We all hear about “Jesus” as some point in our life, and many of us brush it off because it sounds too much like a fairy tale. Some of us hate Christianity with a passion because of the wars, death, judgment, and fights it is responsible for, and some of us have been raised on the Bible but ended up growing out of a lot of it. And maybe some of us have been brainwashed by New Ageism and New Atheism.
There is SO much disinformation out there about Jesus that it almost has become a trend to believe in falsehoods. For example, the Zeitgeist movie did a good job at using blantant disinformation to make people think that forgetting about Jesus is just another piece in the puzzle of awakening. The purpose of this article is to completely shatter the ideas that Jesus is irrelevant, a myth, a metaphor, or just another archetype amongst many others.
And for those who are Christians reading this, you may think I am not educated enough about the Bible of Christianity to make claims about Jesus, and for the atheists reading this you may think I’m unaware or the information and arguments used to debunk Jesus and God. I can already see the typical atheist arguments and misquotations piling up in the comments, so let me first explain my position in all of this very briefly.
I was raised Christian by the book. I was homeschooled with a Christian curriculum until grade 3, went to a Christian private school from grades 3-6, and went to church every week with my family. Exploring Messianic Christianity for a while, my parents and I began to attend a Jewish synagogue for over a year, and after that we began to Judeo-Christian church services at our house every week up until I was in grade 8.
In grade 9 I began to heavily research the debate between intelligent design and evolution, and when I started my major in philosophy in University I became heavily involved in the debates between atheists and theologians. Apologetics has been an interest of mine for about 3 years now, along with spiritual philosophy and mysticism. Any possible objection to the idea God or Jesus you can think of, I have already heard (and have also heard responses to).
Having a website like this and being a part of this community has shown me that there needs to be a proper piece of research on the topic of Jesus. I do not consider myself a Christian, go to church, or hold typical mainstream Christian beliefs, which means this will be an article without any ignorance, personal bias or motive.
This being said, let’s look at 5 huge reasons why we all need to take Jesus more seriously:
1) Jesus actually existed
Contrary to what Atheism popularizers like to believe, Jesus was an actual historical figure. No credible historian denies the existence of Jesus. They deny that he was God in the flesh, but they don’t deny that he existed as a historical person. We have a wide range of historical records dating from as soon as within one generation of Christs death, which we will now explore.
Flavius Josephus, Romano-Jewish historian
This mainstream Jewish historian refers to Jesus in two separate passages in ‘Antiquities’ (early 2nd century A.D.). The following passage mentions Jesus by name, his brother, and the fact that he was called Christ (meaning the Messiah):
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus,who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others.
In the Antiquities of the Jews (Book 18, Chapter 5, 2) Josephus refers to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist by order of Herod Antipas.
Below is a copy of Antiquities from the year 1200 AD:
Tacitus, Roman historian and senator
Tacitus (c. A.D. 55 – c. A.D. 117) mentioned Jesus and the Christians by name in ‘Annals, book XV’:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus
The following is a copy of the original second Medicean manuscript of Annals, Book 15, chapter 44, the page with the reference to Christians. Seeing this literally gives me chills. This isn’t some fairy tale that happened long ago and far away. The life of Jesus is a recorded event that left its mark on the people of ancient Isreal, and here we have a Roman historian mentioning Jesus by name just 25-75 years after his death:
A copy of the second Medicean manuscript of Annals, Book 15, chapter 44, the page with the reference to Christians
Suetonius, Roman historian
The Roman historian Suetonius (c. AD 69 – c. AD 122) makes reference to early Christians and possible reference to Jesus in his work Lives of the Twelve Caesars:
“Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.”
Paul, the Pauline epistles
And then we still have Paul’s original letters to the various churches and groups of people (such as Churches in Ancient Corinth) speaking of the miracles Christ had done and the impact He has made on the people of Jerusalem. These letters have been gathered and put together into the Bible to comprise some of the New Testament. Below is one of the original letters written by Paul to the Corinthians, Papyrus 46, one of the oldest New Testament papyri, showing 2 Cor 11:33-12:9.
And then of course we have the 4 Gospels in the New Testament which describe the life of Jesus as witnessed by his closest disciples. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. What we have to understand is that the Bible wasn’t just “written” one day. It is a collection of ancient texts (which still exist in their original form) and were gathered under one cover and called The Bible around 300 AD.
What New Testament historians and scholars agree upon
Here is a list of 5 main historical occurrences that the majority of New Testament historians and scholars agree upon:
Jesus crucifixion at the hands of the roman authorities
Burial of the Jesus in a tomb (which belonged to Joseph of Arimathia)
Discovery of the tomb being empty by a group of Jesus followers
Groups of people believed they experienced Jesus alive after his death
His disciplines believed God had raised Jesus of the death
There is NO credible historian who denies that Jesus ever existed. The fact is, Jesus existed relatively recently, was recorded by mainstream historians, senators, and first-hand witnesses, and created a Renaissance in the Middle East. We literally have more evidence that Jesus existed than Socrates existed.
Jesus is not just a knock off of other myths
It’s a common response for people to say “Yeah well Jesus is just one of many dying and rising Gods. He’s just a knock off of gods like Horus and Dionysus who came before him.”
Those comparison are all misinformations that New Atheists like Bill Maher use as an attempt to debunk Christianity, but if you read the original texts, there is actually no real comparison. They cherry pick and lie to prove their point. For example, Horus died as a child and was resurrected by his mother after she pleaded to god of Magic to bring him back to life. Dionysus died as a baby after apparently being eaten to death by other gods, and he was resurrected by Zeus who repaired him with his thigh. These are nowhere near similar to the story of Jesus.
In the late 19th century there was a German history school filled with anti-semestic scholars trying to find parallels between Jesus (who was Jewish) and pagan mythology. This history school has since collapsed and New Testament historians and histories don’t take this comparative objection seriously for two reasons:
The comparisons are spurious or non-existent (as mentioned before) and some of these stories of the dying and rising gods are used to represent weather patterns and crop cycles and don’t concern a literal historical figure.
There is no causal connection. There were no stories of dying and rising Gods floating around first century Palestine, and it is absurd to think that this paradigm-busting Christian movement emerged out of a group of Palestinian Jews because they heard about Mithra, or that the disciples came to believe in Jesus and his death/resurrection on the basis that they heard 1000 year old stories through the grapevine about some Egyptian god.
Not to mention, the story and life of Jesus has been documented historically as mentioned in the first point, so pointing to similar stories does absolutely nothing to discredit the historical records describing the person of Jesus of Nazereth and his followers.
You don’t have to believe the Bible is literal to believe in Jesus
This is important because a lot of people try to debunk the story of Jesus by pointing to things like the 6 day creation or the talking snake in the Garden of Eden. I think both of those things are nonsense myself and are misinterpretations of the texts, which is fine because you don’t need to accept everything in the Bible as literal historical truth if you believe in Jesus.
Many people object to the thought of Jesus being real because they think it is incompatible with biological evolution, abiogenesis, an old universe, and think that they have to start believing in Jonah and the whale and that a 7 headed dragon is going to rise out of the water during the ‘final days’. You don’t even have to believe in the Heave/Hell dichotomy.
You can believe in Jesus on the grounds of historical evidence, personal revelation, and the revelation of Himself to others without subscribing to all of the “baggage” that fundamentalist Christianity sometimes carries.