View Poll Results: Please check all of those statements below with which you agree

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  • I evaluate each argument bearing in mind my belief on whether Christ's resurrection occurred or not.

    2 20.00%
  • Whenever a Biblical writer like Moses intended to record an event factually, it occurred factually.

    4 40.00%
  • If someone sincerely feels or "knows inside" a supernatural being is real or present, it must be.

    0 0%
  • If a religion's adherents see good signs, healings & visions, their basic theology is right.

    0 0%
  • If a Bible writer prophesies an event (eg. about the Messiah), then it must occur.

    4 40.00%
  • If hundreds of people not on drugs sincerely claim to have a miracle vision, its not a delusion.

    1 10.00%
  • If 12 persecuted sectarians claim to collectively see supernatural miracles up close, they are real.

    1 10.00%
  • We have corroboration from the 1st-2nd century that all 10 disciples were martyred.

    2 20.00%
  • The flat image of Jesus on a single Shroud is consistent w Jesus' body wrapped w strips in the Bible

    0 0%
  • None of the above

    4 40.00%
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Thread: Evaluating the arguments that Christ resurrected?

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    tWebber rakovsky's Avatar
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    Question Evaluating the arguments that Christ resurrected?

    I. Encountering Faith and Doubts

    I grew up being told by relatives that Christ's story in the Bible was true, and so I supposed that it was, just as I supposed that the earth's core was filled with hot rock or magma - something I had never seen but only read about in science books. I went to church and prayed, and the gospel story interested me enough to read a Bible commentary on it. I picked the Methodist minister Vincent Taylor's commentary on Mark from my school library. It impressed me that Taylor theorized that when Christ healed people or drove out demons, what was actually happening was that Jesus inspired cripples to walk or mentally ill people to behave normally. It wasn't as if the people lacked legs or eyes, but rather that they had trouble walking or seeing and Jesus empowered people to do these things. Taylor's thesis sounded easier to accept from a naturalistic viewpoint, and it opened me up to the idea that Jesus' miracles could have a rationalist or naturalist explanation.

    II. Should one address each question or argument with the assumption that Christ's resurrection is factual?


    Broadly speaking, there are two starting points or assumptions to make when considering each argument for or against Christ's Resurrection being factual:

    A. One way to address the arguments is to begin with the assumption that it is factual, after which arguments made against it must be false or otherwise fail.
    An example of this could be the question of why you personally believe that it is factual. You can answer that you know it is true because it is something you know inside. A doubter could reply that sometimes people's feelings can be wrong. Working on the unspoken assumption however that the Resurrection is definitely factual or that your arguments for it must be correct, you might automatically dismiss the doubter by saying: "It's true that sometimes people can be wrong, but in this case I am not, because it's true and I definitely know from my own experience and deep feelings that this belief in particular is a fact."

    The downside of this strong assumption and way of thinking however is that it prevents you from evaluating your own feelings in a detached way and confirming independently whether they are right or not.

    B. Another approach is to aim to evaluate each question or argument in a detached way.
    That is, you try to evaluate questions objectively and put aside your own biases, preferences, and emotions, rather than just answering a question in a way that must explain why your own position is right.

    If your approach is A., that you always consider each question or argument going on a strong position that your position or expectations must be correct then I think that the evaluation process is over. You have already found your answers to your questions and so there is no further need or potential for evaluation or introspective reevaluation. The rest is simply a foregone conclusion.

    So only if you can follow Approach B are the next steps for you.

    III. Whether everything in the Bible must be factually true that is intended by its direct author writer as fact


    Christians agree that the Holy Spirit spoke with the prophets and that God inspired the Bible. However, mainstream, traditional Christians debate whether everything in the Bible must be factually true whenever its author intended it so.

    One example is the description of the waters over the heavens in Genesis 1. At the time of the writing of Genesis (2500-1500 BC), the most advanced societies in western Asia, where Palestine was located, were Sumeria and Babylonia. They believed that the heavens in the night sky were made of hard tin and that the stars were set in the tine roof. The Babylonians also believed that the waters were forcibly divided by their main god Marduk at the beginning of the Creation.

    In Genesis 1, we read:

    6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

    7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

    8 And God called the firmament Heaven.

    ...
    14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

    15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

    16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
    In the passage above, we see that God uses a "firmament", a firm layer that in Hebrew literally means something hammered out like metal, in order to divide the waters. And we see that the sun and stars are placed "in" this firmament and that half of the mass of the waters are "above" this firmament that holds the stars.

    Three ways of explaining this scheme:
    A. The author intended to say that there is a mass of liquid water "above" the firm layer of heavens "in" which the sun is placed, and this is 1. factually true or 2. not factually true.
    B. We don't believe that there is a firm layer over the heavens, so therefore this is not what the passage meant. Therefore, the passage must be 1. an allegory/metaphor or else it is referring to something else like 2. clouds, even though clouds are below the sun and below the heavens, or like an "ice canopy" that ceased to exist after the great flood, even though the Psalms written after the flood portray the waters above the firmament as if they are still in place.

    For a deeper discussion on this topic, I welcome you to come to this thread:
    Waters over Firmament, Flat Earth, and whether the Bible can be factually incorrect.
    http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/sh...ally-incorrect

    Only if you don't accept that everything in the Bible intended by its direct writer as fact must be factually true is it worth going on to the next step. If you already believe absolutely that all facts alleged in it must be factually true no matter what, there is no point in going farther in reconsidering whether Christ's Resurrection occurred. The reason is because you hold as your premise that any alleged facts must be true, including of course His resurrection.

    Some stories in the Old Testament violate our common ideas of science and the natural order than the idea of a man rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. Another good example is that of Noah's flood - namely that a family was able to build a boat big enough to hold two of every species of the world's animals, that the animals somehow collected on board, that they survived on the boat with limited food for 40 days, that in only a few thousand years the animals repopulated the world, including flightless birds populating New Zealand.

    So as a result, only if you don't hold the premise that everything in the Bible must be factually true is it worth moving on to then reevaluating evidence for and against the Resurrection's occurrence.

    IV. Major arguments and evidence for Christ's Resurrection


    A. One of the most common arguments and explanations that many people use for their belief in Christ's Resurrection's factuality is that they know it inside to be true. The believers might feel Christ's presence, they can tell that He is working in their lives, or they "just know" that it is true.

    The difficulty with this argument is its subjectivity.
    Some people "just know" that they will win the lottery. Or they can tell or "just know" that their boyfriend loves them when their friends tell them that their boyfriend is just using them. Or they feel the "presence" of an imaginary friend or benevolent deity from another religion and can see the deity or friend helping them. Or thinking strongly about a certain philosophy (like Confucianism), set of ethics, or deceased role model can help them make the right choices in life. Arguably sometimes this feelings can be right. Maybe ESP exists and the person did succeed in predicting that they won the lottery. Perhaps the person they love does love them back like they think.

    B. Another common argument is that a person might pray to Jesus or asking God about Jesus and witness a sign or miracle.


    I wrote about this elsewhere:
    For example, some people see Jesus in the clouds. Or they are healed of an illness that was certain not to heal. Or there is an extreme coincidence like having a premonition of a car crash and then buckling up right before it happened.

    Counterargument:
    They could be real coincidences, or they could be a placebo effect whereby the body heals itself because of faith in the healing, not because of a direct outside force. Or there could be another paranormal explanation, such as one where the person's own expectations somehow "will" the event to occur. People in other religions like Buddhism and Hinduism claim miracles, signs, and visions too that they consider confirmation of their beliefs like reincarnation.
    http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewt...p=46067#p46067
    C. One of the best arguments for me is that various Old Testament prophecies predicted the Messiah's death and resurrection (Isaiah, Psalms, Zechariah, Daniel), and I see numerous similarities between what was predicted for the Resurrection and what the Gospels narrate about it.

