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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 They do their “research” from a lot of out of date sources to prove an ill-conceived idea that almost no one in the academic community – not even the most liberal of the liberal Bible scholars – will entertain.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 08:22 PM #

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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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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$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.)

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In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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