SYMBOLS & St. Augustine’s evangelistic rationale for depicting Christ on the crucifix

by Phil Kozlowski, Aleteia, 3/22/19.

St. Augustine in the 4th century offered a perfect summary of why Catholics use a crucifix.

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?

Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.

Read more at … https://aleteia.org/2019/03/22/why-do-catholics-use-crucifixes-that-show-jesus-on-the-cross/

CHURCH HISTORY & A Video Introduction to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, CA and the Beginnings of the Calvary Chapel denomination.

(produced by Calvary Productions 2013)

Watch more at … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSy6UpiAtXw

CHURCH HISTORY & A Timeline of the Jesus Movement

by Larry Eskridge, World Religions & Spirituality Project, Virginia Commonwealth University, 10/15/16.

JESUS PEOPLE MOVEMENT TIMELINE (See a more detailed timeline here)

1965-1966:  The counterculture emerged within bohemian districts in several American cities, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.

1967:  The Evangelical Concerns non-profit was established in the Bay Area to promote work among hippies; opening of Living Room mission center in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury and “House of Acts” commune in Novato, California, the first recognized appearance of “hippie Christians.”

1968:  Evangelical outreaches to the countercultural and drug culture youth emerged in Southern California. These included David Berg’s “Teens for Christ” (Huntington Beach), Arthur Blessitt’s Sunset Strip mission His Place (Los Angeles), Don Williams’ Salt Company coffeehouse (Los Angeles).

1968:  Chuck Smith, pastor of the Calvary Chapel, a middling-sized church in Costa Mesa, CA connected with the Living Room’s Lonnie and Connie Frisbee. Along with John Higgins, they open the House of Miracles, the first of numerous communal homes in Orange County.

1969:  The Christian World Liberation Front (CWLF) was established in Berkeley, California by former Campus Crusade for Christ staffers.

1969:  John Higgins moved to Oregon and began the Shiloh Youth Revival Center commune near Eugene.

1969:  David Berg’s group abandoned Huntington Beach and took to the road, picking up the name “Children of God.”

1970:  A distinct Jesus People “scene” took root in Southern California with well over one hundred churches, coffeehouses, centers, and communal homes identifying with the movement.

1970:  Significant Jesus People centers emerged in Atlanta, Kansas City, Wichita, Buffalo, Norfolk, Akron, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, suburban Chicago, suburban New York City, and other scattered cities across the country.

1971:  Evangelist Billy Graham publicized the Jesus People presence at the Tournament of Roses parade; a flood of national coverage ensues and the movement becomes strong in the Midwest.

1971:  The Oregon-based Shiloh Youth Revival Centers had over 1,000 full-time members in its communal homes across the country.

1971:  The Associated Press named the Jesus People one of its “Top Ten Stories of 1971.”

1972 (June):  Campus Crusade for Christ held a youth evangelism conference in Dallas that featured Jesus People themes and musical artists. EXPLO ‘72 attracted 85,000 and a culminated music rally draws an estimated 180,000.

1973:  By the end of 1972, over fifty books on, by, or connected with, the Jesus People movement have been published.

1973:  Jesus People USA arrived on Chicago’s North Side and set up a permanent base of operations.

1976:  Jesus Music festivals proliferated across the country during the summer of 1975.

1976:  The Bay Area’s Evangelical Concerns, Inc., underwriter of the Living Room mission back in 1967, decided to close down.

1979:  The Hollywood Free Paper ceased publication.

1980:  Shiloh closed its doors.

FOUNDER/MOVEMENT HISTORY 

The Jesus People was an amorphous, youth-centered, Pentecostal and fundamentalist-leaning religious movement that sprang up all around North America in the late 1960s as the result of interactions between members of the hippie counterculture and evangelical pastors and youth workers. The movement spread across the country in the early 1970s, but by the end of the decade it had largely disappeared. While the movement’s enduring institutional footprint was minimal (and in such cases as the Calvary Chapel network, often overlooked), its ongoing impact upon the evangelical subculture in terms of music, worship, and the relationship to youth and popular culture were pervasive.

With the development of the counterculture and the attendant rise of a new drug culture in the mid-1960s, contact between hippies and evangelical “straights” was inevitable. Tracing its precise beginnings is difficult, but ongoing evangelistic outreach to bohemian youth and drug users, greatly stimulated by the publication of David Wilkerson’s 1963 book The Cross and the Switchblade (Bustraan 2014:68-70), resulted in relatively unpublicized local ministries in Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Norfolk, and other cities with bohemian youth populations that resembled what later came to be labeled “Jesus People.”

Read more here … https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/24/jesus-people-movement/

CHURCH HISTORY & A Timeline of the Association of Vineyard Churches via Virginia Commonwealth University

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While earning my first doctorate, a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, one of my professors was the renowned practical theologian (and co-founder of the singing group “The Righteous Brothers“): John Wimber.

He gave me the opportunity to analyze the growth of a new denomination he was leading: The Association of Vineyard Churches. During my research, I noticed how the movement eventually lost some of the innovation and momentum from which it was born.

In an effort to avoid such missteps in church planting, venue launches and start-up ministries, I conducted Doctor of Ministry research. Here is a helpful introduction to the Vineyard denomination researched by the scholars at Virginia Commonwealth University.

ASSOCIATION OF VINEYARD CHURCHES TIMELINE  

by John C. Peterson, World Religions and Spirituality Project, 9/4/16.

1934 (February 25):  John Wimber was born in Kirksville, Missouri or Peoria, Illinois.

c1940:  Wimber received his first saxophone.

c1946:  Wimber and his mother moved to California.

1949:  Wimber made his first professional appearance.

1955:  Wimber met his future wife, Carol, a member of The Paramours, her prom band. The couple was married seven months later. The Paramours would work the Las Vegas circuit for the next five years. Wimber (as Johnny Wimber) played keyboards.

1960:  The Wimbers faced a marriage crisis and separated. The separation ended when each cried out to God for help. The couple remarried in the Roman Catholic Church. They also attended a Friends Meeting and Bible studies. Carol began Bible studies in their home.

1962:  The Wimbers recruited Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley for The Paramours. The group later became The Righteous Brothers, originally with Wimber on keyboards.

1962:  Through Paramours‘ drummer Dick Heyling, the Wimbers met Quaker lay evangelist Gunner Payne and began attending Payne’s Bible studies at Heyling’s home.

1963:  John and Carol Wimber had near-simultaneous conversion experiences at one of Payne’s Bible studies. The Wimbers continued leadership involvement with Bible study groups through the Friends Meeting, with Gunner Payne at the Heylings, and in their own home, beginning a period of intense evangelism.

c1967:  John Wimber felt called to leave the music business and enrolled in Azusa Pacific University to study the Bible for three years.

1970:  Upon graduation, Wimber was “registered” (ordained) by Society of Friends. He became assistant pastor of Yorba Linda Friends meeting and continued to lead a number of Bible studies which became increasingly intense and well attended. They came to the attention of the Southern California religious community.

1974:  John and Carol Wimber and forty of their Bible study students were asked to leave the Friends Meeting. John was invited by C. Peter Wagner to help found the new Fuller Institute for Church Growth.

1975-1978:  Wimber taught church growth and planting as an adjunct faculty at Fuller while continuing to lead growing Bible studies.

1977:  Bible studies grew and were incorporated as a congregation of Calvary Chapel.

1979:  Wimber met Ken Gullicksen, another member of the Calvary Chapel movement, at a retreat.

1980:  Lonnie Frisbee preached to Wimber’s congregation on Mother’s Day, triggering an outpouring of charismatic phenomena.

1982-1986:  Wimber and Wagner taught a Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth course at Fuller.

1982:  Wimber broke with Calvary Chapel over Wimber’s increasing emphasis on charismatic phenomena, and, with several other Calvary Chapel groups, joined with Gullicksen’s group of Vineyard churches. Gullicksen asked Wimber to take the lead.

1982:  Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim was incorporated.

1984:  Vineyard Ministries International was established.

1985:  The Association of Vineyard Churches incorporated. Mercy Music (later Vineyard Music) was established.

1986:  Wimber published his book Power Evangelism. 

1986:  Wimber suffered a heart attack.

1988:  Wimber established close relationships with prophetic figures of the Kansas City Fellowship (which was renamed The Kansas City Vineyard).

1991:  Wimber became disillusioned with the Kansas City “prophets” and broke off the relationship.

1994:  The “Toronto Blessing” revival broke out at Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. It drew international attention to extreme charismatic phenomena.

1993-1995:  Wimber received cancer diagnosis and suffered a stroke.

1995:  Wimber observed the “Toronto Blessing” revival and cuts ties with it.

1997 (July):  Wimber installed Todd Hunter as National Coordinator of The Association of Vineyard Churches.

1997 (November):  Wimber died of massive brain hemorrhage.

2000:  Hunter resigned his position. The board named Bert Waggoner of Sugarland, Texas, to succeed him.

2011:  Waggoner retired and was replaced by Phil Strout of Maine.

FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY 

The Association of Vineyard Churches (or the Vineyard movement) grew out of the Jesus movement that developed within the “hippie” culture of Southern California in the 1960s. This movement was built more around gifted evangelists working mostly through home-based Bible study groups rather than through established churches. Many of these groups involved music scene figures, some of whom were fairly prominent.

Three of those evangelists who were exceptionally successful ended up involved in the creation of two new denominations: Chuck Smith turned his Bible study groups into the Calvary Chapel movement (Chapel on the Vine 2015), and Ken Gullicksen turned his groups into what would become the Vineyard Churches. The third, the very gifted Lonnie Frisbee, was a key figure in both movements, but he is rarely mentioned today because of his struggle with homosexuality (Randles n.d.). A fourth key figure in the Bible study phenomenon was John Wimber.

Read more at … https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/08/association-of-vineyard-churches/

SLAVERY & Comparing the Wesleys’ experiences w/ slavery (resulting in them being against slavery) to George Whitefield’s experiences (resulting in his owning slaves to support [sic] ministry).

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As a Wesley scholar I have appreciated the differences between John and Charles Wesley and their colleague George Whitfield. One of these differences is their attitudes towards slavery.

Here’s a story about on how John and Charles Wesley came to feel so strongly against slavery. Read this short daily devotional from my recent book Enthusiast.life – Finding a Faith That Fills.

Historian Peter Choi argues that the Wesleys looked on the spiritual (Choi would say utopian) side of an issue, while Whitefield looked on the pragmatic side.  This can be a warning for leaders today.

  1. First, read this excerpt (immediately below or click here > BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – ENTHUSIAST Day 26 Human Trafficking ) on the Wesleys’ view of slavery.
  2. Then read the second article (further below) that reviews Whitefield’s perspective.

Week 6, Day 1 – Christians Have a Duty to Stand Up Against Human Trafficking

by Bob Whitesel, 2017, excerpted from Enthusiast.life – Finding a Faith That Fills, pp. 189-194.

Charles watched in horror as a child was given “a slave of its own age to tyrannize over, to beat and abuse out of sport… a common practice.” The youth’s haughtiness and condescension to his human gift sickened Charles. “One Colonel Lynch is universally know to have cut off a poor Negro’s legs,” wrote Charles, “and to kill several of them every year by his barbarities.” Charles described how another slave owner boasted of whipping a female slave until she appeared dead. Then after summoning a doctor who revived her, the slave owner whipped her again and concluded by pouring hot sealing wax upon her.

Blank white book w/path

Read more at Enthusiast.life

 

Such were the experiences the Wesleys encountered while on their church planting expedition to Georgia (Week 2, Day 1). Charles summarized their abhorrence: “It were endless to recount all the shocking instances of diabolical cruelty which these men (as they called themselves) daily produce upon their fellow-creatures; and that on the most trivial occasions.” 

In response, John infused into the emerging method a process to address, not ignore, such controversial topics.

 

Lesson 1: Begin by examining a controversial topic through a Biblical lens.

John concluded that the Bible did not condone slavery and neither should Christians who follow the Scriptures. He cited Paul’s writings to a similar era (Eph. 6:9, Col. 4:1) as well as Paul’s declaration that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28). John then wrote powerful books decrying the practice, including: “Thoughts About Slavery” and “A Serious Address to the People of England with Regard to the State of the Nation.”

