Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Nicodemus” or “The Acts of Pilate”?

The Gospel of Nicodemus is an ancient text purportedly written by the man who visited Jesus in the Gospel of John. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Nicodemus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reported. The Gospel of Nicodemus was written too late in history to have been written by the Jewish man who visited Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the early Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Nicodemus still references accurate details related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of his religious community, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:

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Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?

The reliable Gospel eyewitness accounts aren’t the only ancient description of Jesus. There are also non-Christian descriptions of Jesus from the late 1st to 5th Century. What do the non-Biblical accounts say about Jesus and how are we to assess them? It’s been my experience that two people can examine the same event (or even the same historical character) and disagree about what they have seen. Many years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and the entire event was captured on video tape. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses. The tapes were watched over and over again. Yet, in the midst of such a robust eyewitness record, people still argue to this day about what they saw and what actually happened. Was it a lone shooter or an elaborate conspiracy? Something very similar occurred when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists. Most of us either saw the attack live on television or watched the video for months afterward. But the event is still interpreted in a variety of ways. Was this the act of international terrorists or an elaborate governmental conspiracy? Two well documented historical events with a rich set of evidences. In spite of this, both events have been interpreted in a variety of ways. It shouldn’t surprise us then to find the historical records of Jesus Christ might also experience the same type of scrutiny and diverse interpretation. Did Jesus truly live, minister, died and rise from the grave as the Gospels record or was it an elaborate conspiracy? One thing we know about the Kennedy assassination and the World Trade Center attack: regardless of interpretation, there were eyewitnesses to the events, and the events did truly occur. In a similar manner, the ancient evidence related to Jesus reveals there were eyewitnesses and He did exist in history. Is there any evidence for Jesus outside the Bible? Yes, and the ancient non-Christian interpretations (and critical commentaries) of the Gospel accounts serve to strengthen the core claims of the New Testament.

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Accounts

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Judas”?

The Gospel of Judas is an ancient text purportedly written by the disciple who knew Jesus personally. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Judas? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Gospel of Judas was written too late in history to have been written by the disciple we know as Judas, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Judas still contains small nuggets of truth related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of his religious community, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:

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Is There Life Out There? (Interview with Jeff Zweerink)

Between novels, movies and television series, some of the most popular story lines involve extra-terrestrial beings living on exotic planets somewhere in the universe. The notion of alien life in the cosmos has captured our creative imagination and our scientific focus. If you’re like me, you’ve probably given the possibility of extra-terrestrial beings some serious thought. You may also have wondered if the existence of such beings would significantly impact the claims of Christianity. If aliens do live somewhere in the universe, would their existence disprove the Christian worldview? Well, Jeff Zweerink, an astrophysicist and Senior Research Scholar at Reasons to Believe, has written a new book that will inform and help Christians think clearly about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Is There Life Out There is a fascinating and informative book, so I asked Jeff to answer a few questions:

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Four Ways to Come Alongside Your Kids to Strengthen Their Faith

If you’re paying attention to what’s happening in America today, you’re probably aware of the challenges facing young Christians in their teens and twenties. It’s a simple fact: most young Christians will walk away from the Church during (or before) their college years. Like other Christian parents, I’m animated to work as hard as I can to address this dilemma, for my own kids and for the next generation of believers. I’ve authored books, written blogs, recorded podcasts and videos in an attempt to help young people evaluate the evidence for Christianity. I also speak to local congregations. Following a recent church presentation, I was approached by a mother who was concerned for her high school children. We began discussing several ways parents can prepare their kids before sending them off to college. Here are four simple guiding strategies:

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Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself.

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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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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