    A major question that must be asked however, is whether if something (like Christ's Resurrection) is predicted in the Bible that it must definitely occur?
    First, if descriptions of history or past events (like Noah's flood) can be factually incorrect or are considered to be myths, how can we be sure that descriptions of future events cannot be wrong too?

    Second, are there cases in the Old Testament of failed prophecies?
    Farrell Till gives as two examples Ezekiel's prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Egypt and prophecies by Ezekiel and Isaiah that this king would destroy the city of Tyre:
    The prophetic tirades of Isaiah (13-23) and Ezekiel (24-32) against the nations surrounding Israel provide a treasure house of unfulfilled prophecies. Ezekiel, for example, prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Egypt and leave it utterly desolate for a period of 40 years, during which no foot of man or beast would pass through it (chapter 20), but history recorded no such desolation of Egypt during or after the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel also prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre, which would never again be rebuilt (26:7-14, but Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre failed to take the city, and Tyre still exists today. A curious thing about this prophecy against Tyre is that Isaiah also predicted that Tyre would be destroyed, but, whereas Ezekiel predicted that Tyre would be permanently destroyed and "nevermore have any being," Isaiah prophesied that it would be made desolate only for a period of 70 years.
    ...
    The fact is that neither prophecy was ever fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar did not destroy Tyre forever, and it was never made desolate for a period of 70 years.

    http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Deb...ians/Page7.htm


    Jeremiah predicted that King Jehoiakim lack any heirs, yet it turned out that Jehoiakim had a son who ruled after him:

    Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. (Jer. 36:30)

    So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. (2 Kings 24:6)
    From an apologetic standpoint, one way to address these two verses is to propose that God gave one prediction, but then changed His mind. This would be like the story of Jonah where God predicted Nineveh's destruction, but then spared it when Nineveh repented.

    Till gives an example of a prophecy whose failure I think might be explained in Apologetics by a change in the subjects' behavior, namely the king's idolatry:
    Isaiah made the prophecy to assure King Ahaz that the Syrian-Israelite alliance would not prevail against him, yet the Bible record shows that the alliance not only succeeded but did so overwhelmingly. Second Chronicles 28 reports that Ahaz's idolatrous practices caused "Yahweh his God" to deliver him "into the hand of the king of Syria" (v:5). (This king was the Rezin of Isaiah 7:1.) The Syrians "carried away of his a great multitude of captives" and took them to Damascus (v:5). Simultaneously, the Israelites attacked Judah under the leadership of Pekah (the same Pekah of Isaiah 7:1), and in one day 120,000 "valiant men" in Judah were killed and 200,000 "women, sons, and daughters" were "carried away captive" (vv:6-8).

    With the Syrian-Israelite alliance posing a threat to Judah, Isaiah was sent to Ahaz to prophesy that the alliance would fail. After doing so, he said in his very next breath that Yahweh would bring the king of Assyria against Judah and that he would desolate the land (7:17-25). Imagine, if you can, the absolute absurdity of this. The prophet came, in effect, to say, "Don't worry; Syria and Samaria will not defeat you. Assyria will." What kind of consolation was that supposed to be?
    http://infidels.org/library/modern/f.../prophecy.html



    Third, if we see some things in a prophecy line up with real events, does that mean that the other things in the prophecy must too?
    When I read Messianic prophecies, I am impressed with their similarity to descriptions in the New Testament of Christ's experiences. However, there are several alternate explanations: The similarities could be coincidences, they could be fabricated by New Testament writers, or the prophecies could be mistakenly interpreted to match the real life occurrences.

