In the late 20th century and early 21st century, a new band of atheists have cropped up. In many cases they claim their affinity for Christianity or even claim to be Christians but reject 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy except a verse or two on judging.
The basic test of Christianity is whether you believe in the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you answer no, you are not a Christian even if you claim to be one. A great example is John Shelby Spong who has declared “theism” dead and declared it silly to try to understand Jesus. He believes the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Christ to be mythology.
In fact, like Spong, many atheists claim that if you will just read certain books by certain learned men who have devoted their lives to rejecting the Bible, you, too, will reject the Bible. They rearrange history and deny the past. Take, for example, claims that there were no eye witnesses to the resurrection. To believe this, we must reject John’s Gospel. To reject John’s Gospel, we have to reject Ignatius, Polycarp and Clement, three men who knew John. The first two were students of John. They all attested to his witness. We must also reject Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp and Ignatius and attested to their attestation.
Likewise, Clement attested to Peter’s authority and it was common knowledge within 50 years of Christ’s resurrection that the Gospel of Mark was Peter’s account of Christ’s life. John, the last Apostle to die, penned his Gospel last, but there was no dispute — even within 10 years of its authorship — that it had been written by Jesus’ friend John, an eyewitness to the Resurrection. John not only witnessed the Resurrection, but also witnessed the physical Jesus, once resurrected, eating fish and building a fire. Then there are Jude and James, who penned books of the Bible and were Jesus’ half-brothers. They rejected him in life, but went to their deaths declaring him the physically risen, living Lord.
There are certainly many overly educated atheists masquerading as Christians who will tell you this is not so. They have to rearrange chronologies, reject the statements of various men who penned their own letters, and argue that if only you will read certain words in ways no one else has ever read them, you too will see the physical resurrection of Jesus is a myth.
If these atheists spent half as much time accepting the testimony and witness of those who saw and those who knew those who saw instead of trying to turn it all on its head so they can boast how much more they know than the hicks and rubes who believe such things, they too might believe.
Instead, they would rather tell us all that what 2,000 years and several billion people know to be true is all wrong and we should rely on them. But they forget one thing. It is by faith we believe and by faith we live. They can argue these things because they have no real relationship with the real, living God. In fact, it may be their jealousy that they lack this relationship that compels them to spend so much energy telling you that what you know is not so.
Once you have had a meaningful encounter with Jesus, you know he lives. You also know the emptiness of those who reject him because you remember your life before he found you.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.