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by Steve Cooper
Doubting that Jesus ever existed seems to be in vogue at the moment. Steve Cooper explains why the evidence for Jesus, including his miracles, is actually stronger than ever
According to a recent survey two out of every five people in England (39 per cent) do not know that Jesus was a real person who actually lived.
Worrying as that may be, it seems that ignorance around the historical Jesus goes deeper than just uninterested agnosticism. According to the survey, under-35s were more likely (25 per cent) than older people to think that Jesus was an altogether fictional character.
Can we deduce that the rampant skepticism of Dawkins and his online following of new atheists has penetrated deeper than we thought?
The survey, conducted by Barna Research on behalf of the EA, HOPE and the CofE, claims that in total, 22 per cent of people think Jesus was a mythical figure, while 17 per cent are unsure whether he was real or not. That’s nearly 40 percent of people who are either unsure or who actively don’t believe in the existence of Jesus.
Bizarrely enough (and perhaps encouragingly), some 43 per cent of English adults also believe in the resurrection, the survey found. If the statistics are accurate, it indicates a massive polarisation about belief in Jesus in the UK.
Whatever the survey tells us, it leaves the question of what we do with the 40 percent who have trouble believing in the historical Jesus. If the conversation comes up in the pub… what do you say?
The Case for Christ
It’s relatively simple to make the case for the historicity of Jesus. Firstly, it’s what the vast majority of scholars of the ancient world believe (i.e. the ones who actually research these things, rather than the opinion of an Oxford biologist). We not only have the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but his death by crucifixion is one of the most widely attested events in the ancient world, written about by contemporary historians such as Josephus and Tacitus.
The apostle Paul himself is one of our earliest historical sources. His account of Jesus, passed on to him by eyewitness disciples, were the first to be written down…
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