Here’s the most recent question posed by a viewer of The Real Jesus:
Comment from archieabe:
I have a comment for you on a related topic, if I may: The typical Christian believer today seems to think that he or she knows what Jesus said and what Jesus did over 19 centuries ago. In reality, no living mortal today knows (beyond a reasonable doubt) what Jesus said or did way back in the 1st century A.D. No one. Your thoughts?
It’s on the same level as doubting that Abraham Lincoln really gave the Gettysburg Address.
This is a speech that many school children have been taught to memorize in the last 150 years. Yet despite the speech’s prominent place in the history and popular culture of the United States, the exact wording of the speech is disputed. The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address differ in a number of details and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech.
We don’t have the original copy of the Gettysburg Address that Lincoln reputedly wrote on the back of a letter on a train on the way to the ceremony. So who is to say that the Gettysburg Address isn’t the product of the imagination of a popular newspaper writer?
One might counter that the five newspaper reprints prove that a speech was given and from the similarities we can reconstruct what Lincoln said to a 98 percent or better probability. Given the nature of human language, the high degree of similarity is evidence that Lincoln did in fact give the speech and that is approximately what we have today with some small edits by newspaper writers.
But doubters and conspiracy theorists can say that the above photo isn’t really Lincoln and point to a number of problems with the “obviously doctored photo.”
When we compare this analogy to the Gospel accounts, we are basically dealing with the same issues, the same degree of similarity between variant manuscripts, and a larger body of manuscript evidence.
We must also take into account that the disciples preserved Jesus’ teachings, not His exact words. A preacher who gives an early morning sermon and a late morning sermon varies his words and content, but might be said to have “preached the same sermon.” That is what we have with the sayings of Jesus. The “Sermon on the Mount” contains roughly the same words as the “Sermon on the Plain.” In other words, the recorded words of Jesus are teachings that were repeated many times and committed to memory by His disciples.
Here I remind the skeptic that he can probably remember the words to popular songs he heard when he was a teenager. He can recall all but a few words (or perhaps a line) many years later. My elementary school teachers made us memorize poems that I can easily recall today (with some refreshing). This was essentially how the Gospel was preserved for about 15 to 20 years — but by the time Paul began preaching in the 50s, we know that there had been a “Gospel” that various itinerant evangelists had committed to memory. This is the Gospel that later became Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
We have to take into account that the words of Jesus were probably given in Hebrew or a dialect of Hebrew such as Aramaic. The “Gospel” survived this way for about a decade or two before someone thought to record it in Hebrew or Aramaic and then later in Greek. So the four different Greek renderings of the same account are going to have some natural variations.
In fact, the testimony of the church fathers is that Matthew was a “Hebrew” Gospel later rendered into Greek around 63 or 64 A.D.
According to Papias, Mark was the “rendering” of Peter’s Gospel told to Mark, Peter’s interpreter at Rome. Mark’s Gospel was originally Peter’s Gospel in Aramaic, but the Greek version is Mark’s rendering of what Peter preached.
Then Luke is Paul’s Gospel. It has the core of the “proto-Gospel” preached by Matthew and Mark with the addtion of some carefully researched details told to Luke by disciples and family members of Jesus he had known in Jerusalem, Antioch and Ephesus.
This is the early historical record of how the four Gospels were written. This rings true if we understand anything about how all the Hebrew scriptures came into being. Usually being the record of the sayings of prophets told to scribes and later purposefully redacted in some small details.
We also have to remember that the accounts were not written in a vacuum, but were continually preserved by eyewitnesses who knew each other well and had the opportunity to correct details if someone introduced something novel or deviant from the original words or events.
There is also manuscript evidence as well as several historical accounts that testify to this process. The theories of the liberal critics on how the Gospels came into being are without any documentary evidence and rest on pure conjecture.
Here is an image of the Rylands fragment, which is a portion of the Gospel of John copied about 115 A.D. Most assume this is at least a copy of a copy. Therefore, critics variously claim a date of 67 to 96 A.D. for John’s Gospel. The amazing thing about this fragment is that it matches exactly the words of documents that were copied centuries later which is the basis for the Gospel of John we have today.
Although it is a fragment, it contains a portion of John on both the front and the reverse. The text is approximately where it should be on the reverse if the words of today’s accepted Gospel of John were the same.
In other words, this particular fragment is more reliable than the Gettysburg Address!
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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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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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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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Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
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