As a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so.
I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.
There is a fellow on the Internet who has been promoting the idea that no court of law would affirm the existence of Jesus Christ based on the available evidence. I refuse to debate him on this issue as it is such a silly claim. Would a legal court affirm the existence of Jesus? No they would not. But neither would they affirm the existence of Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus or Constantine the Great. Why? Because legal courts do not go around affirming the existence of historical figures. That is not what they do.
The question of how courts would deal with the historical evidence is completely irrelevant. The question is: what would professional historians do with the evidence. I don’t mean just conservative Christians or zealous atheist historians but historians across a wide range of religious and philosophical positions. And how would the historians respond? Professional historians, almost unanimously, accept the historicity of Jesus Christ, just as they do for Alexander, Augustus and Constantine. We need to keep this discussion focused and keep it as a historical question and not a legal question.
How Jesus Used the Bible (What Jesus Said About the Bible)
Did Jesus Have a Wife?
FAQ on Christianity for the Unbeliever
Originally posted by Frank J. Fleming:
How long have Christians been around?
While many people see Christians as a brand new and quite scary thing, records show Christians have been around since at least the 1950s, and maybe even much earlier.
What are their beliefs based on?
It’s a book called “The Bible.” It’s full of thousands-of-years-old religious writing, which Christians believe to have been written by men inspired by God. It’s very long.
I see many Bibles are labeled “Holy Bible.” What if I got a non-holy version?
Immediately return it for a refund.
The Bible is full of really old values, with lots of outdated views on things like sex. Do Christians actually follow this thing?
Indeed they try. Their view is that while society and technology change, the fundamental nature of man doesn’t, and neither do the values God gave us. Thus, the Bible is something they find relevant and expect people to read and follow many years into the future, like Harry Potter.
Don’t Christians know how weird and old-fashioned following the Bible makes them? Everyone else is fine with swearing, sex on TV, and abortion. Why do they have to be so different?
To Christians, following the ways of God is more important than fitting in with societal norms. Thus they are gladly counter-cultural.
So they’re like hipsters?
Yes, except everything they do is unironic.
There’s some really weird stuff in the Bible, like [quote of strange-sounding rule from Leviticus or Deuteronomy]. The Bible sounds stupid, and people shouldn’t listen to it.
Parts of the Bible can sound weird in isolation, but it takes lots of study to understand the Bible and how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament.
But don’t Christians just pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to follow? Like [quote rule from Leviticus or Deuteronomy that Christians are unlikely to follow].
Christians do not follow much of what is known as the “Mosaic Law.” Much of the reasoning for this is addressed in the book of Hebrews.
Okay, so if I just check that out, I’ll find the answer and… wait a second! You almost tricked me into reading more of the Bible! I only need to know enough about it to mock it!
Almost got you. When trying to trip up Christians with quotes from the Bible, just be aware you’re unlikely to find anything they aren’t already aware of, since they read that thing religiously.
And don’t Christians know we now have science, which has replaced religion, and that there is no more need for Jesus, since we have lasers and rockets and other science stuff?
Science covers physical and temporary things, while religion covers spiritual and eternal things, so Christians still feel religion is very important — even more important than science.
The effects of sin on our ability to think rationally
Every one of our sinful actions has a suicidal power on the faculties that put that action forth. When you sin with the mind, that sin shrivels the rationality. When you sin with the heart or the emotions, that sin shrivels the emotions. When you sin with the will, that sin destroys and dissolves your willpower and your self-control. Sin is the suicidal action of the self against itself. Sin destroys freedom because sin is an enslaving power.
In other words, sin has a powerful effect in which your own freedom, your freedom to want the good, to will the good, and to think or understand the good, is all being undermined. By sin, you are more and more losing your freedom. Sin undermines your mind, it undermines your emotions, and it undermines your will.
— Tim Keller
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me
A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent.