2022-01-18

Bearing False Witness for Jesus

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by Neil Godfrey

Last month a National Church Life Survey found that only 49% of Australians believe that “Jesus was a real person who actually lived”. From NCLS Research: Is Jesus Real to Australians?

That finding (although the sample size surveyed was small — 1286) was too depressing for one somewhat prominent Christian scholar in Australia who dashed off in time for Christmas the following response: Most Australians may doubt that Jesus existed, but historians don’t

A new survey has found that less than half of all Australians believe Jesus was a real historical person. This is bad news for Christianity, especially at Christmas, but it is also bad news for historical literacy.

. . . .

This is, obviously, terrible news for Christianity in Australia. One of the unique selling points of the Christian faith — in the minds of believers — is that it centres on real events that occurred in time and space. Christianity is not based on someone’s solitary dream or private vision. It isn’t merely a divine dictation in a holy book that has to be believed with blind faith. Jesus was a real person, “crucified under Pontius Pilate”, the fifth governor of Judea, as the Apostles’ Creed puts it. It seems many Australians really don’t agree.

But, frankly, this new survey is also bad news for historical literacy. This reported majority view is not shared by the overwhelming consensus of university historians specialising in the Roman and Jewish worlds of the first century. If Jesus is a “mythical or fictional character”, that news has not yet reached the standard compendiums of secular historical scholarship.

Take the famous single-volume Oxford Classical Dictionary. Every classicist has it on their bookshelf. It summarises scholarship on all things Greek and Roman in just over 1,700 pages. There is a multiple page entry on the origins of Christianity that begins with an assessment of what may be reliably known about Jesus of Nazareth. Readers will discover that no doubts at all are raised about the basic facts of Jesus’s life and death.

(John Dickson, 21st Dec 2021. Bolded highlighting is mine in all quotations. Link to OCD is original to John Dickson’s article.)

That sounds overwhelming, right? Who can be left to doubt? Who dares to step out of line from what is found in “the famous single-volume” toolkit of “every classicist”?

Let’s follow John Dickson’s advice and actually “take” that 4th edition of the OCD and read it for ourselves. Here is the relevant section of the article of which he speaks. All punctuation except for the bolded highlighting is original to the text quoted:

Christianity Christianity began as a Jewish sect and evolved at a time when both Jews and Christians were affected by later Hellenism (see HELLENISM, HELLENIZATION). Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, some Jews found Hellenistic culture congenial, while others adhered to traditional and exclusive religious values. When Judaea came under direct Roman control soon after the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, cultural and religious controversies were further exacerbated by the ineptitude of some Roman governors. Jesus therefore, and his followers, lived in a divided province.

The ‘historical Jesus’ is known through the four Gospels, which are as sources problematic. Written not in Aramaic but in Greek, the four ‘Lives’ of Jesus were written some time after his death (and, in the view of his followers, resurrection) and represent the divergent preoccupations and agendas of their authors. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke (to give their probable chronological order) differ from John in such matters as the geographical scope of Jesus’ ministry, which John expands from Galilee to include Judaea and Samaria as well; John also is more influenced by Greek philosophical thought. Through them, we can see Jesus as a rabbi and teacher, whose followers included socially marginal women (e.g. Mary Magdalen) as well as men, as a worker of miracles, as a political rebel, or as a prophet, who foresaw the imminent ending of the world, and the promised Jewish Messiah.

(OCD article by Gillian Clark, University of Bristol with Jill Harries, University of St Andrews, p. 312)

If one were inclined to be mischievous one might follow up the above by reading the entry for Heracles in the same OCD and noting that the description for him, another ancient figure who also became a god, is likewise described matter-of-factly as a real person and no less a mix of historical and mythical than Jesus. The difference is that with Heracles there are no cautious caveats about the problematic nature of the sources upon which our knowledge of Heracles is derived:

Heracles, the greatest of Greek heroes. His name is that of a mortal (compare Diocles), and has been interpreted as ‘Glorious through Hera” (Burkert 210, Chantraine 416, Kretschmer 121-9 (see bibliog. below)). In this case, the bearer is taken as being—or so his parents would hope—within the protection of the goddess. This is at odds with the predominant tradition (see below), wherein Heracles was harassed rather than protected by the goddess: perhaps the hostility was against worshippers of Heracles who rejected allegiance to the worshippers of Hera on whom the hero depended. This could have happened when Argos had established control over the Heraion and Tiryns (possibly reflected in an apparent falling-off of settlement at Tiryns late in the 9th cent, BC: Foley 40-2) Some of the inhabitants of Tiryns might have emigrated to Thebes, taking their hero with him. Traditionally Heracles’ mother and her husband (Alcmene and Amphitryon) were obliged to move from Tiryns to Thebes, where Heracles was conceived and born (LIMC 1/1. 735). However, there is no agreement over the etymology of the name, an alternative version deriving its first element from ‘Hero’ (see Stafford (bibliog.) and HERO-CULT).

Heracles shared the characteristics of, on the one hand, a hero (both cultic and epic), on the other, a god. As a hero, he was mortal, and like many other heroes, born to a human mother and a god (Alcmene and Zeus; Amphitryon was father of Iphicles, Heracles’ twin: the bare bones of the story already in Homer, Il. 14. 323—4). Legends arose early of his epic feats, and they were added to constantly throughout antiquity. These stories may have played a part in the transformation of Heracles from hero (i.e. a deity of mortal origin, who, after death, exercised power over a limited geographical area, his influence residing in his mortal remains) to god (a deity, immortal, whose power is not limited geographically) See HERO-CULT.

Outside the cycle of the Labours (see below), the chief events of Heracles’ life were as follows: . . .

(OCD, article Heracles, p. 663)

—o—

But John Dickson does not stop with the OCD. There is another standard reference work that as an undergraduate I recall being warned to approach with caution:

Or take the much larger Cambridge Ancient History in 14 volumes. Volume 10 covers the “Augustan Period”, right about the time that Tiberius, Livia, Pliny the Elder, and — yes — Jesus all lived. It has a sizeable chapter on the birth of Christianity. The entry begins with a couple of pages outlining what is known of Jesus’ life and death, including his preaching of the kingdom of God, his fraternising with sinners, and so on. No doubts are raised about the authenticity of these core elements.

