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This Category will serve to provide many arguments for the existence of God mostly from a philosophical standpoint. It will also be used to post debates between Christians Apologists and Athiests.
This category will serve to give supporting arguments and facts about the Resurrection of Christ.
This category will serve to document all the prophecies Christ fulfilled from scripture while he was on earth. It will also serve to analyze prophesy in terms of history altogether.
This category will serve to document manuscript evidence in order to support scripture showing their reliability compared to other ancient documents. It will also serve as a place to clear up much misunderstanding regarding biblical manuscripts.
After writing My Life Story and Testimony I thought it would be a good idea to write a post as to why I believe in the things I do. At this point I am sure at least half of you think I’m absolutely crazy after everything I wrote, especially the very shameful parts about my past. I’m fine with that. In some ways it was intentional. It helps weed out who my true Christian friends are; the ones who understand the concept of grace. It also in some ways creates a sort of accountability on my part. There’s no hiding the fact at this point; I am a certified Jesus Freak. And in that I stand with The Apostle Paul: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”
But why is it that I believe the things I do? Why do people go to church and sing, worship and lift their hands in praise of a man who was crucified on a cross some 2000 years ago? Is it blind faith? Was Jesus even a historical figure? Are there any references to him outside of the bible from 1st and 2nd non-Christian sources? These are questions I will attempt to answer. In the first half of this blog I will say why I believe in Christianity from the apologetic side. The second half will be from a personal and experiential perspective.
In todays advanced age of mass communication we have become bombarded with endless amounts of misinformation when it comes to Christianity. Documentaries by liberal scholars dominate the history channel. Theories get thrown out in the form of books and articles only to be circulated by news media and end up going viral on the internet. Videos are put out on Youtube which are so masterfully done that unless someone knows the truth they are easily deceived. Mountains of books have been written by many different scholars defending Christianity and taking on much of this misinformation. But who really reads books anymore? The mass majority of people are on Facebook, Youtube, and watching cable television. The funny thing though about most of this misinformation is that it is too easy to refute if you know where to look.
So what does the word Apologetics mean? From the Greek it basically means “Speaking in Defense” It’s the branch of theology Christians use to study the evidence for Christianity. Many in the church disagree whether it is needed or not, and I’m sure some of you reading this fall in that camp and are only reading to see how much I am wasting my time. I wholeheartedly disagree with your position though. I agree that for many people they never needed to hear a defense or any evidence. However, the amount of testimonies historically about people who came to the faith after hearing or studying it simply proves that position wrong.
The foundational scripture verse for the use of apologetics is found in 1st Peter 3:15-16
“Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect…”
The apostles themselves used a form of apologetics; eyewitness evidence repeatedly saying many times in many different places what they saw “We are witnesses of these things” Acts 5:32
But then you say: “Wait a minute, none of that matters to me because I believe that myth developed about Jesus by people hundreds of year later” It really frustrates me to hear people say this, or even worse, when some people actually say that Jesus Christ may have never existed. These two simple myths have become a stumbling block for many people when they hear anything about Christ, which causes them to not believe anything about him. So I wish to utterly destroy these two without a shadow of a doubt. How will I do that? By citing 1st and 2nd century historians and writers, all of whom were not Christians and were harsh critics of Christianity themselves. The fact that these writers were critical gives them more credibility. I have all the books of these writers as part of the Harvard Loeb Classical Library, and one from the Britannica Great Books of the Western World collection. All together I have over 700 books in my entire collection. I don’t like having to quote from other historians. I use original source material. A few of these are a bit lengthy so I edited some of the material out to only the more relevant parts.
