The Miracle Myth Debunked

CRI-Blg-Hanegraaff, Hank-Debunking Miracle MythOn yesterday’s broadcast, I spoke about the Jesus Game. The rules are you have to begin with an antisupernatural bias. Then you have to present a portrait of Jesus Christ that is wildly divergent from the biblical Christ. If your picture even remotely resembles the historical Christ, then you lose. On the other hand, if you present a Jesus who bears absolutely no resemblance to the Christ of the gospels, then you win. The more sophistry, sloppy journalism and sensationalism that you throw in, the better.

All that on yesterday’s show. Today, in light of yesterday’s show, I came across a book published by Columbia University Press. Catch this carefully; it is titled, The Miracle Myth: Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified. The title says it all. The author is a philosophy professor. His name is Larry Shapiro. And of course, he wins the Jesus Game by presenting a portrait of Christ that closemindedly rules out the supernatural because, by rule, only naturalistic explanations are allowed.

As far as history and archeology are concerned, violate them as wildly as possible. Whatever pseudohistorical input Shapiro provides is garnered extensively either from Bart Ehrman or Richard Carrier.

Now Bart Ehrman is well known for teaching that Jesus Christ was a false apocalyptic prophet. Why did he think that? Well, he reads Matthew 24, and he sees that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky” (v. 29 NIV), all this is going to take place within a “generation” (v. 34), it did not, and therefore, no amount of obfuscation can absolve Jesus Christ from being a false prophet. Of course, the problem with professor Ehrman is that he does not know how to read literature. In fact, he certainly does not know how to read the Bible in the light of the Bible because if he did, he would know that Jesus is simply using the apocalyptic language of the Old Testament prophets applied to cities in ancient times and now applying it directly and specifically to the fall of Jerusalem.

Then there is Richard Carrier. He is a fringe scholar who believes that the historical Christ never existed. Now this is a very, very novel notion because all credible scholarship today concedes that Jesus Christ was a historical being. Whether or not you believe He was the Christ, the Messiah, theanthropos, the God-man, He was a historical being. This is underscored not just by biblical manuscripts but by extrabiblical manuscripts.

Here you have Shapiro getting his material on history and archeology from these kinds of sources and quite concedes he does not know a whole lot about history, but he does know how to play the Jesus Game. Predictably, he ignores the apostle Paul as well as the famed creed that is codified in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7. This is a creed most Christians know. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living [available to be cross-examined], though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (NIV). Then he appears to the apostle Paul (v. 8). What is significant about that creed is it can be traced to mere months of Messiah’s murder. The short time span between the crucifixion and composition of the creed precludes legendary corruption. It has been very well documented. The creed is early. It is free from legendary contamination. It is unambiguous. Specifically, it is ultimately rooted in eyewitness testimony.

Here Shapiro wins the Jesus Game, but in the end loses the week that changed the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? (Daniel B. Wallace)

Jesus as “God”: Scriptural Fact or Scribal Fantasy? (Brian J. Wright)

Defending the New Testament Jesus (Lee Strobel)

How Christianity Led to the Rise of Modern Science (James Hannam)

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