This month I want to share with you a revolution that is taking place among secular scholars. There is evidence that within 24 months of the resurrection, creedal statements in Paul’s letters show 12 historical facts Christians taught about Jesus.
For the past century, secular historians have often disputed the early beliefs of Christianity. Some have argued the resurrection and deity of Jesus were teachings developed long after the events. But what did the first Christians really believe?
Now a revolution is taking place in New Testament studies. The writings accepted by critics as the letters of Paul show evidence of quoting from even earlier written statements known as early Christian creeds. This information provides evidence of written beliefs regarding the death, deity, and resurrection of Jesus prior to Paul’s conversion, within two years of the resurrection!
Scholars look at the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 where he is delivering what is called an early creedal or confessional testimony. The consensus position among scholars today is that Paul received this creed by the time he believed in Jesus two years after the resurrection, or possibly about five years after Jesus’ resurrection when he met Peter and James in Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 notes:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”
Scholars today believe that the words in these verses were pre-Pauline and were written before Paul was converted. In other words, this information was already known and passed around by Christians sometime after Jesus rose from the dead at 30 A.D. and before the time Jesus appeared to Paul and on the road to Damascus at 32 A.D. Do secular scholars really believe this? The answer is yes!
To discuss these amazing findings, I’ve invited Dr. Gary Habermas, the world’s foremost expert on the resurrection of Jesus, to document the discoveries supporting these views. These beliefs are not rooted in legend, but on rather eyewitness tradition passed on from Jesus and His earliest followers.
The information in these programs is vital for anyone seeking evidence to support the accuracy of the gospel message. Let me give you a few examples of the changes taking place in the academic world.
Professor John Kloppenburg is a member of the Jesus Seminar, a group that rejects 80 to 90 percent of the red-letter words of Jesus. Yet he believes that what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 is a pre-Pauline creed.
You ask, how do secular scholars define what it means for a creed to be pre-Pauline? Bart Ehrman is an atheist who is the most well-known liberal New Testament scholar in America. He has written and edited over 30 popular and academic books.
He says, “Pre-Pauline refers to the time between when Jesus dies at 30 A.D. and the time when Paul becomes a believer at 32 A.D. Pre-Pauline is what was already in existence when Paul said yes to Jesus.”
James D.G. Dunn is one of the world’s top New Testament scholars and received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. He taught at the University of Durham. Concerning 1 Corinthians 15:3- 7 he says, “This creed is months from the cross.”
Larry W. Hurtado is a New Testament scholar and historian of early Christianity who taught at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He says, “This creed was written and in circulation days after the resurrection.”
Bart Ehrman says, “I have no problem saying the early disciples thought they saw the risen Jesus. Why wouldn’t I affirm that? It’s a fact of history.”
E.P. Sanders calls himself a liberal and is retired from Duke University. He previously taught at Oxford. When he gives his list of accepted historical facts about Jesus, he notes that the disciples saw Jesus after his death. He adds, “I can’t exactly tell you what Jesus looked like, but they saw him.” That’s how far critical scholarship has come. And that’s what we’re going to show you this month on TV.
Is There Scientific Evidence for the Afterlife?
Is There Scientific Evidence for Life After Death? Numerous studies have now been performed to evaluate the accounts of people who have been pronounced clinically dead, after their doctors saw no heartbeat (no EKG) or brain activity (no EEG). Yet they later returned to life with amazing accounts of where they had been and what they had seen and heard. Some have seen and heard people five states away, but their material, physical bodies never left the room where the doctors pronounced them dead.
Such experiences compel scientists to ask, “Is there more to our lives than just our physical bodies?” If so, what is it? Is it soul or spirit? Is it proof that after our material bodies die we still continue to exist somewhere? If so, where do we go?
In our three-program series with Dr. Gary Habermas, he reveals stories and statistics that point to a spiritual realm. And since Jesus died and rose again, where does He say we will go? Do the 20 million Americans who have experienced some kind of out of body experience when clinically declared dead tell us something?
Our Resources This Month
This month, we are offering both exclusive new TV series on DVD and Blu-ray, plus our recent TV series with Dr. Habermas called “The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection.” In these five programs, Dr. Habermas explains why there are 12 historical facts about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that even most skeptical religious scholars believe. You can receive all three of these very important series, a total of 10 programs, for your gift this month of $99.
Audio Bible Update
Did you know more than 325,000 new people have been reached in audio Bible listening groups in the past three months through your gifts? That is more than 3,000 people each day receiving God’s Word in their own language. Thank you for your tremendous generosity!
Though we have concluded our television series with Morgan Jackson, it’s not too late for you to help. Your gifts for audio Bibles will continue to be matched this month, doubling your impact. Please see the enclosed card for details.
Recently a young man wrote:
“I am 18 years old, and I must say after I prayed to Jesus, I felt it was the most I have ever been connected EVER… I have watched the John Ankerberg Show when I was 9 or 10 years old, but when by grandpa died, it led me down a bad path where I had little faith.
“I believe Jesus led me back to this show and I am so THANKFUL! Thank you all so much for keeping this show alive and well. I will definitely watch more.”
With your help, we will continue to impact the life of this young man and many others. This month, I am praying God will work in your life in a special way, leading you to join with us to reach the unreached and help make disciples of all nations.