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Author Topic: Historical Jesus and his "Miracles"  (Read 6597 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 30, 2010, 11:42:35 PM »

There exists little in the way of historical documentation for Jesus' life beyond the Biblical Gospel, and it is likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses. This lack of evidence makes it very difficult to discern actual historical facts behind the Christian stories that describe him.

A historical Jesus to be a red herring and argue that, while a person named Jesus may or may not have existed, there is clearly no reason to believe that he had special powers, was the son of God, or performed miracles. Even if it could be firmly established that Jesus, the man, existed, this would not be evidence for the extraordinary claims that make up the foundation of the Christian religion.

Jesus believed the world would end within his lifetime, and is based on numerous passages within the Gospels, such as Mark 13 , where Jesus at least seems to express such a view. It makes sense within the context of the general apocalyptic fervor of the time, as well as the beliefs of John the baptist and early Christians such as Paul and the author of the book of Revelation. There is almost no evidence for the miracles of Jesus outside the hearsay reports of the Gospels. For this reason, there is no basis for accepting that he worked actual miracles. On the other hand, faith healings and exorcisms happen today, though investigations show there is no reason to regard them as actual supernatural events. This suggests a possibility that Jesus was a fraudulent or self-deceived wonder worker and there were witnesses who really believed they had seen him work miracles.

Unlike Jesus' other miracles, Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians. Unlike the Gospels, I Corinthians probably was written by its traditionally assigned author. However, the reference provides no better evidence for the resurrection than the evidence for angelical authentication of the Book of the Mormon. It is also not the sort of evidence that many psychical researchers would demand for the existence of ghosts or telepathy.

Many Christian apologists have claimed that the high quality of Jesus' moral teachings is undisputed and is evidence of his divinity. However, Jesus' status as a moral teacher has been disputed on many occasions.

In Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell argued that while many of Jesus' teachings were good, the Gospels clearly portray him as believing in eternal punishment, and this is unbecoming of a truly humane person.

Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued thatt the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."

In chapter 7 of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins praised Jesus because he "was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing... Since a principle thesis of this chapter is that we do not, and should not, derive our morals from scripture, Jesus has to be honoured as a model for that very thesis." However, Dawkins criticizes New Testament ethics on the issues of original sin and Jesus' demand that people must abandon their families to follow him.

It should be noted that some secularists hold very positive views of Jesus' ethics. For example, there is a website called Atheists for Jesus whose stated mission is "to provide a method of communication between religious and nonreligious people who believe in the message of love and kindness put forth by Jesus" and which argues that Jesus' actual teachings were at odds with the stance of modern Christian fundamentalists.

According to accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was either born in the year 6 CE (during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea; during the reign of Quirinius) Luke 2:2  or in the period 37-4 BCE (during the reign of Herod the Great) Matthew 2:1 . Traditionally on December 25th, although the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate Christmas for the reason that the gospels suggest that sheep were still out in the fields suggesting that it wasn't the start of winter (among other reasons). So, at best there are 9 years (4BCE - 6CE, no year 0) where neither Gospel allows Jesus to be born and the rest of history where at the least one Gospel contradicts the date.

Anyone to counter this?
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2010, 11:47:25 PM »

The Tomb was empty. Nothing else matters.
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2010, 11:55:06 PM »

Alternatively, from the Talmud: "Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b)
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 12:12:13 AM »


Anyone to counter this?

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I told you before on the other thread, no one is going to be able to demonstrate any of this to you.  God is not an intellectual concept or construct, and what Dawkins and Russell and Hitchens (who I've read all their work, and truly Augustine or John Chrysostom actually offer more substantial,  intelligent and sophisticated arguments for atheism setting up their own rebuttals than any of these sensationalist, bitter, muckrakers!  Meh..

I was not impressed with those guys, there was not substantial science, not mathematics, no superior logicians or rhetorics, nothing anywhere near as impressive as the Latin Quarters of England and France outside the great cathedrals in the 12th and 13th centuries.  These guys are actually quite boring, I'd rather read Stephen Hawkings or Richard Feynman or Albert Einstein.  

We can not prove God to you, we can not prove the divinity of Jesus Christ.  It is a revelation from God, and the only way to find it is to sincerely pray in your heart to the Father, our God, to give you the Spirit of revelation and Grace to unveil His Godhead to you..  

Sorry, you will not find it with calculus, no matter how sincere Sir Isaac Newton's gamatria was..
You have to learn to directly experience God, you cannot just think about it, He is not a figment of our collective imagination.  If you'd like to get to know me, you must actually ask me, directly.  So to is God in our midst, but too many of us (Christians included and especially) do not take the opportunities to connect directly with God on a spiritual level rather than feeble intellectual attempts.
I explained it a bit differently here, let me quote it.

Quote
I had a meditation today at Liturgy for the Virgin Mary monthly holiday.  I was talking before about how God is like gravity, it is universal, fundamental and yet subtle.  God gives us the free-will, but like gravity, or like the programmer of a video game, we have absolute free will to make any decision we'd like, but yet are absolutely limited by the parameters of gravity or the programming.  God gives us the free-will to make decisions, and He just might not necessarily know what decisions we will make, but since He is the parameters themselves, He knows every single possible outcome, because He designed them all.  Thus God and free-will are perfectly harmonious, God gives us the freedom to make our own decisions, but entirely limits the possibilities of these decisions by the parameters of reality and then knows every possible outcome.  Just as you can freely move your hand anywhere you'd like in time and space, but then again gravity and the other 25 fundamental cosmological forces will actually determine every possible choice of movement.

Also like gravity and these forces, God operates so smoothly in our lives that we rarely even notice until we learn what to look for.  You do not necessarily feel or consciously think about gravity, and yet it is always there operating in our midst.  Only when you exercise, or practice a sport with running or jumping or lifting heavy things, do you feel the presence of gravity very consciously and learn from experience how to operate with an through it.  Orthodox worship are the spiritual sports and exercises which make you take notice of the perception of God directly, just as learning to play a sport teaches you to work with gravity.  The Liturgy is the most powerful force in the Universe, and yet a common person might see the Blood and Body and might think nothing of it but a glass of wine and some bread.  But we who practice the spiritual exercise of prayer, and move the spiritual weightlifting of worship, feel the very presence of the Eternal Godhead when we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ Flesh and Blood on the altar.  Today standing before the Real Presence, my heart felt the highest perfections of God like Saint Theresa, and yet there was nothing necessarily out of the ordinary occurring.  Only from the revelation of God did I feel this, and only because through His Grace, I have found the spiritual exercise which enhances the perception.

When we evangelize to outsiders who are not of the Orthodox persuasion, we must always remember that its not necessarily obvious to them, they do not feel the strength or the pull of the Divine Mysteries yet, just as a person inexperienced will not necessarily start running 4:30 minute miles, or hit 400 yard home-runs, or lift 200 lbs on the weight bar.  Only after spiritual practice of prayer, and strength training of worship in the Liturgy, does God begin to reveal the spiritual strength and adeptness to begin to understand and experience the fullness of His presence.

You have to give God an honest chance sometimes, you just might be surprised Smiley
stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 12:50:33 AM »

Alternatively, from the Talmud: "Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b)
of course, we know why. Mat. 27:51.


Citing Dakwins et alia as his authorities here, and citing fundamentalist preachers as his authorities elsewhere, our little seeker seems quite confused.  If the OP could make a coherent argument, rather than throwing mud and hoping something sticks, I might be tempted to answer.
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 01:05:43 AM »

There exists little in the way of historical documentation for Jesus' life beyond the Biblical Gospel, and it is likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses. This lack of evidence makes it very difficult to discern actual historical facts behind the Christian stories that describe him.

