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Letter: Some historians say Christ is the center of history

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Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014 12:00 am

Millions of people around the world celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ last month. Apparently some atheist groups are attempting to persuade people that Jesus’ birth and life are myth by their messages on billboards across the country.

The problem with that approach is that some of the most famous and well known agnostic, unbelieving historians have written books which contradict these modern day skeptics and atheist claims that Jesus’ birth and life are myth.

In the early 1900s H. G. Wells, the famous unbelieving radical historian, had this to say about Jesus: “Jesus of Nazareth is easily the dominant figure in history. To assume that He never lived, that the accounts of his life are inventions, is more difficult and raises more problems in the path of the historian than to accept the essential elements of the Gospel stories as fact. I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history” (American Magazine, July 1922).

H.G. wells was not alone as a leading infidel who wrote about Jesus. H. L. Mencken, editor of “American Mercury” and author of a number of very sophisticated books had this to say about Jesus: “The historicity of Jesus is no longer questioned seriously by anyone, neither Christian or unbeliever. The main facts about him seem to be beyond dispute” (“Treatise of the Gods,” H.L. Mencken, 1930, page 254).

Another fake claim made by atheists was that Roman historians didn’t mention Jesus in their accounts, but what about this? Cornelius Tacitus (born A.D. 52), while explaining the meaning of the word “Christians”: “Christ, from whom they derive their name, was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Emperor Tiberius” (Annals Book XV, Chapter 44, written A.D. 115-117). Also Josephus, born in A.D. 37 made reference to “Jesus, the so-called Christ.”

There were others, but the point is that you can’t change history. You can accept it and move on, or you can stick your head in the sand.

Tom Baker

Lodi

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Welcome to the discussion.

28 comments:

  • Michael Nedderman posted at 10:00 am on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    David, from your January 19th post:

    "And while nearly all atheists are quick to draw his supernatural abilities into question, the jury is still out on whether he existed at all."

    Clearly, David, "...the jury is still out on whether he existed at all," is a statement of your view. Someone who never existed was not born. I know that you subsequently affirmed that Jesus is a real historical figure, but it was that statement of yours which was the basis of my criticism of you.

    Regarding your atheist brethren, the billboard I quoted and discussed clearly said that the story of Jesus birth was a myth. If someone isn't born, he can't be said to have existed.

    Therefore, to say that I have created this argument contrary to your stated postition is a false accusation.

    And David, I am quite sympathetic to the dilemma you must face each time you try to defend your...your...your, how do you describe it, "faith," "lack of faith," or "freedom from faith"? Anyway, I understand that it is difficult for you given all the historical evidence, reasoning and logic which overwhelms your "belief" that nothing created everything, and that Jesus isn't who he claimed to be: God incarnate who will either judge you or save you (your choice).

    Influential theologian J. Gresham Machen once said, "False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel." So much of what you and Joanne believe is just not true, David. Please accept the following in the spirit with which it is made: I will pray for you and Joanne, that God will soften your hearts to the truth of his gospel. I am confident that other Christians reading this will do likewise.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 9:04 am on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    Michael, I'm not going to defend an argument which you have created for me.

    I did not say "birth" and neither did American Atheists. Unless you are referring to the alleged Virgin Birth, then yes, obviously we don't believe that.

    This will probably be the last time I even bother replying to your posts. It's frankly just too annoying to try and have a conversation with you when you are clearly out to twist words and misunderstand what others are trying to say. Good day.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 5:30 pm on Sat, Jan 25, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Steve,

    Some of what you say may be true. However, it is probably more likely that a Roman historian had access to official records, or at least to the officials who would know the facts of the event in question (Jesus' death).

    The point of the letter's author is that no serious historian questions that Jesus Christ was a real person who was executed by the Roman authorities.

    But even if, arguendo, Tacitus' source were Christians in the late first century, it is still history which is why no credible modern historian questions the existence of Jesus.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:59 am on Fri, Jan 24, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    My sources are too numerous to cite in this forum, just as all of the sections of the Bible that YOU would have to cite to support your opinions.

