Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospel Attributed to Mark?

The Gospel of Mark is a reliable account of the life and ministry of Jesus, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to this companion of Paul, Peter and Barnabas. Another slightly less ancient text called the Secret Gospel of Mark claims to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as reliable. But is this non-canonical text reliable? Was it really written by Mark? Remember that there are four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first attribute requires that any alleged eyewitness be present to see what he or she reports. The Secret Gospel of Mark was written too late in history to have been written by John Mark, and like other late non-canonical fabrications, this fraudulent text was rejected by the Christian community. In spite of this, the Secret Gospel of Mark contains nuggets of truth related to Jesus. It is a legendary and elaborate fabrication written by an author who was motivated to alter the history of Jesus to suit his own purposes. It is an alternative narrative fabricated from the foundational truths of the original Gospels. Much can be learned about the historic Jesus from this late lie:

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Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospel Attributed to John?

The Gospel of John is a reliable addition to the New Testament Canon, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to this disciple of Jesus. Another slightly less ancient text called the The Apocryphon of John claims to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as reliable. But is this non-canonical text reliable? Was it really written by John? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first characteristic requires that any alleged eyewitness be present to see what he or she reports. The Apocryphon of John was written too late in history to have been written by the Apostle John, and like other late non-canonical texts, this fraudulent document was rejected by early Christians who knew that it was unreliable. In spite of this, The Apocryphon of John contains nuggets of truth related to Jesus. It is a legendary and elaborate fabrication written by an author who was motivated to change the history of Jesus to suit his own purposes. It is an alternative narrative twisted from the truths offered in the original Gospels. Much can be learned about the historic Jesus from this late fabrication:
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When Teens Wish They Could “Unpost” (Interview with Jonathan McKee)

Have you ever regretted something you posted on social media? Don’t feel bad, 57% of Americans who use social media have posted something they regret afterwards. And that’s just adults. Now jump into the brain of a 10-year-old. Yes, a 10-year-old. Nielsen research labels age 10 the “mobile adoption sweet spot” because the average age a child receives a smartphone today is 10.3 years-old. How is a 10-year-old supposed to make wise decisions with social media like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook? (especially when COPPA—Child Online Privacy Protection Act—regulates that you have to be at least 13 to be on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook). Young people don’t think for more than 3 seconds before they hit SEND. Sadly, the pics they post, the rants they engage in… even the offhand comments they make… often have dire consequences. In law enforcement we deal with the fallout of these posts daily. If you’re familiar with our work here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, you know how important we think it is to equip and prepare the next generation of Christian Case Makers. Part of this mission is to help young Christians understand how to navigate social media and post wisely in an insecure world. To help do this, I thought I’d ask the guy who literally just wrote the book on it.

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Learning from Academics Who Left Mormonism

Most of my readers know my personal connection to Mormonism; I have six half-brothers and sisters who were raised in the Mormon faith. When I first become interested in Christianity, I investigated the claims of the gospels simultaneous to my investigation of the Book of Mormon. While the gospels passed the test I typically apply to eyewitnesses, the Book of Mormon did not. My journey led me to trust the Jesus of Christianity but reject the Jesus of Mormonism. As a result, I’m interested in the stories of others who have become similarly convinced Mormonism is evidentially false. That’s why a recent book, Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds, caught my attention. I had the chance to interview one of it’s authors, Corey Miller, to see what motivated him to write the book.

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Yes, We Can Make the Case for Christianity with Music

At the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, we often talk about the importance of worldview. Each of us, as Christians, ought to allow our Christian beliefs to shape the way we think about every aspect of life, including the way we consider notions of beauty and artistic expression. That’s why I was delighted to hear about a new concept album from Aryn Michelle, a Christian pop and alternative rock artist. Aryn just released a series of songs (in a collection called The Realist Thing) inspired by William Lane Craig’s book, Reasonable Faith. That’s right, an apologetics album of sorts, walking through “several philosophical arguments for the existence of God and the primary evidences for Jesus Christ as his son.” Sounds interesting, right? Aryn agreed to let me interview her about this groundbreaking effort:

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How Could John, a Poor, Uneducated Fisherman, Write the Gospel of John?