    Daniel 9 is a messianic prophecy that perplexes me in some parts.
    The passage says that the prophecy was made to seal up prophecies and was about atoning for sin. It predicted that a / the "messiah" or "anointed one" would "be no more" (the term used for God taking away Enoch in Genesis) and then Jerusalem's temple would be destroyed. It said that this would occur after set number of "weeks" of years after an order to rebuild and restore Jerusalem (the city had been destroyed in Daniel's time by the Babylonians). Depending on how one makes the calculation, the weeks of years pointed to a period between about 110 BC and 35 AD (and most likely to a time in 20-33 AD). So far, one can see that this is a Messianic prophecy and that it bears strong similarity to Jesus' death and the Temple's destruction.

    Daniel 9 then describes an additional week that is quite confusing for me. The chapter's ending says:
    And after the sixty-two weeks
    Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
    And the people of the prince who is to come
    Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
    The end of it shall be with a flood,
    And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

    Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
    But in the middle of the week
    He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
    And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
    Even until the consummation, which is determined,
    Is poured out on the desolate.
    Does this mean that the Roman leaders Vespasian, Titus, or Hadrian will make or confirm a covenant with many nations for a seven year period after the destruction of the Temple (70 AD) or of Jerusalem (130-135 AD)? And then 4 years after confirming this covenant he will end the Jews' sacrifices? This is a bit confusing because I think the Jews' main annual sacrifices ended as soon as their Temple was destroyed (70 AD).

    One theory by some scholars is that Daniel was not in fact written by the prophet Daniel of the 6th century BC living in Babylon, but was instead written in the Maccabbean period (eg. the 2nd century BC) while pretending to be written in the 6th century BC. In this theory, the real writer was making up his own predictions about what were for him contemporary events, like the Greek pagans' abuse of the temple in the 2nd century. The advantage of this theory is that it might explain discrepancies with events in the 1st to 2nd centuries AD, in that the passage would have really been written to describe events centuries earlier. In this alternate theory, the "messiah" is not Jesus, but some other leader who is called "anointed".

    Personally, I do not have a strong opinion about this alternate theory, but I think that the computation most likely makes the passage's predictions point to 20-33 AD.

    Another major Messianic prophecy is David's Psalm 22, about the narrator's death and salvation.
    In the course of the passage it says:
    "I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me." (v. 17)
    I suppose the narrator could be predicting in this verse how Jesus felt in the crucifixion, but the part about seeing His own bones sounds a bit strange. Jesus' body didn't decay into a skeleton with all his bones showing. I guess he could have been abused so badly that numerous bones were showing through broken skin, but this seems unexpected too, even with the floggings.

    Throughout the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, there are details of the Messiah's experiences that apologists may find as fulfillments of details in the prophecies. However, sometimes they are uncorroborated outside of the gospels themselves, which leaves open the possibility that the creators of the gospel stories simply made them up in order to make the gospels appear to be fullfillments.
    In the next verse in Psalm 22 we have an example of this kind of uncorroborated detail. It says:
    (v.18) "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."
    In the gospels (Matthew and John), Jesus' garments were divided among the soldiers who crucified him, but whether or not this actually occurred is not confirmed or refuted by sources that we have available.

  2. #2
    tWebber rakovsky's Avatar
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    D. Another common argument is that over 500 witnesses saw the Resurrected Jesus, based on Paul's mention of the 500 in 1st Corinthians along with the appearances in the gospels.

    Unfortunately, Paul does not provide any details of what that event with the alleged 500 witnesses was or what they saw. Thus, several possibilities exist:
    1. Paul made up the story of the 500 witnesses. Corinth was far away and if any Corinthians did check on the story, Paul might claim that those witnesses left on mission trips. It's more likely, in my mind, that some of the 500 witnesses had some kind of vision, or at least that people could be found claiming this.
    2. The witnesses experienced some kind of visual or mental apparition. Unfortunately, this can be a broad category of experiences. It could include a kind of daydreaming or other purely psychological/mental vision like some modern Charismatics or people in some other religions in the world have. Even sincere claims of group visions do not erase skepticism about the claims. Take for example the case of mass visions of Mary by hundreds of Catholics or visions of a supernatural being by Asian sects. In some mass sightings of Mary, some witnesses see her, others see the sun dance, others just see the sun in the sky, and others claim nothing unusual. Despite sincerity of some of the alleged witnesses, even many mainstream Christians (particularly Protestants) are skeptical of these accounts.

    Other than this brief nondescript mention of 500 witnesses by Paul, we are left with accounts of sightings and interactions with Jesus by only these followers in the New Testament, particularly the gospels: three women at the tomb, James, 11 apostles, 2 Christians on the road to Emmaus, some Christian fishermen at the Sea of Tiberias, and Paul. These appearances are much detailed, but they present their own weaknesses:
    1. They are, except for that of Paul and probably Peter and John, second-hand accounts, perhaps composed and re-edited over the course of about 60 years.
    2. The witnesses in all these cases were themselves Jesus' followers, who are naturally biased in favor of the Christian community.
    3. It's true that except for the sightings by Paul and James, we have accounts describing Jesus' appearances being physical, not just visual. For example, the women touched Jesus' feet and the Emmaus travelers had a meal with Jesus.

    On the other hand, sometimes Charismatics and sectarians have seemingly physical experiences that mainstream Christians are very skeptical about. One ex-Charismatic noted that a woman at one his his worship services announced that she saw gold dust, a physical object, flying in their room. But afterwards the ex-charismatic noted that there was no such dust on the floor. Joseph Smith began Mormonism by claiming that an angel gave him gold plates. He brought his famous "three witnesses" to the woods, where they claimed to hold the gold plates in their hands (physical contact) and two of them claimed to see the angel. However, later two of the "witnesses" admitted that they only experienced these things with their "physical eyes", ie. they did not actually witness and experience physical gold plates or a physical angel, even though an ordinary person reading their initial account would perceive their story to be that they physically experienced and saw these objects. Skeptics would say that what was actually happening was that the witnesses were imagining these things and then in their confusion mentally accepting them to be "spiritually real".

    Unfortunately, this opens up the possibility for a similar explanation of the gospel appearances of Christ: Namely, that the witnesses were experiencing or imagining mental visions of Jesus and interpreting them as real. This would be similar to the mental visions and imaginings that some modern sectarian visionaries claim that they have and claim to be "real".

    E. One of the more curious pieces of evidence is the Turin Shroud. It's interesting because for me, skeptics have not succeeded in proving how it was made.
    I believe it came from the near east in 25-600 AD. Unfortunately, I am skeptical that it is the shroud used to wrap Jesus because it is a single long, big sheet, whereas the Bible says that Jesus was wrapped with linen strips. The image of Jesus on the shroud was made by placing the body and head directly flat on the unfolded cloth. Otherwise, the sides of the head and the ears would wing out on the shroud's image due to wrapping the shroud around the head.

    F. In the gospels, the women come to the tomb and find the body missing on Sunday morning, even though Matthew relates that guards were posted at the tomb. This argument concludes that the only way for brave Roman guards to desert such a post would be if they were faced with an overwhelming, terrifying force, like the angel in the gospel.

    This argument has several weaknesses:
    1. Matthew is the only writer who mentions the guards and he could have embellished it.
    2. The body was laid on Friday and the guards were posted Saturday, leaving a day for the body to be stolen.
    3. There is a debate whether these were brave, well trained Roman guards answerable to Pilate. In the view that they were, it is noted that they went to the Temple authorities who promised to protect the guards from Pilate's wrath. An alternate view imagines that these guards were Temple guards answerable to the chief priests, as Pilate said to the priests about these guards in Matthew 26-27: "You have a guard".
    4. The argument goes that the apostles couldn't take the body because they were hiding. One counterargument goes that even if the apostles were hiding, other sympathizers of Jesus could take the body.
    5. The sympathizers could drug the guards, could surround them and take them by surprise with swords (remember that Peter cut a guard's ear), or could bribe them. It's true that bribery was punishable by Rome, but it's also true that bribery exists even in totalitarian dictatorships that ban it. The guards themsellves in the story were bribed by the Temple priests.
    6. Others have proposed a secret entrance to the tomb as a counter-explanation, but I think that's very unlikely.
    7. The women or apostles could show up on Sunday or Monday after the guards left and then falsely claim that that the guards had abandoned their posts and that the body had vanished from the tomb. If the guards countered that this was made up, the apostles in turn could claim that the soldiers were lying. In the end it would be one person's word against another's, just as with the story that the apostles took the body when the soldiers slept.

