Not long ago I was in the office of a friend talking about the strange phenomenon that occurs every Easter season. If you’ll just think back you’ll agree that this phenomenon does indeed exist.
What am I talking about?
It’s that every Easter – or any other Christian celebration, like Christmas – some atheist comes along and publishes a book – makes some headline grabbing claim – or makes the rounds of the talk show circuit and public speaking halls to denounce our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Really – you can set your watch by it.
My argument was that these unbelievers, pagans, atheists, self-styled agnostics – and pseudo-intellectual types always seem ready to strike a blow wherever and whenever they can.
But where are the Christian authors, speakers and theologians?
Where is the latest scholarship that PROVES the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth? Where are the films, documentaries and highly publicized lectures speaking to the proof for the resurrection?
Why aren’t we in this game?
A movie or two won’t cut it – we need to confront heresy and damnable doctrine wherever it raises its demonic head.
We need to meet intellectualism with brilliant scholarship of our own. I know it exists – I’ve heard outstanding lecturers and theologians refute the attacks of the unbelievers. But why are they constantly SILENT when it matters.
Someone has to fill that void.
I’ll tell you right now – it’s probably not me. I’m flawed, I’m not brilliant, I’m not a scholar. But these days WHO HAS TO BE???
It’s outrageous what passes for thoughtful discourse.
Today however, I WILL take a stand against the latest shot across the bow of our faith.
Recently, Salon.com published an article titled, 5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed.
I don’t have the space to go point-by-point – you’d probably be bored by the end anyway. Suffice it to say that of the 5 reasons – only the first had any substance – and even then it’s EASILY refuted – discounted – DISCARDED!
For instance – ONE of the 5 reasons was the fact that modern scholars looking into the historicity of Jesus come up with differing pictures or characters of our Lord. They can’t agree.
Huh? What? That’s your argument that Jesus never existed – some egg-headed scholars couldn’t AGREE???
Trust me the rest of the reasons aren’t any stronger (Google it yourself).
The first point is really the only one that appears to be “fact-based” – but as you’ll see in a moment, the facts are NOT on their side.
According to the article, reason number one we might conclude that Jesus never existed is the claim that no first century SECULAR evidence exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef – or Jesus, son of Joseph.
This point was stated as if an undisputed fact – but the reality is a bit different. In fact, it’s a complete falsehood – or at least a mistake, I’m certainly not claiming a deliberate deception – just ignorance.
So rather than take on the four weaker arguments – we’ll simply dismantle what is on the surface the strongest – and be done with it!
There was a time in religious academia that we didn’t have to argue whether Jesus ever existed. It’s pretty much a given – even to scholars critical of his divinity.
You want to argue whether He is God the Son, second person of the Holy Trinity and that He rose from the dead? Okay, that’s a debate we can have. But – you don’t get to say Jesus NEVER existed.
Ever heard of a Roman Historian named Cornelius Tacitus?
He lived from 55 A.D. to 120 A.D.
In his writings he confirmed that Pontius Pilate executed Jesus, calling Him Christus. Tacitus was hostile toward Christians, not a friend, as a Roman, he stood with the executioners of Jesus. Tacitus is recognized as the greatest historian of ancient Rome. There is no sane reason to believe he’d perpetuate the myth of Jesus if that is only what He was.
Next, enter everybody’s favorite Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus. He lived between 37 A.D. dying sometime after 100 A.D. Josephus didn’t have an opinion one way or the other concerning Jesus – he could care less. Yet, in his writings, he confirmed Jesus performed miracles and was executed by Pontius Pilate.
Josephus was of priestly and royal ancestry – giving his writings credibility. His focus was the 1st century A.D. Josephus is responsible for recording some of the earliest history of Jesus OUTSIDE of the gospels.
One more for the road … introducing, Pliny the Younger.
Living between 61 A.D. and 112 A.D. Pliny executed Christians – but even he recognized in his accounts, that Jesus was the God of the Christians.
There you have it – that’s three 1st century historians who acknowledged the historicity of Jesus Christ. These three were NOT Christians themselves – often hostile to the point of murdering or belonging to groups that killed believers of Christ.
If that’s the strongest argument the unbelievers can make – I say bring it!
Articles, books, films and alleged (and often dubious) discoveries are going to continue from the secular world. They have no choice, the moment they ascend to the notion that Jesus might be real – then they become accountable to decide whom they will serve; the demonic god of this world system – or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Don’t you be shaken by their false assertions. I’ve NEVER seen an argument against Jesus, the Bible or God the Father that didn’t fall apart upon close examination. We just need to be willing to step out and call shenanigans when it arises.
Thanks and God Bless,
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