The famous parables of Jesus cursing a fig tree and chasing moneychangers from the Temple, widely touted by both believers and nonbelievers as morally warranted, illustrate a kind of unreasonable entitlement that reveals an unflattering side of the character of the New Testament Jesus. In this essay Stephen Van Eck tackles the tendency by believers and doctrinally influenced nonbelievers to hold to a pre-existing conception of a morally perfect Jesus that leads them to overlook otherwise blatant character flaws revealed through such parables. Van Eck also provides grounds for understanding the approval of abusive treatment portrayed at the hands of the New Testament Jesus as one historical root of anti-Semitism.
The resurrection of Jesus is a fundamental belief to Christians. But nonbelievers have to reconcile the fact that any resurrection occurrence would break the laws of biology with the fact that very early Christians had unshakeable beliefs that Jesus had risen from the dead. Two possibilities exist for those with a naturalistic worldview. Was the Resurrection a hoax to which they all subscribed, or did they genuinely believe in its reality? In this essay, Robert Shaw addresses this question with his characteristic sagacity.
A probable idea of the "historical" Jesus is that he was a working man who propounded traditional Jewish values, adapted to his belief that the end of the world was near. Jesus left no writings, so those who regarded themselves as his followers were able to modify his supposed precepts, and their ideas about his nature and significance, to suit their needs and circumstances. The question arises: if Jesus-as-he-really-was could in fact be reconstituted now and were shown the character, effects, and history of the religion that regards him as its founder, what would be his reaction? In this essay, Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates why Jesus would be horrified, disgusted, despairing, and angry.
Jesus is presented by Christians as the greatest moral teacher, as "God made man," yet some of his alleged teachings are so highly objectionable that it would take a warped mind to consider them "good."
The conventional notion about the character of Jesus is that he was an extraordinary person: unique, grand, captivating, a paragon of virtue, and a teacher of concepts that all human beings should use to govern their lives. But is this true? The biographical material shows that Jesus was not a peace-maker, did not offer socially useful ideas other than being charitable, possessed no ethical concepts more advanced than those of his society, and did not have original thoughts. The evidence does not prove that he was charismatic. The prevalent notions that Jesus was the perfect human being, a great teacher, or the perfect moralist are constructs created because of the belief that he was divine.
Mary and Joseph are betrothed, and Joseph discovers that Mary is pregnant. This is a dilemma. Did she commit adultery? For Mary, this would clearly not be a good way to go. But of course, being pregnant, she was not in any position to claim she was still a virgin or faithful to Joseph. Or, was she?
"Occasionally apologists will ask me what I would consider to be sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead. Fair enough. Seeing as I deny that there is sufficient evidence to reasonably believe in the resurrection, what amount or type of evidence would I consider adequate to meet the onus probandi for establishing such an extraordinary claim? The best approach that I have found to answering this question is by an equally extraordinary analogy."
What sense does it make that the resurrection of Jesus, the momentous event of the Christian faith, should take place without any witnesses? Why was the risen Jesus not seen by anyone other than his own followers? Why did the apostles "doubt" in the presence of the risen Jesus or go so far as not recognizing him? Since it is the most important event of the Christian faith, how can we explain the remarkable differences that exist among the various evangelists regarding what transpired on the resurrection day? How can we understand that certain passages should present the risen Jesus as a spiritual being who would go through walls, appear and disappear at will and who had the appearance of "a spirit," etc., whereas others state that he was flesh and blood?
What is unique about Jesus, in a way more extreme than the others, is his lack of soul. To put it in mythological terms, "Jesus was emptied out on the cross"—he is unique among mortals in that his soul was completely annihilated on the cross. He became a cipher, a projection screen: he lacks any depth or reality in himself, and yet retains enough integrity to hold our ideals up.
When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, there is intense interest in the historicity of Jesus' discovered empty tomb and his postmortem appearances to his followers. The historian, or the interested lay person, can ask, did these two key events reported in the gospels really happen, or are they legendary embellishments on a resurrection belief that was arrived at by other means?
People are watching for the Anti-Christ to trigger the end times. Although there are wildly divergent schools of thought on the topic, it appears that most people who believe in the inevitability of the Anti-Christ as part of the eschatological terrain also believe that he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing or, more precisely, a demon in savior's robe. The Anti-Christ will portray himself to be Jesus, and people will likely fall for the ruse to Jesus' great detriment. Can prosecutors indict and convict the Anti-Christ for identity theft? This article explores that possibility and explores some of the obstacles that prosecutors are likely to face.
This note is intended to describe why, from an artistic and anatomical perspective, the shroud image is an embarrassingly obvious fraud committed by a Gothic artist following the standard conventions of his time. The artistic errors are so severe that it is impossible for the shroud to record the image of an actual human body—unless it was a very seriously pathological person with a brain the size of a Homo erectus.
Komarnitsky critiques the efforts of Christian apologists such as Dr. N. T. Wright, J. P. Holding, and Lee Strobel, to support the historicity of Jesus' alleged resurrection, and then offers his own explanation for the empty tomb and post-Resurrection appearances traditions.
Did some of the early Christians at Corinth doubt the reality of Jesus' resurrection? Was Paul trying to defend the reality of Jesus' resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthians? Komarnitsky says "yes" on both counts; JP Holding says "no." Those who think the only way to interpret the evidence is that Jesus resurrected from the dead might want to take a closer look at each point of evidence.
"The only way that Craig can criticize the account I have given is by arguing that his theory, that Jesus was raised from the dead, is to be preferred because it is simpler than proposing a theory to account for the empty tomb and proposing an independent theory to account for the post-mortem appearances of Jesus. The 'simplicity' of Craig's theory is only skin deep. My account of Craig's 'four facts' involves well-known and well-documented cultural phenomena, whereas his account proposes a God which intervenes in human affairs, for which I have yet to see any convincing evidence."
Hemant Mehta, known as the "Friendly Atheist" and the man who "sold his soul on e-Bay," is a well-known defender of the atheist stance who has written at least one best-selling book. Mehta recently persuaded Christian apologist Lee Strobel to answer some questions posed by his atheist friends. Strobel, in turn, asked his Christian theist friends to submit questions for atheists to answer. Seven of Strobel's friends complied. Whittenberger offers his answers to the questions posed by Strobel's Christian theist friends.
Think you know the details regarding the New Testament Empty Tomb and Resurrection stories? Check your knowledge with this short, twenty-two question quiz. The answers may surprise you! You will likely find that the details are so inconsistent from one biblical source to the next that the picture that we are typically given of the events surrounding the alleged Resurrection is necessarily a composite of carefully selected verses which exclude other verses where the details differ.
"I like to find secular counterpoints to Christmas, not secular counterparts. That, in a nutshell, is the topic of this essay. There is a secular side to Christmas, one that a nontheist can enjoy with the rest of society without betraying their nontheist views. In fact, I propose that the very shape and spirit of the holiday is significantly nonreligious, from twinkling lights and fake snow to the eggnog and fruitcake. Yes, Virginia, there is an atheist's Christmas!"
The legitimacy of the three main commandments of the Gospels--"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," "Love your neighbor as yourself," and "Love God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind"--is accepted not only by believers, but the first is admired by many unbelievers as well. However, although they sound pretty, they do not pass philosophical scrutiny, and they must be rejected by a morally-minded and reasonable person.
Have you ever wondered what it is that trees, holly, and mistletoe have to do with the birth of Jesus or the Jewish Festival of Lights? This brief synopsis on the origins of Christmas customs will shed light on some of the more obscure references.
There are probably few of us who have never heard the saying, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone"--the words attributed to Jesus in the story told in John 8:1-11 of the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death for her crime. This is often taken to show that Jesus possessed great measures of wisdom and kindness. Plugaru believes, however, that this story demonstrates nothing of the kind.
Capitalism has certainly been kind to fundamentalist Christianity in America. Profits from Christian product sales have run well into the billions of dollars, yet Jesus is said to have taught that one cannot serve both God and Mammon. Should Jesus take a cue from FOX News and their attempt to sue Al Franken? Perhaps he should.
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Jesus, Matthew 12:40). But if Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday morning, how is this three days AND three nights? Internet apologist Glenn Miller explains, but is his "explanation" really that--or is it just typical apologetic smoke and mirrors?