Indeed. The author of the chapter that covers Christian origins introduces his outline with this somewhat contradictory footnote:

1 I have chosen a few generally non-controversial features of the ministry of Jesus: for these one is necessarily reliant upon the evidence of the synoptic gospels (composed in their present form near or generally after the destruction of the Temple, the chronological terminus of this study). But for the most part I have preferred to follow as far as possible the contemporary witness of Paul and his associates (supplemented, unavoidably, by the additional testimony of Acts). That way I hope to eschew as much as I can the anachronistic perceptions of the early Christian past (embedded in the Canon as it became later formed) as Christianity developed its own self-awareness and its own sense of separate identity and sought legitimation for those developments in its preferred accounts of its past.

(G.W. Clarke, p. 848)

If one is “necessarily reliant upon the evidence of the synoptic gospels” and Paul then one is, by definition, immersed in “anachronistic perceptions” as “embedded in the Canon”, and the assumption of a “near-70” date for the gospels does not eliminate this problem. Most of the highlighted gospel references in the quotation below are debated by critical scholars and some – in particular, the references to Jesus’ contact with gentiles — are more widely rejected as historical if the Jesus Seminar conclusions are any reasonable guide. The Jesus Seminar publications were in fact prominent in the mid-1990s, the same time as Volume 10 of the Cambridge Ancient History was published.

Jesus Seminar’s assessment of Jesus’ sayings, published 1993, approx three years before Clarke’s chapter:

  • Mark 11:15ff = pink (entering temple and some action), grey (violent action)
  • Matt 5:21 = pink, grey, black (various sayings)
  • Matt 5:43 = red (love enemies)
  • Matt 5:31f = black (divorce)
  • Mark 3:1ff = grey (healing on sabbath)
  • Matt 6:24 = pink (riches)
  • Mark 7:25ff = grey (healing gentile woman’s daughter)
  • Matt 8:5ff = black (healing centurion’s son)

red: “That’s Jesus!
pink: Sure sounds like Jesus.
grey: Well, maybe.
black: There’s been some mistake.

Jesus’ central activities of teaching in the synagogues, attending the Temple services, keeping the festivals – and disputing with other teachers (especially represented, at least in later tradition, as sharpening his views against those of the Pharisees) – these place him in the mainstream of contemporary religious occupations. And his central concerns fit comfortably into the continuing debate within the Judaism of the day, often characterized as they are with reformist tendencies: concerns for Temple purity and cleansing (Mark 11:15ff, Matt. 21:12f, Luke 19:45ff, John 2:14ff), concerns for intentional purity in worship as well as in morals (e.g. Matt, 5:21ff), concerns for the purity of the person (casting out of demons/curing the sick), concerns for love of neighbour (extended even to loving one’s enemies, Matt. 5:43ff), concerns for regulating the sexual code of behaviour (with a restrictive view on divorce, Matt. 5:31f, 19:3ff), concerns for giving primacy to moral (as opposed to ceremonial) law (Mark 3:1ff (healing on the Sabbath)). The carpenter from Nazareth in Lower Galilee, with his chosen inner circle of fishermen (that is to say, drawn roughly from the ‘small tradesman’ class) could certainly bluntly reject Mammon and outspokenly condemn the snares of riches (e.g. Matt. 6:24 = Luke 16:13), but this did not prevent him from fraternizing with wealthy tax-gatherers, worldly sinners, women of ill-repute and Gentiles6 (and other social outcasts).

6 Examples of contact with Gentiles are Mark 7:25ff (cf. Matt, 15:22ff), Matt. 8:5ff (cf. Luke 7:2ff).

In other words, the canon is cited as an unproblematic authority for the life and authenticity of Jesus. But there is a bigger problem here and it is highlighted by one of the reviewers of this volume:

The new volume X of the Cambridge Ancient History is an impressive accomplishment. It is also a profoundly disturbing one. Written over a long period of time, by diverse hands, and usually delayed even longer in the publication process, a volume of the Cambridge Ancient History is designed to introduce the reader to a ‘mainstream’ picture of the subject. Readers of the new Volume X need have no fear that they are being misled, or that the views they encounter stray far from the ‘mainstream’ of the subject. Readers may also wonder why there is so little debate, and, in consequence, so little history.

The section on Jesus is essentially an anodyne summary of catechism statements about Jesus and offers no explanatory power for Christian origins. G.W. Clarke’s Jesus is part and parcel of the Jewish establishment — “these place him in the mainstream of contemporary religious occupations. And his central concerns fit comfortably into the continuing debate within the Judaism of the day” — so we learn nothing about the origins of Christianity. Like the theologians, Clarke must finally fall back on belief in a miracle to “explain” the origins of Christianity:

[His chosen disciples’] conviction of his resurrection became the decisive confirmation of his messiahship. The movement from these local Palestinian origins began to spread. (p. 851)

In other words, we read a paraphrase of the “historical” Jesus as found in the gospels, nothing more. Historians and classicists, are normally more circumspect in assessing the validity of source material than that. Criticisms among historians are not absent, however:

Laziness is common among historians. When they find a continuous account of events for a certain period in an ‘ancient’ source, one that is not necessarily contemporaneous with the events , they readily adopt it. They limit their work to paraphrasing the source, or, if needed, to rationalisation. — Liverani, Myth and politics in ancient Near Eastern historiography, p.28.

There has been a very strong tendency to take the Biblical writing at its face value and a disinclination to entertain a hermeneutic of suspicion such as is a prerequisite for serious historical investigation.  (Clines, What Does Eve Do to Help, p. 164)

We should not judge G. W. Clarke to be lazy, though. He attempts to hew to what he believes are the earliest sources and seems unable to imagine any other approach. Cultural assumptions rule. My point is that the treatment of Christian sources in the Cambridge Ancient History is not on a par with the treatment of sources in other areas of historical research.

