Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why Would That Be?

Atheists are forever crying, "Evidence, Evidence! Give me evidence. And don't you dare let it be from the Bible." Ok, here comes some evidence.

Absolutely none of what you’re about to read has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars.

The reason that I’m not using the documents that were later compiled into what we now know as the New Testament is of course, atheists have a double standard when it comes to judging ancient documents. Something that critics seem to forget is that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as well as Acts of the Apostles and the other letters that are included in the New Testament weren’t written FOR inclusion into the Bible. What are now part of the Bible were once independent documents circulating throughout the Christian and non Christian community. These guys weren’t journalists working for something like, “Bible Magazine.” The documents that were compiled into what we know today as the New Testament were separate ancient documents, written by people who were interested in the life of Jesus. Some had been followers of or students of Jesus. Others, like Dr. Luke were historians. These people had no idea that what they’d written would one day become part of the biggest and most important movement in history.

While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust), to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. I asked you yesterday, Why would the following have occurred if the facts of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection weren’t as described? There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the following historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan, the Founder of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians?

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Why would they simply invent these stories? There was/is absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained by concocting this as a lie.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why do we have multiple, independent, extra Biblical sources attesting to the risen Jesus?
. Why do we have virtually unanimous modern historical scholarship agreeing that the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive after His death on the cross.
. Why would atheist historian and New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann say, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
. Why would atheist historian Paula Fredriksen say, “I don’t know what they saw, but as a historian I know they believed they saw Jesus.”
. Why would highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agree that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus."
. Why would atheist and founder of the Jesus Seminar state, “The Jesus was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” if Jesus wasn’t a historical figure?

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make sense. Why would the enemies of Christianity affirm the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus if the evidence isn’t accurate and compelling?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why would all the disciples, plus hundreds and hundreds of others believe that they saw Him alive?
. Why would they say that they spoke with Him?
. Why would they say that they ate with Him at various times and various places?
. If none of that is true, why would they be willing to die for making up the lie of seeing Jesus alive? There was absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained, and everything to lose by concocting the supposed lies about Jesus life, death and resurrection.

REMEMBER these people didn’t believe someone else’s lie. Over the centuries many people have died for believing someone else’s lies. But if THESE people died for a lie, it was THEIR lie! They died for saying they saw Jesus alive again after His death. Liars simply do not make martyrs of themselves.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, their willingness to die for the “truth” doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Paul’s testimony about His encounter with Jesus and why do we have his radical transformation in character from a persecutor of the Church and a killer of Christians to the greatest missionary that the Christian Church has ever seen?

Remember, Paul:
. Was a rabid sceptic when Jesus appeared to him.
. Was an enemy of the Church when Jesus appeared to him.
This is not like most conversions whereby the person reads or hears something that persuades h/her to change. Paul’s evidence for the risen Jesus was first hand and so convincing that he endured years of hardship, persecution and rejection for proclaiming the risen Lord, before finally being beheaded by Nero in 64AD.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in Paul’s character doesn’t make any sense. He had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain, and everything to lose by concocting a story of meeting Jesus while on His way to persecute the Church.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why in the world would Jesus’ brothers James and Jude go to their deaths proclaiming that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead? . Why would they claim that they had seen Him alive after His death?
. Why would they confess that Jesus is the Lord God, Messiah?

Think about it! This was their half-brother, someone that they’d previously mocked and ridiculed. James’ and Jude’s conversions were a drastic change from thinking their Brother was insane and an embarrassment to the family.

What would it take for you to make this kind of change? What would it take for you to die for that change? For me, it would take nothing LESS than a resurrection.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in the beliefs of Jesus’ siblings doesn’t make any sense. They had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain and everything to lose if what they said about Jesus appearing to them after His death was not true.

