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Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2020 1:48 pm

Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 25, 2020 1:48 pm

Mormonism stands or falls on two important historical events: the First Vision and the Book of Mormon. Dr. Robert Bowman has researched the topics and shows how these two events do not stand the historical test, especially in relation to the Resurrection of Jesus. This week Bill and Eric interview Dr. Bowman and discuss these … Continue reading Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 3 →

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Viewpoint on Miami Museum. The program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry since 1979.

Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism.

Our thanks to Adam's roof for that musical introduction. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. With me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But we also have as a guest today, our good friend, Dr. Rob Bowman, who's with faith thinkers. Their Web site is Faith Thinker's Dot org. They cover a wide range of apologetics issues. But Rob has been an expert in the subject of Mormonism for many, many years. He's written a book titled Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. Welcome back to the show, Rob. I want to thank you again for being on with us, because I think you have a lot to contribute to this subject. We didn't get into it yesterday, but while we were describing what is in your book, you mention on page 36 of your book, you bring up this phrase inference to the best explanation. That's an important concept if a person is going to understand the purpose behind your book. But could you explain or describe what you mean by inference to the best explanation?

Yes, absolutely. This is an important concept. It has to do with the method that is being used to assess various proposed explanations for the evidence that we have. Think about this, for example, in the courtroom, the jury is asked to weigh all of the evidence that is presented both by the prosecutor and by the defense to determine which side is making the best case for their position. Did this person actually commit the murder or did he not? What is the best explanation for all the evidence? And that approach is different from, let's say I really want to believe something. I've already decided that I believe it. But I want to find bits and pieces of facts that look like they might support my position and really push those and tried to ignore as much as possible anything that seems to be contrary, because I don't really need those things to believe in. I already believe it. But I'm going to just try to throw some things out there that might help us make it seem like my cases is reasonable. That's that's not what we're doing here. We're also not doing the opposite, which is saying I've already made up my mind. I'm not going to believe this. So I'm going to throw everything at it. I can. That sounds bad without really making sure that I'm dealing with the evidence in a fair minded way. So the approach of inference to the best explanation is kind of goes like this. We've got a situation here. We've got a number of facts and we want to know what really happened. Well, what we're going to do is we're going to look at these facts and we're going to ask which of the various explanations that people are proposing covers them best. So I'll give you a simple example. You go outside in, your driveway is wet. You might think that it rained or you might think that somebody got out of holes and was washing their car in the driveway. The sprinklers were working, but they were spraying water in the wrong place. You know, you could have several different explanations. Well, what you do is in normal life, you look at all the facts that you can gather to try to determine which of these explanations is the best. So we're not trying to prove our point of view, regardless of anything that might get in the way. We're not trying to disprove somebody else's view. We're just trying to look at all of the facts and weigh them fairly and carefully in order to determine which explanation that we have out there really explains the evidence test. This is how a truth is determined in a court of law. This is how scientists are supposed to work in evaluating hypotheses in the lab. This is a kind of methodology that's used in a variety of contexts, and it applies also in asking historical questions about such things as did Jesus really die on the cross? To Joseph Smith really have a visionary experience in 1820. These are historical questions and they can be evaluated. The evidence for these claims can be evaluated historically using this method called inference to the best explanation.

Wow. That's a great introduction to. The issue of the resurrection of Jesus, and that's what I want to bring up now that you wrote about in chapters two and three, so using what you've just talked about, how can we establish that Jesus was a real person?

Well, it's interesting. So often this question is brought up as though it's a live problem in history and there's some reason for doubt, there really is no reason for doubting that Jesus was the real person. The vast majority of historians that have addressed the issue at all, because most of them just take it for granted that he was a real person. Those that have addressed it have almost universally agreed that he did what causes some people to think that Jesus is not a real person. It's that the Gospels report Jesus doing such things as performing miracles, casting out demons, you know, and other miraculous acts and rising from the dead. And these are dismissed as mythological because the assumption is made that any such stories have to be mythology. The problem here is that historians frequently can sort out what is historical fact about somebody from what is uncertain or what is regarded as not factual and sober historians, including non Christian historians, whether they're Jewish or Muslim or whatever it might be, have looked at the evidence that some of us may doubt that Jesus performed miracles. But we all agree that Jesus existed. The evidence is overwhelming that he was a real person. All we have numerous sources from the first century and early second century, including Christian, Jewish and Roman sources that affirm the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. So it's not really a serious question, even though there are a couple of atheist Internet skeptics out there who are strongly pushing the idea that Jesus didn't exist. The historical evidence is overwhelming that he did.

