Jesus - According to Orthodox Historic Biblical Christianity - by
One dear servant of God, namely, Jass Singh wrote an article in Sikh Spectrum.com. Some people questioned the writings of Jass Singh regarding the authenticity of the gospels, Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, etc,. One of them is Daniel Wright.
I have repudiated the points raised by Daniel Wright in his rebuttal. I have divided his rebuttal in many points for the purpose of clarity and I have given my comments under each such point.
I have been asked to write a response to the article “Jesus - According to Orthodox Historic Biblical Christianity.” Of course, I have to wonder exactly what “Orthodox Historic Biblical Christianity” is. I mean, I can think of many Christians that say their beliefs are orthodox and based on history and the Bible, yet disagree on many important issues.
At least with labels like “fundamentalist” there are specific criteria that can be used to identify them, even though not all fundamentalists are from a given denomination, nor is any denomination entirely filled with fundamentalists. With the term “Orthodox Historic Biblical Christianity,” such is not the case.
I have no way of determining which – if any – group of Christians is “historic,” because there are no historical records of the supposed founder of Christianity. I also have no way to determine which beliefs are “biblical,” because the Bible is so inconsistent that it can be used to prove almost any position. Hence, I suspect that the title of the article I am responding to is something the author simply made up, based on the issues and assumptions within the article.
Historical record means any event that took place within the knowledge of the people and that has been recorded. If that historical record is based on reasonable assumptions, that has to be accepted. For example, if somebody says that the people were killed by a dinosaur during a particular period, that fact has to be established by the eye-witnesses who had lived during that period. Then this eye witnesses’ evidence has to be reasonably acceptable. Whether the dinosaur was like the dinosaur which we had seen in the film “Jurassic Park”? Whether any fossil of this animal discovered through archaeological excavations suggested existence of this species during that particular period? We would definitely believe this fact if the evidence is presented in a cogent manner. This means we need eye-witness accounts recorded during that period which should be still preserved, and which should be further supported by the evidences collected during excavations. We would not believe the fact by the fiction of the film “Jurassic Park” but by the evidence of the fossil. Fiction is not evidence.
Bible is the recorded history because the authors are known. The authors’ lives were also recorded to some extent. Miracles were recorded by the witnesses. Can you quote some specific instances from the Bible to prove your point “that the Bible is so inconsistent that it can be used to prove almost any position”?
In the article, the author makes many arguments that all assume something that – if false – destroys his entire article; namely, the accuracy of the gospels. There are many other assumptions he makes that I disagree with, but if the gospels are not accurate, none of his other assumptions matter. The article would have failed on that basis alone. This is why my main focus will be to address the issue of whether or not the gospels describe real history.
Interestingly enough, the author starts with a list of assumptions he will make in his article. One such assumption is “the historicity of the New Testament” which the author claims, “is based on eyewitness testimony & hard evidence.” This is an assertion within an assumption. As though making an assumption without giving evidence for it isn’t bad enough, the author then makes an assertion about it without giving evidence for the assertion. This is a huge “no-no” when trying to form a rational argument.
Historicity of the New Testament is not an assumption but a fact. For example, there is a telephone instrument lying on your table. It is a fact only, and not an assumption. History is not an assumption but a fact that has been established by evidence. How can you establish the fact that a telephone instrument has been lying on your table? You would establish this fact through your own eyewitness. Sitting in Delhi, I cannot establish this fact. The author has presented the evidence from the authors of these biblical books. Since the author is not the eye-witness, he has presented the eyewitnesses and evidences presented by those who had witnessed. I again refer to the example of the telephone instrument lying on your table. You are the eye-witness. I believe your eye-witness without any doubt because it is reasonably presumed that you are having a telephone instrument on your table. Suppose, if you say that you have a refrigerator on your table, I will be hesitant to believe it because the refrigerator is not supposed to be on your table.
