In the previous post, we determined that the Big Bang evidence points to a theistic God a lot like the God of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians. God has generally revealed Himself through the things He created, but we cannot determine which religion is true on the basis of General Revelation alone. We need Special Revelation, and all three Abrahamic faiths have holy books that they claim are inspired by the one true God.
They could all be wrong, but if one is right we can rule out the other two.
The Jews have the Tanakh and the Talmud. The Christians have the Bible (the Jewish Tanakh, or Old Testament + the New Testament). The Muslims have the Qur’an and the Hadith. One interesting aspect of these books is that some of them are considered sacred by more than one of the three faiths. Judaism is the most ancient faith, and their Tanakh is part of the Christian Bible. The Christians added the New Testament, and believe Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament, which only had types and shadows of Jesus. Similarly, the Muslims consider both Testaments of the Bible the Word of God, but believe it was distorted, and that the Qur’an supersedes authority of the Bible.
All these faiths agree that there is one generally theistic creator God. In fact, all three faiths claim to worship the same God and have much in common, at least on the surface. They disagree in key areas. If one faith is correct, the other two would have to be false. While I could exhaustively study every possible aspect of these three religions and their holy books, I believe there is a more efficient way to determine the true faith.
The three primary criteria I will use to judge the Abrahamic faiths are miraculous signs, the fulfillment of prophecy, and their view of Jesus of Nazareth. If God wanted to confirm one message over and above the other two, He could confirm that message with miraculous signs. In cases where no miraculous sign confirmed a prophet, they could be judged by whether their prophecies came true or not. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have three different views of Jesus. Which view of Jesus is historically accurate, and has the confirmation of miraculous signs and fulfilment of prophecy?
God often confirms His Word through miracles. For example, in the Tanakh, which is authoritative for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Moses asked the Lord for a sign to confirm His message to the Israelites.
Exodus 4:1-9 ESV
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.'” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Those familiar with the account of the Exodus know this was only the beginning of the miraculous signs that God performed through Moses. These signs confirmed that God was the source of Moses’s message. God continued to confirm the message of His prophets with signs throughout the Tanakh.
Another notable prophet whom God confirmed with miracles was Elijah. Elijah stopped rain. During the ensuing drought, he miraculously provided food for a starving widow. After the widow’s son died, Elijah raised him from the dead. Elijah had a dynamic showdown with the prophets of Baal, and proved his God was real when the Lord answered Elijah with fire and consumed his sacrifice. After this, rain returned by the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
In the Tanakh, considered authoritative by all three Abrahamic faiths, one method of confirming prophets was miraculous signs–but what about prophets who were not confirmed by signs? The other primary sign of a true prophet was that his prophecies came true.
Many prophets in the Tanakh spoke of an Anointed One, or Messiah, who would come to save his people. This Messiah would be miraculously concieved of a virgin. He would be born in the town of Bethlehem. The child would be called (among other things) “Mighty God,” and “Everlasting Father.” He would be a “great light” in Galilee. God called the Messiah His chosen servant who would bring justice to the nations, and a new covenant. God’s chosen servant would suffer greatly, and bear the sins of many, but would ultimately be victorious. He would be a mighty king, whose rule would never end.
The Jews are still waiting for this Messiah. The Christians and the Muslims both agree that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, although they disagree about what exactly that means.
When we move beyond the Tanakh, the Abrahamic faiths sharply divide. The Tanakh was the only Scripture for Jews before the rise of Christianity. The claim made by modern Rabbinic Jews is that at least part of the Talmud (the Mishnah) is the oral law, given to Moses along with the written law on Mt. Sinai, and kept by the Jews until the present time. I have never found any convincing arguments, or seen any convincing proof to substantiate this claim.
According to the present-day Rabbinic Jewish view, the Talmud and Tanakh are equally important, and the written law is unsustainable without the oral law. This was the teaching of Rabbi Isaiah Halevi Horowitz (1558-1628). In his commentary, Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Rabbi Isaiah interpreted allegorically that the two tablets carried by Moses when he descended from Mt. Sinai were the written law and the oral law.
That’s shaky ground to stand on. Apparently, the only evidence that an oral law existed over 3,000 years ago is the allegorical interpretation of a rabbi who lived only 400 years ago! The truth is the Mishnah (the portion of the Talmud purportedly handed down from Moses as the oral law) was not written until about the 2nd century A.D. by Rabbi Judah HaNasi. It probably existed in oral form before it was recorded by Rabbi Judah, but there is no good reason to believe it came from Moses. Over the next few centuries, various commentaries on the written law known collectively as the Gemarah were added to the Mishnah. The Mishnah and the Gemarah are what make up the Talmud, which was completed around the 5th century A.D. The various commentaries in the Gemarah contradict each other often. In fact, there are actually two separate Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. When most people speak of the Talmud, they mean the Babylonian Talmud. Even all Jews cannot agree on the authority of the Talmud. Reform Jews reject it as completely man-made, as does the older Karaite sect of Judaism.
The rabbis who commented on the written law in the Talmud made no claim to be prophets or miracle workers. The Talmud itself makes no claim to be the Word of God. I have no good reason to believe any part of it is an oral law handed down from Moses. While the Talmud probably has some good things to say, I certainly see no reason to consider it inspired or authoritative.
It might surprise some people to learn that the Talmud mentions Jesus of Nazareth. It says that Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshu) was hanged on Passover Eve for practicing sorcery, and deserved his punishment (Sanhedrin 43a, scroll down to ‘Gemara‘). Other passages in the Talmud accuse Jesus of idolatry, of illegitimate birth, of being fathered by a demon, and of leading Israel astray. Clearly, Rabbinic Judaism disagrees with Christianity and Islam, which both revere Jesus as Messiah and a prophet (though Christianity goes even further). However, as I have already said, we have no good reason to believe that Talmud has any legitimate authority. It cannot be trusted as a reliable source of information on God.
God has not confirmed present-day Rabbinic Judaism with miraculous signs or fulfilled prophecy. The God of modern Judaism cannot be the one true God revealed by General Revelation. Although the Tanakh was clearly miraculous and prophetic, when combined with the Talmud it became part the false religion of Rabbinic Judaism.
We are left with Christianity and Islam, which hold the Tanakh and the Christian New Testament to be authoritative, and hold that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Many people don’t realize that the supreme holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, teaches that the Bible is also the authoritative Word of God.
However, Christians and Muslims still strongly disagree in critical areas. While the Qur’an teaches that the Bible is God’s Word, it contradicts the Bible on several points, including the identity of Jesus. Let’s examine the Qur’an on our three criteria: miracles, prophecy, and Jesus of Nazareth.
According to Islamic teaching, the Qur’an is God’s pure Word given to His last and greatest prophet, Muhammed. Was Muhammed a miracle worker, like Moses or Elijah? According to the Qur’an he was not.
But they say, “Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?” Say, “The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a clear warner.”
The Qur’an fails the miracle test because God did not confirm Muhammed spoke for Him with miraculous signs. However, this alone is not enough to prove Muhammed a false prophet.
The second criteria the Qur’an needs to meet is fulfillment of prophecy. According to the Religion of Islam website, several of Muhammed’s prophecies were fulfilled. According to the Qur’an, God told Muhammed he would enter Mecca’s Grand Mosque (Surah 48:27), the Muslims would defeat the pagans of Mecca (Surah 54:45), the Muslims would gain political authority (Surah 24:55), there would be hypocrites who would swear allegiance to Muhammed’s enemies, but would actually run (Surah 59:11), and the Muslims would have future confrontations with non-believers (Surah 3:111, Surah 48:22).
While all these prophecies did come to pass, I must say that I’m not really impressed. It is a well documented fact that Muhammed spread his message by the sword. It certainly was not difficult to fulfill these prophecies once the Muslims, led by their prophet, conquered Mecca in 630 A.D. While there was no guarantee that Muhammed would win the battle over the pagans, once he did, of course he entered the Grand Mosque. It takes no prophet to predict that once your army overthrows cities you will have political authority, you will fight battles in which your enemies are unaided by hypocrites who swore allegiance to them, and you will continue to have military conflicts in the future.
