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8/7/2021 - A Conversation with Andrew Gronach

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland
The Truth Network Radio
August 7, 2021 12:00 am

8/7/2021 - A Conversation with Andrew Gronach

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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August 7, 2021 12:00 am

8/7/2021 - A Conversation with Andrew Gronach by Truth for a New Generation

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TNG Radio, where today's culture and timeless truths come together. It's reasoned, relevant content apologetics, worldview and answers to the questions that you need to know.

From Alex McFarland Ministries, this is Truth for a New Generation Radio. And now the man who preached in 50 states in 50 days, speaker, writer and advocate for Christian apologetics, Dr. Alex McFarland. Christ is the predominant subject in the last 2,000 years of art, literature and music. In fact, there are paintings of Christ that go back to around the year 200. In fact, one of the first known paintings of Jesus is from around 200 to 230, and it's of Jesus healing the paralytic. And songs about Jesus Christ go back to around 400 AD, one of the very first hymns ever written, O Come All Ye Faithful, Adeste Fidelis.

And do you know what? Out of all the music ever composed, it's estimated that the predominant theme in all of music is the topic of love, love songs. But second only to that universal common human emotion of love is Jesus, the gospel being put to music. Clearly, in art, literature, music, poetry, so much of what man has thought about and written about and recorded over the last 2,000 years, one of the most predominant subjects is Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet one of the most common objections against Christianity these days is an objection that we're going to talk about on today's edition of Truth for a New Generation. A lot of people, a lot of young people really, have been told that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity, what we believe about the death, burial, the resurrection of Jesus, might have been lifted out of ancient mythology. In fact, we've written about this in a number of our books, and we've spoken about what is sometimes called the mystery religion thesis, or Jesus versus the mystery religions.

The question being was what you thought you knew about Jesus really true, historical, or was it simply repackaged ancient mythology? And with us on today's show to discuss that objection and refute it is a guest and a friend and a colleague. His name is Andrew Hranich. He has spoken for us in different contexts, and he's a student at Liberty University, and just, you know, I'm just going to be very out front with my appreciation for this young man. He's a brilliant Christian thinker. He is a dynamic witness for Christ and a colleague for whom I have so much respect, and we're going to talk about Jesus and the mystery religion thesis. So Andrew, thanks for taking time to be with us on this edition of the Truth for a New Generation broadcast.

Thank you for having me, Alex. Now, tell us about what you're doing and where you are in your journey of service to the Lord, Andrew. Well, over the past few months I've been doing a lot of research, I've been reading a lot of books, old classics such as Thomas Aquinas' work, St. Augustine's work, and more so modern works such as Albert Schweitzer's The Quest for the Historical Jesus and Bart Ehrman's Forged and How Jesus Became God. So I've been just reading a lot of works and studying, and one of the themes that I've noticed that tends to be more modern in these books is the question of whether or not Jesus existed. And it doesn't seem to have been much of a question during the Dark Ages or the medieval times or even later, but it seems to be that about the 18th century there started to be some question about whether Jesus existed or not. And a lot of people know about Albert Schweitzer's famous work on the Quest for the Historical Jesus, but a little bit later than that there were people who even wondered if Jesus existed at all.

Not just was he not God, but did he even exist? And two very famous people who front that today are Robert Price and Richard Carrier, and they claim that Jesus is just the Jewish version of the mystery religions, and that Jesus is just an old folk tale that's just been retold so many times, but now fits the context of the Jewish religion. And so how the story goes is that Jesus fits the narrative of a dying and rising God, that there were these fertility gods, and that they had virgin mothers, and they claimed to be the son of God, and they would die, and then they'd come back to life, and then they'd start these cults, these Savior cults around them. But when you compare Jesus to these dying and rising gods, it just doesn't add up. For one thing, in Jesus' context, Apostle Paul talks a lot about, in the New Testament, about Christ being crucified. He does not talk about God being crucified, although we know that Jesus is God, and Paul talks about that elsewhere.

