The Gospel Observer (June 10, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
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Contents:

1) Myth or History? (Part 2 of 3) (Forrest D. Moyer)
2) News & Notes
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Myth or History?
(Part 2 of 3)

Forest D. Moyer

There are many effective ways to respond to the claims that the Bible either contains or is made up of myths. For example, we can show that the Scriptures have the mark of inspiration totally (plenary inspiration). We can show that prophecy helps to prove the authenticity of the Scriptures. However, the approach that I want to use has to do with the person of Jesus Christ. If we can show that Jesus was a historical person, we will have proven that He was not a myth. If we can show that the claims that He made for Himself are valid, we will have shown that His disciples did not, after His leaving this earth, manufacture the claims of His Deity. If we can show that Jesus is from God, then we will have also shown that Genesis is an inspired account because Jesus looked upon Genesis as actual history. We might state our approach in this manner:

1. Was Jesus a historical person or was He a myth?

2. If Jesus was a historical person, was He who He claimed to be — Deity?

3. If Jesus is Deity, then Genesis is not a myth.

Was Jesus A Historical Person?

“Comparatively few recent scholars postulate that Jesus never lived. Such positions are usually viewed as blatant misuses of the available historical data.”9

It is not within the scope of this paper to elaborate upon the historical trustworthiness of the four gospels. However, they will bear the scrutiny of the severest historical critic. They give testimony to the fact that Jesus was a historical person.

All of the New Testament narratives were completed within sixty years or so of the Lord’s death, and of the twenty-seven New Testament books, no less than ten were penned by personal companions of Jesus. Paul, an eye-witness of Christ, wrote at least thirteen of the remainder. It used to be fashionable in liberal circles to ascribe most New Testament books to the second century A. D., but interestingly, even liberal critics are now admitting that the New Testament documents are first-century sources of information. For example, modernistic theologian John A. T. Robinson of England, in his book, Redating the New Testament (1977), conceded that all of the New Testament books were written within seventy years of the death of Christ, and by men whose names they bear!10

Most skeptics claim that they want non-biblical proof of the existence of Jesus. This, too, can be given.

While some believe that we know almost nothing about Jesus from ancient, non-New Testament sources, this plainly is not the case. Not only are there many such sources, but Jesus is one of the persons of ancient history concerning whom we have a significant amount of quality data. His is one of the most-mentioned and most-substantiated lives in ancient times.11

(One book that contains much information about the historical Jesus is He Walked Among Us by Josh McDowell, Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, California. See pages 35-70 for information on historical sources dealing with Jesus.)

The following information is from A Ready Defense (Josh McDowell, Here’s To Life Publishers, San Bernardino, Ca., pp 198-208):

Ancient Secular Writers

Cornelius Tacitus was born circa A.D. 52-54 and was a Roman historian. He alluded to the death of Jesus and to Christians in Rome when he wrote:

“Hence to suppress the rumor, he (Nero) falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius; but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also” (Annals, XV. 44).

Lucian of Samosata was a satirist of the second century. He spoke of Christ as:

“the man who was crucified in Palestine because He introduced this new cult into the world… Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist Himself and living under His laws” (The Passing Peregrinus).

Flavius Josephus was born A.D. 37 and was a noted Jewish historian. He is quoted as saying:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake Him; for he appeared to them alive again in the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. And the tribe of Christians so named from Him are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities, xviii. 33).

In another place he refers to Jesus when he speaks of James “the brother of the so-called Christ” (Antiquities XX 9:1).

Seutonius was another Roman historian and a court official under Hadrian. He said, “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [another spelling of Christus], he expelled them from Rome” (Life of Claudius, 25. 4).

McDowell quotes from Pliny the Younger, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon and from a letter by Mara Bar-Serapion all showing the historical evidence that Jesus was a historical person.

Jesus was not a myth. He was a historical person who lived during the first century. “Very few scholars hold the view that Jesus never lived. Even Rudolf Bultmann, one of the most influential critical theologians of the twentieth century and exponent of demythologizing the Scripture, said, ‘By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.’”12

Virtually no writers have asserted that Jesus did not exist or have attempted to cast virtually total doubts and obscurity on his life and ministry. But, such efforts are refuted by the early and eyewitness testimony presented by Paul and others, by the early date of the Gospels, by the corresponding historicity and trustworthiness of the Gospels, and by the failure of the mystery religions to explain the Christian faith.13

*****

9. Gary R. Habermas, The Verdict of History, Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, p. 31.

10. Bert Thompson and Wayne Jackson, A Study Course in Christian Evidences. Apologetics Press, Inc. Montgomery, AL. 1991, p. 140.

11. Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense. Here’s Life Publishers. San Bernardino, CA., p. 197.

12. Gary R. Habermas, op. cit., 36.

13. Ibid., p. 36.

— Via the bulletin of the La Vista church of Christ
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“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NASB).
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News & Notes

It is good to have Charles Crosby back with us today! His doctor had reported no infection and that the knee has healed. (UPDATE: This was also confirmed by the results of a fluid-test from around the knee.)

Benny Medlock’s doctor advised him not to have the procedure yet for his aneurysm, since it is still small. But they will be keeping watch on it.

Bentley O’Berry, who is only 5 or 6, was admitted to the hospital last Wednesday morning with stroke-like symptoms (paralysis of the right side). But by that afternoon, his right side was doing better, but not completely recovered. He returned home. It is now thought that it was not a stroke, but a seizure. So he will be seeing a neurologist to determine what kind.

Michael Crawford (Debra Carter Crawford’s husband) has several health issues, one being a heart that is functioning at only 30%.

Though somewhat better, the muscle-pain in Danny Bartlett’s leg is not completely gone.

Elizabeth Young Harden’s baby is due July 4.

Others to also pray for: Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Deborah Medlock, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Misty Thornton, Hannah Laughlin, Rick Cuthbertson, Tommy Lindsey, Rhyan Thomas, Ginger Head, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Mary Vandevander.

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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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The Gospel Observer (June 3, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
——————–

Contents:

1) Myth or History? (Part 1 of 3) (Forrest D. Moyer)
2) News & Notes
——————–

matt12_40-41

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Myth or History? (Part 1 of 3)
Forrest D. Moyer

The Bible is either the product of God or the product of men. Christians believe that the Bible is from the hand of God and that it is to be believed and obeyed in order to have a good life now and Heaven in eternity. There have always been those who oppose God and His way. This opposition has come in varied forms. Some have been and are opposed to the idea of God; thus, they are “atheists” (the “a” negates “theist,” a believer in God). There are those who accept the idea of God but reject His interaction with man in revelation or divine authority. These are known as “deists.” The opposition to the Bible as the revelation of God to man has been around for centuries, but it is now becoming more and more prevalent. As humanism advances, so does opposition to the Bible. Humanism and the Bible cannot co-exist. One or the other must fall.

One form of this opposition to Jesus and to the Bible comes with the charge that the Bible is made up of myths that have been foisted upon people by priestly castes in order that priests might control the masses. Our purpose in this writing is to examine the charge that the Bible is made up of myths and fables.

The Charges

First, let us look at some of the charges that are made against the Bible:

“The Gospels do not contain the history of an actual man, but only the myth of the god-man Jesus, clothed in a historical dress.”1

“The Bible is not ‘the word of God,’ but stolen from pagan sources. Its Eden, Adam and Eve were taken from the Babylonian account; its Flood or Deluge is but an epitome of some four hundred flood accounts; its Ark and Ararat have their equivalents in a score of Deluge myths; even the names of Noah’s sons are copies, so also Isaac’s sacrifice, Solomon’s judgment, and Samson’s pillar act; its Moses is fashioned after the Syrian Mises; its laws after Hammurabi’s code. Its Messiah is derived from the Egyptian Mahdi, Savior, certain verses are verbatim copies of Egyptian scriptures. Between Jesus and the Egyptian Horus, Gerald Massey found 137 similarities, and those between Christ and Krishna run into the hundreds. How then can the Bible be a revelation to the Jews?”2

Mr. Graham expresses his humanism by saying, “It’s time this scriptural tyranny was broken that we may devote our time to man instead of God, to civilizing ourselves instead of saving our souls that were never lost.”3

Another quote from him will show how rabid is his opposition to God as he advances his humanistic philosophy:

“Had Christ known the nature of Reality he would not have taught the love of God for man or its reverse. Yet the Gospels have him say: ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30). It is not the first of an enlightened Christ but only of a priesthood that needed it professionally. God being but the ruthless creative power, man has no right to love it, since from it spring all his pain and suffering, his savagery and war. If he would escape from these he must not only cease pretending to love it but oppose and conquer it. Mythologically man rebelled against this one–to become human; he must now rebel against it mentally and morally to become divine.”4

It is obvious from these quotations that Graham “errs, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” However, humanists and atheists are not the only ones to regard the Scriptures as filled with myths. The Interpreter’s Bible commentary is considered to be one of the most scholarly works in its field. We quote:

“Obviously, the book [Genesis] begins in that misty region of tradition and transmitted myth in which imagination precedes knowledge. Few will suppose that Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden belong to factual history. Cain and Abel and Lamech and Nimrod and Methuselah and Noah–these also come down to us as legends rather than as persons identifiable in the literal history of a particular time.”5

“Not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” has led many to look upon the Biblical accounts as myths. Hermann Gunkel wrote toward the end of the last century:

“The clearest criterion of legend is that it frequently reports things which are quite incredible… Thus many things are reported in Genesis which go directly against our better knowledge: we know that there are too many species of animals for all to have been assembled in any ark; that Ararat is not the highest mountain on earth;… And however cautious the modern historian may be in declaring anything impossible, he may declare with all confidence that animals–serpents and she-asses, for instance–do not speak and never have spoken, that there is no tree whose fruit confers immortality or knowledge…”6

In Response

It is impossible to reply to all the various charges that the Biblical account contains myths in this one paper. However, I shall address some questions of significance in response.

The Biblical Claim

Let it be understood that the Biblical writers did not regard the Genesis account or the person of Jesus as mythical. The New Testament writers quote from Genesis numerous times, thus placing their stamp of approval upon what was recorded in Genesis. If the New Testament writers were inspired (and I affirm that they were), then it follows that the account given in Genesis is historically accurate. Geisler and Nix give a list of thirty-two people and events of the Old Testament which are referred to as historical by New Testament writers. Fifteen of these are from the first twelve chapters of Genesis:

* Creation of the universe (Genesis 1): John 1:3; Colossians 1:16

* Creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-2): I Timothy 2:13-14

* Marriage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-2): I Timothy 2:13

* Temptation of the woman (Genesis 3): I Timothy 2:14

* Disobedience and sin of Adam (Genesis 3): Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:22

* Sacrifices of Abel and Cain (Genesis 4): Hebrews 11:4

* Murder of Abel by Cain (Genesis 4): I John 3:12

* Birth of Seth (Genesis 4): Luke 3:38

* Translation of Enoch (Genesis 5): Hebrews 11:5

* Marriage before the flood (Genesis 6): Luke 17:27

* The flood and destruction of man (Genesis 7): Matthew 24:39

* Preservation of Noah and his family (Genesis 8-9): II Peter 2:5

* Genealogy of Shem (Genesis 10): Luke 3:35-36

* Birth of Abraham (Genesis 11): Luke 3:34

* Call of Abraham (Genesis 12-13): Hebrews 11:8

In this sample survey, several things should be noted. Most of the controversial passages of the Old Testament are referred to, for example, the creation, fall, flood, miracles of Moses and Elijah, and Jonah in the great fish. These are not just alluded to, they are authenticated as historical events by the New Testament. If these major miraculous events are authentic, there is no difficulty in accepting the rest of the events of the Old Testament.8

(To be continued)

*****

1. Arthur Drews as quoted by Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, Carol Communications, N.Y., p. 282.

2. Lloyd Graham, Ibid., p. 5.

3. Ibid., p. 6.

4. Ibid., p. 426.

5. The Interpreter’s Bible. Abingdon Press. New York. Vol. I. 1952, p. 460.

6; Gunkel, Hermann. The Legends of Genesis: The Biblical Saga and History. Schocken Books. New York. 1964. pp 7-8. Quoted in a manuscript by Brad Bromling, Is Genesis Myth? Apologetics Press, Inc. Montgomery, AL.

7. Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix. A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press. Chicago. 1968, p. 85.

8. Ibid., p. 86.

— Via the bulletin of the La Vista church of Christ
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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Abraham Thompson Sr. (Cicely Thompson’s father) who recently passed away. He is described as having been “a very friendly, outgoing, talkative, and charismatic person who left a lasting and profound impact on his survivors” (The Blackshear Times). He was only 65.

Janie Thornton thanks all for their prayers for her 5-year-old grandson, Luke Thornton, and points out that he “did well during the surgery, but is having a rough time post op and is not out of the woods yet.”

Rick Cuthbertson’s surgery eliminated the cancer in his liver, and he is now back home.

Concerning the aneurysm in his artery, Bennie Medlock saw his doctor, but will not be receiving a procedure for it at this time. Right now, it is small. So they will be keeping a watch on it.

The muscle pain in Danny Bartlett’s leg is improving, but not completely gone.

Others to also pray for: Tommy Lindsey, Rhyan Thomas, Hannah Laughlin, Charles Crosby, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Deborah Medlock, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Ginger Head, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Misty Thornton, Belinda Medlock, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Mary Vandevander.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)