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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 They do their “research” from a lot of out of date sources to prove an ill-conceived idea that almost no one in the academic community – not even the most liberal of the liberal Bible scholars – will entertain.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 Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California

“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

$4.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


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. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

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


Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan

Running time: 85 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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