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If I Had Faked the Resurrection
Focus on the Family ^ | Wednesday, April 16, 2003 | Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler

Posted on 04/16/2003 6:36:15 PM PDT by Remedy

I set out as a young man to debunk Christianity. I met a young Christian woman who challenged me to intellectually examine the evidence for Christianity, and I accepted her challenge. I aimed to show her-and everyone-that Christianity was nonsense. I thought it would be easy. I thought a careful investigation of the facts would expose Christianity as a lie and its followers as dupes.

But then a funny thing happened. As I began investigating the claims of Christianity, I kept running up against the evidence. Time after time, I was surprised to discover the factual basis for the seemingly outlandish things Christians believe. And one of the most convincing categories of evidence I confronted was this: The resurrection accounts found in the Gospels are not the stuff of fable, forgery or fabrication.

I had assumed that someone, or several someones, had invented the stories of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. But as I examined those accounts, I had to face the fact that any sensible mythmaker would do things much differently from the way Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did in recording the news of the resurrection. As much as I hated to, I had to admit that if I had been some first-century propagandist trying to fake the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would have done a number of things differently:

I would wait a prudent period after the events before "publishing" my account.

Few historians dispute the fact that the disciples of Jesus began preaching the news of His resurrection soon after the event itself; in fact, Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2) occurred within 50 days of the Resurrection. And textual research indicates that the written accounts of the Resurrection, especially the creedal statement of 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, are astoundingly early in origin, possibly within two years of the event. Such early origins argue against any notion that the Resurrection accounts are legendary.

I would publish my account far from the venue where it supposedly happened.

Dr. William Lane Craig writes, "One of the most amazing facts about the early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection was that it originated in the very city where Jesus was crucified. The Christian faith did not come to exist in some distant city, far from eyewitnesses who knew of Jesus' death and burial. No, it came into being in the very city where Jesus had been publicly crucified, under the very eyes of its enemies."

I would select my "witnesses" very carefully.

I would avoid, as much as possible, using any names at all in my account, and I would certainly avoid citing prominent personalities as witnesses. Yet at least 16 individuals are mentioned by name as witnesses in the various accounts, and the mention of Joseph of Arimathea as the man who buried Jesus would have been terribly dangerous if the gospel accounts had been faked or embellished. As a member of the Sanhedrin, a Jewish "Supreme Court," he would have been well-known. J. P. Moreland writes, "No one could have invented such a person who did not exist and say he was on the Sanhedrin if such were not the case."

His involvement in the burial of Jesus could have been easily confirmed or refuted. Perhaps most important, I would avoid citing disreputable witnesses, which makes significant the record of Jesus' first appearances-to women-since in that time and culture women were considered invalid witnesses in a court of law. If the accounts were fabrications, the women would never have been included in the story, at least not as first witnesses.

I would surround the event with impressive supernatural displays and omens.

As Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide writes, "We do not read in the first testimonies [of the Resurrection] of an apocalyptic spectacle, exorbitant sensations, or of the transforming impact of a cosmic event. . . . According to all New Testament reports, no human eye saw the resurrection itself, no human being was present, and none of the disciples asserted to have apprehended, let alone understood, its manner and nature. How easy it would have been for them or their immediate successors to supplement this scandalous hole in the concatenation of events by fanciful embellishments! But precisely because none of the evangelists dared to 'improve upon' or embellish this unseen resurrection, the total picture of the gospels also gains in trustworthiness."

I would painstakingly correlate my account with others I knew, embellishing the legend only where I could be confident of not being contradicted.

Many critics have pointed out the befuddling differences and apparent contradictions in the Resurrection accounts. But these are actually convincing evidences of their authenticity; they display an ingenuous lack of collusion, agreeing and (apparently) diverging much as eyewitness accounts of any event do.

I would portray myself and any co-conspirators sympathetically, even heroically.

Yet the Gospel writers present strikingly unflattering portraits of Jesus' followers (such as Peter and Thomas) and their often skeptical reactions (Mark 16:11, 13; Luke 24:11, 37; John 20:19, 25, 21:4). Such portrayals are very unlike the popular myths and legends of that (or any) time.

