Strong anti-christian pressures have been emerging recently in forms that defy logic, and defile the mind. Consider the following four examples.
- Jerry Springer, the Opera. This blasphemous production has the Lord Jesus Christ depicted as a nappy-wearing pervert, Mary is said to have been raped by God, God himself needs Jerry Springer’s shoulder to cry on. That is quite apart from all the profanity, mixed with the blasphemy and the offence to Almighty God and the Christian community.
- The Da Vinci Code. This cunningly written book, and the film that goes with it, depicts Jesus as having survived the cross, married Mary Magdalene, and sired a whole family of “special” people. In denying the resurrection, the book essentially flattens Christianity, of which Paul said, “If Christ be not raised, we are still in our sins.”
- The Gospel of Judas. This ancient heresy, brought to light again from a recently discovered document, purports to show that Judas Iscariot was in the right, and that Jesus had a special friendship with him. It is a brazen denial of all the evidence from the four Gospels.
- The Jesus trial. An Italian atheist by the name of Luigi Cascioli gained worldwide recognition just recently for suing a Priest, and saying that Jesus Christ never existed. The Priest, Rev. Enrico Righi stated in a parish gazette, that “the historic figure of Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary, born in the village of Bethlehem and grown up in Nazareth.” Cascioli argued that Righi violated a law that forbids deceiving the public, and that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed.
The outcome in the Appeals Court in Rome was decisive. Cascioli was fined $1,900 for bringing a fraudulent lawsuit. However the aged Cascioli vowed never to pay the fine, saying it is “an abuse of authority against every right of expression and liberty.” He even went further to say that the Church has made great profit from its deception for 2,000 years, which he claims is another crime under Italian law.
Rev. Righi’s attorney, Severo Bruno, said, “Righi is very satisfied and moved at the outcome. He is an old, small-town parish priest who never thought he’d be in the spotlight for something like this.”
Righi said that the existence of Jesus is unmistakable due to a wealth of both pagan and Christian evidence pointing to His reality.
It might be the right time to state exactly what those evidences are, seeing that we are living in a fast-changing world, where personal opinions and philosophies are becoming sacrosanct, and every man must be granted the ability to say and to do whatever seems right in his own eyes. One is reminded of the last verse of Judges, where this very thing is stated plainly. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” In Proverbs 14:12 we read, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Oswald Chambers said, “The essential nature of sin is my claim to my right to myself.” Without the Lord Jesus as King in our lives, we are as a small boat tossed about by all the winds of human philosophy.
The 15th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica uses some 20,000 words to describe the person of Jesus, far more than articles dealing with such famed individuals as Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucious, Mohammed, or Napoleon. After covering the many independent secular accounts of Jesus, the Encyclopaedia concludes, “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time, and on inadequate grounds, by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.”
Apart from the many evidences within the New Testament itself, and the writings of the early Church Fathers, we have the following.
- Cornelius Tacitus. (Born A.D.52-53) Speaking of the atrocities of Nero after the fire in Rome, he said that Nero “punished the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate.”
- Lucian of Samosata. (2nd century A.D.) He spoke of Christ as “..the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world.”
- Flavius Josephus (born A.D.37) In his Antiquities xviii.33 we read the following. “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.”
- Suetonius (A.D. 120) In his Life of Claudius he writes “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.” In his Lives of the Caesars he writes, “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”
- Pliny the Younger (About A.D.112) Referring to a certain trial, in which Christians were being accused, he said, “They affirmed that the whole of their guilt was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang a hymn to Christ as to a god.”
- Tertullian. (A.D.197) Mentioning an exchange between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate, he said, “Tiberius accordingly, in those days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ. The senate . . . rejected the proposal.”
- Thallus (A.D.52) The following comes from Julius Africanus, quoting Thallus (whose writings have mostly been lost). “Thallus, in the 3rd book of his histories, explains away this darkness [at the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably as it seems to me.”
- Phlegon (1st century) His Chronicles have been lost, but Philopon mentions Phlegon’s statement about the darkness at the crucifixion. “Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Christ . . .”
These and several other sources could be adduced in favour of the historicity of our Lord. If anyone wants to have a more complete record of these quotations, they may be found in Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that demands a verdict.” Chapter 5, from which I have gathered the information for this brief study.
We are living in very strange, demanding, and disturbing times, when the assault on the Christian faith is gaining momentum from a variety of directions. Those of us who have learned of Christ, and have like precious faith need to encourage each other as the Day of Judgment draws near. My wife and I have need of that encouragement, even as we have sought to encourage others by this article. God bless you all.