Did Jesus Exist?

It seems like every Christmas season the very existence of Jesus is debated.  Here is one article from this year.

https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/here-are-5-reasons-to-suspect-jesus-never-existed-2/

The lady who wrote this article is a former evangelical and sadly demonstrates the failure of many evangelical churches in grounding people in the truth.  Her points (in bold) and my brief refutations of them are below.

  1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.
    How about Josephus?  Or Tacitus?  Neither were Christians, both were respected 1st century historians who support the actuality of Jesus from both the Jewish and Roman perspective.  And by the way, both Yeshua (Joshua) and Yosef (Joseph) were very common Hebrew names.  There were likely several men among the 1st century Jews who fit that designation.  But the “historical” Jesus is confirmed by secular sources.
  2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.
    She cites the “silence of Paul” on such things as the virgin birth, wise men, etc.  Her argument centers on omission.  That is, since Paul and other NT writers may not have mentioned something about Jesus’ life, then it never happened.  Really?!  This is like saying that if President Obama doesn’t mention the War of 1812, then it never happened.  A better conclusion (even for a secularist) would be that Paul wrote about other issues central to the Christian faith, which is why he didn’t mention previously established facts (even if they hadn’t been written down yet).
  3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts.
    Luke 1:2  “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word”
    Although Luke himself didn’t claim a first-hand account, his sources did.  This is often how lawyers make a case and historians write history.  They gather eyewitness testimony and put the pieces together to make a case or demonstrate a fact.  
    John 21:24 “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
    John claims a first-hand account.  Other examples could be given, but at this point, her assertion has been refuted.
  4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other.
    No specifics are given by her, but she does mention incompatible Easter stories.  I firmly disagree.  Freethinkers/atheists see a contradiction under every rock.  So if one gospel mentions only one woman going to Jesus’ tomb and another mentions more than one, they see that as a contradiction.  That’s like me telling someone that me and my brother walked into the kitchen at 5pm this past Monday, then my sister telling the same person that all 3 of us walked into the kitchen at the same time.  We all 3 could have walked in together, but since I didn’t mention my sister, that’s perceived as a contraction.  But in fact I may have only mentioned my brother and myself because only we two were pertinent to what I was discussing.  These instances are not contradictions, but rather are selective accounts from a writer’s perspective.
  5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons.
    The problem here is her subjective selection of “scholars”.  Sure, I can find diverse scholars who disagree on who the “historical” Jesus was.  But I can also find a lot more scholars who agree that He did exist, died, rose again, did miracles, etc.

She may find her arguments persuasive, but with just a little reasoning, their effectiveness quickly disappears.  I think even most atheists would find holes in her arguments.  However, impressionable people who are not grounded in the truth may accept her arguments readily, including those who grow up in church.  That’s the frightening part and why we must teach people to think logically from a biblical perspective.

A Brief Look at Election and Foreknowledge

1 Peter 1:1-2  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Peter addresses his first epistle to the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”.  There is a long debate over the relationship with God’s sovereign election and mankind’s free will.  A related discussion is the aspect of “foreknowledge” as helping reconcile the two.  The argument goes like this: God looked into the future and saw who would believe on Jesus as savior.  He then elected those persons to salvation.  This is an valiant attempt to bring election and free will together, but it fails under closer scrutiny.  Here’s why. Continue reading

Ancient Rhino Surprises Scientists

A giant “Siberian unicorn” was previously thought to have lived over 350,000 years ago is now thought to have gone extinct around 29,000 years ago.  This means that they “may have roamed the Earth at the same time as humans”.  They could have just asked me and I could have told them that all land animals were created on the sixth day of creation, which means they did exist at the same time as humans who were also created on day six.
Although the scientists’ dating is still off, they are much closer to the timeframe of the Bible.

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How Christians Determine Truth

Keith Mascord, an Anglican pastor in Australia, wrote an opinion piece entitled “The Bible is the true prejudice in Christian opposition to marriage equality”.
When I read the title, my response was “Yes, that’s true.”  But he uses the article to argue that Christians basically need to get over the Bible’s opposition and just accept that same-sex marriage is okay.  After all, he argues, the Bible is full of ancient, outdated thinking which we need to just move beyond.  And science and experience has shown it to be full of misinformation.  Wow!  This is news to me.  The Bible has been around a long time and has been attacked and critiqued by many.  Yet it has survived.  The reason is that it is God’s Word.  It has been shown to be true time after time.  This sets it apart from every other religious text.

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Gravitational Waves Show That Universe Had a Beginning

There’s been a lot of buzz in the scientific community this month surrounding the detection of gravitational waves, a concept which was predicted by Albert Einstein about 100 years ago and is the last piece of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity to be proven.  I have been following the story because of the religious implications it has.  For years scientists have been trying to decide if the universe had a beginning or not (which is weird to me because it’s pretty obvious that it did).  Even Stephen Hawking has changed his position on that issue several times.  Without getting into a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo, the discovery of gravitational waves settles the issue.  The universe did have a beginning and now scientists have proof.

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