C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Do the Gospels Deserve Our Attention?

We have another good question from a blogger asking, “The Gospels were written decades after the supposed events they described by individuals who were probably not eyewitnesses given the short life expectancy during that era.”

They claim the most common response they receive from Christians is, “If the story is false or embellished as you speculate, why would early Christians die for a story that was obviously untrue?”

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I must also ask (the questioner), to establish the premise: By what authority do you conclude your ideas of when and by whom the Gospels were written?
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I must admit that I agree with the author in that simply claiming that people becoming martyrs over the belief that something is true does not in and of it self make it true. In example they give the Muslims. Muslims indeed martyr themselves for a belief they hold, which any Christian must confess disagrees with the Word of the True God, I AM. Yet it could be noted that Christians usually become martyrs by the hands of others, whereas Muslims usually become martyrs by their own hands.

A quick source [Christistheway.com] followed by a more detailed source [bible.org] for each gospel:
Matthew, Matthew: Introduction, Argument, and Outline
Mark, Mark: Introduction, Argument, and Outline
Luke, Luke: Introduction, Outline, and Argument
John, John: Introduction, Argument, Outline

Above the actual author, date, and eyewitness account is the inspiration of God whereby the Holy Spirit moves elected persons of God to write that which are the Words of God.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Being inspired [God breathed]; this ensures that the author, though able to use their own style of writing and experiences are moved by the Holy Spirit without error to write the inerrant infallible things of God. They do not simply write all that they know or want to, but that which the Holy Spirit gives them utterance [2 Peter 1:20-21].

Secondly, time is not a factor, for the Holy Spirit (being of the Trinity) knows all, and is able to give man total recall of all that was, is, and will be, to the desire of God’s purpose. Christ gives this promise to His followers in John 14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Thirdly, for the sake of the authors, Matthew and John were for sure eyewitnesses to the ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ [Matthew 10:2-4, 1 Corinthians 15:4-6]. As for Mark and Luke, the above links can be viewed for more information but their gospel accounts (though some may go to great links to show where they vary) leave no margin of variance that can be deemed as proof that they are uninspired or made up.

The question then of the atheists or agnostic may be: “Isn’t it circular reasoning to consider the Bible inspired, because the Bible says it is inspired?”

This is a good question, but does not prove their idea that the argument of circular reasoning must discount the inspiration of Scripture, for their argument also attacks the very ideas of science itself which they deem to think right.

Example:
"The rocks do date the fossils, but the fossils date the rocks more accurately. Stratigraphy cannot avoid this kind of reasoning . . because circularity is inherent in the derivation of time scales."—*J.E. O'Rourke, "Pragmatism vs. Materialism in Stratigraphy," American Journal of science, January 1976.

Other reading:
Agnostic asks whether biblical Christians commit circular reasoning.
Dating Rock Layers

14 comments:

Mark said...

In this blog you state: "Yet it could be noted that Christians usually become martyrs by the hands of others, whereas Muslims usually become martyrs by their own hands."

This is a HUGE point! One individual has been brainwashed and is delusional. The other is going about his or her business and because of their faith is put to death.

BEAST said...

My question here: Do you actually understand the concept behind carbon dating?

If you don't, tell me and I will dedicate one post just for your poor grasp of science.

My advice to you: Don't make yourself stupid by writing what you do not understand. Picking up Christian websites to debunk evolution is simply ludicrous.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Beast,

Do you read or skim read my posts? This post has nothing to do with evolution. The one point of circular reasoning being thrown at Biblical inspiration can also been pointed at the dating of fossils, rocks, layers. By all means write a post on carbon dating, but the links I provide, especially DATING ROCK LAYERS is full of Science books, magazines, etc. quotes, not Christian preaching.

You could do yourself a favor and try not to read more into my posts than what is there and try to stay on topic. I.E. Evolution is not the topic here.

The Alpha said...

By what authority do you conclude your ideas of when and by whom the Gospels were written?

Most scholars, both secular and Christian, date the penmenship of the Gospels decades after the supposed death of Jesus based upon internal and external data. The style of writing and some of the events described didn't happen until decades later. Given the life expectancy during that time period, it's highly unlikely that an eye witness would have been alive to tell a story that included events that happened in 70 CE.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

The style of writing and some of the events described didn't happen until decades later.

What accounts in the 4 Gospels didn't happen until decades later? Or did you just mean the "style of writing" was from decades later?

Given the life expectancy during that time period, it's highly unlikely that an eye witness would have been alive to tell a story that included events that happened in 70 CE.

