The popularity of questioning the validity of the historical authenticity claimed by the Christian faith goes in and out of season like changing styles in the fashion industry.
I remember the first time I came across this line of thinking. I was new to pastoral ministry and was prepping to lead a youth bible study and found myself wandering online for a digital distraction, when I came across this video (only an excerpt). As a young leader with little to no study in this kind of stuff I was a bit taken off guard. I remember thinking, "If this is true, I can no longer honestly be Christian, and I need to leave the ministry.”
The words of Paul echoed in my mind:
If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. // 1 Cor 15:17-19
What was worse was when I was finished this video I had about 15 minutes left until the students, who would be attending this study, would be arriving. I didn't even have the opportunity to do any investigation of my own. I can only imagine how terrible that study must have been for those students, as my mind was quite occupied with content of the aforementioned video. But I got through it all and as the last student left my home, I immediately jumped back on to my computer and researched anything I could find on this video and the claims it brought forth.
It didn't take long to realize that this video had not much to stand on. As I searched through the sources it brought forth, each article was a non-credible sort of conspiracy theory blog which would quote another conspiracy theory blog quoting another conspiracy theory blog. Actually I couldn't find much of anything that would even come close to actually giving substantial proof on the ideas it was presenting about Jesus.
Unlike many belief systems, we actually make the claim that either Jesus did exist, is who He said he was and accomplished what we say He did, or he did not.
It definitely made some truthful claims about myth stories throughout history but, but that is about as far as the actual serious academia went and any link between Christ and these myth stories was far from real scholarly study. It would seem as though the whole thing was built through a kind of telephone game syndrome: I once heard a guy say that a guy said that some 'credible' scholars claimed that Jesus is just another myth story. But what I couldn't find was anyone showing where that original source existed.
Now don't get me wrong, I can understand how people would cling to this idea. The claims of Christianity are somewhat hard to swallow. See, we make a truth claim about something supernatural. Unlike many belief systems, we actually make the claim that either Jesus did exist, is who He said he was and accomplished what we say He did, or he did not.
The reality is, there is a good case for a real Jesus Christ and that He died and rose again, and many have written and shown this. But no matter the amount of evidence we can bring to the table, there is still a measure of faith and revelation through the Holy Spirit that must come. This is the supernatural we are talking about.
We need to enter any evidence we come across, especially info that challenges our worldview with both a critical and open mind.
People can easily question and deny that Jesus was anything but a man and find it absurd that He rose from the dead and they have that right to challenge that. It is the crux of the conversation really: Is Jesus God and Saviour, or is He not? But to take it the next step and claim he never existed leaves, pretty much, all basic reasoning. This video interview by Bert Ermahn (non Christian Biblical Critic) shows how absurd the idea of denying the historical Jesus is.
We need to enter any evidence we come across, especially info that challenges our worldview with both a critical and open mind. We both need to accept that we may be wrong and open to new and differing ideas, but we must also examine those ideas for their own merits and not be tossed about accepting every new thing we read with no critical thinking at all. And as Christians, we can be confident that our faith isn't built on fairy tales, but on actual merit, real evidence and real reasoning, but still requires faith in something greater than our own finite minds can comprehend.
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