Here's my response to this week's challenge:
0:01 This week's challenge:
0:07 Jesus wasn't crucified or resurrected.
0:10 Now if you read the challenge on the
0:12 blog, you'll notice that there are a
0:14 number of claims that are made in this
0:16 challenge. And so, one of the things you
0:19 have to do with something like this,
0:20 where a bunch of things are thrown out...
0:22 you just have to carefully walk through
0:25 it. Of course, we don't have enough time
0:26 to go through all the details and
0:28 marshall full argument in a short video
0:30 like this, but let me at least show you a
0:33 way forward on this. So let's take the
0:35 first claim: Jesus was an innocent man
0:38 who was, I know, who died this death of
0:41 agony and so we want to start with that
0:44 claim first. And probably ask some
0:47 clarification there on, you know, what's
0:50 wrong with that?
0:52 In particular, now knowing what most
0:55 skeptics are going to say. They're going
0:56 to say, well God punished an innocent man
0:59 for the sins or the crimes of other
1:01 people. This is unjust. Right? So you
1:04 wait to get that kind of clarification.
1:07 Now if that's the objection
1:10 well that's really for usn kind of
1:11 theological right? There's a theological
1:14 answer that's going to come into play
1:15 there. Because we don't think that Jesus
1:18 was just an innocent man like you or me.
1:22 Of course this is where our theology of
1:25 the Trinity comes into play.
1:27 Jesus being the second member of the
1:29 Trinity God Incarnate.
1:32 He is the one who comes and takes the
1:34 punishment for us. So actually, it's God
1:36 Himself who takes the punishment for us.
1:39 He, God, doesn't just grab an innocent man,
1:41 punish him and say, you know, and then
1:43 says, okay now you're free to go. But you
1:46 know this guy, well too bad for him.
1:48 So there's a theological response to
1:50 that first a claim in this challenge.
1:53 Now there's a second claim, right? That
1:55 the crucifixion and resurrection are
1:56 absurdities. And one of the reasons why
1:59 is because there's inconsistencies in
2:02 the stories. Now with this claim, we've
2:05 got to do a couple things. Number one, we
2:07 want to address the claim itself. But you
2:09 first need clarification. You need to ask
2:11 what inconsistencies are, you're talking
2:14 Can you give me the specifics? Because I
2:16 can't really deal with that claim unless
2:18 I have the specific. So put the burden of
2:20 proof back on the person who's making a
2:22 claim that there are inconsistencies in
2:24 the narratives about the crucifixion.
2:25 That's step one. And then we
2:30 can deal with the specifics. So let's
2:32 take an example: so in mark 15:25, you
2:35 have Jesus crucified in the third hour.
2:37 In John 19 you have Jesus crucified at
2:39 the six-hour right? Here's an
2:41 inconsistency. Is that a contradiction
2:43 though? Right. So when we look into the
2:47 details there are some plausible
2:50 explanations for this. So if Mark is
2:52 working with the Jewish reckoning of
2:54 time and you've got time segments kind
2:57 of starting with sundown,
3:00 this makes sense that he's talking about
3:03 the third hour. If you have John writing
3:06 from the perspective maybe
3:07 a Roman time and a Roman reckoning
3:10 of time, where you go from sunrise to
3:12 sunset, and broken up into different
3:13 segments. Time is broken up into
3:16 different segments for the Romans, then
3:18 you may see why there's an apparent
3:21 contradiction or an apparent
3:22 inconsistency here. But that when you
3:25 look at the details, you can see, okay
3:27 this is from one perspective, here's
3:29 another perspective, and they actually
3:30 can harmonize. And so what it
3:33 shows us is that there are possible
3:36 plausible explanations that
3:39 demonstrate that these quote-unquote
3:41 inconsistencies actually aren't
3:43 inconsistencies but they there can be
3:45 some a harmonization. Now that is not a
3:49 cop out. That is just simply doing good
3:53 careful work and being fair to the
3:56 author's themselves and this happens all
3:58 the time right?
3:59 Even today when you and a friend have a
4:01 different perspective and you say things
4:03 you think oh that where there's a
4:04 disagreement but you come together and
4:05 you kind of get the details. When you get
4:07 into the details you can relieve those
4:09 kind of inconsistencies.
