As a veteran believer, I’m going to give you my take on apologetics through my own personal experience. The story starts when I was young, real young. I accepted Jesus as a child. To the best of my memory, I was probably about three years old. I was presented with the gospel message in my before-bed Bible story time with my parents, I believed, and I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. Obviously, I had not gone through levels of evidence or thoroughly weighed out the arguments of the leading apologists of the day. I accepted the testimony of someone I trusted. It was definitely a case of childlike faith (Matt 18:2-4).
However, that childlike faith was challenged along the way as I encountered the history of life as it was presented in my science classes. As a sciency kind of kid, I was forced to walk solely by faith for several years. I didn’t have answers to the assertions of the atheistic scientific community. I remember the confidence and strength I felt as I learned the evidence and counter-arguments to the nagging claims that had left me speechless in the past. I knew the tables had been turned in my favor and I would not be left speechless again. Perhaps the best part was that I felt like my faith had been vindicated and therefore strengthened for the future, knowing that even though it may not look like it for a time, God always turns out to be right in the end!
When considering apologetics, one thing that needs to be established is that faith does not need evidence. We know this because by definition,”… faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Apologetics is an attempt to make the conviction seen. We take the evidence, analyze it, put it into a logical argument and connect all the dots. In this sense, are we weakening faith with our work? I believe in some instances, this may be the case. We all need to keep this in mind when presenting our arguments. Not everyone needs this evidence because they have the gift of faith (1 Cor 12:9). Even though they have not seen (the evidence and arguments), they believe. These people have a special blessing (Jn 20:29) and we should not discount their lack of interest or look at them as ignorant Christians. In reality, these people are probably way ahead of us. They are walking by faith while we are relying on sight.
In most cases, though, I believe apologetic arguments strengthen faith. For those who have questions, we are providing the boost to faith necessary to keep them spiritually alive. Even Jesus provided this boost to Thomas when his faith was failing. He did this by giving him more evidence to the resurrection (A lot more!). This idea is further strengthened by scripture in Ephesians 4:7-16 which talks about “equipping of the saints for the work of service” so that “we are no longer… tossed here and there by…deceitful scheming”. If you have a bent toward apologetics, it could very well be a gift from Jesus (vv. 7-8), and it is to be used “in love” (v.15), “for the equipping of the saints”(v.12) so they “are no longer… tossed… by waves”(v.14). Through this work, we are “building up the body of Christ” (v.12) and giving that boost to faith keeping our brothers and sisters from spiritual peril. The apologist supports the work of the evangelist and also equips the pastor and the encourager who strengthen those who are falling into doubt.
Apologetic arguments are also used to carry out the instruction in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. They are used for “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God”. The world throws these “speculations” and “lofty things” (v.5) at Christians on a regular basis. They are the challenges to our “knowledge of God” (v.5) which we receive from scripture. If they take root, they give rise to doubts, which can pull the believer down and prevent the unbeliever from coming to faith. When we use apologetic arguments we are engaging in spiritual warfare by “destroying speculations” and taking thoughts “captive”. These arguments can be the “weapons of our warfare” and “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses”. I believe “divinely powerful” refers to how the Holy Spirit uses the truth of the arguments to bring powerful conviction to people (Jn 16:13). It is exciting to think about the Holy Spirit working through you to destroy the devil’s “fortress” in someone’s life so that they can move on with their relationship with the Lord in peace.
As I said earlier, I remember not having a defense against the assertions of the atheistic scientific community. When we do not have an answer, sometimes people want to make us look stupid, but in those moments, we are being “persecuted” for our faith and have a reward in heaven (Matt 5:10-12). If you have ever felt that way, think about the reward and be careful how you act when the shoe is on the other foot and your antagonist doesn’t have an answer. As you learn more and more apologetic arguments, the shoe will be on the other foot most of the time. Your graciousness in these situations will do more than all the arguments in world in getting them to come to faith.