—o—

Finally, Dickson refers readers to another “classic” tool:

Not wanting to labour the point, but we could also turn to the compendium of Jewish history, the Cambridge History of Judaism in four volumes. Volume 3 covers the “Early Roman Period”. Several different chapters refer to Jesus in passing as an interesting figure of Jewish history. One chapter — 60 pages in length — focuses entirely on Jesus and is written by two leading scholars, neither of whom has qualms dismissing bits of the New Testament when they think the evidence is against it. The chapter offers a first-rate account of what experts currently think about the historical Jesus. His teaching, fame as a healer, openness to sinners, selection of “the twelve” (apostles), prophetic actions (like cleansing the temple), clashes with elites, and, of course, and his death on a cross are all treated as beyond reasonable doubt. The authors do not tackle the resurrection (unsurprisingly), but they do acknowledge, as a matter of historical fact, that the first disciples of Jesus “were absolutely convinced that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised and was Lord and that numerous of them were certain that he had appeared to them.”

There are more than three volumes but the first four volumes do cover Judaism in antiquity. The main point is that John Dickson’s readers would be forgiven for thinking he was suggesting that in the Cambridge History of Judaism one would find a study of Jesus by Jewish scholars who are otherwise removed from the field of Christian seminaries and Christian-dominated academia. By now you will not be surprised to learn that this is not so.

If you take a look at that chapter in Volume 3 you might be surprised to see two very familiar names. At least, they are very familiar to anyone who has spent a little time studying what Biblical scholars, New Testament and Historical Jesus scholars, say.  They are …

  • William David Davies, Congregationalist minister and theologian;
  • Ed Parish Sanders, who relies upon the now widely defunct “criteria of authenticity” to emphatically insist on “eight indisputable facts” about Jesus, facts so “indisputable” that other scholars do indeed dispute them.

I think 51% of Australians are entitled to question the historicity of Jesus without being pressured by suggestions that “most historians” have somehow concluded that the foundational beliefs of the Gospel message have been studied and found secure by the highest standards of the secular academy.


Clark, Gillian, and Jill Harries. “Christianity.” In The Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth, and Esther Eidinow, Fourth ed., 312–15. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, December 20, 2012. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199545568.001.0001/acref-9780199545568.

Clarke, G. W. “The Origins and Spread of Christianity.” In The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume X. The Augustan Empire, 43 B.C.-A.D.69, edited by Alan K. Bowman, Edward Champlin, and Andrew Lintott, Second ed., 848–72. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. https://archive.org/details/the-cambridge-ancient-history-vol.-10

Clines, David J. A. What Does Eve Do To Help?: And Other Readerly Questions to the Old Testament. Sheffield, England: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 1990. https://archive.org/details/whatdoesevedotoh0000clin

Davies, W. D., and E. P. Sanders. “Jesus: From the Jewish Point of View.” In The Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. 3: The Early Roman Period, edited by William Horbury, W. D. Davies, and John Sturdy, Vol. Three: 618–77. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. http://archive.org/details/TheEarlyRomanPeriodPages312641.

Dickson, John. “Why Historians Don’t Doubt Jesus Existed.” Opinion. ABC Religion & Ethics. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, December 23, 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/john-dickson-why-historians-dont-doubt-jesus-existed/13687464.

Liverani, Mario. Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography. Translated by Zainab Bahrani and Marc Van De Mieroop. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Powell, R., and K. Jacka. “Is Jesus Real to Australians?” NCLS Research, 2021. http://ncls.org.au/news/is-jesus-real-to-australians.

Schachter, A. “Heracles.” In The Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth, and Esther Eidinow, Fourth ed., 663–64. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, December 20, 2012. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199545568.001.0001/acref-9780199545568.


 

 

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46 thoughts on “Bearing False Witness for Jesus”

  1. Suppose the question had been “Which statement best reflects your understanding of King Arthur?” and the choices were “King Arthur is a fictional or legendary character” and “King Arthur is an actual person who actually lived.” Even if I believed that there had been some local leader in 6th century Britain named “Arthur,” I would still consider the King Arthur of popular culture to be fictional or legendary, so the former statement would better reflect my understanding than the latter.

    One can believe that there probably was some 1st century Palestinian trouble maker named “Jesus” who got himself crucified and nonetheless believe that the character of Jesus the Anointed One of God is fictional or mythical. “Fictional or mythical” would correspond better to that understanding than “real.”

  2. Actually, it is more important to say (assuming the survey is accurate), that 49% + 29% = 78% believe that Jesus was either historic, or simply don’t know. And only 22% believed Jesus was fictional or mythical. Perhaps the rather low 22% of mythical/fictional believers should be emphasized as much as the 49% historical believers. That ratio is still greater than 2:1.

    1. Not sure which is more important to say, but the graphic uses the word ‘know’ as if Jesus being a real historical person was a fact someone could ‘know’.

  3. “His teaching, fame as a healer, openness to sinners, selection of “the twelve” (apostles), prophetic actions (like cleansing the temple), clashes with elites, and, of course, and his death on a cross are all treated as beyond reasonable doubt.” So we have an appeal to authority based on incidents from the life none of which are supernatural in nature. This equals validation “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The problem is that all those non-supernatural events are taken from the gospels, with little to no corroboration from historical sources. But if I were to argue that H.G. Wells’s Time Traveler was a real historical person, based on the fact that he had friends who were men of some authority, you would laugh at me and say, “But The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is a fantasy!” It seems to me that doubt is entirely reasonable.

  4. OP: “[A] National Church Life Survey found that only 49% of Australians believe that ‘Jesus was a real person who actually lived’.”

    I suggest that future survey questions should distinguish between positions of the: historicist; biblicist; mythicist; ahistoricists.

    Historicists argue that Jesus b. Joseph/Pantera was a historical personage and Biblicists argue that the literary protagonist (sc. Jesus) of the gospel series (a debated genre of “historical bios” v. “historical fiction”) was inspired by a real historical person in the same manner as Popeye, Sherlock Holmes, Santa Claus, etc..

