Care to prove or disprove the existence of a mythical/historical/divine Jesus Christ?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by sparky, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    \/\/0\/\/... sorry for making this so long!! :eek: Hope you put in your 2 cents, Simon! :detective:

    Soo... I feel like I can never grow in making a decision about Jesus. I always expand in discovery, but no discovery allows me to see any definite PROOF one way or another.

    There are things that cause me to lean toward Jesus not even existing, considering only ONE secular historian, Josephus, mentions Jesus by name... yet the work was later found to be a fraud. No other text even gets the name that people, today, believe to be his actual name -- Yeshua. Where are the texts with that name? If scripture is based off tradition, and tradition couldn't even remember his name properly... then what does that say about the rest of the religion? It doesn't really prove anything, but it's compelling to believe that everybody was extremely gullible, had extremely shot memories, or maybe even... everybody was right to take such a claim on faith?? :confused:

    At the same time... there were martyrs at the beginning of Catholicism, no? They believe St. Paul and St. Peter to be martyrs, who never relented in their beliefs. There are other martyrs, I'm sure.. but I don't know too much about them. Just heard of St. Martha mentioned recently (I'm only interested in early martyrs, like her, because the ones who never actually saw the [Resurrected] Jesus are just taking it all on hearsay). And I'm pretty sure there were some people who actually knew the Apostles, who claim that the tomb was empty. That's why there WERE "churches" where people gathered before St. Paul even wrote his letters to the churches.

    Or ya know... perhaps even the letters to the churches were hoaxes to start an extremely deep basis for "creative authorship" of 17 gospels? And the martyrs actually repeated their own lies (misunderstandings? half-truths? :whistling:) so frequently, that 30+ years later, they actually believed them and had nothing much to live for, so that was the best way to die, instead of fading away?

    I do find it interesting that St. Paul never actually met Jesus at all, only the resurrected Jesus as he was traveling to Damascus on a horse. From that point, he somehow [allegedly] met up with the rest of the "clan" and starts doing "priestly" work at various churches in the Middle East.

    And Paul's students (who wrote Mark, Luke, and prolly Matthew too) might not have even seen the other Apostles. So perhaps Paul just fell off his horse on the way to Damascus, actually bumped his head on a rock, and went looney preaching about his other Apostles while nobody actually saw the other Apostles. Perhaps the disconnect was THAT EARLY that the only works we have to go on are of St. Paul and his students, whereas nobody knows if the students actually contacted the other Apostles?

    And the way that Luke speaks about Mary, it does make it seem like he mighta actually spoken with her to know that she _did_ have a Virgin Birth. The fact that it's written in the Bible at all is crazy to me, but the way Luke actually words it seems like he had first-hand contact with Mary. Very nuts. And there's other prophecies about the Christ being born "among the people of Israel", when there was no Israel.. but since it's worded "the people"... it's not like the "people of Israel" weren't around just because Israel was actually Palestine at the time.

    I mean... I could think about this stuff for hours and lean in either direction, depending on the last thing that I read was. There's just enough information to be neither COMPLETELY conclusive or inconclusive. It really is a matter of faith, it seems... and a matter that should force any thinker to be an agnostic.

    I'm just wondering if anybody else has come to any solid conclusion after research like this. Is there anything that I've said that is OBVIOUSLY founded on faulty knowledge/logic??

    And I'm especially interested in SimpleSimon's answer to all this, as a fellow agnostic, he seems to have more understanding of the Bible than most Christians, but I'm not finding anything that really disproves the real Jesus and/or the Resurrection. I'm really interested to hear his "version" of super-early Christianity. Is there any thing that can be verified about the Bible without use of the Bible? .. or is it all so vague that no answer can be determined either way?

    I just see compelling answers in all directions, but I can't determine which force is strongest. Perhaps if Yeshua is actually written in ancient texts... then that would cause me to believe more in the historical Jesus, and therefore, the Apostles, who witnessed the open tomb & Resurrection and preached until they realized the Second Coming wasn't coming anytime soon... so their "students" wrote stuff this down for generations to come, and after they believed the foundation of their "church" was settled, they stopped fighting the skeptics of the Roman empire and just wished to be in Heaven :confused::confused::confused:

    So confusing...

  2. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    The global warming alarmists say that even if you don't believe in global warming, it is good to just "do the right thing" and "go green".

    So even if you don't believe in Jesus, God or religion, isn't it good to "do the right thing" and live life from the teachings of the Bible?

    This is a huge generalization, but I believe that it holds true.

    For example, while I don't believe that CO2 is a pollutant and I think that cap and trade is a power grab - I do think that conserving natural resources and developing renewable energy are very important.