In the context of the crucifixion, he always says, Christ crucified. And that's because when Jesus came, Jesus himself was a Jew, and he was fulfilling the promise of the Messiah. And so, in the Jewish context, it was unthinkable that the Messiah would come and somehow die.

This is called, by historians, dissimilarity. And people would not make this up. Christians would not make up the idea of the Messiah coming and then dying by the people that they thought he was going to overthrow. It's just unthinkable.

They would have made up a story about him overthrowing the Romans. So the very fact that the Messiah is said to have come and died just goes to show that this could not be made up by people who want to front some false religion. Well, exactly.

Exactly. And let me just say this, folks. One of the reasons we're talking about this topic, and it might seem like just some heady academic subject, though it's really not, is because I've met literally hundreds of young people in my travels across America and to 200 university campuses. I've met hundreds of young people that either sat in a class and the professor said, well, you know, the Jesus that you think about in the four Gospels never really existed, which is, of course, false. Or maybe they've read a blog site or something online alleging that Christianity was based on ancient mythology. Now, what Andrew Hranich and I are going to do is unpack this, and we're going to talk about that yes, this is historical. What you read in the New Testament can be trusted.

And in fact, even a number of non-Christian scholars, and they're certainly not doing what they do to defend Christianity, but even some non-Christian scholars soundly reject the idea that Jesus was just basically repackaged ancient mythology. But I do want to say Andrew is going to be one of the speakers at the upcoming Truth for a New Generation Conference, October 15-17, 2021, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and we've got Dr. Frank Turek, Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sandy Rios, an incredible roster of speakers. And we're going to be talking about world view, the battles we must win, critical race theory, wokeness, progressivism versus truth, and you don't want to miss it. And we're going to be doing special seminars on youth ministry, how you can win young people to Christ. And I'm so proud that one of our speakers is the man you're listening to, Andrew Hranich. And the website, I'll give this, and then we're going to take a brief break, but if you go to, truth, F-O-R, that's

Again, it's October 15-17, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We've got to revive the church, and we've got to be able to not only to present, but to explain and defend the gospel. So stay tuned more from Andrew when we come back with more of Truth for a New Generation. America today is like a patient struggling to live, yet is being forcibly euthanized by her, quote, doctors. The life force within the patient fighting for survival is the honest citizens like yourself.

The team of, quote, caregivers are the local and national leaders actually contributing to the demise of the patient. The economy is crashing. Crime is exploding. The constitution is being abolished. The assault on America, how to defend our nation before it's too late by Alex McFarland has one single purpose, to get you prepared. Find the real source of America's current problems that no one else is talking about and what you can do now to face tomorrow, regardless of what tomorrow brings. The assault on America, how to defend our nation before it's too late, available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and local Christian bookstores. Where in the word are you? With Bill Campbell, inspiring your read through the Bible in 90 days. Are you getting tired of all the negativity surrounding, go ahead, say the word, politics?

I am. It comes through the media and it filters into our minds and hearts, and it's kind of unsettling. But you know, we can do something about it, and it starts right here with me. I realized this when I was looking at Scripture, thinking about leadership, and that's where I'm taking you today if you join us at, asking where in the word am I? What I realized was that the Bible is not full of perfect leaders as we want, it was full of imperfect people who let God take the lead.

Where in the Word Are You? is produced by Scripture Awakening, inspiring you to read, study and live God's word. Learn more and donate at For apologetics resources, books by Alex McFarland, and to find out where Alex is speaking, visit The four Gospels in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they present a genuine Savior, demonstrating genuine love, coming to a world possessing genuine spiritual need.

Hi, welcome back to Truth For A New Generation. Alex McFarland here, talking with Andrew Ronnich and Andrew, you know, this idea that people say, Jesus never lived. We know the Bible affirms Jesus, but history affirms the reality of the life of Christ as well, and to think that the central figure of the human race for the last two millennia was a myth, that's just not even reasonable, is it?

No it's not. In fact, we have several accounts of Jesus outside of the Bible, the most famous being from Flavius Josephus in his book of antiquities, where he gives a basic summary of Jesus' life, and we also have mentions of Jesus in the works of Pliny, in the works of Tacitus, and so it's not just in the Bible, Jesus is recorded elsewhere. It's interesting, one of the objections that people often make to Jesus being real is they said, there would definitely have to be archaeological evidence, we don't see any inscriptions of Jesus in the first century, we don't see any birth records or trial records, and that claim is a little bit absurd for the fact that we don't have any birth records, trial records, inscriptions of just about any Palestinian Jew in the first century. Just take for example Pontius Pilate, the most famous person of Jesus' day in Palestine. If you look at the archaeological evidence that we have for his existence, we only have several coins that bear inscriptions, and that would make sense because he was in charge of coin production, but Jesus didn't make coins, he was a preacher, he wasn't a Roman prefect. Other than that, we have what's known as the Pilate, there's a Pilate inscription where Pilate's encoded on a certain scroll, and that's it. Pilate doesn't have, we don't have his birth records, we don't have records of Pilate setting prisoners free, we don't have records of Pilate giving dictates, we don't have any of those records, we simply don't. So to think that the Romans, that they preserved these records for all time is just false, we simply don't have these records. We don't have a narrative account of Pontius Pilate, but in the Gospels we have four narrative accounts.

Yes, and I wanted to point something out that I think is just very significant, and I'd love your response to this. A few years ago we led a tour to the Holy Land and in the city of Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, there's a synagogue there that is very famously a synagogue where Jesus was alleged to have spoken and talked. Well, in the late second, early third century, they apparently raised money to renovate this synagogue. Now you can go there and we toured the ruins of this synagogue where Jesus spoke, but there's an inscription on a column. Now what's amazing is, folks, like if there's a fundraising campaign at a church, nowadays you might put your name on a plaque, but at the synagogue at Capernaum, there is a column with an inscription that says, Jesus of Nazareth spoke here and our grandparents heard him.

And this is from sometime in the 200s. So apparently in the 200s, when they raised money to renovate the synagogue, someone got to make this inscription who referenced the fact, and this would have been about 150 to 160 years after the life of Christ, apparently, but they said Jesus spoke here and our grandparents heard him. Well, that's an objective reference to Jesus Christ, but let me give a quote. Earlier, Andrew, you mentioned Albert Schweitzer, who was not a right-wing evangelical Christian, but he said of those who interpret Christianity as being based on myth, listen folks, Schweitzer said, quote, they manufacture out of the various fragments of information a kind of universal mystery religion which never existed, least of all in Paul's day. In other words, this idea that there were dying and rising saviors and the disciples of Jesus merely lifted that concept or that, and Schweitzer says, look, this idea that the world was, you know, present with this universal mystery fable is just not true.

Now C.S. Lewis rejected the mystery religion thesis. Lewis said that Christianity originated, quote, in an area where no trace of the nature or fertility religions was present. See a lot of these skeptics will say, well Jesus was based on the crop cycles and the fertility religions, and it's winter, then it's spring. See, that's like death and resurrection. But my goodness, in monotheistic Jerusalem, this fertility deity worldview was not present, C.S.

Lewis. One last thing that I want to throw back to you, Andrew, but there was a religion scholar named Mercia Eliad and a very famous religion scholar. He said, quote, there is no reason to suppose that Christianity was influenced by the Hellenistic mystery religions, being Gentile slash Greek mystery religions. So my point being, Andrew, that scholars who are not firebrand evangelists but serious academics have said, look, this is just not, this doesn't square with the facts.

No, it doesn't. In fact, one of the best books I read on this subject is a book by a very famous, I guess you could say, anti-Christian scholar named Bart Ehrman, and his book was Did Jesus Exist? And in it, Bart Ehrman counters the claims that the story of Jesus was based off of Gnostic texts. The only problem is that the Gnostic texts that we have don't date before the time of Jesus and before the time of the Gospels.

They date to the second century. We don't have any Gnostic texts that date before the Gospels. And so instead of the Gospels being based off the Gnostic texts, it's actually the Gnostic texts that are based off of the Gospels. And the same applies for what's called Zoroastrianism. Robert Price has made a big deal that when Jesus went to be baptized, that this is following stories that we hear of in Zoroastrianism.

