The Christian community and western culture in general have been pummeled lately with books, magazine articles, movies and television specials purporting to expose the faulty foundations of the New Testament and Christian faith. Examples include The Da Vinci Code (book and movie), the Gospel of Judas (book and TV), various theories about the gnostics and their writings, Mary Magdalene, Brad Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, and many more! Invariably, a stream of men and women with D.D.s and Ph.D.s after their names from prestigious universities are presenting claims that the original New Testament documents are corrupted, other documents have been suppressed, that ugly truths about Jesus or others have been kept hidden, etc.
Believers may feel both assaulted and helpless in the face of such “firepower” and media blasts. Here are four suggestions:
- The fundamental Christian faith has faced such assaults over and over in its history. The faith remains, the “destroyers of the faith” have been discredited and forgotten. A little time will sure reveal the same result this time. Most of the weapons of the skeptics are not new; in fact, all have been trotted more than once in the past. Now they are being passed off on another generation as if they are new and revolutionary.
- If such “evidence” is overwhelming (or even credible), then why, just a decade or two later, is most of it no longer even acknowledged by the skeptical community itself as worthy of mention? The old poem by John Clifford about “The Hammer and the Anvil” comes to mind. They pound away for awhile with the latest “hammer” – only to toss it away worn out . . . while the anvil remains.
- It seems to me that there is a great inequality taking place in most of the presentations made by those opposing the traditional Christian positions on these subjects. This inequality consists of a demand for an impossibly high level of evidence in favor of traditional positions and a ridiculously low level of evidence in support of contrary positions. It is almost as if no evidence would be sufficient to support one position (historic view) while mere speculation or opinions are enough to be accepted as evidence on the other side.
- Equip yourself and those who look to you for spiritual guidance. Here are a few books and other materials I have added to my library in the last couple of years addressing these subjects. Many of these are by recognized Biblical scholars with all the appropriate credentials of their own. I’m sure many more could be added:
- Misquoting Truth by Timothy Paul Jones is a book refuting many of the claims of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus popular book. The link we have provided has many accompanying resources by Dr. Jones for download or viewing on this subject. Here is a link to what some other mainstream Christian leaders are saying about this book.
- Two fold-out booklets by Rose Publishing are also by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones and provide the essence of the conservative Christian position on the reliability of the New Testament text: Why Trust the Bible? and The Gospels: “Lost” & Found. Both are very useful to help direct people’s thoughts to the real issues and facts.
- Two books on The Da Vinci Code are The Da Vinci Deception, by Erwin Lutzer, and Breaking the Da Vinci Code, by Darrell Bock. Both provide good evidences, reasons and resources exposing the fictional nature of the Dan Brown book and other similar fanciful theories.
- Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don’t Tell You, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace. Three scholars (an apologist, a church historian, and a Bible translator) team up to address the new attacks on the foundations of the Christian faith, showing their roots, fallacies, and sometimes questionable scholarship.
- Powerpoint Answers to the Da Vinci Code, by Rose Publishing. Just what it says. 180+ Powerpoint visuals useful for acquainting Bible students with the issues and evidences.
- The Da Vinci Code Deception 2-hour video which draws from the material in the books by Darrell Bock, Erwing Lutzer, and James Garlow and Peter Jones. Issued by Grizzly Adams productions.
The resources above help believers be exposed to the historical underpinnings of both the Christian faith and the Christian texts which make up our New Testament. Equip yourself and acquaint yourself with the facts and issues, as well as the tactics and questionable evidence of the skeptics.
ADDENDUM 11/18/2007: An additional book I originally intended to add is a new book by Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, published by Zondervan. This is a hard-hitting, pointed approach to the issues being discussed. Six different issues are raised, each with a different renowned scholar. The response of that scholar is then presented. Read sample pages to learn more at Zondervan.com.