Christians want others to believe in Jesus, because we believe he is “the way, the truth and the life”. But why should they? Do we offer good reasons why we believe and why we think they should also?
Telling people about Jesus
When christians tell others about Jesus, we mostly (in my experience) explain who we believe Jesus was and is (the Son of God) and how his death can save us. We don’t usually offer historical evidence for why we believe this. I think we are right about this, because many people don’t want to know that stuff, and they can always ask questions.
But I think we will increasingly need to be able to answer the questions about historical evidence. There have been many books and TV specials throwing doubts on whether the gospels are historical, so some people will require real answers before they believe. And, with many young christians being confronted by critical ideas about Jesus as they go to university, get a job or move out of home, we will also need to give them answers to similar questions.
And I think few churches and families are well-prepared to do so.
So why believe?
When I was a young christian, I felt I had good reasons to believe after reading just a few books by learned christians. But these days, the integrity and objectivity of christian scholars may be called into question. And there are plenty of reputable historians who take a more sceptical view of the gospels than we christians may be comfortable with.
The interesting thing is that many non-believers base their anti-christian views on books by writers with little recognised expertise and even greater bias than the christian scholars. So this gives us a clue about how to approach this question.
I suggest we start our answer to questions about the historicity of the gospels by referencing the books of secular scholars who are most respected by their peers and represent the mainstream of historical scholarship. They will draw some conclusions that we may be uncomfortable with, but they also draw many conclusions which lend support to christian beliefs. And they certainly give short shift to some of the outlandish claims by the non-scholars of extreme scepticism that provide the basis for many of the arguments against belief in Jesus.
If you want to know how this might work out, please have a look at Why should people believe in Jesus? and the other pages referenced there. I believe the historical evidence, as assessed by unbiased historians, shows that belief in Jesus is reasonable, and in fact more reasonable than disbelief.
Of course many people won’t be convinced, but at least we will have answered their questions in a way that can be respected.
Great post! It seems to me that an educated Christian can typically easily dispel most of the accusations of the world against the gospel. Just getting Christians to wake up and study would change the face of the debate.
“And they certainly give short shift to some of the outlandish claims by the non-scholars of extreme scepticism that provide the basis for many of the arguments against belief in Jesus.”
Why did that make me think of Acharya S. 😛