A historical Jesus to be a red herring and argue that, while a person named Jesus may or may not have existed, there is clearly no reason to believe that he had special powers, was the son of God, or performed miracles. Even if it could be firmly established that Jesus, the man, existed, this would not be evidence for the extraordinary claims that make up the foundation of the Christian religion.

Jesus believed the world would end within his lifetime, and is based on numerous passages within the Gospels, such as Mark 13 , where Jesus at least seems to express such a view. It makes sense within the context of the general apocalyptic fervor of the time, as well as the beliefs of John the baptist and early Christians such as Paul and the author of the book of Revelation. There is almost no evidence for the miracles of Jesus outside the hearsay reports of the Gospels. For this reason, there is no basis for accepting that he worked actual miracles. On the other hand, faith healings and exorcisms happen today, though investigations show there is no reason to regard them as actual supernatural events. This suggests a possibility that Jesus was a fraudulent or self-deceived wonder worker and there were witnesses who really believed they had seen him work miracles.

Unlike Jesus' other miracles, Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians. Unlike the Gospels, I Corinthians probably was written by its traditionally assigned author. However, the reference provides no better evidence for the resurrection than the evidence for angelical authentication of the Book of the Mormon. It is also not the sort of evidence that many psychical researchers would demand for the existence of ghosts or telepathy.

Many Christian apologists have claimed that the high quality of Jesus' moral teachings is undisputed and is evidence of his divinity. However, Jesus' status as a moral teacher has been disputed on many occasions.

In Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell argued that while many of Jesus' teachings were good, the Gospels clearly portray him as believing in eternal punishment, and this is unbecoming of a truly humane person.

Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued thatt the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."

In chapter 7 of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins praised Jesus because he "was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing... Since a principle thesis of this chapter is that we do not, and should not, derive our morals from scripture, Jesus has to be honoured as a model for that very thesis." However, Dawkins criticizes New Testament ethics on the issues of original sin and Jesus' demand that people must abandon their families to follow him.

It should be noted that some secularists hold very positive views of Jesus' ethics. For example, there is a website called Atheists for Jesus whose stated mission is "to provide a method of communication between religious and nonreligious people who believe in the message of love and kindness put forth by Jesus" and which argues that Jesus' actual teachings were at odds with the stance of modern Christian fundamentalists.

According to accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was either born in the year 6 CE (during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea; during the reign of Quirinius) Luke 2:2  or in the period 37-4 BCE (during the reign of Herod the Great) Matthew 2:1 . Traditionally on December 25th, although the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate Christmas for the reason that the gospels suggest that sheep were still out in the fields suggesting that it wasn't the start of winter (among other reasons). So, at best there are 9 years (4BCE - 6CE, no year 0) where neither Gospel allows Jesus to be born and the rest of history where at the least one Gospel contradicts the date.

Anyone to counter this?

You're rather long post brings up questions that can be summed up as this: 1) Is there a God?  2) Is that God good?  3) Can a good God involve Himself directly in His creation?  and 4) If God is good and can work miracles, then was Jesus the Son of God and God Incarnate?

By calling the historical veracity of the Gospel account into question, you are questioning the divinity of Jesus.  In answering the question of Jesus' divinity we must take the four points I listed above into order.

Is there a God?  As you are asking on a Christian forum (an Orthodox Christian forum at that) the consensus around here is going to be yes (aside from a few dissenters).  Now, as Orthodox Christians we don't really waste too much time coming up with proofs of God's existence.  For us, God is more known in His unknowableness than what we can prove.  But let us assume (in order to skip ahead to the actual questions you have asked) that the answer is "yes".

Is that God "good"?  It is only fairly recently that this question has become such a hot topic.  Bertrand Russell and those who followed after him have an old fashioned humanism that assumes divine punishment is somehow divine injustice (as opposed to Nitchze who would argue that God gives us a "slave" morality to follow while the Superman invents his own "master" morality, and that the problem with Jesus was that He embodied the "slave" morality through His teachings and sacrifice).  Now, I have a hard time believing that anyone could question that some people do indeed deserve divine punishment after the horrors of the 20th century (a more inhumane age could never before have been conceived), but Richard Dawkins is on the best seller list, so there you go.

Regardless, it seems to me that the question "Is God good" really asks the question "Is there Good?"  Going outside of Christian philosophy, we are told in the Tao that to deem is to allow for the opposite.  Once one deems something "dry" that creates the possibility for there to be something else that is "wet".  Once one names something "good" that allows for the opposite "bad".  Without a God to look at Creation and say "this is Good" there is no reason to look at something counter to that Creation and say "this is bad".  Since all the universally held moral principles deem some form of negation to be "bad" (murder, theft, destruction of the environment, etc) there must be some outside factor deeming existence to be "Good" or else we live in a total moral vacuum that leads to self-destruction and suicide.

Now for the third point: Can a Good God interact with His creation?  Or as it is often put: "Why would an infinite God care about some sub-atomic person on an insignificant speck in one tiny corner of an immense universe?"  But within the very beginning of the question lies the answer: "Infinite God".  The human mind boggles at infinity, is terrified by vastness, feels dwarfed and insecure at the sight of even a finite yet uncountable number of stars.  But infinity suggests not the disinterested giant that would be man looking into a microscope but something that can fill to overflowing every single quark and photon in Creation.  It is the very infinity of God that would allow Him to care.

Now, let us look at the situation as it exists with Man, would a Good God interact with Man?  Would a parent be good and caring if he allowed his children to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences?  Would a good parent allow his child to stick a finger in a light socket or would he intervene?  If the child, through sheer stubborness, still managed to stick his finger in the socket, would the parent just let the child lie there, or provide medical aid?  

A Good God not only can work miracles, a Good God must work miracles to be good.

Which brings us to the meat of your question: The Gospel account, and is Jesus Christ the Son of God and God?  Now, you bring up questions as to whether or not the Gospels were based on eye-witness accounts.  The idea that the Gospels were written later than the lives of the disciples is horrendously out of date, yet very tenacious amongst the non-Christian circles.  All evidence shows that the Gospel of St Mark was written no later than AD 40, the Gospels of Sts Luke and Matthew no later than AD 60 (and current theories state that there must be some "Sayings Gospel" or "Q" document which predates these three.  I personally don't believe it exists as such, but that the common source for those three Gospels is most likely the notes of the many followers we know Jesus had) and the Gospel of John was almost certainly written by St John himself.  As for the authorship of St Luke, the writer of St Luke is the same as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles (hence the date of AD 60 as the very latest for the writing of the Lucan Gospel.  The Acts of the Apostles neglects to mention the martyrdom of St Paul, something that surely would have been included had it been written after that event).

Now, what else do we know of the Apostles?  They were all Jews, and as such all staunch monotheists.  Despite several proclamations on their part prior to the Resurrection to the effect that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they really did not seem able to grasp that He was in actuality God.  The miracles Jesus performed seem quite extraordinary in our materialistic times, but in the context of Jewish tradition there was nothing Christ did in His earthly ministry that was not accomplished earlier by the prophets (with the exception of the announcement at His baptism and the Transfiguration).