Many times I have been strengthened by the work of apologists. I am thankful for those who have labored to bring the truth to me. Let me now encourage you to continue on your mission destroying the enemy’s fortresses and equipping the saints so that the body of Christ will be built up with the truth you have been given.
What Jesus says…
Jesus’ mission was to bring people back to God. So naturally He would have the answer, and most importantly be the answer on how to be forgiven and be returned to a right relationship with God.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” - John 3:16-18
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” - John 11:25-26
“Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come. This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’? But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” – John 8:21-24
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:37-38
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” – John 6:38-40
What the Disciples echoed…
After Jesus, the apostles took the commands and teachings of Jesus and obeyed His command to spread the good news. They echo the same things Jesus spoke of in receiving Him and forgiveness from God.
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
“They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” – Acts 16:31
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” - John 20:31
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” - 1 John 5:13
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” – John 1:12
What are works for then?
Some confusion has then entered on whether we still must do good deeds/works for salvation or to keep it, or whether it is unnecessary now since salvation. Scripture gives a resounding neither. First, let’s look at what Scripture says about salvation by works:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9
""I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."" - Galatians 2:21
"So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." - Romans 9:16
"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." - Romans 11:6
"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."" - Romans 4:1-7
"Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." - Galatians 2:16
Scripture is clear here, that a man cannot be saved by his own merits and works. For if he could, then why would Jesus have to come to die in the first place? Man should just work harder. Scripture is adamant that man’s works are worth nothing to God in light of man’s sin:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." - Isaiah 64:6
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
“Because they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” – Romans 10:3
“Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.” – Romans 4:4-5
“Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” – Acts 13:39
Scripture therefore closes any route to salvation by the Law or works. So therefore, we do not do works to keep our salvation because it couldn’t even attain it; and to suggest doing works to keep our salvation attempts to claim that we can lose it. Scripture says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” –
2 Corinthians 15:7
Here Scripture calls those who are saved entirely new. Our old self is gone and a new creation in Christ is now here. It therefore seems impossible being entirely new and in Christ to return to our old self which is no more.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1
Here we are formally declared justified once saved. This justification is to be completely righteous through Christ. It says we have peace with God. For God to revoke salvation is for God to go back on His Word and rescind what He formerly declared righteous.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16
The most recognizable verse in the Bible also shares with us the eternity of one’s salvation. God tells us that whoever believes in Christ will have eternal life; and to claim God would take that promise away is to make God a liar.
“You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” – Ephesians 1:13-14
When a person becomes saved, he is marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee and a promise of their inheritance of salvation and life with God; once again, to claim God would revoke such a promise is to claim God lies and breaks His promises.
“for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.” – Romans 11:29
Here it is made clearer. Promises, gifts, and even life given by God cannot and will not be taken back.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Once we are saved, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:28
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” - John 6:39
Those whom God has will not be taken from His very grasp, for they are His.
So now that Scripture has established that no one will come to God through his own works, and that one who is saved cannot lose their salvation, what does Scripture say works are done for in terms of the Christian?
“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” – Romans 7:4
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” - 1 Peter 2:24
“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:19-20
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” – James 2:14-26
Even here James says Abraham believed God, had faith in Him, and he was given righteousness only through faith. Here James is asking people who say they have faith but nothing to show for it: “how can you prove your faith with nothing?” The works, as James says, proves our faith that already save us. This is why James says I will show you my faith by my deeds, not I will show you my work for my salvation from my deeds. The faith saves, the works stem from an already saving faith.
Jesus said you will know them by their fruits: "15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." - Matthew 7:15-20
Here Jesus explains this concept further for us. An already evil tree, unsaved, will obviously bear evil fruit. A healthy tree, one who is already saved, will obviously bear good fruit and show that they are good trees already. Jesus then says you will be able to recognize true believers by their fruits/works. You can recognize if they are really saved from genuine faith. This is what James draws on here. He stems from Jesus's statements and explains that those who are saved will have works to couple their faith and prove it. The faith is already there or not, the works prove it.
In the end, our faith is what saves and justifies us and our works stem from that faith and prove it. They are entwined and inseparable, which is probably why some people mistakenly interchange works for faith in salvation. Jesus did the works and lived a righteous life. He gives His righteousness to us and declares us righteous. We are then set free from the bondage of sin through our faith and become servants to God, loving His Word and hating sin. This love for Him will cause a natural gravitation towards obeying His commands, though not perfect still in the body of corruption, but being continually sanctified. That natural desire to obey Him is where our works flow from our already saving faith.
“I believe in Christianity like I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” - C.S. Lewis
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him. We must not use the Bible as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts can be taken for use as weapons.” – C.S. Lewis
In the second quotation above, C.S. Lewis highlights the value of examining the person of Christ to come to a stronger understanding of Christianity. Accordingly, the intention of this article is to consider the person of Jesus Christ through messages he shared with us in the Bible.
Prince of Peace
Isaiah (9:6) predicted Jesus’ arrival when he said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the father – and I lay down my life for my sheep…The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again.” (John 10:14-18).
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27)
“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:32-34).
Jesus healed many, including a man with leprosy (John 5:12-16), a paralyzed man (John 5:17-26), a blind man (John 9:1-12), a dead man Lazarus (John 11:38-44), a demon possessed boy (Luke 9:37-43), a dead girl and a sick woman (Luke 8:40-56), a crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17).
The Obedient Son
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed. ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44).
The Politically Incorrect Who Stood Up For What He Believed
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11; Matthew 21:12-14).
The Wise Strategist
“Jesus entered the temple courts, and while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’ Jesus replied, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these this. John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?’
They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say ‘Of human origin’- we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’
So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’ Then he said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’” (Matthew 21:23-27).
The Friend in Low Places
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13-14).
The Friend of the Children
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matthew 19:14).
The Son of Man
“But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed died in your sins…When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 8:23-29).
“’But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.’” (Matthew 26:64).
Jesus exemplified the perfect teacher and servant leader, so by following his example, we can take up our own crosses and become more like him. He is the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, and the Savior of the World.
Thank you for your time.
An assumption is made to take some independent statistics as dependent. If you flip five coins, each flip is independent from each other. The flip before the next flip does not affect the statistics of the next flip. Each coin flip is always 50/50 chance. Same thing with rolling dice. Each roll of the dice is a 1/6 chance. Each flip’s chance cannot be determined by flips before it and every roll’s chance cannot be determined by rolls before it. Unfortunately, there are not many arguments that would commit this fallacy. People have accused the fine-tuning argument of this fallacy, but that will be dwelt with in the article “Dealing with the Top Ten Objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument.” However, this fallacy can be misused in certain situations. You could make predictions of odds or calculations based on final results of all flips and rolls.
Example #1: There have been 9 coin flips, two heads and seven tails. It’s most likely that the next flip will not be heads. Therefore, the next flip will most likely be tails.
This commits the gamblers fallacy because it’s prediction is based on passed results of the last coin flips. Of course, common sense would say to assume it would be tails next, but there is no logical way to make that judgement. It’s based on being accustomed to seeing tail over heads in the previous flips. This commits the gambler’s fallacy.
Example #2: If I choose 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 1, and 7, then I will most likely win the lottery since these numbers have not been used.
This commits the gambler’s fallacy because they assume that specific numbers that have not been chosen will increase their chances of winning the lottery. There is no logical connection between any specific number and the likely hood of winning. However, the more lottery tickets you buy out of the whole will increase your likely hood of winning. There is only one ticket chosen for the first place prize, so the more tickets, the better chances you have winner the grand prize. The number you choose does not affect your likely hood of winning, so this commits the gambler’s fallacy.
Example #3: The number of planets show that it’s inevitable that we get a planet like earth. Therefore, it’s not designed for life.
The first problem with this argument is the fact that it assumes the universe is set up like a lottery, which is not the case. The universe could have been different and could have failed to exist as well. Physical necessity is not the most viable option for the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, if you want see why, then check out my Fine-Tuning Article here:
This would refute the lottery argument right off the bat, but there’s more. The number of planets will not affect the known conditions for life to exist on this planet. Especially, when you take the three types of galaxies within in the universe. Here’s an excerpt from my Fine-Tuning article that talks about these galaxies. “The three types of galaxies are elliptical, irregular, and spiral galaxies. Both elliptical and irregular galaxies cannot support life as we know. Elliptical galaxies lack heavy elements that are needed for life to exist. Irregular galaxies contain to many supernovas (Stars blowing up) for life to exist in them. Spiral galaxies are the only galaxies that can support life, but even then we have to exist in the right spot in the milky way to exist. Mainly due to black holes and radiation in spiral galaxies. Our solar system just happens to exist in the right spiral galaxy at the right time.”
When we have galaxies in which life cannot exist, then the odds go down since there’s a specific galaxy we have to be in. Of course, now you have to push the goal posts to how many galaxies there are and what are the odds specific galaxies existing. This would still commit the same gambler fallacy as well, but even if we accept the faulty premise given before, it’s still a non-sequitur. This is the case because you now have to worry about the number of galaxies, which leads you away from the original claims of planets. Spiral galaxies are the only galaxies that allow for the possibility of life, which is still not a guarantee like the lottery analogies.
For the sake of argument, we will accept that there are billions of planets that would exist in the same galaxy and ignore those conditions needed. Some will argue that each planet will add on to the odds of life existing, but that is not true. You could just have two planets and the probability would be 50/50 according to the logic of the argument. This commits the gambler fallacy because it assumes the number of things will affect the odds of the chances for a specific type of planet. This argument ignores the outside factors for a planet like Earth to exist. You need the specific type of galaxy, sun, other planets, atmosphere, water distribution, etc. To demonstrate my point, let’s replace planets with jumps. The odds of me jumping 1,000 feet in the air would be the equivalent to the odds of earth being here. Impossible without the right conditions. If I jumped a billions of times, then by the logic of the argument, I would have to jump a 1,000 feet during these billions of jumps. Obviously, there are specific factors that are needed in order for me to jump a 1,000 feet in the air like specific gravitational force and so on. This argument seems to ignore the fallacy that it commits and people still promote this argument against the planetary system.
The gambler’s fallacy is a fallacy that gambler’s typically commit in their gambling. Most philosophical arguments do not contain a gambler’s fallacy because it’s easy to avoid. The only arguments that seem to commit this fallacy are those that are not thought out to well. I bet that is the case, but perhaps that is the gamblers fallacy as well.
Epic Archaeology: http://epicarchaeology.org
Jesus mythicists can best be described as people who are “highly skeptical” if not completely doubtful that Jesus Christ ever existed. Of course, most of what we learn about the life and ministry of Jesus comes to us from the New Testament in the Four Synoptic Gospels. For example, Jesus mythicist, Bob Price (whom I’ve previously debated on the historicity of the Exodus), once wrote the following:
“It is quite likely, though certainly by no means definitively provable, that the central figure of the gospels is not based on any historical individual. Put simply, not only is the theological "Christ of faith" a synthetic construct of theologians, a symbolic "Uncle Sam" figure. But if you could travel through time, like Super boy, and you went back to First-Century Nazareth, you would not find a Jesus living there” .
Similarly, Jesus mythicist, Richard Carrier, in his book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why Might Have Reason to Doubt [Might, sic!], states that: “The Gospels generally afford us no evidence for discerning a historical Jesus.” And, that “Most of what Christians [i.e. “early Christians”] wrote were lies. We should approach everything they wrote with distrust.” Elsewhere Carrier noted that the NT book of Acts, “…reliability for demonstrating the historicity of Jesus is essentially non-existent” .
Ever since I’ve heard about Jesus mythycists, the question I’ve always wanted to ask them is: “What are you smoking?!” Furthermore, I frankly wonder why anyone takes them seriously. If history is at all knowable, with any degree of certainty, then the New Testament is one of THE most remarkable and reliable primary sources in the ancient world!
