Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Blog Defense of the Historicity of the Nativity Accounts

Every year you get a retread on the History Channel, Time, Newsweek, or some other mainstream publication of liberal (in this context it means "unbelief" and has nothing to do with politics) scholarship. The first time you hear this, esp. as a new Christian you are bothered. If you are like me, you look into the underlying issues.

Many times these objections amount to "I don't believe in the supernatural or I don't want to believe in Christianity." I once read a nice article about how the grammar and style of the book of Daniel point to a 6th century B.C origin. In other words, around the time of Daniel. Why is it considered to be written around the 2nd century B.C. or later? Because that would mean Daniel prophecied future events before they actually happened. The anti-supernatural bias of many scholars influences their conclusions.

You see this with the New Testament as well. More and more evidence of an early date for the writing of the Gospels is piling up. But the earliest I see liberal scholars go is A.D. 80. Why do I think that is so? That would mean that Jesus' prophecies regarding the destruction of the Temple would have been made before the event. And, again, someone with an anti-supernatural bias doesn't entertain that in his head.

As this applies to the annual liberally skewed Christmas and Easter articles, most of this come down to the same bias. I can't prove every detail of the Biblical account with outside sources. We can't go back and do a paternity test. Nor can we corroborate the appearance of Gabriel, the wise men, etc. But I can show its general reliability. And I have no reason to doubt its account and good reasons, like those mentioned above, for accepting those accounts. But those who come to Scripture with a jaundiced eye aren't going to be accepting of those details which come down to us via Scripture. That makes sense. They're wrong, but it makes sense.

While it's true some of these articles may have a liberal bias, one has to understand that these historians have to separate themselves TOTALLY from any supernatural thought and just work with the evidence at hand. In college I took a class on Ancient Christianity and it was along the lines of what you read or watch in the sources you mentioned. Some students found it difficult to separate their historical side from their spiritual side in the class. That being said there were times where some authors, etc. seemed as if they were trying NOT to come to a supernatural conclusion and would deem something wrong in the Bible with the same train of thought they would deem something right in another source.

The problem is when historians rule out the supernatural even when all of the evidence points in that direction. For example, the Resurrection. The best you'll get is "something happened." And I understand, in their discipline, their constraints. The problem I mentioned is the dating of documents, which isn't history per se. Well, it is history. But they refuse to go with the evidence due to the prophecies.
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