Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Common Objection #4

"The miracles recorded in the gospels are legends that devoloped over a long period of time."

Many claim that the miracles recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were legends, added later by believers who were simply exaggerating the life and claims of the historic Jesus.

Author and apologist Greg Koukl puts this assertion to rest:

"There is no "new evidence" supporting the idea that the miracle-working Son of God was the result of an evolution of myth over a long period of time. To the contrary, recent discoveries have given more credibility to the content of the Gospels themselves.

For example, we know the Apostle Paul died during the Neronian persecution of A.D. 64. Paul was still alive at the close of Acts, so that writing came some time before A.D. 64. Acts was a continuation of Luke's Gospel, which must have been written earlier still. The book of Mark predates Luke, even by the Jesus Seminar's reckoning. This pushes Mark's Gospel into the 50s, just over twenty years after the crucifixion.

It is undisputed that Paul wrote Romans in the mid-50s, yet he proclaims Jesus as the resurrected Son of God in the opening lines of that epistle. Galatians, another uncontested Pauline epistle of the mid-50s, records Paul's interaction with the principle disciples (Peter and James) at least 14 years earlier (Gal 1:18, cf. 2:1).

The Jesus Seminar claims that the humble sage of Nazareth was transformed into a wonder-working Son of God in the late first and early second century. The epistles, though, record a high Christology within 10 to 20 years of the crucifixion. That simply is not enough time for myth and legend to take hold, especially when so many were still alive to contradict the alleged errors of the events they personally witnessed.

There is no good reason to assume the Gospels were fabricated or seriously distorted in the retelling. Time and again the New Testament writers claim to be eyewitnesses to the facts. And their accounts were written early on while they’re memories were clear and other witnesses could vouch for their accounts. The Gospels are early accounts of Jesus’ life and deeds." [1]

It is not enough for the skeptic to simply claim that Jesus' miracles are simply legend. The skeptic must provide sufficient evidence to support his or her claim. The person asserting the truth claim shoulders the burden of proof.

The follower of Christ has solid grounds to believe that Jesus' miracle accounts are historically reliable.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources:

1) Greg Koukl, A Short Argument for the Early Dating of the Gospels, http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6760.

5 comments:

Jake said...

This issue comes back to whether or not you believe the Bible literally. Those who don't, are usually not filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore do not have the discernment to in these topics.

Chad said...

Hello Jake,

Thank you visiting Truthbomb and for taking the time to comment!

Your point is well taken; however, one of the main purposes of apologetics is to remove stumbling blocks the unbeliever may have so that they will be more opened to receiving the gospel message.

For example, regarding this particular post, if someone believes the gospel miracles are based upon myth, this certainly could hinder a person in seeking out Christ further. However, if they can see good evidence that legend did not have sufficient time to develop, the Holy Spirit (the most Rational Being in the universe) could certainly use facts to work in someone‘s mind and heart. He has, and continues to, in my own life.

There have been many intelligent men who have investigated or set out to discredit the biblical account, only to become Christians. It was largely due to the evidence that they gave their lives to Christ. This is a perfect example of the Spirit of God using rational means to reach rational people. Simon Greenleaf, C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, and Frank Morison come to mind.

The Holy Spirit works in and through evidence, but not separate from it. As the Spirit of a rational God, he does not bypass the head on the way to the heart. (Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 337)

It is, however, undeniable that without the Holy Spirit working, one cannot receive, nor truly understand and embrace, the gospel message. It’s our job (as Christians) to share the message and “ to be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within us” (1 Peter 3:15); but it’s God’s job to do the rest.

Hope to see back on the blog!

Courage and Godspeed

Jake said...

Very good comment. I've learned something from this!

Chad said...

Jake,

Awesome! Praise the Lord!

Courage and Godspeed

Geoffrey Charles said...

Ancient miracle stories anonymously written 10 years after the alleged event is good evidence? Or did you have something else in mind?