    Per Lataster,

    Not all ‘atheists’ are ‘strong atheists. Some are simply ‘agnostics’. I would like to propose, then, that we use the term ‘ahistoricists’ to encompass both the ardent ‘mythicists’ and the less certain ‘agnostics’. This avoids the false dichotomy, which I think historicists (much like theists) have been taking advantage of. They often frame the debate as only being between the right and the wrong, the reasonable and righteous historicists versus the silly mythicists, ironically appearing as unnuanced and dogmatic fundamentalists in the process. (As with the common false dilemma, presented by apologists, of ‘the truth’ being found in ‘Christianity’ or in ‘strong atheism’.) [ Lataster 2019, pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-9004397934.]

  5. John Dickson’s claim that “historical Jesus” existed is Equivocation Fallacy. When he talks about the Jesus he believes in, Jesus is the resurrected God. When he talks about “historical scholarship” of Jesus, he talks “Jesus as a rabbi and teacher”.

  6. Notice how little he actually discusses the evidence that Jesus existed compared to how much he discusses reference works that summarize the consensus of scholars. It strikes me as an admission that the real reason scholars so many scholars don’t doubt the existence of the historical Jesus is because so many other scholars don’t doubt the existence of the historical Jesus.

    1. Professors Alanna Nobbs and Edwin Judge find the evidence compelling 😉

      Per John Dickson (24 December 2012). “The irreligious assault on the historicity of Jesus”. ABC Religion & Ethics.

      Today’s ardent Jesus-deniers remind me of a reckless gang throwing puerile insults at a gentle giant, oblivious to the fact that they are way out of their league.

      The study of the historical Jesus is one of the West’s most focused, rigorous and voluminous academic inquiries into an ancient figure. In the library of Macquarie University, home to the largest Ancient History Department in Australia, students will probably find as many historical tomes on Jesus of Nazareth as on Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great combined. It is a vast discipline operating on entirely secular principles of linguistic, literary and historical analysis. Recourse to theological validation, while a legitimate intellectual route in itself, never features in this literature.
      […]
      [Professors Alanna Nobbs and Edwin Judge explain via written response to Michael Cathcart] “Very early Christian sources and several non-Christian, and even hostile, sources attest to the existence of Jesus in first-century Palestine, putting his existence beyond reasonable doubt.”

      • Nobbs and Judge did not publicly publish, what I assume to be an open letter response (requested by Dickson?) to Cathcart. Per my email request, several years ago, Nobbs and Judge cordially tried to the locate the response, but it was not archived and is lost. Perhaps Cathcart or Dickson retained a copy if anyone is in contact with them.

    2. Indeed. John Dickson is a well-known evangelist spreading the word of Jesus. When I worked at Darwin up on the northern tip of Australia I saw an advert for him as the special guest for a student Christian group. He is also personally acquainted with Raphael Lataster. I have on my shelf most of his books but find them too elementary to post about. Maybe some day I will engage with them here. He does seem to be as worried about the doubts about Jesus’s existence as James McGrath.

  7. Some more current debate:

    • Peter Clarke (14 January 2022). “Jesus Mythicism Is About to Go Mainstream”. Merion West.

    None of this is to say that Jesus definitely did not exist as a real person. He very well might have. Carrier puts the odds at a one in three chance that he existed. As someone who knows less about the topic than these experts, I am happy to grant historical Jesus even better odds. But when it comes to the consensus, I do not see any way for historical Jesus to maintain such a strong advantage. From this moment on, it seems highly probably that the mythicist view will continue to become more well-subscribed to, and the new mainstream view—correct or otherwise—might become that Jesus is nothing more than a fictional character.

    • Paul Krause (18 January 2022). “In Reply to “Jesus Mythicism Is About to Go Mainstream””. Merion West.

    If Jesus mythicism goes mainstream, it is not because Jesus was not a real historical figure, or that the historical source material is weak (non-Christian historians like Josephus and Tacitus and Pliny all make reference to Jesus), or that the mythicist “scholarship” is persuasive, it will be because ignorance of scholarship and misinformation about scholarship is so widespread and is spread through the Internet creating large-scale public misperception, which is advanced through the instinct for confirmation bias now readily available at the click of a fingertip. Listening to a couple of YouTube talks and podcasts does not make one a scholar or expert, and it is no replacement for years of formal study and tens of thousands of pages read (hundreds of thousands, even, at the doctorate level) on serious scholarship—not to mention training in ancient languages and familiarity (and sometimes direct experience) with archeological material. If misperception and misinformation is a problem, we all have a role to play in redressing these issues. Spreading them, under the guise of critical inquiry, is not one of them.

    1. I certainly welcome refutations of Jesus-mythicism, so long as it is respectful, by which I mean that it addresses the arguments rather than engaging in ad hominem insults, bleatings about scholarly consensus, or uncited appeals to what “all reputable scholars” accept as true.

      If there is one thing that this blog has taught me (and it has taughten me many other things), even allegedly reputable scholars who are not bold enough to deny Jesus’s historicity are able to advance views that challenge what seems to be the scholarly mainstream about the crucified criminal whom the people of the Roman Empire accepted as a god. By this, I refer to, among other things:

      Jesus violence in the Temple.
      Jesus’s baptism.
      Jesus’s preaching.

      1. Those of us who are sceptical of the fashionable hypothesis of man-made climate change also face ad hominem insults, bleatings about scholarly consensus, and appeals to what “all reputable scholars” accept as true. It is the standard procedure for dealing with dissidents.

        Real scientific or scholarly debate is too risky. It might not provide sufficient support for the dogma.

        1. Scholarly consensus does not of itself equate with unscientific dogma. In the case of the question of the historicity of Jesus the subject is never even tackled except by a few dot-points of “proofs texts” that are the points in fact under dispute. In the case of climate change the topic is indeed addressed by both sides and we can see where the fallacies lie. With the historical Jesus question it is the question itself that is ridiculed and bypassed. The difference with climate change is as light from dark.

          1. Actually, the suggestion that climate change is not man-made is frequently ridiculed. Professional scientists usually avoid the tactics I referred to, at least in their professional publications, but the popularisers and fashionable artsy-fartsies use them all.

            1. In that, then, is the difference between disputes about Jesus and climate change. Scholars of Jesus use the tactics to which we refer when discussing challenges to Jesus’s historicity, even in their professional publications.

