Monday, September 26, 2011

Die for a lie?

One of the arguments given for the Christian faith deals with the statement that individuals would not be willing to die for a lie.  In general this is true, but many recognize that this argument by itself is incomplete.  Besides, couldn't any religion make this claim as their own?  However, the not dying for a lie argument does have credibility when considering evidence that supports the statement.  In other words, dying for truth is a whole lot different than dying for what one thinks to be true.  There are three solid reasons that support the fact that disciples of Jesus did not die for a lie.

1.  Early source material

The writings of Jesus were produced early.  All of the New Testament documents were produced and circulated within the first century.  You simply don't find this early source material from other religious movement.  Not only were the stories told by his followers, but other secular writings exist to corroborate the stories of the followers.  Again, secular stories of Jesus appear early and often to verify that the followers of Jesus were not following invented stories.  Probably the best evidence of early source material comes from Paul's letter to the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 15:3-7).  This early story is recognized by the majorly of scholars as being a very early story of the resurrection of Jesus.  Many would say that the story goes back to the resurrection event itself.  If this early story was true, then the disciples of Jesus did not die for any type of invented story or lie, but they died for something they knew to be true.  From the inception of Christianity, the early and numerous source material concerning Jesus only validates that the followers of Christ did not die for a lie.

2.  Evangelistic

When considering all religions around the world, none compares to the evangelistic outreach of Christianity.  Of all the religions, only Islam can match the fervor of Christianity in spreading its message.  However, the big difference in how the message is spread between Islam and Christianity is stark.  From the beginning Christianity was spread peacefully with a message of hope.  Jesus can never be accused of inciting the spread of his message by force.  Islam, on the other hand, was initially spread, in many cases, in a non-peaceful manner. 

Christianity's belief in the resurrected Jesus put people in the position of having a target on their back, but this did not deter their passion in spreading the news of Jesus as the resurrected Messiah.  The initial spread of Christianity was done without the taking up of arms.  The early followers of Jesus were willing to spread the Christian message, knowing they might forfeit their lives, because they were convinced that it was truth they would be dying for.

3.  Eyewitness accounts

No evidence is better attested to than the evidential truth of the eyewitness accounts.  Many in the first century could have debunked the resurrection story by explaining away the empty tomb.  To date, no sufficient evidence has explained otherwise.  Within the first century, many individuals witnessed the resurrected Jesus.  These were not hallucinations or invented stories.  People do not die for such visions.  The early followers of Jesus had first hand knowledge that they encountered the bodily resurrected Jesus.  Because of this encounter, their lives were never the same.

The difference between the eyewitness claims of the resurrected Jesus and other religious claims is enormous.  All religions outside of Christianity are based on statements of their leaders without anyway to know if the statements are valid or not.  In other words, all religions except Christianity offer possible truth claims, but you can never know for sure if they are in fact true.  Christianity rests on a historic story as told by eyewitness of the the person of Jesus. 

No other religion deals with reality like Christianity.  The eyewitnesses were willing to die, because they knew not only Jesus, but had encountered the bodily resurrected Christ.  This reality is what caused future believers to be willing to die.  The deaths of Christians throughout time has always been based upon reliable historical evidence as opposed to guessing if the religion is question deals with actual truth.

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