Three reasons we know the Gospels are telling the truth.

1.  The Gospels were written too early to be legendTim Keller discusses this.
2.  Hostiles would’ve busted ‘em and told everyone the disciples were lying. (F.F. Bruce**)
3.  No-one dies for lies.  See how the disciples died.

Easy to memorize.

[Gleaned from the lecture “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, part of the curriculum for Biola’s apologetics certification.]

**  “It was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ but also, ‘As you yourselves also know’ (Acts 2:22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective” (F.F. Bruce).

John Warwick Montgomery, Tractatus Logico-Theologicus, Pg 92
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4 Responses to Three reasons we know the Gospels are telling the truth.

  1. Byron says:

    1) Where does this fixed definition of “legend” come from, and why are supernatural events preferable to reconsidering it?

    2) How would “hostiles” have busted the evangelists? The Resurrection events didn't occur in the center of Jerusalem: they're reported as having occured out of the public eye, and those reports come from decades after the alleged fact. This “hostiles” argument also assumes that people cared enough to challenge the Jesus-movement from day one. Do you care enough to track down the evidence to challenge every street-preacher making religious claims?

    3) “No one dies for lies.” A claim that doesn't fit with the ranks of martyrs, zealots and terrorists who've died over the years, for often contradictory causes.

  2. Maryann says:

    Hi Byron :)

    1) What fixed definition of legend? Any definition would fit.

    2) Roman crucifixions were carried out in highly public places as a deterrent to crime. Paul, in his defense before Agrippa, notes “For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.” See Acts 26. Paul cared enough (when he was still Saul) to challenge the Jesus movement. The Gospel records the excuse that the disciples stole the body…that excuse reflects that people cared. But, it is the only excuse, and it doesn't explain the facts (see the 12 Facts Resurrection Logic Puzzle elsewhere in this blog). If there 'were' other excuses in circulation, why was only one included? To stamp them out? Then why include the one excuse? Examine. Examine. Examine.

    3) So you think martyrs/zealots/terrorists were dying for what they thought were lies? Of course not. They may very well be untrue–but the martyrs/zealots/terrorists do not 'know' that. The point here is that they did die for the message they were delivering, which is a hint they did not just make it up. And consider it in light of the first two points, which not all martyrs have going for them.

  3. Byron says:

    On legends: the OED has “a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated”, but more germane is the proposal that fantastical stories can't appear with speed. The observed phenomena of cargo cults would contradict that.

    On disproof: we have no idea what arguments happened in the immediate aftermath of Jesus' crucifixion. We have Paul (AD 50s-60s) grouping his experience of Jesus' resurrection with the others, suggesting that the story of the empty tomb was not yet common currency. All the gospels give us is Christian apologetic from the late first century. (Well, three of 'em: Mark's Gospel ends abruptly with an empty tomb, leading to a forged end to “correct” its theology.)

    On belief: all subjective beliefs demonstrate is that the believer is sincere.

    I don't doubt that the evangelists were sincere: fraud isn't a worthwhile explanation for the rise of the Jesus movement. I think they experienced exactly what they claim they experienced: the risen Christ. I only disagree with supernatural Christians in what lay behind that: they say Christ was hybrid of Yahweh's Logos and a man, and rose by supernatural means; I think the Resurrection experiences can be explained materially. See Dale C. Allison's comparison of the post-Resurrection Jesus-movement with other charismatic groups in 'Millenarian Prophet.'

  4. Maryann says:

    The culture of the cargo cults was hospitable to that sort of thing, but the culture of Judaism was/is entirely different–in fact, the disciples had a hard time grasping Jesus really resurrected. Much of what you say is blatantly false. Just read 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 (written by Paul) and Mark 16:1-8–this is not merely an empty tomb, and it is not at all the consensus that 17-20 is a forgery. Cheney writes that before this “Jesus was in Galilee; yet His ascension was from the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem. Here in Mark we have the needed link. The disciples had returned and were at dinner in Jerusalem, when He appeared unannounced…He spoke these farewell words as found in Mark and Luke, then led the way out to near Bethany for his departure,” (The Life of Christ in Stereo, footnote 167a).

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