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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Six Errors Jesus Mythicists Repeatedly Make

The fact that Jesus lived 2,000 years ago in Palestine and a following grew out of his teachings is evident. Even Bart Ehrman, as skeptical as the come about the claims of Christianity, has stated that no one should doubt “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.”1


Yet, the Jesus-Myth proponents continue to make the charge that Jesus didn't exist or that perhaps someone named Jesus existed, but the Gospel accounts were created out of the whole cloth of dying-and-rising god myths popular in the ancient world. Certainly the Internet has spread their charges beyond what one would reasonably expect. It's much like the villagers in the story of the Emperor's New Clothes; they want to believe these links so badly, that they fail to see the reality that nothing is there. In that vein, I'd like to offer six different ways the fashion statement of mythicism fails.

1. One Size Fits All — Combinationism

This is one of the biggest errors of the Zeitgeist movie and charges like it. It basically takes all the different mystery sects from 1500B.C. to 500 A.D. and blends them together them together, claiming they all had a consistent belief of gods dying and rising again. They argue that this is some kind of an established, coherent overarching set of beliefs from which Christianity borrowed.

However, if anyone bothers to actually read the details of the different faiths mentioned, one will find vast differences in their foundational understanding of life, death, and existence beyond death. Even with in faiths like Mithraism, it had evolved greatly over that 2000 year time span.2 To say that Christianity stole this belief or that one from a religion like Mithraism when those beliefs weren't necessarily even regarded as part of that system any longer (or had yet to be developed) is ridiculous.

2. Calling a Kleenex a Kerchief — Equivocation

Basically, this error occurs when a critic distorts the teaching of the mystery religion by using Christian language to describe a belief - and then claiming that Christianity stole from it because the beliefs read similarly. The concept of baptism in Egyptian mythology centers around the Nile's supposed physical power to heal while baptism in Christianity focuses on the sin nature of the individual. This happens over and over, where the mystery practice is usually something completely different in intent or symbolism than what Christian understand it to mean, but it is made to sound similar for impact value.

3. If It's on Your Shoulders, It's a Jacket — Oversimplification

Many critics will find something kind of like a resurrection story and then try to demonstrate how Christianity borrowed from this type of belief. Usually, this is at the expense of many crucial details that really differentiate the myth from the historic Christian account. For example, Zeitgeist claims that Horus was “crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected.” In the actual myth, Horus is a young child who is revived from a scorpion sting by another god that wielded the magic to do so. It's nothing like Jesus' claim to have the power to take his own life up again. Also, many of these stories aggrandize the myth more than is necessary.

4. Invisible Accessories — Misrepresenting Biblical Facts

Horus was born on December 25th? Were they using the Julian calendar system in ancient Egypt? The Gospels themselves don't tell us when Jesus was born. December 25 cam later, and was probably based on a completely different paradigm. Horus' birth was visited by Three Wise men? Where does the Bible say three? There are three gifts mentioned, but no number of wise men is cited. Plus they came up to two years after Jesus' birth. The mythicists misrepresent the Biblical accounts and then try to make the other myths similar.

5. Who's the Designer? — Direction of Influence

Simply because there is an element in an Eastern religion as well as in Christianity, it is wrong to assume the Christians must have borrowed from the Eastern tradition. This happens many times when the religion's founder lived before Jesus. However, as I said in point #1, these faiths were themselves not static. They picked up a lot of influences across the centuries, especially when they came in contact with competing belief systems. Christianity was so aggressive in its spread over the Roman Empire and Asia, many of these religions tended to adopt Christian symbols and practice in order to make their religion look more appealing to stop losing converts to Christians. Anthropologists see this by looking into the various practices of those religions and noting that a feature similar to Christianity wasn't recorded or mentioned in any writing until after the Christian era had proliferated. As Ronald Nash notes concerning Mithraism, “The timing is all wrong. The flowering of Mithraism occurred after the close of the New Testament canon, too late for it to have influenced the development of first century Christianity.”3

6. Where's the Designer Label? — Missing Citations/Support

Lastly, one should always ask for support for the claims made by the mythicists of the features of their myths. Who says that these things are true? How do you know Horus was baptized or raised after three days? Have you read the actual myth? What verification do you have that you understood the cult's beliefs accurately? This is one of the most crucial questions to ask, since reading the myths themselves will usually be enough to show that any supposed parallels to the life of Jesus are either minor or non-existent.

The primary message of Christianity is vastly different from the pagan myths that preceded it. As Nash explains:
None of these so-called savior-gods died for someone else. The notion of the Son of God dying in place of His creatures is unique to Christianity. Only Jesus died for sin. It is never claimed that any pagan deity died for sin. As Wagner observes, to none of the pagan gods “has the intention of helping men been attributed. That sort of death that they died is quite different (hunting death, self-emasculation, etc.)4

References

1. Ehrman, Bart D. "Did Jesus Exist?" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 July 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html.
2. Esposito, Lenny. "Did Christianity Steal From Mithraism?" ComeReason.org. Come Reason Ministries, 01 Nov. 2001. Web. 29 July 2015. http://www.comereason.org/mithraism.asp.
3. Nash, Ronald H. The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003. Print.
4. Nash, 2003. 160.

3 comments:

  1. there are some mistakes, in the debate about religion, but basicly the most importen thing is the moral, and here christianity and the two other desert religion, fails.
    the story of Adam and Eve, is so stupid, it can't be true, and yet it is the center of all tree religions. and if the story of Adam and Eve is not true, why did Jesus need to die on a cross?
    man get the teen commandments, you shall not kill!!!! and then man breaks them, and kill Jesus, they get salvation.... dam christianity fails big time :D
    so it does not really matter if Jesus is real or not, it is all to stupid to be true :)

    BTW, I like the picture from the emperor's new cloth, there they all got told, only stupid people can't see the cloth, and no one want to look stupid so they all said, we can see the cloth they lie, and praise it, till suddenly a kid said, the emperor had no cloth on, and they all laughed. like christians all say they can see god, because they think they are stupid if they can't, but no one can tell us how he looks like ;) so to me the story is about our christians.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "These things are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED" and as such,unless the Lord removes the spiritual scales from one's eyes, he/she will write foolishness such as the feeble effort which you offered.

      Delete
  2. ...I lost you in the first sentence of this article because Jesus never ever lived in 'Palestine' - he live in Eretz Israel - The Land of Israel. 'Palestine' was an invention of the Roman Emperor Hadrian after he crushed the Jews and drove the majority out of the land of Israel and then, to really rub salt into the wound, he re-named the land after the Jews historic arch-enemies - the Philistines. However, Jesus most emphatically never ever walked or breathed in the land of 'Palestine!'

    ReplyDelete

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