More popular than Jesus

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Another century and there will not be a Bible on earth.” Voltaire 1694-1778 

“The Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe…” Thomas Paine 1737-1809

“[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology.” Mark Twain 1835-1910 

“Christianity will go, It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.” – John Lennon 1940-1980

“If it [the Bible] was written by God, it wouldn’t be so full of loopholes. It wouldn’t be so full of contradictions.” Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011 

Why has the Bible survived over the centuries, especially with so many notable even brilliant critics? 

It is astounding, especially when you factor in Rome’s attempt at wiping out Christians, that it even survived over the centuries. Severe persecution started with Nero in 64 A.D. when Nero used Christians as a scapegoat for the fire that year, which destroyed much of Rome. Christians were rounded up and killed in various ways, from being tossed in the Roman Arena to being used at human torches. 

This kind of oppression and abuse continued sporadically for the next couple of centuries, and rumors of cannibalism and other misunderstood practices of this ‘new religion’ did not help. Christians would also refuse to sacrifice to the Roman gods or worship the Roman Emperor as a God. This fueled further suspicions about Christians and their potential treasonous behavior. 

Then in 303 A.D. the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered three proclamations against Christians because they were poisoning the relationship Roman citizens had with their gods:

  1. Diocletian ordered the destruction of all Christain churches.
  2. The emperor ordered all Christian books, letters, and manuscripts to be destroyed.
  3. He commanded the killing of all Christians. 

Surprisingly, not only did Christianity persevere, the writings of the apostles survived and were compiled into the New Testament. 

When we compare the New Testament to other ancient documents as far as the number of copies, scripture hits it out of the park with the bases full. David Limbaugh, author of Jesus on Trial, wrote concerning the number of copies we had of the New Testament, “In 1999 there were 5,656 and now there are around 5,800. The number of New Testament translations into languages of nearby countries-Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Latin, Coptic, and others-total about 19,300. When added to the 5,800 Greek manuscripts, there are some 25,000 New Testament manuscripts, a figure that dwarfs the number of manuscripts of any other ancient book.1

The next closest number of copies we have available of an ancient historical document is the Iliad by Homer, 643 copies. After that, we have about 200 copies from Demosthenes, a Greek statesman and orator. Then we have 8 copies from the Greek historian Herodotus and a total of 7 from Plato. Yet, we never hear of anyone question their accuracy or reliability.2

Many liberal historians allege the Gospels are unreliable. They claim the disciples would exaggerate the events in their favor, and the New Testament can’t be trusted. Professor Craig Blomberg wrote, “A historian can hold strong views about the significance of certain events and still write reliable history. In fact, partisan proponents of a given point of view are sometimes even more accurate than detached observers; consider, for example, the first impassioned accounts from Jewish sources of the Nazi holocaust that turned out to be more accurate than the reports of the ‘objective’ news media.”3

The Gospel writers said what they wrote was true, was accurate, had eyewitnesses, and they heard it first hand. 

John 19:35

1John 1:1-2

Acts 2:32

1 Corinthians 15:3-7

They wrote down what they saw and publicly testified to it despite their persecution, which cost almost all of them their lives. John Lennon was wrong and continues to be proved wrong.  

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8


More popular than Jesus by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Limbaugh, David. “The Amazing Bible, Part 3: Reliability and Internal Evidence “Jesus On Trial, Regnery Publishing, 2014, pg 213. []
  2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. “Do we have early testimony about Jesus” I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Crossway, 2004, pg 228 []
  3. Blomberg, Craig L, “Newer Methods in Gospel Study” The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, IVP Academic, 2007, pgs 72-73 []

Today on November 8th

Reading Time: 5 minutesEvery day at school I am asked questions. Some of the questions I know the answers to, usually because they have to do with the lesson I am teaching and the answer comes without any effort on my part. Others may require a bit of computation, and with a little work, my students and I are able to find the answer.

Other types of questions, history questions, may not involve the use of pencils and calculators, but reading. Like the math questions, I may know the answers to the history question because I have read about it before the lesson. Other history questions may require research on my part. Fact checking you might call it, a differing kind of effort than doing math. Research involving reading the work of others, and then comparing it to what you have heard, what you have read, what you have experienced, and if it fits your understanding of how the real world is.

Next week, my students have a history term paper due. Their work will require reading what others have written on their particular topic. For example, if a student was writing a paper on the Christian evangelist Billy Graham, or the Nazi Heinrich Himmler, or why bananas are yellow, I expect them to have looked up information on the Internet, in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or to have interviewed someone about their topic. I also require my students to list in a bibliography, their sources. I want to know that they have not just made up the information in their term paper, but have read the work and research of others.

If a student writes a paper telling me that Billy Graham was a Nazi, I would question this because everything I have heard or read tells me Billy Graham was an Christian evangelist who lead untold thousands to Christ. I would then want to look into the student’s sources, to see how credible they are.

If a student told me that Heinrich Himmler was a Nazi and was responsible for building the extermination camps, and the slaughter of millions during World War II, I would not question this because it substantiates all that I have heard or read of Himmler.

