Going along with some of the things we discussed on the finances thread about faith, evidences, proof, Jesus and the resurrection, comes this piece by Daniel C. Peterson in the Deseret News entitled “An agnostic’s argument that Jesus did exist.”
Beyond doubting the literal resurrection of Christ, there are some that go so far as to disbelieve that Jesus ever even lived. Was there really a historical person by that name that walked the land of Judea, and did the things that people generally reported he did? Or is he a mythic figure created by a forlorn generation desperately seeking the Messiah?
Bart Ehrman, a New Testament scholar, who has gone from fundamentalist Protestant, to liberal Christian, to an “agnostic with atheist leanings” has published a new book entitled Did Jesus Exist?, in which he lays out the evidence. Some might take an educated guess, based on his background, at his answer to the question, but what he says interesting.
Dan Peterson quotes some from Ehrman:
“When I started getting these emails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?”…
Ehrman has, he says, “no vested interest in the matter.” “I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in promoting a Christian cause or a Christian agenda.
“My life and views of the world would be approximately the same whether or not Jesus existed. My beliefs would vary little. The answer to the question of Jesus’ historical existence will not make me more or less happy, content, hopeful, likable, rich, famous or immortal. But as a historian I think evidence matters. And the past matters. And for anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist.”…
“Jesus existed,” he writes, “and those vocal persons who deny it do so not because they have considered the evidence with the dispassionate eye of the historian, but because they have some other agenda that this denial serves. From a dispassionate point of view, there was a Jesus of Nazareth.”
The historical evidence adds up to such a degree that even someone like Ehrman cannot doubt that the person Jesus actually lived. The evidence shows it, and tips the scales in favor of it. Is it proof? No, but it is near certain, even from an agnostic-atheist point of view, that Jesus did actually exist. His mortal life was an actual reality, not myth or folklore, but true history.
So, we can put to bed the rumors that there may not have ever been a Jesus, and turn to the much more important matters of what did He actually do, and what worth did it have?