    Likewise, you may not believe you need to pray to God or feel a need for forgiveness for sins - but don't you think following the 10 commandments and the general teachings of the Bible is a good way to live your life?
  3. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    spanky... have you ever studied early Christianity???

    I urge you to have this conversation with Tim Vivian... He was my religious studies professor @ CSUB and I think you will find his credentials quite reputable.

    here is a link to the faculty web site from his department... he is the guy in the 6th picture down on the page.... or the last entry. He is extensively knowledgeable in this exact area of history and has been to these places and studied with the descendants of these people. He has a PHD in all sorts of stuff from places like UC santa barbara so you wont get a southern baptist minister type slant to the answers you seek. He was a great source of factual information for me as he will be for you... he knows aspects of Christianity/Islam/Judaism/mysticism you have never heard of and will certainly not hear in a Church or on the internet.

    start off by asking him about the 4 source hypothesis... I think it will answer a TON of questions you may be asking yourself.

    here is the faculty web page

    here is his e-mail...
  4. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    I will consider that, vtec.

    I've spent at least an hour, probly two... looking at books that I might want to purchase. I feel like in this day and age, there's no reason that I shouldn't have my own "opinion" on Jesus.

    I am MOST interested in everything from the death/resurrection until about ~100 AD. Anything past that seems to be getting too far from the source, IMHO. So the Apostles and super-early "Church Fathers" like St. Clement, Ignatius of Antioch, etc. are the guys I'm most interested in.

    There's just SO MANY books that I'd enjoy, I just don't know where to start...

    - (-OR- )
    - (-OR- )
    - (-OR- )

    Pretty long list... a couple might be "off-topic" with the idea of early church history, but the point is... people should know this history, especially if it's based on "verifiable" Truth.

    Of course, but it doesn't answer whether Jesus is actually God... if he was actually resurrected or not... why the Apostles and other martyrs felt the need to give up all the world's riches and die for what they believed to be Truth... and if Jesus is God, I should surely want to join a religion... would Catholocism actually be better than a Protestant sect??

    Just wondering if anybody thinks they have proof one way or another on the Jesus issue....

    Say, for example... I'd like to hear why Simon might think it "delusional" to believe that Jesus was actually God and was actually raised from the dead. I'd probably agree with him... but I feel like playing the angel's advocate this week. :devilish:
  5. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Sparky, I'm not going to attempt to answer your questions just now. Not because they are not valid questions deserving of answers, but because I am exhausted. I signed a lease on a new residence Wednesday morning, and I've been scrambling around, getting utilities hooked up, cable internet connection installed, finding a washer, dryer, and refrigerator, plus packing and moving my stuff. Tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday my son and I move all of the major stuff and lots of the minor things. Couch, recliners, desk, tables, chairs, computer system, appliances, bedroom suit, and all.

    Fortunately, my son is staying here at least until the end of May, so the only urgent items are getting the place livable - right now it is empty, but at least the utilities are hooked up finally. I hate moving, but look forward to getting moved in, as I will finally have a place on the ground floor and room to work on my trike.

    So, I'll just beg off for now, but I will get back to you. I suggest you follow vtec's advice as a place to begin, as Dr. Vivian's credentials are excellent and he is a widely acknowledged expert in the history of that era.
  6. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    Nice! No hurry... I'd honestly rather read at least one or two of those books before I start talking to any doctors of theology, tho!

    Congrats on getting the hard part of your move outta the way. I take it you're living in a pontoon boat now? :p
  7. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    you have heard of Dr Vivian??? His classes were a pleasure... both stimulating and informaive.
  8. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    I can tell you what books are required and discussed in some of his classes if you would like...
  9. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Fr Vivian has written extensively on christian history, most especially early christian history, and writes very well. While he fails to convince me of the divinity of Jesus, he does convince me of his own scholarship and belief. I respect that.

    He said something some years ago in an editorial in the Bakersfield newspaper which I made note of:
    As an Episcopal priest and as a human being, he has impressed me with his sincerity.
  10. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    yep... he was as genuine as it gets.

    To me the reality of GOD's existence doesn't lie in direct proof of whether or not he is but in the proof of the antithesis of God's existence.

    For centuries GOD has removed himself from man's presence. Growing ever more distant from the personal walks with adam, to a burning bush, a hand writing on the wall etc... to the point GOD no longer makes himself real to us in a physical sense anymore. So... looking for proof of GOD is futile in my opinion because for the best I can tell (I can certainly be wrong of coarse) GOD doesn't want to be seen/discovered/proved.

    However we have found ourselves in a unique position in the coarse of human events in which Satan and his dominion is finding its way into every nook and cranny of our existence much in the same way rain finds its way through a leaky roof.... making himself and his influence more real than ever if you know what you are looking at, and that is the proof of GOD's existence to me. Much in the same way a scientist finds an element that doesn't exist by the seemingly missing part of an equation, I find GOD.