I would disguise the location of the tomb or spectacularly destroy it in my account.

If I were creating a resurrection legend, I would keep the tomb's location a secret to prevent any chance that someone might discover Jesus' body, or I would record in my account that the angels sealed it or carried it off into heaven after the Resurrection. Or I might have taken the easiest course of all and simply made my fictional resurrection a "spiritual" one, which would have made it impossible to refute even if a body were eventually discovered. But, of course, the Gospel accounts describe the owner of the tomb (Joseph of Arimathea) and its location ("At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb," John 19:41), and identify Jesus' resurrection as a bodily one (John 20:27).

I would try to squelch inquiry or investigation.

I might pronounce a curse on anyone attempting to substantiate my claims, or attach a stigma to anyone so shallow as to require evidence. Yet note the frequent appeal of Jesus' disciples, to the easily confirmed-or discredited-nature of the evidence, as though inviting investigation (Acts 2:32, 3:15, 13:31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6). This was done within a few years of the events themselves; if the tomb were not empty or the Resurrection appearances were fiction, the early Christians' opponents could have conclusively debunked the new religion.

As Dr. Edwin Yamauchi says of the citation of the resurrected Christ appearing to more than 500 people in 1 Corinthians 15, "What gives special authority to the list [of witnesses] as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can ask them.' "

I would not preach a message of repentance in light of the Resurrection.

No one in his right mind would have chosen to create a fictional message that would invite opposition and persecution from both civil and religious authorities of those days. How much easier and wiser it would have been to preach a less controversial gospel- concentrating on Jesus' teachings about love, perhaps-thus saving myself and the adherents of my new religion a lot of trouble.

I would stop short of dying for my lie.

Lee Strobel has written, "People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they're true, but people won't die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false.

"While most people can only have faith that their beliefs are true, the disciples were in a position to know without a doubt whether or not Jesus had risen from the dead. They claimed that they saw him, talked with him, and ate with him. If they weren't absolutely certain, they wouldn't have allowed themselves to be tortured to death for proclaiming that the resurrection had happened."

•••

These are not the only reasons I believe in the truth of the Bible and the reality of the Resurrection. But these were among the "many convincing proofs" (Acts 1:3) that I encountered in my attempts to prove Christianity wrong, which eventually led me to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He really did rise from the dead. It didn't happen immediately, but eventually I gave in to the truth, and on Dec. 19, 1959, the Risen Christ radically changed my life. I've seen Him do the same for countless others, and I pray, if you haven't done so already, you will let Him do the same for you.

Josh McDowell is a speaker, author, and traveling representative for Campus Crusade for Christ. His books include Evidence That Demands a Verdict, More Than a Carpenter, and The New Tolerance. He was assisted in writing this article by Bob Hostetler, an award-winning writer who lives in Hamilton, Ohio.
This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine.
Copyright © 2000 Josh McDowell.
All rights reserved.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; History; Mainline Protestant; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Theology
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As it turns out, no legitimate scholar or religion today denies that Jesus was a historical figure who walked the earth approximately 2,000 years ago, was a great teacher and miracle worker, and who died on a cross for the crime of blasphemy.

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not." (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Creation and the Resurrection The two greatest events in the history of the cosmos were, first of all, its supernatural creation and, secondly, the resurrection of its Creator from the dead. The evidence for each, to one whose mind and heart are open to evidence, is overwhelming. All true science points to creation, and the best-proved fact of history is the resurrection. The Bible, of course, teaches that both are vitally true, vitally important and vitally related, but even to one who does not believe the Bible, the evidence is still unanswerable. He may reject it, but he cannot refute it.

Furthermore, each is necessary to the other. The creation, invaded and permeated by decay and death, heading down toward ultimate chaos, can only be saved and renewed if death is defeated and life is restored by its Creator. The resurrection, conversely, triumphing over death and promising ultimate restoration of the perfect creation, can only be accomplished by the Creator Himself. The creation requires the resurrection and the resurrection requires the Creator.