Now it is interesting you mention St Paul, because here we have the strongest evidence, not only of the Resurrection, but of Christ's divinity.  St Paul, before his conversion, was a Pharisee, opposed to Christianity and Christ, and basically the head of the Jewish Inquisition.  You liken St Paul's account to the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but there is not the slightest bit of correlation.  Joseph Smith was a con-man before he wrote the book of Mormon and his claims for the authorship of the book of Mormon fit all the qualifications of a con (much like scientology is exactly the type of religion you would expect a science fiction author to invent), while St Paul was a Jewish priest who left a high position, cushy job, retirement package, and 401k plan to be beaten and stoned and finally killed.  St Paul's conversion would be like Torquemada telling the King of Spain just where he could stick those red-hot pokers, Luther was right all along.

So basically, the reply to this final question is John of the North's:
The Tomb was empty. Nothing else matters.
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 01:12:54 AM »

St Paul: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

St Peter: For 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. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.


Unlike Joseph Smith's sole testimony, we have several hundred eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain by claiming to have seen these things. At the time of the writing, most were still living. You could have gone and asked any of them to tell you. Eyewitness accounts are valid evidence, even if they're in the Bible. To treat them differently from any other historical document is special pleading, and a fallacy of logic.
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2010, 01:19:03 AM »

Looking up who in the hell Richard Carrier was, I ran across this:
Quote
Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real
NEW YORK  —  A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism (search) for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew (search) has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England....

...The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.

The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.

This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Books.

Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."

Last week, Richard Carrier, a writer and Columbia University graduate student, posted new material based on correspondence with Flew on the atheistic www.infidels.org Web page. Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.

Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you hear people talk about atheists, Flew always comes up," Carrier said. Still, when it comes to Flew's reversal, "apart from curiosity, I don't think it's like a big deal."
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,141061,00.html

Carrier went on to argue that Flew was just senile from that time on and continues to do so even after Flew's death this year.
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 01:30:35 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

God is a Mystery. He is an apparent contradiction, He is not supposed to make sense.  The Greeks seek widsom, and the Jews seek legalism, but we preach Jesus Christ crucified, a stumbling block all together to those others.  God is supposed to seem a paradox, so that you dive inwards to the realm of the intuitive heart, the comprehension of the inner soul, away from the weakness and insincerity of intellect and mind.

You can't approach God like a math equation, because you will get the "not-equal-to" sign in response, but I assure you, go back and check your work, because with an Infinite God the answers are infinite.

Jesus Christ is not supposed to make sense to anyone, even Christians.  It has always been beyond comprehension, from the 1st century through the 21st century, each and every generation has not been able to make any sense of the Nature of Christ.

Who could believe that the Infinite, Immortal, Self-Existing God could take on weak, fragile, utterly human flesh and blood.  How can God die a human death on the Cross, and enter the realms of Death and Hell? Who could comprehend the Resurrection? Forgiveness? Salvation? Turning the other cheek?  This is Jesus Christ, a paradox, a Mystery, he who as ears let him hear.

You can not squint intellectually to see Jesus Christ, you must experience Him.  That is the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, how could a Virgin give birth? The Jews tell us we misinterpret Isaiah, nonsense, we do not need Isaiah to believe in the Virgin birth, that fact becomes self-evident in the revelation of the Jesus Christ.

Moses saw a bush burning in the wilderness, and yet the wood there-in was not consumed by the fire, and he marveled. The Virgin, a simple, humble, human being was that Bush, and when the All-Consuming Fire of the Eternal Godhead dwelt in her womb, she did not vaporize like an atom bomb, and neither do we when we stand in His Real Presence.

Quote
Virgin, O Saint, O Bearer of
God, since thou didst bring
forth the KING, a
marvellous mystery dwelt
upon thee for our salvation.
We will hold our peace, for
we are unable to search
into the matter completely,
as the greatness thereof
requireth, and will descr
ibe
that Doer of good things,
through the exceedingly
great wonder of the
manifestation. So then

8. He was the Living Word of
the Father Who came down
on Mount SINAI, and gave
the Law to MOSES (Exodus
xix. 16 ff.) whilst the top of
the mountain was covered
with mist, and with smoke,
and with darkness, and
with storm, and with the
terrifying blasts of


trumpets. He admonished
those who were standing
there in fear, So then
Wedasse Mariam (Tewahedo hymnal to Our Lady)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2010, 04:21:00 AM »

And this OP was pulled directly from here:

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Jesus

It appears we have quite the ironchariots fan here. Please start posting your sources, sir. I'm sure Matt wouldn't appreciate you shamelessly passing his work off as your own.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 04:21:28 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2010, 04:26:10 AM »

And this OP was pulled directly from here:

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Jesus

It appears we have quite the ironchariots fan here. Please start posting your sources, sir. I'm sure Matt wouldn't appreciate you shamelessly passing his work off as your own.
Like we said, troll.
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 04:39:55 AM »

As before thought it was interesting to bring up
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 05:46:11 AM »

TryingtoConvert


I'm not a Orthodox Christian, rather a Deist. 

Here's a couple of books thats helping me on my journey.

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies - David Bentley Hart
The Story of Christianity - David Bentley Hart
Apostolic Fathers - J.B. Lightfoot
How We Got the Bible - Neil R. Lightfoot
Heretics for Armchair Theologians - Justo L. González & Catherine Gunsalus González
Christian Faith - L. Michael White
History of the Church - Eusebius of Caesarea
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew - Bart D. Ehrman
Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament - Bart D. Ehrman

Historical Methods.

Short Guide to Writing about History - Richard A. Markus
The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students by Jenny L. Presnell

Science.

Finding Darwin's God - Ken Miller
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief - Francis S. Collins
The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, And What's Behind It All - Bernard Haisch


One of my favorite books that got me thinking about the Christian faith. 

Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity -  Gregory A. Boyd


What Orthodox Christians Believe - http://www.protomartyr.org/believe.html
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 07:35:34 AM »

As before thought it was interesting to bring up

TryingtoConvert,

I would like to recommend two books related to the historical Jesus topic that helped me a lot in my own journey, since this was a big issue for me as well.

The first is "The Case for Christ" wherein an ex-atheist Chicago Tribune journalist tells the story of how his investigations on the historicity of the facts in the Gospel led him to become a believer. Basically he was astonished by the fact that his wife had converted. He knew she was an intelligent woman and couldn't even conceive that an intelligent person could be Christian. The fact that she was becoming even sharper and more intelligent just increased his curiosity that there could be more to it than he imagined. He then used his contacts to talk to some authorities in historical, archeological and other areas of study to enquire about the issue. The good thing is that the book touches all the basic questions related to the historicity of the Gospels and even provides bibliography to study each topic further.

The second book that helped me was "Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way". The topic here is more restricted, focusing on the historical value of the Gospels and the historiography surrounding them. Basically, it shows how the fringe historical studies of biased minor groups with vested interests is presented by the great media as the status quo on Jesus historical study whilst the real scientific consensus lies far closer to traditional expectations (that the Gospels were written within the life time of the Apostles, if not by them directly at least by first generation disciples registering their narratives).  

Another thing that you may be interested is the criticism of much of the mentality of the modern age that prevents us from even studying these topics in a unbiased way. To have a better perspective on that I would recommend the following books:

C.S. Lewis "Abolition of Man" and "Mere Christianity"
G.K. Chesterton "Orthodoxy"
René Girard "The Scapegoat"
Fr. Seraphim Rose "Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age"

Also, about dealing with post-modern mentality, I recommend the following online articles by and about the Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho:

What is Miracle?
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/texts/miracle_en.html

The Structure of the Revolutionary Mind
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/texts/structure_revolutionary_mind.html

How to read the Bible
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/080117jb_en.html

The Revolutionary Mentality
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/070813dc_en.html

More on the Revolutionary Mentality
http://www.theinteramerican.org/commentary/191-more-on-the-revolutionary-mentality.html

The Revolutionary Inversion in Action
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/080721dc_en.html

The Collective Imbecille
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/imbecile.htm

The Juvenile Imbecille
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/juvenileimbecile.htm

Truth and Pretext
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/pretext.htm

Apeirokalia
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/apeiroeng.htm

Metaphysics and the Fundamentals of Objectuality
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/objectuality.htm

The Problem of Truth and the Truth of the Problem
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/truth.htm

Descartes and the psychology of doubt
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/doubt.htm

Philosophy is not for the timid
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/philosophytimid.htm

Epicurus and Marx
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/epicurus.htm

The Naïveté of the Smart
http://www.philosophyseminar.com/texts/articles/121-the-naivete-of-the-smart.html
* Although not directly related, I recommend this article in consideration of the studies of the historical Jesus because it explains a lot of the mentality behind the "debunking" many "historical" studies claim to perform today.

Living Free of Guilt
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/990513jt_en.htm

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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2010, 03:18:53 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2010, 03:40:20 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

So what you are saying is that you are too lazy to read anything about what you are inquiring? Why should we waste our time finding helpful articles for you, if you refuse to read them? I have found that many, NOT all, atheists simply will not give equal, and fair time to Christian rebuttals. What do you want from us anyway? Are we here to watch you wax eloquent?
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2010, 03:41:18 PM »

At first I thought your screen name "TryingtoConvert" was about you. Now, I see, it is about trying to convert us.

With what real evidence can you prove the falsity of the Gospel accounts?

It seems like you are only arguing from authority. The problem is, Dawkins is not an authority. Neither is Bart Ehrman.
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2010, 03:46:14 PM »

I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

 Cheesy  Come now, fess up, you're pulling our legs... you're trying to play with us, aren't you?
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2010, 03:52:02 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


Tryingtoconvert,

quit your arrogance. If you can't bother to read a couple of books, there is no reason to respect your claim to have any interest in the subject, and much less your pose of intellectual argumentation. If you want to stand on the ground of reason, intelligence and culture, reading source material is the very least you have to do about any topic. In school, in university, in life. Put your time and effort where your mouth is.

By the way, I was not making a point. I was giving you a study schedule. You obviously lack even the premisses to comprehand an argument in this issue and has to acquire them, a fact that would not have to be addressed explicitily had you not tried to vest your ignorance with a gelatinous mask of intellectual superiority that I doubt that even you believe. Reading just one side of the argument is not "intelligence", is just your laziness showing and you know that. It will not be easy to be the kind of person you're pretending to be. Be humble and get to study.
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2010, 03:57:39 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


If you are not willing to invest the spiritual capital and time, then you will never learn to perceive God.  God is always there, but as I said, He operates so subtly that we do no notice, until we learn through spiritual practices to heighten our awareness.  You must sincerely give it a chance, but you mock and blah blah us all to death, you will burn more bridges than you will cross.  Its your life, we're just trying to share because, believe it or not, believers and faithful do not live perfect lives.  We are afraid, we are anxious, we have doubts, we have skepticism, we have misunderstandings, we lose hope, we lose faith, we learn to cling to God to make an understanding of an otherwise baffling and mysterious life where we seemingly have no real control.  

There is no evidence, period.  God is not a matter of evidence, it is a matter of faith. Faith is something, like any human art or skill, that must be continually cultivated.

We empathize with atheists and skeptics because in our hearts we are often in similar situations, where circumstances of life bring us into a challenge of our faith, and we have to wait patiently, sincerely, in the Spirit for revelation and guidance to understand what the purpose of the flow is.  Christians are not perfect, in fact, the aim of Orthodox Faith is penultimate humility, to say that an individual knows nothing with surety, and that God alone is in charge.  We learn to react and reflect the way God operates in our lives, but we are not always necessarily theologians, or priests, or so sure of ourselves.  We cling to God to make sense of an obviously hostile world we live in where it seems the deck is always stacked against us.  

Give it more of a sincere chance, after all you know what they say about sitting on the pot too long Wink

stay blessed,
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2010, 04:00:06 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

So what you are saying is that you are too lazy to read anything about what you are inquiring? Why should we waste our time finding helpful articles for you, if you refuse to read them? I have found that many, NOT all, atheists simply will not give equal, and fair time to Christian rebuttals. What do you want from us anyway? Are we here to watch you wax eloquent?
Evidently not, as I've seen no demonstration of elquence. For that matter, most of it, as ortho-cat has uncovered for us, isnt even his own words.
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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2010, 04:57:42 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


oooooo  Okay..Then time to move along sonny. You're wasting everyone's time.
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« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2010, 07:47:59 PM »

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian Era? Christ’s church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that…All the power in Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.”  -   Henry Schaefer III, Ph.D. (1944- ), Professor of Chemistry and Director at the University of Georgia

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”   - Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University 

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” - Anthony Flew, Ph.D. (1923-2007) British Philosopher, atheist and author

"I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus of Nazareth (3-35) Jewish peasant and prophet

Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
-  When the phrase “most scholars” is used, this is accurate and not an assumption.  Dr. Habermas conducted a study of every scholarly work on the resurrection, published since 1975, in French, English and German, creating a table of each scholar, their work, and their position, resulting in a 500-page document.
-  Given that most people reject the Bible, it will not be used in any other manner, than simply being a work of ancient literature.  On top of that, we will only use those portions that are so strongly evidenced historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, skeptic or otherwise.  So if (and when) you come across a biblical reference for something, and your gut says, “Hey, that’s from the Bible, it can’t be trusted,” keep in mind we are only using portions that hardly any scholar publishing works over the last 40 years would reject.
-  Historical data, such as archaeological finds, documents, and eyewitness reports, are all we have to tell us of events that occurred and people who lived in antiquity.  When sifting through all of this, certain principles (seen below) are applied by historians to determine if something is historically reliable:
•   Multiple, independent sources support historical claims.
o   When an event or saying is attested by more than one independent source, there is a strong indication of its historicity.
•   Attestation by an enemy supports historical claims.
o   If testimony affirming an event or saying is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message, or cause that profits from the account, we have an indication of authenticity.
•   Embarrassing admissions support historical claims.
o   An indicator that an event or saying is authentic occurs when the source would not be expected to create the story, because it embarrasses their cause and weakens their position in arguments with opponents.
•   Eyewitness testimony supports historical claims.
o   Eyewitness testimony is usually stronger than a secondhand account.
•   Early testimony supports historical claims.
o   The closer the time between the event and testimony about it, the more reliable the witness, since there is less time for exaggeration, and even legend, to creep into the account.

Basically, since we don’t have a certified video record of what occurred in antiquity, these principles are commonsense guidelines for evaluating the written record of something that is alleged to have happened.  It is all we have to go on…
-  The approach taken can be described as a “minimal facts” approach.  Meaning, we consider only those data that are so strongly attested historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.  The facts presented, in this case, must meet two criteria: (1)They are well evidenced (multiple independent sources) and (2)nearly every scholar (remember Habermas’ laborious study) accepts them.