The third criteria is how Jesus is viewed. Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet. Muslims believe that Muhammed was the greater prophet, although it is hard to see why when you look at the Islamic teachings about both Muhammed and Jesus.
According to Islam, Jesus was born of a virgin, but Muhammed was not.
Jesus was sinless, but Muhammed was not.
Jesus was called the Messiah, but Muhammed was not.
Jesus performed miracles, but Muhammed did not.
Jesus was called the Word of God, but Muhammed was not.
The Qur’an contradicts the Biblical accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion.
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him for certain.
Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.
The Bible says Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead on the third day. The Qur’an says Jesus was not crucified, but that another was made to look like him and crucified in his place. If one account is true then the other must be false.
The Biblical account of Jesus of Nazareth fulfills all the prophecies of the Tanakh (as we are about to see). The Qur’anic Jesus does not. The Jesus of the Qur’an is born of a virgin, but he is not the “Everlasting God,” nor does he suffer or bear the sins of anyone. The Qur’an is not confirmed by miracles, and it’s prophecies are self-fulfilled by military force. There is no good reason to believe the Qur’an is the Word of God.
Some Muslims also consider collections of sayings attributed to Muhammed called Hadith authoritative. The Hadith are unreliable for much the same reasons the Talmud is unreliable. They were written down 100 years or more after Muhammed was dead, contain contradictory statements, and not all Muslims believe they are authoritative. According to some Muslims, the Hadith actually contradict the Qur’an. And of course, there are no miraculous signs or fulfilled prophecies to confirm the Hadith. Neither the Hadith, nor the Qur’an meet the standard and cannot be considered God’s Word. The God of Islam cannot be the theistic God revealed in the creation.
If Rabbinic Judaism and Islam are not true, the only theistic option left is Christianity. Rather than simply assuming the truth of Christianity, we need to apply the same standards we applied to Judaism and Islam. Jesus of Nazareth is the founder of Christianity. His teaching needs to be confirmed by miracles, his prophecies need to come to pass, and the New Testament account of him needs to be reliable.
There are numerous accounts in the Gospels of Jesus performing miracles. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, turned water into wine, walked on water, fed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread, and raised people from the dead. The Gospel of John says,
John 21:25 ESV
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
Out of all the miracles performed by Jesus, the most pivotal miracle is His own resurrection.
Some may be surprised to learn that the resurrection of Jesus has been thoroughly investigated by scholars. It might also surprise some that not all of these scholars are Christians. Many New Testament historians are skeptical of Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus. According to Dr. Gary Habermas, nearly all New Testament historians–from the most skeptical atheists to the most devout Christian believers agree on the following points:
1. Jesus died when He was crucified by the Romans.
2. He was buried.
3. When He died, the disciples were extremely discouraged, and abandoned all hope that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
4. The tomb was found empty soon after Jesus’s burial.
5. The disciples experienced what they believed were real, actual appearances of the resurrected Jesus.
6. As a result of these experiences, the disciples were completely transformed. They believed in their experiences so strongly that they were willing to die for their beliefs.
7. The public testimony and the preaching of the resurrection began early on; in fact, almost immediately.
8. The disciples publicly testified that Jesus had risen again in Jerusalem, the same city where Jesus had just been crucified.
9. The preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus was the central message of the gospel.
10. Sunday, the day Jesus was reported to have risen from the dead, was the primary day of Christian worship.
11. James, the brother of Jesus, was converted when he believed he saw the risen Jesus. During the time of Jesus’s ministry, James did not believe Jesus was the Messiah.
12. A few years later, Saul of Tarsus believed he saw the risen Jesus and became a Christian believer.
Virtually all New Testament historians agree on these points, even scholars who are skeptical of Christianity. This is important to remember because these are not just any skeptics. The skeptics are highly trained in order to test the reliability of ancient documents.
The only way non-Christian New Testament scholars avoid admitting that Christianity is true is by saying that Jesus’s disciples only thought He was raised from the dead. However, the alternative theories proposed to explain how he did not rise from the dead don’t hold water.
When the disciples thought they saw a risen Jesus, were they actually hallucinating? There are at least a couple obvious flaws with this theory. First of all, hallucinations are only experienced by individuals, not entire groups of people. We know from various accounts in the New Testament that He appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene and the other women who came to His tomb early on the Sunday morning after His crucifxion. He appeared to the twelve on several occasions. Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15 mentions this, and also that He appeared to over 500 people at one time, as well as to His brother James, and a few years later to Paul himself.
The other major flaw in the hallucination theory is that Jesus’s tomb was found empty. Remember, virtually all New Testament scholars agree on this. If the risen Jesus was a hallucination, where did the body go? If the empty tomb was a hallucination, why didn’t the authorities exhume Jesus body and publically display it in Jerusalem for everyone to see?
What if the disciples mistakenly went to the wrong tomb? That’s not likely. The Jews (including Jesus’s disciples) knew exactly where the tomb was. It was one of their tombs! In fact, it was the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. The site of the tomb was well known to the Jews. In fact, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” were present when they laid Him in the tomb (Matthew 27:61).
It was also well known to the Romans, who posted their own soldiers at the tomb. This leads us directly to one of the same issues the hallucination theory had. If Jesus did not raise from the dead, the Romans would simply have ordered their soldiers to open the tomb and parade Jesus’s crucified body around Jerusalem, proving that Jesus was still dead.
Even if the disciples somehow got mixed up and went to the wrong tomb, this would explain the empty tomb, but not the subsequent appearances of Jesus of Nazareth alive.
The empty tomb was just one of the historical events agreed upon by skeptical and believing New Testament historians alike. Immediately after finding the empty tomb, most of the disciples lost all hope in Jesus.
In fact, when the empty tomb was discovered, Mary Magdalene thought someone (perhaps the Romans or Jesus’s enemies) had stolen Jesus’s body. She immediately ran and told Peter and John, and the three of them rushed back to the tomb. Upon seeing the empty tomb, only John believed. John explained that “as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:1-10)
Mary Magdalene did not believe Jesus had risen from the dead until she saw Him alive (John 20:11-18). When she told the other disciples she had seen Him, they did not believe her. In fact, her “words seemed to them an idle tale.” Later on, He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, but they were kept from recognizing Him at first. He rebuked them for their unbelief, saying, “O foolish ones, slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” After their eyes were opened, and they realized Who they had been speaking with, Jesus disappeared. By the time they reached the Eleven (the Twelve core disciples, minus Judas Iscariot), they were discussing how Jesus had appeared to Peter. These men had not been convinced by the empty tomb, and remained in doubt until Jesus personally appeared to them (you can read this account in Luke 24:13-35).
At this point, Jesus appeared and some of them still did not believe! They actually thought they were seeing a spirit–Jesus’s ghost. Jesus was forced to rebuke His doubting disciples once again. He said, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Some of them still didn’t believe until He ate some fish and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:36-49).
How embarrassing. Jesus’s own disciples, who had lived with Him for three years had trouble believing He had risen from the dead, even as He stood in front of them. They had been taught by the greatest Bible teacher of all time, but they failed to understand the Scriptures. No wonder Jude advises us, “Have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 1:22).
Maybe Jesus didn’t actually die? Maybe He only fainted? In my humble opinion, this is the most rediculous theory attempting to explain how Jesus did not raise from the dead. Crucifixion was the most brutal method of execution in Jesus’s day (and probably still is in our day). After Jesus was brutally beaten–by the temple guard, Herod’s soldiers, and Roman soldiers–the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that Jesus was not strong enough to carry His cross all the way to Golgotha (it had to be carried by one Simon of Cyrene).