4:11 So that's the kind of thing that's going
4:12 to have to be done with this particular
4:13 claim. But then secondly, we also want to
4:17 ask what follows? Let's just grant the skeptic that there
4:22 are in consistencies in the Gospel
4:25 accounts. There is inconsistencies about the
4:28 number of times Peter denies Jesus.
4:30 There is inconsistencies about what
4:31 time Jesus was crucified.
4:33 What follows from that? Does it follow
4:35 that Jesus wasn't crucified? Is that the
4:38 conclusion we can draw? Well of course
4:41 And let's just take a modern-day example.
4:42 I recently I was in Dallas, and I was at
4:44 the Books Suppository overlooking the
4:48 street where JFK was assassinated and as
4:53 I'm going through the museum
4:54 I'm seeing the film, right, of the
4:59 assassination. But then if you're going
5:01 through the the museum, you see there's
5:04 all these different kind of theories and
5:07 conspiracies about what happened and who
5:09 actually did the killing. And all
5:11 these kinds of things. But never did the
5:15 museum display, never did it communicate
5:19 that people have concluded therefore, that
5:21 JFK was not assassinated.
5:23 So, even if there are discrepancies
5:24 within a story, it doesn't undermine all
5:28 of the historical detail. In fact, this
5:31 really gets to the issue of inerrancy
5:32 right? Are the Gospel accounts inerrant?
5:36 Well that's a separate question. And we
5:38 do not need inerrancy to demonstrate the
5:42 reliability of the Gospels. That we can
5:45 have some core historical truth. And so
5:48 just because they're inconsistency that
5:50 doesn't follow that Jesus was not
5:51 crucified. That's just not good history.
5:53 Another objection here is that there's
5:55 no independent sources on these things...
5:59 on the crucifixion. And of course this is
6:02 just simply not true.
6:04 Some examples might be mara bar serapion.
6:07 You have the jewish Talmud. You
6:10 have Tacitus. All independent sources
6:14 from the Gospels that confirm the
6:17 crucifixion of Jesus. And of course you
6:19 can't discount the Gospels as
6:21 independent sources as well. In fact, the
6:25 historical data on the crucifixion of
6:27 Jesus is so solid that you have radical
6:32 skeptical scholars like John Dominic
6:34 Crossan and Gared Ludeman who conclude
6:37 that the
6:39 the crucifixion of Jesus is historical
6:42 bedrock. Its certainty. This is you
6:45 know, in fact Ludeman says that the
6:47 crucifixion is indisputable, and this is
6:50 an atheist. And so when you actually look
6:53 at the historical data on this you'll
6:54 look what historians conclude. The
6:56 crucifixion of Jesus is well attested.
6:58 Another claim that's made here is that
7:00 many early Christians didn't believe in
7:03 the crucifixion. Again this is a
7:06 statement that needs to be backed up.
7:08 Ok which ones? Because when I look at
7:10 early church fathers, it's near unanimous.
7:13 They'll believe in the crucifixion so
7:15 which ones are you talking about? And if
7:16 you can point to one or two examples,
7:18 what does that establish when you have
7:20 hundreds of others that would establish
7:23 something different? So again, we need to
7:25 clarify that.
7:26 So those, that's the way we
7:28 proceed with something like this when
7:30 someone, the skeptic, kind of throws up
7:32 all of these different objections. We
7:33 gotta walk through them carefully and
7:35 then, then we have to do our
7:36 investigative work, but we can see that a
7:40 challenge like this, that may be
7:43 intimidating at first can be answered.
7:45 For those of you who want some good
7:47 historical research on the crucifixion
7:51 and the resurrection of Jesus let me
7:53 just give you a couple of resources. Our
7:55 good friends Gary Habermast and Mike Licona
7:57 have an excellent book called
7:59 The Case For the Resurrection of Jesus,
8:01 which is accessible. But if you are
8:03 someone who wants to go a lot deeper or
8:05 maybe you're a skeptic. Then you owe it to
8:07 yourself to go for this one this. This is Mike
8:11 Litcona's book The Resurrection of
8:12 Jesus. 700 pages of historical
8:16 investigation, thorough, historical
8:18 investigation on the evidence for the
8:21 resurrection of Jesus. Check out those
8:23 resources and you'll see that we can
8:25 answer these kinds of challenges.