We should all be grateful for thoughtful criticism of the New Testament because it forces us to truly study the texts, think about their origins, assess their accuracy, and understand their historical backdrop. In recent years, however, various anti-Christian professors and authors (Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, and the late Christopher Hitchens are just three examples) have written books attempting to tear down the Christian faith and cast doubt on the New Testament’s validity.
These authors have made a number of claims that often sound sensible, seem to carry the weight of scholarly origin, and serve to chip away at Christianity’s foundations. Anti-Christian bloggers often “cut and paste” these claims and spread them like a virus. Activist atheists will repeat them to Christians in an attempt to generate doubt. The same tired old assertions keep popping up over and over again, often repeated by people who don’t know any better. Worse, some people push them on, even knowing them to be false.
Too often, people raised in the church have never heard these challenging claims. When confronted with them for the first time, many Christians are quite rattled, and some end up drifting away from their faith. Christian college students are especially susceptible to this, as they often come into contact with anti-Christian professors for the first time at a very impressionable period in their lives.
Well, this post is the first in a series that we are calling Lies They’ll Tell You. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be writing individual articles on some of the most common myths used to harm Christianity. Here are the ones we’ll be taking apart in this upcoming series:
Lie #1: “The whole idea of the empty tomb is impossible because Jesus wasn’t even buried. The Romans did not allow crucified people to be buried, so Jesus would have been left hanging on the cross for the dogs and birds to eat, just like any crucified criminal would have been.”
Lie #2: “The Books of the New Testament were just ‘selected’ by the early church’s leaders, and they censored a lot of writings that they didn’t like. So, the books that made it in are just first century propaganda.”
Lie #3: “We don’t even know what the original New Testament texts said. They’ve been so modified over the years, and so eaten up with errors, that the original wording is unrecoverable. In fact, there are over 400,000 errors and changes that have crept in over the centuries…in a document with only 138,000 words!”
Lie #4: “The early church never even thought that Jesus was a divine being. They just thought he was a great teacher. In fact, the idea of Jesus’ divinity didn’t even come about until the Council of Nicaea decreed it in 325 A.D. (centuries after his death).”
Lie #5: “Jesus never even claimed he was divine.”
Lie #6: “The gospels and other New Testament writings are not historically reliable at all. They get a lot of history wrong and should not be considered as valid historical documents.”
Lie #7: “The whole Jesus story was just a rip-off of other ‘dying and rising god’ myths, and isn’t even based in reality.”
Lie #8: “There is no way that the gospels were actually written by their traditionally accepted authors.”
Lie #9: “The gospels often contradict each other, so they can’t be trusted.”
Lie #10: “Jesus was just an illiterate peasant.”
Some of the statements above may have started with kernels of fact. However, those kernels have been twisted in order to make invalid points, and to push false conclusions.
In the coming weeks, each of the 10 statements above will get an article—and sometimes more than one article—focused on addressing it. Keep visiting the site, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see these articles as we post them. Thanks for reading!
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons