Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christianity in four brief points

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Christianity originally only required four pieces of evidence in order to be known true - that was against the background either of Judaism or Paganism.

These four sentences amount to the evidence that Jesus was the Son of God, Saviour and Lord of all - what was meant by that was clear at the time, and it was purely a matter of whether the claim was judged to be true or false. 

But what a phrase like Son of God, Lord and Saviour means is nowadays no longer clear, and takes much more than four sentences to explain (which means in practice that since most people cannot or will not attend for even so much as four sentences, the whole thing has become de facto incomprehensible).

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Anyway, here they are:

1. Evidence of the holiest man alive - John the Baptist - that Jesus was who he said he was.

(This was as if Albert Einstein at the height of his powers had pointed to some person and said, repeatedly, that here is the greatest physicist who ever lived; so far above me, that I am by comparison not fit to sharpen his pencils.)

2. The many miracles.

3. The fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.

Then

4. The resurrection.

All these were attested by numerous witnesses. 

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So there is first understanding the package of Jesus' claims for himself. This understanding used to be fairly easy but has now become very difficult - especially since so many people think they understand Jesus' claims but have the facts extremely wrong.

Then there is the evidence that Jesus can be relied upon, that he was what he claimed to be.

The truth of the claims is thus separate from the nature of the claims - and these aspects should not be conflated.

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Also, it must be acknowledged in advance that these claims of Jesus could, in principle, be true; whereas many modern people suppose that something about modernity has somehow discovered that Jesus' claims are necessarily impossible; they believe that Jesus' claims for himself cannot be true.

This attitude of the impossibility of Jesus' claims must be discarded, since it is ignorant.

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It is ignorant because it confuses metaphysical assumptions with scientific discoveries made within metaphysical assumptions.

When deity is excluded from science and other empirical investigations, this is a metaphysical assumption that deity is not relevant - it is not a discovery that deity is not existent.  

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The evidence that Jesus was who he said he was is strong, but not - of course - conclusive.

The evidence is as good as evidence gets - because all evidence boils down to the testimony of reliable witnesses. But of course, witnesses can be unreliable, can turn-out to be wrong, and may contradict each other - apparently or in reality.

Thus evidence does not get you all the way, nor is it intended that evidence should get you all the way, because belief must be chosen.

The rest is faith.

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