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Jesus, Mohammed, Shakespeare: Did they really exist? (part 1)

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.

Your comments are welcome!

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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.)

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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!

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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!

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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. 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!

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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!

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