I was taken aback. I have heard those questions before. I was aware that people had doubts about the veracity of the gospel stories. In fact, I have studied the objections and debated the issues. But I was shocked that someone I count as a friend could be so bold. So, how do I know?
I worked on it for awhile. I read some apologetics texts. I studied some papers I had written in seminary. I meditated. I built theoretical arguments. I argued them. I rebutted them. I tried other arguments.
I believe I can make a case for the existence of Jesus. I think that we can safely know a lot about what Jesus said and did. But all of that boils down to faith. I believe. That makes all of this a lot easier for me. I trust in the Bible. I have faith in the church. I know what I have experienced in my own heart and life. I am sure that God has revealed the truth about Jesus.
That led me to my second problem. What is the most important thing: Jesus? His works? His words? This was- and is- not as easy for me to answer.
- Jesus' words are crucial to Christians. We get our pattern for life from what Jesus taught. We know that we are supposed to live in a certain way, because Jesus told us to live that way. Much of our ethic, at least where it affects public life and civil discourse, comes from the words of Jesus. The social justice Christians- of which I am one- are significantly influenced by the words of Jesus.
- Jesus' actions are crucial to Christians. We learn how to interact with others, how to teach, how to show compassion and how to stand for truth by studying how Jesus does it. We also learn to expect miracles, healings and strong stands for the oppressed by watching what Jesus does. The evangelical and charismatic Christians- of which I am one- are significantly influenced by the actions of Jesus.
- Jesus' life is crucial to Christians. There are several things to cover here. Jesus, according to orthodox Christianity, is the incarnation of God himself. That is, the life of Jesus is important because he was God in the flesh. Secondly, Jesus was completely human. Although he was divine, he was still a man. He knows all about my weaknesses and struggles because he had them too. Finally, Jesus' life ended, but it did not stay ended. He is alive today to verify for all Christians the truth of our faith. Christians- of which I am one- are significantly influenced by the life of Jesus.