    G. C.S. Lewis posed the Lord/Lunatic/Liar trilemma.
    He proposed that if Lunatic and Liar were ruled out, then one must accept that Jesus is Lord.

    1. There is in fact a fourth possibility - that Jesus was fully sane and honest, but that his followers miswrote His story later, adding in false supernatural elements and claims to make him appear uniquely divine. But I think this is unlikely. If He was really honest and fully sane, I would expect that his close followers whome He picked and their community would not be severe liars falsifying the gospels.

    2. Lewis correctly ruled out that Jesus could be insane, because he was a rabbi with followers, gave sermons, and presented a deep philosophy. Nonetheless, someone who is not insane could still be deluded about having supernatural powers and yet still present deep teachings and philosophies. Some sectarians and charismatics could be confused about supernatural events that they claim to experience, and yet still make inspiring sermons on Christian ethics.

    3. Two factors running against Jesus being dishonest about his powers are that i. His teachings are deeply moral and ii. it does not make sense why He, as an unethical dishonest person would go to Jerusalem to get crucified as the Messiah if he understood the prophecy that the Messiah would get killed.
    i. Is not so hard to address- There are actually many people, like some TV Evangelists, who give moral teachings and yet are secretly dishonest or unethical.
    ii. Is a challenge for me to counterargue. Why would an unethical, dishonest person try to fulfill a role that he knew was destined by his religion's prophecies to result in his own brutal death?
    One explanation is that He was ignorant of these prophecies and the apostles only understood them until after the resurrection. In fact, Luke 24 claims that it was only the resurrected Christ who finally "opened their minds". This opens up the possibility that they only understood the prophecies as predicting a physical death after he died. Before his death, they were unsure of the meaning. That uncertainty could have extended to Jesus as well. For example, when they heard Elijah was to return before the Messiah, they interpreted that to mean John the Baptist was a spiritual or metaphorical Messiah. Maybe they felt that the same thing was true of the Messiah's death too - that they were not sure if his death would be literal and physical. After all in the Psalms David narrated his own death at his enemies' hands and his resurrection, along with being pulled out of a pit that symbolized death and resurrection, yet David did not mean that he was literally killed by his enemies. And besides, the existence of these prophecies did not stop several other Jews from claiming to be the Messiah in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and thereafter.

    A second explanation is that he understood the prophecies about the Messiah's death, but for some psychological reason he decided to act as a messianic claimant even though it could be a martyr's path. Psychology is sometimes unpredictable. There is a phenomenon called a confessing Sam, for example, in history, where numerous people have voluntarily on their own initiative contacted police and at great risk confessed to crimes they never committed, even in cases wherein they were not suspects.

    A third explanation is that he was not expecting to be killed, since he had connections at Pilate's court, like the admiration of Pilate's wife and some centurions. He taught that his kingdom was spiritual and he did not present a military threat to Rome.

    Unfortunately none of these counter-explanations are strongly persuasive and clarifying for me, and it's still confusing why he would take a messianic path if he was not the Messiah yet knew that the Bible predicted that the Messiah would get killed by enemies.

