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Countering the Jesus Mythists (Part 1)

One of the blessings and scourges to Christian apologetics in our time is the widespread availability of electronic text publishing and digital video production. It is a great blessing because never before has the Christian layman had access to the ability to study theology and communicate the Gospel to so many people. It is a terrible scourge because never before has the quality and reliability of materials related to the Gospel been so poor.

During the whole time when I was the editor of The Forerunner newspaper, our highest press run was just under 25,000 copies. Most copies were sold nearly at cost in bundles of 100 or more for evangelism purposes. We always had a couple thousand faithful subscribers and donors. This generated a budget of a few thousand dollars a month to pay the printing, shipping, and postage bills.

Now with the Internet, Forerunner.com has over 200,000 page accesses per month and over 100,000 visitors (according to one statistics analysis program). I recently put up some clips from the videos I’ve produced on my YouTube video blog and since November 2006 – about four months time – this has generated tens of thousands of viewers. We – meaning me and all the people who have helped me put this together over the years– are reaching many times the number of people than we did with print media and analog video.

A friend of mine, J.P. Holding, who lives just a few miles up the road in Ocoee, Florida, started Tektonics.org in the late 1990s. It’s a similar site to Forerunner.com in many ways. J.P. and I agree that one of the negative byproducts of the postmodernist flood of media technologies has been the emergence in droves of the “Jesus Mythists.” These are people who not only deny the existence of God, but also claim that the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth never even existed.

The proponents of the Jesus Myth theory are almost always without credentials. They do their “research” from a lot of out of date sources to prove an ill-conceived idea that almost no one in the academic community – not even the most liberal of the liberal Bible scholars – will entertain. Almost every scholar agrees that Jesus was a real person and that the Gospel accounts contain a historical outline of His acts and sayings.

The Mythists’ argument is that no one from the time of Jesus wrote anything about him. They discount all the writings of the Apostles and early Christians because they were “biased.” They discount the dozen or so accounts of Jewish and pagan writers who mention Jesus near the end of the second century because they were not eyewitnesses. What they are looking for is a “smoking gun” – an actual letter or manuscript recording the existence of written by someone prior to Jesus’ death.

Such a plea for comtemporary written evidence is extremely unreasonable. We do not doubt the existence of other ancient figures who were not written about until after their death. Until the 20th century, we had no contemporary evidence that Caiaphas the High Priest or Pontius Pilate, who were mentioned several times in the New Testament, were real people either. They are mentioned by later historians, but except for the Gospels and Acts, there was not a single letter, writing or inscription by them or by a person living in theri time who recorded their sayings or doings.

That is, until very recently.

In 1990, diggers in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City uncovered an ossuary (repository for bones) with the inscription JOSEPH SON OF CAIAPHAS. This marked the first archaeological evidence that the high priest Caiaphas, who according to the Gospels presided at the Sanhedrin’s trial of Jesus, was a real person. So, indisputably, was Pilate. In 1961, diggers in Caesarea found the fragment of a plaque indicating that a building had been dedicated by PONTIUS PILATUS, PREFECT OF JUDEA.

To the left is the Pilate inscription discovered in 1961. It reads: “PONTIUS PILATUS, PREFECT OF JUDEA.”

There is also a lot of physical evidence that validates the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and the Apostles. Archaeologists have uncovered a first century house in Capernaum that according to tradition was the home of St. Peter. The building contains a meeting room that might have been used for worship. Some experts speculate that this was the synagogue where Jesus preached, as recounted in John 6:59.

The Gospels contain no fewer than 45 references to boats and fishing as they relate to Jesus. These fishing communities have been proven to exist! In 1986, two members of a Galilean kibbutz came across the remains of a 26-ft.-long wooden dory, buried in the mud near Kinneret on the Sea of Galilee, that has been carbon-dated to the first century. Almost certainly, this was the kind of vessel used by Peter, James, John and the other fishermen whom Jesus recruited as his first disciples.

Although movie director John Cameron claims to have discovered the ossuary of the family of Jesus (even claiming Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene on sketchy and far-fetched evidence) it’s unlikely that we should expect find such physical or written evidence of Jesus from a contemporary source other than His disciples.

The reason is that according to the Gospels, Jesus was viewed by almost everyone during His lifetime including most of his disciples and family members — as either an ordinary rabbi, perhaps a prophet, or maybe the promised Messiah — although even Jesus’ second cousin, John the Baptist, had doubts. This view changed dramatically after the Resurrection when His followers universally began to preach Jesus as the risen Christ and Lord of the universe.

Until His death on the cross, he was controversial yet ordinary. After the resurrection, He was sensational and extraordinary.

Comments

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Posted by finleykaren on 10/03/2007 07:22 PM #

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

$49.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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