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Proof that Evangelical Christians Do Not Need Historical Evidence to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

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“We can know that Jesus rose from the dead wholly apart from a consideration of the historical evidence. The simplest Christian, who has neither the opportunity nor wherewithal to conduct a historical investigation of Jesus’ resurrection, can know with assurance that Jesus is risen because God’s Spirit bears unmistakable witness to him that it is so.”

William Lane Craig, The Son Rises, p. 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Randall Rauser: A Sophisticated-Sounding, but Silly Apologetic Defense of a “Holy Spirit”

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Ask a “sophisticated” Christian apologist (someone with a little knowledge of philosophy who delights in using philosophical psycho-babble to defend his ancient superstitions) a simple question, expect to get back a complex, mind-boggling, metaphysical response.  Today’s sophisticated-sounding, but silly, silly response is from evangelical apologist, Randall Rauser:

Randall Rauser: The Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not the view that “the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you” [as Gary has suggested].  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, the Paraclete that Jesus promised would come in his *absence*.

Gary:  So the spirit of Jesus is different from the Holy Spirit?

RauserYour question is ambiguous. The Spirit of Romans 8:16 is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, not “the spirit (ghost) of … Jesus of Nazareth”.

Gary:  Who is it that “dwells” within Christians? Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

Rauser:  The Holy Spirit. But keep in mind that this language is not literal. Rather, it is relational, the conveyance of intimate relational connection by way of spatial metaphors. (Think, by analogy, of Rod Stewart singing, “You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul.”)

Gary:  So when Paul says “Christ dwells in you” he doesn’t literally mean it?

Rauser:  No, he doesn’t mean it literally. Read through Jesus’ words in John 14 ff. He repeatedly invokes the relation of “being in” to describe his relationship with the Father and the relationship of his followers to his Father and himself. None of that language should be interpreted literally: it’s spatial metaphorical language conveying intimacy of relationship.

Gary:  So there is no spirit of Christ or Holy Spirit inside anyone? So where is Jesus? Where is the Holy Spirit?

Rauser:  God is not a physical object. It is a basic category error to think that God is extended at particular points in space.

Gary:  So is Jesus everywhere, nowhere, or in another dimension?

Rauser:  Qua his physical body, Jesus is somewhere. Since he has a physical body, he can only be in one place at one time. But he also is omnipresent as is the Father and Spirit. Theologians disagree on how to define omnipresence.

Gary:  So his physical body is in one place, I assume heaven? But his spirit is omnipresent (everywhere). So the spirit of Jesus is inside the bodies of Christians—if he is everywhere, correct?

Rauser: I have never met anyone who, when they said Jesus dwells within them, meant that Jesus, as one of three divine persons, is omnipresent. But if that’s what you mean then fair enough. Just keep in mind that omnipresence is not a matter of physical presence since God is non-physical.

Gary: I certainly understand that no evangelical Christian believes that the body of Jesus lives inside of them.  …So, Dr. Randall, do you believe that the spirit of Jesus “dwells” in you and “testifies” to you the veracity of the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

Rauser:  (Does not answer question)

Gary:  I am a former evangelical Christian. I understand your doctrines perfectly. However, as you demonstrated above about the “presence” of Jesus within you, intelligent evangelicals like yourself and Mike Licona are uncomfortable admitting that you communicate with spirits.  Paul was not ashamed to admit that he communicated with a spirit; that he received revelations of truth from a spirit. So why are both of you hesitant to admit that you do??

Do you or do you not believe that the spirit of Christ “dwells” within you and “testifies” to you universal truths, most importantly, the veracity of the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

It is a very simple question.

Rauser:  …Rather than keep embarrassing yourself by falsely claiming I’m afraid to address epistemological questions, you can take a look at my book which spends multiple chapters articulating my views on just those questions:

https://www.amazon.com/Swed…

Gary:  I don’t understand why such a simple question requires one to read a book. You either believe in the testimony of Christ within you or you don’t.

Rauser:  At first, you were complaining that there was no answer. Now you’re complaining that my treatment of the testimony of the Holy Spirit is too extensive.

What a troll…

Gary:  No, I am just asking for a clear answer. Christian theologians and apologists often revert to complicated sounding philosophical or metaphysical arguments when asked a simple question about one of their supernatural claims.  But Christians are not alone. Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do the same. It is a means of mesmerizing and silencing the less educated masses.  Why not just admit that your belief regarding the “testimony of the Holy Spirit” cannot be explained. It is a “mystery”? That seems like a much better response than personal attacks.

Rauser:  (Silence)

 

 

 

 

End of post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Licona Denies the Presence and Testimony of the Holy Spirit in His Heart

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But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

—Gospel of Matthew 10:33

 

From a conversation on Bart Ehrman’s blog:

Gary:

Dear Dr. Licona. I’m sorry I have irritated you with my many questions and statements. I promise that I will only ask you ONE question on this post if you will give me a straight answer (yes or no) to this ONE question:

Is it true that since you were ten years old (the age of your conversion to Christianity), you have believed that the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you in some fashion, “testifying” to you that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact?—

 

Michael Licona, evangelical Christian scholar and apologist:

Gary: I will answer your “ONE question on this post.” I think I’ve been clear in past posts. But so there is no doubt to be had, here is my “straight answer (yes or no) to this ONE question”: No.

