Pastor Richard D'Andrea Dover, the founder of In His Steps Ministries and founder of The Hill for Jesus was recently interviewed by Rick Woods (of AudioMartini), a self-proclaimed secular humanist and skeptic. Rick's position is that Jesus Christ is a myth, there was no historical Jesus. He gave me the opportunity to share my own beliefs. I believe Rick was very fair and I truly appreciate his sincerity. Talking with him after the interview was very enjoyable.
Be sure and read the various topics on the left border that have evidences that the Bible is true and that Jesus was a real person that was crucified and resurrected.
Before we discuss the interview I want to say that even though Rick Wood's is an
atheist and secular humanist, I believe that he does have some good arguments
against foolish Christians, false Christians, the whole paranormal group that
are wacky, and because of this interview I have spent much time cleaning up this
site and adding information. I ask that every Christian that reads this info to
pray for Rick's salvation.
Tacitus, a Roman historian, in his Annals, c. AD 115, describes the Roman
” Mischievous Superstition”.
A famous historian, reputed in his own days as being extremely careful and factual, Tacitus would not have been prone to writing about a movement without first checking the Roman archives to see if he could not get the most accurate report possible. He wrote his history of Rome covering the death of Augustus to the death of Domitian, that's 14-96 AD. He used earlier works by historians cross checking them with each other. He sought to verify his facts, something unusual in the writing of the time. He clearly has bias as he hated Domitian and wasn't a great fan of Tiberius, but this would have no bearing on mentions of Christ.
Here is a quote from Tacitus regarding Hercules:
Tacitus, Germania. Chapter 3
Rick also stated that Tactitus was not a contemporary of Jesus. This is true,
but there are many historians (actually most) who are not contemporaries of the
history they write about. What do historians do? They do research on the subject
matter they are writing about. If you were to use Rick's logic then you would
need to throw away most history books.
Is the Bible Subject to Error
I do not have a solid position regarding certain events. There are scholars and Christian scientists who are much more educated than myself who do not agree on creation, the flood, etc. All I can say is that I believe God created the earth, there was a flood, and yes, by faith, I believe everything that is documented in the Bible.
I do believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I believe where there appears to be error or discrepancies, that we must look at the context, know about the culture of the time, look at the Greek and Hebrew, know when fact or allegory is being presented, and understand the purpose for what was written. I gave the example of a car accident. There can be several witnesses to a car accident, but each witness has a different perspective on the accident. They may even give different answers to who was driving and if not at the scene may even give a wrong color for the vehicles involved. This does not deny that there was an accident. Apparent discrepancies do not disprove the reality of a historical Jesus.
I made it clear to Rick that I do not believe the Bible is a collection of
allegories. It is the Word of God written by men who were inspired by the Spirit
of God. They had their own writing styles, personalities, and experiences. They
were certainly subject to error and were sinners like you and me, but they were
vessels used by a Holy God who does not make mistakes.
Let's look at the quote I shared on the radio and then look at a quote I found by Josephus regarding Hercules.
Josephus, Jewish historian (AD 37-100) wrote of Jesus:
this time appeared Jesus, a wise man, and He drew to Himself many Jews. And
when Pilate, at the denunciation of those that are foremost among us, had
condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not abandon
Him. The tribe of Christians named
after Him did not cease to this day.
I removed the portions of the quote that were questionable and many believe Christians added. If you were to remove this quote completely from the Jewish Antiquities, there is no quote from Josephus questioning the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though Josephus was a Jewish historian and would have had every desire to disprove Jesus.
Quote by Josephus speaking on Hercules:
I admit I know nothing about Greek Mythology. However when I did research on the
web, I cannot find anything that gives this account of Hercules other than
Josephus. So, was he talking about the mythological Hercules or a real man. I
will let those who know mythology decide the answer. If Josephus is talking
about the mythological Hercules, then yes, his writings are questionable.
However, that does not mean everything he wrote is questionable. In the judicial
system, people are convicted of murder based upon the testimony of questionable
witnesses. The juror must take all the evidence and see if the testimony lines
up with the evidence.
The Jewish Talmud
by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, p.
281 as cited in Habermas, Gary R., The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence
for the Life of Christ, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company)
So significant is Jesus in man's history that the
Encyclopedia Britannica has 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His
description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander,
Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napolean Bonaparte.
Why would there be so much material on a man who was never
born and is only a myth.
Rick's argument against this quote is that until the Age of Reason many documented events from earlier times were not questioned. We would agree. But here is something to consider. Since Christianity has started there has been much hatred of this religion. It is obvious that both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government had been antagonistic towards Christianity. Why during the earlier years of Christianity is there no historical documents refuting the existence of Jesus Christ of Nazareth? Why is it in 'ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus'? Is Rick stating that until the Age of Reason, the contemporaries of Jesus and early Christianity were not reasonable people? They were not intelligent enough? They were blinded? There has to be a logical reason why the contemporaries did not question the reality of a historical Jesus. The only logical reason we know of is the most obvious reason-because there was a historical reason.
I have a question for skeptics. If Jesus was just a myth and the Jewish leaders hated Him, the Romans hated Christians, and there were certainly others against Christianity, why is there a lack of documents for over 1800 years and specifically during the first century that refutes a historical Jesus?
The skeptics would argue where are all the documents proving there was a historical Jesus? We have the New Testament documenting about Jesus and Christianity, so there are 27 historical books. We would agree that some say the books are not historical.
Here is one more challenge regarding Rick Wood's argument about the Encyclopedia Britannica. This look at his position logically. He questioned Tactitus and Josephus because they were not contemporaries of Jesus. But he then wants to defend the position that it was not until the end of the 18th century that Jesus' reality was questioned. He rather trust documents that are written 1800 years after Jesus death than documents that were written a few years after Jesus death. Which are more reliable? If his argument is reliability is based upon how close to the time of Jesus life and death, then the documents written in the 1800's and 1900's are not as reliable. Of course, logically that is not sensible. Reliability is based upon evidence, not just how close a document is written to the time of the event.
There are over 24,000 original manuscripts of the New Testament and portions of
the New Testament. There are only 643 manuscripts of the Iliad. The
earliest known manuscripts of the New Testament were written 25 years after the
last documented event and 85 years after the last documented event. The earliest
known manuscript of the Iliad has a 500 year time span. So according to Rick's
argument, then the New Testament manuscripts are more accurate of the original
documents than the Iliad manuscripts are of the original Iliad. Most
scholars would agree that the closer a manuscript is to the time of the original
event, the more accurate it most likely will be of portraying the event or the
actual original document.
Herod's Innocent Slaughter of Children
Rick was accurate in stating that with such a horrific event, there should be something written about it in some historical document. I stated that I believed I read somewhere that there is some archaeological evidence of this event. To be honest, I have researched the web and cannot find any archaeological proof, so I Must Be Wrong!
But before I concede that this topic in Matthew is inaccurate or false, here is some things to consider.
First of all, the absence of the mention of an historical event in any given document proves nothing. There may be a perfectly legitimate reason for an incident not being recorded among the documents of antiquity, no matter how dramatic it was. The histories of the ancient world were limited in number and in scope. Roman records, for example, dealt principally with matters of interest to the political fortunes of the empire, rather than with isolated tragedies in remote countries that were under the imperial control.
The claim is made, however, that Josephus, a Jewish historian, records much about Herod, and that not even he mentions the alleged case of the slaughter of the Bethlehem babies.
While it is true that Josephus provides considerable data relative to Herod the Great (47-4 B.C.) – even numerous despicable deeds – it likewise is the case that his writings are slanted with a Jewish bias. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that he would have been inclined to record an episode that demonstrated the protective care of God on behalf of his Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
Second, it is not correct to say that history ignored this horrible event. It is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, and Matthew’s narrative is a reliable first century document. It is neither an honest nor legitimate approach to history to simply eliminate this record because it is in the New Testament. Critics must not be allowed to choose only those sources that meet their personal agenda.
There are a couple factors which may help to bring into sharper focus Matthew’s account of the slaughter of infants in Bethlehem.
Why no pictures of Jesus?
Well first off, obviously images of people don't prove they existed since there are images of Greek Gods. The lack of any images of Jesus does not disprove the fact that He was famous or a historical person. No one can deny that Jesus was famous whether there are images of Him or not. So why are there no images of Jesus? Secularists would argue because He was a myth. But that argue is not logical because we have images of other mythical persons.
