My point was to show that religions are created for various reasons. Mohammad followers believe he had a divine message. I don’t agree with them, nontheless, there is a large following that may soon be larger than Christianity. This is true of all religions. Before Christianity, there were other religions that believed in Deities, that allegedly died and were resurrected. Jesus’ story is not that unique.
I also don’t follow your claim of Jesus giving us evidence. What we have are anonymous Gospelers, writing in Greek about events alleged to have happened in Aramaic and Hebrew speaking Judea and Galilee. And we have the Epistles. That’s it. We have stories and claims, as far as documentation goes. Jesus, as far as we know, did not write any stories (short of scribbling something in the sand).
I have already stated that Jesus’ claims can be tested and they are clearly false.
Matt. 21:18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He *said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Here, I have not removed the context. Jesus here is teaching his disciples (and us, since this is recorded as God’s word) about how faith and prayer supposedly works. Well, you can ask Jesus to heal an amputee right now. Nothing will happen to the amputee. In fact, we find nothing extraordinary happening to Jesus followers vs atheists/agnostics. Is this not an example of a failed promise? Imagine I make the same promise that Jesus made. At what point would you be allowed to conclude my promise is worthless?
Regarding point 1, the spread of religion has nothing to do with it’s being truthful. At best, it shows that people resonate with the message. This is true for Islam, Mormonism and other religions. Besides, I think we need to be clear that Christians were not all united. Even in the New Testament we see divisions and heresies being addressed. For example, there were believers who resonated with James, who upheld the Law of Moses and were, for all intents and purposes, Pharisees that believed in Jesus. Then there were Paul followers who believed that Christ is the end of Law. There were Gnostics too, there were Christians who did not think Jesus had a human body, or that Jesus was only a man and not God. Christians were not a single, unified movement. In fact, the very first Christian Canon was compiled by Marcion, the Heretic Gnostic!
- I’ve quoted Acts already, where it is said that James followers were zealous for the Law and perhaps many of the thousands wanted Paul seized in the Temple. Which group spread the most? How many heretics had to be banished before a unified Catholic Church can proceed?
When I was a believer, I held to a minority, antinomian view of justification. Here is an article that comes to mind, lamenting the ‘wrong’ theology of the early church fathers
There were Christians who abstained from sex, becoming eunuchs for Jesus. So, when you say that the movement spread, I think we need to recognize that the movement was not a single force, but various factions, each having own doctrinal variations.
I don’t know how many early Christians were murdered for their faith. Do you have actual numbers or percentages of the early Christians killed?
I will grant you that Christianity, even in the book of Acts, appears to have a Hellenistic start. For example, we are told there were about 120 people immediately after Jesus ascention (Acts 1:15), and then, at the Pentecost, where there were Greek speaking Jews present, you find thousands of believers. Hint that we are given, is that even with Jesus’ efforts, the message was more popular among the Greek speaking populace. A prophet is without honor, I guess.
Regarding Islam, I cannot confirm it’s spread was violent only. Perhaps people converted out of their choice. I don’t know.
Mormonism was non-violent, as far as I know. Joseph Smith’s lack of resurrection is besides the point, in my view. A moment does not require a resurrection to spread quickly.
With respect to Christianity, had it not been for the Rome, I don’t think it would have gotten so popular. I am from the USSR (Kiev City, which is now Ukraine). It is commonly assumed that Kievan Rus became Christian in 880s AD. King/Prince Vladimir baptized everyone in Dnieper river. And Christianity gained thousands, if not millions of converts. Perhaps similar means were used in the beginning, who knows? If the moment encouraged brotherhood of all, I can see how Roman slaves or those who were down on their luck would become enchanted with it. And there is power in martyrs. Rosa Parks, for example, started a movement by simply refusing to give up her seat. Perhaps a similar catalyst worked in Christianity’s favor? So far, you have not given me a reason to think that Christianity could not have spread short of a bodily resurrection.
Besides, Paul himself never mentions his desire to visit Jesus’ tomb, to walk in Gethsemany or to spend time in the room where the Last Supper has taken place. Why is that? Perhaps these things were irrelevant.
I mentioned already that I’m a Jesus mythicist. There are hints in the Epistles that my view can be suppored by the New Testament.
Romans 16: 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
As far as Paul is concerned, he is the one who is revealing a mystery, hidden in the Scriptures of the prophets (i.e. Old Testament). Paul receives revelations and doesn’t require traditional teachings.
1 Cor 9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Paul does not seem to be aware of the approx 3 years (maybe less) of Jesus’ ministry and Jesus’ selection of the disciples to be with him and to learn from him. Otherwise, his question makes no sense. There is a world of difference between seeing Jesus in a vision vs eating bread with him, right?
Good question, but you may not like the answer. There is a book titled when prophecy fails. Infor on wikipedia here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses stick around after their organization has shown to make false predictions? Why do televangelists who are exposed for their misdeeds continue to be popular? Some things defy reasoning, in my view.
Jesus predicted to return before the generation he was speaking to passed away. I know Christians who reinterpted these passages to mean anything other than what they say. I think the idea of eternal life and a bliss can be too comforting for some.
This atheist site explains that Christian growth is the same as what Mormonism experienced. Get this… there are Mormons who still believe Joseph Smith correctly translated ancient Egyptian language. No amount of arguments will sway them. They have a burning in the bosom.
Billy Graham stated that even though he found Bible teachings problematic and he could not reconcile some passages, he decided to trust it anyway. Some people can’t be swayed by reason. And if it works for them, who am I to blame them?[quote=“Swamidass, post:45, topic:35602”]
It is absurd to claim that the disciples did not believed the Resurrection. They certainly did.
But what kind of a Resurrection?
Eph. 2:6…and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Paul here claims that he (without dying) and the Christians in Ephesus were already raised from the dead. You may respond that he was speaking metaphorically, but it just makes my point. The term was thrown around and may have had meanings other than what you and modern apologists want it to mean.
Paul says this about resurrected body
1 Cor. 15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” (My response—GOOD questions!!!)
36 You fool! (My response - Uh oh)
That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
Is he talking about a body transformation here? Who knows what he means?
Lastly, we know that religions borrow from one another. Judaism was experiencing a crisis. They had the Torah and the Tanakh, which told them the God will bless them if they follow his laws, but, instead, they found themselves enslaved by the people who lived in total opposite of what the God expected. (i.e. worhshipped idols, ate pork, no circumcision). So, the Jewish person either concludes that Yahweh is a liar, OR there must be a different interpretation. Perhaps God’s laws are true not in this life, but in the afterlife! Bingo… Another dimension (no doubt borrowed from the Greeks and Persians) is introduced. Couple that with a brilliant teacher, such as John the Baptist or Jesus (assuming historicisty) or Paul and bingo… you have a movement. And if this guy can hear God speak to them, all the better.