A fellow Christian Case Maker I met at Frank Turek’s CrossExamined Academy is teaching a church group about the reliability of the New Testament. A question was raised about the Apostle John: “How could John, an uneducated fisherman, have written such a literate and theologically rich gospel account?” After all, John was just a fisherman; was he educated enough to accomplish something this sophisticated? Irenaeus, certainly thought so. This historic Bishop of Lugdunum, was the student of Polycarp and Ignatius (two men who were taught directly by the Apostle John). Irenaeus identified the Apostle John as the author of the fourth Gospel, reflecting the historic understanding of the earliest Christians. In spite of this, many skeptics are eager to dismiss the authorship of John (often in an attempt to further discredit the supernatural New Testament claims related to Jesus) by doubting John’s level of education and degree of literacy. There are, however several good reasons to resist the notion that John, the son of Zebedee, was too illiterate to have written the fourth Gospel:

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Are There “Limits” to God’s Power?

Christians claim God is “all-powerful”. Does this mean He can accomplish anything? Skeptics often test this notion by offering the following challenge: “Can the all-powerful Christian God create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it?” The question highlights an apparent dilemma: If God cannot create such a stone (or cannot lift what He has created), He is not all-powerful. Does this apparent paradox prove an all-powerful Being cannot exist in the first place?

It’s true the Bible describes God as an all-powerful Being and often uses language that suggests that “nothing” is impossible for Him (as in Luke 1:37). At the same time, there are many places in Scripture where certain behaviors or conditions are described as “impossible” for God to accomplish. This apparent contradiction is inexplicable until we examine the nature of the activities (or behaviors) described as “impossible” for God:

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Four Truths About the Universe You Can Share with Your Kids to Demonstrate the Existence of God

If you’ve raised your children to believe Christianity is true, you probably want them to continue to believe it’s true, especially through their critical university years. There are good reasons to be concerned for young Christians once they leave our care. Statistically, most will walk away from the Church (and their belief in God) during their college years. What can we, as parents, do to address this growing problem? How can we help them know that God exists?

As a cold-case detective, parent, and prior youth pastor, I have a suggestion: master the case for God’s existence and start sharing it with your kids at an early age. Sounds simple, right? Maybe, or maybe not. If your kids asked you to defend the existence of God right now, what would say? What evidences would you provide? Are you ready to make the case for what you believe, even as the world around us often makes the case against God’s existence? Don’t panic, you don’t have to be a theologian, philosopher or scientist to defend the truth. All you need to be is interested.

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Why Is God So Hidden?

As a young atheist, I denied the existence of God for practical, experiential reasons. During my elementary school years, I found it difficult to understand why anyone would believe in God without visible evidence. I knew my parents, teachers and friends were real, because I could see them and I could see their impact on the world around me. God, however, seemed completely hidden. I often thought, “If God exists, why would He hide in this way? Why wouldn’t God just come right out and make it obvious to everyone He exists?” As I examined these questions many years later, I began to consider other factors and considerations, particularly related to the nature of “love”.

I held love and compassion in high regard, even as an unbeliever. These were values I embraced as essential to our survival as a species, and values I considered to be foundational to human “flourishing” (as many atheists commonly describe it). But love requires a certain kind of world, and if loving God does exist, it is reasonable that He would create a universe in which love is possible; a universe capable of supporting humans with the ability to love God and love one another. This kind of universe requires a number of pre-requisites, however, and these pre-requisites are best achieved when God is “hidden” in the way He often seems to be:

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Who Created God?

Richard Dawkins, the famous English evolutionary biologist and renowned atheist, revived an objection related to God’s existence in his book, The God Delusion. In the fourth chapter (Why There Almost Certainly Is No God), Dawkins wrote, “…the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable.” In essence, Dawkins offered a restatement of the classic question, “Who created God?” On its face, this seems to be a reasonable question. Christians, after all, claim God created everything we see in our universe (all space, time and matter); He is the cause of our caused cosmos. Skeptics fail to see this as a satisfactory explanation, however, because it seems to beg the question, “If God, created the universe, who (or what) created God?”

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About
J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, Christian case maker and author of Cold-Case Christianity and God's Crime Scene


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