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The “Jesus Myth” Theory Refuted (part 1)

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.

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.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

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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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“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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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

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

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

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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