        2. Ridicule of climate-change denial might be standard, but it is not exclusive. I can find YouTube videos explaining in complete and careful detail exactly what is wrong with the arguments of people claiming to prove either that climate change isn’t happening or that human activity has nothing to do with it. I have never come across any work, on YouTube or anywhere in print, presenting a similar analysis of mythicist arguments.

            1. Neil, I knew this was coming so I went searching as soon as I’d posted. No luck yet. It was at least a year or so ago and I didn’t take any notes at the time.

              All I can say is I know I saw them. At this time, however, I cannot prove that I saw them. I will totally understand if nobody here is willing to take my word for it that they exist.

              1. I am not doubting you in the slightest, Doug. I just think it would be most useful to have ready access to such resources online. If/when you find them do please add them here. Cheers.

    2. “Comment by Chris_Hansen97—18 January 2022”—per “Jesus Mythicism Is About to Go Mainstream”. r/AcademicBiblical. 18 January 2022.

      [Per the article by Peter Clarke.] There is also no evidence of increased pro-mythicism stances among scholars. This article is so incompetent and poorly researched that it could only list two scholars with qualifications relevant to the field: Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Then it cites… atheist activist with no credentials or academic publications, the self-published “expert” David Fitzgerald. I have more qualifications than Fitzgerald and I don’t even have my undergrad finished (I actually have peer reviewed publications on the topic for one). This is particularly absurd because I can think of several (living) academics who doubt Jesus’ existence and are qualified without having to cite some self published bloke with no credentials in the field, nor even a single peer reviewed paper in a qualified journal on the issue.

      Carrier’s list of 20 people who think mythicism is at least plausible is rather bad and misleading, because most of those scholars, while they think mythicism is “plausible” do not find it probable or even slightly convincing. Zeba Crook has taken Carrier to task for instance. In fact, going to Carrier’s website, half the names he lists are of dead people (Hector Avalos, Philip Davies) or retired scholars (Thomas L. Thompson, Arthur Droge). It is doubly slight of hand on the article’s part because it cites Carrier’s list as scholars who “openly doubt the historicity of Jesus” but most of them, in fact the vast majority, do not.

      1. I can think of several (living) academics who doubt Jesus’ existence and are qualified

        most of those scholars, while they think mythicism is “plausible” do not find it probable or even slightly convincing

        Surely, these passages suggest that mythicism is not the utter absurdity that mainstream biblical scholarship would have us believe it to be.

    1. Well well, will you look at that! Had I waited a day I could have saved myself a post and simply pointed to that link. It covers the various points about historical research methods that I have covered so often before here.

    2. “Ultimately, answers to the question of whether you consider this body of evidence sufficient to justify belief in Jesus’s historicity — on balance or not, or with certainty or not — will always be personal. There is no objective standard of proof to which historians will ever agree in a case like this; nor will there ever be agreement as to whether or not it has actually been reached.”

      It also explains the 29% “Don’t Know”. The survey asks about “Know”, but most of the comments have to do with “Believe”, as in Neil’s statement, “a National Church Life Survey found that only 49% of Australians believe…”

      Think “Believe” doesn’t necessarily require proof. Know implies proof. Maybe too fine a point.

  8. “A new survey has found that less than half of all Australians believe Jesus was a real historical person. This is bad news for Christianity, especially at Christmas, but it is also bad news for historical literacy.”

    So, if you want to go there, what does there being a reported 2.3 billion people worldwide who profess to be Christians say?

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05/christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/

    Matthew 7:13-14:

    “13 ‘Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.’ ”

    Why should a Christian be depressed over the world turning away from the Lord? It is proclaimed in the New Testament. This is not news to us. Big whup, as it were.

    I think this argument is a strawman, inconsequential, respectfully.

    If a nonhistorical Jesus, who never really lived, can cause this many people to believe, I believe one can make a strong case for the Holy Spirit being real, alive, and at work in this fallen world. Otherwise, Christianity should have never gotten off the ground in the first place.

    Add to that 1.8 billion Muslims who believe, correct me if I’m wrong, that Ishmael also came from Abraham and they believe that Christ was a great prophet.

    Add to that the Jews who believe in God, the Father. That’s over half the world that believe in the Old Testament God, and two of those three religions believe that Christ was a historical figure who actually lived.

    So, if your argument is “the number of people who believe Christ was an actual historical figure should be of significance”, it appears to me that those who don’t believe He was are in the minority.

    However, I truly don’t see the significance of your argument when reading Matthew 7:13-14. In the end days fewer people are going to believe in Christ. In that case, what’s the point of said argument?

    Honestly, what I see all this debate about is to make those who don’t believe in Christ feel better about rejecting God tapping them on the shoulder, through the Holy Spirit, saying, “I’m here.” Otherwise, why give it a second thought? If Christ isn’t real, if He’s not resurrected, if He’s just a myth, why give Him a second thought? Just get on with your life and forget about it.

    For those of us who KNOW He is resurrected, all this debate can’t dissuade us from having faith in Him. It is impossible for such debate to create doubt within us. Our faith has led us to a point beyond faith, where we have actually been in the Presence of Christ, have experienced the richest measure of His Divine Presence, as the Apostle Paul spoke of and prayed for believers to experience. See Ephesians 3:19 in the Amplified version of the Bible. Such an event changed my worldview forever, in April, 1972. The experience lasted for 3 days. At that point it was no longer “faith”, but a “knowing” of His reality. I had passed through the curtain, into the Room where the Holy of Holies lived.

    Those who are truly His may have doubts, may actually turn away for a temporary time in their lives, but in the end God will redeem them and take them home to be with Him. Their spiritual birth did not come from human power. God birthed them. What HE births remains eternal.

    Sorry for rambling on, but no argument a human can think of will ever change my mind.

    BTW, you claim we Christians are bearing false witness. No sir, we are not. We are bearing witness to what we KNOW to be true.

    1. If you look again at my post I nowhere suggested that numbers of believers proves or disproves anything about the actual truth of the proposition that Jesus was not a historical figure. Ironically, you seem to apply the very thing I am not, that numbers of believers has some relevance to whether Jesus existed or not, and similtaneously quote a passage from the Bible that says only the few ever find the truth. If you believe that scripture should you not rather be a little worried that you are with a majority?