    I, AT LEAST, have read both the Bible and other historical sources and have NOT relied on only a single source for information.

    Your comments are in line with this brilliant FOX News interviewer who questioned a religious scholar about one of his recent publications:

    Interviewer: "You are a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?"

    Author: "Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim. So it’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions."

    Interviewer: "But it still begs the question: Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?"

    Rightfully, this FOX News interviewer was roundly mocked for her stupidity.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 8:46 am on Fri, Jan 24, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi David. There wan't a "reply" button beneath your most recent post, so I'll just post here at the top of the page and hope you see it.

    In that post, you stated: "The billboard asserts that the Biblical account of Jesus is a myth. It doesn't claim, just like most atheists that I know, that Jesus never existed. Again, a strawman argument."

    Allow me to add the word "birth" to your first sentence to make it accurate: "The billboard asserts that the Biblical account of Jesus' [birth] is a myth." That is what the billboard clearly presented, and saying his birth is a myth is the same as saying he wasn't born. AND, that is the same as saying he never existed.

    It's not a strawman argument, David, it is a reasonable conclusion drawn from the message presented by your official atheist organization. Do you want me to believe it wasn't intended? Really? The cost of such billboards is huge. I can't believe the message wasn't fully considered prior to publication.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 8:35 am on Fri, Jan 24, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Joanne,

    I just realized that you didn't answer what is probably the most important question in this debate because it goes to the heart of the position you've staked out for yourself. I'll just quote my previous framing of that question:

    Tell me Joanne, if you reject the reliability of the Gospels, how can you say, " But I have FAITH that the MESSAGE he [Jesus] taught was one of peace and social justice..."? If the Bible isn't reliable, how can you know anything about Jesus even if it is "blind faith"? This is a serious defect in your reasoning, Joanne, so please address it.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 12:16 am on Fri, Jan 24, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    The billboard asserts that the Biblical account of Jesus is a myth.

    It doesn't claim, just like most atheists that I know, that Jesus never existed.

    Again, a strawman argument.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:12 am on Thu, Jan 23, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I see, Mr. Nedderman, that your only goal here is to label people as atheists just because they do not have the same zealousness about religion as you.

    And calling the Bible a credible historical document is just plain silly. Anyone with any sense could tell you that 98% of the Bible in word-of-mouth stories handed down from generation to generation, that attempt to either explain events that the ancients couldn't fathom (just as the Greek and Roman myths do) or are an attempt to legitimize supernatural events.

    And really, no disrespect to Mr. Diskin, but I do not visit any atheist websites, nor do I attend any meetings of his group. You obviously are only interested in attempting to insult those who disagree with your religious views.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 12:39 am on Thu, Jan 23, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    In case you missed it, Joanne, the Bible is history. To dismiss it out-of-hand, as you have, supports my conclusion that you are, indeed, an atheist who is unwilling to admit it.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 12:34 am on Thu, Jan 23, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Also Joanne, and most critically, saying "Check historical references," is not the same as citing them. Please cite them if you intend to use them as credible support for your position. Otherwise, your assertions are merely your unsupported opinion.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 12:31 am on Thu, Jan 23, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Joanne.

    Tell me Joanne, if you reject the reliability of the Gospels, how can you say, " But I have FAITH that the MESSAGE he [Jesus] taught was one of peace and social justice..."? If the Bible isn't reliable, how can you know anything about Jesus even if it is "blind faith"? This is a serious defect in your reasoning, Joanne, so please address it.

    With regard to my question as to your religious worldview, I certainly respect your right to keep your most sincerely held beliefs about the most important questions of life secrete. I don't understand it, but I respect it.

    However, your unwillingness to be forthcoming forces me to speculate and conclude, based upon the only evidence available to me--your statements--that you are indeed an atheist. What you write is straight off the pages of atheist web sites--I wouldn't be surprised if you are a regular at David's atheist events. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but do so with evidence that will change my mind--not just with more baseless assertions.