I think it’s interesting - that radical critics & skeptics of the New Testament read quite a bit of material in order to “debunk” it as a hoax or as mythology, but they curiously don’t read about the history of critics and skeptics of the past, whose own theories been debunked and disproven. Through the years, The New Testament has stood strong like a stone-clad lighthouse anchored to bedrock, while the waves, foam and torrents of the critics have crashed against it to no affect (John 10:35b).
What is History? How Can We Know It?
In the classical sense of the term, historiography is the science of writing history, where the scholars carefully analyze and vet primary sources. There are three primary sources for accurately reconstructing the past: (1) Eyewitnesses, (2) Historical Records (which includes manuscripts, MSS, and historical inscriptions), and (3) Archaeological Remains.
Historians and scholars today have broad and varied views of the relative value and proper usage of these three primary sources, and these stem primarily from philosophical principles rather than historical, or archaeological ones. For a further discussion of the philosophical dimensions to history and archaeology see my article, Summa Archaeologica.
EYEWITNESSES TO CHRIST & HIS RESURRECTION
Eyewitnesses to historical events are vital. Without them, it is difficult to reconstruct an accurate picture of what happened in the past. Eyewitnesses from ancient history (& even the recent past!) have been long dead, so they can’t be consulted or interviewed. What we do have, however, are the historical records, historical inscriptions, as well as archaeological remains.
The New Testament is a historical document of the finest caliber, written by eyewitnesses to the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. As the Apostle John writes:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life…. (1 John 1:1).
The Apostle Peter wrote;
We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16).
HISTORICAL RECORDS (MANUSCRIPTS & ANCIENT WRITERS)
So, as Richard Carrier states: “There is no evidence for a historical Jesus…” Really?!
The original manuscripts of the New Testament are called the autographa (or autographs). Most scholars are unanimous in the belief that the original NT autographs were written in the first century AD, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses of Jesus and His public ministry. The sheer number and quality of New Testament manuscripts (MSS) testifies to both the early source material and the accuracy of the central New Testament message.
New Testament Greek scholar, and Director of the Center of the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM), Dr. Daniel Wallace states:
"It would be safe to say that we have altogether about 20,000 handwritten manuscripts of the NT in various languages, including Greek....If someone were to destroy all of those manuscripts, we would not be left without a witness, because the church fathers wrote commentaries on the N.T. To date, more than one million quotations of the NT by the fathers have been recorded. ‘if all other sources for our knowledge of the New Testament were destroyed, [the patristic quotations would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament],’ wrote Metzger and Ehrman.” .
The above quote from Professor Wallace was from seven years ago. The number of New Testament Greek Manuscripts (MSS) as it stands today is around 5,800 (close to 6,000) Non-Greek NT Manuscripts (MSS) (Armenian, Latin, etc…) number to about 18,100, bringing the total amount of NT Manuscripts - 23,900 (MSS) .
In addition to the amazing number of manuscripts we have of the New Testament, and quotations from the Early Church Fathers, there are also contemporary non-Biblical accounts which confirm the existence of Jesus and the impact of Jesus on His followers, as well as the beliefs that the earliest Christians had concerning Him. Among those non-Biblical writers are the first century Jewish/Roman historian, Flavius Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, and Suetonius.
New Testament Historian Dr. Gary Habermas states that at least 10 truths can correlate about Jesus’ life between the New Testament and Josephus alone:
1. 1. Jesus was known as a wise and virtuous man
2. 2. Jesus had many disciples both Jews and Gentiles
3. 3. Pilate condemned Jesus to die
4. 4. He was executed by crucifixion
5. 5. His disciples reported that He rose from the dead
6. 6. He appeared to them the 3rd day after His crucifixion
7. 7. His disciples continued to proclaim His teaching
8. 8. He was perhaps predicted by the OT prophets
9. 9. His brother’s name was James
10. 10. He was called “Messiah” by some 
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! To date every single Roman procurator, governor, and official mentioned in the New Testament has been discovered either historically or archaeologically, some by accident by scholars not seeking to “prove the Bible!” In addition, every major NT town or village is known archaeologically! There are 31 historical figures mentioned in the New Testament that we have historical evidence for.
