Monday, April 9, 2012

Making the case for Christ.

In 1846, Simon Greenleaf, one of the foremost authorities on law and evidence in American history, published 'Testimony of the Evangelists' (The Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice). In short, Testimony of the Evangelists was a complete look at the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ and a conclusion based on the facts. Simon Greenleaf was an agnostic who sought to disprove the Resurrection as a hoax. He came to the opposite conclusion; that, in fact, there was just as much evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus as any other event in history.

It is a sad state of affairs in this country when there are "intellectuals" who refuse to acknowledge historical facts. There are many who refuse to believe the Resurrection ever happened. Even more shocking, there are many who refuse to believe Jesus Christ ever existed. These same people, who routinely tout their superior intellect, have no qualms in accepting the existence of Ceasar, Cleopatra, or Alexander the Great. This willful ignorance is the product of a society that prides itself on rejecting Jesus and ridiculing those who believe in Jesus.

This rejection of truth can best be summed up in one clear, concise quote from Scottish scholar FF Bruce:"If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." Because the Gospels are a religious text, they are automatically rejected as fallacy, with no historical merit whatsoever. This is a misguided approach, and anyone who wishes to learn with an objective, open mind, has a duty to reject such ignorance.

The Bible is a remarkable document and Jesus was a remarkable figure. If anyone wants a single, crystal clear reason that separates Christianity from Islam, or any other world religion, compare Jesus to Mohammad, or any other religious figure. There is no comparison. As far as the Bible, I would like someone, anyone, to explain to me how a text written by 40 separate authors, over a span of roughly 1400 years, all with a common message, including fulfilled historic prophecies, is not the true inspired word of God. If you choose to reject the Bible, you put your faith in the alternative, which is just as irrational, if not more so, than the faith you reject.

The Resurrection is the cornerstone of the entire belief system and if this event never occurred, the entire belief falls apart. So let's pose a few questions.

I first would like to point out the obvious, as Simon Greenleaf did. The 12 Disciples. These men, as the historical record proves, lived and followed Jesus during his adult years. They traveled long distances to preach the gospel of Jesus. They continued to do this even after the crucifixion of Jesus. Most suffered horrible torture and death for their evangelism. Peter was crucified upside down in the year 69 AD. Andrew was crucified on an X shaped cross, by his own choice. James was executed by the sword in the year 44. Bartholomew was skinned alive and beheaded. Thomas was speared to death. Paul was beheaded around 67. Why would these men continue to preach if Jesus had not proven he was more than a mortal man? More so, why did Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire in the years after Jesus's death?

I have used this analogy before and I will use it again. Imagine if a mass following of JFK worshipers had swept the United States and beyond after his death. These Kennedyians professed their love, commitment, and devotion to JFK as the one, true God, suffering horrible torture and death for their faith in him. Of course this did not happen, because JFK never exhibited any characteristics as being anything but a man. So one begs the obvious question. If the man we know of as Jesus had not performed miracles and risen from the dead over 2000 years ago, why did a mass following throughout the Roman Empire ensue? Is it rational to believe that hundreds of thousands of people were willing to experience some of the worst torture and death imaginable for a guy who was no different than anyone else? Not rational. More so, I find it astonishing that the word of Jesus spread from Judea to much of the Roman Empire so quickly, without email, without airplanes, and without phones.

Roman historian Flavius Josephus, a pagan, wrote: "When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned [Jesus] to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease [to follow him], for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him."

The mere fact even this historical testimony survives in a miracle, as Roman authorities in that time focused the majority of their historical documentation efforts on the civilized parts of the Roman Empire and not the far reaching, dark corners of the empire, such as Judea.

The abundant list of questions remain. What is the purpose of the historical text of the Gospels? Is it a fabricated hoax? If so, what was the motive? Why did the twelve disciples continue to preach a lie after Jesus died? Why did thousands of people across the Roman Empire convert to Christianity in the months, years, and decades after Christ's death? Is it possible for thousands of people to be willing to suffer excruciating torture and death for a known lie? Etc....

I have come across many people who willfully reject Jesus, his very existence, and the Resurrection. But, not one of them, when asked these rational questions, has provided a plausible explanation for how mankind pulled off this incredible hoax. Many are quick to dismiss facts. But they aren't willing to provide an explanation of their own. So many people ridicule and mock Christians for believing a "fairy tale" while at the same time their rejection of it forces them to put their faith in the most intrinsically, well crafted and executed hoax in the history of mankind. Which is more logical? 

Any objective person who claims to have a truly open mind about the proven existence of Jesus and the Resurrection will come to the rational conclusion. 


Gorges Smythe said...

Good post, I'd never heard of that particular author. The book, "The Case for Christ," is a good read if you haven't already done so. (I suspect you have.)

LSP said...

I like the evidence apologetic. Great post.

Sr Crystal Mary Lindsey said...

Hello, There was also the scientific fact that is unexplainable. At Jesus death, darkness covered the earth for three hours... They can't explain that away, although many have tried. Some say it was an eclipse, yet no eclipse ever lasted for that length of time...

One Guy 2012 said...

The quote from Josephus is pure gold. Here we have a secular historian merely making an observation outside of any biased commentary.


For me, though, I simply look outside my window and know for sure there is indeed a God, and I look at my own redeemed spirit and can say there surely is His Son who came to save and His Name is Jesus.

Nice post, Hack. Very comforting.

Hack said...

Thank you all. Crystal Mary, good point!