RE: Apologists and other salesmen

Glenn Morton (
Fri, 01 Nov 1996 20:58:36

Daniel J. Berger wrote:

>OK, this *is* a matter of history. What do historians do? Luke 1:1-4!
>That's exactly what they do! They use the best available sources. Now the
> sources for the genealogies were not as close to the event as those for the
>events of the Lord's life -- there were no extant eyewitnesses to the
>Noachian flood!

And today there are no extant eyewitnesses to the resurrection events.
Our belief in the truth of these events is based on one objective and one
subjective set of facts. First, we believe that the NT account is telling us
the truth about what happened. If the account is allegory we are in trouble.
Secondly, we depend on the witness of the spirit. But this can not be used in
evangelism because we don't get to take Christianity on a trial basis.

>So the use of the best available sources doesn't mean all of those sources
> must be 100% historically accurate, especially those which are millennia
>removed from the actual events. I have no doubt that Jesus was legally
>descended from David through his foster father, Joseph, since that was the
>sort of thing which would be preserved in a family's institutional memory;
>but notice that the genealogies give two different names at one point
>between Jesus and David! Seems to me two different people were used as
>sources for them, and at least one of them made a mistake in recitation.

We are not talking about an account written by some ancient historian per se.
Scripture is supposed to have some sort of inspiration. Most historians can't
claim inspiration. (and their writing shows it. :-) )

I agree that Jesus was descended from David. In the 1000 years between Jesus
and David, Jesus could have had 10^15 ancestors. Given that there were only
around 10^6 Jews at that time, this fact means everyone was related to

The different names in these genealogies are, I believe best explained as
Eusebius does. Joseph's uncle married and then died without issue. Joseph's
biological father married the widow and raised up Joseph as a son for his dead
brother's inheritance. Matthew follows the legal (the dead biological uncle),
Luke follows the actual biological line (his biological father-not the legal
father). Both Matthew and Luke's genealogies can be correct with all those
different names. (See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapt. 7)

>On the other hand, Luke (for example) had eyewitnesses available to him of
> the events of the Lord's life. Not to mention Mark's transcriptions of
>Peter's recollections, and (Matthew's?) transcriptions of Jesus' sayings
>(what I consider the most likely source of so-called "Q"). There were extant
>eyewitnesses of the Risen Lord (see also 1 Cor. 15). This is why I say
>that Christianity need not rest on whether Genesis 1-5 is "true" in
> anything other than an allegorical sense.

>>While Christianity does not
>>And if Genesis, and other suspect scriptures are fictional stories
>>designed to teach us lessons about life, what makes the Bible better than
>>Aesop's Fables, which are also designed to teach us lessons about life?
>>These are the kinds of questions my friends ask. What do I answer them?
>Tell them to stop resting so much on Scripture and look to the arbiter of
>Scripture, the Church! (Not a helpful answer when dealing with determined
>skeptics, I know.) A glib answer, I know. But Church history certainly
>points to the Finger of God -- the Gospel had spread from Britain to India,
>from the Balkans to Ethiopia, in less than 150 years after the Lord's
>death! Tends to put the kibosh on critics who maintain it was just another
>Greco-Roman mystery religion.
They would point to the spread of Islam as an equivalently rapid spread and
say that God must be smiling on them. :-(

>BTW, I don't think anyone is maintaining that "Genesis [is just a]
> fictional [story] designed to teach us lessons about life." Does Aesop
>(your example, not mine!) teach us anything much about God? Does Aesop have
>religious power to move people to recognition of God's presence in their
>lives? Does Aesop form a connected narrative in spite of coming from
>hundreds of different pens over thousands of years?

No, Aesop doesn't teach about God. But the Mahabharata of the Hindu religion
makes a connected narative, teaches about Gods, and was written between 400 BC
and 200 AD. It depicts events as far back as 1400 B.C.

>I do appreciate what you are trying to do and pray for your success. If it
>becomes apparent to me that you are right and I am wrong, I hope to be the
> first to admit it. My favorite story in Dante's *Divine Comedy* is this:
>when Gregory the Great finds in Heaven that some of his angelology --
>strongly held and strongly debated! -- was sadly mistaken, he laughs at
>himself until the tears come.

It very well may be me, laughing at myself at the pearly gates. My wife tells
me that when I finally get to ask God how it all actually happened, He is
going to snap his fingers and say "Like that!" That will be a truly humbling

But what I am trying to do is to give those like me, who need the Bible to be
history, a reason to believe it IS history without having to ignore all the
observational, scientific data in the world. I am also trying to point out to
those of your theological bent that many people reject Christianity for the
same reason I reject Mormonism. They simply believe the documents to be
relating untrue events. (Because of this discussion, I had a nice chat with an
atheist friend of mind When you agree that the events are nonhistorical, in
their mind, that makes them fictional. While you may not feel that they are
"just fictional" stories my friends would use that term.

Foundation,Fall and Flood