Is Jesus the Only Way to God? The resurrection of Christ is one of the best-attested events in human history. Thomas Arnold, author of the famous three-volume History of Rome, appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, and certainly a man well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts, said: "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead." Numerous other prestigious scholars of history and law down through the centuries would concur.

Indeed, Jesus is the only way to God! In the days of Noah, there was no salvation outside of the Ark. In the days of Moses, there was no deliverance except for those who were under the blood. And in our day, there is no redemption outside of Christ.

Cynic Sage or Son of God? Boyd gives an overview of historical Jesus research and then summarizes the main arguments of his two opponents, Crossan and Mack. He then proceeds to show why the theories of Crossan and Mack are almost certainly false. Boyd argues convincingly for the canonical gospels and Paul's writings being much more reliable sources than the Gospel of Peter or Gospel of Thomas for information on Jesus.

The Case for Christ : A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel "The Case for Christ" is a well-articulated defense of the Christian faith, which is a statement I don't make lightly because I am not a Christian. I wish some of the reviewers of this book held to the same sober standards that the author employed in seeking the historical evidence for Jesus. They make all kinds of ill-supported claims --for instance, that the author tries to offer "conclusive proof" of the deity of Jesus. But the book never claims such "conclusive proof" is possible; only that the preponderance of the evidence points toward the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead and thereby confirmed that he is the son of God.

Liberalism "A God without wrath, led men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment,through the ministrations of, a Christ without a cross."H. Richard Neibuhr

In the United States the term came to be applied to the radical edge of liberal theology (beginning c.1910) . Whereas earlier liberalism was a kind of pathetic salvage movement trying to save the essence of Christianity from the ashes of the Enlightenment, Modernism posed a direct challenge to evangelical Protestantism and fostered a full scale response in the form of Fundamentalism.

Historians say Resurrection a Reality

1 posted on 04/16/2003 6:36:16 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: Dataman
+
2 posted on 04/16/2003 6:37:14 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: Remedy; BibChr; Diamond; logos; betty boop
Well done. C.S. Lewis also set out to disprove Christianity which resulted in his conversion.
3 posted on 04/17/2003 5:14:10 AM PDT by Dataman
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To: Stingray; scripter; rhema
Easter bump
4 posted on 04/17/2003 6:47:31 AM PDT by Dataman
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To: Caleb1411; xzins; OrthodoxPresbyterian; Southflanknorthpawsis; Artist
Ping
5 posted on 04/17/2003 6:52:59 AM PDT by BibChr (LIBERALISM = choices without consequences)
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To: BibChr
Why I Am (Still) a Christian We have only three options, in dealing with Jesus' claims. To be specific, if they were false, we have two choices. Either Jesus Himself knew the claims to be false, or He imagined them to be true. If Jesus knew the claims to be false, He was a contemptible, horrid liar on a level which leaves Bill Clinton looking like an Eagle Scout by contrast. Or even a darker subset suggests itself, as it is the Devil's yearning to be thought equal to God. If however Jesus falsely thought the claims to be true, then He was an utter lunatic, hopelessly insane, and certainly in a position to "teach" no one anything.

The only other option is that Jesus believed the claims, and in reality they were (and are) true. In that case, Jesus was and is Lord, God, and the sole Savior - and we had better deal with it.

The Comforting Doctrine of Hell the other certainty, Judgment, and the other possibility, Hell, have vanished from the minds of Christians.

6 posted on 04/17/2003 7:50:13 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: Dataman; Remedy; Alamo-Girl; Phaedrus; unspun; Hank Kerchief; cornelis; beckett; Diamond
Liberalism: "A God without wrath, led men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of, a Christ without a cross." H. Richard Neibuhr

WRT these lines, James Burnham once famously observed that "liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide."

Examine Neibuhr's warning statement, and you'll recognize it as the "justification" of the doctrine of "if it feels good, do it," "I'm entitled to feel good about myself," ends-justify-the-means, no-account "free lunch."

Which seems to be what our degenerate idea of "liberalism" has sunk to. Once upon a time, "liberalism" was preeminently about human liberty. But now, it has become a prescription for human greed, power-lust, rapine, and bondage....

