The Answers Are Easy. It’s the Questions That Are Hard
Vol: 112 Issue: 7 Friday, January 7, 2011
I’m not a particularly young man. And I’ve read a lot of books. But in all that time, I’ve not read any scholarly effort to disprove the existence of Sophocles, Cicero, Socrates or Virgil.
Neither have I come across any serious effort to discredit Roman historian Flavius Josephus.
Historians seem satisfied with the authenticity of the ancients and their works despite the fact that just a handful survived into the modern era.
Flavius Josephus was really a Jewish historian whose first-century eyewitness history was commissioned under his patron, Titus, the son of Flavius Vespasian and future emperor of Rome.
According to his biography at Wikipedia;
His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He makes references to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the time, Pharisees and Essenes, the Herodian Temple, Quirinius‘ census and the Zealots, and to such figures as Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, Agrippa I and Agrippa II, John the Baptist, James the brother of Jesus, and a disputed reference to Jesus (for more see Josephus on Jesus). He is an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism and the context of early Christianity.
Josephus was not the only ancient to write of Jesus, the first-century Nazarene Whose exemplary Life and substitutionary Death had already made a impact across the known world. The Roman historians Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny, none of whom are known to have become Christians, all make reference to Jesus of Nazareth.
But my library at home could not contain all the different volumes of work dedicated to either discrediting the Bible or disproving the existence of Jesus Christ. None have succeeded, but they keep trying.
Allow yourself to meditate on that last paragraph. None have succeeded. If any of them had, then Christianity would be a dead religion. And they keep trying. They shouldn’t have to try so hard.
Unlike other world religions that are so constructed that they could survive such a blow, conclusively disproving a single point of doctrinal truth would bring the entire edifice of Christianity crashing down.
If there was no King David, then Jesus could not be God because He specifically referred to David. If the Book of Daniel was really an allegory written by Judas Maccabeus in 163 BC as some scholars alleged, the Jesus could not be God.
Jesus referred to Daniel as a “Prophet” and to the prophecies contained in the Book of Daniel. If Daniel was a fraud, then Jesus would be too, since He should know and the Bible clearly indicates that He didn’t.
If the story of Noah’s Ark is an allegory, then Jesus cannot be God. It was Jesus that likened the last days to the days of Noah. If Sodom and Gomorrah are allegorical, Jesus cannot be God. Jesus admonished His followers to “remember Lot’s wife.”
That makes things even more complicated. The Bible says that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. If that didn’t happen, then Jesus either didn’t know or He lied. In either case, He could not be God. God cannot lie.
Then there is the amazing story of Jonah and the big fish or whale. According to the Old Testament, God told Jonah to head east for Nineveh and Jonah headed west toward Tarsus instead. Jonah didn’t like Nineveh and so he defied God.
God sent a big storm, the crew tossed Jonah overboard, a big fish or whale swallowed him up, turned around and headed for Nineveh where it barfed Jonah up on shore three days later. Later, Jesus taught,
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)
So if Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale and preserved alive for three days, then Jesus isn’t God. More than that, Jesus said He would be in the earth the same way Jonah was in the whale. If Jonah wasn’t, then by implication Jesus wasn’t.
Which means our faith is in vain and we are yet in our sins.
Christianity is carefully constructed, fact upon fact, precept upon precept, and pulling out any one of them would cause the rest to collapse like removing a key brick from a wall.
The Bible claims of itself that it is Divinely inspired and therefore without error.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
So if any Scripture is proved unreliable for doctrine, reproof, correction or instruction in righteousness, then the whole Body of Scripture is suspect — including the parts that promise you salvation by grace through faith.
In the final analysis, that is where and how we learned of salvation, and it is in those Promises of Scripture that we place our faith. If Noah didn’t build an ark, if Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale, if Lot’s wife wasn’t turned to salt, if Daniel didn’t write the Book the bears his name, then Jesus could not be God.
We would have to speak of Him in the past tense. Is it even possible that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher and moral authority and that is all? Does that explain why the world is still debating Him two thousand years later?
Jesus specifically said He was God on a number of occasions, despite what some would have you believe. John 8:58 records His reference to Himself as “I Am.” In John 14:8-9, Jesus says that seeing Him is “seeing the Father.” In John 10:33 He says, “I and My Father are one.”
There is no doubt that those that heard Him understood what He meant, since the next verse says they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.
Jesus claimed to be God. He taught as one that had the authority of God. He refused to recant His claims of Deity at the cost of His own life. If Jesus was NOT God, then He could not have been a great teacher of wisdom and morals.
In light of His claims, he would either have to be a megalomaniac with galactic-sized delusions of grandeur or a con man of . . . dare I say it? . . . Biblical proportions.
But one would think after some 2000 years of close and constant scrutiny, if there was some previously-undetected flaw in the story, it would have come to light by now.
If Jesus wasn’t God but claimed to be, He was not good. If He taught as God and wasn’t, He was not wise. And if He went to the Cross for a lie, He was not sane.
In summary, Christianity is the most delicate religious belief structure in the history of mankind. Christianity is unique in that it isn’t truly a religion so much as it is a relationship with a real Person.
Religion is man’s way of making himself acceptable to God according to man’s standard. Christianity is God’s way of making man acceptable to God according to God’s standard.
Buddhism could survive without an actual, historical, living Buddah. Islam could survive even where the Koran contained contradictions. Confucianism could survive learning Confusius didn’t say everything attributed to him.
But Christianity could not survive if Noah didn’t build an ark, Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale, if there was never a real, historical King David, or if there wasn’t really a Prophet named Daniel.
Given all that we know over the course of all the centuries, together with all we’ve learned just over the past generation, the fact that Christianity still stands intact is powerful, logical evidence of the truth of the Bible.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)
He is still able. And we can still trust Him. We still have His Word on it.