Re: Historical evidence for Jesus (was Ossuary with the name of

Date: Tue Oct 29 2002 - 15:10:06 EST

  • Next message: Dick Fischer: "Re: Historical evidence for Jesus"

    Iain wrote,

    << Therefore, instead of this continual chipping away at the bits of the
      bible that contradict our scientific knowledge, I would prefer to see
      some more solid debate on why we believe Jesus Christ was real. >>

    The actual historical existence of Jesus is a question only raised by very
    biased and/or ignorant people. The arguments adduced against it are pitiful.
    A while back Michael Roberts submitted a piece which illustrated the kind of
    foolishness that such critics employ:
    "I trust you all knew that Darwin never existed. Though this is little known
    it becomes very clear indeed for a careful study of his alleged life. A good
    starting point is his supposed Autobiography which was only published in
    its supposed complete version in 1959 some 77 years after his supposed

    There are several parts of this "Autobiography" which are simply false and
    contradicted by manuscript notes found in Cambridge Univ Library which are
    reckoned to be by Darwin.
    In his Autobiography Darwin describes the visit he made to Wales in 1831.
    There two points where the Autobiography is proven to be wrong. First he
    claimed to have spent many hours in Cwm Idwal with Adam Sedgwick looking for
    fossils. But the notes of D and S shew that if they went there they went on
    different days. Secondly D claimed to have walked from Capel Curig to
    Barmouth in a straight line using a compass. That route would be totally
    exhausting and if one looks at D's notes for this route he went in a zig-zag
    D returned to Wales in 1842 to look for glaciation and wrote that "it was
    the last time I was ever strong enough to climb mountains." However his mss
    notes show that he didn't climb one mountain and never walked more than 3-4
    miles - a feeble effort for a 33 year old.

    As for Darwin's so-called notes they cannot be tied in to the places
    alleged. At Llanberis he speaks of a steep cliff to the NE, it is a gentle
    slope. In Cwm Idwal he describes an enormous boulder and 4 lateral moraines
    on the West side of the lake - there are none. At Bwlch Drws Ardudwy he
    describes a mountain NE of the col - there isn't one. I can give many

    Further the so-called works of Darwin are clearly derivative from previous
    ideas. His geology on the Beagle voyage has many echoes of Lyell's
    Principles of Geology and thus applying the rules some use for NT criticism
    could not be written by Darwin. In the Origin of Species and other works
    there are many unacknowledged references to earlier writers so cannot be by

    I put all these arguments to the Darwin Seminar which met last week in
    Shrewsbury and we all voted that most of Darwin's works are not authentic
    and that he probably did not exist. We also concluded that there was more
    probability that Jesus actually lived

    Furthermore, many of his statements clearly address the interests of his
    later followers and so must have been antedated forgeries. I'm sure the
    Darwin Seminar threw those out too."

    Now back to my own comments,

    The crux historicity-wise is the resurrection (which of course necessarily
    implies Christ's historical existence). Paul rests Christianity ultimately
    upon that event: 1 Cor 15:17, 19; and it is that event around which the early
    preaching of the gospel revolved. From an apologetic point of view, it is
    significant that the insistence of the resurrection was first preached in
    Jerusalem where Christ's enemies could have gone to the grave if he were
    still there; and it is significant that Paul's citations of eyewitnesses in 1
    Cor are not adduced just to establish the fact of the resurrection, but the
    fact of the resurrection in the face of a Church, that is, Christians not
    unbelievers, who because of their Greek mentality were prone to deny the
    physical resurrection.

    The cross is indeed central to the gospel, but the resurrection (along with
    the giving of the Spirit) is the God-given evidence that the gospel has
    validity. There is no power in "I go to prepare a place for you" if he stayed
    in the grave. Apologetically, the resurrection is what marks Jesus as THE
    guide to spiritual truth. And mortality/immortality is at the heart of the
    issue. A leader who rises from the dead demands a hearing from anyone
    claiming to be serious about seeking spiritual truth.

    Now I could go on with the evidences for the resurrection as a historical
    fact, but good books have been written which do that better than can be done
    here. So, I would recommend:
    W. L. Craig's Knowing the Truth about the Resurrection (Servant, 1988) and
    Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, a debate between Antony Flew and Gary Habermas
    (Harper and Row, 1987). In the latter book the arguments made can be applied
    mutatis mutandis to the existence of Jesus if you really want to deal with
    that question. Habermas also wrote, "Resurrection Claims in Non-Christian
    Religions," Religious Studies 25 (1989); and you might find L. McKenzie,
    Pagan Resurrection Myths and the Resurrection of Jesus interesting.

    I would only add that the coming and work of the Spirit are also of the
    essence. In the epistemology of Jesus: it is those who are willing to submit
    themselves to God, find and do his will who will know if he and Christianity
    are true, really of God, etc. (John 7:17.) There is too much reliance on
    human reason and idealism/rationalism in much of Evangelicalism. The antidote
    to unbelief is not first of all good rational reasons for faith, but the work
    of the Spirit making one willing to become as a little child, wait upon and
    hear the word of God to you, and then rise and do it. As you fulfill the will
    of God in your life, just as when you pray in his will, the Spirit of God
    will move in and through you, bringing about fruit that abides. As you know
    him and see his works, your faith will grow.


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