Thanks for the excellent post, Remedy; and Dataman, thanks so much for the ping. May you have a blessed Easter!

7 posted on 04/17/2003 8:24:45 AM PDT by betty boop (God bless America. God bless our troops.)
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To: PaganConservative
  1. There is a fourth: That Yeshua ben Youssef believed the things he said, but was mistaken.
  2. or He imagined them to be true.

How about throwing a little more light on the subtle shade of distinction that is so glaring to you between #1 & #2.

9 posted on 04/17/2003 8:49:22 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: betty boop
Liberalism: "A God without wrath, led men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of, a Christ without a cross." H. Richard Neibuhr

'Kingdom? Kingdom? Sorry, Neibuhr, we've just stricken references made by this unfortunate, infectious kingdom cult, and liberated the histerical-I-mean historical Jesus.'

'It was the Christian thing to do, afterall.'

10 posted on 04/17/2003 8:52:48 AM PDT by unspun
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To: unspun
Hi unspun! Of course you realize that that "kingdom" of which Neibuhr speaks is recognized by him as a total fiction. He's certainly not an advocate of it.
11 posted on 04/17/2003 9:03:34 AM PDT by betty boop (God bless America. God bless our troops.)
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To: betty boop
Hi unspun! Of course you realize that that "kingdom" of which Neibuhr speaks is recognized by him as a total fiction. He's certainly not an advocate of it.

Yes, some, such as the Neibuhrs may still have such revisionistic thoughts, but we've made even that obsolete too and corrected these misconceptions. It's about time we did! -- 2000 years.

/sarc...

13 posted on 04/17/2003 9:26:18 AM PDT by unspun
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To: PaganConservative
Your description may fit one or more of the many false Jewish messiahs during that time.

Jews for Jesus claims that one of those messiahs was the true messiah of many convincing proofs.

 

14 posted on 04/17/2003 9:31:34 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: betty boop

"justification" of the doctrine of "if it feels good, do it," "

And "if it sounds good, believe it."

With An Apology to Arius: When and How Should We Deal with Heresies and Heretics? The Christian life is often presented as spiritual warfare; if the pagans are the enemies, the heretics are the traitors.

15 posted on 04/17/2003 9:36:46 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: PaganConservative
Your fourth is no different from one of the options already named. There's a word for people who are mistaken about whether or not they're God. That word is insane.

Your fifth is ruled out by historical evidence. There survives nothing of any Christians who denied Jesus made the claims recorded in the Gospels. If they had existed, we'd have at least polemics against them (as we have polemics against Judaizers and Gnostics), if not their own works. Instead, nothing. If Paul of his followers had invented the claims, the anti-Paulicians would have said so. So would the Jewish authorities.

There are still three options.

16 posted on 04/17/2003 9:38:29 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (Christ died for the ungodly.)
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To: Remedy
And "if it sounds good, believe it."

Astute point, Remedy!

17 posted on 04/17/2003 9:44:19 AM PDT by betty boop (God bless America. God bless our troops.)
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To: PaganConservative
See post #16 and the link in post #15.
19 posted on 04/17/2003 9:54:00 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: PaganConservative
Also, you seem to have a problem with the whole New Testament.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?

Authority of the Bible

Biblical Hermeneutics.

Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology?

20 posted on 04/17/2003 9:59:34 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: PaganConservative
I apply the same standard of proof to ALL Messianic claims

And what is that standard?

Cordially,

21 posted on 04/17/2003 12:27:40 PM PDT by Diamond
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To: diode; LiteKeeper; HumanaeVitae
ping


22 posted on 04/17/2003 12:39:00 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: Dataman; Remedy
Thanks for the ping. I've read his books but it's always good to read a summary. Good post, Remedy.
23 posted on 04/17/2003 12:54:11 PM PDT by scripter
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To: PaganConservative
PaganConservative

Well, at least you've taken the main step. Conservatism assumes a pessimistic view of human nature. Paganism in all it's permutations--collectivism, libertarianism, rationalism, idealism, etc.--assumes the opposite.