The first reference is from the Roman Senator Gaius Cornelius Tacitus who was born in 56 AD. Tacitus was a lawyer, orator, historian and Senator. Because of this he had access to the imperial records of the senate on decisions made by the empire. The Annals and the Histories are his most famous writings which tell of the history of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero, spanning from the death of Augustus to the first Roman-Jewish war. Jesus lived during the reign of Tiberius which is recorded in the New Testament. The following is an excerpt from his Annals book 15 chapter 44 on the burning of Rome during the reign of Nero:
XLIV “…But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, which the crowed styled (named) Christians. Christus,(Christ) the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberias, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate, and, only to, the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capitol itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested… And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.”
From this passage we get these facts:
The leader of the Christians was executed during the reign of Tiberius Caesar
He was executed under the order of the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate
“the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment” (Followers of Christ were demoralized and scattered after the Crucifixion)
“only to break out once more” (3 days later Christ raised from the dead and Christianity exploded throughout the world)
The ironic thing about these facts is that they are all found in the New Testament of the Bible including the references to Tiberius and Pontius Pilate. If this alone were the only source we had it would be enough to scotch any rumors about whether or not he lived and was crucified during when scriptures claim he was.
The second source is a short reference by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. Suetonius was born in 69 AD and was of the aristocratic class of the Roman Equestrian order. He was a historian and wrote the De Vita Caesarum (The Twelve Caesars) containing biographies of Roman rulers all the way from Julius Caesar to Domitian. In his biography of Claudius Suetonius writes:
“It now became illegal for foreigners to adopt the names of Roman families and any who usurped the rights of Roman citizens were executed in the Esquiline Field. Tiberius had converted the provinces of Greece and Macedonia in to a private domain of his own…Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.”
So here we have another Roman historian born in the first century who corroborates the history of the biblical narrative; “the instigation of Chrestus” This reference also supports the history in the Book of Acts in the New Testament 18:2:
“There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.”
The next quote comes from Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, better known as Pliny The Younger. Pliny was born in 61 AD and became an Imperial Magistrate under Emperor Trajan. He wrote hundreds of letters which have served as a critical source of history for the time period of Rome.
XCVI “It is my custom to refer all difficulties to you, Sir, for no one is better able to resolve my doubts and to inform my ignorance. I have never been present at an examination of Christians. Consequently, I do not know the nature or the extent of the punishments usually meted out to them, not the grounds for starting an investigation and how far it should be pressed…I have asked them in person if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be led away for execution; for, whatever the nature of their admission I am convinced that their stubbornness and unshakeable obstinacy ought not to go unpunished…Among these I considered that I should dismiss any who denied that they were or ever have been Christians when they had repeated after me a formula of invocation to the gods and had made offerings of wine and incense to your statue (which I had order to be brought into court for this purpose along with the images of the gods), and furthermore had reviled the name of Christ: none of which things, I understand, any genuine Christian can be induced to do…They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as if to a God, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery and adultery…
So here again you have a source from a high Roman official born in the first century. The importance of this source dispels the myth that followers worshipped him as a God only hundreds of years later after myth developed about Christ. Pliny says that Christians of that time would gather to “chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as if to a God” Hundreds of years later? I think not.
The next source comes from the Greek writer Lucian of Samasota born in 125 AD. Lucian was a satirical writer having over 80 works attributed to him. In The Death of Peregrine Lucian mocks early Christians:
“Indeed, people came even from the city of Asia, sent by the Christians at their common expense, to soccour and defend and encourage the hero…The poor wretches have convinced themselves, first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time, in consequence of which they despise death and even willingly give themselves into custody, most of them. Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property…”
So here is a Greek writer criticizing Christians in the second century for worshipping their leader who was crucified. Still not hundreds of years later, and attested to by a non-Christian source.
