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Historic basis of Christianity imperative, scholar declares

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Today’s society wrongly views the story of Jesus as a non-historical myth, said Steven Evans, president of the Society of Christian Philosophers.
Salvation, however, “is not merely psychological self-help,” Evans, professor of philosophy and dean for research and scholarship at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., said March 3 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
Using Peter’s declaration that he was an eyewitness to the gospel events as recorded in 2 Peter 1:16, Evans said the gospel is based on historical fact and cannot be separated from history.
“Salvation is not simply a matter of coming to know certain truths about ourselves; it is a matter of coming into a real relationship with Jesus Christ,” Evans said in chapel. “That real relationship is made possible by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”
Evans gave four reasons why culture embraces the view of Jesus as a myth: It presupposes an optimistic view of human nature; humans become the authority; the story becomes about mankind; and it avoids exclusive claims about the gospel.
Evans cited the Jesus Seminar as an example of those who declare the gospels were created largely by the church for the church’s own purposes and who deny the gospels’ historical trustworthiness.
“The critics of the gospels fall into two categories: the demythologizers and the remythologizers,” Evans explained. Demthologizers believe the earliest followers of Jesus were concerned with his teachings, but not his death and resurrection. Remythologizers say the gospel is a myth, but that is OK because myths are what give life meaning. “They say all great world religions are based on myth, and when interpreted correctly, they all turn out to have the same basic story and meaning.
“Against all such thinking, Peter declares in the text, ‘This stuff really happened!’” Evans declared.
“It really matters that the gospel is historical,” he said. “If the history didn’t happen, then the atonement didn’t happen, and if we need an atonement, then we need the history.”

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  • Kyle Roberts