But not impossible. For we have also the book Revelation associated with John the apostle, and the mentioning of Mathew, Mark, and Luke in the writings of Paul.

Remember the resurrected Christ was seen by: [1 Corinthians 15:1-8]
1. Peter
2. The twelve
3. More than 500 which were mostly still alive during Paul's day.
4. James
5. Paul

The chance of over 500 people all dying before the Gospel accounts were written is very slim. Especially, already mentioned, we have the book of Revelation by John.

The Alpha said...

"Our conclusion is that Luke was written just before the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, c. 61-62 CE."

Even the conservative dates presented from the site in your post put the penmenship of the Gospels decades after the supposed death of Jesus. The average life expectancy during that time was around 35 years for men. I never said it was impossible just highly improbable given the life expectancy at that time.

The chance of over 500 people all dying before the Gospel accounts were written is very slim. Especially, already mentioned, we have the book of Revelation by John.

I disagree. First, simply because the Bible claims there were 500 witnesses does not mean there were actually 500 witnesses. Additionally, it was a tumultuous time period for that area. The first Jewish Revolt also happened during that time period. In Jerusalem alone more than one million Jews died.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

the alpha,

This topic comes down to what one decides to hold as truth. You would like to assume that the death of Christ did not happen, but the actions of the disciples show they clearly saw the risen Savior. We have eleven men that ran when Christ was crucified, yet after seeing the risen Jesus, had restored faith and trust in all the Christ proclaimed in the Scriptures. When they could have gone back and continued in their lives, something changed their whole life (this was the resurrected Christ) and they became bold to proclaim the gospel even in times of persecution and death. They could have easily denied Christ, but they choose to stay truth to the faith. There is no doubting that seeing the risen Savior changed these men forever. They did not return simply after His death, but after they saw Him risen.

To simply wish to believe Christ did not live, did not die, and/or did not rise again, and/or to believe these Gospel writers did not live, change, and write these accounts by the inspiration of God is clearly a choice based on perference and not really truth.

Not all the Jews died in the holocast so to assume that no eyewitness and/or these men could not have been alive to write such accounts because of "a tumultuous time period for that area" doesn't in anyway prove that they were not alive and were not the actually writers, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of the Scriptures.

Ask yourself if you do not believe in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the change in these men, their eyewitness accounts, their writings of the Gospels because there is clear evidence that all is made up, or simply just a personal refusal to accept anything that may give merit to Christianity and the God we serve?

You seem to be pretty intelligent, I just wonder if it is more personal or actual history that you associate your beliefs considered here with.

How would you explain such a change in scared men that ran at the death of Christ, then were bold after the resurrection? Do you really just easily dismiss that any of this happened?

BEAST said...

"There is no doubting that seeing the risen Savior changed these men forever. They did not return simply after His death, but after they saw Him risen."

Strange. If I was a Jew at that time, and saw some long-haired dude rising, I would take a club and wacked the moron's head.

He's supposed to be dead for goodness sake! Dead dogs tell no tales.....that is the Darwinian theory.

Besides, Jesus sprouted too much nonsense.Better he be dead than ramble more nonsense again.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Beast Boy -

Speaking as you do of Jesus Christ does not diminish Him as Lord and Savior in the least bit, it only shows your depravity that you are still dead in sins.

For your sake just be careful what you say [Matthew 12:36].

The Alpha said...

Tim,
To simply wish to believe Christ did not live, did not die, and/or did not rise again, and/or to believe these Gospel writers did not live, change, and write these accounts by the inspiration of God is clearly a choice based on perference and not really truth.

So to lack a belief that some ancient Galilean men exceeded the life expectancy of some of today's third world countries is wishful thinking?

I find it interesting that your statement can be rephrased by a Muslim to support Islam.
"To simply wish to believe that Allah did not split the moon in half before several eye-witnesses to prove Muhammod's prophethood as the Koran suggests, and/or to believe the Koran is not the inspired word of Allah is clearly a choice based upon preferance and not really truth."

Not all the Jews died in the holocast so to assume that no eyewitness and/or these men could not have been alive to write such accounts because of "a tumultuous time period for that area" doesn't in anyway prove that they were not alive and were not the actually writers, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of the Scriptures.

I think you may have missed my initial point. Simply because the Koran or the Bible states that there were a number of witnesses to an extraordinary event in no way proves the event happened or that there were witnesses to it. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.

Ask yourself if you do not believe in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the change in these men, their eyewitness accounts, their writings of the Gospels because there is clear evidence that all is made up, or simply just a personal refusal to accept anything that may give merit to Christianity and the God we serve?