    H. Another common apologetic argument focuses on the apostles' perseverence despite persecution and runs as follows: James and Jesus' family went from being unbelievers to believers because of Jesus' Resurrection, the apostles went from being scared and hiding to openly proclaiming the gospel around the world because they saw the resurrected Christ, all 11 apostles but John faced martyrdom without turning from the faith, the early Christians knowingly faced mortal persecution and martyrdom, and yet Christianity went from a persecuted, non-militant sect to the world's most common religion. If the apostles had not seen Jesus raised in physical flesh as they stated but rather were liars, they would not have faced these risks, their lie would have been discovered, and their religion would fail before it became a major one.

    A counterargument proposes as follows: James and Jesus' family became his followers before His Resurrection as John Painter narrates in Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition, and as in the passage where Jesus' mother asked Him to turn water into wine at Cana. John and Peter were brave enough to be with Jesus at the cross and cut a soldier's ear, respectively, and no one was punished for being a disciple until later when the apostles were preaching in the Temple. So they were hiding because Jesus instructed them to for their safety or because they were busy taking and hiding the body, and they came out because the Romans had decided not to kill anyone for being Jesus' follower, since their Messiah had died and they were pacifists toward Rome. We don't know that all 10 apostles were martyred because our basis that they were comes from Church traditions recorded a long time afterwards and the anecdotes said that they died in far away places. It's true however that Josephus narrates the death of Jesus' brother James and that the Bible talks about the deaths of James the Lesser and of Peter. The Talmud, recorded centuries after Jesus' time, says that several (about 5 IIRC) of Jesus' followers were killed by the Sanhedrin. However, even in these cases, James' and Peters' (and Pauls') deaths were in the 60's AD, a few decades after the apostles began evangelizing abroad.

    Further, persecution was less in 33-60 AD than often imagined - there were many unofficial sects in the Roman empire, the Pharisee leader Gamaliel instructed the Sanhedrin to stop persecuting the apostles in Acts, and according to Josephus, the Romans protected the Christian community of Jerusalem: It was only when the governor was away that the Sanhedrin killed James, and the Romans deposed the Sanhedrin's chief priest for doing that. The largest 1st century mortal persecution happened unexpectedly elsewhere (eg. under Nero in the 60's AD on the charge of burning Rome, not on a charge of outlawed beliefs) or later (eg. 90 AD under Domition).

    Since beyond the limited, closed central group of followers whom the Bible says actually saw the resurrected Christ, we do not have details on what the other sightings were like. Thus, the thousands of other followers living under persecution and spreading the gospel in the 1st to 3rd centuries AD would not know firsthand whether the accounts were physically true. Besides, the fact that gnostic Christians were living under the same conditions of anti-Christian repression did not stop them from inventing stories about Jesus in their gnostic gospels.

    But wouldn't people find out if that closed group of Jesus' followers had not seen him physically alive, thus stopping the Christian movement from spreading? Joseph Smith claimed to have received gold plates from an angel in the woods, and a few witnesses claimed to have seen them and the angel too. He started a socially outcast (and sometimes mortally persecuted) religion with bizarre rituals and ideas about God being an alien and the Native Americans being Israel's lost tribes. But his claims should be easy to refute - two of the three witnesses admitted that they only saw the plates and angel with their 'spiritual' eyes and not their "physical eyes", ie. they did not actually see plates and an angel there, they just imagined it. Yet Mormonism has been a quickly growing religion.

    Mormons Are Fastest Growing Religion - CBN.com
    Christian Broadcasting Network
    Mormons have launched a major expansion program to keep up with growth, opening 32 temples across the country this year.
    http://www1.cbn.com/churchandministr...owing-religion

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    I only have a few minutes online right now but I just want to briefly weigh in on one of the areas listed above. I personally don't think the Tyre prophecy is an argument that apologists should use. Our own JP Holding has an article suggesting that the proclamations made are a form of ancient "trash talk" and not a literal prediction of destruction:

    http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.php

    In other words, Farrell Till has extended great energy attacking an argument that wasn't all that strong in the first place.
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

