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Conclusion of Seminar: Doubting the Skeptics on the Origins of Christianity

This is the conclusion of the seminar called “Doubting the Skeptics on the Origins of Christianity.”

In this series was composed of one sermon cut into bite-sized segments. They were:

1) Introduction (why this is important)
2) The Fathers on the Gospels
3) “The Liberals” on the Gospels
4) If Jesus Called Himself “Son of Man,” why do we call Him “Son of God”?
5) Conclusion (below)

As I say several times in this sermon, the point of my talk is NOT to disprove the Liberal understanding of the Gospels. It is merely this: to give an overview of it, to provide a few critiques of it, and then say, over and over, “It’s just a THEORY!” The conservative belief is ALSO a theory. Neither are in the realm of hard science: at the end of the day, you must simply choose to believe what seems the most plausible to yourself.

Most importantly, I want you to understand that both of these theories come down to basic beliefs: do you believe that miracles can happen, that God answers prayers, that God is “Emmanuel – God WITH US”? If so, then there is no real reason to doubt the historic understanding of the Gospels. If you DOUBT this fundamental belief, however, then historic Christianity is impossible. Then you will be forced to adopt something like the secular version of the gospels.

It may at times seem that “everyone” believes the secular version of the Gospels, which includes the belief that Jesus was not God. Indeed – I will agree that “most” scholars believe this. However, this doesn’t really shake me. Why? I recognize that most of the people studying Jesus are not Christians. Most of them are skeptics, agnostics, atheists and adherents to other religions such as Islam. Considering this starting point, it is not at all surprising that they have come to these conclusions: they flow naturally out of their naturalistic beliefs.

They have begun with the assumption that miracles cannot happen. Thus, the records which show that Jesus walked on water, fed thousands and rose from the dead must be false. …so they decide beforehand that they are false. Then they have done all their research from that starting point, and ended up with the conclusion that “no miracles happened here.” Tell me – where is the mystery in this? Isn’t it obvious that their conclusions are based upon their presuppositions?

Christianity has always been based on the fundamentally “foolish” concept of miracle, and of a resurrection. This concept has always caused us to be mocked (Acts 17:32), and it has always made our religion basically “foolish” to the educated elite of society (1 Cor. 1:23).

Nothing has changed. Today, as 2000 years ago, the person who wishes to follow Christ must decide whether or not they are willing to rise, pick up their cross of shame, and FOLLOW Christ, no matter what the world believes.

This is what I would like to encourage and empower you to do, even as you go on to study in higher education, and may be presented with beliefs just like what I just presented here today.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Eusebius of Caesarea. Church History. c. 330. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890). Available for free on newadvent.org (click on “fathers,” or see here)

Evans, Craig A. Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels . Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008) (See review my here)

Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1923, reprint 2009. (buy here, or access for free electronically here)

Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. 1906. Edited by W. Montgomery. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2005.

Sheehan, Thomas. The Historical Jesus: How did Jesus of Nazareth, who never claimed to be Christ or divine, become the Son of God? Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2006. (You may download Syllabus, and/or take class on iTunes U for free)

RELATED POSTS

How Machen Helps Me Sort Out Wacky Jesus Scholarship

What is Liberalism?

What is the Gospel? A Response to Liberalism and the Emergent Church

Modernity and the Roots of Classical Liberalism

The Man Who Wrote “Liberalism and Christianity”

Deconstructing the Modern Man Part 2: Immanuel Kant

Deconstructing the Modern Man, Part 1: The Enlightenment

 

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