Now, other parts of the New Testament may or may not be authentic, but the ones that are authentic cannot be true (and might even be delusional), if the gospels are not true. Hence, my article will be dealing specifically with whether or not the gospels are true. After all, things in the New Testament – outside the gospels – rarely describe much from the gospels and, if the gospels are false, would invalidate claims made about their contents, in the first place.
You are proceeding to discuss in this debate on the assumption that the gospels are false. How can you claim that “the ones that are authentic cannot be true (and might even be delusional)? If something is authentic, it should be true and not fictional. If it is not authentic, then it is fictional.
That being said, let me address a few other things the author says before getting to any actual arguments (what few he presents) for his case. After his list of assumptions, the author discusses what the contents of the New Testament – apparently, mostly within the gospels – show (assuming, of course, that they’re true). Immediately following that is a two-paragraph bit about presuppositions.
The funny thing is that the author has made many presuppositions, up to this point, in the paper. His second paragraph on presuppositions borderlines on being an ad hominem attack against anyone that doesn’t believe precisely what the author believes. Even funnier is the fact that the second paragraph is something that presupposes many things, itself.
Thus, I would like to pose my own question – countering the author’s question – that uses no such presuppositions: whose views should you rationally accept; those of people making incredible claims, those who accept such claims (whose minds may be clouded by their own presuppositions on the matter), or those who question incredible claims in the absence of incredible evidence?
The author has rightly said, “The question is, whose views should you rationally accept – the interpretation of the Biblical writers who laid down their lives for the truth of their message about Jesus or the speculative claims of those who are removed by 2000 years from the relevant sensory evidence, the culture, the society, the religion, the language, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and have their minds clouded with preconceived prejudices & biases?”
Who are the people “who make incredible claims”? A person who witnessed an incident cannot be the one who makes an incredible claim because he has witnessed it. It is only the one who has not witnessed an incident can make an incredible claim saying that the incident in question had not taken place. Of course, anyone can question the assertion made by a witness. You claim some historical fact to be “incredible evidence” and question it. We present the same through the evidences presented by the witnesses. The author and we are not making any presuppositions here.
Anyway, the next thing the author discusses is how to “prove” history. Here, he seems to confuse himself, because he is trying to find a way to “prove” history the same way we prove that 1+1=2. We can’t “prove” history the same way we prove other things; it is an entirely different science. It would be like trying to prove that I ate lunch at a particular restaurant, yesterday, via an equation. It simply can’t be done.
I can, however, show you my receipt and have you talk to the employees of the restaurant. Now, it’s possible that I forged the receipt and got the restaurant employees to lie for me, but such a scenario would require assuming more than the scenario involving me actually eating at that restaurant on the day indicated on the receipt. Proving history – as the author points out later – is much like proving a court case; we find the most likely scenario, considering the evidence.
Your eating lunch was proved by your testimony supported by the documentary evidence in the form of hotel bill and the statement of employees. It is simply an arithmetical equation. The inputs are your money and time in the restaurant and the outputs are your belly full of food and your money purse getting depleted to the extent of money spent. This is 1+1 = 2. Generally speaking, one plus one making two means we get some output when we put some input. The input is the eye-witness account of the gospel presented by the authors of the original gospels and the output is the faith leading to salvation.
We would not require you to show us the receipt because we would believe your statement which is reasonably presumed to be true. Why should you tell us a lie that you had eaten your lunch in the restaurant?
One of the methods the author describes for proving history is the “hypothetico-deductive model.” The author says, of the historian, that “He reconstructs a picture of the past. … Then he deduces certain conditions from it that will confirm or disprove his hypothesis. He then checks to see which conditions exist” by looking at the evidence.
Interestingly enough, such a method disproves the gospels. If we start with the hypothesis that the gospels are true, we should start by looking for confirmation of the existence of people and/or places within the gospels. According to the gospels, Jesus was from Nazareth. Yet, when we look for “Nazareth” in history, there is no mention of it until the early 4th century. Now, this does not mean that Nazareth didn’t exist prior to that, it just gives us the latest possible date for its establishment.
It is only a discovery of the fact of existence of Nazareth in the early 4th century. Nazareth had existed during the birth of Jesus Christ and before that. This is like the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus during 1492. America existed before the discovery by Christopher Columbus. The hard core evidence is that America existed before 1492. Similarly, the hard-core evidence is that Nazareth existed before its discovery by some historians in the early 4th century. What needs to be deduced is the fact of its discovery in the 4th century, which has to be weighed and evaluated along with the other forms of historical findings about the existence of Nazareth.
Looking at earlier documents, we find no mention of Nazareth. The Old Testament, the Talmud, the writings of Paul, Josephus, and historians of the time all seem to lack any mentioning of a place called “Nazareth.”
In fact, Josephus gives a list of 45 cities and villages in Galilee, yet he doesn’t have “Nazareth” on his list. Since he lived – for a part of his life – about a mile from where Nazareth now stands, yet failed to mention it in his list of places in Galilee, we must conclude that it didn’t exist at the time. Thus, we can place the establishment of Nazareth sometime between the 2nd and 4th century… a bit too late for Jesus.
We can apply this method to other places, as well as people and events, to discover more factual errors in the gospels (Luke makes the most mistakes). Eventually, we must conclude that if the gospel writers got so many things wrong that we can’t be sure what – if anything – they got right.
What do you mean by “earlier documents”? The writers of the Old Testament books who prophesied on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul, the apostle who testified to the gospel of Christ Jesus, and other contemporary historians are the right people whose evidence has to be trusted. The writers of the gospel wrote that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Joseph, the father of Jesus, took his wife and infant Jesus to Nazareth and Jesus grew up in Nazareth. The only point under dispute is the existence or otherwise of the town of Nazareth before the discovery made by some historians in the 4th century. Let us deduce this fact and accept the incontrovertible evidence concerning the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The existence of Nazareth is the truth to be accepted and the fact to be deduced is its discovery in 4th century.
Let us discuss about the so-called “factual errors” in the gospel accounts if you present the same to us.
The next part of the author’s article discusses the “model of inference to the best explanation. According to this approach, we begin with the evidence available to us from the data and then infer what would, if true, provide the best explanation of that evidence.” However, the author seems to have a bit of a problem.
Suppose I pulled out the Vedas and said, “According to this, it is Indra ‘who leads the waters.’ Since I saw a river flowing, this morning, the best explanation is that Indra was leading it.” Would the author believe me? Of course not!
In the same way, we cannot assume the accuracy of the gospels and then reach conclusions about its contents. We must first establish the accuracy of the gospels. However, as I showed earlier, there are a few problems that call the gospels’ accuracy into question. Furthermore, these problems must lead us to the conclusion that the “best explanation” is that the gospels are made up.
It is not assuming the accuracy of the gospels. It is testing the accuracy of the gospels on the anvil of the historical evidences. The Biblical historians including the writers of the gospel prove the accuracy of the gospel through evidences. It is now for those who question the evidences to prove by way of their counter-evidences that the gospels are “made up”. The burden to disprove lies on the shoulders of those who question the authenticity of the Bible or the gospels.
If you pulled out the Vedas and read that Indra led the waters, then this fact had to be proved by the evidences presented by the authors of the Vedas. It is not for you to prove the fact that Indra led the waters. If you saw a river flowing, then it was for you to prove the fact that the river was flowing according to your eye-witness. No fool would believe your statement that Indra (whom you had not seen) was leading the waters. Of course, people may believe the Vedas which speak about Indra leading the waters.
Next on the author’s agenda is a list of things that are factors for testing historical hypotheses. They are “The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present, observable data. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope … greater explanatory power … be more plausible … less ad hoc … disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs [and] … must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)-(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions.”
The problem is that this – like the other methods described by the author – works against the gospels. If we start with the hypothesis that the gospels are true, we must assume things that go against “present, observable data,” are less plausible, and are more ad hoc than what would be involved in a hypothesis involving the gospels being made up.
On a final note for this section, the author says, “The goal of historical knowledge is to obtain probability, not mathematical certainty. An item can be regarded, as a piece of historical knowledge when it is related to the evidence in such a way that any reasonable person ought to accept it.” Unfortunately, the gospels are so improbable and contain so many factual errors that no reasonable person should accept them.
Let us discuss the things which you view as “factual errors”. Be specific in your arguments.
In the next section, the author discusses the issue of the supposed virgin birth of Jesus. As his evidence, he discusses parthenogenesis and quotes someone as having said “No critic of the Virgin Birth today would dare speak of the ‘biological impossibility’ of such an event. We dismiss this particular criticism without further discussion.”
Well, if the author and his source are going to be that closed minded about it, perhaps they don’t care to hear about the fact that parthenogenesis – in humans – always results in a female offspring. Thus, it is a “biological impossibility” for Jesus to have been born of a virgin… unless, of course, his story was like Yentl’s.
After this segment is the author’s clear ad hominem attack against those who disbelieve the virgin conception of Jesus. In this, he says that those who disbelieve have an “anti-supernatural bias.” One must wonder about any “supernatural bias” there might be and what effect it has on the subject who believes in the supposed virgin conception. One must also wonder if the author is saying that those who accept a different form of supernaturalism than the author also have an “anti-supernatural bias” (which sounds absurd).
I do not term the belief of those who do not believe in the fact of the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ as “anti-supernatural bias”. An ordinary birth is a miracle to a human mind who does not know biology. To an illiterate tribal woman who has not seen the outside world, when a child comes out of her belly, it is a miracle. For the literate people who know biology or science, it is not a miracle. This perception differs from person to person. For the Christians who believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ, it is a miracle because no sexual union was involved. For others who do not believe in miracles, it is a fiction.
The God we believe is supernatural. Do you believe that there is a God? If so, he must be a supernatural Person who is not seen by you. Supernatural things are not seen by us but are believed by us. Virgin birth is indeed supernatural which nobody has witnessed at the time the Seed was implanted in the womb of Mary. Even normal birth can also be considered as a miracle because nobody witnessed the fact of the child being conceived or embryo receiving the very life in the mother’s womb. Do you need an eye-witness to believe in the pregnancy of a woman?
Within the same paragraph, the author claims, “If one believes in a supernatural omnipotent creator God who created the vast universe, then the supernatural creation of a few miniscule Y-chromosomes, and their impregnation without the agency of a man would not be hard for such a God. If there is a God who created the universe, if He flung the galaxies out from His fingertips (metaphorically speaking), if He painted the sky with a scintillating Milky Way then surely for Him to take a tiny seed and place it in the womb of a woman is nothing at all. The Virgin Conception is no big problem at all for God.”
Besides being entirely ad hoc, there are two other problems. For those that accept a different deity (or deities), it is not a question of whether or not deities can impregnate a woman, it’s a question of whether or not they did. For those who do not believe in any deities, it is a question of whether or not deities exist, in the first place.
The author continues, “Taking this anti-supernatural physicalism to its logical conclusion, implies that if miracles do not occur then creation could not have taken place. A person who cannot (or will not) believe in the Virgin Conception thus has an inconsistent view of God. This person believes that God can create an entire and vast universe but is INCAPABLE of creating a few chromosomes to be immaculately conceived without the biological agency of a man.”
Here, Singh becomes entirely incoherent in his claims. If I don’t believe in any gods, I can’t possibly think that any gods created this universe. Hence, it is consistent to further say that miracles -– including virgin conceptions -– do not occur. If, however, I believed in a god (or many gods) other than the author’s, it is not inconsistent to say that a particular god didn’t conceive a child, regardless of whether or not I think that god is capable of it. The only inconsistent thing here is between reality and what the author thinks other people believe.
