Saturday, June 30, 2012

Church History: On this Rock

“Our calendar, the church itself, Sunday as a day of rest, and the remarkable changes in lives of followers of Christ are historical testimony to Christ in history” (Cairns, 54)

This chapter is for the people that deny Christ really existed.  People today either believe Christ was real man but not special or that he’s a legend like Santa Claus.  Earle Cairns provides extrabiblical proof that Christ really lived in history.

The Pagans:  A Roman historian named Tacitus who lived within a century of Christ mentions Christus, who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberias.

In 112, Pliny wrote about wanting to stop the Christians from taking over Rome.  Yet, he praises them for their high morality and “how they sing a song to Christ as to a God” (Cairns 45).  Here is testimony both to Christ’s humanity and his divinity.

Suetonius also mentions Jews who were expelled from Rome over Christ.  This would not have happened over a fictitious man.  

Lastly, Lucian wrote a satire in 170 about Christians.  It’s very blasphemous but all the more proof that Jesus was real.

The best non-Christian testimony about Christianity is Josephus who lived from 37-100.  He wanted to defend the Jews to the Romans and mentions Jesus, his brother James, and even claims that Christ was a wise man condemned to die.

At one point, years were measured on how many years it was after the founding of Rome.  Dionysius Exiguus dated Christ’s birth to 745 AUC (from the founding of Rome), and then people started dating history from that point, dividing between BC and AD.  Later, people dated Christ’s birth to a more accurate 749 AUC.  They decided this because Matthew says that Jesus was born during Herod.  Josephus mentions an eclipse in 750 AUC, right before Herod’s death.  Thinking that might be the star the Magi followed, they concluded that Jesus was born then.

Dionysius Exiguus decided to date Christ’s birth from 754 AUC (from the founding of Rome) instead of the more accurate 749 AUC.  Meaning, Christ was probably born 5 years Before Christ.

I gleaned the rest of this from a lecture by Darrell Bock, “Can We Trust the Bible” which you can find on  It is also good to mention today’s doubters from the Jesus Seminar.  I don’t know if he is in that group, but Bart Ehrman accuses the Christians of playing the telephone game because of oral tradition.  He lives under the delusion that the new testament books weren’t written until centuries later.

Even if that was true, the ancient world knew how to memorize accurately.  They weren’t distracted by television and internet and smart phones.  They actually had to spend their free time thinking, therefore, they memorized oral tradition.  But the last apostle to live was John who died about 100.  He wrote Revelation and finished the Bible.  All the New Testament books had already been written.  So, it was all written within 100 years of the events mentioned.

Another Ehrman delusion is that nobody knows who wrote the Gospels so the folks in the 2nd century just credited them to someone.  But if they really did that, why did they pick two of the men to credit.  Peter was the chief disciple.  Why were no books credited to him?  Why was Mark given a book?  Mark is the one who people think ran away naked when Jesus was being arrested.  Mark is the one who deserted Paul and Barnabas on their first mission trip.  If you were going to give someone a book without knowing if he wrote it, you would not let Mark have that honor.

Also Luke.  He was a great guy, a physician, but the “we” sections of Acts are not even on third of the book.  He has no big role in any of the stories, just some cameos.  If this was not real, then someone more active in the stories like Paul would have his name on the Gospel.  Not Luke.

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