On the Reasonableness of Christianity

This tweet came after Kevin Williamson (whom people mistake for an atheist but who is actually a convert to Catholicism) pointed out that no, there is no historical evidence of Christ outside of the witness of the church. Tweeters posted all sorts of 140 character counter-arguments, all easily dismissed.

But this shouldn’t a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the New Testament according to which one comes to believe in Christ by believing the testimony of his followers. Miracles, if you pay attention to the text, were preformed after someone already believes. Unbelievers who witnessed miracles would remain unconvinced.

Faith is the decision to leap beyond the available evidence. The figure presented by the gospels and early Christian preaching does in fact bridge what we know about Second Temple Judaism with what we know about first century Christians. Some charismatic and prophetic figure, in all likelihood a Galilean named Jesus, took Jewish ideas and ritual practices and rearranged them into what came to be known as “Christianity” in the decades leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, but it isn’t certain. It is much less certain that this charismatic prophet did and said all that is attributed to him, or that he claimed to be or was the son of God, whatever that might have meant to his followers.

The story remains just that, a story with no corroboration. One decides to believe it or not.

That so much of contemporary apologetics (both for and against the faith) ignore the very nature of faith is a sign that there is something deeply wrong with apologetics.


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