Apologetics….for Christians!

Recently, UNC Professor Bart Ehrman wrote a book, “Did Jesus Exist?” that discusses whether the man and mortal Jesus actually lived or is just a myth.  He wrote it as a response to a group called mythicists, who claim that not only is there no Messiah/God named Christ, but that the man Jesus never lived either.

Ehrman, a former evangelical and now agnostic, shows the evidences for a real Jesus living in Jerusalem.

Now, Professor Larry Hurtado (Univ Edinburgh) blogs on the issue. One interesting thing he notes is this:

“Before posting this, I spent a bit of time perusing my copy of H. G. Wood, Did Christ Really Live?, which was published in 1938.  In it, Wood cites various figures of the early 20th century who had claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was a fiction, and patiently and cordially engages the specifics of evidence and argument, showing that the attacks fail. So in one sense I think I’m not alone in feeling that to show the ill-informed and illogical nature of the current wave of “mythicist” proponents is a bit like having to demonstrate that the earth isn’t flat, or that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, or that the moon-landings weren’t done on a movie lot.  It’s a bit wearying to contemplate! “

Not only do Mormons have to do apologetic work over and over again, but so do those in Bible studies.  There are still people out there who think that Spaulding wrote the Book of Mormon.  One must come to finally realize that there are always a group of people who insist on proof that the “earth isn’t flat” and still are not satisfied when you show them the evidence.  Apologetics are not for such people, but to show the truly open-minded student that these things have been considered and basically settled by the evidence.

16 thoughts on “Apologetics….for Christians!

  1. Well said. I recently read the debate between Luther and Erasmus on free will. It will never go out of date.

  2. Do you think Bart Ehrman can really be considered an apologist, since he was not really defending a religious belief, but rather a historical one? He doesn’t accept that Jesus is the Son of God, and he was simply presenting evidence that the majority of secular historians accept in response to a minority fringe view. Ehrman’s other works have specifically attacked Evangelical truth claims.

  3. Bart Ehrman is an an agnostic, is his work is up to LDS apologetics standards? Both conservative Christian scholar Graham Stanton and agnostic Bible scholar Bart Ehrman have asserted that virtually all scholars involved with historical Jesus research believe his existence can be established using documentary and other evidence; however, most hold that much of the material about him in the New Testament should not be taken at face value as it is driven by theological agendeas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

  4. They are referring to the fact that Ehrman is an apologist of the historical reality of Jesus. So yes, he’s an apologist in that sense. The fact that he’s agnostic is immaterial to that particular issue.

    I echo the sentiments of this post regarding how things get recycled. The current “New Atheism”, for example, is simply “Old Atheism” wearing lipstick.

  5. I would venture that most LDS Bible scholars have at least one of Ehrman’s books on his/her shelf. I have several. He treats the subjects from a historical basis, and is very good at it. He is respectful regarding issues of faith, and usually does not go very far in that direction, except to explain how he lost his testimony. He’s not interested in helping others lose their testimonies, but only to know the historical truths, and then make their own decision. That he defends the historical Jesus makes him a historical apologist, who is interested in going wherever historical truth leads him.
    The mythicists, or minimalists (when it comes to King David, Moses, etc)want to destroy belief in the Bible by attacking it from a historical point. Ehrman becomes a very powerful witness as an agnostic defending the existence of Christ.

  6. Isn’t it ironic the same people who defend a historical Jesus find the material about him in the New Testament should not be taken at face value? If we believe them, we cannot believe what is written about Him!

  7. They look at the Bible as akin to Homer’s Odyssey or Iliad. There is historical evidence in it (which is how the city of Troy was discovered). However, should we believe in Zeus, Hera and Apollo simply because there is some historical accuracy in the writings of Homer?

    This is how many view the Bible, and with good reason. That said, this is one of the things that makes the Book of Mormon so very important. If it is true, then it is a second witness of Christ and many of the spiritual events in the Bible.

  8. If the BoM is the word of God it is a second witness of Christ if it is fact or if it is fiction!

  9. SilverRain,
    If God cannot witness Christ, who can? Ehrman and other scholars involved with historical Jesus cannot witness Him because they deny the Bible story. Man cannot witness Him through a historical BoM because they lack convincing evidence. So we’re left with God having to witness both accounts.

  10. Your “flat earth” analogy is an ironic choice. More than a few early Christian apologist opposed the pagan/scientific idea of a round earth. They claimed it didn’t fit with biblical descriptions. Their literal interpretations of the scriptures describing earth and heaven seem silly now, but no more so than those Christians still defending a young earth, or Mormons asserting Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel.

  11. Seldom, there will always be Christians, whether Mormon or not, who simplify the writings of the scripture so much that it conflicts with science. Again, there are scientists who make the same mistake, convinced that their theory is truth, even when there is not enough evidence to prove it. Whether it is cold fusion, Aryan race, or whatever else that is “proven” by science, we find that real scientists separate out hypothesis and theory from actual truth.

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