No serious historian doubts that Tiberius Caesar was the second emperor of the Roman Empire, ruling for 23 years, spanning the period of 14 A.D. to 37 A.D., after succeeding his stepfather, Caesar Augustus.
But how much historical evidence is there for the life of Tiberius, compared to that of his ultimately most famous and influential contemporary, Jesus of Nazareth?
It may surprise you but there are profound differences. And the emperor comes out on the short end of the comparison.
How often have you heard or thought “all religions are essentially true, they all say the same basic stuff, and in the end, when all is said and done, they all lead to God?
In fact, if you know the core beliefs of the world’s five most popular religions, you know there are a bunch of claims that just plain flat out contradict each other. Buddhism, for example, teaches there is no personal God, while Christianity insists there is and His name is Jesus.
Biola University Professor Sean McDowell takes up the claim that all religions are true, shows a bunch of the contradictions among them, then provides the solution to knowing which one is the only one that can be true for all eternity:
Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” found an empty, open grave this morning. They saw no Roman guards there but they claim they saw Jesus Christ, alive.
Do you believe them? Here are eight solid reasons you should indeed believe:
The first witnesses to the empty tomb and the living Jesus were women:It’s a sad reality, but women only counted as half as reliable witnesses as men. So the fact all four of the Gospels present women as the first witnesses to the Risen Jesus is a strong indicator Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reported the facts, not what they thought would be the most credible claims.
“Sir William Ramsay, one of the greatest archeologists ever to have lived, was a student of the German historical school, which taught that the Book of Acts was a product of the mid-second century AD and not of the first century, as it purports to be.
“After reading modern criticism about the Book of Acts, Ramsay became convinced that it was not a trustworthy account of facts of its time (50 AD), and therefore was unworthy of consideration by a historian.
“So in his research on the history of Asia Minor, Ramsay paid little attention to the New Testament. His investigations, however, eventually compelled him to consider the writings of Luke, the author of the Book of Acts.
“The archeologist observed the meticulous accuracy of the historical details and gradually his attitude toward the Book of Acts began to change. He was forced to conclude: ‘Luke is a historian of the first rank … This author should be placed along the very greatest of historians.'” — From “More Than A Carpenter,” by Josh and Sean McDowell, pgs 65-66
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If you attended college at any time in the past several decades, odds are you were taught some variation of the claim the Jesus of the Bible cannot be documented in history, so the book is really nothing more than a collection of myths, fables and exaggerations written long after His death.
Among the most significant evidence from logic to support the credibility of the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — is the fact none of the original disciples ever disavowed their claims about Jesus’ life and miracles, including the Resurrection.
The absence of any such disavowal, either documented or merely rumored, is not prima facie proof, but it does provide a weighty addition to the case for the truth of the Bible.
Biola University Professor Sean McDowell looks in the following video at the biblical and secular evidence on the question, lays out the main points of debate and offers conclusions about the significance:
Tradition has it that all of the original surviving 11 disciples of Jesus died as martyrs while defending their claims that Christ had been resurrected on the third day after being crucified.
Thomas, the skeptical disciple (i.e. the “Doubting Thomas”) who refused to believe the resurrection until Jesus appeared to him and invited him to touch his crucifixion wounds, is believed to have taken the Gospel to India where he died as a martyr.
As Biola University Professor Sean McDowell explains in the following video, there is no independent corroboration for this tradition, but there is good historical evidence to support the conclusion that there is truth in the account:
Critics typically dismiss the Bible as a credible source of history, but the more one knows about textual analysis, philology and archeology, the more the accuracy of Scripture is demonstrated and reinforced.
Dr. Sean McDowell of Summit Ministries and Biola University professor of apologetics looks at four major modern archeological discoveries that confirm key illustrations of the credibility and accuracy.
