Friday, June 21, 2019

Another Angle to the Evidence

It’s unfortunate that considerable amounts of fluff and fraud have come to surround Christianity but there are some good reasons to not write off Christianity as untrue. A logical approach to determining the truthfulness of Christianity can be taken using only a few bits of evidence. For Christianity to be true, Jesus Christ had to have risen from the dead. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ claims that He was God incarnated are not true and He was just a man—nothing more.

Before going on, it’s important to accept the reliability of the New Testament of the Bible. If it cannot be accepted that the bible was accurately preserved and copied over the centuries, doubt will hover over the entire reading herein. Here is some extra reading to help accept that the bible was accurately copied. It should also be understood that the original (non-denominational) bible was not written by one person, but by several people over hundreds of years in which the books therein were not actually consolidated until around the 2nd or 3rd century, yet the storyline of the Bible is amazingly consistent and with purpose. Knowing this helps to demystify the Bible.

Using the bible and various other Christian and non-Christian ancient sources, we can see that in the first century there was an explosion of a movement initially called “The Way," later called Christianity. Members of the movement in the first century were in the thousands. Many of them suffered the martyrdom of a cruel form. They were willing to die cruel deaths for what they believed to be true about Christ — primarily His resurrection. Using the same sources, we can also determine that Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, and burial — before “The Way” or “Christianity” started — are all historically accurate. What happened in between Jesus’ crucifixion/burial and the birth of Christianity which gives substance to it, making it true?

Jesus must have appeared resurrected. If He didn’t, faith in Christ would have quickly died instead of boldly spread. Jesus’ disciples fled as Jesus was arrested by the Roman government and eventually crucified — it would have taken something extraordinary to change the disciples’ minds to start Christianity (like Jesus’ resurrection). According to the gospel of Luke, even when Jesus first appeared to the disciples, they were terrified and doubted what they saw until Jesus began to eat with them. The gospel of John says that the disciple Thomas doubted the testimony of his fellow disciples until (resurrected) Jesus appeared to him. Generally, the disciples did not accept the resurrection without good reason. Not only did Jesus appear resurrected, but as spoken of in the book of Acts, he stayed with his original disciples for 40 days speaking and eating with them, preparing them to further Jesus’ ministry. There are several attestations to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament, but the apostle Paul’s testimony is most striking in my opinion. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve. Then He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain to this present time, though some have passed away. Then He was seen by James and then by all the apostles. Last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born at the wrong time.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) Notice here Paul says that by the time of his writing, many of the group of 500+ people who saw the risen Jesus were still alive. Paul implies that we could have sought out the other people who were part of the large group of witnesses if not accepting Paul himself as true.

Christianity started in Jerusalem which still exists today, the very place where Jesus was crucified and buried. How could Jesus’ disciples have succeeded in spreading Christianity (that Jesus was alive) in the face of a tomb that contained His corpse that everybody in Jerusalem new the location of? For Jesus to be resurrected, His tomb had to be empty. A Jerusalem local would merely have to go to the tomb to see if Jesus’ body was still in there, but it was generally known that the tomb went empty and remained empty. Furthermore, when one reads the book of Acts in the Bible, it can be understood that after Jesus was resurrected, Jesus’ original disciples were empowered by Jesus to do miracles in order to validate Jesus’ authority and truth during the time Jesus is away (his ascension to heaven) — these miracles are what helped propel the spreading of Christianity in the first century that continue to THIS DAY. Generally, it would be very unlikely for Christianity to begin spreading without an empty tomb (which would have been hard to deny) and without the power to do miracles in the face of Jesus’ absence. Jesus empowered the disciples to do miracles to validate Jesus’ resurrection. Even Jewish authorities who hated and crucified Jesus did not deny the miracles done by Jesus and his disciples of the time.

Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, burial, and the explosion of Christianity are historical facts backed up by both Christian and non-Christian ancient sources, only some of which are linked herein. For Christianity to be true, Jesus had to have appeared to all the said people between the time of His burial and the explosion of Christianity. Since the ministry, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus are historical facts, and the birth of Christianity is historical fact, then, in between, Jesus’ resurrection must be true — otherwise, Christianity is a fallacy, and I certainly don’t believe it is.