When I started my Forerunner Discussion Board in 2006, I posted the script to a video I had been working on for a few months, The Real Jesus. This video was inspired by and critiques a Peter Jennings special from a few years ago called, The Search for Jesus. A lot of Christians tune in to programs such as this one thinking they’ll find documentaries on the historical background of the Gospels. Instead we were treated to a two-hour commercial for the Jesus Seminar, a group of liberal scholars who are essentially regurgitating the Higher Criticism of over 100 years ago. The Higher Criticism is a positivist, modernist view that is ironically based solely on conjecture.
The tenet of logical positivism is that theological and ethical statements are nonsense and serve merely to express the feelings rather than rational thought. Only mathematical and scientific statements are literally meaningful, or “true.” Whatever cannot be proven by science and especially direct observation does not exist.
The Higher Criticism is distinguished from the so-called “lower criticism” — rightly known as just plain “textual criticism” — that seeks to discover what the original autographs of the New Testament books contained by comparing the earliest and best of the manuscripts and fragments that we have available today. Scholars are pretty much in agreement that we can be 95 to 99 percent certain that what is written in today’s New Testament is reliable and accurate compared to the original autographs.
The Higher Criticism on the other hand is purely speculative and ends up arguing in a manner opposite of the positivism that it claims to represent. Further, the claims of the Higher Critics were almost thoroughly refuted by the archaeological discoveries of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Some of the Higher Critics back in the 1800s went as far as to say that Jesus was a myth — that He never even existed as a man — but today due to the overwhelming archaeological evidence corroborating in minute detail the history of the New Testament, most liberals agree that Jesus was a man and most are even constrained to admit that the Gospels were written in the first century — not the second as the early liberals tried to say. For example just a few years ago, there was physical evidence found concerning several of the contemporary New Testament personalities such as Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas the High Priest. These were previously unproven from a positivist view except through written accounts. But now we know that these contemporaries of Jesus mentioned in the New Testament did exist. Today, the liberals continue to doubt the miracles and divinity of Jesus. But virtually all agree that He was a true historical person.
As soon as I posted my script on the Real Jesus, I began to get almost daily posts from a few people who insisted that Jesus was a myth, that there was no historical evidence that he existed, that the early Christians were Gnostics that took pagan myths and placed them on this allegorized fictional character. This argument went on for a few months until I got weary of them saying the same thing again and again.
The Jesus Myth proponents begin with the comparisons between pagan gods and Jesus. One of the problems with these is that many examples are fabricated out of thin air — such as the claim that the Hindus teach that Krishna was resurrected (he was cremated). But Christians throughout the centuries have always noted the similarities between the god-man stories and Christ. These actually lend credence to the Gospel. The idea is that God has placed “eternity in our hearts” — so to speak — and these myths just resonate with the true historical Jesus even though Christ appeared after some of these stories were created. The same is true for most of the Genesis story, the creation, the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, the flood, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, and so on. These are universal truths found in all religions — just as the promise of a messiah is recognized in many religions. It shows the truth of the Gospel that we all had a common origin, that we sinned and came under an ancient series of judgments and received the promise of redemption through a messiah sent from God from the beginning (Gen. 3:15).
The Jesus Myth argument is also positivist. They insist that because there are not numerous first century historians who mention Jesus prior to 50 AD — a full 20 years after His death — He simply did not exist.
But in fact, there is a short list of first and second century Jewish and pagan historians who mention Jesus. The Jesus Myth proponents counter that these were either later Christian forgeries or they are not credible because they were writing what they heard from Christians secondhand and were not eyewitnesses from the time of Jesus ministry that lasted three and a half years.
Another common trick is to appeal to the “thousands and thousands” of Roman records of trial proceedings and crucifixions “none of which mention Jesus.” The odd thing about this claim is that there is no evidence that the Romans kept such records and certainly none exist today — at least not from the period in which Jesus was crucified in Judea. So the lack of Roman records is this logical fallacy that doesn’t make any sense.
Instead of Roman records, what we have are the accounts of eight or nine New Testament writers seven of whom were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry. We also have late first century accounts of those who knew the Apostles who wrote the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament. These people were called the Church Fathers because they were the second generation of Christian bishops who received their authority and the New Testament writings directly from the Apostles. We also have the third generation writings of the so-called Apologists who heard and knew the second generation Church Fathers, some of whom lived into the second century.
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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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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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Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
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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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