If I quoted all the other sources this blog would be much too long and people would lose interest. In the future I plan on putting those out individually in my apologetics category on this site. But I just mainly wanted to put to death for all time those two myths about Christ. Other important sources include Titus Flavius Josephus the Jewish historian who became a full Roman citizen after surrendering at the Siege of Jerusalem. He was born in 37 AD and is a critical source of Jewish history. Yet he also mentions Jesus, James, and gives a short history of John The Baptist and his execution by King Herod. There are also early references to Christ or to New Testament events in the Babylonian-Jewish Talmud Sanhedrin 43a, Mara bar Sarapion, Thallus, Celsus, and then there are the early Church Fathers. You can reconstruct virtually the entire New Testament just from quotations of the writings of those who knew the disciples themselves, to those who continued the church afterward. I also own the entire Early Church Fathers set which is a massive 38 volume collection. Many Christians even have no idea that we have the epistles of some who were discipled by the Apostles themselves such as Clement of Rome and Polycarp. It is from the ECF that we know how the Apostles were martyred.
Archaeology has confirmed numerous biblical-geographical sites which led Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson to proclaim: “Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book” I have massive volumes of books documenting Archaeological evidence. Then there’s the issue of manuscript support. When you compare the New Testament surviving manuscript copies with those of other ancient documents there is absolutely no comparison. Take for instance Thucydides or Herodotus; each of their writings contain only 8 surviving manuscripts. The memoirs of Julius Caesar only have 10 copies surviving. The New Testament was written in Greek, and in that language alone we have 5,664 copies. And if you combine the languages it was translated into including Latin Vulgate, Ethiopic, Slavic and Armenian it puts it at a total of around 24,000 manuscripts. They also come from many different geographical areas and yet agree with each other minus small grammatical errors. For example if you take a verse that has an error and compare it with other manuscripts it is very easy to get the original meaning:
“I am the w#y, the truth, and the life” Jesus
“I am the way, the tr#th, and the life” Jesus
“I am the way, the truth, and the l#fe” Jesus
Obviously # didn’t exist back then but I think you get the point. Still very readable even with one manuscript.
So we have concluded that Christ was historical, that he was crucified, and that his followers worshipped him as God in the first century. But what about the resurrection story? Are there any supporting arguments for the fact that scripture claims he rose from the dead? Several in fact. The foundation of Christianity rests on the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that the tomb was indeed found empty. This is seen all over the New Testament. The Apostle Paul proclaimed:
“…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
Of all the writings that exist of the time, there is no one who wrote that Jesus’ body was still in the tomb. The Jewish leaders only came up with the excuse that the disciples stole his bodies while the guards slept. There’s very good reason to believe these were Roman guards since it was a Roman centurion escorting Roman guards under the direction of Jewish leadership when they came to arrest Jesus. Rome became interested when they accused him of speaking against Caesar and wanting to incite revolution against the empire. This is another reason Christians faced so much persecution from Rome for the next few hundred years. But if Roman guards were found asleep, they were put to death. There’s no way the disciples rolled away a huge stone while they slept, and if they had killed the guards, that would have been recorded as to what happened. Historically, the tomb was found empty, which is why there is so much silence from critics on the issue.
Second, the record of the first eye witness accounts of Jesus resurrection were of women. The testimony of women was not even admissible in court in ancient history among Jews and many other nations. This establishes what is known in the study of historical records as the Criterion of Embarrassment. Many embarrassing facts were recorded about Jesus and the apostles themselves. Most fictional historical accounts do not record such details in order to give more credibility. The virtue of honesty being taught by Christ himself dictated that they did not fudge the facts.
Lastly, it would be virtually impossible for a worldwide movement to have started in a city based on the resurrection if the tomb wasn’t empty. People do not go to their death for something they know to be a lie, especially when faced with torture or death. All the apostles, including many of their own disciples, suffered horrible deaths, except John. And as is recorded earlier, they were always given a chance to revile Christ.
Paul was beheaded
James the brother of John was killed by the sword
Peter was crucified
Mathew was killed by the sword
Mark was dragged through the streets by horses until he was dead
James son of Alpheus was thrown off the temple at Jerusalem and then clubbed to death
Bartholomew was tortured and then beheaded
Andrew was crucified
Thomas was stabbed with a spear
Barnabas was tortured and then stoned to death
Phillip was crucified
Simon was crucified
Jude was killed by an axe