Skeptics and Mythicists: A Crisis in Christianity

ABSTRACT

 A new generation of scholars disbelieve the traditional biblical stories, saying they are neither historically sound nor factually believable. Engaging in debates with traditional theologians, each of them have some element to offer. Yet none will see the bigger picture until a metaphysical understanding is applied.

 

A New Generation of Biblical Skeptics

 A growing cadre of religious scholars are taking traditional Christianity in a radical new direction, questioning the authenticity of New Testament gospels. One leading expert is Dr. Bart Ehrman, a Christian historian who rose to prominence about a decade ago when he disputed supposed claims made in Dan Brown’s bestselling novel and popular Hollywood film “Da Vinci Code”. He and other biblical historians like Dr. Elaine Pagels and Dr. Marvin Meyer entered mainstream America with bestselling books and appeared in “History Channel” documentaries. Ehrman, among the more radical in decrying biblical fabrications, does believe that Jesus existed and was crucified by the Roman procurator but disbelieves he was resurrected or is divine, or that he was taken off the cross and put in the tomb. Still other yet newer rising stars entirely reject New Testament authenticity, arguing that the man Jesus never existed. They advance a more radical theory that Jesus was an entirely mythical figure, led by atheists like Dr. Richard Carrier and Dr. Robert M. Price, called “mythicists”.

 Theologians Fight Back.

 Debates and lively discussions abound in YouTube video recordings, between skeptics like Ehrman, and the radical mythicists. These debates often take place at university seminary schools, gathering large audiences and strong emotions from participants and audience. On the traditional side, respected theologians like Dr. William Lane Craig defend the two-thousand-year-old Church message of an inerrant biblical accuracy while acknowledging some elements are allegory. Yet, the centerpiece of theologians is invariably the incredible Resurrection miracle most disputed by historians and mythicists.

 

Metaphysics the Missing Element

 

This diverse assemblage of bible scholars and historians all demonstrate a deep knowledge and understanding of their discipline, yet none can agree on the simple question of what the most impacting person in our two-thousand-year-old history said and taught, or even whether he existed at all. Theologians, mythicists, and those in-between, have one common limitation: none has a developed understanding of metaphysics as a discipline. This inner realm of the mind, metaphysics, was banned, called “heretical” and of the devil by ancient and contemporary Christian authorities. The bible is a metaphysical book however, and cannot be comprehensively understood without engaging in such metaphysical exploration.

 

Metaphysics, by definition, transcends the boundaries of the history of this world, reaching deep into the imagination for comprehending the very nature of reality. Stories and events serve no purpose but to expand the mind and bring clarity to our life purpose and the beyond. The mystic will transcend the lived or imagined narrative, coming to understanding of the very nature of thought: what it represents and how it should be used. Whether a story is lived or imagined -- like when the reader engulfs himself in a good novel – it’s impact on readers may be the same. One such example is the popular children’s story of the goose that laid the golden egg. No one will stand up, point a finger, and bellow out: “The story isn’t true!” The story is fiction, yet delivers an important lesson about greed. In the realm of metaphysics which crosses into dream state realities, any story could be true, because in a dream anything can be true, and, metaphysically speaking, this world too is a dream.

 

Christianity, absent the fabric of biblical metaphysics, relies on among other things, a scanty historical record and faith. First Corinthians 15:14 exemplifies this: “… if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”  If the resurrection really happened then Christianity reigns triumphant, otherwise it “is useless” as Paul says in the sacred text. Metaphysically, the historical facts are second to a conveyed truth.

 

A Curious Biblical Warning

 Several of the gospels offer what could be construed as suggesting cautiousness in believing what biblical authorities tell us:  Jesus said: “… the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They did not go in, and those who wished to go in they did not allow.” (Gospel of Thomas Saying 39, and similarly in Luke 11:52, Matthew 23:13). Jesus is criticizing the Jewish authorities but it’s not a stretch to apply the message to scholars of our time.

 Conclusion

 The divergent and divisive views of each of the three sides, the theologians, Christian historians, and mythicists, create a crisis of confidence in the Christian faith. By adopting the metaphysical approach, theologians see the resurrection is allegory, a story told for understanding the eternal validity of the self. Historians will find depth and meaning in incredible tales that may or not be the historical record. Mythicists will find truth in stories that may be entirely myth. And the crisis is resolved.

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Comment by Arthur Telling on May 17, 2018 at 12:17pm

OM-

It doesn't appear you will be publishing this article so I will intend to post it to my Facebook page (if otherwise, please let me know, thanks).

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