The word of the cross destroys the wisdom of the debater of this age. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world. The world cannot know God in their wisdom. Christ is the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:18–25).
Do agnostics actually have open minds to consider the evidence? Will agnostics and atheists consider evidence for God from ex-skeptics turned believers? If a skeptic would be convinced and converted to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, would he not have to consider the reasoning of those who have converted?
The Agnostic’s Doubt
Would the skeptic, agnostic, and atheist be able to consider those who have converted? Would they consider converted skeptics from the Bible or have they already close their minds off to the Bible? Within the records of the Christian Scriptures, Dionysius on the council of Athens, Joseph of Arimathea, the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, and the 3,000 doubters on the Day of Pentecost were all converted skeptics. Even Jesus’s twelve disciples were skeptical of Jesus until they experienced Jesus risen from the dead.
Not one opponent of early Christianity challenged the names ascribed to the Christian Scriptures. Not one attack one opponent of early Christianity attacked the character of the martyred eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. Not one enemy accused the persecuted and martyred apostles of Jesus as frauds.
The Christian Scriptures record the findings of the first skeptics converted to faith for the purpose of observing the merits of their conviction. Among these converted skeptics is a writer of Christian Scriptures, the apostle Paul. This previous skeptic converted according to him by the resurrected Jesus Christ in a bright light while on the road to persecute Christians. Accepting or not accepting what Paul believed is not a prejudice, but not considering his experience that lead to faith is the result of bias and not reason.
The Honesty of Persecuted Witnesses
Along with the apostle Paul, enemies of the Christian faith murdered the eleven of the twelve disciples. Does persecution and martyrdom really prove anything? Many would rather die for their lies, speculations, and assertions than retract their statements and their pride. The mistaken martyr of speculations dies saying, “I sincerely thought,” but the martyr of truth dies saying, “I certainly saw or heard.”
True martyrs die for which they certainly witnessed. The apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus’s life, death, and more. They died for what they saw with their own eyes. The eyewitness martyrs of Jesus’s resurrection stand in number of more than 500 (1 Cor 15:5–11). The testimonies of the eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ stand for cross-examination. As legal records today, two or more witnesses confirm an event. By this, the Scriptures were open to such scrutiny and yet stand as evidence.
Could men of apparent sincerity lie, claiming to be eyewitnesses, have submitted to martyrdom, convert others in a dishonest manner, and still have been able to elude discovery? How could everyone of these preaching converts have escaped from being revealed as frauds or be so gullible as to deceive themselves that they were “eyewitnesses”?
The Book of Eyewitnesses
Skeptics may suppose that these eyewitnesses were not eyewitnesses at all. Some conjecture that early Christians invented the writers of the Christian Scriptures. This appeal to possibility has essential difficulties for this skepticism. First, there is a book of the collected writings of eyewitnesses of Jesus. Second, the book has existed for many centuries. Third, the book came into existence some way, by some means, and at some particular time. Fourth, the New Testament claims to be authored by God via Jesus’s apostles and prophets who are specifically named. Names attributed to written works are universally admitted to be rational and conclusive evidence of authorship. Can any of these be denied? Many could question the authorship with contrary evidence such as contradicting reports from witnesses. Where are those contradictions?
The Tested Book
The New Testament Scriptures were diligently scrutinized and remain the authentic records undoubted by believers and unchallenged by its opponents in the early centuries of the Christian faith. In the first century, historians, geographers, judges, and scholars were able to test the Christian Scripture, and so were tried in this age and in the age of these writings. The New Testament was universally received by primitive Christians and by opponents and apostates of the Christian faith.
The Authenticated Book
Early Christians authenticated the identity of the writers of the Christian Scriptures throughout the world. These witnesses and their locations were Clement in Rome, Ignatius in Antioch, Polycarp in Smyrna, Justin Martyr in Syria, Irenaeus in France, Tertullian in Carthage, Origin in Egypt, and Eusebius in Caesarea. The early opponents and apostates of primitive Christianity admitted the authorship of the Christian Scriptures. They include Celsus, Trypho, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry of Tyre, Hierocles of the Proconsul of Bithynia, Julian the Apostate, and Peregrinus Proteus.
Even the great opponent of the Christian faith in second century, Celsus never questioned the identity of the biblical writers. Origin recorded concerning Celsus, “Thus it is written, not in any private book, or such as are read by a few persons only, but in books read by everyone.” These opponents never even questioned the authenticity of the Scriptures. All of antiquity does not present a trace of any contradicting testimony against any historical event or any miraculous sign presented in the New Testament Scriptures.
Agnostics and skeptics have prejudged the eyewitness records in the Christian Scriptures, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence. Furthermore, their skepticism and rejection questions the integrity of murdered witnesses. Many would rather defame such men as superstitious and backward who died for what they saw, heard, and had to believe. The fair, honest, and open-minded can examine the writers of the Scriptures to be reliable and honest witnesses. The mistaken martyr dies saying, “I sincerely thought,” but the true martyr dies saying, “I certainly saw or heard.”