Thursday 25 December 2014

What was then (and is now) convincing about the truth and reality of Jesus Christ?

Then and now are different.

Then (not a complete list):

1. Prophecy - that Jesus was (had a strong claim to being) the heir to the throne of King David, King of Israel - this was the predicted lineage of the Messiah (sent by God).

2. The miracles- especially raising of the dead. This implied supernatural power.

3. The endorsement of John the Baptist - regarded as the holiest man alive.

4. The charisma, personal authority, intelligence and learning of Jesus himself.

5. His resurrection. 


Now (again not a complete list):

1. Personal revelation/ being born again - an intuitive conviction.

2. Tradition, historical evidence (including historical evidence of the above five listed factors)

3. The (only) complex, complete and coherent theology/ philosophy.

4. The societal fruits of Christianity, the socio-political consequences of the faith; or, negatively, what has happened when Christianity has been abandoned - the fruits of apostasy.

5. The psychological fruits of Christianity - the personal consequences of the 'experiment' of Christian belief and living (or, negatively, the personal results of abandoning faith, Christian morals etc).


So the situation, the evidence, then versus now differs almost completely.

But the basic human condition remains: Christianity is a choice.

There is substantial evidence in favour, but the positive evidence all has deficiencies and limitations, and can always all be subjected to critique and questions; and there is also evidence against - therefore, as always, the situation is not conclusive or compelling in either direction.

Then and now, a choice must be made, a commitment is required.



Robert Marchenoir said...

How can faith be a choice ?

(Not a provocative question, I hasten to add ; I would genuinely be interested to know.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@RM- It does not apply to the self-understanding of all religions, but Christianity *must* be a choice - all through the Bible it is clear that people are choosing, one way or the other - free will or free agency is intrinsic to Christianity.

ajb said...

Another one, Jesus of Nazareth uniquely fulfilling God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham’s seed.

This has become a stronger thread of argument since the time of the early church.

ajb said...


It seems to me faith in someone (trust in someone) usually involves a choice.

Faith in Christianity isn't primarily faith in abstract propositions or doctrines, but rather faith in a person, with whom we each have a personal relationship.

First, there is the choice to trust to begin with - to extend trust to someone. Then, between the time where one chooses to trust, and the time where that trust is verified (or not), there is a gap - typically, there is at least an implicit choice in that time one makes.

Similarly, because God works through time, between when you choose to trust Him and when that trust is verified (or, perhaps, not!) there is typically a gap.

Therefore, typically trusting in God ('faith') is a choice.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - Well said, that is the proper perspective.