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The Reasons to Believe

This podcast is designed to equip Christians to do what the Holy Scriptures command, and that is to, “earnestly contend for the faith” and to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us.”

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The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 3 (Reasons to Believe #171)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #171. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It reads, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from E.Y. Mullins. He said, “If Christianity is false it cannot be saved by theology, if it is true it cannot be destroyed by science.”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 3” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the second part of this chapter subtitled, “The Importance of the Issue.”

We know from our experience as professors that the demythologizers have very effectively undermined the faith of vast numbers of young Christians. For instance, we would estimate that nearly half the students who enter Catholic colleges as believers exit as unbelievers, if we define belief in New Testament terms. And this loss of faith is in some measure surely due to the influence of demythologizing teachers. These students typically go through three stages.

They enter with a thoughtless belief in the Bible and its miracles, notably the resurrection.
They take theology courses that debunk these miracle stories via the historical-critical method.
They are graduated as unbelievers, or believers in a religion without miracles, a real resurrection or scriptural authority—a religion of mere “sharing and caring.”

Footnote on Psychological Motives for Unbelief
The most powerful psychological motive for unbelief, as distinct from the most effective argument to undermine belief, is a different matter. The answer to that question is almost always moral rather than intellectual. That answer is addiction to sin and selfishness, usually in one or more of the following areas:

Addiction to power in this world. How often have you heard about the value of detachment or otherworldliness lately? Yet all the saints extol this as indispensable.
Addiction to lust, our society’s favorite pastime. A sex addict is hardly more capable of objectivity than a cocaine addict.
Addiction to greed, the sin Christ spoke against the most frequently, and the one our consumerist society relies on for its very survival.
Addiction to worldliness, that is, acceptance and popularity, not being distinctive, like the prophets or the martyrs.
Addiction to freedom, defined as “doing your own thing,” “accepting yourself as you are,” “self-assertiveness,” “looking out for Number One”—in short, acting like a self-centered child and calling it the psychology of maturity.

(For further details about this argument and about the history of biblical manuscripts, see F. F. Bruce’s The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict or Craig Bloomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 2 (Reasons to Believe #170)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #170. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is Hebrews 4:12. It reads, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from John Newton. He said,
“Precious Bible! What a treasure
Does the Word of God afford!
All I want for life or pleasure,
Food and Medicine, shield and sword;
Let the world account me poor—
Christ and this, I need no more.”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 2” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the first part of this chapter subtitled, “Connections among the Bible, miracles and the resurrection.”

4. Another technical meaning, unusual outside professional circles, is that of a projection of human consciousness out onto reality. In this sense, Kant’s theory of knowledge (“the Copernican revolution in philosophy,” as he called it) is the claim that all human knowledge is myth. In a narrower sense, dreams are myths if while we are dreaming we take them for objective realities.

5. A much broader, but still technical and professional, use of myth is “any story meant to articulate a worldview.” This sense would include both literally true and fictional stories, but it is usually used with the connotation of fiction.

6. A last sense, also quite broad and quite technical, used in literary more than biblical circles, is that of a Platonic archetype in story form, a universal truth about human life expressed in a story. The story is usually fiction, but not necessarily. Christ’s resurrection, even if factual, would also be a myth in this sense, as the pattern for our resurrection.

When it comes to biblical studies, the major controversy is between the demythologizers and orthodox Christianity. Demythologizers claim that all or most of the miracle stories in the Bible are myths in all six of the above senses. Orthodox Christians often agree that the Bible contains myth in senses 1 (sacred story), 3 (parables), 5 (worldview) and 6 (archetype), but not senses 2 (unreal) or 4 (projection).The bottom line is miracles, especially the resurrection: did they really happen or not? This simple question is not the only legitimate question, and consideration of differently nuanced senses of myth is quite proper, but not if it obscures the primary, simple question.

It is important at the outset to clarify the logical order and relationship among the three issues of demythologizing, miracles and the resurrection, because this relationship is often put backwards by those who argue against a literal resurrection and against miracles on the grounds that the Bible is myth, not history. The logic goes the other way: if the resurrection really did happen, then the assumption that “miracles don’t happen” is refuted; in that case, the miracle stories in the Bible can be history, not myth.

Let us put the logical point in a different way. To argue that the resurrection didn’t really happen because the Bible is myth begs the question. For when unbelievers are asked why they think the Bible is myth rather than history, they say it is because it is full of unbelievable miracle stories like the resurrection. This is arguing in a circle. It is arguing that the resurrection is myth because the Bible is myth, and the Bible is myth because it contains obviously mythical miracle stories like the resurrection.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 1 (Reasons to Believe #169)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #169. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is Hebrews 4:12. It reads, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from Tim Keller. He said, “The New Testament is filled with accounts of miracles that Jesus performed during the course of his ministry. Scientific mistrust of the Bible began with the Enlightenment belief that miracles cannot be reconciled to a modern, rational view of the world. Armed with this presupposition, scholars turned to the Bible and said, “The Biblical accounts can’t be reliable because they contain descriptions of miracles.” The premise behind such a claim is “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles.” But embedded in such a statement is a leap of faith. It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Bible: Myth or History?, Part 1” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors begin with the first part of this chapter subtitled, “Connections among the Bible, miracles and the resurrection.”

The Bible, miracles and the resurrection, each of which takes up a chapter in this book, are closely linked in modern apologetics. They typically stand or fall together. Most of those who do not believe that Christ physically rose from the dead disbelieve for two reasons: (1) “miracles like that don’t really happen,” and (2) “the Bible is myth, not history.”

There is probably no word that causes more confusion in biblical studies today than the word myth. That is because it is used in many different senses by different writers in different fields and genres, which often overlap. G. B. Caird, in The Language and Imagery of the Bible, has distinguished nine distinct senses of the word myth. For our more popular, less technical purposes it is sufficient to distinguish six.

1. The literal sense of myth, from the Greek mythos, is simply “sacred story.” This says nothing about its truth or falsity, historicity or nonhistoricity—just that it is a story and that it is sacred, or about sacred things.

2. The popular sense is simply “something that didn’t really happen,” or “something that isn’t real”—like Santa Claus. Here myth is contrasted with truth or fact. This is the sense in which most people are concerned about the stories in the Bible, especially the miracle stories: did they really happen, or are they only “myths,” that is, mere fictional human inventions?

3. A more technical and narrow sense of myth that is often used to describe biblical stories, especially miracle stories, is that of a literary genre that includes fantasy, talking animals and stories of the gods. These are supernatural stories that are not literally true, nor are they meant by the storyteller to be taken as literally true, but as a way of explaining natural facts by supernatural (or natural) fictions. Both supernatural stories of gods and talking animals, and natural stories like Jesus’ parables, fit in this category.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Resurrection, Part 21 (Reasons to Believe #168)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #168. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is Romans 10:9. It reads, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. It says, “If true, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the single most important event in the history of mankind, and therefore the one most crucial to establish as an authentic historical event. In fact, the resurrection is the very linchpin of the Christian faith, holding together every claim and every blessing. If the resurrection could be proven a fraud, Christianity would disintegrate as a total fabrication with little redeeming merit. Jesus would not even be an example of a “good moral teacher,” as some maintain, for his most important prediction—that he would be raised from the dead—would be found a lie. As Christians, our very salvation depends in large part upon the reliability of the four historical records of the birth, life, death, and especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A deeply held belief in the resurrection as a fact of history is a vital element for our eternal salvation. Romans 10:9 asserts: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We are trifling with the bedrock of our salvation when we entertain doubts about the historical accuracy of any part of Scripture. But most crucial are those parts that make historical claims upon which our salvation depends. Therefore, those who argue that the historicity of the resurrection is not provable and even unnecessary are contradicting the testimony of the apostolic witnesses. Indeed, the Apostle Paul’s entire ministry was built upon the foundation of the resurrection, and it was his personal encounter with the risen Christ that caused him to develop an unassailable conviction in the reality of this event….All of the alternate explanations proposed for the resurrection lack credibility. In light of the evidence of the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances and the rise of the Christian Church, a reasonable person should conclude that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a well-established historical fact. In a court of law, such evidence would compel conviction unless contradictory evidence could be brought forward to introduce “a reasonable doubt.” But all alternate explanations and theories are extremely doubtful and counter-intuitive. Therefore, Christians are being rational, sensible, and fully consistent with common sense when they rest their faith on this well-established historical event. Not only is there compelling historical evidence to back the belief, but extravagant benefits in the future are promised to those who believe it. According to the Bible, the only sure promise of everlasting life for mankind, both individually and collectively, depends upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Halley writes: ‘What a hale of glory this simple belief sheds on human life. Our hope of resurrection and life everlasting is based, not on a philosophic guess about immortality, but an historic fact.’”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Resurrection, Part 21” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the seventh part of this chapter subtitled, “Conclusions: More Objections Answered.”