The absurdity of the author’s claims can be seen in the following question, modeled after the author’s apparent logic. Certainly a god that created an entire universe must be capable of throwing lightning bolts, causing rain, pushing lava out of volcanoes, and creating earthquakes… so why doesn’t the author believe that his god does these things?
As a further ad hominem attack, the author continues, “The real problem behind the rejection of the Virgin Conception is one’s presuppositions and worldview. People who reject the Virgin Conception of Christ assume the following presuppositions in their worldview known as PHYSICALISM:
1. The universe is a self contained, closed system.
2. Everything happens according to natural laws, which are absolute and unbreakable.
3. No miracles or supernatural intervention are possible. Therefore they conclude that the Virgin Conception of Christ is impossible and never occurred, since miracles CANNOT happen.”
Again, Singh’s claims are incoherent. The virgin conception of Jesus is a Christian belief. Those from other religions can believe in miracles (e.g., the ones from their religion), while rejecting Christian miracles. After all, I’m sure the author rejects the supposed miracles from other religions; why should they accept his?
Furthermore, “physicalism” is NOT a “worldview.” Even if it were, he gets the first tenet wrong. For a system to be “closed,” it must be closed off from something. Since the universe would include everything there is, it can’t be closed off from something else and, hence, can’t be a closed system.
Lastly, the other two things the author mentions are consistent with what we know of the universe. Believing the contrary makes science impossible, since the basis of science is the belief that the laws of the universe apply to every part of it all the time. If the author wishes to claim that there are examples of a natural law being broken, perhaps he can give us one. Until then, we must assume that such things do not happen.
Next, the author attacks Hume and his similar “uniform experience against the miraculous,” claiming –- essentially -– that if a miracle occurred only once, then the odds of a specific person witnessing it are small and “irrelevant to their probability.” He then discusses the mere possibility of his god’s existence, quantum indeterminacy, and finishes off with an ad hoc bit about how, if his god is holding the universe together, obviously such a being can do things to the universe.
This position, however, has more holes in it than a screen door. If Indra has ever led so much as a drop of water, the odds of the author ever experiencing it are incredibly small. If it is even remotely possible that Indra ever led any water, the author has a huge problem on his hands. Will the author now drop everything and become a Hindu? Of course not!
In the same way, if I have never experienced a miracle and don’t know of any verifiable stories of miracles at any point in all of human history, I am not going to suddenly join every religion – not that it would make much sense to do so, in the first place – simply because one of them MIGHT be true.
Lastly, quantum indeterminacy deals with the fact that we cannot precisely measure both the position and momentum of a particle, at the same time. To equate this with the idea that “anything is possible” displays a wealth of ignorance on the subject, on the part of the author.
Of course, it is a universally accepted truth by those who believe in the existence of God that God performs miracles. Atheists do not believe in miracles because they do not believe in the existence of God. I do not touch upon atheism here.
Man also performs miracles today. The internet, the television, the e-communication, the airplane, the missiles, etc. are indeed miracles only. A villager in India sees all these things as miracles made by men. If man can perform such miracles today, what about the God who has made the humans?
Next, the author claims that belief in the virgin conception is not taken on “blind faith” and that there is a “sufficient basis” for believing it, based on “the omnipotent nature of God … [and] the resurrection of Jesus.” He also claims that disbelief is “an assault on the power of God, … [and] an attack on the reliability of scripture, the incarnation and dual nature of Jesus and His sinless substitutionary death as the Savior of mankind.”
The problem is that all of these things assume that the gospels (and, to some extent, other books in the Bible) are accurate. If such is not the case, then there is not a “sufficient basis” to believe the stories. Also, accepting the accuracy of the gospels is something that must be taken on “blind faith”… meaning accepting the details of their contents must also be done on “blind faith.”