If Jesus didn’t exist, then neither did Julius Caesar, or Hannibal, Tiglath Pileser, or Cleopatra. If Jesus didn’t exist, then we have to be skeptical of ALL history!
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF JESUS
The third source for knowing ancient history is archaeological remains. Archaeology is a relatively new science, but ever since scholars have been scientifically excavating in Israel and Levant, the pages of the New Testament have been illuminated and confirmed as an amazingly reliable historical source for the life and times of Jesus!
Space here does not allow us to review in great depth all of the remarkable archaeological discoveries as they relate to the New Testament. Just a mere listing of what has been discovered concerning the life of Jesus is quite remarkable in itself!
According to the New Testament, Jesus’ public ministry spanned only about 3 years, yet within that short time span archaeology has illuminated and confirmed most of the people, places, and the culture in which He lived, as well as the impact of His life upon the people and geography of the region.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
• Herod the Great - Massive archaeological & historical evidence for Herod I exists. Herod figures largely in the birth narrative of Jesus, and many of his buildings and works are the backdrop on which many of the events recorded in the NT take place.
• Nazareth (First Century) - Early historical scholars doubted whether or not that Nazareth existed in the first century. In the Twentieth century, archaeologists have confirmed that Nazareth was indeed in existence and populated by Jews in the First Century AD, according to Roman records.
• Bethlehem - The very likely ancient cave (or crèche) where Jesus was born has been well preserved in Bethlehem under the current structure (predicted by the OT prophet Micah in Micah 5:2). Even Muslims affirm that Bethlehem is the place where Jesus was born.
EARLY CHILDHOOD/MAHNOOD OF JESUS
• Sepphoris- Greco-Roman city very near Nazareth where Jesus was reared by Mary & Joseph. It is highly likely that Jesus may have worked here as a stone mason (carpenter) with his adoptive father, Joseph. It was the regional capital of the Galilee region in Christ’s day.
MINISTRY OF JESUS
• Stone Quarry in Cana of Galilee - The very likely location of the construction of the stone water jars used by Jesus when He turned the water into wine has recently been discovered by archaeologists (Jn. 2:1-11) in Israel.
• First Century Town of Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee - The first century Roman town of Tiberius named after the Roman emperor is well known to archaeologists
• Small Village of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee - Capernaum has often been called the “City of Jesus” because He spent much time there in His Galilee ministry. Franciscan archaeologists have excavated much of the town whose levels reach down into the first century during the Roman occupation of Judea.
• The Jewish Synagogue at Capernaum - Jesus taught on several occasions in the Jewish synagogue at Capernaum (cf. Jn. 6:25-59). The foundations of the same synagogue lie directly beneath a 4th Century synagogue built over the exact spot.
• Peter’s House - The foundations of an octagonal first century stone house have been excavated by Franciscan archaeologists who’ve have identified the site as the likely dwelling place of Simon Peter, the Apostle of Jesus, whose home was used as an early Christian meeting place.
• Tabgha (Location of Jesus Miracle of Feeding the Five Thousand) - Geographical, historical and archaeological evidence point to this location as the site where Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand - It is also called Heptapegon - or “seven springs.”
• Shechem (Jacob’s Well) - location where Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4) is has been positively identified in the West Bank near the archaeological site of Tell Balata - Ancient city of Shechem has also been positively identified and is well known archaeologically
• Pool of Siloam (Jerusalem) - location where Jesus healed the man born blind (Jn. 9) has recently been discovered in Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologist Eli Shukron.
• Destruction of Jerusalem (Arch of Titus/Vespasian in Rome) - In Matthew 24 Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. In AD 70, it happened exactly as He predicted. The Romans commemorated the event on the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum.