      Again, with respect to your concluding statment. Where did I claim that “you Christians” were bearing false witness? No, I did not. My post was very specific as to where the “false witness” is to be found.

      Sweeping assertions and an arrogant tone of being in the right are the sorts of things that I dislike intensely about all too many Christians. If you want to be a more positive light I recommend you examine yourself and how you read the words of others and how you come across. Arrogance and dogmatism don’t cut it with me.

      1. I apologize for misunderstanding what you wrote.

        However, I have met this entity called God/Jesus Christ and that is a fact. That was in April, 1972. That is not arrogance. That is the truth.

        I and another friend were associated with a Christian organization called The Navigators. We were both going to college and being discipled by a guy by the name of Bob. Bob regularly witnessed to people and that’s how we were both recruited by him. However, we were both emotionally abused by Bob. That said, even to this day I am amazed at Bob’s faith. He became a Navigator rep after college, in New Mexico.

        I did not know when I went out to the roadside park by the Jolly Truckstop to pray that anything would occur other than me praying. I was merely seeking some comfort, which I honestly doubted I would find when I prayed. I stopped the car engine at the park, a couple of verses shot through my mind very quickly (Hebrews 11:6 and Philippians 4:6,7) and I opened my mouth to pray. But before I could say anything God filled me with His Presence. It was intense. With that came feelings of love, security, peace, and a strong sense of well-being. I was in shock. I didn’t know such things happened to current-day believers. After a couple of minutes, I left the park and headed back to Wichita Falls to the rent house where we all lived. My feelings of fear, anxiety, and doubt had been replaced with God’s Presence.

        Now, whether I am still saved today is another question. I believe, by faith, that I am. The April, 1972 experience lasted over 3 days. It came then it was gone. This wasn’t some “confidence” that I had from my faith in scripture or from some church fathers. On the contrary, I had little confidence when I went out to pray. I was scared of the consequences I was facing in not being prepared for a test the next day. It sounds trivial today as I look back on it, but at the time it was very important to me. One of the most important things in my life at the time.

        Such an experience is not necessary for salvation. I didn’t even know, at that time, that such encounters were possible.

        This is what I experienced:
        Ephesians 3:
        “19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, [a]through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [b]mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] [c]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and [d]become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!”

        I didn’t find that version (Amplified) of that verse until around 1995, around 23 years after the event. But, I knew I had been filled with the richest measure of the Divine Presence and I found out over the course of that year that power came with it. If you find it arrogant to KNOW that Christ is resurrected, I can’t help that. But, I do KNOW He is.

        After taking the test the next day, with God’s Presence still as strong inside me as it had been the night before, I thought of how do I frame what is happening to me. Then I thought that maybe I had power with God that I may not have had before this. I didn’t really know. But, the second night I went out to that park to pray, to try and put to use for God’s purpose what He had blessed me with. His Presence was still as strong as it had been the night before.

        There was a student by the name of Jim that I had tried to witness to about Christ a couple of weeks before. He didn’t seem receptive to what I was saying, nor the scripture I was sharing. So, I decided to pray for Jim this second night. As I prayed for his salvation, God told me that he was going to be saved. This knowing of a future event had never happened to me before either. I was only 22 years old. So, God was still working through me, but I had no frame of reference for these events. They blew my mind. God didn’t audibly speak to me, rather it was through the Holy Spirit that He was communicating with me.

        After praying for Jim I left the park and drove back into Wichita Falls, where I was going to school and living, and stopped at a Sambo’s on Kemp Street, a popular coffee shop. I needed to think about what was happening. As I opened the clear glass door to enter, I saw a friend whose name was Gary. He was a first lieutenant in the Air Force, working at Sheppard Air Force Base. Gary was in charge of the Navigator ministry at Sheppard. So, I sat down in the booth across from him.

        He was really low, down, depressed. He told me he was burned out and was dropping out of the ministry. This was a shock to me. I had never seen him like this. But, having felt this way myself at times I could understand his thoughts and feelings, or at the least accept him as he was. We talked some and I shared with him what had happened to me the last two days. After finishing our coffee, Gary wanted to pray in his car, so we walked to his car and we prayed there. Then we both left for our residences. As it turned out Gary stayed in the ministry. He met his future wife a couple of months later when he invited her to a Billy Graham crusade in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

        The next day I was back on the college campus, near the R.O.T.C. building when God’s Presence left me. I begged Him not to take it away, but it was gone. That semester ended in May. I worked with a college friend over the summer who also was affiliated with The Navigators. When summer was over, it was time to register for the Fall, 1972 semester of college. This was around the 1st of September. I entered the boy’s dormitory to sign in and get a room for the semester. As I was signing in someone whispered my name. I turned around to see who it was. It was Jim, the student I had prayed for and God had told me he would be saved.

        Jim said he had come to faith in Christ during the summer. He wanted to get together on a regular basis for prayer and Bible study, and I gratefully accepted his offer. So, we became friends and spent time together that semester, praying together, studying the Bible, jogging, and witnessing. He graduated that semester and moved to Denton, TX, where he still lives as far as I know.

        I can provide the phone numbers of Jim and Gary if you want to verify what I’m saying. My college friend, Don, who now lives in California, and I talk frequently by phone. Don looked up both Jim and Gary not long ago and contacted them.

        I do apologize if I have upset you. That wasn’t my intent. But, from these events in my early Christian life, as well as others since that time, I know Christ is not only an historical figure, but the Son of God.

        Such events as I’ve described do happen today. No matter what we’ve done, and I hate to say I’ve done some very ungodly things since this time, it’s never too late to turn back.

        1. When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.

          Your subjective experience is not a “fact” in any meaningful sense of the word. It might be real and it might be true, but it is not objective insofar as the evidence is not available to anyone except you.

          1. As I said, you can contact Jim or Gary or Don to talk with them. All 3 will verify that they knew me, that I met with Jim for Bible study, prayer, witnessing before he graduated, that I did talk with Gary that night and told him what had happened to me, and that Don was my dorm roommate and my friend.

            There is no way to repeat what happened, no.

            Here is a definition of “subjective”:

            “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”

            Based on that definition I would have to disagree that what happened was subjective. That I met Christ is an objective fact. There was no one there with me to verify it, no, and even if someone had been there with me, they wouldn’t have seen anything or experienced anything unless the same thing had happened to them. That doesn’t make the event subjective. I am speaking about God, a spiritual being who was only in physical human form for 33 or so years. After that it was the Holy Spirit that He was in the form of, except for a short while after Christ’s crucifixion when he appeared to His disciples and some other people. The Holy Spirit is invisible to the human eye. IOW, you are trying to put God in a box that must fit your criteria to be valid, which maybe to test things by the scientific method. How do you test something in that way when it is invisible and only manifests itself when it chooses to and usually only to those that have faith in Christ? I don’t see how that works. It would be nice to be able to control God and make Him do things to prove His existence. But, as Jesus said, no sign would be given except the sign of Jonah. He also said that if people don’t believe Him they won’t believe me or another believer either. God desires faith. That runs from Genesis through Revelation.

            But, it’s fine with me however you view it. I’m just recollecting actual events or “facts” that happened to me 50 years ago.

            1. Here is a definition of “objective”:
              of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers

              And here is the sense of “subjective” that I intended:
              relating to the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind

              You are free to follow Humpty Dumpty’s example and use words to mean what you would like them to mean, but that no one present would have seen anything or experienced anything is precisely what makes the event a subjective experience rather than an objective fact.

              1. After thinking about it, I can see your point, that no one else would know what happened to me.

                However, let’s get one thing clear, you said:

                “And here is the sense of “subjective” that I intended:
                relating to the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind”

                This isn’t something that I created or conjured up. I went out to a park to pray. That’s all. I wasn’t expecting that a spiritual entity, called Jesus Christ, was going to fill me with His Presence. I didn’t even know such things really happened and had always viewed the Pentecostal segment of Christianity with some skepticism. While I didn’t speak in tongues, the experience reminds me of the Pentecostal side of Christianity.

                What is objective for all to see is that Jim contacted me for spiritual help and guidance a few months later. When I returned to the renthouse where us four guys lived, Bob verbally berated me. Why, I don’t recall now. My response to him suprised him. He may have been shocked. I don’t know, but at the least he was surprised. The reason is because I had the richest measure of the Divine Presence filling me at that moment. What he was saying wasn’t important to me. I knew God loved me. Bob’s surprise is objective evidence something had happened to me. He might remember that if he were contacted.

                An hour or less before that I was sad, depressed, and anxious because I wasn’t prepared for an accounting exam to be given the next day. The reason I wasn’t prepared was because I was giving more time to Christian activities and not enough time studying, because of Bob. Even that night all four of us attended a Navigator fellowship that lasted for a couple of hours. I had requested that I be allowed to stay home and study, but Bob was insistent that I attend. So I did. I realized after coming back to the house that there was not enough time for me to be prepared for the exam. So, I went out to pray about it.

                Fruit was born out of the experience. I had an Ephesians 3:19 experience and Jim came up to me looking for help some months later. So, not all of this is subjective. (1) Bob’s surprise at how I responded to him that night is objective evidence of something happening, (2) as is Jim and I becoming friends and doing Bible study, etc. together the following semester. (3) And Gary would confirm that I told him about the event while we were at Sambo’s. All of those are objective facts that can be confirmed.

  9. I’m reminded of an occasion when I was a believer and someone asked me, “What would you do if you discovered you were wrong about your religion?” I immediately replied, “That’s like asking me what I would do if I discovered two plus two equaled five.” I thought, at the time, that I was merely expressing a justifiable confidence. After all, although arrogance was a sin, faith was a virtue, right?

    Not long afterward, in a conversation with other unbelievers, I was trying to explain why I was justified in such confidence. More specifically, if memory serves, I was attempting to justify my belief in scriptural inerrancy, and I was about to appeal to the witness of the church fathers regarding the provenance of the New Testament writings. I was going to say that I was surely justified in trusting their testimony. But then I realized that their trustworthiness was a judgment that I myself had made.
    And so, there was no way for me to argue that the Bible couldn’t be wrong without claiming that those men couldn’t be wrong, and I could not say those men couldn’t be wrong without saying that I couldn’t be wrong. Whatever degree of infallibility I attributed to anybody else, I had to attribute to myself.

    I did not stop believing in Jesus or in God because of that realization, but I did stop believing many things that my Christian mentors had assured me were necessary to believe in order to avoid burning in hell for all eternity. It would be a few years before I became an atheist, and a few decades beyond that before I came to suspect that Jesus of Nazareth was not a real person. But it began when I had to ask myself, “Do you think it possible that you could be mistaken?”

    1. How I envy my eight year old self thinking “burning in hell for all eternity” has to be the worst. Little knowing the torment of being married to a women that I loved/hated. As I understand Cupid had arrows of lead and gold 🙂

    2. I saw your question, “Do you think it possible that you could be mistaken?”

      After what has happened to me, no, there is no way I am mistaken. Whether I still possess God’s Holy Spirit or not, am redeemed or not, there is no way I am mistaken. Christ is risen. He still works through very fallible human beings. He’s looking for people that will obey His Word to manifest Himself to them and work through them.

        1. By faith I believe that I am, yes. There is some doubt, yes, because of what I have done since 1972 and because of some scripture that speaks of apostasy. I have struggled some over the years and sometimes I have made bad decisions in regards to believing. That doesn’t mean I thought that God didn’t exist. On the contrary it’s impossible for me to think that ever because of the events that occurred in 1972. Knowing what I know, I’ve gotten upset at God over not intervening in my personal life at times. But, it does mean I have lacked faith at times over the years.

            1. “So, you believe you are fallible. But you also think it is not possible you could be mistaken. I don’t see how both can be true. Care to explain?”

              That’s easy. Let’s see if you follow me. I’m not perfect. Yes, I’m fallible. But, if I meet you for lunch, then I KNOW we have had lunch together. Can’t be mistaken. But, I’m still imperfect, which means I may yell at the cat tonight.