Remember, Both Paul and James were sceptics at the time that Jesus appeared to them. Why would they become His followers if His resurrection wasn't historical fact?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why was His tomb empty?
. Jesus’ ENEMIES were the ones to CONFIRM that the body was missing by proposing that the disciples stole it.
. The disciples didn’t have the power nor the inclination to steal His body. They were hiding behind locked doors.
. Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal the body and every reason to keep it right where it was. They posted an armed guard, and sealed the tomb with the Governor’s seal to make sure that nothing happened to the body.
. The first proclamations of the empty tomb were made right there in Jerusalem where Jesus was murdered and buried. The tomb could have been easily checked out.

If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, how is it that the tomb was empty with no sound explanation other than the resurrection?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do the ancient documents written by Jesus’ followers make the “mistake” of saying that women (who at the time were seen as lower than dogs and not capable of telling the truth) were the ones who discovered the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord. If it wasn’t true, if the disciples were trying to convince others of a lie, if the resurrection wasn’t historical fact, why would the writers invent the testimony of women to say that it was true?

If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that His followers would do that.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why did Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria all non Christians and all historians write about Jesus’ brother James, his leadership in the Jerusalem Church and his martyrdom for proclaiming Jesus as risen Lord and Saviour?

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. I think they would only write these things if the evidence convinced them that it was accurate.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have an early oral tradition or creed that dates from the first year after Jesus’ death attesting to the fact of Him rising from the dead.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. There is no hint of legend or exaggeration in this oral tradition. And these people had their lives to lose by repeating it. Why would they do that if it wasn’t true?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the written works of the early Church with hymns, poetry and creeds, stemming from the early oral history telling about Jesus rise from the dead?

Without the resurrection being historical fact, we simply wouldn't have this.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the Christian Church? Paul told early Christians, “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, your faith is worthless.”

Without the resurrection being historical fact there wouldn’t be any Christianity. Yet here it is today, over 2 billion strong.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:

How did Paul know what He knew about Jesus prior to any contact with the apostles and why would they accept Paul as one of their own based on what he was teaching about Jesus? This was an “outsider” eager to kill the leaders of the early Jesus movement, now coming to them with a knowledge of Jesus’ teaching equal to those who had been insiders.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, and without Jesus appearing to Paul and teaching Paul about Himself, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the four ancient biographies of Jesus, one of them by historian and physician Luke who got his information from eyewitnesses all affirming the resurrection of Jesus? Why would they tell Luke that these things happened if they weren’t true? They paid for that "lie" with their lives.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Polycarp and others, all saying that they had been taught by the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. And THEN, all of these men were themselves martyred based on the believability of what the disciples had told them. These were not ignorant, gullible men. Yet the evidence made sense to them.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, how could that happen?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
What would account for the disciple’s radical transformation from fearful and cowardly men who denied Jesus and who ran away from Him during His trial, to bold individuals who were so confident of the truth of what they saw and heard regarding His resurrection, that they were willing to undergo years of persecution as well as torture and death rather than change their story.
Peter watched his own wife being crucified just prior to his own crucifixion. Surely, if the risen Jesus was a lie concocted by Peter himself, he wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Without the resurrection, this type of behaviour doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why was it that Polycarp wrote of the endurance under torture of Paul, Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus for their belief in the risen Christ?
. Why was it that Ignatius also wrote of the suffering and death of the apostles?
. Why was it that Polycarp and Ignatius were both martyred?
. Why would they be willing to die in such a manner if the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection weren’t accurate?

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would we have confirming accounts of the disciples teaching and deaths in Roman public records called “Lives of the Caesars.”

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would Origen write, “Jesus, who has both risen AND led His disciples to believe in His resurrection and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth that they showed to all men by their suffering how they were able to laugh at life’s troubles beholding to life eternal and a resurrection clearly demonstrated to them in word and deed by this one Jesus.”

Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that Origen would write that.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why do we have Eusebius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Hegesibous, Josephus, Clement of Alexandria, all of these sources, Christian and non Christian alike affirming the historicity of Jesus and the disciples willingness to die for what they believed to be true.

Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that these many and varied individuals would make this stuff up.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why is it that Luke writes that Jesus spent about 40 days with the disciples after He rose from the dead, and
. Why can it be further calculated that about 50-55 days after His death, Jesus’ followers started proclaiming His resurrection, and
. Why did Tacitus, an ENEMY of Christianity, write “Jesus’ execution by Pontius Pilot checked, for the moment, the Christian movement but it then broke out with force not only in Judea but even in Rome.”
. Why would these accounts, one from a follower of Jesus and one from a secular historian and enemy of Christianity be so similar unless they’re true?

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

Absolutely none of what I’ve just written has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust) to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the above historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

These questions, stemming from this evidence demands more than just a flippant, “People rising from the dead is impossible.” Something totally “other” happened back then and ignoring it is not a rational nor a logical thing to do.

If Jesus did in fact supernaturally rise from the dead, then what He taught about being the Son of God and about the existence of Creator God must also be true. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus demands a verdict. With the evidence so overwhelmingly pointing to the fact of His resurrection, one can do three things:

. Submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour - Or

. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or

. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if God is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

8 comments:

Flute said...

If Zeus wasn't real why would Josephus report his acts as historical fact?

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

Many people, both Christians and non-Christians, assume that the canonical gospels contained in the New Testament are first-hand eyewitness accounts. However, there is no evidence to support this position and most biblical scholars, including Christians, agree that the NT gospels are probably not first-hand eyewitness accounts.

In fact, we cannot even be certain who wrote the NT gospels, as they are written anonymously. The names attributed to them (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) were provided by Papias somewhere around 150CE. We know this because Eusebius, writing around 330CE, tells us so.

So, the best we can say is:

A guy living in 330CE (Eusebius) tells us that a guy who lived 180 years earlier (Papias) was told by someone else (we don’t know who) that another guy (Mark) knew a guy (Peter) who said he witnessed the life of another guy (Jesus) who performed miracles.

It’s a terrible case of Chinese whispers that loses even more credibility when you realize that everyone involved was a religious zealot living in the Middle East 1700 – 1900 years ago.

The Argument From Silence

Before I get to the people mentioned by the PRO side, it’s important to understand that aside from the fact that we don’t have a single eyewitness account of the life of Jesus, we also don’t have a single CONTEMPORARY account, or a recorded mention of such an account, that was written during his lifetime. There were plenty of literate people, including writers and historians, that lived in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century. None of them even mentions Jesus.

For example, Philo of Alexandria (c25 BCE – c47 CE) wrote extensively about the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. We have copies of about thirty manuscripts. Yet Philo doesn’t write a single word about Jesus, Christianity nor any of the events described in the New Testament.

Surely such writers would have written about a Jew who was raising the dead, overturning tables at the temple, healing the sick, walking on water, and who rose from the dead? Even if it was to deny that he was the Messiah, he would have deserved a mention.

Josephus

The section of Josephus’ “Antiquities Of The Jews” most commonly referred to by Christians, the “Testimonium Flavianumm”, is considered a forgery by most scholars. This in itself is a telling point. We have to accept that the early Christian authorities were happy to, and felt the NEED to, create forgeries in order to bolster their assertions that Jesus actually lived. Once they had become a major power in Rome in the 4th century, they had the ability to destroy documents that didn’t suit them and doctor whatever other documents they required.

The section of Josephus referred to, which is found in Book 20 of the Antiquities, mentions SEVERAL men called Jesus, including Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, and Jesus, the son of Damneus, who were both high priests. If we accept that the works of Josephus were tampered with by Christian authorities, we should automatically be skeptical of any reference contained within them about to Jesus. The oldest versions we have of Josephus date from around 1000CE . How can we possibly know if the words “the so-called Christ” were inserted by Christian authorities between the original writing of the document in 95 CE and the earliest version we have from 900 years later? We don’t. However we do not, from the fraud contained in the TF, that inserting sections into Josephus wasn’t beyond Christian authorities.

Extrabiblical Accounts

Reference in the Gospels to actual living persons is not evidence that the Jesus in the Gospels actually lived. The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer are just two examples of mythologies involving Gods and humans with supernatural powers set in actual places and involving characters which may have been historical. Surrounding a myth with historical characters and in historical places gives it an additional dimension of trustworthiness.

Makarios said...

Oh, well, there you go. You single handedly destroyed Christianity with your own powerful arguments. Good work.

Makarios said...

Ooops. I forgot.

You haven't left us with a single explanation for the historical events that I mentioned in this post.

Care to try again?

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

"You haven't left us with a single explanation for the historical events that I mentioned in this post."

It's a story.

feeno said...

I wrestled with myself whether or not to comment, the battle I was having had to do with the fact that I don't want to offend anyone.
But it seems to me that Atheists really could care less about evidence. Well, maybe just evidence that points to Christ.

They will debunk anyone or anything that points to the Messiah. It's crazy to me that Atheists feel they must debunk every claim by historians, they were either lying, part of the church, had other motives besides the truth to record what they did, they were frauds or not the "real" author, hell they even go so far to say that person never even existed.

All we have to do to debunk Christ is to debunk Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Julius Africanus, Mara Bar Serapian (sorry about my spelling) or the Jewish Talmud or other early Church writings even though they didn't even make it into the cannon.

Then we can debunk the disciples, apostles, the writers of the Gospels, claim Paul never existed.

I wish someone could tell me, did Jesus exist? If so was he gay? Was he Married to Mary Magdalen? was he a magician, a huckster? I know Atheists hate being called religious but they work tirelessly on showing themselves how smart they are and ignore certain evidence because they don't like that evidence.

Does this prove that there is a God? Of course not, but there was a dude named Jesus, he had a faithful following, he taught us to put others before ourselves, many people claimed to have seen him alive after he was crucified, and later would die for what they claimed to have seen. Oh, and he thought he was God.

I don't know how we can prove anyone existed 2,000 years ago using the standards of Atheists?

I have a feeling I just wasted a half hour of my life, maybe I'll just chalk it up as entertainment.

hope anyone who reads this has a nice day. Peace out, feeno

salvage said...

You have no first hand, eye witness accounts. You have hearsay and that simply is not good enough.

See it leaves so may questions (that you won't answer or even acknowledge)like:

Why did you god leave such thin proof of his existence?If he were really so important wouldn't his image have been painted, sculpted or otherwise preserved?

Shouldn't his miracles have been recorded by everyone from his lowest follower to the local scholars of the day?

Why did nothing change in Judea? The money changing in the Temple continued (until the Romans finally got around to trashing it and using the proceeds to build the Coliseum) as did everything else. If Jesus hadn't have come would they have even noticed?

Why did it take some 300 years for Christianity to begin its spread? Why was it spread through war? Why did it only go as far as the Roman Empire? Why didn't Muslims, Hindus and the other religions of the time fall under Christ's grace? Isn't it odd that your god's influence only went as far as the Romans did?

See that's the big problem with your religion's history, it makes perfect sense when looked at as just another religion but doesn't make a lick of sense when you think that it's the will of an omnipotent universe creating deity.

Lausten North said...

feeno, thanks for stepping up, and follower, good stuff. The explanation of the stories that makes the most sense to me is that those who wrote them experienced something, something very profound. They used the language they knew, which was a mix of Jewish ritual and a little Greek. They wanted their story to be retold for thousands of years, so it became a hero story legitimated by a tradition that already had a good track record. We know a lot of people were crucified, I'm sure one of them said something about loving those who hate them, it doesn't really matter exactly who. Well, no need for me to prattle on, I suggest John Shebly Spong's "Jesus for the Non-Religious" if you want the details.