Why is McDowell’s presentation worth a few minutes of your time? Because, if the New Testament is an accurate account, then all of us should consider closely the claims of Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, the “Way and the Truth and the Light,” and thus the only way to Heaven:
Every human being who ever walked the face of the Earth has an innate sense that some acts are “good” and others are “bad.” Every known human society has had a moral code that defines what is good and bad.
But from where does that sense of right and wrong come? Are people born with it, or is it acquired over a period of time in which environmental, genetic and other factors combine to produce moral concepts?
Biola University Professor Sean McDowell takes up this question in the following video, including the familiar claim that the existence of moral judgements by humans can be entirely explained by science. Advocates of the latter view, he points out, commit the category fallacy in logic:
Have you ever experienced a tough time in your life when things just never seemed to go right, your friends and family were of no help, and even when you sought Him in prayer, God seemed not to care what happened to you? I have and odds are you will as well at some point, if you haven’t already.
King David experienced the same thing, but much more intensely, so intensely in fact, that he recorded it in Psalms 143:7: “Answer me quickly Lord; my spirit fails. Don’t hide your face from me, or I will be like those who go down to the pit.”
There is another Psalm that isn’t attributed to David, but which sounds very much like him. Psalm 102:1-3 puts it this way: “Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide Your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call.”
Professor Sean McDowell of Biola University offers a challenging and encouraging explanation in this video for why God sometimes seems like He doesn’t care:
Read that headline again because it probably doesn’t suggest what you thought it did the first time through. That is, it’s NOT suggesting that if you think there are little green men somewhere “out there,” you must also believe God exists.
Now, check out this logic from Timothy Fox, one of the proprietors of the Free Thinking Ministries blog, in an illuminating post on Dr. Sean McDowell’s blog entitled “Aliens and the Existence of God”:
It is said that every older generation looks upon every younger generation and either recoils in horror, disgust or incredulity.
Having heard it from members of the Greatest Generation, I confess that I sometimes must stop and remind myself that the same things I now say about “Millennials” were once said about me and my Boomer contemporaries.
Professor Sean McDowell of Biola University takes on the radical historians who claim Christianity’s sole legacy is intolerance, the slaughter of the Crusades and moral hypocrisy. Thursday, August 1, 2019.
NBC “Dateline” Cold-Case Expert J. Warner Wallace explains why those apparent variations in how each of the Gospels reported the Resurrection are evidence of their strengths as eyewitnesses. Monday, July 29, 2019.
You might even want to know “What Time Is Purple” and how to get a free copy of a remarkable little book. Or a free copy of “More Than A Carpenter,” the classic description of evidence for the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Few topics are greeted with greater skepticism than miracles, and no wonder, considering how often we hear of street-corner magicians, faith-healing hucksters and pyramid peddling get-rich-quick scammers.
But miracles of many kinds have happened during the course of human experience and have been subsequently documented to a greater or lesser degree. Even so, skepticism is an ever-present obstacle to acceptance of the possibility of genuine miracles.
That said, if you have an open mind, go read this post by Professor Sean McDowell of Biola University about a recent experience in the class he teaches there on miracles.
It concerns a young man who suffered a horrendous medical condition for the first 16 years of his life. But then a peer-reviewed medical miracle of prayer changed everything, according to the abstract published at ScienceDirect:
“In November 2011, he experienced proximal-intercessory-prayer (PIP) at a church and felt an electric shock starting from his shoulder and going through his stomach.
“After the prayer experience, he was unexpectedly able to tolerate oral feedings. The g- and j-tube were removed four months later and he did not require any further special treatments for his condition as all symptoms had resolved. Over seven years later, he has been free from symptoms.”
Among the most common objections to Christianity is that because there are multiple religions around the Earth claiming to point the way to Heaven, the politically correct conclusion is that “all roads lead to God.”
It’s a reassuring, comfortable idea because it means we each can make a choice from among a menu of spiritual options. This idea especially appeals to individualistic Americans who want to control all aspects of their lives and those who believe their intelligence and education gives them unique insights on such issues.