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Apologetics Example

Apologetics is simply the defense of our faith.

I was talking to a guy on a Bible discussion board and when talking about Jesus he said, "You are already convinced but skeptics are like that because of lack of evidence. Many believe he didn't exist at all or his story is a legend based on more than one real individual - a rebel leader, a preacher, a crucifixion survivor, etc."

His statement has many flaws to it. Let's talk about the evidence.

The historical method is used by historians to determine whether any event happened. It is the criterion and techniques used by historians to systematically investigate the past. One of the principals of the historic method is multiple attestation. It posits that a recorded event is more likely to be historically accurate if it is recorded in multiple independent sources, all else being equal.

Being skeptical of Jesus' "existence" isn't warranted. It is denying the evidence. Virtually no one denies He existed because besides what we know from the Bible, foes of Christianity wrote about Jesus' existence and His crucifixion (Roman historian Tacitus, Jewish historian Josephus, the Jewish Talmud mentions it, and Lucian documents, etc.) Are you equally skeptical that Cleopatra existed or on the evidence of her life?

The suggestion that Jesus was a "rebel leader" is far-fetched. There is no shred of evidence that He was a rebel leader. In fact, there is evidence He wasn't. Jesus was charged as an insurgent (Luke 23:2,5) and Pontius Pilate repeatedly said that he found no guilt in Jesus. (Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:4, 23:14, 23:22; John 18:38, 19:4, 19:6) Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea at that time and the only one with the authority to declare a person guilty and sentence them to death. It was his job to keep peace in the region, to make sure those taxes got back to Rome, and to put down any rebellion. We know from other historical writings that Pilate was willing to perform his Roman assignment of putting down rebellion. There is evidence he executed others for this very crime. Yet he found no guilt in Jesus.

"You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him."

Luke 23:14,15

There is no evidence Jesus was a "rebel leader."

Jesus was a "preacher." Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah. It is documented that the disciples of Jesus believed He had risen from the dead. Not only his disciples believed this, but His foes, Saul and his brother James, believed He had risen. A skeptic could say they lied or hallucinated. Both are unreasonable arguments when you take into account all of the evidence. Liars make poor martyrs. Group prolonged hallucinations don't occur. Yes, I suppose someone could say Jesus was a "preacher," but the evidence supports He was much more than that. He was the risen Christ.

Jesus was a "crucifixion survivor." Virtually no scholar believes this is possible. To believe that Jesus could have survived a full Roman crucifixion is to not understand what a Roman crucifixion entailed. There is only one recorded case of anyone surviving a Roman crucifixion and the crucifixion was stopped before it got very far. There are no recorded cases of anyone ever surviving a full Roman crucifixion.

The crucifixion would begin with a flogging of at least thirty-nine lashes using a flagrum. It was a whip with approximately six leather cords, each cord consisting of leather balls with shards of sheep bone and metal dumbbells. The metal dumbbells would cause the blood vessels under the skin to dilate. The sheep bone would latch onto the skin and tear it off of the victims. It was designed to cause excessive bleeding. The process of flogging would kill some people before they were crucified. Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. Jesus was scourged.

He had nails driven through the median nerves in his wrists (considered part of the hand in that culture) and probably a seven inch nail through the nerves in His feet. These nails would crush the nerves and cause unbearable pain. So much so they had to invent a new word: excruciating which literally means "out of the cross." Hanging on a cross the person would be in the inhaled position and would have to push up to exhale. Slump down to inhale. Push up to exhale. It was an exhausting painful procedure just to breathe. When the person could no longer push up to exhale they died from asphyxiation. Jesus hung on the cross for six hours.

If the Romans wanted to speed up the process they would break the legs of the person so they could no longer be able to push up to exhale and would quickly suffocate to death. When the Romans went to break Jesus' legs because it was mid-afternoon they noted He was already dead. Just to confirm He was dead they drove a spear into His side and blood and water came out. The water was either the serum after the blood has separated or the fluid from around the heart (pericardial effusion) or from around his lungs (pleural effusion.) Either way, Jesus had to be dead in order for there to be blood and "water" coming out of His side.

It was the job of the Roman soldiers to carry out their orders. They were experts at killing people. If they did not carry out their job, we know they would be put to death themselves. This gave them incentive to make sure Jesus really was dead.

Given the historical process of crucifixion, archeological evidence, what we know from various witnesses, and the opinion of medical professionals; the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor that Jesus existed, was crucified and did not survive His crucifixion. Based on a reasonable fair evaluation of the evidence, it would be true to say Jesus was not a "crucifixion survivor."

We shouldn't blindly believe everything we hear or read. We should weigh the evidence and seek the truth. It is through discovering the answers that our faith grows! That was the effect studying apologetics had on me. It appears many skeptics have a predetermined conclusion, ignore the evidence, and are satisfied with making unsupported claims. That is the very model of having a closed-mind. In this case it is certainly unfounded skepticism and unwarranted claims.

Apologetics is the reasoned defense of the beliefs we hold.

You don't have to check your mind at the door to be a Christian.

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