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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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
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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.
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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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