In reality, no fact or theory finds total agreement or disagreement.  Skeptical scholars are notorious for disagreeing with one another.  Extreme, radical positions can always be found.  If we look hard enough, we will find people who deny that even we exist.  Thus, the “minimal facts” approach includes what nearly all scholars hold as authentic.  Seldom can we speak about what all agree upon, for seldom do they all agree….
So, what are the facts?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

That Jesus was executed by crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels.  However, a number of non-Christian sources of the period report the event as well.
•   Josephus writes, “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified…”
•   Tacitus reports, “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.”
•   Lucian of Samosata, the Greek satirist, writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”
•   Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to his son from prison, comments, “Or what advantage came to the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?”
•   The Talmud reports that, “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged.”
The highly critical scholar of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

There is a virtual consensus among scholars who study Jesus’ resurrection that, subsequent to Jesus’ death by crucifixion, his disciples really believed that he appeared to them raised from the dead.  This conclusion has been reached by considering data that suggest 1) the disciples themselves claimed that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, and 2) subsequent to Jesus’ death, his disciples were radically transformed from fearful, cowering individuals who denied and abandoned him at his arrest and execution to bold proclaimers of his resurrection.  We’ll take a look at a number of ancient sources that lead to this conclusion.

They claimed it.  Paul provides very strong evidence for establishing the resurrection claims of the original disciples (remember, he wasn’t one).  He reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the “big three” of Peter, James and John.  The Book of Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped together.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:11 that whether “it was I or they, this is what we preach,” talking about the resurrection.  Paul knew them personally and says they claimed Jesus rose from the dead.  Yes, this is from the Bible, but remember in our minimal facts approach, we’re treating the NT as any other book, and beyond that, are only entertaining the data that is well evidenced and accepted.  Virtually no one doubts the authenticity of Pauline authorship here.  Plus, Paul is a source independent of the original disciples.

Aside from Paul’s writings, we have oral tradition.  Remember, the ancients did not have our tools for recording and passing along information, like tape recorders, video cameras, etc., and the individual copies that could be made by hand couldn’t reach very many people, never mind the fact that most of them couldn’t read them if they did.  They relied heavily on oral tradition.  And a key point about oral tradition is that it had to exist prior to the NT writings in order for the authors to include them.  So this takes us back to some of the earliest teachings of the Christian church.

An example of this is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (A.D. 55).  He said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  How do we know this was an oral creed of the early church?
•   “Delivered” and “received” communicates that Paul is giving them a tradition he himself was given.
•   It contains indicators of an Aramaic original:
o   Fourfold use of the Greek term hoti is common in creeds
o   “Cephas,” is Aramaic for Peter (he obviously knew his real name)
o   The content of the text contains parallelisms
o   The text contains non-Pauline terms (he used words he doesn’t use anywhere else)

Many critical scholars believe that Paul actually received this creed from the disciples themselves (Peter and James) when he visited them in Jerusalem, because he uses the word historesai in Galatians 1:18-19 (his account of their time together), which means, “to get an historical account.”
So we have Paul, oral tradition, and now, the writings of the early church/Church Fathers.  Despite their apparent bias, the Gospels cannot be ignored either.  It is well accepted that all four gospels were written during the first century, which means we have accounts written within 70 years of Jesus at the very latest, containing reports that the disciples believed they saw him raised from the dead.  On top of the Gospels, we have the writings of the apostolic fathers, who are the church leaders directly succeeding the Apostles.  Several apostolic fathers taught that the Apostles were dramatically impacted by Jesus’ resurrection.
•   Clement, bishop of Rome (c. 30-100, likely the same Clement Paul refers to in Philippians 4:3) in a letter to Corinth (which is quoted by Irenaeus) says that he “had seen the blessed Apostles, and had been conversant with them, and might be said to have the preaching of the Apostles still echoing, and their traditions before his eyes.  Nor was he alone, for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the Apostles.  In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brothers at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians.”  Tertullian goes on to say, “For this manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers:  as the church in Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the Church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter.”  If Irenaeus and Tertullian are correct, Clement had seen the Apostles and had fellowshipped with them, particularly Peter.  I mention all of that, because it lends great historical value to Clement’s writings concerning the Apostles and their teachings.  He actually knew them.  So what does he say they taught?  “Therefore, having received orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come.”
•   Polycarp, is in the same situation, having been appointed a successor by John, writing that the Apostles, “did not love this present age, but him who died for our benefit and for our sake was raised by God.”
Combining this with Paul and the oral tradition, we have 9 sources, in 3 different categories pointing to multiple, very early, eyewitness testimonies to the disciple’s claims of witnessing the risen Jesus.

You might ask yourself why this is so important.  It’s important because we have to establish that the resurrection of Jesus was really what the disciples taught, and more importantly, what they really believed.  They didn’t make it up, they didn’t lie about it.  They were in actuality completely transformed by their experience.  I’m not saying here that this is proof Jesus was really raised, but that the disciples genuinely believed he was.  This is the foundation for the rest of the argument.

As University of Chicago New Testament scholar Norman Perrin (who denies the resurrection) states, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”  Jesus died by crucifixion, and the disciples claimed they had seen him raised from the dead.

They believed it.  After Jesus’ death, the lives of the disciples were transformed to the point that they endured persecution and even martyrdom.  Such strength of conviction indicates that they were not just claiming that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in order to receive some personal benefit.  They really believed it.  Compare this courage to their character at Jesus’ arrest and execution.  They denied and abandoned him, and they hid in fear.  Afterward, they willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.  These facts are validated by multiple accounts, both from early sources in the NT as well as outside sources.
•   Clement of Rome reports the sufferings (and what appears to be the martyrdoms) of Peter and Paul:
o   “Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death.  Let us set the good Apostles before our eyes.  Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place.  Because of envy rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize.  Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders.  Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place.  He became a great example of steadfastness…They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together, for they did not love this present age…”
•   Tertullian also reports the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul:
o   “That Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood.  And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem.  We read the lives of the Caesars:  At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.  Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross.  Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.”
This quote in particular is interesting in that Tertullian is saying if one did not want to believe the Christian records concerning the martyrdoms of some of the Apostles, he could find the information in the public records, namely “the lives of the Caesars.”
•   Origen, a church father, in his work Contra Celsum relates how the disciple’s devotion to the teachings of Jesus “was attended with danger to human life
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« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2010, 07:56:16 PM »

[and that they] themselves were the first to manifest their disregard for its [death’s] terrors.”
•   Eusebius is called the “first church historian.”  In his Ecclesiastical History he quotes the works of Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, and Origen for the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul.  And he sites Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria in regards to the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus.
All of these sources, biblical and non-biblical alike, affirm the disciple’s willingness to suffer and die for their faith.  Obviously, the conviction of the disciple’s that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them does not mean they were right.  But this misses the point.  The disciple’s willingness to suffer and die for their beliefs indicates that they certainly regarded those beliefs as true.  The case is strong that they did not willfully lie about the appearances of the raised Jesus.  Liars make poor martyrs.

At this point you could argue that many people die for their beliefs, such as a Muslim terrorist blowing himself up in public or the Buddhist monk who burns himself alive in a political protest.  Extreme acts do not validate the truth of their beliefs, but willingness to die indicates that they regard their beliefs as true.  But there is an important difference between people like this and the Apostles.  Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them.  The Apostles on the other hand, died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus.  Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true.  The Apostles died for what they knew to be true, from their own experience (whether true or false).

What do contemporary scholars have to say about the disciple’s beliefs?
•   Highly critical NT scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection” and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus.
•   Atheistic NT scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
•   Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus.  That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that’s what they saw.  I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus.  I wasn’t there.  I don’t know what they saw.  But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.”

