The Early Martyrs Were Cross-Examined to Death
Skeptics often challenge believers by claiming that the “evidence” for Christianity would never hold up in a courtroom. They contend it’s hearsay; they can’t cross-examine the witnesses, so the case would never even see the inside of a courtroom. For many unfamiliar with the legal system, this challenge seems solid. After all, why should we trust our eternity to a message that wouldn’t pass muster in a court dealing with comparatively less important issues?
A bit of reflections shows the problem with this line of reasoning. First, it doesn’t take into consideration that we know many things that could never be “proven” in a courtroom, using the rules of evidence. Just about any historical event that is beyond the lifetime of living persons would suffer from similar problems, as well as problems of authenticating documents and physical evidence relating to the case. Yet, we have little doubt that these events occurred.
More importantly, the legal system provides the right to see and confront one’s accusers, and the related right to cross-examine them about their testimony, for a reason – “confrontation” is a reliable way to test evidence, to ensure that it is credible. But there are other ways to assure oneself that a person’s testimony is credible. In the case of the early martyrs, the way they demonstrated credibility – steadfastness in the face of persecution – is even more reliable…
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