Credo quia absurdum ("I believe because it is absurd") - Tertullian (c.155-220 AD)
Nobody could plausibly have invented the story of Jesus as the Bible has it. They tortured and crucified the hero. They vilified him for speaking to the wrong people and championing the poor. As a story, this is absurd. You would have to be a fool to believe it. As I write this letter, I am aware April Fool's day is approaching. Who else but a fool would invent such a story as that of Jesus?
April fools jokes are legion. Here are some articles which I ask you to decide, are they true or false?
They are all, of course, false.
According to tradition, on 1st April, we can be pranksters up until noon. The origin of the day is uncertain but may date back to Roman times when, at the start of the year, they celebrated renewal festivals. This allowed servants to control their masters or children to order their parents around. At one point, the Spring Equinox marked the beginning of a new year. Nowadays, this falls towards the end of March and may explain why the April Fools Day holiday developed. Also, when calendars changed to make 1st January the beginning of the year, people made fun of those who continued to celebrate new year in the spring.
Yet, believing in Jesus is far from foolish. Why would twelve of his closest friends, apart from John, die horrible deaths in Jesus’ name? They all sent the message of Christ’s resurrection around the world. If it was not true, why did no one break ranks to save themselves? The fact they did not is the biggest reason to believe.
There are many inconsistencies within the New Testament, but that does not take away from its authenticity. The Gospels were written from varying viewpoints, allowing us to read about a more detailed and complex saviour. The life of Jesus is a true story, meaning we must not forget that Christ came into the world so that all shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus is counterrevolutionary, asking us to believe in one God when the Romans and Greeks believed in many. He asks us to love our enemies by demonstrating that love practically. Rather than thinking it foolish to believe in such a man - fully human, fully divine - the jester's hat sits firmly on the non-believers.
P.S. True or false? The Gants Hill URC website has had almost 14,000 visitors since its creation. TRUE!
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon