23 December 2015

The Story of Christmas is True

Five Reasons You Can Trust the Story of Christmas Is True (Free Bible Insert)

Detectives create lists. As a cold-case detective, I'm no different. When investigating an event in the distant past (in my case, an unsolved murder), I collect evidence, make lists and do my best to reach the most reasonable inference. When I began to investigate Christianity at the age of thirty-five, I approached the gospels the same way I approached my cold-case files. Lists were an important part of the process. One New Testament claim was particularly interesting to me: the conception and birth of Jesus. When I first read through the gospels, the birth narratives seemed incredible and unreasonable. I'm not the only person to express such a concern. In a recent article posted in the Herald Scotland, Reverend Andrew Frater called the Nativity story a "fanciful, fairy tale" and called on Christians to "disentangle the truth from the tinsel". Frater is a minister and a believer, and even he doesn't believe in the virgin conception of Jesus. As an atheist, I was even more skeptical. I rejected supernatural claims altogether, and the first Biblical claim about Jesus was a supernatural one. But as I collected the evidence and formed my lists, I found there were many good reasons to trust the story of Christmas. I've assembled them here with links to longer treatments of each topic:

Reason 1:
The Supernatural Nature of the Virgin Conception Shouldn't Disqualify It
When I began to investigate the virgin conception, I was actually investigating my own philosophical naturalism. I was, in essence, asking the following questions: "Is the natural world all that exists?" "Is there anything beyond the physical, material world we measure with our five senses?" "Are supernatural events possible or even reasonable?" In asking these questions, I was putting naturalism to the test. It would have been unfair, therefore, to begin by presupposing nothing supernatural could ever exist or occur. If we want to be fair about assessing the virgin conception or any other supernatural aspect of the nativity story, we cannot exclude the very possibility of the supernatural in the first place. Our presupposition against the supernatural would unfairly taint our examination of the claim.

Reason 2:
The Claim of the Virgin Conception Appears Incredibly Early in Christian History
It's always easier to tell a lie once everyone who was alive to know the difference has already died. But if you're going to make a claim early in an area where people are still available to debunk your claim, be prepared to have a difficult time getting away with misrepresentations. The virgin conception of Jesus is one of the earliest claims in Christian history. The students of the gospel authors cited the virgin conception as a true claim about Jesus. Ignatius, the student of John (an Apostle who chose not to write about the birth of Jesus in his own gospel), included it in his early writings to local churches. Other Church leaders repeated the claim through the earliest years of the Church, and the doctrine also appears in the most ancient Church creeds. Even early non-canonical documents include the virgin conception of Jesus.

Reason 3:
The Birth Narratives in Luke and Matthew Are Not Late Additions

Critics, in an effort to argue the birth narratives in Luke and Matthew are not reliable, point to stylistic differences and "content shifting" within the gospels. Critics claim that the Greek language…

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