No alternative to a real resurrection has yet explained: the existence of the Gospels, the origin of the Christian faith, the failure of Christ’s enemies to produce his corpse, the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone or the accounts of the postresurrection appearances. Swoon, conspiracy, hallucination and myth have been shown to be the only alternatives to a real resurrection, and each has been refuted.

What reasons could be given at this point for anyone who still would refuse to believe? At this point, general rather than specific objections are usually given. For instance:

Objection 1:
History is not an exact science. It does not yield absolute certainty like mathematics.
Reply: This is true, but why would you note that fact now and not when you speak of Caesar or Luther or George Washington? History is not exact, but it is sufficient. No one doubts that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; why do many doubt that Jesus rose from the dead? The evidence for the latter is much better than that for the former.

Objection 2:
You can’t trust documents. Paper proves nothing. Anything can be forged.
Reply: This is simply ignorance. Not trusting documents is like not trusting telescopes. Paper evidence suffices for most of what we believe; why should it suddenly become suspect here?

Objection 3:
Because the resurrection is miraculous. It’s the content of the idea rather than the documentary evidence for it that makes it incredible.
Reply: Now we finally have a straightforward objection—not to the documentary evidence but to miracles. This is a philosophical question, not a scientific, historical or textual question.

Objection 4:
It’s not only miracles in general but this miracle in particular that is objectionable. The resurrection of a corpse is crass, crude, vulgar, literalistic and materialistic. Religion should be more spiritual, inward, ethical.
Reply: If religion is what we invent, we can make it whatever we like. If it is what God invented, then we have to take it as we find it, just as we have to take the universe as we find it, rather than as we’d like it to be.

Death is crass, crude, vulgar, literal and material. The resurrection meets death where it is and conquers it, rather than merely spouting some harmless, vaporous abstractions about spirituality. The resurrection is as vulgar as the God who did it. He also made mud and bugs and toenails.

Objection 5: But a literalistic interpretation of the resurrection ignores the profound dimensions of meaning found in the symbolic, spiritual and mythic realms that have been deeply explored by other religions. Why are Christians so narrow and exclusive? Why can’t they see the profound symbolism in the idea of resurrection?
Reply: They can. It’s not either-or. Christianity does not invalidate the myths, it validates them, by incarnating them. It is “myth become fact,” to use the title of a germane essay by C.S. Lewis (in God in the Dock).

Why prefer a one-layer cake to a two-layer cake? Why refuse either the literal-historical or the mythic-symbolic aspects of the resurrection? The fundamentalist refuses the mythic-symbolic aspects because he has seen what the modernist has done with it: used it to exclude the literal-historical aspects. Why have the modernists done that? What terrible fate awaits them if they follow the multifarious and weighty evidence and argument that naturally emerges from the data, as we have summarized it here in this chapter?

The answer is not obscure: traditional Christianity awaits them, complete with adoration of Christ as God, obedience to Christ as Lord, dependence on Christ as Savior, humble confession of sin and a serious effort to live Christ’s life of self-sacrifice, detachment from the world, righteousness, holiness and purity of thought, word and deed. The historical evidence is massive enough to convince the open-minded inquirer. By analogy with any other historical event, the resurrection has eminently credible evidence behind it. To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?

Ask yourself that question if you dare, and take an honest look into your heart before you answer.

Lord willing, we will begin the topic, “The Bible: Myth or History?”, in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Resurrection, Part 20 (Reasons to Believe #167)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #167. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is 1 Corinthians 15:14-20. It reads, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. It says, “The resurrection narratives bear unmistakable signs of being historically accurate. The earliness of these accounts, at a time when hostile witnesses were present, would have made a fabrication unlikely and dangerous. There is agreement on the main facts and great variety in the witnesses given, yet they are not a mere repetition of some standardized story with all the discrepancies worked out. Indeed, the accounts of Christ’s resurrection appearances are clearly independent of one another, as their surface dissimilarities suggest. Deeper scrutiny, however, reveals that these appearances are non-contradictory. Henry Morris writes: ‘It is a well-known rule of evidence that the testimonies of several different witnesses, each reporting from his own particular vantage point, provide the strongest possible evidence when the testimonies contain superficial contradictions that resolve themselves upon close and careful examination. This is exactly the situation with the various witnesses to the resurrection.’”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Resurrection, Part 20” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the sixth part of this chapter subtitled, “Refutation of the Myth Theory: Six Arguments.”

