The Gospel Trilemma
When discussing the Gospels with skeptics, many times skeptics will bounce back and forth between different positions of skepticism (one minute they accuse the gospel writers of collusion, the next minute they say the Gospels are full of contradictions, and the next minute they say the text is corrupted, i.e., we have no idea what the original writers wrote). In short, the skeptic can’t get the reason for his skepticism straight; as a result, it’s difficult for the conversation to gain traction. To prevent them from these schizophrenic chameleon tactics, the following trilemma will force them to take a position rather than just play the role of mocker and heckler.
Either the gospel writers were delusional men who coincidentally all experienced the same delusion, were unscrupulous opportunists who were trying to spread lies (for reasons beyond historical and rational comprehension), or men of integrity committed to the truth. In other words, the driving force behind the gospel accounts was one of the following:
1. Confusion and with it contradiction—
This view takes into account the swoon (Jesus didn’t really die) theory, imposter (the disciples were fooled by an imposter) theory, and hallucination (the disciples imagined the resurrection) theory. In all incidences it’s safe to say the disciples were pretty confused. If this is the theory the skeptic wants to cast his lot, then he can’t trust the reliability of the witness; therefore, he can’t just pick and choose which is a reliable/authentic saying of Jesus Christ and which is not. For example, the skeptic (Muslim, atheist, etc.) can’t pick the verses of Jesus saying, “the Father is greater than I” in John 14:28 as evidence against His deity, while at the same time denying what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 14:26–“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” If they trust the accounts of what Jesus said regarding the Father they should trust the accounts of what He said about the Holy Spirit. Accepting one statement as authentic and authoritative while dismissing another as reliable, when both statements come from the same source of authority, is nothing more than cherry-picking statements that affirm what you are trying to prove. This is not truth-seeking, this is circular reasoning…
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