    I dont think satan or demons come to people by popping up through the floorboards in the form of a guy with horns and a pitchfork. I believe satans influence is much more subtle... the demons have been with us since creation the same as the angels. They know what temptations man is most susceptible to to and when he is most weak.... all they need are whispered words spoken at the right time.

    I seriously believe that the spiritual realm is like a vacuum... in that it must be filled with something. When the spirit of the GOD is with somebody it acts like a repellent to demonic influence, it isnt a complete defense but without it we are utterly helpless. Without the presence of GOD the demons have almost total jurisdiction and will happily fill the void with whatever you will let them.... infidelity, self destructive behavior, thievery, guilt, anguish, hate, doubt, frustration. Although they cannot physically move our bodies to create destruction... they can pester and pester until the weak eventually give in, almost certainly resulting in some sort of suffering. In the end that is the goal of satan... to cause as much suffering as he can inflict on man because he is jealous that we are the apple of GODs eye.

    So to me the proof of GOD's existence lies in the constant struggle with evil that man endures. The constant battle with suffering and pain that is caused almost exclusively by our own inhibitions... why would man cause so much unnecessary suffering upon himself???
  11. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    Now... having said that, proof of the divinity in Jesus is a much different thing.

    Scholars dont really debate the existence of Jesus.... nobody doubts that a man of meager beginnings named YESHUA lived in a small Roman province bordering the Mediterranean sea. Nobody even doubts that man was the catalyst for revolutionary change that would forever change the landscape of human history. What is debated is the whether or not that man was GOD's representative/incarnation on Earth.

    Many came before Jesus making this claim... in fact the Emperor of Rome at the time was considered by the Romans to be GOD's representative/incarnation on Earth. As many came before, so have many have come after making similar claims... Joesph Smith and Muhammad come to mind.

    If you look at the teachings of those claiming to be of utmost divinity and relationship to GOD you can start to see commonalities between them and flaws in their teachings that show human bias towards their own individual wants/needs/desires. If you study the life of muhammed you can see the inadequacies of his youth and frustrations with his conversion of the polytheistic middle east surface in his teachings and "visions" as time goes on. For example there is a great deal about giving to the orphaned that coincides with his parent less childhood. Another example... his initial attitude towards people of Christianity and Judaism was relatively benevolent until he was chased out of medina at knife point... then he began with the "convert the infidels or kill them" rhetoric to save his own a$$.

    Although I haven't studied Joseph Smith in any great detail other than the relatively short history of the LDS, he instituted things like draconian control and polygamy to those in his compound. Both of which catered to his paranoid over controlling personality.

    Revered Jim Jones was the leader of a group called the people's temple. It was originally founded in Illinois but moved to san francisco in the early 70's. He eventually convinced the people in his church that he was GOD or at least his rep here on Earth and that he had found a way to perfect society. They moved to Jonestown Guyana on a private compound where they were controlled and manipulated into mass suicide.

    L Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer that eventually failed out of the navy. His shortcomings left over from childhood drove him to create a self-help program called dienetics.... dianetics eventually evolved to become the church of scientology. I wont go into many details but the A&E biography was quite shocking. He was such a con artist that the whole group eventually ended up on a boat with him wearing an admiral suit. The story is bizarre to say the least... for anybody interested, the church part of the story began in a room with hubbard saying to his colleague over dinner.... "we need to start a church, that's where the money is". Ever since they have sucked the wealth and life from numerous people spitting them out either broke, devastated, dead, or all the above. They continually destroy lives and families... if you dont believe me there used to be a whole bunch of you tube videos on strange disappearances/deaths at scientologist headquarters in clearwater florida.

    In short... most people claiming to be GOD have a personal agenda that caters to their own conscious/subconscious desires.... all of them except JESUS.

    If you look at the actions and teachings of JESUS you will see conspicuously absent the traits that characterize humans best. Things like selfishness, impatience, expectations for compensation, hate, exploitation, control, etc. When you read the New Testament and its account over the life of JESUS it isn't important to scrutinize historical accuracy, because for the most part those that recorded his accounts and teachings were not concerned with historical accuracy, but more concerned with portaying JESUS how they though he should be portrayed best according to their memory of him. The concept of historical accuracy didn't become relevant until the enlightenment era of the late 1800's well after the authorship and subsequent editions of the New Testament. So to look to the New Testament in terms of historical accuracy is to completely take it out of grecco/roman context. When you read the accounts of Jesus it is much more important to look at the consistency of the content, so the minor discrepancies in things like the versions of the sermon on the mount are of little relevance. If you study early Christianity you will see why and I will explain it later if you want me to but that would cause me to deviate from my point here so I will refrain.

