The Christ Myth Theory is not new, but a renewed energy not only denies Jesus’ Lordship, but the historical Jesus did not exist.
[NOTE: This first appeared on Medium.com on January 4, 2022, as I was testing a new platform]
- Conversation Backstory
- Mythicists and the Christ Myth Theory
- Recorded Live Stream: Man or Myth? Did Jesus Exist?
- Recommendations in Dealing with a Mythicist
- Additional Resources
Christmas 2021 was a little bit different and unusual around our house this year. Our last of our three kiddos will soon be leaving the house and moving into his new home that he recently purchased in preparation for his upcoming wedding in May. My wife worked most of Christmas Eve and we were still trying to find our new rhythm as we take into account another family’s traditions and schedules.
Christmas morning came and we did our usual eating of the breakfast before we grabbed our stockings from the chimney and then began exchanging gifts. I was also trying to figure out how I was going to watch the day’s NFL games without it impacting the family and soon my son and his fiancé left to celebrate Christmas with her family. After a terribly exhausting morning of eating and exchanging of gifts, my wife, daughter, and I decided we all needed a nap in preparation for the Christmas Dinner that would just be a few hours away.
Scurry away we did. We each went to our individual corners of the house. For me, that means running to the basement where I have a 300 square foot man cave that serves as my Work-from-Home office, my entertainment room, my reflection room, and my lovely couch that serves as my resting, aka nap, area.
As I was beginning to wind down, I thought I would take a quick peak at the social media sites to see how everyone was doing this Christmas. There was one particular conversation thread that caught my attention which initiated a response from me. The conversation started and ended a little strangely.
Person 1: Merry Christmas. Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
Person 2: Both Santa Clause and Jesus are fictitious.
Me: The legendary Santa Clause character is based on a real person, Saint Nicholas. Jesus is a real person. Nobody doubts that he was born, he lived, and that he died. You may doubt his Lordship, but no true historian doubts that he lived.
Person 2: There are people that doubt he lived.
Person 3: Jesus is a myth.
Me: No serious person of history or scholars of antiquity doubt his birth and that he lived.
Person 3: What’s your proof?
Me: Well, for starters, the book of Matthew has a specific genealogy for this very reason.
Person 3: That’s the Bible. What other sources do you have?
Me: Josephus, the Qur’an, and other sources I would be happy to share with you.
Person 3: Those aren’t valid sources. The Jesus character was a myth based on previous pagan or other religious stories and/or characters.
Me: One last Q, was there a person named Jesus that was crucified?
Person 3: Of course not.
I know better than to argue with the toxicity within the social media platforms, but I find myself engaging in the discussions as I trust that my efforts may touch at least one person in my lifetime.
But this year and this conversation felt a little bit different. It was one of hundreds that littered the social platform. Most felt more antagonistic with members frequently targeting Christians with two specific pivots: 1) December 25th isn’t Jesus’ actual birthday, and 2) Jesus isn’t even real.
For many reasons, I ignored the birthday comment. Every Christian knows that December 25th isn’t the actual date that Christ was born. It wasn’t even worth the time to entertain with a response. But the “Jesus isn’t even real” touched a nerve as the majority of scholars affirm that Jesus was born, he lived, and he died by crucifixion. Even those that are ardent critics of the deity of Christ affirm that he was born, lived, and died.
For this Christmas season, it seemed that those that are proponents of The Christ Myth Theory were out in full force and they were set out to prove that they were smarter than your average Christian faith believer. Basically, that you are irrelevant.
Mythicists and The Christ Myth Theory
The Christ Myth Theory is pretty simple to understand at its core. Fundamentally, the theory is that Jesus is a mythological character, made up, and there is no substantial evidence of a historical Jesus ever existed. The claims are so absurd that any scholar of antiquities outright refute this theory.
[Per Jesus mythicism] Given the fringe status of these theories, the vast majority have remained unnoticed and unaddressed within scholarly circles.Gullotta 2017, p. 312
This isn’t necessarily new. Since Jesus’ time there have been skeptics. It also picked up proponents in the late 1700s with Thomas Paine, early 1900s with Thomas Whittaker, and another 10 plus over the last 100 years. One of the more prominent activists that is currently living and is encouraging an Atheist Plus movement is Richard Carrier.
Atheism Plus (also rendered Atheism+) was a movement proposed in 2012 by blogger Jey McCreight. Its original definition was rather nebulous, but in general, it encouraged progressive atheists to move beyond the question of (non-)belief and to address additional issues, including critical thinking, skepticism, social justice, feminism, anti-racism, and combatting homophobia and transphobia.RationalWiki
The concern isn’t that there are a few fringe people that don’t believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, or that they are atheists that don’t believe in any god. The people that appear to embrace The Christ Myth Theory, the mythicists, are the modern-day Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. They seem hellbent to combine Atheism with the Social Just Warrior (SJW) movement and cancel culture.
It is my belief that this is the reason why you are seeing more boldness to ridicule, demean, belittle, and outright attempt to cancel Christmas and Christianity in the disguise that Jesus is a fictional, mythological character that should be cancelled altogether. The mythicists can attack Christianity on their basis for the greater good and that Christianity is founded on mythology that has no place in the realm of intellectuals.
Recorded Live Stream: Man or Myth? Did Jesus Exist?
As a Christian, we should be able to boldly share our faith and we should be able to confidently affirm our belief. First, you should feel confident that you are in the majority when it comes to the historicity of Jesus Christ backed by the majority of scholars, even the secular scholars. Second, there are a number of resources that can help you build that foundation to have an intelligent discussion with a mythicists that Jesus was (and is) real.
During February 2021, Michael Licona sat down with Mike Winger to discuss and answer some questions regarding Jesus being a Man or a Myth and to put to rest the question if Jesus even existed. Michael Licona “is an American New Testament scholar and author. He is Associate Professor in Theology at Houston Baptist University, Extraordinary Associate Professor of Theology at North-West University and the director of Risen Jesus, Inc” (source: Wikpedia).
The 70-minute video is a small glimpse into this deeper conversation and Michael Licona even addresses some of the main mythicist’s arguments.
Recommendations in Dealing with a Mythicist
Earlier I had mentioned the thought that I shouldn’t even bother having these discussions, especially on the social media platforms with people that I may not even know. Is it a waste of my time? Would it be a waste of your time?
Over the last few years, I have shared a number of articles or posts with little fanfare. I wasn’t getting the number of likes or comments that I was hoping. But in the last six months, I have had 10 to 20 indirect or private comments about how my articles and responses to questions have impacted them in a meaningful way, especially in how I handle the vile questions that come my way. This alone has encouraged me enough to continue the good fight in sharing the love of Jesus Christ. So, yes, I think it is worth my time and effort and it would be worth your time as well.
When you are having a conversation with others that may not agree with you or are antagonistic to your views and beliefs, just remember to check your pride and don’t go into the dumpster with them. Have patience, love, and grace. Even Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV).
Lastly, I want to leave you with the following scripture:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.2 Timothy 4:3–4, ESV
and assurance in knowing that you are on the right side of the discussion:
God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9–11, ESV
For this particular topic of discussion, I specifically want to highlight Gary Habermas & Michael Licona’s book, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus*.
*Affiliate Link — if you use the link(s) to purchase any of the book recommendations from Amazon, I may receive a small commission through Amazon’s Affiliate Program.