1. Illinois
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    29 Dec '07 22:47
    The case for trust in scripture:

    (1) If the Gospels lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? If it was Jesus' apostles, what did they get out of the lie? Martyrdom -- hardly an attractive temptation. A liar always has some selfish motive.

    (2) Why did thousands suffer torture and death for this lie if they knew it was a lie? The enemies of Christianity would have needed only one recanting from one of Jesus' disciples in order to destroy the upstart religion. They used many forms of torture and bribery and never succeeded.

    (3) What force sent Christians to the lion's den with hymns on their lips? What lie ever transformed the world like that? What lie ever gave millions a moral fortitude and peace and joy like that? Christianity conquered the world mainly through the force of sanctity and love. Saints, not theologians, converted the world. You can fake theology, but you cannot fake sanctity. Saints are not liars and liars are not saints.

    (4) If it was not a deliberate lie but a hallucination or a myth sincerely mistaken for literal truth, then who were the naive fools who first believed it? There isn't another idea a Jew would be less likely to believe. Imagine this: the transcendent God who for millenia had strictly forbidden his chosen people to confuse him with a creature as the pagans did -- this Creator-God became a creature, a man -- a crucified criminal. Hardly a myth that naturally arises in the Jewish mind.

    (5) And if it was not the Jews but the Gentiles who started the myth, where did the myth come from in the New Testament? Of the twenty-seven books of the NT, twenty-five were written by Jews.

    (6) Whether Jews or Gentiles started the myth, they could not have done so during the lifetime of those who knew the real Jesus, for it would have been publicly refuted by eyewitnesses who knew the facts. Other religious founders, like Buddha and Muhammad, were indeed "divinized" by later myths, but at least two or three generations had to pass before such myths could be believed. But the "myth" of Jesus' divinity goes back to the very earliest times and documents.

    (7) Why has the "myth" continued to attract the brightest minds in history? Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, Luther, Kepler, Dante, da Vinci, Descartes, Pascal, Copernicus, Newton, Kierkegaard, Galileo, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, T. S. Eliot, etc.

    Aquinas argued that if the Incarnation did not really happen, then an even more unbelievable miracle happened: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselfishness, detachment from worldly pleasures and radically new heights of holiness by a mere myth.

    (8) If Jesus is not God, as Christians say he is, then who is he? If any answer to that question had even a specious staying power, it would have served as a mainstay of all unbelievers' arguments for all time. But hypothesis after weak hypothesis is tried and falls to the wayside. Indeed it is difficult to refute the data of history: there was a good and wise man who claimed to be God.

    (9) If the same neutral, objective, scientific approach is used on the NT tests as is used on all other ancient documents, then texts prove remarkably reliable.

    (10) The state of the manuscript is very good. Compared with any and all other ancient documents, the NT stands up as ten times more sure. For instance, we have 500 different copies earlier than A. D. 500. The next most reliable ancient text we have is the Iliad, for which we have only 50 copies that date from 500 years or less after its origin. Apparently we have only one very late manuscript of Tacitus's Annals, but no one is reluctant to treat that as authentic history. If the books of the NT did not contain accounts of miracles or make radical, uncomfortable claims on our lives, they would be accepted by every scholar in the world. In other words, it is not objective, neutral science but subjective prejudice or ideology that fuels skeptical scripture scholarship.

    The manuscripts that we have, in addition to being old, are also mutually reinforcing and consistent. There are very few discrepancies and no really important ones. And all later discoveries of manuscripts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, have confirmed rather than refuted previously existing manuscripts in every important sense. There is simply no other ancient text in nearly as good a shape.

    (11) There is no evidence at all of anyone ever opposing the so-called myth of the divine Jesus, who rose from the dead, in the name of an earlier merely human Jesus. Again, no competent scholar today denies the first-century dating of virtually all of the NT -- certainly Paul's letters, which clearly affirm and presuppose Jesus' divinity and the fact that this doctrine was already universal Christian orthodoxy.

    (12) If a mythic "layer" had been added later onto an originally merely human Jesus, we should find some evidence, at least indirectly and secondhand, of this earlier layer. We find instead an absolute and total absence of any such evidence anywhere, either internal (in the NT texts themselves) or external, anywhere else, in Christian, anti-Christian, or non-Christian sources.

    (13) The style of the Gospels is not the style of myth, but that of real, though unscientific, eyewitness description. They are full of little details, both of external observation and internal feelings that are found only in eyewitness descriptions. The Gospels also include dozens of little details of life in first-century Israel that could not have been known by someone not living in that time and place. And there are no second-century anachronisms, either in language or content.

    (14) The claim of Jesus to be God makes sense of his trial and crucifixion. The Jewish sensitivity to blasphemy was unique; no one else would so fanatically insist on death as punishment for claiming divinity.

    (15) There are four Gospels, not just one. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by four different writers, at four different times, probably for four different audiences and for four somewhat different purposes and emphases. So a lot of cross-checking is possible. By comparing the four Gospels we can fix the facts with far greater assurance here than with any other ancient personage or series of events. The only inconsistencies are in chronology and accidentals like numbers.

    (16) Again, if the divine Jesus of the Gospels is a myth, who invented it? Whether it was his first disciples or some later generation, no possible motive can account for this invention. Christians were subject to persecution, often tortured and martyred, and hated and oppressed for their beliefs. No one invents an elaborate practical joke in order to be crucified, stoned or beheaded. And if they didn't know they would be persecuted for their "myth," they would certainly give it up as soon as they were. Yet no one ever confessed that they made it all up -- even when martyred.

    (17) If a person would read the Gospels with an open mind and heart, he or she may well conclude, along with Dostoyevsky and Kierkegaard, that no mere man could possibly have invented this story.

    (18) Regarding Christ himself and his trustworthiness, I trust him because his teachings are good and wise.

    (19) Quintilemma -- Christ: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, Myth, or Guru?

    Jesus couldn't be a liar because:

    (a) He has the wrong psychological profile. He was unselfish, loving, caring, compassionate, and passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

    (b) There is no conceivable motive for his lie. It brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

    (c) He could not have hoped that his "lie" would be successful, for the Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshiped a man, and Jesus, as a Jew, would have known that. In fact, we see him at every step of his life's way fully knowing and predicting his own execution, and claiming that he came to earth precisely for that reason: to suffer and die.

    Why Jesus or his apostles couldn't be lunatics:

    (a) The psychological profiles are opposite. The lunatic lacks the very qualities that shine in Jesus: practical wisdom, tough love, and unpredictable creativity.

    (b) When we meet a lunatic, we are uncomfortable because we feel superior to him; when his enemies met Jesus, they were uncomfortable for the opposite reason. A lunatic does not make you feel personally challenged, only embarrassed and, eventually, bored. But Jesus made everyone feel challenged and uncomfortable, never bored.

    (c) The writers of the Gospels certainly were not lunatics. If they invented their Jesus, they invented the most compelling fictional character in history. No lunatic could have invented a single chapter of the Gospels, much less all of it.

    (d) Nor could lunacy have changed so many lives for the better for so many centuries. Consider the enormity of the lunacy of confusing a man with God, then consider the enormity of the change wrought in millions of lives by this "lunacy," and you will see the size of the camel you have to swallow to avoid swallowing the gnat of faith.

    (e) Whoever was first "deceived," what accounts for the deception? It is hard to account for the origin of the lunacy as to account for the origin and motivation of the "lie."
  2. Illinois
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    29 Dec '07 22:48
    Why Christ meant his claims to be interpreted literally, rather than in a mystical way, i.e., why Christ was not a guru:

    (a) Judaism is an exoteric religion of collective observance of a public law and belief in a public book. But the gurus and mystics of all cultures teach an esoteric, individual, inner experience that cannot be communicated in words. For example, when Jesus was on trial and under oath, questioned by the high priest he said: "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said" (John 18:20-21). That is not what a guru says; that is what a rabbi says.

    (b) The Eastern mystics or gurus believe in a pantheistic, immanent God. For them, "enlightenment" consists in the realization that we and everything else are all, ultimately, God. Judaism's distinctive doctrine of God is that God is distinct from the world. He created it out of nothing. There is an infinite gap between Creator and creature. The belief in the transcendence of God clearly distinguishes Judaism from the mystical religions, and Jesus from the gurus.

    (c) For Jews, God is a person. The supreme revelation of God was to Moses in the burning bush when he told Moses his own true eternal name: "I AM." For Jews "I" is the name of Ultimate Reality -- God. for the gurus, "I" is the name of ultimate illusion. Individuality, personality, selfhood is the supreme illusion which must be seen through and dispelled if we are to attain the supreme truth of enlightenment.

    (d) For the mystics, time and history are also ultimately unreal, illusory, projections of unenlightened consciousness. Enlightenment consists of emancipation from time. But for the Jews, time and matter are real because God created them. For Judaism, God is known and loved and lived within time. Judaism is a historical religion.

    (e) Mystics believe God is unknowable, except wordlessly in mystical experience. Jews believe God made himself known publicly in deeds and words, divinely inspired writings.

