Biased Sources

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Easter

“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)

Ah, say some, the problem with the New Testament is that it is written by biased authors! Why should we believe anything written by someone who is partisan? The New Testament should not be seen as a series of historical documents, but rather we should view them as articles of faith. We shouldn’t pay attention to them.

At first glance this might make sense, until we realise that everyone is biased. If an atheist makes a claim against Christianity, then he or she is biased too. If we were to rule out the views of anyone who had a bias then the whole task of history would be impossible. Where would you start?!

As an example, consider a court case. There, one one side, the barrister handling the prosecution. On the other side of the court room is the barrister for the defence. Both are biased, but that doesn’t invalidate the evidence which they produce to the judge. Facts, in the end, are facts. From whoever’s lips they fall.

As with some of the other theories, the objection that we should not believe in the resurrection as the authors of the New Testament were biased fails to deal adequately with the fact that they were willing to die for this ‘bias’. It doesn’t account for the empty tomb. No, this ‘bias’ is no reason not to listen. We are all, in the end, biased.

Work of Fiction

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back (Mark 16:1-4) - The early spread of Christianity amongst those who witnessed the events, and were willing to be martyred for their faith, undermines the fiction theory.

No Way to Prove

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) - The final of the ten objections to the resurrection we have been considering over the past couple of weeks is a simple one. It’s the assertion that there’s simply no way to prove all this, and that miracles simply don’t happen. Miracles are not possible which, of course, is what makes them miracles in the first place! It is the very fact that they jar against the natural order which attracts attention, and then points that attention beyond natural causes.

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