Apologetics: Two Rotten Reasons to Trust Jesus
by Timothy Jones
At least once every couple of years, some new challenge arises that calls into question the belief that Jesus was the divine Son who died and rise again. With Reza Aslan’s recent publication, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, questions about the historical foundations for faith in Jesus Christ have resurfaced yet again. (For a helpful review of Zealot, click here.)
So, why not simply ignore these “Christ conspiracies”? I mean, as long as I’ve had a personal experience of faith in Jesus, isn’t that all that matters? If I feel deep inside that Jesus is alive, why be concerned with what Dan Brown or Reza Aslan or Bart Ehrman has to say?
Here’s why: The strongest faith is a faith that knows not only what we believe but also why.
Over the past decade, I’ve spoken with thousands of people—most of them firm believers in the biblical perspective on Jesus—about the historical foundations of their faith. In the process, I’ve heard multitudes of well-meaning Christians provide the same two reasons for their faith in Jesus.
The first reason runs something like this: “I just know Jesus is alive because I’ve felt his presence—that’s the only proof I need!” The other one is usually stated in these terms: “The Bible is God’s Word; so, if the Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it.”
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I respect these believers’ sincerity—I really do. But … well, may I be blunt for just a moment? These are rotten reasons to believe in Jesus.
Just because you’ve felt something that you identified as God’s presence doesn’t mean that what you felt was true.
And how do you know that the Bible is God’s Word? Is it simply because the Bible claims to be inspired by God? Unless there’s a firmer foundation for the truth of Scripture than the Bible’s own claims about itself, the fact that “the Bible says it” doesn’t settle anything. Sure, the apostle Paul referred to the Hebrew Scriptures as “God-breathed,” and a letter ascribed to Simon Peter placed New Testament writings in the same inspired category as the Old Testament (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 3:16-17).
So why couldn’t a devout Muslim make a similar statement about the Qur’an? “The Qur’an says it, I believe it, and that settles it”? Yet, if both the Christian Scriptures and the Qur’an are divinely-inspired, God must suffer from a serious multiple-personality disorder, because the claims of the two books cannot be reconciled with each other…