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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 They do their “research” from a lot of out of date sources to prove an ill-conceived idea that almost no one in the academic community – not even the most liberal of the liberal Bible scholars – will entertain.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 Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

$12.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


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.)

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.

Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

$9.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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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


God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.

Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!

Running Time: 240 minutes

Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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