              What happened to me one night in April of 1972 is like meeting a real person. The experience was unmistakable. God filled me with the richest measure of His Presence. He showed up. That lasted over 3 days. During that time I prayed for a student and God told me that he would be redeemed. Months later that student, who had been agnostic when I talked to him before, contacted me and wanted to get into Bible study, prayer, etc. Also, I was able to encourage a friend who was ready to drop out of ministry, so that he hung with it.

              I’m fallible for sure, but I’m not mistaken about what happened or who I met that night. Same thing as meeting you for lunch.

              Oh, the night this occurred, upon my return to the renthouse where we all lived, Bob, Don, John (a young man working for Coca Cola at the time), and myself, Bob was waiting for me to browbeat me over something. I hadn’t told him where I was going and he started verbally berating me when I got back to the house. I can’t recall why.

              I was sitting in a chair and he was standing. I was feeling God’s Presence inside me intensely. That manifested itself with feelings of being loved, peace, security, and just a sense of well being. I was looking at him and thinking, “Okay, Bob, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I know God loves me and am feeling that intensely right now. So, say whatever. God’s approval of me is far more important than yours, and I know that I have that right now.”

              As he was trying to get my usual response, I could see a look of surprise in his facial expression. It may have been shock, I’m not sure. I don’t know if he would remember that, but he might. At any rate, once he was through I went to bed and slept as sound as a baby.

              If God made Himself known to you by filling you with His Presence, do you think it would be a remarkable experience to you? Do you think you’d remember it for the rest of your life? Fruit followed the experience in the form of Jim.

              I think that if the same thing happened to you, you’d understand where I’m coming from.

              So, another example of God’s power is about Bob, the man who discipled me for about 10 months, 1971 and through May of 1972. The one who verbally abused at times when I lived in the renthouse with him and Don, and John. Bob came to my house, from New Mexico, in 1986. We went out for lunch and he apologized for the verbal abuse that took place in 1971 and 1972. He was also trying to raise funding for his ministry in New Mexico. He was a Naviagor Rep and still is today.

              During lunch he told me that he and his wife, Claudia, were trying to have children. They had been to two doctors and both told him they couldn’t have children. But, he said that he had promises from God that He would give them children. Having been around Bob daily for close to a year, I believed what he was telling me, that God had given him promises from His Word. So, after lunch Bob left.

              I prayed for him and Claudia for some months. I don’t recall how long, but I got the impression God was going to give them children. In 1987 or 1988 they had their first child of four. That to me is the power of God to do the impossible. It was Bob’s faith. Two doctors had told them they couldn’t have children. But, Bob believed God and what God had promised him. That is Bob. That’s who he is and was when I was around him daily. His faith astounds me.

              Have you ever heard of Jackie Pullinger? I would suggest watching vids about her and her ministry on youtube. If you knew a drug addict for 10 years, that was deep into his addiction and saw that person suddenly free of their addiction, able to hold a job, and no longer doing drugs. Would you be curious as to what had caused the change? If you heard the person say that it was the power of Christ, I wonder what your thoughts would be? I met a young man not long ago in the parking lot at the local Lowe’s store and he gave me a pamphlet about a church in another town and told me that Christ had delivered him off of drugs.

              Christ is real, He’s risen. People are finding that out daily. You can witness this if you look and are open to it.

              Christ knows me, my secrets, but He still loves me. The same is true of you. It’s not about fearing hell. It’s about discovering the love that Christ has for each one of us.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt4bYvxYNXU

        2. Jesus said in John 6:37-40

          37Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

          39And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For it is My Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

          From this and other passages, I personally believe that what is born of God is eternal. Earthly sons and daughters of God are not birthed by human will but by God’s will. Jesus says that God’s will is that He should lose none of those birthed by the will of God. I think that once a person has believed and received the Holy Spirit that they can never be lost. There is a lot of scripture to support that thesis.

          There’s a lot of OT scripture that supports the apostle Paul’s letters in the NT. In Jeremiah 31 we find this, which Paul quoted in Hebrews 8:

          Jeremiah 31:
          31“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
          “when I will make a new covenant
          with the people of Israel
          and with the people of Judah.
          32It will not be like the covenant
          I made with their ancestors
          when I took them by the hand
          to lead them out of Egypt,
          because they broke my covenant,
          though I was a husband to them, ”
          declares the Lord.
          33“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
          after that time,” declares the Lord.
          “I will put my law in their minds
          and write it on their hearts.
          I will be their God,
          and they will be my people.
          34No longer will they teach their neighbor,
          or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
          because they will all know me,
          from the least of them to the greatest,”
          declares the Lord.
          “For I will forgive their wickedness
          and will remember their sins no more.”

          So, there was always to be two covenants, but only one way of salvation, by faith.

          Genesis 15:
          5 And the LORD took him outside and said, “Now look to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able.” Then He told him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

          Abraham “believed” God and that belief was counted as righteousness. This was over 400 years before the Law was given through Moses. Which means the Law and works were never intended by God to be the way of salvation. He made us, He understands how imperfect we are. That’s why Christ had to come to redeem us. All our works, religious and otherwise, are as filthy rags to Him. As Paul said in Romans 3:28:

          “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

          Grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love is the message of the Gospel of Christ. This is what drew me to Him. My parents were certainly a help also through their love.

          We all screw up in one form or another, even after we believe. That doesn’t stop Him loving us.

          I think that if a person is meeting with God daily or almost daily, getting a steady intake of the Bible, meeting and fellowshipping with other believers, seeking to be obedient as they understand, and witnessing when they have opportunity to that somewhere along this path Christ will manifest Himself to you in some way.

          John 14:21-26
          21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

          25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

          Maybe your mind is made up. But, I hope you’ll reconsider how the OT and NT align with each other and the message of hope, redemption, and forgiveness of the New Covenant. It’s never too late in this life.

          1. “Maybe your mind is made up.”

            I have reached a conclusion about which I feel considerable confidence. That said, for me, making my mind up does not mean being resolved never to change it. I don’t think I could justify such a resolution without thinking myself infallible.

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