    (f) For the Jews, God is the active initiator. That is why he is always imaged as male -- as king, husband, warrior. Religion is not a search for God but Gods search for us. For the Eastern mystics, God is passive. We find him, not he us.

    (g) The Jewish God is a moralist. He himself is moral, righteous, holy; and his command to us is: "Be holy, for I am holy." He gives commandments. He has a will. He discriminates. He hates evil and loves good. The pantheistic God of the gurus has no will, no law, no preferences. He is totally nondiscriminating.

    (h) Perhaps the major reason why Eastern religions are so popular among modern ex-Jews and ex-Christians is that they have no hell. There may be temporary purgatories, but everyone automatically gets to heaven eventually. The God of the gurus does not judge or punish sin. There is no sin, no separation from God, for God is the All. Biblical and orthodox Judaism, like Christianity, teaches an eternal, ultimate justice and judgment. Not everyone is automatically guaranteed salvation.

    To review:

    I. Jesus claimed divinity
    _____A. He meant it literally
    __________1. It is true, therefore he is Lord
    __________2. It is false
    _______________a. He knew it was false, therefore he was a Liar
    _______________b. He didn't know it was false, therefore he was a Lunatic
    _____B. He meant it nonliterally, mystically, therefore he was a Guru
    II. Jesus never claimed divinity, therefore he is a Myth.

    The above argumentation has shown the inherent flaws of the last four options. Only one option remains: Jesus is Lord.

    (20) Reasons the Christian alternative explanation of the data has not been refuted:

    (a) It is intrinsically possible.

    (b) It is probable. God could well have done this. A good, wise, clever, loving God might well do just what the Gospels say he did in Christ: become human and die to save us.

    (c) It works. It has enlightened and transformed lives. It has created saints who lived and died for this "lie" or "lunacy" or "myth." It has been believed by the wise, lived by the holy and longed for by the skeptical. Even Freud saw it as wishful thinking, as fairy tale, that is, as desirable, as too good to be true. As Tolkien put it, "there has never been a tale which more men wished was true."

    (d) It gives the greatest hope and meaning and purpose ever proposed to human life. We are to become saints here and little Christs hereafter. What a destiny!

    (e) It is the only rational, honest alternative. Data and argument compel us to it.

    (21) Why many people are not compelled by the Christian alternative explanation of the data:

    (a) Not for rational reasons. No reason has ever been brought forth against Christianity which has not been refuted. The vast majority of those who disbelieve in Christ's divinity disbelieve for other reasons, not because they have confronted the arguments.

    (b) Often, the thing hated and rejected is not Christ but Christians.

    (c) Often, it is fear of the church and its teachings and authority that scares people away. The church is a concrete, visible, present institution that makes demands on our intellect to believe and on our will to practice a whole way of life that conflicts with our natural inclinations. Exactly like Jesus, who did the very same thing. The church doesn't wield a club, but it does wave a cross.

    (d) The reluctance is usually moral. To admit that Jesus is divine is to admit his absolute authority over your life, including your private life. The old self in us is no fool. It sees Christ comes to kill it. It knows Christianity is not a harmless theory, but something alive and dangerous.

    (e) Some people are afraid of the supernatural because it is mysterious and uncontrollable.

    (f) There may also be simple pride, refusal to loose control of the reins of our lives.

    (g) It is also not intellectually fashionable to believe in Christ as anything more than a human teacher.

    -- Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics
  3. Illinois
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    29 Dec '07 22:50
    Feel free to comment and point out any inconsistencies or loopholes... Happy hunting!
  4. Joined
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    29 Dec '07 23:07
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Feel free to comment and point out any inconsistencies or loopholes... Happy hunting!
    Very refreshing! I think I'll leave this forum to you. You just said everything I wish I knew how to say but can't.
    I can't wait to read the replies.
  5. Illinois
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    29 Dec '07 23:361 edit
    Originally posted by josephw
    Very refreshing! I think I'll leave this forum to you. You just said everything I wish I knew how to say but can't.
    I can't wait to read the replies.
    These are not my words (most of them anyway), but I agree, it is refreshing and the replies should be quite interesting.

    EDIT: Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    30 Dec '07 00:044 edits
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Why Christ meant his claims to be interpreted literally, rather than in a mystical way, i.e., why Christ was not a guru:

    (a) Judaism is an exoteric religion of collective observance of a public law and belief in a public book. But the gurus and mystics of all cultures teach an esoteric, individual, inner experience that cannot be communicated in words ter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics
    Okay, while I’m still here, I’m just going to make some comments on this portion, and then let you guys carry on (while I read along)—

    (a) Judaism is an exoteric religion of collective observance of a public law and belief in a public book.

