A while back, I got the urge to find out whether the tale of Jesus really is actual or if it is just another fable that arose during human history. Being a Christian, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be false since it’s not comfortable to part with an accepted belief, but as a skeptic I knew that if something doesn’t add up, I’ve got to throw it out the window. So when the winter holiday started after my grueling exams, I set out to know what the truth really is.
In this modern society where atheists can easily get their opinions shared and accepted via the media, it is not surprising that we always hear that Jesus is a fable and that Christianity is for the delusional. But is this view really correct? And if so, on what grounds are these claims based?
I had heard of a book that some of my friends at church had read before as a “textbook” for bible school. A few years ago, I had also been attending bible school for a short while and heard the lecturer speak about this book, but I didn’t stay very long since I felt that the course was too subjective – especially the introductory apologetics. Apologetics, in my view, is the part of Christianity that must be utterly objective since it concerns matters of history, science, and philosophy. This wasn’t an environment that I wanted to be trained in, so I rather left, leaving it to my own curiosity to find out what I felt that I needed to know.
The book that I was referring to in the previous paragraph is “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. I’ve heard that Strobel had been an atheist, but converted to Christianity after he made a historical investigation of Jesus because his wife had become a Christian. Knowing only this little information, I tried to get a hold of the book via my friends that might have it.
After a while I got “The Case for the Real Jesus” (also by Strobel) from a long-time friend. It’s not the exact same book as the one that I mentioned now, but it still sets out to discover whether the historical case for Jesus really is valid – and more specifically which view of Jesus is the right one since there are so many versions of Him going around.
As I started my read, I was immediately captivated by what I saw – scholars who are making educated, clear, and well-stated arguments as to whom Jesus really is. Sometimes I would just start laughing out loud as these guys hit the nail dead-center – easily refuting any claim as to how Jesus is depicted in many of the the gospels that are not in the New Testament (Gospels of Peter, Mary, Judas, etc.). Going from there and finding out about people like Michael Licona and Ravi Zacharias, I soon noticed that the case for Jesus (and related subjects like God, morality, and the purpose of human existence) is very strong.
But why are there still so many people that don’t belive that Jesus/God is real? The conclusion that I came to is this analogy: If I’m ever going to take a flight from Heathrow Airport (London) to Moscow, I won’t ever be able to see the real Statue of Liberty from a cabin window. From this perspective, I shouldn’t ever expect to see Lady Liberty simply because it’s not at the place where I’m going to be looking. If I would want to see it, I should rather take the flight to New York City, because that’s where it is. Or if I state it differently: I won’t go to my university’s geology department if I want to speak to a professor about human emotions, but rather to the psychology department.
There is a set place to find something if you’re looking for it. Of course I’m not going to discover something about God when reading a book on pre-WWI European politics. Neither will I learn something about Australia’s colonial history by reading about Brazilian football – that’s because they don’t have relevant similarity. If you want to find something, take it from someone that has devoted time studying that, else it’s not reasonable to make conflicting conclusions on your own.
So the question then again: “was my skepticism futile?” I don’t think so. I wanted to find out about something, heard the case made by people educated in the relevant subject, and adopted a view that the experts agree on. Skepticism, after all, is merely to question – and I found an answer.
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