This is one just one post that is part of a point by point discussion regarding whether the New Testament writers were lying or not. Each point being its own post. All the points that I’ve published so far are found in this post: Are The New Testament Writers Lying? : A Point By Point Discussion. This is an ongoing discussion, so please be patient and com back often

Robin Harrison comments in blue
Dan Muhlenkamp in black

Point 9: Liars would never have created a religion that was so difficult to believe or follow.

Imagine you are invited by a friend to become part of a select group of people who are creating a big lie to form their own religion. You live in a part of the world where religion does equal power and money so you are interested. You also see people hanging on crosses regularly and you know the local religious leaders have a pretty cozy relationship with the Romans who are hanging the people on the crosses so you want to investigate this whole thing before you join in. You know you will need as many followers as you can get as quickly as possible to make it work. You go to a meeting and a guy tells you that the person you are going to ask all these new followers to believe in will require the following:

  • You believe a dead guy came back to life.
  • You believe you are guilty of such sins that you are going to hell and there is no way you can ever be good enough to go anywhere but hell.
  • You have to believe you are so hopeless that this guy had to die in your place on this gruesome cross that should have been yours.
  • All other gods are false, and you have to say that even if they are going to kill you for it.
  • The most powerful people in the land just murdered your hero and you can’t be afraid to tell them that.
  • It is a privilege to be persecuted (whipped, imprisoned etc. etc.) because you follow Jesus.
  • The greatest of all is the servant of all.
  • Love your enemies and turn the other cheek.
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to get to heaven.
  • Blessed are the poor
  • Blessed are the merciful

Seriously? Imagine you know for sure that Jesus is dead cause you stole his body. You know that there is no Jesus to help you or return or meet you when you die, you are just making the whole thing up. Your goal is to start a new religion for your own personal gain in a god-forsaken poverty stricken province and you need a bunch of followers… and this is the best you can come up with? Seriously?

Liars would never have created a religion that was so difficult to believe or follow. A person may conclude this looking from a narrow viewpoint, but in the modern world I would expect most Christians not to agree with this statement. Look at the majority of the other religions in the world – as a Christian do you believe that liars created those religions or do you believe that the creators of those religions are that incredibly misguided? Nearly all knowledgeable Christians would agree that Islam is a religions that is more difficult to believe and that it is more difficult of a religion to follow as well. If liars could have created the Islam religion then liars could have created the Christian Religion. If the creators of Islam or the Roman religion really believed their teachings, but their teachings are still not true, how does the idea that because the creators of Christianity believed their teachings, those teachings are probably true?

I believe that the founders of the other major religions in the world were incredibly misguided, not liars. Every religion in the world other than Christianity is built on the premise of being “good enough” for some reward. The definition of “good enough” varies and the reward varies, but the premise is the same. This is so common, and human for that matter, that it is easy to understand someone creating religious beliefs from that and people following those beliefs. Islam, Hindu, Budism…I can easily see them all coming from a misguided beginning and frankly would find it hard to believe any of them were founded by liars.

To Robin’s point about Islam being more difficult to believe: I couldn’t disagree more. Islam is easier to believe for two major reasons. First, if fits the natural human inclination to be “good enough”. I’ll contend it is always easier to believe you can be “good enough” than to believe you are deserve hell and someone died in your place. Ask a soldier who has seen a buddy take a bullet and die to save his life. They will tell you it is an over-whelming, life changing, awe inspiring event. As Christians, not only do we believe Christ did that for us, we believe we fired the bullet. Second, even someone who has been alive a short time should know it is easier to hate your enemy, than to love them.

Lastly, I totally agree that simply saying that the New Testament authors weren’t lying, doesn’t make the New Testament true. I have already said that. I would also contend that the creators of other religions were not lying and that those religions are still false. However, I will say it again, if the New Testament writers are not lying, then we need to have an entirely new and different debate over all the individual facts. I can’t wait for that debate but it is a different debate for a different time that is only needed, and completely framed by, ones decision on the likelihood of the writers being honest or deceitful.

I wrote a post explaining why I believe the New Testament is NOT a lie. I received 2 thoughtful responses from Thomas Muhr and Robin Harrison. Thomas’ response was shorter and more general, but very good. Robin’s response is a point by point essay. I believe each point and his comments are worth considerable discussion and decided to make each point its own post by merging the two papers and adding my comments. Additional comments by Robin or anyone else is encouraged. Links to all related discussions are in the discussion center post below.

Other Posts In This Series