Editor’s note: Chuck Norris’ weekly political column debuts each Monday in WND and is then syndicated by Creators News Service for publication elsewhere. His column in WND often runs hundreds of words longer than the subsequent release to other media. This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1 here.
Last week in Part 1, I cited Yale Law School-educated, Chicago Tribune investigative journalist and once-atheist Lee Strobel in his excellent little book, “The Case for Christmas,” which is full of big evidence for the rationale or reason in the reason in the season.
In Part 1, I gave snapshots from scholars he interviewed in answering two of four critical questions to decipher fact from fantasy in the Christmas story:
- Can the biographies of Jesus (in the Bible) be trusted?
- Does archaeology confirm or contradict Jesus’ biographies?
- Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?
- Did Jesus match the identity of the Messiah?
Let me here convey snapshots of how scholars answered his latter two questions.
Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?
For this question, Strobel interviewed an author and editor of 40 books, Dr. D.A. Carson, research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Dr .Carson explained profile evidence from Christ’s deity and incarnation to his atonement and miracles, with his resurrection being “the ultimate vindication of his identity.” Dr. Carson noted how Christ repeatedly attributed to himself qualities or attributes reserved only for God, especially the act of being able to forgive sin. He wasn’t merely claiming to be a good moral man or teacher, but the Son of God – the very essence of God in human flesh. To differ with that claim is not merely to disagree with mainstream scholarship consensus, but Jesus himself.
From his miracles to acts of mercy, Jesus stands on a shelf all alone, set apart as one of the most influential – if not the most influential – life ever lived in Western civilization. His influence has shaped art, literature, architecture, governments, culture, countries and even our very calendar (B.C. for “Before Christ” and A.D. for the Latin, Anno Domini – “In the year of our Lord”). And he continues to change the hearts and minds of millions of his followers who are called Christians, including my wife, Gena, and me.
Did Jesus match the identity of the Messiah?
To understand if Jesus was the awaited Messiah expected by Judaism, Strobel turned to someone who was raised in a Jewish home, attended a Jewish synagogue and personally wrestled through the claims of Christ. Louis Lapides earned two master’s degrees in Old Testament and semitics from Talbot Theological Seminary and is the former president of a national network of 15 messianic congregations.
Early into Lapides’ inquiries into Jesus, he was startled to find aspects about his life and ministry that matched Old Testament verses foretelling the coming of One greater than Moses hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. Scholars call those messianic prophecies.
Though hundreds of such predictions exist in the Jewish Scriptures, Lapides was stunned by how Jesus fulfilled more than four dozen major predictions. They included things one couldn’t fabricate or orchestrate, such as a virgin birth in Bethlehem, originating from the lineage of the tribe of Judah – the house of David, performing many miracles, being betrayed, killed by piercing in the hands and feet (despite that crucifixion wasn’t a form of death penalty at the time), and whose body would see no decay (resurrection), etc.
Strobel’s notes that, “As Lapides progressed through the Scriptures, he was stopped cold by Isaiah 53″ about God’s suffering servant. He added, “Instantly Lapides recognized the portrait: this was Jesus of Nazareth!”
Lapides went on to explain that the odds of just eight messianic prophecies being fulfilled in Jesus were astronomical. Strobel concurred, recollecting his own research as an atheist when he discovered the same statistical analysis by mathematician Peter W. Stoner, who “estimated that the probability of fulfilling forty-eight prophecies was one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion!”
It’s no surprise that C.S. Lewis, the great Oxford scholar, writer of the “Narnia” series, and he who was also once an avid atheist, wrote in his now timeless classic “Mere Christianity”: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
And for those who might think religious belief is obsolete in our modern era, C.S. Lewis also had a good word and reminder: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
As you turn into a new year, remember that there are no greater resolutions we can make than spiritual ones. If you have questions about how to take the steps to peace with God, please go online to PeaceWithGod.org.
And if you want to read more about Christmas evidence, I encourage you to start by picking up Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christmas,” or you can watch Strobel himself detail the proofs in a CCN public speech he gave posted here on YouTube.
From my wife, Gena, and me, we wish you the happiest of New Years and the greatest of life’s blessings in 2014!