Yesterday, I set-up an evangelism table at Saddleback Community College. I had a Contradict poster taped to the table with print-outs of the Contradict page of explanation with me to hand out to people who seemed interested in the sign on the table.
A long conversation was sparked with a student who recognized that the religions contradicted each other and that they can’t all be true. When I began to share about why I believe Jesus is God and the Savior of mankind, he objected, saying that the Bible is just a story. He argued that the Bible was written by a person a long time ago, and it’s just a story, similar to how J.K. Rowling writes stories. People eventually believed the Bible to be a true story, and he had no problem if people wanted to believe it was true, becuase the stories that form religions help keep society in order, by giving people a purpose and direction life, something to live for.
I noticed in his explanation that he referenced again, and again, that it was just “a person” who wrote the Bible. I corrected him on that point, that the New Testament was not written by “a person” but at least 8, likely 9, different authors.
I then told him that those 8-9 people suffered and were persecuted for their writings. Some argue that we only know by tradition that the apostles died, not good hard historical evidence, and this is likely true, that it’s only in tradition that they died as martyrs. But we do know for certain that they were persecuted, jailed, robbed, and many were executed for the Christian faith from the NT writings themselves, as well as from the writings of early Church fathers, and from historians of the 1st-3rd centuries outside of the Christian circle.
But he made no argument against my claim that the Bible had multiple authors, or against my claim that they were persecuted for their message. He still wanted to argue that it was a story, so I drew a parallel to his Harry Potter comparison.
I said, we know that J.K. Rowling wrote the Potter books. We also have her own words explaining how she created the characters and conducted research into the practices of magic and the occult to write her books. We records of interviews with her, and we have critics who have read and critiqued her work, both in praise and against it. I told him that we have similar works with the BIble. The Talmud mentions Jesus and claims that he performed his work through the Devil. Other authors outside of the Christian refer to Jesus as a historical person who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.
What we find is that the apostles did not recant their beliefs when confronted to say that their story was fiction. If J.K. Rowling claimed her Potter universe was real, and there was a gun put to her head, and she was told that she had to admit that her work was fiction or a bullet would be put into her head, would she maintain that Potter and his friends and his school actually exists? He said no, of course not, at which point I told him that the disciples didn’t reject their “story.”
He responded that they could have been crazy. I quickly refuted that argument, at which point he jumped to explain that Jesus probably had a twin brother! Really? I had heard that this was a natural argument to explain the resurrection, but I had never met someone who actually argued that it’s most likely that Jesus had a twin brother, than a bodily resurrection occurring.
I’ll share more about the Twin discussion in a post to come very soon.