    Now, regarding your assertion that "...NONE of the Gospels were actually written by the persons for who [sic] they are named." That's straight off an atheist web site, Joanne. Have you examined the evidence that is contrary to what you believe? If not, why not? Just one example: The apostle Paul, who died in the mid 60s AD, actually quoted (in 1 Timothy 5:18) the Gospel of Luke 10:7.

    And your assertion: "Faith is just that. Faith - without asking for proof that the information is true and correct," is merely a baseless assertion. It is not credible because it does not address the point I made with regard to the 2nd definition of "faith."

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 11:37 pm on Wed, Jan 22, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    I don't know exactly which billboard the letter's author had in mind either, David. And I didn't know the one I quoted was three years old. But why do you want to limit the discussion at all, David? Are you embarrassed by the older billboards?

    However, The one I quoted does seem to fit the description of what the author was describing. Maybe he did what I did and Googled "atheist Christmas billboards" and saw the billboard I saw and cited.

    Be that as it may, the billboard I cited does support the conclusion one of atheism's primary advocacy organizations is asserting on behalf of its constituency: that Jesus never existed--something no credible historian will support.

    David, why do you suppose atheists are so a-historical?

     
  • Steve Schmidt posted at 5:43 pm on Wed, Jan 22, 2014.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2410

    It seems to me that Tacitus' statement about Pilate, written as it was decades after the events in question, might well have been followed by a "or so the Christians say".

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:23 am on Wed, Jan 22, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Check historical references. NONE of the Gospels were actually written by the persons for who they are named. They are based on stories passed on from person to person and many are translations of the original (if there was an original). As you know - if there was ONE AUTHORITATIVE volume, we would today NOT have many, many different versions of the Bible.

    Faith is just that. Faith - without asking for proof that the information is true and correct.

    I believe that the man Jesus existed. I believe that he considered himself the Son of God and that many considered him the Messiah. What I don't know is if he REALLY was. But I have FAITH that the MESSAGE he taught was one of peace and social justice (the latter as evidenced by his destruction of the Temple) and his desire to rid the world or corruption brought about by the poison of the human desire to brainwash people into submission to God for a DOLLAR. That is what Jerusalem and the Temple were built upon. GREED.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:14 am on Wed, Jan 22, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    If you are speaking of the Biblical Jesus, then YOU have decided that every word of the Bible is correct.

    However, if you are speaking of the HISTORICAL Jesus, then you must broaden your level of knowledge to include the logical aspects of the times in which Jesus was supposed to have been born.

    If you have ANY knowledge of the early first century (CE) i.e., is it logical that Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census? History says NO. Is it logical, if you have any knowledge of the customs of the times that Jesus was born in a barn (manger)? History says no.

    Perhaps you should do some reading outside the Bible to get a better picture of the man that Christians call the Son of God. Might help you think a little more logically. Anything outside of historically proven facts is considered myth and folktales.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 9:41 pm on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    I was assuming that, since the author of this letter discusses the recent Christmas, and that there was a big to-do about Atheist billboards going up over December, we were limiting our scope to just then.

    Not a billboard that is three years old.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 2:49 pm on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hello David and Joanne.

    There were several atheist billboards, but the one the letter writer seems to be referencing reads, "You know it's a Myth," set over the traditional nativity scene which, of course, depicts Jesus' birth. How can that be read as anything except, "Jesus' birth never happened"? And how is that not the same as saying "Jesus never existed"? David's assertion, "You're arguing a claim that doesn't exist," is simply false.


    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/12/03/u-s-atheists-and-catholics-in-holiday-billboard-fight/

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 2:32 pm on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Joanne. I would really appreciate some references to the evidence to which you allude in your statement, "...there is also much evidence that what we know of him from the Gospels is mostly inaccurate, if not totally made up."

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 2:27 pm on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    HI David. Why do you suppose Jesus has influenced so many?

    Regarding my alleged boldness, can you see the contradiction I noted in you first post which led me to infer that you were in the camp of those who claim Jesus never existed?

     
  • David Diskin posted at 1:06 pm on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    Thank you.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:48 am on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Why is it so difficult for two individuals here to understand the written word?