At Golgotha He was nailed to His cross with six inch iron spikes. In addition to massive bloodloss from the nail wounds, the crown of thorns, and scourging with the cat of nine tails whip, Jesus slowly and painfully died as he drowned in his own bodily fluids. The gospels record that the Roman soldiers were about to break His legs (to keep Him from breathing by pushing Himself up) and deternined this was unecessary because He was already dead. These guys were professional killers, and knew a dead body when they saw one. However, just to be sure they rammed a spear into His side, piercing His heart, and “at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34).
If you would like an even more detailed account, written by medical doctors, please refer to “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”.
If nothing else, watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion or Jesus of Nazareth. Ask yourself, “Do I really think Jesus lived through all that? Really?!?” Honestly, it’s a lot more likely He rose from the dead, than that He survived Roman crucifixion. If you actually believe Jesus just fainted, I seriously have to question whether your skepticism is based on logic and reason, or simple bias against Christianity.
The disciples must have stolen Jesus’s body. The last best hope of the New Testament scholar who is also skeptical of Christianity is that the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead, but were decieved. If the disciples were not decieved, but were the decievers, this contradicts what virtually all New Testament scholars believe to be true. The evidence simply does not leave this option open to us.
If the disciples were the sort that would make up stories, what was their motive? Did they want to be violently persecuted, or even executed for their testimony? That is what happened. Every single apostle, except John, died for their gospel account. It isn’t that they didn’t try to kill John either. History records that they tried to execute him by boiling him in hot oil. He just wouldn’t die! They ended up imprisoning him on the island of Patmos, where he had visions recorded as the book of Revelation.
If they were lying about Jesus, they could have saved their lives by simply recanting their testimony. No liar is willing to die for a lie. Therefore, any theory that questions the integrity or sincerity of the apostles just doesn’t make sense.
Therefore, we need to be clear from the start that the theory that Jesus’s disciples stole His body from the tomb is not based on good scholarship. The genesis of this theory is actually recorded in the gospel of Matthew.
Matthew 27:62-66 records that after Jesus was crucified and buried, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and requested that Roman guards be placed at the tomb for three days, pointing out that Jesus Himself said, “After three days I will rise.” They explained to Pilate that they actually anticipated Jesus’s disciples would attemt to steal the body and report that He had risen from the dead. Pilate ordered that a guard (in our terminology, more like a squad than a single guard) go and make the tomb secure.
The New Testament does not specify the number of guards that went, but we know there had to be more than one. After the resurrection Matthew 28:11 records, “some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.” We see from this verse that the word translated as “guard” clearly means more than one man. Religious art generally depicts two guards, but we have good reasons to believe there were more. Since “some” of the guards reported to the chief priests, not all of them were there, and there was more than one with the chief priests, so there at least three. We know from historians that Roman protocol required at least four guards. However, since they were expecting Jesus’s disciples to steal the body, they probably posted at least 11 men, for the 11 remaining core disciples.
It is likely that even more guards were posted than that. Firstly, typical military straregy is to use overwhelming force–two or three guars for each apostle. Secondly, there were more disciples than the 11 chosen apostles, since the gosels record that great crowds followed Jesus. He had at least enough followers to appoint 72 who were trustworthy enough to enter towns ahead of Him to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom (see Luke 10:1-12). The Roman military probably planned for enough disciples to arrive to put up a good fight. Once again, they would have wanted an overwhelming force, whether the opposing force was expected to be 11, 72, or even more. I would not be surprised if they had at least posted the Roman equivalent of a platoon at the tomb.
The disciples, who were not trained for comat (with the possible exception of Simon the Zealot) would have had to fight off an overwhelming force of elite Roman soldiers. Not a bit likely.
Going back to Matthew’s account (specifically Matthew chapter 28), some of the guard went to the chief priests to tell them what happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and decided to pay the Roman soldiers to propagate a lie. They advised the soldiers, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” (Matthew 28:13-14)
Matthew’s account is believable for several reasons. First of all, it would have highly unlikely, if not impossible, for a group of Jewish peasants to overrun an overwhelming force of the most highly trained soldiers of the time. We have already established this. Second of all, even if the disciples, against all odds, did manage to do this, the consequences would have been dire for that group of Roman guards. If they admitted to sleeping on watch, this would not merely be a stain on Roman pride. Falling asleep on watch was a capital offense in those days. In fact, later on Peter was arrested by Herod, and when he escaped Herod ordered the guards be put to death (Acts 12:19). They needed some additional motivation to tell the people that they fell asleep and the disciples robbed the tomb, whether it actually happened or not.