Lesson 2: Love of money, and not the love of God, is behind many heinous sins

While the Wesleys were in Georgia, the colony did not permit slavery. Soon Georgia permitted slavery because of perceived economic gain. John never stopped pointing out that the worship of money was behind this, writing: “But at length (in Georgia) the voice of those villains prevailed who sell their country and their God for gold, who laugh that human nature and compassion, and who defy all religion, but that getting money. It is certainly our duty to do all in our power to check this growing evil.”

Lesson 3: Abused and molested people are every Christian’s brothers and sisters

The “faith of a son/daughter” meant these abused and molested people were God’s children too … and every Christian’s brothers and sisters.  Not only would John work to see slavery ended, but at the same time he would work to get the Good News to them. It was a two-pronged approach: a political effort to end slavery and a spiritual effort to provide slaves with Biblical teaching.  

Lesson 4: Take your message to where those who need it assemble

Slaves were captured in Africa and resold to American shippers in the English city of Bristol. Bristol was one of the centers of Methodism. The city’s first preaching house was positioned in the market area, nearby to where slaves would be bought and sold. The presence of this preaching house allowed the message to be heard among both the oppressors and those oppressed.

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Exhibit from The New Room, Bristol UK (first Wesleyan preaching house built adjacent to the slave market)

Lesson 5: Do all in your power to check a growing evil

John ensured that the emerging method had rules against such abhorrent behavior, such as owning slaves. John declared the owning of slaves was cause for expulsion from the method. However, in America where slavery was often legal, some in the Methodist movement distanced themselves from Wesley and his stance. In his book, “Calm Address to our American Colonies,” John argued that the wild nature of America’s frontier did not allow Christians to bend or break God’s laws.

One week before John died, he wrote his last letter. It was addressed to anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce, whom Wesley encouraged to fight on, saying, “O be not weary in well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery the vilest that ever saw the sun shall vanish before it.” Today, human trafficking in the form of sexual exploitation, forced labor, etc. continues, but we must not grow weary in opposing it.

Application of the Lessons

For personal devotion, read the questions, meditate upon each and write down your responses. For group discussion, share as appropriate your answers with your group and then discuss the application.

(Lessons 1-5) Ask yourself, “Are there any moral issues which intimidate me and on which I remain silent, though the Word of God calls me to address it?”  Write a paragraph about what you will do to address it with each of these steps:

  • Begin by examining a controversial topic through a Biblical lens
  • Love of money, and not the love of God, is behind the sin
  • Needy people are my brothers and sisters
  • Take your message to where those who need it assemble
  • We should “do all in our power to check this growing evil”

Now, compare the faith that filled John and Charles Wesley to that of their colleague George Whitfield as reflected in this article below.

Did George Whitefield Serve Two Masters?

by Rick Kennedy, Christianity Today, 2/22/19.

… Peter Choi’s biography, George Whitefield: Evangelist for God and Empire, explores various ways that Whitefield’s zeal for good works not only put him on a pedestal but also entangled him in a war against Catholicism and the promotion of race-based slavery. By exposing less-than-uplifting facts about Whitefield, the book illuminates unhealthy aspects of 18th-century evangelicalism’s intimate relationship with the British Empire.

… Choi describes how missionary zeal, Christian philanthropy, utopian social engineering, and bold military strategy came together in the creation of Georgia. In England, he observes, the founding trustees of Georgia “fanned the flames of euphoria in the early 1730s by hiring publicists to write about their cause across the empire.” Freedom, racial equality before God, respect for Native American rights, and all the rights and privileges of republican government were to flourish in a new colony named for King George II, leader of the Protestant world. As young men, the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield were swept up in the euphoria and traveled to Georgia as celebrity missionaries.

John Wesley went there unprepared, inspired by ideals too high to achieve. He then allowed himself to be distracted by romantic love before devoting time to evangelism among Native Americans. In Wesley’s failure, Choi sees the heights of British utopianism (a perspective he shares with the historian Geordan Hammond, author of John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity).

Whitefield, on the other hand, arrived in Georgia well prepared and without utopian delusions. Choi points out that the Georgia frontier offered Whitefield the freedom to experiment with his calling to preach about the “new birth.” It “represented a strategic location where he was free to nurture a form of religion that was experimental and entrepreneurial.” In Whitefield’s pragmatism, Choi sees the seeds of both his success and his failure. The evangelist established a philanthropic institution (the Bethesda orphanage), but he was not committed to upholding Georgia’s anti-slavery ideals, and he neglected the Georgia Trustees’ call for evangelistic work among Native Americans.

Bethesda-Orphanage-Georgia-founded-by-George-Whitefield-Internet-ArchiveThe orphanage was key to Whitefield’s role as “evangelist for God and Empire.” Established near Savannah, Georgia, it began as a hybrid of a trade school and a plantation. As Choi explains, “It mixed moral and religious goals with imperial and mercantile aims.” The orphans served as both laborers and students. Money was needed, which prompted Whitefield to become a traveling revivalist and fundraiser all at once. In this role, he sparked and gave direction to a transatlantic Great Awakening.

Fundraising for the orphanage was highly successful, but the flow of money eventually slowed when the revivals began to wane. Unwanted orphans were numerous when Georgia was growing fast, but their numbers also went into decline. At a time when Whitefield should have downsized his orphanage, he aspired to grow it into a university along the lines of the pietist institution that flourished at the time in Halle, Germany. Choi carefully follows Whitfield into Dickensian situations in which the preacher forcibly removed “prospective orphans” from their siblings and/or guardians.

Never an abolitionist, Whitefield bought a plantation in North Carolina and became a slave owner as a means to help fund his plans for Bethesda. Economic exigencies spurred his increasingly ardent calls for the Georgia Trustees to lift their ban on slavery. The economy of Georgia, he declared, would be strengthened by abandoning the colony’s anti-slavery ideals. “If any one person can be credited with responsibility for the introduction of black slavery in Georgia,” Choi writes, it should be Whitefield.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/february-web-only/george-whitefield-peter-choi-evangelist-god-empire.html

TEMPTATION & how to remove anything in your life that you are in doubt or feel unsure about #JayMorgan #AppalachianPrayerCenter

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Reverend Jay Morgan shadowed me for year in my consulting practice to become a Missional Coach. He now heads up the Appalachian Prayer Center and is writing a great historical analysis/application from the widespread influence of the Welsh revivals. Read the insights he applies from them for today.

“The Message of the Welsh Revival Part 2: If in doubt, remove it.” by Jay Morgan, Appalachian Prayer Center, 3/15/19.

This post is the second in a four part series exploring the message that fueled the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905.  During this short period of time, revival swept through nearly every town on the Island of Wales and over 100,000 people came to faith in Christ.

A young preacher, Evan Roberts, stressed the following four tenets to his companions.  As they began to personally do these, God used this group to help spread revival all over Wales.  There is much to be learned from these tenets as we prepare for revival today.

  • Confess all known sin, receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ

  • Remove anything in your life that you are in doubt or feel unsure about

  • Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly

  • Publicly confess the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the last post we focused on confessing all known sin to God.  Today let’s focus on the second tenet:

Remove anything in your life that you are in doubt or feel unsure about

This is a step beyond confessing known sin.  This is a decision to step as far away from sin as you can.  

Many people defend their “right” to do something as a Christian. They try to get to the edge of sin without falling in.  This is a dangerous way to live, yet many think they can “flirt” around with sin and not get into trouble.

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Proverbs 6:27

Jesus taught us to be pray that we would not be “lead” into temptation.  The behavior itself might not be sin, but will it lead you into a tempting, sinful situation?  If so, get rid of it.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Matthew 6:13

 

Paul taught us that there are things that we may we feel have a right to do, but are not beneficial to us.  Some of these things can actually sabotage you and your mission in the world.

 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Ask your self the following three questions:

  • Will this behavior lead me to sin?

  • Will this behavior lead a weaker Christian to sin if they copy me?

  • Will this behavior limit or harm my ability to influence people for Jesus?

