• Was Jesus a Wimp?

    The new Rector of St Mark’s Darling Point, Michael Jensen, has written a thought provoking blog entitled The Wimp that Won. As with all of Michael’s writing it is clear, lucid and has enough quotes from dead theologians and poets to make you realize that Michael is one brainy dude who has studied at Oxford and that he probably wrote the piece in a tweed jacket. 

    The guts of the blog is that Jesus was not an Ubermensch, which is an idea created by the crazily brilliant German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The Ubermensch is a person who will act as his own God, giving himself morality and value as he sees fit according to him alone. The Ubermensch is an independent individual who has the power to banish herd instincts from his mind and become a master of self discipline. So basically he is the type of person that every atheistic undergrad uni student wants to be but can’t because they are still living with their mum.

    Michael says that Jesus was not a beastly or tough dude (my words)  but a man who gave up everything for the glory of his father and for our betterment and he was cruelly beaten and died an ignominious death on the cross and therefore we should be just like him. Jesus was a wimp that won and we should be the same

    But here is where Michael and I disagree. The Jesus of Philippians 2 can’t be a wimp, to give up all that he has and die for others is not a wimpish thing to do at all. It is a model of perfect toughness and love. It is the definition of what strength is. So in Michael’s obvious hyperbole he has undercut something very unique and manly about Jesus. He has also lost an opportunity say something very profound about what true toughness and manliness is. True toughness and manliness is not having a beard and tattoos, drinking scotch and smoking cigars all while reading Calvin’s Institutes and beating up an Arminian. No real toughness and  real manliness is knowing when to wield your might and power. In Jesus’ love for humanity, in the incarnation, Jesus chose not to wield his considerable might and power for the sake of those he loved and yet, in his return, we will see that might and power on full display.

    Was Jesus a wimp? Hell no. He was a true man, one who knew when  to wield his power and when to relinquish it for the good of others. This is not wimpish, it is ultimate manliness and toughness on full display.

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  • 7 Great Quotes About the Resurrection

    Jesus is Risen! Hallelujah!

    Here are some of my favourite quotes about the resurrection of Jesus. Hope you enjoy them!

    “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
    ― Timothy Keller

    “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
    ― Charles Colson

    “Indeed taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no single historic incident better or more variously supported than the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”
    ― Brooke Foss Westcott

    “If the truth is that after there comes a negatively spiritual life, an eternity of mystical experience, what more misleading way of communicating it could possibly be found than the appearance of a human form which eats boiled fish? Again, on such a view, the body would really be a hallucination. And any theory of hallucination breaks down on the fact (and if it is invention, it is the oldest invention that ever entered the mind of man) that on three separate occasions this hallucination was not immediately recognized as Jesus.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    “The Bible says he was raised not just after the blood-shedding, but by it. This means that what the death of Christ accomplished was so full and so prefect that the resurrection was the reward and vindication of Christ’s achievement in death.”
    ― John Piper

    “The appearances of Jesus are as well authenticated as anything in antiquity…There can be no rational doubt that they occured, and that the main reason why Christians become sure of the resurrection in the earliest days was just this. They could say with assurance ‘We have seen the Lord.’ They knew it was he.”
    – Michael Green

    Because Christianity’s influence is so pervasive throughout much of the world, it is easy to forget how radical its beliefs once were. Jesus’ resurrection forever changed Christians’ view of death. Rodney Stark, sociologist at the University of Washington, points out that when a major plague hit the ancient Roman Empire, Christians had surprisingly high survival rates. Why? Most Roman citizens would banish any plague-stricken person from their household. But because Christians had no fear of death, they nursed their sick instead of throwing them out on the streets. Therefore, many Christians survived the plague. – Kenneth L. Woodward

     

     

  • Why You Should Listen to a Historian and Not a Hack on The Existence of Jesus

    Some Jesus deniers say that is doesn’t matter if no professional historian denies the existence of Jesus. They say academic credentials don’t matter only the arguments do.

    Bart Ehrman in his book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth shows why not listening to professional historians on this issue is ridiculous:

    “I hardly need to stress what I have already intimated: the view that Jesus existed is held by virtually every expert on the planet. That in itself is not proof, of course. Expert opinion is, at the end of the day, still opinion. But why would you not want to know what experts have to say? When you make a dental appointment, do you want your dentist to be an expert or not? If you build a house, do you want a professional architect or your next-door neighbor to draw up the plans? One might be tempted to say that in the case of the historical Jesus it is different since, after all, we are just talking about history; experts have no more access to the past than anyone else. That, however, is simply not true. It may be the case that some of my students receive the bulk of their knowledge of the Middle Ages from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but is that really the best place to turn? So too millions of people have acquired their “knowledge” about early Christianity—about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicaea—from Dan Brown, author of the aforementioned The Da Vinci Code. But at the end of the day, is that such a wise choice? Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. Again, this is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.”

    So if no professional historian denies the existence of Jesus why would anyone else?

    Do you find Ehrman’s argument persuasive? Why or why not?

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  • Why the Claim Jesus Never Existed Should be Put to Bed

    Very few people think that Jesus never existed but some do. No matter what argument you use it seems like Jesus deniers never even concede an inch of ground. Jesus never exited and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. They are obviously a deluded and morally suspect person who is just defending their beliefs. But let’s hear what Bart Ehrman has to say.

    If you have never heard of Ehrman, he is a famous guy in the New Testament scholarly world (which is akin to saying he is famous in the stamp collecting world). He is a prolific author and is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina. Ehrman once was an Evangelical Christian who ditched his faith because of a number of reasons. One of the main reasons he ditched his faith was because he didn’t think the Jesus of the Bible was the historical Jesus. Here is a guy who we must say is informed, a scholar and as unbiased on the question “Did Jesus exist?” as anyone else. He has written a book called “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth,’  and he he wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled “Did Jesus Exist?” Here is how that article ends:

    “Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the “pagan” savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).

    Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. Why did the Christians not do so? Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified.

    One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you — has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.

    Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.”

    Check out the full article here

    If you want to check out some good critiques of Ehrman’s other work by other scholars see http://ehrmanproject.com/

    Do you find Ehrman’s arguments in the article persuasive? Why or why not?

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