Here's hoping you reconcile it the 'right way'.

24 posted on 04/17/2003 1:02:49 PM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: Remedy
He then proceeds to show why the theories of Crossan and Mack are almost certainly false.

Crossan explains the absence of a body post-cruxifiction by suggesting that Jesus' followers may have left his body unburied and exposed in the desert where his bones were then scattered by wild dogs. Those dogs weren't the only ones howling after Crossan's theory got around!

26 posted on 04/17/2003 1:08:40 PM PDT by beckett
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for the excellent quotes and analysis! I agree:

Once upon a time, "liberalism" was preeminently about human liberty. But now, it has become a prescription for human greed, power-lust, rapine, and bondage....


28 posted on 04/17/2003 1:16:09 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
Liberalism: "A God without wrath, led men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of, a Christ without a cross." H. Richard Neibuhr

Excellent, thanks for that quote.

30 posted on 04/17/2003 4:00:56 PM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: PaganConservative; Remedy; betty boop
The standard of proof is my own; since I am responsible for my life and my spirit/soul, no one else's "authority" will do.

That Jesus rejected this, the basis for all pagan systems of ethics Deathics, should be proof enough of His Divinity.

31 posted on 04/17/2003 4:03:29 PM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: PaganConservative
There is a fourth: That Yeshua ben Youssef believed the things he said, but was mistaken

As were the witnesses, many of whom were stoned (with rocks) for their belief in what they saw.

That words were put into his mouth by later writers (Saul of Tarsus and his followers.)

See original post: "People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they're true, but people won't die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false."

32 posted on 04/17/2003 5:21:27 PM PDT by Gamecock (Remember; always plunder first, then burn!)
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To: PaganConservative
Poor phrasing aside, your point is only valid if you are talking about modern Western people. You are trying to apply modern psychological labels to people or mythological characters of another time and place.

2000 years ago, and before, it was common to believe that kings were divine, or that people could achieve divinity through great deeds or the favor of the gods. Mithras, Sol Invictus, Herakles, Gilgamesh, the Caesars, the Pharoahs, and the Dagda were all believed to be gods-that-walked-the-earth or men who who would become divine upon their death. Thus, it is entirely possible that Yeshua thought himself to be divine (or ascending to divinity after death) and was mistaken, but was not "insane".

I'm afraid that, rather than projecting your perspective back, you've projected it across. Most modern Western people are formed, to some degree or another, by the influence of Hebraic civilization. All the examples you cited are, like you, pagan. The division here is less about era than worldview.

There is also the matter of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." "There survives nothing" is definitely not synonymous with "there has never been anything written"; since you do not have access to all extant writings, your statement is unsupportable. If the Church destroyed all dissident writing, or buried it in the Vatican library, they (and you) can deny their very existence.

The Catholics have always kept records of the heresies rejected, especially at Councils. (And truths rejected, for that matter.) Even if only keeping their own side, that does survive to record the controversy. This one single issue would be unique if they destroyed or hid not only their oponents' writings, but their own. Yes, in the right circumstances, absence of evidence can be evidence of absence.

Even given the logical errors, you are also factually incorrect (i.e., no records of Christian sects who did not believe in the claims of divinity of Yeshua.) Read about the Ebionites, and get back to me.

I've got an even better one: the Arians, which I forgot completely because I was thinking of very early groups, like the Gnostics (who are condemned by doctrine, but not name, in the New Testament).

So I read about the Ebionites. They seem to have grown out the Judaizers, who I did mention and were very early, but the Ebionites proper, with their low Christology, didn't exist until the second century. They weren't contemporaries of the Apostles.

33 posted on 04/17/2003 6:29:19 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (Christ died for the ungodly.)
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: PaganConservative
Although you seem to have already made up your mind, how would you explain the prediction of a Messiah from the OT scriptures and the fulfillment of those predictions -- against all odds-- by Jesus Christ?
36 posted on 04/17/2003 10:19:49 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: PaganConservative
Particularly, can you describe the particular "predictions" you are referencing, and explain why "the fulfillment of those predictions" (by Yeshua) was "against all odds"?

