Episode 9: Why Did They Write the Gospels?

Episode 9 September 09, 2020 00:08:14
Episode 9: Why Did They Write the Gospels?
Thinking Christian
Episode 9: Why Did They Write the Gospels?

Sep 09 2020 | 00:08:14

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Show Notes

Why did the gospel authors write the gospels? For believers the answer might be a question: "Why even ask? Isn't it obvious?" That answer isn't universal, though. Today on the Thinking Christian podcast we launch a new series on Jesus through the gospels, starting with Luke's answer to that question in Luke 1:1-4, with a quick comparison to skeptics' unlikely theories about the gospels.

Based on material in Tom Gilson's book Too Good to be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality, available here.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the thinking Christian podcast, your weekly guy to solid Christian thinking on culture, science, faith, and Christian confidence hosted by Tom Gilson. Why were the gospels written? Speaker 1 00:00:24 Boy, you wouldn't believe the theories on that. We're going to look at some answers today. This is the opening of a new series, a new approach to this podcast that I'm taking, where I'm going to be looking with you. And we're going to be exploring together the greatness, the consistency, the uniqueness of Jesus. As we see him in the gospels, this is all in line with the book that I wrote called too good to be false. How jesus' incomparable character reveals his reality and what I learned while I was researching, studying and writing that book. Wow, there's still stuff we can learn about Jesus. That'll surprise us that maybe we've been too used to Jesus. We've taken it for granted that there's still new material, new ways to discover how great he is and how that gives us confidence that he really is for real. Speaker 1 00:01:18 We're going to start today in the first paragraph, the first four verses of the book of Luke, and this is in the English standard version. Luke writes in as much as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us. It seemed good to me also having followed all things closely for some time past to write an orderly account for you most excellent. The awfulness that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. So here we begin this exploration of Jesus in the gospels, but we don't have Jesus in this paragraph yet we have, we have the gospel. And the question is, why did they write the gospels? Why did Matthew Mark, Luke and John write them down now, for those of us who are believers that might come across as kind of a, why did he ask that question? Speaker 1 00:02:19 We know why they wrote the gospels. John says it at the end of his gospel and chapter 20 verse 30 and following, he says, basically he says, I didn't write down everything here that Jesus did, but these things I have written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you may have life in his name, and this is kind of an, everybody knows that answer, isn't it? Well, it is among those of us who are believers, but that's not a universal answer. The skeptics will give you a completely different answer to the question of why did they write the gospels? And it's actually fascinating and it's worth knowing if nothing else so that you can know how to answer it. So here's what they say. And I'm going to compress this and this isn't every skeptic and not what you would call a totally fair treatment. Speaker 1 00:03:07 Cause I'm summarizing in such a short amount of time. So give me grace on that. But here's the skeptics answer to why did they write the gospels? It starts with a real person named Jesus who had some real followers and they thought that he was going to be their deliverer, but he died. Well, they didn't Fest it, everything in him. And what we know from psychology, this part's real, by the way, what we know from psychology is sometimes when you get yourself so invested in something that turns out to be false, you'll find a way to make it true. After all they call it cognitive dissonance reduction theory, and it starts by inventing some kind of a new reality that makes everything true and good. Again, in this case, it would have been that the disciples invented or resurrection that Jesus wasn't dead after all that he was still there to lead them toward the deliverance that they wanted. Speaker 1 00:04:03 Now, in this theory, too, that it said that people will want to reinforce their new beliefs by getting other people on board with it, to help support them. And, and so the disciples would have gone out and they would have proselytized so that they could have other people believing in this resurrection, along with them. And boy, it worked my goodness. It worked, it's spread all over the Roman empire, except the process that skeptics propose is one that changes actually corrupts and distorts everything because they're talking about oral transmission where things change and change and change at each step, along the way, Bart Ehrman, one of the leading proponents of this scenario, he calls it the telephone game and he says, so stories change. Well, I say that's too weak, a word they would get absolutely corrupted. And that's their theory is that what we have in the gospels is the corrupted result of a corrupting process. Speaker 1 00:05:02 As we go through this series. And as you read the book, I hope you do too good to be false. We'll look at how, how corrupted isn't. And that is the corruption, the distortion that changes that should be evident in the gospels. If their theory is true. Well, they're just not there. But back to the question, why did they write the gospels? Here's what Luke says. He's writing to Theopolis. We don't know who Theopolis was, except for, he was quote most excellent. He must've had some kind of position of honor, probably in government. It might've been a pseudonym though. Theopolis is a Greek word. That means lover of God, it might've been not as real name, but a title or as I said, a pseudonym, but what he said in the last verse of, of what I read to you earlier, verse four, he says that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Speaker 1 00:05:59 Now where's this certainty going to come from Luke recognizes that a lot of people live undertaken to compile a narrative. We've only got four left of those Luke's is one of them, but many had undertaken to compile a narrative of what had been accomplished or fulfilled among them. And it started with eye witnesses and ministers of the gospel people who were there to see it happen. And they delivered, he used an interesting word there, a technical word. Actually that means something like very carefully handed down, officially handed down, perhaps even in a sense so that we were very certain that it was handed down accurately. Well, Luke has been following all these things closely and he's been checking into it and he wanted to write an orderly account. Why? So that the author list could know for sure that's what this gospel is about. Well, it's about Jesus. Speaker 1 00:06:58 Of course, it's about Jesus, but it's about knowing for sure about Jesus so that you can have certainty concerning the things, the awfulness that you have been taught. And so that we by extension can have certainty concerning the things that we have been taught. Well, of course the skeptics are challenging that how can we really be certain of this certainty? That's part of the exploration that we're going to continue as we go through this series, I'm launching into it, looking forward to this discovery with you, of Jesus in the gospels, how he's so consistent, so unique and so good that we can fall more in love with him and we can follow him no matter what. And so we can be sure that he is indeed too good to be false for the thinking Christian podcast. I'm Tom Gilson. I look forward to continuing this with you. Thanks for listening. Speaker 0 00:07:58 The thinking Christian podcast is copyright by Thomas Gilson for more information, visit the thinking Christian [email protected].

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