The Christian faith is based upon the factual historical statements found in the Bible. Chief among these is the astounding claim that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead as the supreme vindication of his radical claims. The articles in this section are meant to demonstrate how the ordinary rules of history show the Bible to be an accurate and trustworthy historical record. They are also meant to show how the ordinary rues of history themselves are justified only by presupposing the truth of the Bible’s statements.
This brief article looks at the modern attempts to reconstruct the history of early Christianity and how they compare to the New Testament record.
A personal note before we begin:
This article is not in any way meant to be an attack on those who don’t believe in historic accuracy of the New Testament record. It’s a free country and we all have a right to believe in whatever we chose. But listen, if the New Testament reflects accurate history, then we all a have a shot at something wonderful here. If the New Testament is telling the truth, then there is a God who loves us and wants to live with us and within us. Sin (rebellion against God) is keeping this from happening. But there is good news and it is this: Jesus Christ, the Son of God came and took the rap for us. He paid for every sin we’ve ever committed or will commit. Accepting Jesus as our Saviour guarantees that God will accept us now while we live and after we die and step into eternity. It’s a wonderful promise. Wonderful…only if it’s true.
I do believe that the historic evidence for the trustworthiness of the New Testament is unparalleled. I make no apology for the fact that I have trusted the Jesus of the New Testament with my eternity. In subsequent articles I hope to share much of this data. For the moment, I would like to consider the critical position and some of the assumptions that are made in order to deny the trustworthiness of the New Testament. You see, the Christian too, must make the same assumptions. However, it is my contention that the Christian position applies these assumptions in a far more logically consistent way.
Since the nineteenth century, higher critics have gained a following in their denial (not refutation) of the New Testament’s historic accuracy. Details vary, but the major belief here among critics is that the “Christian myth” believed today is not what was propagated by the early followers of Jesus. The myth, they say, and the Gospels from which it was derived, have ‘evolved’ over time, gradually obscuring some details, embellishing others, and, at times, injecting shear fantasy (For example, The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead) into the narrative.
This notion has gained much acceptance in our post-modern, relativistic culture, among whose goals seems to be the liberation from bonds imposed on us by the previous, largely Christian-influenced generation. Indeed, if the New Testament can be shown to be the product of mythologizing, then why should anyone feel bound by the moral code it dictates?
This “liberating knife” however, is limited in its power to grant the absolute freedom so desperately sought. For in their attempt to severe ties with fundamentalist Christianity, the critic who ascribes to the “Christ myth” theory inevitably must shackle himself to a set of rules from which the only escape is intellectual suicide. To the point, in order to believe in the so-called evolution of Christianity and of the New Testament record, the critic must make the following assumptions:
1) Absolute truth exists and is knowable.*
2) Truth is exclusive.*
3) Knowing, believing and acting on the truth is important.*
4) There is a binding moral law; Lying is wrong.*
5) Ancient documents may sometimes be regarded as trustworthy.*
6) It is possible to reconstruct history objectively and truthfully.*
7) History can be corrupted over time; facts may become embellished or obscured.*