There are over 300 prophecies that could be cited. Just a few should be enough.

Isaiah 40:3 The Messiah would be heralded by a messenger of the Lord who would be a voice of one calling "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wildernedd a highway for our God." This was fulfilled by John the Baptist.

Is 53:2-12 give precise descriptions of Christ's sufferings and death:

His ancestry is significant.

Now the Jews kept very detailed records of ancestry and could have challenged his Messiahship on the basis of his ancestry. Instead, they called him the Son of David.

Daniel gave the very year that the messiah would die (Chapter 9).

Psalm 16 predicts his resurrection.

Psalm 110 predicts his ascension.

The probability that Jesus could have fulfilled just 16 of the messianic prophecies is 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. The chance that he fulfilled 48 of them is 1 in 10157. Stoner's odds

Arcane writings can be interpreted in many ways, and later scripture can be written to appear to support the old prophecies.

What makes the arcane? A subjective personal fiat? If the scripture in question was understood by the Jews to be messianic before Christ was born, it is not arcane.

Yeshua may not have been born in Bethlehem (there is no Roman evidence of the "census" referenced in the infancy tale of Yeshua, which makes the actual location of his birth an open question)

There is no Roman evidence? How could one possibly know that? It wasn't that long ago that Pilate was said not to have existed because there was no Roman evidence. There is a biased and uninformed opinion about the reliability of the eyewitness accounts that assumes all biblical accounts in error unless they are corroborated by a secondary or less reliable source. Try applying that standard to say the theory of evolution or innocent-until-proven-guilty.

The fact of the matter is that if the Messiah was not born in Bethlehem then his contemporaries would have known.

and he may not have fled to Egypt as a newborn (no one but the gospel writer describes the 'slaughter of the innocents' under Herod Antipas).

Another "may have?" The slaughter occurred just before Herod died and was not contrary to his nature since he had done many such brutal things during his reign according to Josephus. Of course there is a problem for skeptics in the gospel account: There were people alive when the account was written who would know if it was a fabrication since they witnessed it. Yet there exists no claim to the contrary.

He may not have sat with the rebbis in the Temple as a boy. These things may be pious inventions, designed to give Yeshua legitimacy as a messiah

Yet another "may not have." If the stories are false, where are contemporary critics? Christianity had no political power before Constantine 300 years later and the critics were free to discredit Christ or the NT. The alleged fabrications would have been made while living witnesses to the contrary had the power to object. Yet none such objections exist. Rather than producing the body of Christ to disprove the resurrection, stories were circulated that his body was stolen. NOT likely for the following reasons:

You can believe what you like, Mr. Pagan, nobody will deny that. Simply reject Christ because you don't like him. Don't offer a bunch of might-not-haves as the reason for rejection. As the genius Blaise Pascal said, if you are wrong in the end you lose everything and gain nothing. If I am wrong, I lose nothing. There is a great deal of evidence in favor of the accuracy of the gospels. As your quote illustrated, the best evidence against them is a handful of what-ifs. What if the gospels are true?
38 posted on 04/18/2003 7:25:02 AM PDT by Dataman
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To: PaganConservative
No, what you apparently were saying is that you are the final authority on your own ethical conduct. You are not.
39 posted on 04/18/2003 7:29:50 AM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: PaganConservative
As a member of the clergy in service to the pagan community, I am also bound to the Code of Ethics of Professional Chaplains

Hm. Who wrote that?

41 posted on 04/18/2003 8:33:56 AM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: PaganConservative
The Bible is NOT history "divine" , "handed down by God", nor "infallible."yet you love it, and always will.

And you also love the religious texts and myths of Zen Buddhism, Taoism, the Greeks,the Romans, the Norse, and the Celts (my people.)

Do you love these texts the in the same sense that a child loves video games, comic books and other fictional or fantasy pursuits? If you don't, I don't understand your affinity for these, unless your income depends upon your love for these works.