 

Gary:

Wow. I’m shocked. I grew up evangelical. I didn’t know that today’s evangelicals deny the presence and testimony of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Thank you, Dr. Licona. I’ve learned something today.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. —The Gospel of John 16:13-14

 

Update, 12/10/2019 8:12 PM PST:  I sent the above exchange to a few evangelical websites to see how evangelicals would respond to Licona’s response to my question.  One of them contacted Licona.  Licona was not happy.  Here is his comment on Ehrman’s blog:

Mike Licona:  Here is something “shocking.” A friend who is employed by a rather large ministry just emailed me saying Gary had contacted him with the remarks that follow and requested that he post them on their web site, since I had been a guest on his radio program:

“Wow! Evangelical scholar Michael Licona just denied the presence and testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart in a discussion on Bart Ehrman’s blog today:

“Dear Dr. Licona: Is it true that since you were ten years old (the age of your conversion to Christianity), you have believed that the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you in some fashion, “testifying” to you that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact?

“Michael Licona: No.

“Yet on his Facebook page, Licona says that the testimony of the Holy Spirit is “essential” for someone to believe in Jesus as his resurrected Savior! Why the discrepancy???

“‘But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.’
—Gospel of Matthew 10:33

I’m going to guess that my friend is not the only one Gary has now emailed. This is stooping to a new low for Gary. His consistent mischaracterization of my view in Bart’s blog led me last week to tell him I would no longer interact with him.

Today Gary apologized saying, “I’m sorry I have irritated you with my many questions and statements.” He then asked me to answer one final question with a yes or no. I did. To be clear, it wasn’t his “many questions and statements” that irritated me. It was his pattern of mischaracterizing my answers. And this is not a new thing for Gary. After Bart and I debated on the historical reliability of the Gospels in February 2018, Gary posted an article on his blog making the claim that I had said the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels. That surprised me! I certainty don’t believe that. Was it a slip of the tongue during the debate? I went back and found what I said. It was crystal clear I had not said that. Gary had emailed me notifying me of his article. So, I commented on his blog that he had misunderstood what I had said and provided a link to the video of the debate and where I had said it. I never heard back from him. Neither was my comment posted. Months later, his article was still unchanged.

Gary does not strike me as one who is genuinely interested in truth. Rather, he wishes to sensationalize by mischaracterizing. Why he does it, I do not know. But I wanted you all to be aware of him and his tactics. I’m thankful that he is the lone exception to this sort of thing on this blog. Almost all of you have been a joy with whom to interact!

Gary:  Here is my response:

Word games. This is why many skeptics see Christian apologists as so disingenuous.

Dr. Licona: Do you or do you not believe that a (holy) spirit “dwells” within you, “testifying with your spirit” regarding the veracity of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?

I’m sorry I did not make it simpler for you, but there it is. Yes or no, please.

Dr. Licona said, “After Bart and I debated on the historical reliability of the Gospels in February 2018, Gary posted an article on his blog making the claim that I had said the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels.”

Please give me the date of the post on my blog and I will be happy to make a correction if I misstated your position. I do not moderate comments on my blog so if I had received a comment by the infamous scholar Michael Licona, I would remember that. I do not. If I have incorrectly stated your position, I will post a public apology on my blog and here on Dr. Ehrman’s blog.

You said under your first post here on Dr. Ehrman’s blog that you believe that the majority of scholars believe in the traditional authorship of the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark; that it was written by John Mark correct? But now you are saying that you have never said that “the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels.” Would you clarify, please?

 

Readers:  If you haven’t figured it out, I am trying to force Licona into a corner where he finally admits that he believes that a spirit lives in his body, giving him secret wisdom and insight into the historicity of the alleged resurrection of Jesus.  To protect his reputation as a “scholar”, he does NOT want to admit this wacky belief in front of skeptics.  Why?  Answer:  He knows it makes him look looney.

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

 

 

Dear Readers: Please Send “The Case Against Miracles” to Your Favorite Christian Blogger for Christmas!

The Case Against Miracles

Dear fellow skeptics:  I can think of no better Christmas gift for your favorite Christian blogger, former pastor, friend, neighbor, or family member than John Loftus’, The Case Against Miracles!  This book dismantles Christian apologists’ convoluted arguments for the reality of miracles, including the greatest miracle of all, the alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  I am urging every one of my readers to purchase this book for themselves and to “gift” at least one copy to a conservative Christian.  You can order the book on Amazon, stipulate that it is a gift, and Amazon will ship the book directly to the recipient, billing your credit card.  The cost of the book is approximately $22 with tax and shipping, however, Amazon currently has a special offer:  Use your credit card reward points and save 20%!

