Apologetics: Did Jesus really exist?

By Al Earley - A Religious Point of View

Type the question raised in the title of this article into Google and you will get quite a collection of web hits that truly question the existence of Jesus Christ. It is known as “The Christ Myth,” and the theory is Jesus never really existed or the man Jesus was had nothing to do with the mythical character described in the Gospels, or that he founded the Christian Church at all. The people who seek to persuade others that Jesus, or at least the Jesus of the Bible, never existed all have fancy degrees, and appear to be quite scholarly.

It strikes me that Occam’s razor, “The easiest solution is usually the right one” is probably a helpful problem-solving principle here. (William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian). The evidence that Jesus existed is far greater than any other person who lived in antiquity ever existed.

The number of ancient Christian sources both in the Bible and in historical records is numerous and well documented. Skeptics argue that these are not reliable because they have a Christian bias. That is like arguing that Jews can’t be reliable sources about the holocaust. Yes, the early Christian sources cared deeply about sharing Jesus with others. This is more likely to be proof that they got it right, not that they lied.

Perhaps the first proof would be meaningful if it were the only proof, but there is so much more evidence for Jesus’ existence. Non-Christian historians also give us information about Jesus. The historian, Josephus, mentions Jesus, John the Baptist, King Herod, Pilate, and other people who are named in the Bible.

The Gospels are clear that Jesus had many enemies. Why didn’t the Jewish and Roman leaders ever use this argument to undermine Jesus, and the new religion that grew out of his life and teachings. They tried to use events in his life against him: born out of wedlock, that he worked tricks with evil magic, that He was a heretic and led people astray, and he was justifiably crucified for His religious crimes. They never tried to convince anyone He never lived.

Finally, the amazing explosion of the church is perhaps the most compelling evidence. From the day of Pentecost, when the church was born, to our modern day, the stories of transformed lives due to faith in Jesus Christ are both compelling in their miraculous nature and overwhelming in their sheer numbers. To believe that such impact on the course of history grew out of a myth, or worse, a lie is simply unexplainable, and not seen in any other historical event or figure.

If you, the reader, has any doubt that Jesus existed, then there is no truth that I can effectively persuade you to believe. But do you believe that Jesus is who He says he is? This is truly the question that Jesus says all of us must answer for ourselves. Many people want to reject those parts of what Jesus said that they don’t like, and keep the parts that make them feel good, thus turning Jesus into a wise sage. Jesus does not give us that option. The Gospel accounts of His life and teachings clearly record that Jesus believed He was the Messiah, the Son of God. We read John 14:6 for one of countless examples, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The conclusion one must draw is that Jesus was who He said He was, or He was a nut. Our decision as to which it is will change the direction of our lives just as surely as it changed the course of history.

Do you find arguments about the historical Jesus to be intriguing? How does that affect your commitment to your faith? Have you accepted that Jesus Christ is who He says He is? How must that change the way you live your life? Do you give Jesus the reverence He deserves if He is indeed the Lord of your life and Savior of your soul?

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By Al Earley

A Religious Point of View

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