Josh McDowell does an excellent job of knocking down atheist arguments that there was no historic Jesus or that he was made up to be something he wasn’t or that he really didn’t die on the cross or that he didn’t really rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven.
If you read “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” (a very dry book but still powerful), you have to conclude that either Jesus was God’s risen son and deserves our worship or that he was a liar who led millions astray or that he was a lunatic who said a ton of wise and truthful things even though he was totally delusional about being the Son of God. You don’t get any other choices. He was Lord, liar or lunatic.
So it is possible to come to know Jesus intellectually without having the faith that leads to salvation. Even the demons knew who Jesus was when he encountered them.
Each of us who hear the gospel are forced to make a decision - do you believe Jesus and accept his free gift of salvation or do you walk away and pretend it is untrue?
Many who were raised not to believe, come to believe while others who were raised in Christian homes walk away. This is part of free will God gives each of us and yet He knows whom He has called even before the beginning of time.
If you believe Jesus intellectually, believe Him spiritually. Don’t be led by feelings or the desire to “do your own thing”. If you believe spiritually but don’t know the historical Jesus, take the time to find out because it will strengthen your faith. And if you are curious about the historical Jesus, take the time to learn. It will open your eyes to a deeper understanding of who he was and why some of the things happened as foretold by the prophets.
Very good article.
I think, oddly enough, that reason was one of the things that took a hit after Vatican II, when in the minds of many, Christianity shifted to being a warm fuzzy instead of the coherent, intelligible belief system it had been. BXVI did a huge amount to change this and restore the intellectual depth of the Christian faith.
It was Thomas Aquinas who made the point that philosophy, the study of reason, was the other side of the coin, that being of faith. That is how it was originally defined.
Reason and faith need each other for a person to be able to understand the truth. Otherwise, we fall victim to our own imaginings.