you have not invested more time in the study of your religion). Ultimately, however, the true Christian does not need ‘evidence’—in fact, I would consider this near blasphemous—no, the Christian need base his belief solely on faith (which, I know, is less satisfying). So, in contempt of the facts (as we presently know them), the Christian must hold fast to his faith.

feeno said...

Hello Fiddler

I disagree with the "pseudepigrapha" theory. Just for the book of Matthew alone there are 17 independent witnesses dated to the 4th century or earlier that attest to the fact that Matthew wrote same. Some believe the book was written as early as 63 A.D.

Mark probably was the "streaker" in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was Barnabas' cousin and great friends with Peter. So I believe chances were he knew Jesus a little.

But even if he didn't his writings shouldn't be discredited, He like Luke was gathering info from what we feel are all reliable sources.

The book of John was written by John the Apostle. Clement of Alexandria would agree along with Tatian maybe Jusin Martyr and the Muratorian Canon.

I'm not sure what other writings outside the canon you were talking about, But Tacitus was a first century historian/writer who claimed some dude named Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberious.

Mara Bar Serapian a Syrian writer who wrote this about 40 years after the death of Christ says "Jesus was thought to be a wise and virteous man. Was considered by many the King of Israel, and put to death by the Jews."

Pliny the Younger a politician born about 30 years after the cruxifiction, records Christians worshipped Jesus as God, they were very ethical and partook in things like the Lord's Supper."

I know I don't have to tell you about Josephus, he by himself lays out the Gospel message pretty clear. He was born about 5 years after the death of Christ. And in his writings(Antiquities 18:3) says "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought suprising feats... he was called the Christ... he appeared to them alive again on the 3rd day."

I don't have the energy to tell you about Julius Africanus, about the Jewish Talmud, the gnostic gospels, the lost gospels or non-canon stuff or the Ecclesastical antiquities, all of which mention Jesus.

BTW most of all those names I mentioned were not fans of Christians or Christ, fact is most of them made fun of Christians. So it's not like they were trying to help the Christian cause.

Now Fiddler, I know your a pretty smart fellow, I know you could come back with plenty of rebuttals.
But where do we stop? That was Makarios' point, how much evidence does someone need?

My friend, I'm not at all very smart, All we have to do is google something now to find answers. I have had this argument in the past. I have many books on the subject, to be fair they are mostly written by Christians. I'm trying to freshin' up now on Foxe's book of Martyrs yadda,yadda, yadda.

Like I said if you read my first comment, I don't think we need more proof? But it's there if we want to Believe.

You are right in your final analysis, ultimately a Christian has to have faith.

If you read all this garble, thank you. have a nice night/day? Peace Out, feeno

Volker The Fiddler said...

You can disagree, of course, Feeno, with the pseudepigrapha theory, but that doesn't change the fact that it is the most likely current explanation for the gospels' origins.

You in fact prove my point further with your second statement concerning "...17 independent witnesses dated to the 4th century or earlier that attest to the fact that Matthew wrote same. Some believe the book was written as early as 63 A.D...." It is a moot point, that some persons long after the death of Jesus, and almost as long after the death of Matthew's author believe the work to be Matthew's: this is simply not evidence. Again, we have mere belief, founded on faith and tradition, and not the evidences one can glean from the text itself, nor the other evidences of history.

With regard to the books of John, you again attempt the argument, that if some respected clergyman, some hundred years after the fact, thinks a text legitimately authored by an apostle, that said text is in fact legitimate—again this is simply not the case. You indulge in rank credulity by arguing this. As Thomas Paine put it (and I paraphrase): “Revelation is only revelation to him who received it; to everyone else, it is hearsay.” Besides this, the scholarly opinion is, that John the apostle is likely not the author of the work.

You make an argument concerning Tacitus. Tacitus merely reported concerning the beliefs of the Christians of his era, and therefore what he says is no evidence of Jesus’ existence or miraculous ability, but merely a report concerning a belief. That Christians believed as Tacitus reported is not evidence that their belief was founded upon anything but faith, and indeed, Tacitus considers Christian belief utter superstition. The same can be considered for Mara bar Sarapion and Pliny the Younger, who merely reported on the state of Christian belief and custom in their day. These reports are not evidence, nor proof of anything, but that the Christian of their day believed and acted in a certain manner. It is no evidence of the veracity of the gospels at all. (The passages in Josephus have long been considered interpolations, but again, were they not, they prove nothing but that Christians did exist and believed the various things Josephus described).

You also attempt to argue that the existence the Gnostic gospels furthers the Christian cause, but those documents are generally of a later date and more spurious assignation than the gospels themselves!

Makarios declaration, that ample evidence exists for the Jesus of the Bible, is, so far as the currently understood facts allow, utterly false. In fact, we have no evidence for him at all. So, how much evidence do I need? I suppose that my answer is ‘more than none’.
This, however, is immaterial, as faith should be the sole pillar of one’s belief.

Alas, I can wish Christians naught but well, and so I do to you, Feeno.

feeno said...

W'dup Fiddler

I knew you'd have an answer, and a very good one at that. I liked your line about how much evidence you need, that reply was "classic" if your in the Atheist camp.

There's not much I can say, so I'll be brief.

You know Modern biblical scholarship is considered to be about 150 or so years old. (For whatever that's worth.)

I also agree with you about many early historians not believing in a risen Lord. But most of these writers/historians believed that Jesus' followers believed he rose from the dead.

As far as Josephus is concerned, we will probably never agree, but because some of his writings seem to back up the Bible, people will say that those writings must have been forged.

And I know this wont go over to well with you, but I'm not taking some early church leaders word for anything. I'm taking God's word for it though (2Tim.3:16). I know that's a circular argument, and I apologize for that there.

One last thing, you say it's not evidence, oh it's evidence, maybe not conclusive or great, but it's evidence. Nobody has an air tight case. Again it all goes back to Makarios' question, how much evidence do you need?

I can tell you are very learned and I want to thank you for not talking down to me.

Peace and hair grease, feeno

Makarios said...

Hello Fiddler, Good to hear from you again. You seem a little testier than I remember last but still good of you to drop in.

Did you read my April post called, "Who Wrote The Gospels?" In it I state, among other things,

"The Gospels and Acts are cited by a series of reports, regularly employed to establish authorship of secular works; and when this test is applied to the Gospels, their authenticity is firmly established."

If you're honest with yourself Fiddler, and I believe that you are, this next part should be important,

"This chain of testimony exists from the Epistle of Barnabas (a contemporary of Jesus and His disciples), the Epistle of Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas, all the way to Eusebius. In fact, as has been repeatedly stated, there is better testimony for the authenticity of the New Testament books than for ANY classical work of antiquity."

Now, I'm sure that for YOU, there is no evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that would be satisfactory. Just as those who deny the Holocaust say there is no evidence for that event. Surely you don't want to hang around with that crowd, do you? Tell me you aren't part of that crowd. Say it ain't so Joe!

I should have jotted down the address. I've been following a blog where several "christian scholars" have concluded that "since no friends or relatives would dare be seen attending to the body of a criminal, it is most likely that the Romans took Jesus' body, tossed it aside and it was eaten by dogs." That is why the disciples were able to point to an empty tomb and say that Jesus had risen.

You could get a lot of traction out of that one on atheist blogs, Fiddler. Make a name for yourself.

Ah what am I doing. You're the nicest atheist out there and here I am getting all snarky with you. Just accept that you're wrong so we can go back to being civil again :-)

feeno said...


Fiddler is a pretty cool guy, I was hoping to hear back from him. We still might?

I just finished reading your post "Who Wrote the Gospels."
Very good stuff. Hope the fiddler checks it out as well.

Will be stopping by looking for his response.

Later, feeno

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