Link to Amazon:  here

I cannot think of a better holiday gift than the gift of liberation and freedom from irrational, fear-based, supernatural thinking!

I personally have gifted the book to the following Christian apologists:

–Michael Licona
–William Lane Craig
–Gary Habermas
–Greg Koukl
–Josh McDowell
–Sean McDowell

–Peter Kreeft
–JP Moreland
–Matt Slick
–Frank Turek

–Adam Francisco (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod apologist, my former denomination)
–Angus Menuge (LCMS)
–Korey Maas (LCMS)
–Craig Parton (LCMS)

–Joel Edmund Anderson
–Paul Copan

If you plan on gifting the book to an apologist or blogger, please list his or her name below in the comments so that we do not duplicate our efforts.  Thank you for participating in one of the greatest movements in human history:  the debunking of religious superstitions!

(Who will take Pastor Mel Wild??)

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Review of “The Case Against Miracles”, Part 14: Dear Michael Licona: Please Admit that the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus is Poor, Poor, Poor!

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The Sadducees

When it comes to the evidence Jesus rose from the dead let’s first consider what we don’t have, but would like to, most of which even Christian apologist Michael R. Licona admits.  We don’t have anything written directly by Jesus or any of his original disciples.  We have no written responses to Jesus from the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, or teachers of the law either.  Jesus always had the last word in the disputes in the gospels—something I have never seen in any real religious debate.  This shows us the anonymous gospel writers were spreading propaganda rather than producing the results of a disinterested investigation, despite what they claim (i.e., Luke 1:1-4).  We don’t have anything written by the apostle Paul before he converted, which would tell us about the church he was persecuting, nor anything written by the Jewish leaders in response to Paul’s preaching.  We have nothing written by the Romans about Jesus, the contents of his preaching, why he was killed, or what they thought about claims that he had been resurrected.

We have no collaborating objective evidence from this extraordinary miraculous claim.  We have no independent corroboration of the Star of Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus, nor that the veil of the temple was torn in two at Jesus’ death (Mark 15:38), nor that darkness came “over the whole land” from noon until three in the afternoon (Mark 15:33), nor that “the sun stopped shining” (Luke 23:45), nor that there was an earthquake at his death (Matthew 27:51, 54), with another “violent” one the day he arose from the grave (Matt. 28:2).  Could these events really have occurred without any corroborating evidence?  Even though there’s some archaeological evidence consistent with the biblical tales, there is nothing that confirms any miracle.

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…All we have is ancient second- third- fourth handed testimonial evidence as told to us by four authors in four Gospels, plus Paul.  None of these gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus since there were no actual eyewitnesses to his rising up from the dead on the first Sunday Morning.  …With the exception of Paul, who claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus but tells us nothing much at all about the Jesus who walked the earth, everything we’re told comes from someone who was not an eyewitness.  This is hearsay evidence as filtered through decades of oral story-telling and re-telling that presumably went from Aramaic to Greek, then compiled together in the four gospels…

John Loftus, The Case Against Miracles, pp. 492-494)

Dear Fellow Skeptics: Don’t be Too Hard on Evangelical Apologist, Michael Licona

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Fellow skeptic on Bart Ehrman’s blog:

[Gary,]  I think you’re being hard on Mike [Licona]. Every scholar has bias, no matter what their faith background may be.

Gary:

Yes, we all have biases, but not all of us believe that we communicate daily with the spirit (ghost) of the man whose alleged resurrection is in question. Unlike most other Christians, evangelical Christians believe that the spirit of Jesus not only “dwells” in their bodies but he communicates, in some fashion, secret insight and wisdom. Evangelical Christians claim that they have a “personal relationship” with this spirit.  How can they possibly investigate the historical claims regarding a man who died more than 20 centuries ago if they believe that this man’s ghost lives inside their bodies and is their “best friend”??

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Mike Licona is a good man. His belief system (conservative Christianity) is not good. It is an evil, repressive belief system that has caused massive suffering ever since it became the dominate belief system of the western world. Crusades, pogroms, witch burnings, the Inquistion, Manifest Destiny, and the relentless undermining and demeaning of science to name just a few of its crimes. Even today, women in Christian dominated countries all over the world are denied or restricted from access to birth control and abortion services. Gays and lesbians in many Christian dominated countries are harassed, discriminated against, and even imprisoned for no crime other than loving someone of the same sex. Conservative Christianity is a dangerous, deadly superstition. It must be vigorously opposed. We should not grant this evil belief system respect. Yes, we should respect the human rights of individuals who hold these views, but we should never show respect or deference to evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

 

Some of the First Magical Relics were Not Invented by the Catholic Church but by the Apostle Paul Himself

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The Shroud of Oviedo, the alleged cloth that covered the face of the deceased Jesus of Nazareth, housed in the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, Spain

 

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Acts 19:11

Gary:  Modern, educated Christians should be ashamed to let anyone read their holy book.  It is full of silly, ignorant superstitions.  Magic rags!  How ridiculous.

 

 

 

End of post.