Christianity has been attacked on all sides ever since the first century. Some arguments have been better than others, but the claim that it has been made up is one of the weaker assaults. Let’s look at why it is nearly impossible to believe Christianity is nothing but a big lie.
First at the Tomb
In the gospel accounts, the women followers of Jesus are the first witnesses to his resurrection. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in the first century, women were viewed as untrustworthy and weren’t allowed to give eye witness testimony in court. If the gospel writers were fabricating their story to start a new religion, they never would have thought to make women the first witnesses at the empty tomb.
The gospel writers paint themselves in a terrible light. The entire time they are with Jesus, they don’t get it. Time and time again they are bewildered and are continually being rebuked. Not only do they not understand what Jesus is doing, they abandon their leader in his time of greatest need. They are complete cowards at the crucifixion and are slow to believe pretty much everything that Jesus had told them.
I don’t say this to insult the disciples (we wouldn’t have understood Jesus either at the time), but only to point out that they could have left that stuff out when writing things down. I wouldn’t want all of posterity to know my flaws and shortcomings, especially if I were trying to get people to follow my new religion.
Virgin births, healing diseases, walking on water, resurrections from the dead. Why make this stuff up? People in the first century knew how babies were made, that you sink in water and that people that die tend to stay dead. The disciples not only claimed that these things happened, but claim that if they didn’t happen, Christianity is untrue and is a gigantic waste of time.
Hard Sayings of Jesus
The gospel writers record Jesus saying some pretty harsh things. If Christianity was made up, why would these teachings be included? If me and my friends were trying to attract followers of our new made up religion, these teachings surely would not have made the cut. Here are just a few hard sayings of Jesus:
- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
- “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36
- “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19
“Hey everybody, come and follow this Jesus guy. Sure your family may turn against you, the world will hate you and he demands your loyalty over everybody you have ever loved. It may even cost you your life.”
Made up? I don’t think so.
More can be said of the implausibility of Christianity being completely made up. Anybody that makes this baseless claim has obviously never read the New Testament text or seriously considered these issues. There was certainly ways that the disciples could have been smarter about what they wrote. They could have been the heroes of the story. They could have become rich and famous if they had just tweaked the story and made it more digestible for the masses.
Instead, they were hated, marginalized and martyred for their teachings, just like Jesus said they would. They didn’t gain earthly riches or fame in their day by what they taught, but they were faithful to their Lord and Savior unto death. They wrote their accounts of Jesus to tell the world what they heard with their own ears and saw with their own eyes. They wrote them so we would come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and have life everlasting in him.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:30-31
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F. F. Bruce
Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace