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Liar, madman or Messiah? (Part 2)

03 July 2012, 11:22

Despite the apparent thorny nature of the Jesus-issues raised by people like HandyGuy, there are satisfying answers to all of them.

 Dr JP Moreland puts it this way: “Thousands of highly educated men and women across the globe, with earned doctorates in history, New Testament studies and first century culture, from world class institutions,  accept the reliability of the gospels precisely because of (and not in spite of) their academic training”

Christians should not be intimidated by atheists, sceptics and their apparent superior knowledge that purportedly falsifies the claims of Christianity. I urge all honest doubters, who read the drivel that these unbelievers pen down on these forums, to verify things for themselves before making life changing decisions. Most of what these people say is emotionally motivated or just plain nonsense. The remaining, legitimate challenges to Christianity all have good answers and explanations and deserve honest scrutiny.

HandyGuy tells all who read his article that Josephus lived 100 years after Christ. False! Josephus was born 4 years after Jesus’ crucifixion not 100 years after Jesus.

He says that we know there is no supporting documentation for Jesus written in his time. So what? No serious and honest historian denies that there lived a man called Jesus who was seen as some kind of miracle worker who performed healings and exorcisms. It is a historically accepted fact that Jesus was rejected by the Jewish leaders and crucified by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. The sky turned dark at the time of the crucifixion (the pagan historian Thallus explains this as an eclipse of the sun).

All evidence points to the fact that the Gospel of Luke was written in the 50’sAD.

HandyGuy’s telephone analogy is also irrelevant .It is very clear from the gospel writings that these people believed very deeply in the Truth of Jesus and the message never changed - Jesus was crucified, died and rose again for the sins of the world. His body was never found!  The evidence for this is so compelling that an atheist historian, when debating famed Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, explained this fact away by claiming that Jesus must have had an identical twin brother who hid Jesus’ dead body after the crucifixion and presented himself as the risen Christ!

As for HandyGuy’s purported deathblow to Christianity, due to the apparent inconsistencies in Matthew, consider this:  

Sayings like the one in Matthew 21:21 need to be seen in context. It was characteristic Semitic style to make a point in exaggerated and unqualified terms. The point of the saying is the absolute necessity of trust in God’s unlimited power. It is so typical of the atheist to jump on something like this and hold it up as final proof that the whole Bible is nonsense when it is so clear, to the initiated at least, that he has not done his homework.

Regarding an explanation of Matthew 10:23, this is how one Biblical scholar words it: “There is a close connection in the Gospels between the coming of the Son of Man and the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus was either telling His disciples the evangelism of Israel and subsequent Jewish persecution of the church would not be complete before Jerusalem was destroyed by the coming of the Son of Man, or explaining that the evangelism of Israel would be an ongoing task until the end of the age.”

He continues - Matthew 16:28 refers to Jesus reassuring his disciples that “some of them would experience a foretaste of the glorious revelation of the Son of Man in their lifetimes, a promise made good to Peter, James and John immediately in the transfiguration.”

So CS Lewis’ quote about Jesus still holds true:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

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