This explains what the chief priests and elders did. In order to ensure the Roman guards would be willing to spread this lie, they had to pay them a “sufficient sum of money” and reassure them by saying, “If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will… keep you out of trouble.”
Is there any good reason to believe the disciples actually stole the body? No.
In addition to the reasons previously given, if the guards actually fell asleep, how would they know what happened to the body? Anything could have happened while they were sleeping. The disciples could have stolen the body. Or the Pharisees could have stolen the body. Or a flying saucer could have landed and extra-terrestrials stole the body. Or *gasp* Jesus actually rose from the dead!
Nope, couldn’t have been that last one! A gaggle of uneducated Jewish commoners must have overrun an elite, overwhelming force of Roman soldiers. They found these highly trained troops asleep on watch, and somehow managed not to wake any of them up when they moved the two ton boulder from the mouth of the tomb. Then the guards told everyone about it, so they must not have been too worried the governor would have them executed.
As far as New Testament scholars are concerned, the chief point of disagreement between Christian believers and skeptics is that the Christian scholars say the disciples had experiences of the risen Jesus, but skeptics say the disciples believed they experienced the risen Jesus. The sincerity of the gospel account is never questioned, but the reality of what happened is questioned by skeptics.
We have examined several theories proposed by skeptics to explain what really happened if Jesus did not raise from the dead. These theories include hallucination, going to the wrong tomb, apparent death, and tomb robbing. When closely examined, none of these theories are adequately supported by evidence or reason. There are other theories we have not examined. We will not examine those theories at this time. I will only say that none of these alternate theories adds up to me. Examine them for yourselves and decide.
In light of what the vast majority of New Testament scholars agree on, I believe the best explanation of the evidence is that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. The alternate explanations given to support the notion that the disciples were decieved are not sound. The evidence does not suggest that the New Testament account is a lie, a legend, or a myth, as some suggest.
There are other scholars with other opinions, such as the members of the controversial Jesus Seminar. However, as Dr. William Lane Craig pointed out in a debate with retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, these scholars are now considered “the lunatic fringe” of New Testament scholarship.
Jesus predicted on several occasions that He would suffer and die, but raise again on the third day. The best explanation of scholarly findings on the New Testament is that He did, in fact, raise from the dead.
Not only were Jesus’s own prophecies fulfilled, but He fulfilled the promises of the Tanakh. Many prophets in the Tanakh spoke of an Anointed One, or Messiah, who would come to save his people. This Messiah would be miraculously concieved of a virgin. He would be born in the town of Bethlehem. The child would be called (among other things) “Mighty God,” and “Everlasting Father.” He would be a “great light” in Galilee. God called the Messiah His chosen servant who would bring justice to the nations, and a new covenant. God’s chosen servant would suffer greatly, and bear the sins of many, but would ultimately be victorious. He would be a mighty king whose rule would never end.
Jesus was miraculously concieved of the Holy Spirit in the Mary, who was a virgin at the time. Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. Jesus was raised in the Galilean town of Nazareth, and began His ministry in Galilee. Jesus was God, and this was recognized by His disciples and openly stated by Him. Jesus was the author of a new covenant, not only for Israel, but the nations of the world. Jesus suffered and died for the sins of all humankind. Jesus has now been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and His kingdom will never end.
Per our criteria of miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and an accurate view of Jesus of Nazareth, the best explanation of the evidence is that the Special Revelation of Christianity best fits the General Revelation of God in the natural world. Our three criteria are further confirmed by scholars. The one true God that created everything is Jesus Christ. If you believe in your heart that He rose from the dead, and confess with your mouth that He is Lord, you will be saved. Receive His salvation by faith today!