The “New” Skepticism
Even though the vast majority liberal scholars have rejected the Jesus as myth hypothesis it has been popularized in numerous books written by authors such Earl Doherty, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. More strident in the promotion of the Jesus-as-myth hypothesis are several young, uneducated atheists, who are usually former religionists with an axe to grind. Groups such as the Rational Responders post V-logs on YouTube and promote with evangelical fervor that “Jesus was a myth.” The annoying part of their behavior is that they will often state their idea as though it is a widely accepted fact. They use the fallacious bandwagon appeal. I compare them to the sports pundit who wants to prove that Babe Ruth was not the most revered athlete who ever lived by arguing, “Everyone knows that baseball is not sport anyway.”
The Jesus-as-myth argument is so indefensible that that no one ever ventured to propose it until the last 130 years. This hypothesis could only exist after the emergence of postmodernism — a philosophy that essentially denies that reality is knowable. It should be obvious to any educated person that the argument is so barren of any depth that it should be discarded at first glance. Ph.D. candidates don’t bother doing exhaustive research on whether a universally accepted famous figure did or did not exist. Such an exercise in futility is like spitting into the wind. Association with crackpot ideas – pro or con – does nothing to enhance one’s academic reputation.
Since so few accomplished historians will bother to argue against silly conspiracy theories, there are many more books written on the Jesus-myth hypothesis than there are scholarly refutations of the idea. Ridiculousness, ironically, has become its strength. In fact, I hesitate to broach the topic because attention only enhances the Jesus mythists’ credibility
A brief outline of the Jesus-as-myth argument
At the risk of making this paper tiger more ferocious in appearance, the Jesus-as-myth hypothesis may be outlined as follows.
There is not a single “eyewitness” historian who left a testimony of the events surrounding Jesus life and ministry around the year 30 A.D.
The eight New Testament writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, Jude — don’t count because they were either biased fanatics, fraudulent pseudonymous writers, or non-eyewitnesses.
Other first century Christian writers – Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius*, the writer of the Didache, and others – don’t count for the same reasons.
The Jewish historian Josephus doesn’t count because he was born a full eight years after Jesus died and therefore could not have known anything about Jesus.
Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Talmudic Jewish writers and others don’t count because they too lived after Jesus and were not eyewitnesses.
The skeptics ignore the fact that there is not a single “eyewitness” historian who left a testimony to any of the events of 27 to 35 A.D. in first century Judea. They use the slogan, “The silence is deafening,” referring to the alleged lack of eyewitness testimony on Jesus. It is like arguing that Neil Armstrong did not land on the moon because there were no reporters physically present on the lunar surface to record the event. The fact of the matter is that there weren’t any contemporary historians who recorded eyewitness accounts of events in Judea from this time.
Only the New Testament gives us an eyewitness account from the time when Jesus and the Apostles established the church. There are no other extant writings of historians who lived in Judea in this time period. Pontius Pilate, a historical figure corroborated by archaeological artifacts, was not recorded by any first century eyewitness in any extant writing. The Jewish historian Philo, who was a contemporary of Pilate, lived in Alexandria and although he wrote about Pilate, he did not witness Jesus or Pilate first hand. But no one doubts Philo’s testimony.
When the Jesus mythists refer to the lack of evidence, they are making an unreasonable demand for accounts that simply do not exist during this one decade of the first century.
* Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch from 69 to c. 96 A.D. Ignatius wrote seven letters in the first century that are considered authentic (there are later spurious letters of Ignatius as well). Ignatius of Antioch died around 96-97 A.D. as a martyr in Rome. He was the third Bishop of Antioch. When the Apostle Peter left Antioch for Rome, Evodius succeeded him as bishop. Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero around AD 66-67. Evodius was bishop of Antioch until AD 69, when Ignatius succeeded him.
Ignatius, who also called himself Theophorus (“bearer of God”), was most likely a disciple of both the Apostles Peter and John. His association with the Apostles and his vast number of quotations of New Testament scripture are proof that the canon of the New Testament was transmitted directly from James, Peter, John and Paul to bishops such as Ignatius.
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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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High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
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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
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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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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
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