Our argument would be that there is a God and He wanted to make sure that the images were not worshipped, so in His divine workings He prevented this from occurring. We see how the Catholic church has violated the commandment to not worship idols, how much more would this occur if there were images of Jesus. And of course, there are some drawings of Jesus from earlier times, just very limited.
Why do we not know the exact birth of Jesus? Skeptics would argue
because He is a mythical character. But we know the birth of many mythical
characters. That is the power of a myth. Maybe there is a divine God that
did not want people worshipping a specific day (the day of the birth of
Jesus). He already choose a special day, it is called the Sabbath. Which,
most Christians do not honor.
Christians cannot even agree
We would agree that the Gospel is very exclusive - only Christians can go to heaven. But here is a point that most miss. The Gospel is also very inclusive - anyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord & Savior can go to heaven. It is a matter of choice. You have been given the evidence. It is up to you if you accept Jesus. So, you can't say that God is unfair. He is very fair.
We also talked about the mercy of God. I personally believe one of the reasons
God is so merciful is that He wants to give everyone time to receive Jesus. So,
the old argument by skeptics that Christianity is judgmental, unfair, exclusive
does not hold up. It only excludes those who chose to deny its existence. Which
is no different than I can't be included in the category of a skeptic if I
choose to believe the Bible. How unfair?
Jesus is Lord, Liar, or Lunatic
So, why would a person deny the evidence? Here is one theory. If there was a historical Jesus, and what he said was true about Himself being the Son of God and is God, then each of us are confronted with the reality that we are sinners and that we are going to hell without receiving Him as Lord and Savior. For many, it is easier to deny His very existence than to be willing to turn their lives over to a God they cannot see. The reality is most people want to keep doing their own thing. What is scary is when people will deny truth just to continue their own way of living. What is sad is that people who claim to be the most logical, will make illogical decisions rather than to change. The very ones who claim Christians are the most illogical people, are instead some of the most illogical people.
Yes, it takes faith to believe in Jesus and His teachings. But it takes more faith to believe there is no God when all the evidence points to the fact there is a God.
A few days before this interview I was dealing with depression, tempted to use drugs, hounded by lustful thoughts, discouraged, conflicts with my wife, financial difficulties, frustrated with the people we minister to, and much more. Yes, some of this has come up before and there are other reasons for this happening. But the pressure and trials was greater than they have been in a long time. I felt like I was being personally attacked from an outside force. Now the skeptic is going to say that it was all in my mind. I wanted to be attacked so I could be a martyr on Rick's show. It was just coincidence regarding the timing of all this. Skeptics put much faith in coincidences. The problem is that you do not know what all I went through and I would never choose to go through it and I prayed against it. It was so intense I was not going to do the show. In fact, I was looking at quitting the ministry it was so intense. So, why in the world would I imagine all this was happening to me? Why would I want this to happen to be so I could prove that I must be representing God and the devil is attacking me. I would have to be a fool. Ok, some may think I am a fool, but that is very judgmental and none of my life show me living like a fool.
So, all you skeptics, here is something to think about. Maybe there really is a
devil. Maybe there really is demons. Maybe they did not want me to share,
because they would prevent this website from being promoted. They would prevent
this summary of the radio interview from occurring. They would prevent people
from becoming Christians. I hate to give you the 'bad news' but because of the
interview, there will be people in heaven. As a skeptic I came to Christ with
much less info, how much more for others with all the info we have provided. But
here is the truly BAD NEWS. If you willfully deny the evidence presented before
you and refuse to submit to Jesus Christ, you will be in hell when you die. So,
we are giving you one more chance to allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life.
Devil, you once again went too far. You thought you could destroy my testimony, destroy my marriage, take my life, but instead there are now more followers of Jesus Christ.
It should be noted that Christianity is a
religion based upon relationship, not knowledge. It is a religion of faith not logic. The
information provided is to help answer questions, but ultimately you must believe in the
gospel accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ because you believe in
the claims of Jesus that we are sinners and we need a savior.
Note on Graphic:
In His Steps
Copyright © 2005
In His Steps Ministries All rights reserved.