    All cruelty springs from weakness. - Seneca the Younger

  4. Amen LostSheep amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    3. There is a debate whether these were brave, well trained Roman guards answerable to Pilate. In the view that they were, it is noted that they went to the Temple authorities who promised to protect the guards from Pilate's wrath. An alternate view imagines that these guards were Temple guards answerable to the chief priests, as Pilate said to the priests about these guards in Matthew 26-27: "You have a guard".
    One of the arguments I'd always heard against the guard being Roman was that a Roman guard would never have attempted an excuse like "The disciples stole the body while we were sleeping"--they would've been executed for falling asleep.
    Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

    I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    The ancient city of Tyre
    Tyre.jpg
    For the sarcastically impaired the following is said in jest

    As you can see from the OP it has been completely rebuilt

    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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    tWebber
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    I disagree with most, but for a couple of these statements, whether I agree or disagree depends on some semantic issues.

    I evaluate each argument bearing in mind my belief on whether Christ's resurrection occurred or not.
    Any evaluation that presupposes the resurrection either did or did not occur is a waste of intellectual energy. However, if the argument alleges the existence of evidence for the resurrection, then I think it reasonable to use a Bayesian evaluation, which does require the assignment of a prior probability to the resurrection, provided that the assigned prior probability is not either 1 or 0.

    If hundreds of people not on drugs sincerely claim to have a miracle vision, its not a delusion.
    If hundreds of people actually claim that they saw something, then Im prepared to assume, absent clear evidence to the contrary, that they actually it. The reality of what they saw is another matter, and delusion is not the only alternative to its actual occurrence.

    However, I am not aware of any instance in which we have the actual testimony of hundreds people claiming to have had a miracle vision. In every instance Im aware of, we have testimony from one person, and perhaps a handful of others, who then allege, in reference to hundreds of other people, They all saw it too.

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    tWebber rakovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Shaver View Post
    I disagree with most, but for a couple of these statements, whether I agree or disagree depends on some semantic issues.

    Any evaluation that presupposes the resurrection either did or did not occur is a waste of intellectual energy. However, if the argument alleges the existence of evidence for the resurrection, then I think it reasonable to use a Bayesian evaluation, which does require the assignment of a prior probability to the resurrection, provided that the assigned prior probability is not either 1 or 0.

    If hundreds of people actually claim that they saw something, then Im prepared to assume, absent clear evidence to the contrary, that they actually it. The reality of what they saw is another matter, and delusion is not the only alternative to its actual occurrence.

    However, I am not aware of any instance in which we have the actual testimony of hundreds people claiming to have had a miracle vision. In every instance Im aware of, we have testimony from one person, and perhaps a handful of others, who then allege, in reference to hundreds of other people, They all saw it too.
    Two examples are Catholic mass sightings of Mary and South or East Asian sects' mass sightings of supernatural beings (eg. a god, their guru, or some other esteemed being). Mainstream protestants are commonly skeptical of both.

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    tWebber rakovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37818 View Post
    The ancient city of Tyre
    Tyre.jpg
    For the sarcastically impaired the following is said in jest

    As you can see from the OP it has been completely rebuilt

    This is kind of like saying that Rome and Athens have not been completely rebuilt. The fact is, that in Tyre, Rome, and Athens, parts of their cities have been left in ruins from Roman times for tourist/cultural/historical purposes.

    But Tyre, like Rome and Athens, has basically been rebuilt enough to serve what is today a major city.


    Archeological ruins in Tyre


    Map of inhabited Tyre

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Mainstream protestants are commonly skeptical of both.
    No surprise there. If a miracle would validate a religion they disagree with, most Christians suddently become just as skeptical as any atheist.

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Those remaining ruins of "Tyre" are really the Roman ruins of Sour which was built over the old Tyre. It is over the Roman Sour the modern Tyre is built. The Tyre of prophey has not been rebuilt.

    http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/299
    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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