UK Theologian Challenges Public to Rethink Jesus

LONDON – A leading theologian has claimed there is compelling evidence for the reliability of the Gospels, and spoken directly to the growing public perception of those who doubt Jesus’ existence.

Peter Williams, Principal of Tyndale House and member of the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University said,

“I now believe I have arguments for the truthfulness of Scripture, which are not generally known by [the public]. So on one side you can say that there can be problems with scholarship that aren’t known by [the public], but I think there can also be arguments for truthfulness that aren’t generally known by [the public].”

His comments, recorded on The Big Conversation video debate show with Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Bart Erhman, are a challenge to the 39% of British adults who in the Talking Jesus study (Barna, 2015) stated they did not think Jesus was a real historical person and the 22% who believed Jesus to be a mythical or fictional character.

In a series of arguments, Williams described a number of elements that prove the historically reliable nature of the Gospels including: the early dating of the Gospels compared to equivalent ancient historical sources; the authorship being consistent with the names attributed and not being ‘anonymous’ as some scholars claim; the geographical knowledge demonstrated by the writers; and the reliability of the transmission of the texts over time.

“I want to make sure that any argument I use in public is able to be looked at from a number of different angles and makes sense. I do believe we all have ways of trying to make sense of the world and so for me Christianity makes the most sense of the world. And by that I mean Christianity that fully embraces the Bible as from God.”

The debate was hosted by Premier Radio’s Justin Brierley. Following a recent poll that found 39% of British adults did not think Jesus was a real historical person he hopes this debate will challenge the public to consider the relevance of who Jesus really is today.

“What we really want to do is move the conversation on from did Jesus exist. Yes of course he existed to the question of was he who he said he was. Was he the son of God, did he rise from the dead? And that’s what I’m hoping we can do, move that conversation on. Help people to realize of course Jesus existed, but what’s the relevance of that to your life?”

Brierley concluded by highlighting the importance of debates like these in impacting the public’s perception of the reality of Christ.

“It’s been a delight to me to have engaged with hundreds of people over the last couples of years as we’ve launched this big conversation series, who’ve started to consider Christianity perhaps for the first time because they met a thinking, intelligent Christian perspective when they went and looked at the program.”

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