If I student wrote a paper telling me bananas are yellow because yellow is the favorite color of the banana fairy, and all fruits have their own fairy who decide what color the fruit should be, I would think he or she has lost touch with reality. It goes against all that I have heard or read or ever experienced in my world. The truth is that bananas turn yellow because, as they ripen, the green pigment of chlorophyll is destroyed and replaced with yellow, which has nothing to do with fairies. There is your science for the day.

Peter Kreeft wrote, “So our faith does not begin with the Bible. But the Bible records the realities, the real events, that are the basis of our faith.” 1 It is not written by a single author over a period of 23 years like the Koran, but multiple authors over thousands of years. Thirty nine books in the Old Testament, and twenty seven books or letters in the New Testament. 2 Several authors in the New Testament recorded historical events and were witness to those events.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the 500 plus witnesses who have seen Christ after the crucifixion. He named not only the apostles, but Christ’s own brother James, and himself as a witness to his resurrection. John ends his letter by witnessing to the accounts he recorded. In 1 John, the author opens with his own witness of having seen, heard, and touched Christ. The Bible has multiple authors who confirm each others testimony, and if you doubted their accounts you could check it out with other witnesses.

Many who dismiss the Bible do so because they have heard it can’t be trusted. Some claim it was written hundreds of years later, and is about a man called Jesus we don’t even know existed. You may have heard Christ is not even mentioned outside the Bible, and it is simply not true. The evidence for the truth of scripture is overwhelming.

The Bible is not a self referencing book. The Bible is not true because the Bible claims it is true; the Bible is true because it is the inspired word of God and what is written within can be checked by other sources. The Koran for example, is a self referencing book to its truth. The Koran is true because Muhammad says it is true, and Muhammad speaks truth because the Koran says he does.

The Bible is not a science book, but some things in the Bible have been confirmed by science. In his book, Because God is Real, Peter Kreeft wrote, “The Bible does, however, speak about real people, places, and events. It makes many claims about historical events that can be checked out by science – more than any other religious book does. Other religious books, like the scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam, mention very few historical events. They teach timeless theological truths, (or, perhaps, falsehoods), and moral principles and speak of private religious and mystical experiences, but science can’t prove or disprove any of those…”3

Think about how the Bible can be researched for truth more than any other religious document. The book of Mormon for example, was written in 1827 by Joseph Smith, who translated it from golden plates that were given to Smith by the angel Moroni. 4 The plates have never been found. In India, Sikhism was founded in the 1400’s and had ten successive gurus, each adding to their religious scriptures. One of their beliefs is that all religions are equally true and can lead to God, or Ik Onkar, the soul of the universe. So, if the Muslims believe Jesus was just a man, and Christians believe He is the Son of God, who is right? All religions can’t be true.

All the authors of the New Testament are witness’s to the claims and testimony of the other authors. They worked, slept, ate, and traveled together with the sole purpose of sharing the news of Christ and what He has done for us. With the exception of John, it is likely all of them were martyred for their outspoken faith. Michael Patton wrote in his article, “This may sound odd, but I thank God for bringing about the apostles’ deaths. They sealed their testimony in the blood of martyrdom, providing a firm foundation for our faith in the risen Christ.” 5

It is true that martyrdom does not make a religion true. Even the 911 terrorists killed themselves for what they thought was true. The significant difference was the apostles were martyred for what they were a witness to, what they knew to be true. All others, throughout the centuries, who have been willing to give their life to their religion, gave it because it was what they believed was true.

So if I told you that both Billy Graham and Heinrich Himmler were born on November 8th, (today’s date as I write this), and both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, and both enjoyed fencing, would you believe all of it? None of it? Some of it? Well, they both were born on today’s date of November 8th. Both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, but it was only Himmler who enjoyed fencing.

It might be interesting to know what is similar about the lives of those two men; two lives whose paths went completely different directions, but there are better questions to ask. Questions, when asked and answered, can change your world view and how you live your life.

Sources:

  1. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  2. “About The Bible.” Christian Answers. Films For Christ, 2014. Web. 7 November 2014.
  3. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  4. “How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible?” Mormon.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2014. Web. 8 November 2014.
  5. Patton, Michael C. “What Happened to the Twelve Apostles? How Do Their Deaths Prove Easter?” Reclaiming The Mind. Reclaimingthemind.org, 10 April 2009. Web. 8 November 2014.

 

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Today on November 8th by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/category/blog/.

Corvette’s in the snow

Reading Time: 5 minutesJed and I were up at 4 AM this morning to get to High School for the wrestling tournament in Ceres. We were out the door by 4:30 A.M. and drove down to school, taking our time since the roads were not plowed yet. A fellow was leaving the casino we have to drive past, in his $60,000 Corvette. I passed him, (he was only going about 10 mph), thinking what an idiot he was for trying to drive in such conditions. We arrived at school and found out the tournament was canceled. Jed and I headed back home and the Corvette was spun out 1/2 mile before the school. He was trying to get it back on the road and about 3 others were trying to push it straight. Pulling over and getting out, I told him plainly it was stupid to try, and to park it here before he causes an accident. I also said I would give him and his lady friend a ride back to the casino. He was not happy about that, but recognized the futility of it. Ten minutes later, I dropped them off and we drove home.

Rare is the opportunity to feel superior when dealing with wealthy. My initial inclination, when I first spotted the spun out Corvette, was to drive by their expensive car with my window down and yell out what idiots they are, laughing as we sped away showering them with snow. Even as I considered the thoughtless and selfish act, I recognized how wrong it would be. So I opted to pull over and help out, besides it would give me even a better opportunity to gloat my superior wisdom in dealing with the elements.

As it turned out I missed out on a great opportunity to talk about the things of God with those two strangers when I gave them a lift back to the casino. Few words were exchanged and I just spent my time basking in the light of my own superiority. Who was the foolish one then? They simply did not know any better, I did. Lesson learned.

Then again, I wonder how hard can it be to feel superior, when, every time I drive by the casino, I just feel distaste for those that go there to gamble and spend their money. Not only did this ungodly attitude surface in the form of a missed chance to talk about God, but missed opportunities to pray for those around me. At least, Christians are not the only ones who can have an air of superiority, thinking they are better than those around them. For a moment, I will gloat that I am not alone in my stupidity.

Not long ago, I watched a debate between Peter Atkins and William Lane Craig. After a particular exchange, William F. Buckly had a chance to gloat, much like I did this morning. During the debate, Atkins said that science was able to answer all questions having to do with existence. Specifically, he said to Craig, “Do you deny that science cannot account for everything?” 1 Craig replied that he did deny that, and Atkins asked him to explain what science cannot account for. Craig went on to list multiple items that science cannot account for and was obviously quite prepared for this question. William F. Buckley, Jr. who was the moderator, thoroughly enjoyed listening to Craig’s reply. When Craig finished, Buckley said to Adkins, “Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Russell Bertrand addressed the question of science accounting for everything in his book, History of Western Philosophy, which I wanted to share. He wrote, “Is the world divided into mind and matter, and, if so, what is mind, what is matter? Is mind subject to matter, or is it possessed of independent powers? Has the universe any unity or purpose? It is evolving toward some goal? Are there really laws of nature, or do we believe in them only because of our innate love of order? Is man what he seems to the astronomer, a tiny lump of impure carbon and water impotently crawling on a small and unimportant planet? Or is he what he appears to Hamlet? Is there a way of living that is noble and another that is base, or are all ways of living merely futile? To such questions no answer can be found in the laboratory.” 2

The more I read about apologetics and philosophy, the more I begin to understand how it can help answer some of the most basic questions we can ask about our existence. R.C. Sproul addresses four possibilities when discussing the possibility of our existence and how, if anything exists, then God exists necessarily. Only recently have I really begun to grasp this. The best way to do so is to use the example of a book you might hold. The four possibilities of this book are:
1. It is an illusion.
2. It was the cause of its own creation.
3. It has always been.
4. It was created.
If you replace the book with the universe, or our existence, you can see that no matter which of the four choices you pick, you eliminate the other three. Only one of them can be correct. Setting aside the first option, that life is an illusion, (unless you’re a fanatical Matrix fan), should not be too difficult. The second option is plain, as everyone knows something cannot be the cause of its own creation. The third option can be investigated and discounted when you understand that time cannot go backwards infinitely. If it did, we would never have reached this moment in time. That leaves us with, it was created. 3

science_vader_luke

 

Darrel Falk wrote, “Perhaps, like the work of an artist or symphony conductor, the action of the Creator has been so subtle and all-encompassing that it will never be possible to describe it by using the tools of science. Perhaps we in the world of faith are depending too strongly on the tools of science to point us to God, and perhaps those in the world of science are similarly failing to recognized that the tools of science, which depend upon regularity in nature, are not powerful enough to detect the work of a God who works on his own terms in his own way.” 4

Falk goes on to ask what tools of science can detect a secret wisdom. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about a mystery that has been hidden, specifically, God’s wisdom. If there is another realm, another reality, a spirit reality, and I believe there is, then how could conventional human wisdom and scientific methods using trial and error possibly detect or even comprehend them? 1 Corinthians 2:13 “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”

Christians should never be afraid of science and what we can learn from it. The things that we do learn about our universe, from the microscopic to the immense and vast time and space that surrounds us, is often confirmed by the Bible when researched carefully. Science cannot answer all the questions we might have, but neither should the Bible be used as a science book. As we investigate our world, both science and theology should be used to complement and confirm how best we should live.

The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. – Galileo

Sources:

1. TheHonestTheist. “Dr. William Lane Craig VS Dr. Peter Atkins.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 19 June. 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
2. Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967. Print.
3. Sproul, R.C. Defending Your Faith. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003. Print.
4. Falk, Darrel. Coming To Peace with Science. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Print.

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