Jesus the Jerk? A Response To the Friendly Atheist

the friendly atheist

A few weeks ago, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon said: “But here’s the thing, Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on the Earth. So why are we deifying the Founders?” As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir over social media and on the blogs, since the Bible clearly teaches Christ’s sinless perfection. While a few right-wing Christian leaders went a little overboard in their denouncements of Lemon,  “The Friendly Atheist” took it as an opportunity to take some jabs at Jesus. Hemant Mehta, the author of the blog, writes:  “Let’s talk about what Jesus did. Jesus once got so angry he flipped … Read more

Why Jesus is Too Good To *Not* Be True

As someone who takes an interest in the intersection of the historical Jesus and Christian apologetics, it sometimes feels like all that can be said has been said. Works asking the question “who was Jesus?” are legion, both from a skeptical viewpoint and a Christian perspective. Too Good to Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality by Tom Gilson takes a fresh perspective that makes this the first work of apologetics that made me want to worship.  There are plenty of books that defend the reliability of the Gospels by looking at historical evidence or examining skeptical objections. Gilson does a bit of an end-around and shows that the person of Jesus isn’t like any … Read more

James was Jesus’ Brother. Deal With It, Mythcists.

James the brother of Jesus

It’s a pretty amazing historical fact that Jesus’ brother — who probably wore the Savior’s hand-me-downs — later in life converted to Christianity. What would it take to convince you that your brother was the Messiah? Suffice to say that would take some pretty miraculous evidence, right? The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus’ own family thought he was crazy and doubted his claims. (Mark 3:21, John 7:5) But after believing he saw the risen Jesus, James had quite the change of mind. (1 Corinthians 15:7) He became an apostle, led the Jerusalem church, and was even martyred for the faith. This is pretty compelling evidence for Christianity. Here is where Jesus-mythers try and burst our … Read more

Was Paul Silent About the Historical Jesus?

Paul argument from silence

Over 99% of historical scholarship acknowledges that Jesus was a real person. It doesn’t matter if that scholar is liberal or conservative, or Christian, atheist, agnostic or Jewish. The <1% of historians that believe Jesus is a myth are mostly atheists or agnostics. And it’s only the ‘internet infidel’ crowd that takes their arguments seriously.  One of the arguments that Jesus mythicists will often push is that Paul was mostly silent about the historical Jesus. Here’s GA Wells, one of the minority voices, who writes:  “Paul’s letters have no allusion to the parents of Jesus, let alone to the virgin birth. They never refer to a place of birth…. They give no indication of the … Read more

Is Paul’s Gospel Out of Step with the Teachings of Jesus?

According to some critics, Paul hijacked Christianity. He preached an entirely different Gospel than Jesus. We are asked why Paul’s teachings and tone are so different than what we read from Jesus in the four Gospels. Plus, there are times that Paul and Jesus are seemingly at odds with each other. Critics will say that modern Christians don’t believe in Christianity, but Paulinism. One natural response would be to say that Paul had a lot more to say about the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t just going to come out and say what his death would accomplish, he was cryptic about it. But another response would be, “is their teaching … Read more

Undesigned coincidences in the gospels: Surprising evidence for Jesus’ feeding of the 5000

The feeding of the 5000 is one of Jesus’ most popular miracles. If you grew up in church, you probably saw it depicted on many a flannel graph. You know the story: Jesus was in a deserted place where large crowds were hanging on his every word. When it started to get late, Jesus’ disciples asked him to disperse the gathering to the surrounding villages so they could grab a bite to eat. Rather than sending them home, Jesus took five loaves and two fish and fed the multitude. The young lad who shared his food became famous that day and was sent home with 12 baskets full of leftovers.  Critics of the Bible tend … Read more

Did early Christian scribes really completely fake The Josephus Testimonium?

If Jesus was such a big deal, then why isn’t he mentioned by more historians of his time? This is a question that often gets asked by skeptics. The common Christian reply is that he was mentioned by 1st and early 2nd-century historians – namely Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus. This is where some critics – particularly the “Jesus-is-a-myth” crowd – cry foul. They’ll argue that Josephus never really mentioned Jesus, and if we’d critically examine the passages for ourselves, we’d admit that this popular Christian apologetic is pretty flimsy. This reply is a bit odd, seeing that even some of the strongest critics of traditional Christianity like Bart Ehrman and JD Crossan think that … Read more

If Jesus really was a miracle-working teacher who rose from the dead, why isn’t He mentioned by more 1st century historians?

Jesus of Nazareth was a highly influential teacher. He allegedly was a prophet with miraculous powers. He cast out demons, healed the sick, and even raised people from the dead. Then there’s the whole matter of his own resurrection. If Jesus was such a big deal, why isn’t he mentioned in the first and early second century beyond a few Christian sources? Wouldn’t Jesus have made more of an impact in his times? This is a common complaint of skeptics, especially from the internet infidel crowd who question whether Jesus ever even existed. On the face of it, these questions appear reasonable, but history just doesn’t work this way. THE ARGUMENT FROM SILENCE IS STILL … Read more

7 startling historical facts we learn about early Christianity from a Roman governor who persecuted Christians

Christians wrote the gospels, so for some skeptics, that’s enough to assume they are too biased to be taken seriously. While I think the “biased testimony” objection is a terrible argument, we do have some hostile sources outside of the Bible that tell us a lot about the beliefs of early Christians. These sources obviously can’t be accused of the same prejudice and provide us with some powerful info that confirms what we read in the New Testament. In an earlier post, I wrote about what the Roman historian Tacitus tells us about Jesus and early Christianity. Now let’s turn to our second hostile Roman witness, Pliny the Younger. WHO WAS PLINY? Pliny lived from … Read more

7 eye-opening facts we learn about early Christianity from a Roman Historian who hated Christians

Most of what we learn about Jesus and early Christianity comes from the New Testament. This is not a big shock. But what does come as a shock to some is that we can also learn a lot from non-Christian sources. There are some hostile sources from the first century from whom we can glean a lot. One of them is from a guy named Tacitus. Who is Tacitus? Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) is his full name, and that’s as Roman as it gets. Tacitus was a Roman senator and is also considered to be one of the greatest Roman historians. His works – The Annals and Histories gives us a lot of info on … Read more

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