by Jack Anderson
I have watched several debates between Christians and atheists on YouTube, the debates have always hinged around science, culture, human flaws and things like that. My belief in God is not based on any of those topics, I believe in God because I think the Bible is historically accurate and more specifically that the New Testament Gospels are. I love history, did you know that American Presidents George Washington and William McKinley were both accidentally killed by their Doctors? Did you know Charles V of France thought he was made of glass and was terrified of falling over and shattering? I do and this love of history fuels my belief in God. I do not ignore facts, if something is inconsistent I look into it until I am convinced once more that the Gospels* are accurate (more of this later).
Just like many other areas of life being a Christian is an individual thing and therefore encompasses many different beliefs. This means that there probably isn’t anything that every single Christian would all accept as true. The majority of Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that he came down from Heaven to live a perfect life, that he performed miracles and taught lessons before he was crucified. Three days later he rose from the dead, appeared to many of his followers and returned to Heaven to be with God.
Jesus claims to be the son of God throughout the Gospels. There are only two people in history that many people have said that about, one was the first Buddha and he strenuously denied it and the other was Jesus who claimed it himself. He did various miracles in front of thousands of people (the feeding of the five thousand and bringing Lazarus back from the dead are two examples) and most importantly rose from the dead. At that time other religious leaders said they were God and that they would rise and they have disappeared into history, Jesus didn’t.
There are claims that the Bible is completely made up or that the stories changed over time. There are a few people who mention Jesus outside of the Gospels at the time including the Roman historian Tacticus, in fact the story of Jesus can be told with non-Biblical sources. To put this into context King John of England lived from 1166 to 1216 and we don’t really know anything about him when he was young. He was the fourth son of the most powerful King in Europe and he only starts appearing in history when his older brothers started dying and he gained more power. So, over a thousand years after Jesus (a carpenter from a remote part of the Roman Empire) about whom it is claimed there are few sources we know nothing about the youth of a future King of England.
The Gospels themselves were written by 100AD which is at most seventy years after Jesus died. This sounds like a lot but compared to other historical sources, this isn’t really fair. The history of Alexander the Great was written about five hundred years after his death and it is assumed to be accurate with creative additions coming after that. The Gospels were written during the time when eye witnesses could have disputed the facts. Luke (who wrote Luke) also wrote Acts which stops abruptly when Paul (one of Jesus’ first followers) is under house arrest which happened in the early 60s so it makes sense that Luke wrote his book then, why else would he stop? This means that it was written soon after when there were a lot of witnesses who could have questioned what happened but they didn’t.
I have not made the decision to be a Christian and closed my mind to any problems. I read a book called Veni, Vidi, Vici by Peter Jones. It claims that the Gospel writers had to get Jesus to Bethlehem to fulfil an Old Testament prophecy. In the New Testament Joseph, the Father of Jesus is told to go to his birthplace so he can be registered for tax. The author said that Romans didn’t register tax like that, they did it through property not lineage. That means that something basic at the start of two of the Gospels was false and put everything else in doubt. I did some research and discovered that although Romans did tax like that Jews didn’t, they did it on lineage. Romans are famous for allowing locals do things their way so as far as I’m concerned the Gospels remain historically accurate.
Some littler points
- J. Warner Wallace, a homicide detective, retired and decided he would look into the Gospels to disprove them and instead became a Christian, why is this? One of the reasons was that the Gospels are very similar to eye witness reports in that they all differ slightly. His book is Cold Case Christianity.
- The Gospels are full of people with the same name, at one point in John he talks about John the Baptist and then later the disciple John, which is confusing. Someone making things up would give them all different names.
- A lot of the witnesses in the New Testament would have been completely disregarded at the time. Matthew was a tax collector (who were hated and regarded as traitors) and women, who are the witnesses of various important moments, were second class citizens and would have ignored. Why would someone making up a story but claiming it was true have all these terrible witnesses?
The disciples (the twelve men who were Jesus’ closest followers) continually miss or misinterpret very important things. Why would the people who first led the church make themselves look so bad? I have read autobiographies and people admit failings but not the enormous gaffs that continually come up in the Gospels. Paul, who wrote almost half of the New Testament, hunted down and killed many early Christians before suddenly changing his mind and becoming one himself.
There are many reasons why I am a Christian which I have not been able to jam into this article but the central reason is that I believe Jesus died on the cross and became alive again three days later. Many people who were close followers of Jesus then did extremely dangerous things and many died terribly to spread his message, why would they do this for a man who died and never came back? If someone was able to show me that Jesus did not rise from the dead I would stop being a Christian but in my opinion the evidence is enormous and that is why I follow him.
* The Bible has 66 books in it and the last 27 are in the New Testament. The first four books of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and these are called the Gospels (or good news). The Gospels claim to be accurate historical accounts of the life of Jesus.