But which is more likely? Is Jesus, is the story of Jesus being baptized, is that following a Zoroastrian story? Or is that following what we see in Josephus, where Josephus mentioned John the Baptizer? Is it more likely that Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist, who lived and was a contemporary during the time of Jesus?

Or are the authors trying to find some Zoroastrian connection? The same goes for the crucifixion. Paul says that Jesus was crucified. And there are some, like Richard Carrier, who believe that when he says that, he means that Jesus was killed in outer space. Now we have a lot of comments about how Jews were crucified during the time of the Romans. Once again, we see that in Josephus.

So which is more likely? That when Paul says that Christ was crucified, is he referring to actual crucifixion, which was very common in that time, or is he referring to a phenomenon that's a crucifixion to outer space? How does it make sense if Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus was buried?

How do you bury someone from outer space? It just doesn't add up. No. Well, when we come back, we're going to continue this conversation. Alex McFarland here with our guest Andrew Hranich on Truth for a New Generation.

Don't go away. For the first time since the COVID shutdowns, it's the 2021 Truth for a New Generation National Apologetics Conference. World views, the battles you must win, featuring Dr. Alex McFarland, Dr. Frank Turek, Sandy Rios, and E. W. Jackson talking about raising children to come to Christ and stay with Christ in the midst of the woke movement, critical race theory and Marxism in America. October 15th through 17th in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Conference and Concert by the Birdsong.

TNG 2021, October 15th through 17th. Register at Are you tired of liberal agendas ruining our country but you don't know what to do about it? That's why Truth and Liberty Coalition was founded. We want to equip you to take back our country and impact the world. Here's how we do it. We educate through broadcasts, conferences, and our website with resources that inform, equip, and motivate. We unify by collaborating with like-minded organizations like the Family Research Council, the Family Policy Alliance, and My Faith Votes. We mobilize by providing practical tools you can use to impact your local community.

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of nations. Together, we can change the course of our country for good. Join Truth and Liberty to connect with believers and organizations who not only want to see a change in our nation, but a community that is actually doing something about it. Join us online for our broadcast and subscribe for relevant updates on our website In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex McFarland is a voice you can trust to speak the timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. You're listening to Truth for a New Generation Radio. Welcome back to Truth for a New Generation. Alex McFarland here with Andrew Ronich, who will be one of the speakers at Truth for a New Generation. Listen, if you care about being able to defend your Christian faith, if you want to have a youth ministry that is strong and effective at reaching young people, and we're talking about things like the Woke Movement, socialism, progressivism, so many of the world views that compete for the souls of people. Listen, you need to come to the Truth for a New Generation event October 15-17.

You can find complete information. Frank Turick, Sandy Rios, E.W. Jackson, myself, Andrew. More than a dozen speakers on the most relevant topics of our day. And I would encourage you to go to the website

That's truth for a new generation dot com. But Andrew, when we were talking about this topic yesterday, was Jesus really historical? You mentioned something that I thought was fascinating. In the New Testament, a reference—well, really a distinction—between Peter and James, the brother of Jesus. Speak to that and how it relates to the question of the realness of Jesus. Yes, so I think that one of the most important people to cite and to look at when it comes to the historicity of Jesus is the Apostle Paul. And we can take a basic chronology of Paul's life by certain references to Paul's writings.

For example, Paul will say, for three years I did this, for fourteen years I was here. And so we can create a basic timeline of the Apostle Paul using these quotes. And if we use that timeline, we can date Paul's persecution of the Church to about two years after the death of Jesus. And so whatever Paul knows about Christianity is very relevant to this topic.

I mean, did he think that Jesus was a myth, or did he think that Jesus was a real person? And interestingly enough, in the epistle to the Galatians, which is dated prior to the Gospels, Paul mentions the brother of the Lord, and he says in verse 18, he says, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, who we know as Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. And so when you look at the word brother in the New Testament, it can mean one of two things. Either it can mean a flesh and blood relative, or it can refer to a spiritual relative. For example, Alex is my brother in the Lord, and there are women who are in the Church who are my sisters in the Lord.