2. External evidence:
“The disciples must have left some writings, engaged as they were in giving lessons to and counseling believers who were geographically distant; and what could these writings be if not the Gospels and epistles themselves? … Eventually the apostles would have needed to publish accurate narratives of Jesus’ history, so that any spurious attempts would be discredited and the genuine Gospels preserved.”
“There were many eyewitnesses who were still alive when the books were written who could testify whether they came from their purported authors or not.”
“The extra-biblical testimony unanimously attributes the Gospels to their traditional authors, … testimony from the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, all the way up to Eusebius in A.D. 315….Theophilus, Hippolytus, Origen, Quadratus, Irenaeus, Melito, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Dionysius, Tertullian, Cyprian, Tatian, Caius, Athanasius, Cyril…. Even Christianity’s opponents conceded this: Celsus, Porphyry, Emperor Julian.”
“With a single exception, no apocryphal gospel is ever seen quoted by any known author during the first three hundred years after Christ. In fact there is no evidence that any inauthentic gospel whatever existed in the first century, in which all four Gospels and Acts were written.”

B. Proof that the Gospels we have today are the same Gospels originally written:
“Because of the need for instruction and personal devotion, these writings must have been copied many times, which increases the chances of preserving the original text.”
“In fact, no other ancient work is available in so many copies and languages, and yet all these various versions agree in content.”
“The text has also remained unmarred by heretical additions. The abundance of manuscripts over a wide geographical distribution demonstrates that the text has been transmitted with only trifling discrepancies. The differences that do exist are quite minor and are the result of unintentional mistakes.”
“The quotations of the New Testament books in the early church Fathers all coincide.”
“The Gospels could not have been corrupted without a great outcry on the part of all orthodox Christians.”
“No one could have corrupted all the manuscripts.”
“There is no precise time when the falsification could have occurred, since, as we have seen, the New Testament books are cited by the church Fathers in regular and close succession. The text could not have been falsified before all external testimony, since then the apostles were still alive and could repudiate such tampering.”
“The text of the New Testament is every bit as good as the text of the classical works of antiquity…. To repudiate the textual parity of the Gospels would be to reverse all the rules of criticism and to reject all the works of antiquity, since the text of those works is less certain than that of the Gospels.”

Purtill summarizes the textual case:
Many events which are regarded as firmly established historically have (1) far less documentary evidence than many biblical events, (2) and the documents on which historians rely for much secular history are written much longer after the event than many records of biblical events. (3) Furthermore, we have many more copies of biblical narratives than of secular histories, and (4) the surviving copies are much earlier than those on which our evidence for secular history is based. If the biblical narratives did not contain accounts of miraculous events… biblical history would probably be regarded as much more firmly established than most of the history of, say, classical Greece and Rome. (Thinking About Religion, pp. 84-85)

Lord willing, we will continue this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Resurrection, Part 19 (Reasons to Believe #166)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #166. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is 2 Peter 1:16. It reads, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. It says, “The presence of women at the tomb is strong evidence that the biblical record is true. Women had virtually no credibility in the first-century Jewish culture, and their testimony in a court of law was considered worthless. For example, if a man was accused of a crime that only women witnessed, he could not be convicted on that basis. If the account of Jesus’ resurrection were a fable added later in an attempt to authenticate Christianity, why would the record have women be the first to see him and testify to the empty tomb, unless it had really happened that way? Women bringing testimony of his resurrection that is then denied by the male disciples makes the latter look bad, and these men were the first leaders of the Christian Church. A fabricated story added later by the Church would certainly have painted their first leaders in a more favorable light.”

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Resurrection, Part 19” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the sixth part of this chapter subtitled, “Refutation of the Myth Theory: Six Arguments.”

4. A little detail, seldom noticed, is significant in distinguishing the Gospels from myth: the first witnesses of the resurrection were women. In first-century Judaism, women had low social status and no legal right to serve as witnesses. If the empty tomb were an invented legend, its inventors surely would not have had it discovered by women, whose testimony was considered worthless. If, on the other hand, the writers were simply reporting what they saw, they would have to tell the truth, however socially and legally inconvenient.

5. The New Testament could not be myth misinterpreted and confused with fact because it specifically distinguishes the two and repudiates the mythic interpretation (2 Pet 1:16). Since it explicitly says it is not myth, if it is myth it is a deliberate lie rather than myth. The dilemma still stands. It is either truth or lie, whether deliberate (conspiracy) or nondeliberate (hallucination). There is no escape from the horns of this dilemma. Once a child asks whether Santa Clause is real, your yes becomes a lie, not myth, if he is not literally real. Once the New Testament distinguishes myth from fact, it becomes a lie if the resurrection is not fact.