42 posted on 04/18/2003 9:25:41 AM PDT by Remedy
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To: PaganConservative
Not projecting at all. Mithras, Sol Invictus, the Caesars, Gilgamesh, the Pharoahs, and Herakles would have been known to Yeshua (as a Middle Eastern man in a Greco-Roman world, or as your omniscient god-man). However, none of these characters were products of Hebrew civilization. Yeshua could very easily have thought himself to also be an anointed king, a god-man, or a man who would attain godhood on his death. Such belief would not, given the reliance on mythology in his time, necessarily been a sign of insanity (although the same would not be said of a modern man).

You're still projecting your worldview onto the Hebrews. Yes, they knew about pagan myths. You know about Christianity. So what?

I loved your "or as your omniscient god-man". Do you suppose an omniscient god-man would confuse Himself with fictitious god-men believed in by cultures other than the one He lives in, even though he's already a real god-man?

Yes, "in the right circumstances" absense of evidence can be evidence of absence. However, you have not demonstrated that such circumstances exist. For your point to be true, EVERY document written about the subject of Yeshua's divinity would have to be accounted for and in the possession of the Church, and a chain of custody would have to be available to show that no document had been tampered with, redacted or destroyed.

You couldn't even meet that for modern times, which is the reason for it. I suppose I could ask for every single document ever produced on the subject of the Roman census would have to be poduced, along with chains of custody. Instead, I'll simply repeat that several orthodox writers set out to refute every heresy they could find, that their writings do survive, and that none mention truely early rejectors of Christ's divinity.

The point is moot, anyway, since the Ebionites (which can be documented in fact, if not in name, to mid-first century Jerusalem as part of the Nazarenes; to the Jacobian church in AD70; and with Trajan in AD96.) did deny divinity in Yeshua, and their sect is well-documented.

No, they didn't exist. The Nazarenes recognized Christ's divinity, and also demanded adherence to the Mosaic law. Ebionites denied Christ's divinity and also demanded adherence to Mosaic law.

Using your argument, if a person is unconvinced that Yeshua was right (about his own divinity), does that only leave insanity or lying as options? I wouldn't think that you'd like that set of choices.

I'm not the one choosing between those two.

43 posted on 04/18/2003 9:33:35 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (Christ died for the ungodly.)
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To: PaganConservative
Ethics = "Death"ics? Do you really believe that?

I believe he was calling pagan ethics "deathics", in contrast to true ethics.

44 posted on 04/18/2003 9:36:11 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (Christ died for the ungodly.)
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: PaganConservative; Dataman
Others have responded very well to your answer to my question regarding your standard of judgment. Let me just respond to a couple of other things;

(there is no Roman evidence of the "census" referenced in the infancy tale of Yeshua, which makes the actual location of his birth an open question)

No offense intended, but the above statement is historically illiterate.

Dataman: Daniel gave the very year that the messiah would die (Chapter 9). You: "No, Daniel didn't. I read the chapter you have referenced, and nowhere does it say a year of the death of the "true messiah." Go back, read the chapter again, and till me which verse says the thing you claim.

25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree [6] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, [7] the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. [8]

Calculate, FRiend. Calculate.

Later in the same chapter (Dn9:26) the writer says "the end thereof shall be with a flood." There was no flood when Yeshua died; ergo the prophecy isn't about him.

... or, "The end will come like a flood..."

If you are knowledgeable in Hebrew, and the above translation is incorrect, then please refute the translation, in which the obvious meaning is that of a metaphor.

Cordially,

48 posted on 04/18/2003 12:39:32 PM PDT by Diamond
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To: PaganConservative
No, my point was that men wrote that. If you don't have some kind of transcendental ethical system--i.e. God--then it's a man-centered, relativistic system of ethics.

Or, for lack of a better word, paganism, which you admit freely. Problem with paganism is this: if morals are relative, some one is going to have to decide them. Other people might disagree with the decisions. So, the decision has to be enforced with...force. Paganism leads to tyranny.

49 posted on 04/18/2003 12:41:00 PM PDT by HumanaeVitae (Tolerance is a necessary evil.)
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To: PaganConservative
If all these prophecies could apply to many "messiahs," why is Christ the only name known to the entire world? Where are all these other messiahs? Why did they fail?

