The Case for Jesus Christ Rests on the Evidence of Eyewitnesses

As a lawyer, I am keenly aware of the central importance of eyewitnesses to getting at the truth of any matter. There is no better proof in the law than eyewitness testimony. The rules of law allow hearsay testimony (the testimony of what someone else said) only in extreme and limited circumstances because eyewitness testimony is considered inherently much more reliable.

Eyewitness testimony is light years more reliable than secondhand testimony, but even eyewitness testimony needs to be carefully considered along with the credibility of the eyewitnesses. People aren’t always good at observing details accurately. People sometimes fill in the gaps in understanding of what happened with details that are assumed, but which aren’t accurate. People do this consciously and unconsciously. Eyewitnesses can be influenced by subconscious biases and influences. Sometimes eyewitnesses even lie about what they have seen.

Because eyewitness testimony isn’t foolproof, we look for other evidence that will either corroborate or contradict the eyewitness testimony. Still, cases are built on eyewitness testimony.

A case can be built on the testimony of a single, good eyewitness, but multiple eyewitnesses is gold. The more eyewitnesses that agree with each other on key facts (they will never agree on all details), and the more evidence that corroborates that testimony, the stronger a case is.

We see this principle at work in the narrative accounts contained in the Bible that we call the Gospels. The Bible expressly focuses on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Following is a summary of the ways in which the theme of eyewitness testimony runs throughout the New Testament.

Continue reading “The Case for Jesus Christ Rests on the Evidence of Eyewitnesses”

Sunday Worship is Evidence for the Resurrection

The sudden change from Saturday observance to Sunday observance in the First Century is evidence of a momentous occurrence that lead to the change.


Many of the things we do have become so traditional and commonplace that we don’t think about when they started and why. One of those things is the practice of Christians gathering on Sundays for “worship” or “church”. After all, Christians have been gathering on Sundays for almost 2000 years!

But why? It isn’t that difficult to figure out from a thematic, theological position, but what is the history? And why is that important?

We are approaching another Easter so the topic of the resurrection is top of mind this time of year. Of course, the resurrection of Jesus is the answer to the questions I have posed.

Christians gather on Sundays because Sunday was the day of the resurrection according to the Gospel accounts (all four of them). While we take the Sunday gatherings for granted (unless you are a Seventh Day Adventist), the change from Saturday gatherings to Sunday gatherings has historical significance that supports the resurrection as an historical fact.

Continue reading “Sunday Worship is Evidence for the Resurrection”

The Resurrection: 2nd Century Legend? or 1st Century Factual Claim?


Easter is just around the corner so thinking about the Christian claim that a man from Nazareth in 1st Century Palestine died and rose from the dead three days later is a timely consideration. The accounts of this event don’t read like mere story or legend. They have all the characteristics of Greek biographies capturing historical accounts.

Many modern scholars accept the Gospels as part of the Greco-Roman biography genre (focusing on the similarities), while others find them uniquely Jewish (focusing on the differences). Central to this ongoing debate is the apparent intention of the authors to assert a factual, historical narrative.[1]

The difficulty modern scholars have with the text, which reads like biographical and historical accounts, is the inclusion of fantastical claims of miracles, the resurrection of Jesus and theological statements, many of which are penned as statements made by Jesus.

From the early to mid-19th Century, much of the biblical scholarship has leaned in a skeptical direction, and that inertia continued robustly into the 20th Century. That scholarly trend produced a skeptical consensus weighted toward a view for instance, that the Gospels, were written long after the events they describe, probably in the 2nd Century, making the resurrection and appearance of Jesus to his followers something akin to legend.

This thread of scholarship suggested that early formulations of the message of Jesus did not include his resurrection or appearances. These things were believed to have been added many decades and two or more generations after the events took place.

The 20th Century view began with skepticism and ended with a skeptical conclusion explaining the resurrection claim by the kind of embellishment that comes with the passage of time. This was the consensus view when I studied religion in the late 1970’s.

But one man, wrestling with his own doubts, took the facts the skeptics would give him and pieced together an analysis that does not square with the view that the resurrection claim is a later embellishment of what the first followers of Jesus believed. These “minimal facts” have changed the views of most 21st Century Scholars, even skeptical ones.

The Scholarly consensus has now changed on when the Gospels were written and on what the early message of the first followers of Jesus was. For instance, the scholarly consensus now agrees that all the Gospels were written in the First Century. Even skeptical scholars date the Gospels between 70 AD and about 95 AD. The scholarly consensus also agrees that the message included the death and resurrection of Jesus from very early on.

Continue reading “The Resurrection: 2nd Century Legend? or 1st Century Factual Claim?”

Ramblings on Faith and Unbelief

Bart Eherman Quotation


I became a believer, and then a follower, of Jesus Christ in college. It wasn’t just academic for me, though the beginning of my life as a believer and follower of Jesus began in an academic environment and was shaped and influenced by academics. I think that’s why I like the academic pursuit of faith even now, over 30 years later.

It’s important for me to be mindful that faith is not purely an intellectual affair. I think I may differ from many people in that respect, but I need to constantly be reminded of it. Faith is a relationship with the Living God; faith is a life and heart commitment; faith triggers action and change or it isn’t real faith.

I know that the words intellectual and faith probably don’t fit together in the minds of some people. Some people see those terms as opposites. They aren’t, but they can chaff with each other at times. Intellectualism, for instance, really does get in the way of faith (more so in fact than the other way around). Faith and intellectual pursuit can be perfectly compatible unless we compartmentalize them and pit them against each other.

Faith, or the lack thereof, depends on something other than intellectual coinage.  Continue reading “Ramblings on Faith and Unbelief”

The Message in the Earliest Creeds in the New Testament

 (c) Can Stock Photo

(c) Can Stock Photo

According to Dr. Gary Habermas, Paul cites a number of early Christian creeds in his letters, and Peter cites one as well. Perhaps, the most significant creed is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.

The other creeds include 1 Corinthians 11:26; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 4:25; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 2:6; and 1 Peter 3:18.[1]  Other scholars identify creeds in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Romans 1:3-4; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:8; and Philippians 2:6-11.[ii]

The importance of these creeds is that they include the earliest message of the church following the death of Jesus. They reveal the most fundamental and central message of the early followers of Jesus. The significance of these creeds, then, can’t be understated, and they all have one theme – the death and resurrection of Jesus. Continue reading “The Message in the Earliest Creeds in the New Testament”