Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wrath, Reality, and the Grace of God

I often have conversations in which my faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and in the Bible is either called into question, or treated like one of those quaint little idiosyncrasies old ladies are prone to. I’d like to speak to that.
Today we consider religious belief a kind of random selection made on the whim of personal preference, like choosing a flavor of ice cream. The attitude – the meme, if you must have trendy terminology – is that nothing non-material is real. Those in the fashionable “know” see the atheist as the brave realist able to look life in the eye and get on with his purposeless, short existence. But they see believers as poor weak souls L people who need to lean on a fairytale, and who will be barely, and condescendingly tolerated.

It occurs to few that a religious belief can be based on reality. I’m not sure most Christians even see their faith as based on fact, on history, on ontological truth, yet it is. In fact the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only world religion that can make that claim. Over and over again archeological information surfaces that bears out the accuracy of the biblical account (but that’s another post).

Because he is at the center of it all,  I begin with the historical actuality of a man named Jesus.

In fact, Jesus Christ, whose lineage can be traced back through David (king of Israel from 1010 to 970 B.C.) to, and beyond, Abraham ( 2nd millennium B.C.) is more thoroughly documented as having been a real person than his contemporary Julius Caesar.  Not only do we have thousands of biblical manuscripts that attest to his existence, but we also have dozens of contemporaneous, extra-biblical sources that mention him – Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallas, Celsus, just to name a few. Many of these historians were antagonistic toward Christus and spoke ill of him, but no one thought he was a myth, and as they argued against the Christian claims, they inadvertently justified the biblical accounts.