We do not want anyone to accept the accuracy of the Bible on “blind faith” at all. You should see everything through your own eyes. We do not want anyone to close their eyes and to believe what we say. We present the evidence to be seen by others. Every story has a beginning and an end. In the Bible, you would find it. A frog in the well does not see the outside world unless it comes out of the well. The world we present is likened to the work of God in the human history. The well is the mind-set of the people who do not want to see the outside world.
At the end of 6 pages of assumptions, ad hominem attacks, and ad hoc explanations, the author finally reaches his first real argument. In it, he claims – in reference to the virgin conception -– that it either happened or it didn’t.
Fair enough. But, the author’s argument against the latter seems to lack any substance. He claims that – if it was made up – there has to be a motivation behind doing so, yet he doesn’t know of any such motivation. However, the author’s lack of imagination on the subject does not constitute evidence against it.
Now, making it up all at once doesn’t seem like something that one would try to pass off as true, but there is another possibility. Suppose Jesus was born 120 years before most people think he was (as Yeshu Ha-Notzri). I’m sure the author is familiar with what happens to messages in the “telephone game.” If this happened with Jesus’ story, it would certainly explain the incredible claims in the gospels (i.e., over time, the story got bigger with more incredible things happening each time it was told).
Perhaps “Q” wrote down a story that was passed down by word of mouth for several generations before him. Perhaps Mark copied his story from “Q” and added a few things of his own (creating a midrashic work and tossing in a few things from Mithraism). Perhaps Matthew, copying from Mark and “Q,” simply inserts the virgin conception (as he does other things, including correcting Mark’s mistakes in geography), so that it matches with the way he heard the story. The fact that he claims it was prophesied – when what was actually prophesied was a young girl giving birth in the near future (a mistake he picks up from a Greek translation of his quote) -– is especially revealing, in regards to Matthew’s background. Perhaps Luke (who makes more than his fair share of mistakes) included it simply because he was copying from Matthew.
Such a scenario certainly fits with the evidence. For example, in Mark, some were brought to Jesus and some were healed; in Matthew, some were brought and all were healed; and in Luke, all were brought and all were healed… the story just keeps getting better every time it’s told (as would be the case in the “telephone game” scenario)!
It is not the “author’s lack of imagination” that constitutes evidence but the evidence presented by the original authors of the Biblical books that forms the evidence that is being tested over the years not only through the human wisdom or knowledge but also through the life-changing personal experiences of people who have been blessed by the writings of these authors. It is a fact that certain facts covered by Mark are not covered by Mathew, and so on because each writer of the gospel wrote what he witnessed from the life of Jesus Christ. This shows that the gospel accounts of all these 4 gospels are true. If some were brought, and all are healed, it means that all “the some people” brought were healed. Please note that the gospel writers wrote the gospels out of their own witnesses i.e. first-hand accounts. You are making some assumption saying, “perhaps”.
The author of the article further argues against the idea that the virgin conception didn’t happen by claiming that “Matthew, and Luke’s sources, would have been Jewish.” He then argues that no Jew would have come up with such a story.
The problem is that Luke was clearly not Jewish or even from the area he describes in his book. He makes so many errors in regards to Jewish law and geography that many scholars doubt that he or any supposed sources were eyewitnesses to the events he describes.
The author continues with his argument against the virgin conception not happening by pointing out that some people explain the story by pointing to “pagan parallels.” He tries to argue against this by calling it “wrong-headed” and claiming, “there were no actual pagan virgin conception stories.”
It is not the race of the author but the content of his writings that matters here. The truth of the Virgin Birth of Jesus is unique in the history. I did not come cross any pagan virgin conception story in the history.
Had he done his homework -– instead of just repeating what Machen said –- he would have found that Perseus, Dionysius, Horus, Mithra, and Adonis were all conceived by virgins… and were all common stories, at the time. A little more homework reveals that the story of Mithra and the story of Jesus bear a striking similarity to one another.
In his next section, the author discusses the deity of Jesus. He gives a long list of Bible verses and concludes that Jesus must have been god. Of course, using the Bible to prove that Jesus is god is much like using the Vedas to prove that Indra leads water; you must first assume that the stories are true.
Next, the author discusses some of the challenges made to the possibility of Jesus being god (e.g., contradictions in such an idea). At one point he claims that “one may argue that Jesus posses divine and human attributes in a coherent arrangement.”
Well, if by “coherent arrangement,” he means “half man and half god” or that when attributes contradict one another, one prevails (making him less god and/or less human), I would agree that such would be a “coherent arrangement.” The problem is that most Christians think Jesus was fully man and fully god. Another problem is in proving that either was actually the case.
Jesus is the God incarnate not by the arguments of Jass Singh. He is no doubt the God incarnate. We are not merely using the Bible to prove that Jesus is the God incarnate. Through our lives, we taste and experience the power of Jesus as God.
In standard Christian apologist fashion, the author then discusses the trilemma. This argument has been beaten to death so many times since C.S. Lewis invented it that one must wonder why anyone still uses it. The argument assumes that the gospels accurately depict what happened. If such is not the case, it doesn’t matter what they say Jesus said.
The author then finishes off that section by saying that skeptics “rule out the deity of Jesus because of their unwarranted preconceived worldview not from the evidence of history” and that Jesus’ “subjective claims were validated by the empirically verified objective eyewitness space-time event of the resurrection in real history.”
However, stringing together a bunch of semi-technical words doesn’t prove his case. Who “empirically verified” the resurrection? How? What “objective eyewitness” was there to the event? It is the Christian, not the skeptic that must ignore history to support preconceived ideas on this issue.
In a spectacular grand finale, the author tries to prove that Jesus was resurrected. However, he starts out by saying that skeptics deny the resurrection “because causal powers of nature are insufficient to return a corpse to life” and then says that Christians “posit that GOD the Father raised Jesus from the dead!” Well, I deny the resurrection because I have no evidence for it, not because of how natural laws work. The author’s ad hoc bit doesn’t change that.
He then claims, “The crucifixion of Jesus is an established historical fact, which no historian who would dispute” and that “Christ's resurrection can be proved with at least as much certainty as any universally believed and well-documented event in ancient history.”
Did I say grand finale? Well, it starts with a few fizzles. Anyway, I don’t know where he gets these ideas, but they are most certainly false. There are plenty of historians that would dispute whether the crucifixion ever happened, and -– as I have pointed out repeatedly -– if the gospels are not accurate, they can’t be used to prove anything, much less the resurrection.
We are not proving the truths concerning Virgin Birth, Resurrection of Jesus through our words or arguments. It is the witness of the Holy Spirit whom the world has not known that speaks about these truths. You and I were not there when Virgin Mary was conceived and when Jesus rose from the dead. These truths are supported by historical evidences and by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. You do not believe either the evidences presented through human beings or the Holy Spirit Who is in the world. What can we do?
The author then claims that the only things he needs to prove his case, without assumptions, is “The existence of the New Testament texts” and “The existence (but not necessarily the truth) of the Christian religion…” He then poses the question “Which theory about what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday can account for the data?”
Well, that depends on exactly what “data” he is referring to. If he intends to use nothing but the New Testament to prove his case, he is making two errors. First, he is assuming that the text is true; second, he is trying to use the text to prove what it says. This is, of course, circular and can’t work. Also, the first assumption is one he said he wouldn’t make.
The author who was born in this century has nothing to produce in evidence except the writings of the authors who witnessed the life of Jesus and lived during the first century – the evidence that has been proved over the 2000 years through the testimonies of countless saints who lived holy and righteous lives. A fact has to be proved through the evidences – oral, documentary and contemporary. The documentary evidences are the writings preserved over the years. The oral evidences are the personal testimonies of people who have encountered the living Christ after His ascension into the Heaven. The contemporary evidences are the evidences presented today through the signs and wonders being performed in the Name of Jesus Christ. If you do not believe the documentary evidences as you doubt the authenticity of the same, you have to either believe the oral evidences or the contemporary evidences. I am not asking you to believe in some “data” but in evidences.