    Mr. Diskin's comment, "You're arguing a claim that doesn't exist," refers to the supposed billboards allegedly placed by atheists that claim Jesus did not exist or is a myth.

    Mr. Diskin, by his comment, "the jury is still out on whether he existed at all," is unrelated to the former comment, i.e., the SUBJECT of the first is billboards, the SUBJECT of the second is Jesus.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:41 am on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I believe Mr. Diskin's comment, " For the most of us, it's not really of much concern," refers to his opening sentence in that paragraph, "And while nearly all atheists...."

    It is of great concern exactly WHY so many Christian's are so sensitive to anyone questioning either the actual existence of Jesus, or his ability to perform "miracles," (aka - "supernatural" acts).

    One's faith should be a personal matter - not a contest to see who is right and who is wrong. By very definition, "faith" is "belief that is not based on proof." If you choose to have faith in Jesus, then who cares what anyone else believes?

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 6:58 am on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I don't know how Mr. Nedderman got the idea that only religious zealots were allowed to read and comment on the religion section of this paper. Seems he desires NOT to have any diversity of opinion displayed here.

    BTW - again, Mr. Nedderman, I am not an atheist, though if you intend that as an insult, you missed the mark.

    Although there IS much evidence that Jesus of Nazareth did exist, there is also much evidence that what we know of him from the Gospels is mostly inaccurate, if not totally made up.

    No one wants to take away your "right" to believe that Jesus existed, was the Messiah, performed supernatural acts, died for your sins and was resurrected. You are perfectly free to believe ALL of that. What seems to be the problem is that people of your same beliefs wish to deny others the right to question those claims.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 2:06 am on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    Michael, yes, I do acknowledge that Jesus is the most significant character, or possibly person, in history.

    It's bold of you to suggest, wrongfully so I might add, that atheists haven't studied Jesus. Might I remind you that atheists tend to know The Bible better than most Christians, as per a Pew study. (Not to mention that most of today's atheists were once Christian.)

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 12:25 am on Tue, Jan 21, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi David,

    Your statement, "You're arguing a claim that doesn't exist," is contradicted by your previous statement, "...the jury is still out on whether he existed at all." Clearly, you doubt whether Jesus is a real historical figure. And, the point of Tom Baker's letter is that the position that Jesus didn't exist is not credible.

    The point of my previous comment was to wonder if you could "...acknowledge, in spite of [your] atheism, that Jesus is history's most significant person. Maybe [you] will become curious as to why that is so, and at least study him as [you] would any other important historical figure, inquiring about who he is, and what he did and taught." Are you really saying that the question of whether or not Jesus, history's most significant figure,existed is "...not really of much concern" to you?

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 1:09 pm on Mon, Jan 20, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2354

    Oh I don’t know Mr. Diskin, with nearly one-third of the Earth’s population claiming to be “Christian,” I believe that would prove more than a few are concerned about Jesus Christ. (http://tinyurl.com/m9z4mvu)

     
  • David Diskin posted at 10:49 am on Sun, Jan 19, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    There is a substantial difference between claiming that Jesus existed and claiming that he is supernatural.

    And while nearly all atheists are quick to draw his supernatural abilities into question, the jury is still out on whether he existed at all. For the most of us, it's not really of much concern.

    As for those billboards, I don't recall any that attempted to persuade people that Jesus is a myth. There were many that claimed that Christmas can be enjoyed without a belief in Christ. Others suggested that people can life a rewarding life without religion, or that religion is a myth. But I honestly can't think of any that suggested that Jesus doesn't exist.

    You're arguing a claim that doesn't exist.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 9:44 am on Sun, Jan 19, 2014.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Great letter Tom Baker. I hope David, Joann, and the other atheists who haunt the Sentinel's Religion Section, read it and can acknowledge, in spite of their atheism, that Jesus is history's most significant person. Maybe they will become curious as to why that is so, and at least study him as they would any other important historical figure, inquiring about who it is, and what he did and taught.

     

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