Question:

Nice essay, a bit misleading but well written. We know of the arguments that Arius and Alexander had we know the outcome. We know of the Creeds (both of them) the exclusion of words from aforementioned Creeds and the revisions thereof. How then, sir, can you make the statements that you made especially being a man of faith? How can you mention Ron Brown in the same breath? Anyone with common sense knows that the DaVinci Code has as much validity as the secret meanings of Moby Dick. However and to the point. Paul was never officially recognized by any of the remaining disciples of the Christ and if I am in err please provide documentation, Scripture or whatever proof you posses as I am always open to learn. (I don't know everything at the age of 40.) I simply feel very strongly about this subject and I am looking for concrete evidence not theory, skepticism or dogma and especially not empty rhetoric clothed with theology and blind belief.

Belief has no validity as it may as the first four letters (inserting the letter "a") BE-"a"-LIE. Urban Legends, Faith, Custom, Superstition, and Religion in this case have to be excluded. What are the facts of this matter, what is the history, the character and authenticity of the authors? In closing why is it a fact that many writers and men of great influence lived during the time of the Christ yet not one of them mention him outside the writers of the Bible and from any other culture? Do you mean to say that during the time of the writing of the Bible some years after the "resurrection" that no people of influence said anything significant? More importantly who gave these men the authority to say what is and what isn't inspired by God?

Thank you for your time.


Answer:

I have no idea which article you are referring to. There is no article on this site that give credence to Dan Brown's fictional book The DaVinci Code.

In regards to evidence that Paul was officially recognized: "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (II Peter 3:14-16). The Book of Acts, not written by Paul, also shows acceptance of Paul by a large number of Christians. And Paul noted, "and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised" (Galatians 2:9).

Regarding the historical documentation of Christ:

Ancient Secular Writers

Cornelius Tacitus was born circa A.D. 52-54 and was a Roman historian. He alluded to the death of Jesus and to Christians in Rome when he wrote:

"Hence to suppress the rumor, he (Nero) falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius; but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also" (Annals, XV.44).

Lucian of Samosata was a satirist of the second century. He spoke of Christ as:

"the man who was crucified in Palestine because He introduced this new cult into the world...Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist Himself and living under His laws" (The Passing Peregrinus).

Flavius Josephus was born A.D. 37 and was a noted Jewish historian. He is quoted as saying:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles, He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake Him; for he appeared to them alive again in the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. And the tribe of Christians so named from Him are not extinct at this day" (Antiquities, xviii. 33.).

In another place he refers to Jesus when he speaks of James "the brother of the so-called Christ." (Antiquities XX 9:1)

Seutonius was another Roman historian and a court official under Hadrian. He said, "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [another spelling of Christus], he expelled them from Rome" (Life of Claudius, 25. 4).

McDowell quotes from Pliny the Younger, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon and from a letter by Mara Bar-Serapion all showing the historical evidence that Jesus was an historical person.

Jesus was not a myth. He was a historical person who lived during the first century. "Very few scholars hold the view that Jesus never lived. Even Rudolf Bultmann, one of the most influential critical theologians of the twentieth century and exponent of demythologizing the Scripture, said, ‘By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.’"

Virtually no writers have asserted that Jesus did not exist or have attempted to cast virtually total doubts and obscurity on his life and ministry. But, such efforts are refuted by the early and eyewitness testimony presented by Paul and others, by the early date of the Gospels, by the corresponding historicity and trustworthiness of the Gospels, and by the failure of the mystery religions to explain the Christian faith.

["Myth or History" by Forrest D. Moyer]

Regarding determining what is inspired Scripture:

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).

"And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' - when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -which you have not known-'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst" (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

The answer is that God gave both the chore and the criteria for detecting false prophets to His people.