Posted by: Randall Niles | April 9, 2010

Why Trust the Gospel Accounts? (Easter Follow-up)

Since Easter, I’ve been engaged in my traditional email onslaught, including skeptical questions about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. When I give biblical answers from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, I ultimately get attacked for using the “Christian Bible” as my only source of evidence. Indeed, “Why should we trust the Gospel Accounts of Jesus?

Well, let’s consider the integrity of the writers — men willing to suffer intense persecution and even death in the defense of their testimony…

For instance, Luke is generally regarded as one of the greatest historians of antiquity. Dr. John McRay, professor of New Testament and Archaeology at Wheaton University in Illinois, summed it up well when he said, “The general consensus of both liberal and conservative scholars is that Luke is very accurate as a historian. He’s erudite, he’s eloquent, his Greek approaches classical quality, he writes as an educated man, and archaeological discoveries are showing over and over again that Luke is accurate in what he has to say.” (John McRay, quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ, Zondervan, 1998, p. 129.)

Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archaeologists of modern times, agrees: “Luke is a historian of the first rank.” (Sir William Ramsey, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, 1915, p. 222.)

So, do we have any good reason to discard Luke’s account of the life of Christ? No. And the story is similar with respect to the textual, historical, and archaeological veracity of the other Gospel writers.

The bottom line is this: we have in our possession today four biographies detailing the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Sure, Christians believe these documents were inspired by God Himself, but whether or not you personally hold them in such high esteem, at the very least, the Gospels represent four separate historical accounts written by four individual authors who, according to mainstream criteria, independently document historical events. If we can’t accept these four complementary historical accounts, we can’t trust much of anything we claim to know about ancient history. A philosophical predisposition to disregard anything “Christian” is simply no reason to reject the Gospels as history.

Keep thinking,

Randall Niles

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