And so we can use that in a spiritual sense. But what's fascinating here is that Paul does not call both Peter and James brothers of the Lord. He actually differentiates James from Peter. If he was talking spiritually, he would have included them both, because they are both in the same group, they're both part of the way, part of the early Church. But when he talks about the two of them in Galatians, he decides to differentiate James by calling him the brother of the Lord. And he does the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians, where he differentiates individuals who he calls the brothers of the Lord in comparison to other people in the Church.

And these are the flesh brothers. It makes no sense to say that he's talking spiritually here when he does not include Cephas along with James. And in fact, the historian Josephus actually makes reference to James the brother of the Lord in one of his writings.

And so we as a matter of fact see that Jesus did have fleshly brothers, which is kind of strange if Jesus didn't exist. That's so powerful. That is very powerful, Andrew.

And you know what? In talking about this, you mentioned Josephus, a man we've had on the program many times, Dr. Michael Licona, one of the great living experts on history. He was a colleague of Louis Feldman. Louis Feldman was said to be the greatest living Josephus scholar.

He recently passed away. But Feldman, who was Jewish and was not a believer as far as we know, Feldman said the Josephus references to Jesus were absolutely authentic. And the reason I bring that up is because I've had more than a few skeptics at universities say, well, Josephus, the famed Jewish historian, antiquities of the Jews. Josephus didn't mention Jesus.

They were conflations, insertions later. But Feldman, a Jewish historian, the world expert on Josephus, Louis Feldman said the Josephus references to Christ were authentic. So you know, we've only got just a couple of minutes left. What does it mean? Andrew, if Jesus was real, if Jesus rose from the dead, what does that mean for me in the 21st century? Well, I like what C.S. Lewis said.

C.S. Lewis said that either Jesus is liar, and that he claims to be God and he's a liar. Either he's a lunatic or he's the Lord. But I think after this conversation, we can now see that there's a fourth option, that he could be a legend, which if you look at all the evidence, that's not even an option.

So he can't be a legend. So he's either going to be crazy, he has to be demon-possessed, as people said he was, or he has to be Lord. And if we look at the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is without dispute that Jesus Christ is Lord.

You don't make him Lord, he is Lord. And so for you in the 21st century, essentially you have to pick a side. Are you on the side of truth, or are you on the side of lies? Do you support the father of truth, do you support the one who is truth, or do you support the father of lies?

There is just no middle ground. Well, folks, you've been listening to Andrew Hranich and we're very honored to have him on Truth For A New Generation, but here's the question I want to throw to you, everybody listening. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is the risen Savior. The Bible says that he is not only the only name whereby we must be saved, but he is the name above all names. Jesus is the King of Kings. But my question is this, is he your Lord?

He can be today. Do you know today the love of God can come into your life and your sins can be forgiven? Right now you may not realize it, but in a state of lostness, what awaits you is the judgment of God. But God loves you and God wants you to know him and to be forgiven. And if you'll repent, that means to turn from sin to Christ. And you say, Lord, I am sorry for my sins. Lord, I do believe that Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and he did it for me. We often say this, we say Jesus is as close by as a prayer. And if you will call on Jesus, he will hear you, he will receive you.

And this one who, yes, he absolutely was historically real, he's risen, he's coming again, but we want Jesus today for you to be personally real and he can be if you'll turn your heart to him and call his name in prayer today. We hope you do that. If we can help you in any way, if we can encourage you, just reach out to us. You can go to Thanks for listening.

God bless you and tell somebody about Jesus. TNG radio is made possible by the friends of Alex McFarland Ministries, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. That's P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. Call us at 877-YES-GOD-1.

That's 877-YES-GOD and the number 1. Or give online at While you're there, listen to program archives, read Alex's blog, invite Alex to speak at your event, or contact Alex with a question or comment. Thanks for listening today and join us again next time as we bring you more truth for a new generation on TNG radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-17 05:58:37 / 2023-09-17 06:09:36 / 11

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