• Stones Along the Southern Wall - Stones from the First Century Temple platform razed by the Romans, have been uncovered along the base of the SE wall, confirming Jesus prediction in Matthew 24.
• Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Converging lines of formidable historical and archaeological evidence point to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
THE TRIAL AND CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS
• Pontius Pilate Inscription - Discovered in 1961, Italian archaeologists working at Caesarea uncovered an inscription containing the name of Pontius Pilate naming him as the Roman prefect of Judea exactly as he is mentioned in the New Testament Gospels.
• The Caiaphas Ossuary - In 1990 in Jerusalem, an elaborately carved limestone ossuary containing the name “Joseph ben Caiaphas” was discovered. The majority of Near Eastern archaeologists hold that it is the ossuary of the High Priest who presided over the trial of Christ (Mt. 26:57-75)
• Evidence of 1st Century Roman Crucifixion in Jerusalem - In the 1970’s archaeologists in Jerusalem recovered the remains of a foot bone containing nail used by the Romans for crucifixion. The ossuary dated to the first century and affirms that crucifixion was practiced by the Romans during the late Second Temple Period.
• The Nazareth Inscription - A remarkable non-unprovenanced artifact was recovered in Nazareth inscribed in Greek with an edict from Caesar Augustus ordering capital punishment for anyone caught robbing or destroying tombs. The item was a marble tablet in which the epigraphy (style of writing) dates it to the first half of the First Century. Although the inscription does not mention Jesus by name, it is understood by some to indicate that the decree was written in response to the widespread belief that Jesus had risen from the dead, and to prevent other “so-called” rumors from spreading (a lie that was spread by the Pharisees - see Matt. 28:11-15).
Jesus Mythicism: Not Even False
Some years ago, I read an article written by (ID) Intelligent Design theorist and scholar William A. Dembski in which he quoted the late physicist, Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was commenting on an opposing scholar’s viewpoint on some matter a stated that the view “…was not even false.” There are categories of true and false for a respective position, but when something is “…not even false,” then it is so bad that it doesn’t even measure up to being “false.”
It is my view as an archaeologist, that the view that Jesus never existed, held by many Jesus mythcists today, is “…not even false.” The most radical of skeptical biblical scholars do not hold to this view. In terms of scholarly credibility, Jesus mythicism is the “flat-earth theory” of historical Jesus studies.
This is not just my opinion. Allow me to quote one of the most radical Biblical scholars of this century: Thomas Thompson of the University of Copenhagen. Thompson is known as a “Biblical Minimalist” - a position which combines the postmodern philosophy of Jacques Derrida with Martin Heidegger - hardly friendly to the historical trustworthiness of the Bible!
Thompson referring to one of Robert Price’s books on the historicity of the Bible states the following:
“In international scholarship today, I don’t see that your readings, oriented towards problems that are current in scholarship (and they are not accompanied with a discussion of either method or goals — other than the story’s lack of historicity), would arouse much interest. It is a very passive essay and I don’t really understand what you want to do with it ”
On any given Sunday millions of Christians around the world will carry their copy of the New Testament to church with them, having little or no idea of just how remarkable a record they hold in their hands, in terms of manuscript evidence, archaeology, and historical geography. In its pages the New Testament records, the cornerstone fact of Christianity: the life, death, burial and physical/bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both the facts of history and archaeology affirm that the record has been well preserved.
Christians can rest assured that their faith is firmly planted in the facts of history and truth.
.Robert-Price,-Christ-is-a-Fiction,-1997:(https://infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/price-rankin/price1.html)accessed, May 29, 2018
. Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt (Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2014), pp. 506, 222, & 385 respectively (emphasis mine).
. Daniel B. Wallace Ed., Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), pg. 27-8
. There are two scholarly organizations that vet and record the most up to date New Testament Greek manuscripts: The Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung, INTF) located in Münster, Germany. The other is The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts CSNTM, located in Dallas, TX.
 see, Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (College Press Publishing Company, 1996).
 Thomas Thompson, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1993-2009)