    This is not entirely correct, and ignores the entire Oral Torah, whose beginnings pre-date Jesus (probably by at least a couple of centuries; thereafter it gets lost in the mists of time and tradition), and are part-and-parcel of rabbinical Judaism. It also seems to rest heavily on what one means by that word “belief”. Biblical literalism/historicism has little place in Judaism, now or in the first century C.E. ("Midrash", you know? Judaism as a fundamentally hermeneutical religion?)

    (b) . . . Judaism's distinctive doctrine of God is that God is distinct from the world. He created it out of nothing. There is an infinite gap between Creator and creature. The belief in the transcendence of God clearly distinguishes Judaism from the mystical religions, and Jesus from the gurus.

    Again, this is not entirely correct. The question a transcendence and immanence is much more complex and knotty in Judaism. And creatio ex nihilo is not a Jewish concept.

    (c) For Jews, God is a person. . . .

    Ditto.

    . . . for the gurus, "I" is the name of ultimate illusion. Individuality, personality, selfhood is the supreme illusion which must be seen through and dispelled if we are to attain the supreme truth of enlightenment.

    (d) For the mystics, time and history are also ultimately unreal, illusory, projections of unenlightened consciousness. Enlightenment consists of emancipation from time. . .


    Epi, I don’t know how much your guys have studied the non-dualistic religions, but this shows a pretty blatant misunderstanding—especially of “illusion” as it is generally used in those systems. How much epistemic authority you grant me on this subject aside ( 😉 ), you have read enough of my stuff (and No.1 Marauder’s, for that matter) to fill in the gaps.

    With regard to (d)— The key here may be in that phrase “ultimately unreal”—from the Vedantist/Buddhist/Taoist perspective, what that means is “ultimately transient.”

    Now, from a Christian perspective, once you attain eternal life, are there going to be any calendars? In eternity, will there be, in that state, any sense of the flux of time? In fact, in the eschaton does not history itself come to an end? In other words, I not only think your guys misunderstand the non-dualist systems, they may well be drawing too sharp a line in terms of Christianity.

    (e) Mystics believe God is unknowable, except wordlessly in mystical experience. Jews believe God made himself known publicly in deeds and words, divinely inspired writings.

    I really begin to conclude that these guys don’t know first-all about Judaism. What they know are their own conclusions about Judaism from reading the “Old Testament” through Christian lenses. I spent several years immersed in mystical Judaism, and for a couple of years on here almost all of my posting came out of that paradigm (before your time, Epi, though some on here undoubtedly remember).

    These guys should just explicate their understanding of Christian theism, and not try to compare it to systems of which they have minimal (or worse, thoroughly prejudicial) understanding. To be frank, if these guys actually understand rabbinical Judaism or Advaita Vedanta, for example, then they are quite frankly just willing to mis-represent those systems to their own advantage.

    (h) Perhaps the major reason why Eastern religions are so popular among modern ex-Jews and ex-Christians is that they have no hell.

    This, of course, is just a resort to the kind of crass accusation of (ulterior) pragmatic motivation that both you and bbarr are trying to circumvent here. “Hey, you’re just a Buddhist ‘cause you don’t like hell.” (There are a few others as well, e.g., "The reluctance is usually moral...". )

    Let me just re-emphasize what I think of such pseudo-arguments: crass.

    ________________________________________

    Bottom line: these guys may well have some authority to speak about (at least their understanding) of Christianity. Anything they say about Judaism or Buddhism, say, ought to be taken with a large dose of (purgative) salt.
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    30 Dec '07 00:29
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    These are not my words (most of them anyway), but I agree, it is refreshing and the replies should be quite interesting.

    EDIT: Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics
    Another good book I recommend:

    Dethroning Jesus - Exposing Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ by Darrell Bock & Daniel Wallace. Published by Thomas Nelson
  8. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    30 Dec '07 00:47
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    The case for trust in scripture:

    (1) If the Gospels lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? If it was Jesus' apostles, what did they get out of the lie? Martyrdom -- hardly an attractive temptation. A liar always has some selfish motive.

    (2) Why did thousands suffer torture and death for this lie if they knew it was a lie? The enemies of Chr ...[text shortened]... lunacy as to account for the origin and motivation of the "lie."
    (1) is a good argument. I myself do not think that they were a lie any more than people are lying when they claim to see leprechauns, Nessie and flying saucers today.

    (2) assumes intentional lying, and assumes everyone who was told the lie and believed it was actually in on the lie. This number has no argument of any worth.