You mentioned the Romans and of course, the Romans were certainly responsible, at least in part for the crucifixion. But when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus. Muslims say that he was not crucified. He can't have a resurrection without having a death. So how can we know that Jesus actually died on the cross?

First of all, we ought to ask the question, is this something anybody would make up that you believe in a religious teacher, founder of your belief system, and specifically a Jewish rabbi or prophet? And you think that he was a man of God? Edmund, you're going to make up the story that he was crucified by the Romans and killed by them. Why would you do that? Why would anybody make up a story like that?

The more we know about crucifixion, the less likely it is that anybody would make up such a story about Jesus, because crucifixion was a gruesome, shameful, humiliating and extremely painful way to die.

It was regarded as the supreme rebuke, culturally and socially for the Romans to crucify somebody. It was designed to be horrific. And so no one's going to make up a story about their prophet or their messiah being crucified. In fact, it's it's out of that very cultural mindset that God would never allow one of his great prophets to suffer such a horrific death as crucifixion. It's really out of that mentality, which is an ancient way of looking at things that Islam came up with, the idea that Jesus was crucified because he said, well, he was a prophet of God. God would never let that happen to one of his prophets. So that's ironically a strong piece of evidence that it actually did happen because nobody would make it up. Now we have multiple sources. And as I mentioned from the 1st century, multiple Christian sources. We have four gospel accounts by four different authors. These draw on various sources. People that were actually there. We have the Jewish historian Josephus writing at the end of the first century. We have Roman historians writing in the early two decades of the second century. And they all agree that this happened. So we have no evidence that it didn't. We have no accounts of Jesus, a surviving crucifixion and going off somewhere that date within even a few hundred years of Jesus life.

So the evidence is quite strong, compelling evidence that Jesus really was crucified at the order of Pontius Pilot in the first century.

Rob, what would you say to the critic who says there are too many contradictions given by the eyewitnesses about the resurrection? For instance, we have Matthew saying there was only one angel, the tomb. Mark says it was a young man. Luke says there were two man. And John says two angels. Latter day saint could point to that and say, well, you have a lot of contradictions to go with the resurrection. How can you believe in it?

Well, first of all, the business about whether they were men or angels should be addressed. The term. Is human or men and angels in Greek, the word can also be translated messengers into English. These terms do not necessarily tell us by themselves what kind of being or beings were at the tomb. You have to look at the context. So when Mark describes the angel that he mentions as a young man, he also gives various other details about his shining brilliance and in white and various other things that make it quite clear that he is an angel. Luke. At one point in his gospel account and Luke, 24, refers to them as two men. But later on quotes the two disciples on the road to a mass as saying that the messengers at the tomb were angels. So Luke isn't contradicting himself in the space of 10 verses. He knows what he's talking about. They aren't literal human beings, but they're peop their beings that look like human beings. But they're, strictly speaking, spirit beings or angels. As to whether they're one or two, it's it's inconsequential. How many angels were at the tomb? Because it's really a side issue. If there were two, there was at least one, perhaps only one of them did the speaking. And so Mark only mentions the one that was doing the talking. There are these kinds of minor, little annoying, pesky details that are that aren't easily harmonized necessarily among the gospel accounts, because we're talking about multiple events in many cases being witnessed by different individuals and we have different sources that are telling us about them. Now, compare that with Joseph Smith's first vision. This is something that happened only one time. Only one person saw it. And we're talking about major discrepancies in the accounts that come from that very source. Joseph's own accounts of the first division are contradictory on such a basic question as whether he saw the father or not or whether it was really Jesus or angels that he saw. Now, this isn't minor in the case of the first visit. Everything hangs on who it was that Joseph saw. That's not the case at the empty tomb. Where was it, one in July or was it two? It it really does matter. What matters is the message was given by these heavenly messengers to the women that the tomb is empty because Jesus had risen from the dead.

We've been talking to Dr Rob Bowman. Rob Bowman is the president of Faith Thinker's. And you can check out their Web site at Faith Thinker's dot org. If you're interested in explanations on a wide variety of apologetic issues, we're discussing his book, Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions, examining the foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. We strongly encourage you to get a hold of a copy of this book. You can get it at Eutaw Lighthouse Ministry Bookstore. That's utf l m dot org or any online book service. Tomorrow, we're going to continue our conversation with Dr Rob Bowman.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Morman is a research ministry. We encourage you to visit our Web site at w w w dot m r m dot org, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.

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