I think the same would go for you. Ask yourself if you do not believe in the prophethood of Muhammod, the change that occured in all who followed him, the eye-witness that saw how he caused rain to fall from the heavens during battle, or is it simply just a personal refusal to accept anything that may give merit to Islam and the God they serve?

You seem to be pretty intelligent, I just wonder if it is more personal or actual history that you associate your beliefs considered here with.

Likewise, you seem to be pretty intelligent and I wonder if its simply your personal upbringing that allows you to apply a lesser standard of skepticism towards Christianity than other religions.

How would you explain such a change in scared men that ran at the death of Christ, then were bold after the resurrection? Do you really just easily dismiss that any of this happened?

How do you explain the change that occured over all those that followed Muhammad? Do you really just dismiss their faith as though it has no truth or substance to it at all?

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Alpha,

A look at the history of Muhammad, the Koran, and Muslims shows it in no way compares to the Christ, the Scripture and Christianity. Maybe to Joseph Smith and the Mormons, but not Christianity.

Let me make sure I understand what you believe. Do you believe that Jesus and the gospel writers at the least existed at all? Do you believe the Scriptures hold any truth or that it is entirely a lie?

Is the main point you are making that you do not believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the writers of the Gospel accounts, that they were the writers but not eye witnessess of the resurrected Christ, that they were eye witnesses of Christ but not the writers, or that they never existed? How, to you, would any of these in itself prove that Christ did not in fact rise from the dead?

The Alpha said...

Tim,

A look at the history of Muhammad, the Koran, and Muslims shows it in no way compares to the Christ, the Scripture and Christianity. Maybe to Joseph Smith and the Mormons, but not Christianity.

I agree. They don't compare, but I happen to think that's a good thing, for Islam at least. The Koran and the Book of Mormon were actually composed during the life of Muhammad and Joseph Smith whereas the Gospels were recorded decades later and are oddly reminiscent of other ancient mythologies. Additionally, the Koran claims that there were several eye-witnesses thus substantiating its claims the same way you claim the Gospel accounts are substantiated.

Do you believe that Jesus and the gospel writers at the least existed at all?

No. I don't believe a historical Jesus existed. Similarly, I don't believe that people by the name of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John authored the Gospels.

Is the main point you are making that you do not believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the writers of the Gospel accounts, that they were the writers but not eye witnessess of the resurrected Christ, that they were eye witnesses of Christ but not the writers, or that they never existed?

I was making several points, but yes I don't believe that people by the name of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John authored the Gospel. Additionally, I don't believe that whoever authored the Gospels were actually eye-witnesses to the events they describe.

How, to you, would any of these in itself prove that Christ did not in fact rise from the dead?

How, to you, would your statements prove that Muhammad was not a prophet of Allah?
I can't prove that there isn't an invisible elephant sitting next to you, but without sufficient evidence to substantiate that claim, I see no reason to believe it. I'm not out to prove that it did not happen, I just don't see sufficient evidence to prove that it actually did happen.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

The life and testimony of Muhammad condemns himself and his religion. Men are unable to condemn the life and testimony of Christ so are only left with denying His existence.

You say that "No. I don't believe a historical Jesus existed. Similarly, I don't believe that people by the name of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John authored the Gospels".

Now I understand why you don't believe the Gospel writers were eye-witnesses, because you don't believe the events that the Gospels or other Scriptures claim happened. I now also understand why you are not a Christian, for you do not believe the Savior ever existed.

All I can do is ask you to consider your doubts and keep searching for the answers you need for the questions you have concerning Jesus Christ, the Savior. [John 3:18]

I fail to see at this time where we can go any further with this topic if you deny that Jesus Christ ever existed.

Sean said...

alpha, I checked out the link and was a little disappointed.

One, I don't believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Some of it has been changed, some added, and even some although nearly impossible to tell has been deleted. However, these points don't take away from the Bible, but strengthen it. From a historical standpoint, this is amazing! So much of it has survived that we can verify the places that have bee changed. Name another set of books from the same period which shares that distinction.

Point two, I reject the doctrine of the trinity.

Point three, there are closer similarities between Egyptian and Sumerian religions than Hindu.

Otherwise, most of the points made are conjecture.

The rest of the article resides on the belief that the second and third points are correct.

Finally, there is more proof that Jesus existed than there is for most of our historical figures. Heck, there is a group of people who don't believe that Constantine ever existed ( http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=164 ).

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.