    JESUS was here to save us from ourselves. He didn't come to create a new sect of modern religion.... He came to save the Jews from their own deviance and immorality. He came for their salvation... not ours. It is to our benefit as gentiles that the Jews rejected him as told by the parable of the wedding feast in Mathew 22. If you look at the actions of JESUS they are what you would expect from somebody that has nothing to gain, somebody that is the son of GOD. JESUS only gave he never took... everything JESUS said and did was to the benefit of either one person, five people, a thousand people, or mankind in total. Nothing JESUS did was for himself... nothing, it was all for us and that is what proves his divinity to me.

    If you want to further my experiment... compare the actions life of JESUS to any other person claiming divinity and he will win the Pepsi challenge every time.

    For the record I dont think Jesus was a white carpenter.... he would have most likely been a middle eastern person that probably worked with mud bricks and stone. I cant imagine there being enough wood or trees in the area to support too many lower/middle class carpenters... it must have been a mis-interpretation.
  12. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    I guess you can look at it like that, but I need more than that.

    There might actually be proof in the empty tomb and the followers who gave their lives for Jesus' cause... which is why I am so interested in Roman Catholic Church history. I've heard the story of Jesus' cause before... but the effect of that cause - story of the Apostles and early "Church Fathers" - is something I'm really unfamiliar with. I believe my answer probably lies in there -- the effect of the catalyst.
  13. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    to only look on at the Roman Catholic Church is to focus on a single pixel in master piece work of art. The Roman Catholic Church didnt form until hundreds of years after the death of JESUS.... there were many more that came before it like the Egyptian Coptics.

    you would do yourself a favor to study Judaism in some detail first.
  14. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    Well.. the RCC would have you believe that the Church actually existed the instant that blood started pouring out from Jesus' sides... or so I've been told.

    They will also refer to "sacred tradition" (read: liturgy of the Church) as existing far before the NT books were written. From my understanding, Christianity in ~33 AD seemed more of a gathering place to speak about the Religion OF Jesus, not a Religion ABOUT jesus.

    But there was a mass that took place on the Sabbath. There were names for the offices of bishops, priests, and deacons already apparent -- episcopos, prebyteros, diakonos.

    "It is a matter of historical and readily ascertainable fact that there were Christian churches set up by the apostles all over Greece and Africa and the Middle East before the year 100."

    I'd like to see you prove that the Egyptian Copitcs came BEFORE the other Christians. Wouldn't the Christians who saw the death and Resurrection of Jesus started the Church... and not some people in Africa?
  15. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    come on spanky I already knew that...

    spanky... the Roman Catholic Church started under Constantine a few hundred years after the death/resurrection. It isnt my fault you dont choose your words accurately. There are many Orthodox Churches... you said Roman Catholicism by name. If you want to learn this stuff you are going to have to be a little more accurate with your wording because it makes a difference.

    Like I said earlier... go educate yourself and then come back to this. I will answer questions you have the best I can but I am not going to debate you because I might as well be debating a Jr High youth group member.
  16. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    You know, vtec... people might actually think you were educated if you didn't use such fallacious ad hominem attacks in EVERY one of your posts. Perhaps one outta ten might be cute, but 100% of your posts is rather sickening to anybody with any intellectual standing.

    Like I said.. the Roman Catholic Church would have you believe that THEY are the only true Christian religion, which can trace their source back to "sacred tradition" ever since the death of Jesus. That's how they look at it.

    I'm merely a perspectivist, not a judge. Throw out your viewpoint on the issue if you truly have one. Otherwise, STFU.
  17. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    Im a perspectivist too... and from my perspective you dont know wtf you are talking about.

    It isnt an ad homenem attack, it is a genuine observance of your state of being and It seems to be the unanimous consensus here.

    Dont spout like you are an utterly wrong but infallible encyclopedia and I wont tell you to go back to the drawing board. There are a good many things you need to learn...

    Although misguided... I think you are on the right path. Dont let my insults stop you from acquiring truth. I just urge you to be more selective of your sources for knowledge.
  18. plinko

    plinko Member

    What's wrong with baptist.Not all baptist are judgemental just like not all catholics are child molestors.There Is some bad In all faiths.Does not mean the faith should be condemned cuz someone did something bad.Does not reflect on everyone.
  19. plinko

    plinko Member

    For the record.Jesus Is the son of God and died for all our sins.And there Is a verse In the bible where a gentile woman washed his feet and he said I have not seen such faith.Even In all of Isreal. King James version.No debate.Just facts.
  20. plinko

    plinko Member

    I love Jesus