Some modern writers and scholars are suggesting that these fundamental teachings of Christianity are only myths and fables. Skeptics have postulated that Jesus was not divine, that He married and had a child—and that He did not rise from the dead, but was secretly buried in a family tomb in Jerusalem with his wife and son. While some speculate that this new "understanding" about Jesus Christ "could be among the most significant in history" (Charlotte Observer, March 4, 2007), what we are witnessing today is simply more prophecy coming alive!
More people profess Christianity than any other religion. More than two billion people alive today say they believe Jesus Christ came to this earth as the Son of God to be crucified for the sins of the world, and that He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The Bible presents Jesus' miracles and His resurrection as proof of His divinity. Scripture shows that these events were witnessed by many and were powerful reasons for the spread of the Christian religion.
However, some modern writers and scholars are suggesting that these fundamental teachings of Christianity are only myths and fables. Skeptics have postulated that Jesus was not divine, that He married and had a child—and that He did not rise from the dead, but was secretly buried in a family tomb in Jerusalem with his wife and son. While some speculate that this new "understanding" about Jesus Christ "could be among the most significant in history" (Charlotte Observer, March 4, 2007), what we are witnessing today is simply more prophecy coming alive!
Where are these "new" ideas coming from? What are their sources? A closer look is revealing. Dr. James Tabor, author of The Jesus Dynasty, asserts that his recently published book \presents the story of Jesus in an entirely new light. It is history, not fiction" (p. 4). Yet he states: "History is not merely an assemblage of facts. It also involves an attempt to retrieve and imagine the past" (p. 305). Critics note that Tabor's book—and the television documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus to which he contributed—contain "a lot of speculation." In the concluding pages of his book, Tabor writes: "There is much we can never know… With regard to some areas we are left to guess and speculate… [what] might have taken place…" (p. 308). That is not history; it is conjecture that could well be fiction. Similarly, in The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent provides no solid evidence—and certainly no proof—for his assertion that Jesus did not die in the crucifixion.
Modern scholars often adopt ideas that run contrary to the biblical record because they do not believe the Bible contains an accurate record of history, so they take the scriptural accounts apart, then reassemble them in a manner they think is more correct. Tabor and other modern scholars base their ideas about the Gospels on the so-called "Q" document" or Gospel of Q—a hypothetical collection of Jesus' sayings envisioned by a 19th century German scholar. As one theological encyclopedia notes: "Since Q allegedly contains sayings, not works or miracles of Jesus, it is used as a basis for denying the resurrection" and also the deity of Christ (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pp. 618–621). However, no one has ever seen this theoretical Q document, and one former proponent of Q now states, "This is the stuff of fairy tales" (ibid.). The idea of a Q document "is based on a reconstructionist view of history that rejects New Testament history in Acts. If the Q hypothesis is correct… the book of Acts must be altogether false. Yet no book in the New Testament has more authentication of its historical accuracy than Acts" (ibid.). By postulating a never-seen Q document as the basis for the Gospels, modern scholars can take liberties in reconstructing Jesus' life as they imagine it to be—so it is no wonder that these "new" perspectives on the life of Jesus differ so dramatically from the actual events recorded in the Bible.
Some scholars point to apocryphal writings—never accepted by the Church—for evidence that Jesus was married and had children. One such suggestion that Jesus had a romantic relationship comes from the Gnostic Gospel of Philip—a source considered spurious and heretical by early Church leaders—yet some modern scholars view it, and other similar writings, as valid history. Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, draws on these sources as well as other pagan and occult works—yet even scholars who rely on some of the same works recognize Dan Brown's novel as pure fiction!
A study of the Gospels quickly reveals how the Bible differs from the speculative pronouncements of modern liberal scholars. The Bible states plainly that a "virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel"—meaning "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus' enemies mocked Him as not having a physical father (John 8:41). Modern scholars, operating on the assumption that miraculous events cannot occur, reject the biblical account of Jesus' supernatural conception and virgin birth. The Bible clearly states that Jesus' body was not present when His disciples entered the tomb on the third day, and that cloths that wrapped the body were left behind (Mark 16:6; Luke 24:3–7; John 20:1–7). Unable to accept a miraculous explanation, some modern scholars suggest Jesus' body was taken from the tomb and secretly buried elsewhere, though the Bible explains Roman soldiers were paid to circulate that very lie in order to deny the fact of the resurrection (Matthew 28:11–15).
Scripture explains that Jesus appeared alive after the resurrection on many occasions—even to a group of 500 onlookers (John 20:19–20, 26; 21:1–7; 1 Corinthians 15:6–8). Jesus' resurrection on the third day was the primary sign that He was the promised Messiah (Luke 9:22; 18:31–33; 24:46). Modern liberal scholars, however, with their anti-supernatural bias, deny that a dead body can come alive and walk out of a grave, so they operate on the assumption that Jesus' body must be buried somewhere. Think about it: if Jesus' body were buried in a family tomb near the site of His crucifixion, as some critics now assert, surely the religious and secular authorities would have been able to find that body and show it to the public to squash the new Christian movement!
The Bible explains that Jesus preached about a coming kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15), which He said "is not of this world" (John 18:36). Christ came to die for the sins of the world, as His disciples recognized (1 John 2:2). Yet some revisionist scholars speculate that the Gospels are mistaken, and that Jesus had a wife and children with whom He intended to start a dynastic line. These scholars say He believed He would not die by crucifixion, but that "God would intervene to save him from his enemies at the final moment" (The Jesus Dynasty, p. 310). This makes for entertaining speculation, but totally contradicts what the Bible clearly reveals—and undermines the very message of the Gospels.
The increasing number of scholars and writers making headlines by openly challenging fundamental teachings of the Bible should come as no surprise to students of Scripture. Long ago, God foretold that "scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts" (2 Peter 3:1–6). In The Expositor's Bible Commentary this phrase refers to "false teachers… who deny biblical truths" (volume 12, p. 284). The Bible states that "in the last days" men "having a form of godliness but denying its power" will actually deny that "all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:1–17). They will agree with Dan Brown's phrase, "The Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God" (The Da Vinci Code, p. 250). Looking to the end of the age, the Apostle Paul predicted that "the time will come when… they will have itching ears [to hear some new idea], they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:1–5). This is where we are today! Modern writers and scholars are twisting the Scriptures, denying the inspiration of the Bible, rejecting fundamental teachings of Christianity and creating in their imaginations entirely different views about the life of Jesus Christ. Prophecies are indeed coming alive!