Going back to that massive undertaking of Dr. Habermas I mentioned early, he says:

“I recently completed an overview of more than 1,400 sources on the resurrection of Jesus published since 1975.  I studied and catalogued about 650 of these texts in English, German and French.  Some of the results of this study were certainly intriguing.  For example, perhaps no fact is more widely recognized than that the early Christian believers had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.  A critic may claim that what they saw were hallucinations or visions, but he does not deny that they actually experienced something.”

Since the original disciples were making the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, his resurrection was not the result of myth making.  His life story was not embellished over time if the facts can be traced to the original witnesses, which we have seen is historically believed to be the case.
Moving on, are there any data that will lead us to believe that the disciple’s claims to have seen the risen Jesus were actually true?

Fact Three:  The church persecutor Saul of Tarsus was suddenly changed.

Saul of Tarsus (now known as Paul), changed from being a skeptic who believed that it was God’s will to persecute and stomp out the church to becoming one of its most influential messengers.  His notorious pre-Christian activities and conversion are attested to by multiple sources.  We have Paul’s own testimony, Luke’s record in the Book of Acts, and a story that was circulating among Christians in Galatia.

What caused Paul to change so drastically?

Both Paul himself, and Luke the Physician, report that it was because he believed firmly that he had experienced an encounter with the risen Jesus.  Paul’s conversion is so interesting because he was an enemy of the church when he claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.  Which, if you’ll recall, is a red flag of historical authenticity because friend and foe are now testifying to the resurrection.

Paul’s experience is affirmed in the works of Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth and Origen, as well.
You could ask yourself, “What’s the big deal?  People convert all the time?”  The difference here is of primary versus secondary sources.  Paul believed because he experienced it for himself, rather than relying on the testimony of someone else.

Fact Four:  The skeptic James, the brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.

James, if you’ll recall, was one of at least four brothers of Jesus mentioned in the gospels.  We know James was a pious Jew as Paul states in Galatians that legalistic men were claiming affiliation with James in order to keep the Jewish Law.  Hegesippus reported that:

“James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the Apostles.  He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James.  He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.  No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the public bath.  He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments.  And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.  Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, ‘bulwark of the people’ and ‘justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.”

We don’t have the same wealth of historical information about the life of James (like we do for Paul) but we do have enough information to conclude that after the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection, James, the brother of Jesus, became a convert to Christianity because he believed the risen Jesus appeared to him.  This conclusion is arrived at because:
•   The gospels report that Jesus’ brothers, including James, were unbelievers during his ministry.
•   The ancient creedal material quoted in 1 Corinthians (which we discussed earlier) lists an appearance of the risen Jesus to James, (“then He appeared to James…”).
•   Subsequent to the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection, James is identified as a leader of the Jerusalem church.
•   Not only did James convert, he died as a martyr, as is mentioned by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.
With James, we have another example of a skeptic converting to Christianity based on what he perceived to be a personal appearance by the risen Jesus.  As with Paul, we have to ask ourselves:  What happened to James to cause such a conviction?

Fact Five:  The tomb was empty.

The empty tomb is the one “fact” of ours that does not meet the “minimal facts” approach, because it is not accepted by nearly all scholars, but there is still fairly strong evidence for it.  According to Habermas’ survey, roughly 75% hold this to be true.

Jesus was publicly executed in Jerusalem.  His post-mortem appearances and empty tomb were first proclaimed publicly there.  It would have been virtually impossible for Christianity to get off the ground in Jerusalem if the body had still been in the tomb.  His enemies in the Jewish leadership and Roman government would only have had to exhume the corpse and publicly display it for the hoax to be shattered.  Not only are Jewish, Roman, and all other writings absent of such an account, but there is a total silence from Christianity’s critics who would have jumped at evidence of this sort.
The empty tomb is attested not only by Christian sources.  Jesus’ enemies admitted it as well, albeit indirectly.  Rather than point to an occupied tomb, early critics accused the disciples of stealing the body (Matt. 28:12-13; Justin Martyr, Trypho 108; Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30).

We also have the testimony of women.  Given the low first-century view of women that was frequently shared by Jew and Gentile, it seems highly unlikely that the Gospel authors would either invent or adjust such testimonies.  That would mean placing words in the mouths of those who would not be believed by many, making them the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb appears to be historically credible in light of the principle of embarrassment.

The empty tomb is, therefore, reasonably well evidenced for historical certainty.  Former Oxford University historian William Wand writes, “All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of the empty tomb, and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history.”

Conclusion

We have presented evidence for Jesus’ resurrection using a “minimal facts” approach, which considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that even the majority of non-believing scholars accept them as facts.  We have not appealed to, or even suggested, the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible in order to support the case.

Using the “minimal facts” approach, we considered four facts that meet these stringent criteria and one additional fact (empty tomb) that enjoys acceptance by an impressive amount of scholars, though not nearly all of them.

What we covered:

Shortly after Jesus’ death, his disciples believed that they saw him risen from the dead.  They claimed that he had appeared to individuals among them, as well as to several groups.  Two of those who once viewed Jesus as a false prophet, later believed that he appeared to them risen (Paul, the church persecutor, and James, the skeptic and Jesus’ brother).  Both became Christians as a result.  Therefore, not only do we have the testimony of friends; we also have enemy attestation.  And finally, the empty tomb.

Any opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection is going to have to account for all of these facts as well as others.  For example, some might speculate that the disciples experienced grief hallucinations, or that they lied, or that they stole the body, or that the whole story is simply a legend developed over time, etc.  But these 5 facts that we have covered accomplish two things:  (1) they provide compelling evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and (2) they stand as data that must be accounted for by any opposing theory.

Since the first reports of Jesus’ resurrection, critics have formulated opposing theories to account for the known data.  These are commonly referred to as naturalistic explanations, because they appeal to a natural cause for the event rather than a supernatural one.  Interestingly, liberal scholars of the 19th century both rejected Jesus’ resurrection and provided refutations of most of these naturalistic theories.  Neo-orthodox scholar Karl Barth was perhaps the most influential theologian of the twentieth century.  Barth pointed out how each opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection suffers from many inconsistencies and concluded, “Today we rightly turn our nose at this.”  Raymond Brown, a moderate New Testament scholar echoed Barth, writing that 20th century critical scholars had rejected existing theories that oppose the Resurrection.  He added that contemporary thinkers both ignore these theories and even treat them as unrespectable.

Today the prevalent view among sophisticated critics is that the disciples seem to have experienced something, but what it was may not be known, and the general bias is against resurrections.  As Charles Hartshorne articulated in his comments pertaining to a public debate between Habermas and prominent atheist philosopher Antony Flew, “I can neither explain away the evidences to which Habermas appeals, nor can I simply agree with Flew’s or Hume’s positions…My metaphysical bias is against resurrections.”

It is fair to raise questions regarding an opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection.  Aside from the faith factor, when it comes to reports of miracles, the historian must seek a natural explanation before considering a supernatural one.  It’s the responsible thing to do.  Even Christians do this continually in examining reports of miracles in other religions.  Our own faith is not exempt from similar investigation.  When no plausible natural explanation is available—as appears to be the case with Jesus’ resurrection—and a historical context with obvious religious implications exists where a resurrection is at home—for example, if Jesus performed miracles and claimed divinity—there are then no reasons why a supernatural cause cannot be considered.
At times, the skeptic demands that an explanation be so strong that no questions can be raised against it.  If historians took this approach, I think you’d agree, we could know very little about history.

