Welcome to The Reasons to Believe podcast, episode #164. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International.
Our Reasons to Believe Scripture Passage for today is Acts 1:1-9. It reads, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
Our Reasons to Believe quote for today is from Christoph Kreitz. He said, “It is a good thing to be skeptical and check out things before you believe them. The Bereans did that (Acts 17:11) and were highly commended for this. But once the facts are clear it is irrational to reject the logical conclusions. And this is exactly what refusing to believe in the resurrection is about. It is irrational, not based on facts but on the dogma that there cannot be any supernatural events. This however is a presupposition that is hard to justify. It would be the same as saying “there are no subatomic particles – it’s just a myth physicists dreamed up to get money from the government. We can’t see them so they don’t exist” and completely rejecting any plausible evidence to the contrary. It doesn’t make sense to argue that way, because it is detached from common sense and instead based on an absolute claim that cannot be substantiated.”
Our Reason to Believe powerpoint today is titled “The Resurrection, Part 17” from “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli.
The authors continue with the sixth part of this chapter subtitled, “Refutation of the Myth Theory: Six Arguments.”
2. A second problem is that there was not enough time for myth to develop. The original demythologizers pinned their case onto a late second-century date for the writing of the Gospels; several generations have to pass before the added mythological elements can be mistakenly believed to be facts. Eyewitnesses would be around before that to discredit the new, mythic versions. We know of other cases where myths and legends of miracles developed around a religious founder—for example, Buddha, Lao-tzu and Muhammad. In each case, many generations passed before the myth surfaced.
The dates for the writing of the Gospels have been pushed back by every empirical manuscript discovery; only abstract hypothesizing pushes the date forward. Almost no knowledgeable scholar today holds what Bultmann said it was necessary to hold in order to believe the myth theory, namely, that there is no first-century textual evidence that Christianity began with a divine and resurrected Christ, not a human and dead one.
Some scholars still dispute the first-century date for the Gospels, especially John’s. But no one disputes that Paul’s letters were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses to Christ. So let us argue from Paul’s letters.
Either these letters contain myth or they do not. If so, there is lacking the several generations necessary to build up a commonly believed myth. There is not even one generation. If these letters are not myth, then the Gospels are not either, for Paul affirms all the main claims of the Gospels.
Julius Muller put the antimyth argument this way:
One cannot imagine how such a series of legends could arise in an historical age, obtain universal respect, and supplant the historical recollection of the true character [Jesus]… if eyewitnesses were still at hand who could be questioned respecting the truth of the recorded marvels. Hence, legendary fiction, as it likes not the clear present time but prefers the mysterious gloom of gray antiquity, is wont to seek a remoteness of age, along with that of space, and to remove its boldest and most rare and wonderful creations into a very remote and unknown land. (The Theory of Myths in Its Application to the Gospel History Examined and Confuted [London, 1844], p. 26)
Muller challenged his nineteenth-century contemporaries to produce a single example anywhere in history of a great myth or legend arising around a historical figure and being generally believed within thirty years after the figure’s death. No one has ever answered him.
Lord willing, we will continue this topic in our next episode.
Now, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, my friend, please keep in mind these reasons to believe. God bless!