6. Craig has summarized the traditional textual arguments with such clarity, condensation and power that we quote him here at length. The following arguments (rearranged and outlined from Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection) prove two things: first, that the Gospels were written by the disciples, not later myth-makers, and second, that the Gospels we have today are essentially the same as the originals.

Proof that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses:
Internal evidence, from the Gospels themselves:
“The style of writing in the Gospels is simple and alive, what we would expect from their traditionally accepted authors.”
“Moreover, since Luke was written before Acts, and since Acts was written prior to the death of Paul, Luke must have an early date, which speaks for its authenticity.”
“The Gospels also show an intimate knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its destruction in A.D. 70…. The Gospels are full of proper names, dates, cultural details, historical events, and customs and opinions of that time.”
“Jesus’ prophecies of that event (the destruction of Jerusalem) must have been written prior to Jerusalem’s fall, for otherwise the church would have separated out the apocalyptic element in the prophecies, which makes them appear to concern the end of the world. Since the end of the world did not come about when Jerusalem was destroyed, the so-called prophecies of its destruction that were really written after the city was destroyed would not have made that event appear so closely connected with the end of the world. Hence, the Gospels must have been written prior to A.D. 70.”
“The stories of Jesus’ human weaknesses and of the disciples’ faults also bespeak the Gospels’ accuracy.”
“Furthermore, it would have been impossible for forgers to put together so consistent a narrative as that which we find in the Gospels. The Gospels do not try to suppress apparent discrepancies, which indicates their originality (written by eyewitnesses). There is no attempt at harmonization between the Gospels, such as we might expect from forgers.”
“The Gospels do not contain anachronisms; the authors appear to have been first-century Jews who were witnesses of the events.”

We may conclude that “there is no more reason to doubt that the Gospels come from the traditional authors than there is to doubt that the works of Philo ot Josephus are authentic, except that the Gospels contain supernatural events.”

Lord willing, we will continue this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!

The Resurrection, Part 18 (Reasons to Believe #165)

Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #165. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.

Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is John 11:25-26. It reads, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from C.S. Lewis.

Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Resurrection, Part 18” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.

The authors continue with the sixth part of this chapter subtitled, “Refutation of the Myth Theory: Six Arguments.”

3. The myth theory has two layers. The first layer is the historical Jesus, who was not divine, did not claim divinity, performed no miracles, and did not rise from the dead. The second, later, mythologized layer is the Gospels as we have them, with a Jesus who claimed to be divine, performed miracles and rose from the dead. The problem with this theory is simply that there is not the slightest bit of any real evidence whatever for the existence of any such first layer. The two-layer cake theory has the first layer made entirely of air—and hot air at that.

Augustine refutes the two-layer theory with his usual condensed power and simplicity.

The speech of one Elpidius, who had spoken and disputed face to face against the Manichees, had already begun to affect me at Carthage, when he produced arguments from Scripture which were not easy to answer. And the answer they [the Manichees, who claimed to be the true Christians] gave seemed to me feeble-indeed they preferred not to give it in public but only among ourselves in private-the answer being that the Scriptures of the New Testament had been corrupted by some persons unknown…yet the Manicheans made no effort to produce uncorrupted copies. (Confessions, V, 11, Sheed translation.)

Note the sarcasm in the last sentence. It still applies today.

Craig summarizes the evidence—the lack of evidence:

The Gospels are a miraculous story, and we have no other story handed down to us than that contained in the Gospels…. The letters of Barnabas and Clement refer to Jesus’ miracles and resurrection. Polycarp mentions the resurrection of Christ, and Irenaeus relates that he had heard Polycarp tell of Jesus’ miracles. Ignatius speaks of the resurrection. Puadratus reports that persons were still living who had been healed by Jesus. Justin Martyr mentions the miracles of Christ. No relic of a nonmiraculous story exists. That the original story should be lost and replaced by another goes beyond any known example of corruption of even oral tradition, not to speak of the experience of written transmissions. These facts show that the story in the Gospels was in substance the same story that Christians had at the beginning. This means…that the resurrection of Jesus was always a part of the story. (Craig, Apologetics, chap. 6)

Lord willing, we will continue this topic in our next episode.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!