Today’s Macon Telegraph features yet another column from Bill Cummings that insists the Jesus story is a myth.
This happens on a regular basis, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.
Today’s opening two sentences?
“The Gospel narratives were written as faith documents. Not historical documents.”
Since he was “trained for 30 years as a Christian Scripture scholar,” Cummings feels it his responsibility to tell Telegraph readers that the Bible they read is mostly fiction.
Scholarship at the turn of the 20th Century did cast doubt on the historical reliability of Bible stories. Cummings even quotes a scholar who died in 1768 in Sunday’s column. Are you kidding me? Could a man living in 2017 actually still be quoting scholarship that predates the founding of the United States of America?
Scholarship at the turn of the 21st Century is supporting the opposite view.
Archeologists are turning up evidence of the Bible’s truth, not its “errors.” Geographical evidence supports historical accuracy. Cultural studies from antiquity are shedding light on the biblical text without proving some kind of biblical “inaccuracy.” And the circumstantial evidence? It’s overwhelming.
Whatever else can be said about the Jesus stories, this much even Cummings would have to admit is true. Something profound happened in the weeks, months and years after Jesus died. There’s no other explanation for the way thousands – then tens of thousands – suddenly made a radical change in their religious beliefs. Many of those first believers were willing to die for new beliefs.
Maybe Bill Cummings doesn’t need a factual foundation for his faith, but I do. I don’t have the time or energy to believe in something that isn’t true. I’m not going to dedicate my life to following the biblical equivalent of Harry Potter.
Don’t be afraid to take your brain to the Bible. Ask all the tough questions you want. You’ll find that the story from the Gospels is indeed a historical account.
Of course there’s a faith prejudice from the writers. John, for one, openly admits that multiple times. And yet he also insists that the message he delivered was true. Read again the first lines of 1 John.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard … (1 John 1:1-3)
“We saw him,” John said to his own followers. “We touched him. We heard him. I’m telling you the truth!”
Why would John have to say such a thing in one of his letters to one of the earliest generations of Christians?
Because some were already doubting the historical accuracy of the Jesus story. Some were even making up new stories about Jesus. John responded the way any eyewitness would have responded. He defended what he’d seen with a furious passion. The new, invented stories about Jesus? They were tossed on the trash heap of history very quickly.
Remember the “Gospel of Judas?” National Geographic made a big deal out of that one in 2006. But the only copy ever found of that writing was discovered in an ancient pile of Egyptian garbage! From the same period come more than 5,000 copies of the four Gospels in your Bible.
Quick lesson? People keep and treasure what is true.
If The Telegraph wants to keep publishing Bill Cummings’ opinions, so be it. But I’ll go with John’s defense. I’ll learn from the scholarship that’s being uncovered in the lands of the Bible right now. I’ll take advantage of the cultural studies of this century, not those that formed during the era of the printing press.
Frankly, I don’t’ have enough faith to believe in make-believe stories.
I need the truth.