If so, remove it!

This can include:

  • Relationships that pull you back to your old life

  • A “border-line” sinful book, song or TV program that makes you vulnerable to sin.

  • Videos you watch on your phone.  

  • Conversations you have.  

  • Certain places you drive by.  

  • Certain clothing.  

  • Unnecessary debt for things you don’t need that will overwork you and pull you away from God’s purposes.

  • Flirty conversations.  

  • Using alcohol or other drugs.  

  • Health Damaging habits.

The list goes on.

Read more at … https://www.apcwv.com/single-post/2019/03/15/The-Message-of-the-Welsh-Revival-Part-2-If-in-doubt-remove-it?utm_campaign=99758eab-5cf9-4b27-abd1-6ee84ae4fa4a&utm_source=so

CHURCH HISTORY & 3 pieces of historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ

by Paul Ratner, Big Think, 12/24/18.

…Here are 3 kinds of evidence we have for the existence of Jesus Christ as at the very least a real person…

1. THE WRITINGS

…writes Dr. Simon Gathercole, a New Testament scholar from the University of Cambridge, in the Guardian.

The letters of the apostle Paul from about AD 50-60 are the earliest texts mentioning Jesus and the doctrines of Christianity. They also contained practical instructions for the growing number of Christians on how to live according to their faith.

The first non-Christian writer to talk about Jesus was the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (born Yosef ben Matityahu),who lived around AD 47-100. He referred to Christ in his history of Judaism “Jewish Antiquities” from AD 93. In the book, Jesus comes up twice – once in a curious passage about Jesus’s supposed brother James and in another paragraph that has since been questioned in its authenticity. Historians think it has been altered by Christians several centuries later who wanted to portray Jesus in a better light. Here is that passage coming from Antiquities 18:3:3:

“There was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

Roman historians Pliny and Tacitus also wrote about Jesus Christ about 20 years after Josephus’s book. The “Annals” by Tacitus from AD 115 mentioned the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate executing Jesus, alluding to crucifixion, and placed that event within the timeframe that agrees with Christian gospels. As you can also see in this excerpt, Tacitus was not a big fan of the Christians:

“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called “Chrestians” by the populace,” wrote Tacitus.” Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”

Pliny the Younger, who was also governor in Asia Minor, wrote letters to Emperor Trajan around AD 112 describing Christians worshipping Jesus as a God:

“They (Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food, but of an ordinary and innocent kind ,” wrote Pliny in Epistles 10.96.

2. THE EYEWITNESSES

According to Dr. Gathercole, the earliest Christian writings on Jesus come from the epistles of Paul. The first of these date to no later than within 25 years of Jesus’s death (AD 50-60). On the other hand, biographical accounts of Jesus in the New Testament date from around 40 years after Jesus’s death. Still, these time spans mean that accounts of Jesus’s life were written down by people who would have been alive to know him or the people who knew him personally.

The accounts of the witnesses also correspond quite well to what other sources of information tell us about the life in the Palestine of the first century. For example, having large crowds coming to a healer like Jesus is confirmed through archaeology, which tells us that residents of the area had to contend with diseases like leprosy and tuberculosis. A study of burials in Roman Palestine by archaeologist Byron McCane revealed that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the graves they looked at had remains of children and adolescents. McCane underscored the prevalence of childhood mortality at the time, explaining that “during Jesus’ time, getting past 15 was apparently the trick.”

Of course, just having the details of the environment right doesn’t prove that Jesus Christ existed. Dr. Gathercole, thinks it just wouldn’t make sense for the writers of the time to create such an elaborate character, stating: “It is also difficult to imagine why Christian writers would invent such a thoroughly Jewish saviour figure in a time and place – under the aegis of the Roman empire – where there was strong suspicion of Judaism.”

This sentiment is supported by Byron McCane, an archaeologist and history professor at Florida Atlantic University who said in an interview with National Geographic that he “can think of no other example who fits into their time and place so well but people say doesn’t exist.” In other words, it would be rather unprecedented for such a person to be made up.

3. THE ARTIFACTS

Read more at … https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/3-pieces-of-historical-evidence-jesus-christ-existed