Opposing theories to date simply cannot account for this collection of historically granted facts, thereby leaving Jesus’ resurrection as the best explanation.
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« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2010, 08:53:04 PM »

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

indeed. So, years later, when someone wastes his time with "trying"'s trying post, that future reader can clear their mind.
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« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2010, 09:26:21 PM »

Sleeper, thank you for your incredible post.
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2010, 10:25:01 PM »

My pleasure, James.  Thanks for reading Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2010, 12:46:34 AM »

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink
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« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2010, 05:22:07 AM »

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink

So now you're convinced that Jesus resurrected from the dead?
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« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2010, 07:49:53 AM »

Haha this guy is goofy
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2010, 10:01:52 AM »

Haha this guy is goofy

TryingtoConvert does make me laugh also. It is like he is building this huge Rube Goldberg machine of reason and logic to try and explain God's love, God's creation, and God's energies warming his heart like the sun shining on a beach.  As we lay on the beach enjoying the rays of God's love, he is running around trying to build a wall of sand to keep the ocean tide away. We just can't help to laugh as he tries to use his little shovel so desperately

God's creation is so wonderful that he makes many things for us to laugh, enjoy, and marvel at. It really is not that hard to let God love you. The hard part is loving back and realizing how little we have to offer in return.

Keep digging! You'll find God no matter where you look. He is everywhere.

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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2010, 05:23:11 PM »



Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian Era? Christ’s church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that…All the power in Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.”  -   Henry Schaefer III, Ph.D. (1944- ), Professor of Chemistry and Director at the University of Georgia

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”   - Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University 

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” - Anthony Flew, Ph.D. (1923-2007) British Philosopher, atheist and author

"I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus of Nazareth (3-35) Jewish peasant and prophet

Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
-  When the phrase “most scholars” is used, this is accurate and not an assumption.  Dr. Habermas conducted a study of every scholarly work on the resurrection, published since 1975, in French, English and German, creating a table of each scholar, their work, and their position, resulting in a 500-page document.
-  Given that most people reject the Bible, it will not be used in any other manner, than simply being a work of ancient literature.  On top of that, we will only use those portions that are so strongly evidenced historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, skeptic or otherwise.  So if (and when) you come across a biblical reference for something, and your gut says, “Hey, that’s from the Bible, it can’t be trusted,” keep in mind we are only using portions that hardly any scholar publishing works over the last 40 years would reject.
-  Historical data, such as archaeological finds, documents, and eyewitness reports, are all we have to tell us of events that occurred and people who lived in antiquity.  When sifting through all of this, certain principles (seen below) are applied by historians to determine if something is historically reliable:
•   Multiple, independent sources support historical claims.
o   When an event or saying is attested by more than one independent source, there is a strong indication of its historicity.
•   Attestation by an enemy supports historical claims.
o   If testimony affirming an event or saying is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message, or cause that profits from the account, we have an indication of authenticity.
•   Embarrassing admissions support historical claims.
o   An indicator that an event or saying is authentic occurs when the source would not be expected to create the story, because it embarrasses their cause and weakens their position in arguments with opponents.
•   Eyewitness testimony supports historical claims.
o   Eyewitness testimony is usually stronger than a secondhand account.
•   Early testimony supports historical claims.
o   The closer the time between the event and testimony about it, the more reliable the witness, since there is less time for exaggeration, and even legend, to creep into the account.

Basically, since we don’t have a certified video record of what occurred in antiquity, these principles are commonsense guidelines for evaluating the written record of something that is alleged to have happened.  It is all we have to go on…
-  The approach taken can be described as a “minimal facts” approach.  Meaning, we consider only those data that are so strongly attested historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.  The facts presented, in this case, must meet two criteria: (1)They are well evidenced (multiple independent sources) and (2)nearly every scholar (remember Habermas’ laborious study) accepts them.

In reality, no fact or theory finds total agreement or disagreement.  Skeptical scholars are notorious for disagreeing with one another.  Extreme, radical positions can always be found.  If we look hard enough, we will find people who deny that even we exist.  Thus, the “minimal facts” approach includes what nearly all scholars hold as authentic.  Seldom can we speak about what all agree upon, for seldom do they all agree….
So, what are the facts?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

That Jesus was executed by crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels.  However, a number of non-Christian sources of the period report the event as well.
•   Josephus writes, “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified…”
•   Tacitus reports, “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.”
•   Lucian of Samosata, the Greek satirist, writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”
•   Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to his son from prison, comments, “Or what advantage came to the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?”
•   The Talmud reports that, “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged.”
The highly critical scholar of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

There is a virtual consensus among scholars who study Jesus’ resurrection that, subsequent to Jesus’ death by crucifixion, his disciples really believed that he appeared to them raised from the dead.  This conclusion has been reached by considering data that suggest 1) the disciples themselves claimed that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, and 2) subsequent to Jesus’ death, his disciples were radically transformed from fearful, cowering individuals who denied and abandoned him at his arrest and execution to bold proclaimers of his resurrection.  We’ll take a look at a number of ancient sources that lead to this conclusion.

They claimed it.  Paul provides very strong evidence for establishing the resurrection claims of the original disciples (remember, he wasn’t one).  He reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the “big three” of Peter, James and John.  The Book of Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped together.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:11 that whether “it was I or they, this is what we preach,” talking about the resurrection.  Paul knew them personally and says they claimed Jesus rose from the dead.  Yes, this is from the Bible, but remember in our minimal facts approach, we’re treating the NT as any other book, and beyond that, are only entertaining the data that is well evidenced and accepted.  Virtually no one doubts the authenticity of Pauline authorship here.  Plus, Paul is a source independent of the original disciples.

Aside from Paul’s writings, we have oral tradition.  Remember, the ancients did not have our tools for recording and passing along information, like tape recorders, video cameras, etc., and the individual copies that could be made by hand couldn’t reach very many people, never mind the fact that most of them couldn’t read them if they did.  They relied heavily on oral tradition.  And a key point about oral tradition is that it had to exist prior to the NT writings in order for the authors to include them.  So this takes us back to some of the earliest teachings of the Christian church.

An example of this is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (A.D. 55).  He said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  How do we know this was an oral creed of the early church?
•   “Delivered” and “received” communicates that Paul is giving them a tradition he himself was given.
•   It contains indicators of an Aramaic original:
o   Fourfold use of the Greek term hoti is common in creeds
o   “Cephas,” is Aramaic for Peter (he obviously knew his real name)
o   The content of the text contains parallelisms
o   The text contains non-Pauline terms (he used words he doesn’t use anywhere else)

Many critical scholars believe that Paul actually received this creed from the disciples themselves (Peter and James) when he visited them in Jerusalem, because he uses the word historesai in Galatians 1:18-19 (his account of their time together), which means, “to get an historical account.”
So we have Paul, oral tradition, and now, the writings of the early church/Church Fathers.  Despite their apparent bias, the Gospels cannot be ignored either.  It is well accepted that all four gospels were written during the first century, which means we have accounts written within 70 years of Jesus at the very latest, containing reports that the disciples believed they saw him raised from the dead.  On top of the Gospels, we have the writings of the apostolic fathers, who are the church leaders directly succeeding the Apostles.  Several apostolic fathers taught that the Apostles were dramatically impacted by Jesus’ resurrection.
•   Clement, bishop of Rome (c. 30-100, likely the same Clement Paul refers to in Philippians 4:3) in a letter to Corinth (which is quoted by Irenaeus) says that he “had seen the blessed Apostles, and had been conversant with them, and might be said to have the preaching of the Apostles still echoing, and their traditions before his eyes.  Nor was he alone, for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the Apostles.  In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brothers at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians.”  Tertullian goes on to say, “For this manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers:  as the church in Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the Church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter.”  If Irenaeus and Tertullian are correct, Clement had seen the Apostles and had fellowshipped with them, particularly Peter.  I mention all of that, because it lends great historical value to Clement’s writings concerning the Apostles and their teachings.  He actually knew them.  So what does he say they taught?  “Therefore, having received orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come.”
•   Polycarp, is in the same situation, having been appointed a successor by John, writing that the Apostles, “did not love this present age, but him who died for our benefit and for our sake was raised by God.”
Combining this with Paul and the oral tradition, we have 9 sources, in 3 different categories pointing to multiple, very early, eyewitness testimonies to the disciple’s claims of witnessing the risen Jesus.