    (3) "Force"? I don't know what you're referring to, but you don't need the supernatural to get people to go to a lion's den. You just need to tell them that they go to Heaven after they die. They don't actually have to go to Heaven...they just need to think they will. This number is mostly simply emotional gushing from your extremely biased perspective. However Christianity does emphasize love (among other things), which is nice.

    (4) - Finally, you're off the "liars" idea. I'll continue in another post.
  9. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    Didn't realize it was a copy paste. I'm not going to analyze all that.
  10. Donationkirksey957
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    30 Dec '07 01:18
    Eppi, what is the closest metaphor you can name for Christ?
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    30 Dec '07 07:483 edits
    ThousandYoung,


    ===========================
    (1) is a good argument. I myself do not think that they were a lie any more than people are lying when they claim to see leprechauns,
    ==============================


    I would like to compare one of your historical testimonials about the seeing of leprechauns to the New Testament.

    Could you indicate what document of roughly two millennia in age I could consult which concerns over four people claiming to have seen leprechauns? That would preferably be the same leprechaun.


    I would like to compare the style and composition of this document to that of the New Testament.

    Thanks
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    30 Dec '07 07:591 edit
    ThousandYoung,


    ================================
    (1) is a good argument. I myself do not think that they were a lie any more than people are lying when they claim to see leprechauns, Nessie and flying saucers today.
    ============================


    Is there a document you know of which is composed of four or five people having seen the same flying saurcer ? I would like to compare this document to the New Testament.

    I don't mean umpteen different people having experiences with umpteen different flying saucers. There must be a consensus as there is with the witnesses of the resurrected of Christ: (Matthew, John, Mark, Paul included).

    Where can you point me to a document of a collaboration of multiple witnesses claiming to have seen the same flying saucer, say, roughly over a period of about three and a half years?


    What is the name of the document?

    How old is it?

    How many translations has it been translated into?
  13. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    30 Dec '07 08:14
    Originally posted by jaywill
    ThousandYoung,


    [b]================================
    (1) is a good argument. I myself do not think that they were a lie any more than people are lying when they claim to see leprechauns, Nessie and flying saucers today.
    ============================


    Is there a document you know of which is composed of four or five people having seen the same ...[text shortened]... name of the document?

    How old is it?

    How many translations has it been translated into?[/b]
    There is no such consensus. The Gospels are mutually inconsistent.
  14. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    30 Dec '07 08:15
    Originally posted by jaywill
    ThousandYoung,


    [b]===========================
    (1) is a good argument. I myself do not think that they were a lie any more than people are lying when they claim to see leprechauns,
    ==============================


    I would like to compare one of your historical testimonials about the seeing of leprechauns to the New Testament.

    Could you indica ...[text shortened]... e to compare the style and composition of this document to that of the New Testament.

    Thanks[/b]
    Do you have a point?
  15. Cape Town
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    30 Dec '07 08:231 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    The case for trust in scripture:

    (1) If the Gospels lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? If it was Jesus' apostles, what did they get out of the lie? Martyrdom -- hardly an attractive temptation. A liar always has some selfish motive.
    If your first point is so fundamentally flawed I wont go much further than that. It is a common claim but even the most basic analysis shows that it is flawed to its core. In fact it is so easy to see the flaws that one can almost claim the the writer of (1) is a liar.

    a. There are differences between the gospels lying, the writers of the gospels lying (through the gospels), the gospels being wrong, the gospels being misinterpreted by people today, the writers of the gospels never intending their works to be accurate etc etc. Your point (1) assumes all the above to be equivalent.

    b. Martyrdom is often a selfish act especially amongst theists. Martyrdom is often very attractive to those who believe in a reward for the act. Most of the Christian martyrs in question were killed for maintaining their beliefs something they probably did for entirely selfish reasons (fear of hell).

    c. The writers of the gospels lying is not equivalent to them not believing in Christianity. It is quite clear to any reasonable person that the writers made up or modified parts of the gospels in order to put forward a theological point. For them to go on to martyrdom is expected.

    d. Claim (1) would logically lead to complete trust in every snippet of writing by every martyr past and present (Muslims included) an obviously stupid claim.

    e. The Gospels were written by different people (and in some cases added to at a later date) and we actually do not know whether any of the writers were martyred. Even if we did know about one or two of the writers martyrdom it would be an error to extend any conclusions to all of them.
    Also as they clearly coppied from each other it would be essential to know about the martyrdom of whoever put down the initial 'root lie'.

    f. None of the gospel writers were witness to the events in question and thus could easily be reporting on other peoples lies, people we know nothing whatsoever about.
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