“On the Testimony of Eyewitnesses. . .” by Jack Kinsella

Each Easter season, TIME or Newsweek trots out their Jesus Seminar talking points from last year and dutifully report the following conclusions that the Jesus Seminar says are based on scientific, historical analysis: the resurrection didn’t happen; the miracles are myths; there is no authentic prophecy in the Bible; the Gospels were written long after the events took place; they were not written by eyewitnesses; the testimony of the early church Fathers can’t be trusted.

However, the Jesus Seminar doesn’t ARRIVE at those conclusions; that is their starting point. When one begins at with a predetermined conclusion, the conclusion arrived at in the end is meaningless.

There is no “new evidence” supporting the idea that the miracle-working Son of God was the result of an evolution of myth over a long period of time. To the contrary, recent discoveries have given more credibility to the content of the Gospels themselves.

Recent finds in archaeology, for example, show us that funerals were conducted differently in Galilee than in Jerusalem, consistent with the details in the Gospels. A person concocting a story generations after the fact wouldn’t know this because of the Roman decimation of Galillee in AD 70.

As far as Jesus being ‘reconstructed as the Son of God generations after His death;

We know Paul was executed by Nero in AD 64. But Acts concludes before Paul’s death, and Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. And even the Jesus Seminar agrees that the Gospel of Mark predates the Gospel of Luke.

So Mark’s Gospel was already in circulation in Jerusalem only 20 years or so after the crucifixion and Resurrection.

The Jesus Seminar concludes Jesus MUST have been transformed from a humble carpenter into a wonder-working Son of God in the late first and early second century.

But the epistles were already in circulation 20 years after the fact, when plenty of disputing eyewitnesses would still be available, and there is no record of early disputes over their accuracy. So, how can this be?

Even the members of the Jesus Seminar admit that Jesus was crucified on a Cross. But why was He killed? And if He were merely a carpenter not yet elevated to mythical or legendary status, why would anyone follow Him? Or even CARE if He was crucified?

According to Robert Funk, the REAL Jesus wasn’t resurrected, but rather was buried in a shallow grave and then later dug up and eaten by dogs. That’s why there was no body, concludes the Jesus Seminar.

But they say it doesn’t matter that the Resurrection story is a lie, because, in their view, religious significance does not hinge on the historical record.”

Paul told the Church at Corinth, dealing with this exact heresy, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1st Corinithians 15:17)

In the criminal court system, the most powerful evidence that can be offered is that of direct, eyewitness testimony. Consider cases in which the perpetrator pulls out a gun, and, in front of a dozen credible, respectable witnesses, shoots somebody to death.

Clever lawyers are capable of clever defenses, but the one defense that no lawyer would ever offer would be that his client didn’ t do it.

Absent evidence of an identitical twin somewhere, the lawyer is more likely to offer some mitigating defense, such as diminished capacity or insanity.

Carried a bit further, consider a conspiracy in which a gang leader has a dozen followers that he instructs to give false eyewitness testimony for him to the authorities. But in this case, if they comply, they themselves will face the death penalty as a consequence of that lie, even though they weren’t guilty and their leader was.

How many of that dozen will lie for their leader and take his death penalty for him?

Now we take the historical record of the 12 Apostles. If Jesus wasn’t Who He claimed to be, why would they have followed Him for three years? Supposing that He was not God, but instead a brilliant con man who had mesmerized his companions, we are still left with the dilemma that would have existed after that hypnosis was shattered by His death.

The Apostles, by continuing to preach what they claimed to have eyewitnessed, that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and was the Messiah and the incarnate Son of God, marked themselves as outcasts from the Jewish community.

What they preached, if it were not true, was blasphemy, and to the Jews, blasphemy was more than a crime. The Apostles, by persisting, would have been disowned by their families, shunned by their friends, and lost all status in their community.

Traveling abroad, they were outside their element, preaching of an unknown God to peoples no more interested in hearing it than the Jews had been. They were arrested, beaten, harassed, persecuted, prosecuted, chronically unemployed and unemployable, and generally ostracized for what they preached.

Ultimately, each of them was given a choice between renouncing what they claimed to have witnessed, or face a horrible execution.

So, here’s the general choice offered them: “Deny your eyewitness testimony and you will live. Stick to your story and you will not only die, but in an excruciatingly painful manner.”

Every single one of them chose death. Willingly. Even cheerfully. Had one of them recanted, Christianity as a viable faith, would have died at that moment.

Now, if you had witnessed what they had; the miracles of Jesus — healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, stilling the wind — and His brutal death on the Cross, then met with the Resurrected Jesus after He had been killed, and watched His ascension into Heaven, what effect would the threat of death have on your decision?

I mean, think it through.

We aren’t talking about the subsequent Christian martyrs who put their faith in Jesus through the Holy Spirit — we are talking about the actual, living, breathing eyewitnesses!

We put our faith in Jesus based on their testimony and our faith. The Apostles would KNOW — through first hand experience — whether they were following the risen Son of God or whether they were propagating a myth for which they were about to give their lives.

They would either know it was all true, or they would KNOW that they were choosing death for a lie. Faith is only a secondary consideration, from their perspective. They had faith BECAUSE of what they saw.

If they had not seen what they reported, then they would KNOW their faith was in vain. And we have faith because of what they saw, and recorded as first-person eyewitnesses.

If the Jesus Seminar is right, then the Apostles were either liars who died to maintain a myth that, for all they knew, would have died with them, or they were all certifiably insane.

As the Apostle Peter explained, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2nd Peter 1:16)

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the Word.” (Luke 1:1-2)

The testimony of first-person eyewitnesses vs. the scholarly rantings of predetermined skeptics living two thousand years after the fact.


What was the question, again?

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