Well, Easter has passed for another year (at least in the west) and while the celebration in life of the Resurrection is never over, our freebies will be done soon, sadly. Today, Monday April 6th 2015 will end all of the freebies for the quarter, and I won’t be able to run another under the Kindle Publishing rules for another three months.
My latest release, Towards a Positive Case for Christ is the first step in a larger project, as I state, this is my notebook, and tomorrow, I start making plans towards next year’s edition, along with some other lines of research that will be loosely held around other elements of life.
Before the special ends, here is a quick excerpt, my closing “argument” in Chapter 10 in the first part of Towards a Positive Case for Christ.
“ Many times people will discuss the canonicity debates, but they do so in a fashion that assumes that a formal canon developed in isolation from earlier Christian writings. The canonicity debates were about the “formal canon” but most of the New Testament was quoted by the fathers authoratitively before these issues ever arose, that is there was an “informal” canon before there was one. It is true that some books of the New Testament were questioned in the third, fourth and fifth century, but the canonical gospels, the Pauline Epistles and the book of Acts were never seriously challanged or questioned by the early Church.
The books that were unchallaenged during the canonicity debates were accepted as authoritative by the Church from their beginning. Debates between believing and unbelieving Biblical scholars are not debates about the evidence – that is there is not a body of evidence that supports the evangelical position for the gospels and another body of evidence that would appear to support the unbelieving position on the gospels. The fact is that all of the extant, external evidence favors the evangelical position, and the unbelieving scholar is forced to respond to the evidence with speculation. To put it another way, the unbelieving scholar argues against the evidence rather than from it, on the basis of speculation that has been accepted as almost a tradition,[i] and assumptions based on moldy works of nineteenth century philosophy, many of these arguments begin with the presupposition that miracles are not possible.[ii] In liberal theology no theory ever really dies, it just gets recycled when no one is looking. In more technical terms there is a prima facia case for the traditional authorship of the New Testament, and the burden of proof therefore falls on the unbeliever to prove their case about the gospels.
Arguments on the evidence for the gospels cannot be answered with mere conjecture – conjectural arguments stating that the evidence is not as good as I have demonstrated it to be will inevitably violate the logical principle known as Ockham’s razor, ultimately derived from Hume’s arguments against miracles.[iii] Once we begin cherry picking the evidence or conjecturing from a basis other than fact, anything is ultimately feasible – such approaches are little different than theories that the world we inhabit is really an elaborate computer program – technically possible, but there is little positive evidence that can be adduced in its favor, and no sane person would assume this is true without some positive evidence adduced to defend this viewpoint. We can also argue the various alleged discrepencies, as we have noted, however, discussions of historical reliability are logically prior to discussions of inspiration, since the latter is based on the acceptance of Christianity. We can concede a given discussion on a given passage – it makes no sense to argue that inerrancy with an unbeliever, but what we cannot conceed is the general character of the historical reliability of the New Testament that has been proven.”
[i] Stephen Neill and Tom Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986 (Oxford: UP, 1988; reprint 2003), 62-63.
[ii] “The presupposion of modern Biblical Criticism has been the impossibility or unidentifiability of miracles, so that an openminded approach to the Scriptures necessitates a priori defense of the rationality of belif in miracles.” Craig, 278, he further discusses this in terms of Hume’s argument against miracles as accepted be many Biblical critics. Craig 278-280.
[iii] Craig 278-80