You might ask yourself why this is so important.  It’s important because we have to establish that the resurrection of Jesus was really what the disciples taught, and more importantly, what they really believed.  They didn’t make it up, they didn’t lie about it.  They were in actuality completely transformed by their experience.  I’m not saying here that this is proof Jesus was really raised, but that the disciples genuinely believed he was.  This is the foundation for the rest of the argument.

As University of Chicago New Testament scholar Norman Perrin (who denies the resurrection) states, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”  Jesus died by crucifixion, and the disciples claimed they had seen him raised from the dead.

They believed it.  After Jesus’ death, the lives of the disciples were transformed to the point that they endured persecution and even martyrdom.  Such strength of conviction indicates that they were not just claiming that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in order to receive some personal benefit.  They really believed it.  Compare this courage to their character at Jesus’ arrest and execution.  They denied and abandoned him, and they hid in fear.  Afterward, they willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.  These facts are validated by multiple accounts, both from early sources in the NT as well as outside sources.
•   Clement of Rome reports the sufferings (and what appears to be the martyrdoms) of Peter and Paul:
o   “Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death.  Let us set the good Apostles before our eyes.  Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place.  Because of envy rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize.  Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders.  Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place.  He became a great example of steadfastness…They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together, for they did not love this present age…”
•   Tertullian also reports the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul:
o   “That Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood.  And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem.  We read the lives of the Caesars:  At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.  Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross.  Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.”
This quote in particular is interesting in that Tertullian is saying if one did not want to believe the Christian records concerning the martyrdoms of some of the Apostles, he could find the information in the public records, namely “the lives of the Caesars.”
•   Origen, a church father, in his work Contra Celsum relates how the disciple’s devotion to the teachings of Jesus “was attended with danger to human life

Amen Amen!

I assure you, those of us who were blessed enough to have the time to read this post are beyond appreciative of your heartical effort, much much thanks and love for this!

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2010, 05:42:46 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink

We have only been humoring you with logical, systematic approach. We have already been trying to explain to you that God does not ever make any reasonable sense.  God is not logical.  God is not mathematical.  God is a Mystery.  Jesus Christ Resurrection is precisely meant to confuse us, it does not make sense, after all, we have all seen a dead body or two, and sometimes under bitterly hurtful circumstances which sting and haunt us, and yet we are supposed to believe that God could raise up Jesus Christ and indeed others?  It is not SUPPOSED to make sense, it is a matter of inward faith.  It is like a rhetorical question, you are not necessarily supposed to answer it, rather meditate deeply in the stillness of your heart for the feeling of understanding, experiencing the Resurrection.

The Incarnation does not make any sense.  Salvation or Forgiveness or Mercy or Grace do make sense.  Why should God take on flesh and become a weak, limited, helpless and hapless infant? Why would God grant us salvation or forgiveness of things we willfully committed in error, and for that matter why should we humans forgive any other humans who wrong us in that same Spirit? These do not make sense, unless you experience first hand the relief of forgiveness, in forgiving someone and letting go any anger or fear or pain or grudge or judgment and feeling the true inner bliss of harmony, serenity, and love.

God does not make sense, and honestly, I wouldn't worship Him if it was that easy as to make any kind of logical sense.  If God appealed to my sense of reason rather then my heart, I would probably notice Him no more than those algebra classes I seldom reminisce about or apply myself towards Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #33 on: December 03, 2010, 10:14:44 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?
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« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2010, 10:45:10 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?
We can tell you what was important for us but that doesn't matter. What is important is what matters to you. Now that your a father, what is important to you is likely to change. Go spend some time loving your family and leave this forum for awhile. God will find you when your ready. Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2010, 10:58:30 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?

St. Matthew 7:6.

You have been asked several times what you see as the basis of truth. Did I miss your answer?
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 11:01:53 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2010, 10:58:46 PM »

Well so long as we can prove the ressurection we don't need to defend any other miracle. For instance, and it may sound like I am borrowing arguments from DR William lane Craig, which I am, but I do find them logical and i have yet to see an adequate responce to the facts of the empty tomb, the women being the witnesses of it, and the desciples dying. All of which according to Doctor Craig are facts in the scholarly community I assume this individual accepts. What is the best way besides the ressurection to respond to these facts? I am at a loss for one.

But I would question a few things in this article which stood out to me. First of all, that the appaerances of Jesus to the 12 and the 500 are on the same level as the angels appearing to Joseph Smith. I fear the author has not thought of it, that an appearance to 12, let alone 500 or so are much stronger evidence of attestation and authenticty than appearing to ONE individual or maybe some select others in secret. It begs the question as to why the apostle Paul would lie about others in his time (as not all were dead) saw the risen Christ, he could ahve his claims thrown right back at him.

As for the morality argument. How can such atheists have any basis to what they say? It is merely subjective personal views on what they postulate to be "good." Surely the greater morality is in the one who defines the morality, that being God? Or else its just a pointless excersise in human ethics which are not bounding on any individual except by their own irrational conscience.

Now while it is good to ask questions if you are earnestly seeking truth, I would ask you to form your own argumentation, not just copy and paste which I believe you have been doing. PLease correct me if I am mistaken. As I feel that means youv've at least put some effort into your questions.
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« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 11:44:40 PM »

A link to someone else's article from 1999?  Tongue Yeah, that changes things.

 Roll Eyes
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« Reply #38 on: December 04, 2010, 12:05:51 AM »


And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you adhere to a strictly scientific standard for belief, there will always be a more logical explanation than the supernatural. You will not come to the faith by intellect alone. It is a journey of the heart that must be lived.
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« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2010, 02:20:01 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 02:23:00 AM by Nero » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2010, 03:30:47 AM »

I think much of the movement to find the "Historical Jesus" is simply just wrong. I've spent this whole semester learning about various views of Christ throughout time, and many modern ones have been influenced by this movement. Why not ask the Body of Christ about Chirst? Why not ask the first Christians about Christ?
Who was it that wrote the scripture? It was simply the Church. (of course, St. Paul, St. Luke, St. Matthew, St. John, St. Mark, etc... were all a part of the Church) So why not ask the Church what it meant and how they ought to be interpreted?

Scholars cannot come close to the "historical Jesus", especially when they, like those in the "Jesus Seminar" discredit most of scripture and assume they know better than the Church about who Christ is.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 03:31:52 AM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2010, 03:38:54 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
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« Reply #42 on: December 04, 2010, 03:49:03 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...
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« Reply #43 on: December 04, 2010, 04:07:21 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?
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TryingtoConvert
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« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2010, 05:49:55 AM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?

St. Matthew 7:6.

So let me get this all straight. You enter into my threads, what, expecting to find an easy convert? And then for me who isn't won over by your sermonizing alone, you whip out that old chestnut and openly liken them to a sub-human creature? Sounds like the perfect strategy for success to me!
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