2cornucopias

Ideas and Consequences

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/12/12 at 12:01 PM

One of the many properties that distinguishes humans from animals is a sense of history. Animals simply have no awareness of history (theirs or anyone else’s), but humans have been involved in history for at least 5000 years of recorded written history.  History is not an exact science; history can be biased or incomplete.  The most important history books are the four Gospels.  They give us a true history because if the events depicted  did not happen, Christianity falls on its face and can be set aside along with Greek mythology.  However, the Gospels are the true history of the life of Christ.  The events described therein really happened in real time; in fact they  more realistic than even the most objective histories today.

The Gospels  were written during the lifetime of many of those who witnessed  many of the events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  There’s no record of any claim that the Gospels are fictional.  When a historical record is controversial, there are those  who attempt to correct the errors or protest that the events described happened as the author claimed.  Again, this did not happen in the case of the Gospels.

Some non-Christian sources also wrote about the fact that Jesus of Nazareth existed.  This indicates that the existence of Christ was known beyond the Jewish world and that the story was not merely a Jewish or Christian fantasy.

No one dies for an idea that he knows is false or fraudulent.  There was no advantage to the writer of the Gospels whatsoever.  In producing the Gospels, it did not make them heroes, in fact, just the opposite.  St. Matthew was martyred for his Gospel.  St. John endured persecution and exile for his efforts, and the other apostles all suffered death rather than deny the content of the Gospels.

The Gospels have been analyzed, scrutinized, examined, re-examined for 2000 years.  Many have attempted to show the Gospels to be a hoax perpetrated by the Apostles and the early Christians, but no one has ever succeeded in proving the Gospels are anything but what the Church says they are.  Adolph von Harnack, a noted rationalist of the 19th century set out to prove definitively that the Gospels were false.  He labored many years, and, finally, he not only could not show the Gospels were false, but he even became a Christian.

The Gospel story has inspired and sustained millions of people for 2000 years.  One of the reasons is that Christianity has not changed its basic doctrines in 2000 years. No other religion can say that; they all have divisions and subdivisions. If nothing else, this shows that Christianity is a divine religion.

There is another factor in the Gospel history that is not alluded to very much: the Gospels were not written for several decades after the death of Christ. Thus, the Gospels are a compilation of what the early Christians believed. It is a fact that stories passed on orally change radically after a just a few transmissions. Yet, the oral Gospel story did not change.  I suggest that the Holy Spirit, observing His duty to protect the Church, simply did not allow deviation from the true history – a miracle of sorts.  Then, too, Christians believe that the Gospels are inspired by God and they could not possibly contain errors or false facts because God, in His very nature, could not inspire what is untrue.

Thus we say without fear of error that the four Gospels depict what was said and done by Jesus Christ in real time, centuries ago in the Holy Land. It all happened, and there is no evidence that it did not.

If the Gospels are true history of real events, there are serious implications for us. The historicity of the Gospels is not in doubt and never has been. If this is true, then we come to a “So what now?”  The Gospels contain divine truth that we cannot avoid, ignore, or reject except at great peril to our eternal life

1. Christ really lived and is a divine being in human form as He said He was; His words and actions are words and actions of God Himself.

2. His words are also of divine origin and were spoken in real time.

3.  His divine teaching is not optional because we are creatures and owe the Creator reverence and obedience.

4. He set up a Church now known as the Catholic Church (again, historical fact), and He intended it to be the chief vehicle of salvation for mankind.

If we accept the historicity of the Gospels, but do not accept the ramifications, we have missed the whole point.  Salvation does not depend on being able to defend the Gospels, but in living them to the best of our ability.

To paraphrase a Gospel verse,”What does it profit a man to know all about the technicalities of the Gospels, but fail to live accordingly.”

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