You have extrapolated that "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness" was the Baptist. Was he the only prophet to "cry out in the wilderness?" How many other messiahs had a voice "crying out his name in the wilderness?"

It matters not if there were a thousand voices crying in the wildernes saying "prepare the way of the Lord." The point of the prophecy was that there would be such a person announcing the Messiah. There was indeed such a person announcing the true Messiah. Do you have an example of another messiah who had a forerunner saying the same thing?

In the same chapter, (Is 40:28), KJV says "the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary." If that is equally as true as Is 40:3, then Yeshua proved himself not to be the true messiah or god-that-walks-the-earth when he said "It is finished", and died on the cross.

What is your authority for asserting that the cited verse applies to the Messiah? The context does not warrant it.

Is 53:12 is a vague passage, that could apply to many of the messiahs. ALL were rejected, and "a man of sorrow" (being executed or ignored would make any messiah a man of sorrow!) EVERY messiah who was executed suffered, and was despised by "others". "Carried our sorrows" is far too vague to be an identifier; anyone who takes on the troubles of others (like a clergyman) "carries the sorrows of others."

The Messiah, unlike a clergyman, bore the sins of everyone. Christ knew his mission. He knew he was to die. He said so many times as to the certainty and method of his death. His purpose was to suffer and die for us, not to suffer and die for himself. If the OT prophecies are fabulous, why create a messiah who will be rejected and killed by the same people he comes to save? Why not a conquering hero that will ride in on a cloud and wipe his enemies out?

Yeshua may have felt himself to be abandoned by Yahveh (my God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?), but abandonment is far from affliction or smiting.

I understand that this is your personal opinion. How could a human possibly understand what it was like to have God completely turn His back on someone? Some have said that is what Hell is like- the absence of God.

"Suffered silently like a lamb?" I DON'T THINK SO! Yeshua was reported to scream to the heavens, and to ask Yahveh why he was abandoned on the cross. There is also that cry, "It is Finished" when he died. No silence there!

Here is the original verse:

IOW, he let his opponents perform their deed. Scream? That word is not there in the Koine.

"Pierced for our transgressions" has been stated as a prophecy of the piercing of Yeshua's side by a Roman spear. If it was necessary to make the early Christians believe in Yeshua's divinity, this "piercing" could be easily inserted into the narrative. No body, no evidence, no way to prove the gospel writer wrong! Remember my 4th option (pious fiction)?

Tell me, do nails through the hands/wrists and feet count as piercing?

"Died with the wicked." It is your Christian belief that all people are wicked. Consequently, anyone who dies in the presence of another person would "die with the wicked," including every messiah that was executed or stoned to death by a mob. Right?

If "died with the wicked" means "died with Joe Sixpack," then the words are meaningless. In the same way, "born of a young woman" is not a sign whereas "born of a virgin" is most definitely a sign. Context is important. You cannot change the meaning of the word "wicked" because you (wrongly) tell me what my beliefs are. Your interpretation renders the meaning of "wicked" no different than the meaning of "good."

"Daniel gave the very year that the messiah would die (Chapter 9)." No, Daniel didn't. I read the chapter you have referenced, and nowhere does it say a year of the death of the "true messiah." Go back, read the chapter again, and tll me which verse says the thing you claim.

Since the answer is lengthy, let me refer you to another site your "flood" question is answered here as well.

Psalm 16 predicts his resurrection. No, it doesn't. Reread that psalm, and tell me exactly what part of it predicts a resurrection of Yeshua. There is no mention of resurrection, nor or returning from the dead, nor even of immortality.

Check out verse 10:

Psalm 16 predicts his resurrection. No, it doesn't. Reread that psalm, and tell me exactly what part of it predicts a resurrection of Yeshua. There is no mention of resurrection, nor or returning from the dead, nor even of immortality.

Ps 110 has always been a messianic psalm, yes, even to the Jews before Jesus. If you don't want to believe these things, just as you say-- that is your choice. You may certainly choose to reject the evidence as well. But do not pretend that no evidence exists.

50 posted on 04/18/2003 1:01:22 PM PDT by Dataman
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