For about a year now, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the cultural phenomenon known as the “Jesus-as-myth” hypothesis. It’s an idea that is gaining steam, not with credible historians and scholars, but among “popularizers” who state categorically as fact that “Jesus never existed” on numerous websites, blogs and discussion boards. This crackpot conspiracy theory may be simply stated as follows:
Since there was no contemporary historian living in Judea in the first century who recorded the life of Jesus, then there is no proof that Jesus existed.
What is being contended against is not the historicity of the miraculous works, the resurrection, or the divinity of Jesus, but the very existence of a historical person named Jesus of Nazareth. The Jesus-myth hypothesis was first proposed by Bruno Bauer in a work entitled Christ and the Caesars in 1877. Prior to the 1800s, no pagan, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist critic of the New Testament ever thought to challenge the veracity of the person called Jesus. Then Bauer came along and claimed that the bulk of the New Testament was written in the late second century — a full 150 years after Jesus lived — and took skepticism to the next level by claiming that the very existence of Jesus was doubtful.
At the time, Bauer was thought of as a radical fringe free thinker. Even his former students, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both atheistic communists, sought to distance themselves from his writings. The idea then gained some popularity among scholars in the early 20th century, but when serious critics began to see the solid evidence for the first century dates of New Testament books — still interpreting them as pseudonymous works written after the time of Apostles, but accepting that they were written early enough to have been read and circulated by the earliest Christians — they rejected Higher Criticism for a modified form of liberalism.
The works of Bauer and the German Higher Critics were not respected even in their own day, even by atheists and skeptics such Mark and Engels. Most of their works have never been translated into English. One liberal theologian, Dr. John Henry Ludlum, one of the greatest linguistic scholars ever to come out of Yale University, began to study the Higher Critics in German only to see that the whole thrust of their work as baseless conjecture to support a political agenda of anti-semitism. In fact, Bauer and several of the 19th century German critics sought to prove that Christianity could not have had its roots in Semitic Judaism. Therefore, the Jesus-as-myth hypothesis has had a serious credibility gap even among liberal theologians.
To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.’ In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. – Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Scribner, 1995).
There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more. – Burridge, R & Gould, G, Jesus Now and Then, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004, p.34.
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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.
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“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
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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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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.
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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
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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.
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