After a long spiel that amounts to nothing more than a quote mined argument from incredulity, the author lists “12 Undeniable Known Bedrock Authentic Historical Facts Concerning The Resurrection Events And That All Critics Agree On.” Well, I’m a critic, and I don’t agree with his list. I’m sure a lot of other critics don’t agree either. I don’t know where he gets the idea that they all do.
After his list, he says, “Another consideration not listed above is the failure of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to disprove the resurrection.” I don’t know if he actually looked at the list before copying and pasting it, but this was on the list; it was #4.
There is also a perfectly rational explanation for why the 1st century Jewish leaders never addressed the issue of whether or not Jesus’ tomb was empty. It’s because there were no Christians claiming it was. The idea of an empty tomb wasn’t popular until at least the end of the 1st century (possibly later). Of course, by then, no one -– not even the Christians -– knew where it was, so there was no real reason to ask for a negative proof, at the time.
Continuing to harp on the “empty tomb” hypothesis, the author says that it was either “Occupied (He did not rise from the dead) or empty (He did rise from the dead).” Well, here’s another idea, which he doesn’t address… it was non-existent. The author goes through a long spiel countering problems with an “occupied tomb” hypothesis and concludes that it must have been empty, but he is assuming -– again -– that the gospels’ depiction of any tomb is even accurate.
After this, the author declares victory, gives a bunch of Bible quotes about why we should believe and then ends his article with an ad hominem attack on any non-believers. Thus, after 20 pages, the author’s arguments boil down to ad hominem attacks, circular reasoning, assumptions, and ad hoc explanations of his assumptions.
If he cannot prove that the gospels are accurate, the author of the article I am responding to cannot use them to support his arguments. He also can’t use the gospels to show the accuracy of the gospels (that would be circular reasoning). He needs something more than his assumptions to prove his case and has done a particularly bad job in his attempt to prove his case.
You may not believe the evidence of “Empty tomb” because you were not there to see this tomb at that time. Nobody would believe it today because nobody had seen this about 2000 years ago. We believe this truth because the Jesus Who rose from the dead is alive today in our midst working the same signs and wonders. The dead Jesus would not perform any signs and miracles that He performed before His death. I do not quote from the gospel accounts because you do not believe in the same. The truth concerning the Empty Tomb is proved by the evidence through the signs and wonders being performed in Jesus’ Name. We are witnesses to such signs and wonders. We are witnesses to the contemporary evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit.
We are not using the gospels to prove the accuracy of the gospel but the work of the Holy Spirit Who was the witness to the Virgin Birth, Resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc, bears witness to us through the signs and wonders.
I have not quoted any Bible verses in this message to prove the authenticity of the gospel, etc. However, I quote the prophet Isaiah who lamented, “Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Isi.53:1). I pray that the arm of the Lord be revealed to you.
Daniel Wright has questioned the recorded life history of Jesus Christ. If he does not believe in the historical account of Jesus Christ, he cannot believe in the recorded historical account of kings and rulers like Alexander the Great who had lived 356 to 323 B.C. What about the babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who had lived about 600 B.C? Are all these kings and rulers were the figments of imagination of some people who wrote their life histories?
Daniel Wright also has questioned the authenticity of the Bible, especially the gospels. One saint in Tamil Nadu, India, called "Tiruvalluvar" wrote the wonderful book of ethics before the birth of Christ. He lived about 500 to 200 B.C. His writings are called "Tirukkural" known as a book of morals which is still held in high esteem by the people all over the world. His writings were not altered or changed during the long period of more than 2000 years, whereas Daniel Wright claims that the gospel accounts were altered or changed over a long period of time. Every civilization existed and it has left a footprint of historical evidence behind it. Nobody who lives today had ever witnessed any past civilization. But we go by the recorded historical evidence.
- Job Anbalagan, Glory of His Cross Prophetic Ministries