Why Believe in Jesus?

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Contents for Why Believe in Jesus?


Unit I - Why Believe in God?

Unit II - Why Believe in Jesus?

Unit II A. Why Seek Revelation?

This Unit is a transition Unit from the first part of the encyclopedia (Why Believe in God?). It gives a summary of the evidence for God from Physics and philosophy, shows why reason must be complemented by revelation, and makes the transition from a Creator to Jesus.

A brief summary of the four sets of evidence for God.

a. The evidence from physics.

b. The evidence from the logical proof for the existence of God.

c. The evidence from philosophy of mathematics.

d. The evidence from near-death experiences and human transcendentally.

The mutual corroborative effect of these four sets of evidence for God.

The complementary picture of God given by these four sets of evidence for God.

If reason can probe so deeply, why do we need God to reveal himself (revelation)? There are five basic areas into which reason cannot probe deeply.

a. The heart of God.

b. How to pray and worship.

c. Specific ethical precepts and attributes of God that cannot be known by reason (e.g. the trinity).

d. God’s inspiration, response to prayer, and redemption of suffering.

e. The dynamic of sacred community.

Toward a | definition of love (agape).

Six reflective questions manifesting the unconditional love of God and his desire to be with us empathetically.

Unit II-B Is There Historical Evidence for Jesus?

What is the Historical Evidence for Jesus outside of the New Testament?

What are the rigorous historical methods used to verify historical claims in the New Testament?

Why did the early Church proclaim Jesus to be divine when it was apologetically disadvantageous?

The high cost of the proclamation of Jesus’ divinity.

Unit II-C Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Part One.

Who were the witnesses to the resurrection appearances?

What did St. Paul believe about Jesus’ resurrection?

How do we make sense out of the gospel narratives on the resurrection?

How did Jesus appear after His resurrection? -- transform (spiritual) corporeality.

Unit II- D Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Part Two.

Is there any way of verifying the historical veracity of the resurrection accounts from non-gospel material?

Why did Christianity grow so rapidly after the public humiliation and persecution of its Messiah? How did this differ from all other messianic movements around the same period?

Christian mutations of Second Temple Judaism’s doctrine on the resurrection.

What could be a necessary and sufficient cause of these mutations?

Do the explanations of skeptics and minimalists (e.g. the Jesus Seminar) provide an adequate explanation of the mutations in their historical context?

The case for the resurrection as described by Wright, Brown, Fuller, Jeremiahs, and others.

Unit II-E What is the Significance of Jesus’ Gift of the Spirit?

How could the Christian Church have grown so rapidly without the impelling presence of the Spirit?

Why did the Christian Church differ from the Church of John the Baptist and other messianic movements?

What were the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit – healing, miracles, prophesy speaking in tongues?

What are the interior gifts of the Spirit? – Abba, faith, prayer, hope, love, zeal, joy.

Does the Spirit inspire and operate in the same way today?

Unit II-F What is the Evidence for Jesus’ Miracles?

What did first century Judaism believe about miracles?

What are the unique aspects of Jesus’ miracle working (compared with others of His day)?

How do Jesus’ miracles in the Canonical Gospels compare with those recounted in the Gnostic Gospels?

The application of historical criteria through Jesus’ exorcisms.

The application of historical criteria to Jesus’ healing miracles.

The application of historical criteria to Jesus’ “raisings from the dead.”

The significance of Jesus raising from the dead in His own name and by His own power.

The manifestation of divinity (and Jesus’ knowledge of His divinity) through His miracles.

Unit II-G What Did Jesus Say about Himself?

Jesus’ claim to defeat evil/Satan, to bring the Kingdom of God in His own person, and to fulfill the mission reserved for Yahweh alone.

How do these three claims relate to Jesus’ specific ministry of miracles?

The significance of the eschatological son of man (Daniel 7).

Jesus’ claim to be exclusive son of the Father – the parable of the wicked vintners, and the stone rejected by the builders.

The unique charge of blasphemy applied to Jesus—why?

The famous Q logion -- “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son…”

Did Jesus know He was divine? If so, why did He keep His revelation of it so low key?

Conclusions about Jesus’ self-conception and self-revelation.

Unit II-H Are the Trinity and the Incarnation Really Possible?

Why can there only be one real infinite power?

How can there be three persons in one God?

How can Jesus be true God and true man without a contradiction?

What are the persons of the Trinity doing? How can they be understood in relation to each other?

How does the logic of love reveal the full meaning of the Trinity and the Incarnation?

Unit II-J Is God Unconditional Love – Jesus’ Words?

The meaning of love as the highest commandment.

The meaning of “Abba”.

The Father of the Prodigal’s Son – explained.

The Good Samaritan.

The Beatitudes.

How is God’s true nature revealed by all of the above?

Unit II-K Is God Unconditional Love – Jesus’ Friends?

Jesus’ love of the poor.

Jesus’ love of sinners and outcasts.

Jesus’ love of His disciples.

Conclusions about “love one another as I have loved you.”

Unit II-L Is God Unconditional Love – the Eucharist?

The historical context of the Eucharist.

Did Jesus go up to Jerusalem on the Passover Feast?

The Eucharistic actions.

The fourth suffering servant song – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.

The original [[Eucharist#Jesus_as_the_New_Sacrificial_Paschal_Lamb | Eucharistic words.

The meaning of “body.”

The meaning of “blood.”

For many or for all? Jeremiah’s exegesis.

“Do this in memory of me.” -- only a memory or a reliving?

The unconditional love of Jesus manifest in the Eucharist.

Unit II-M Is God Unconditional Love – the Passion?

Historical considerations surrounding the Passion.

The Marcan Text and the tradition underlying it.

So what is the likely series of events?

What were the last words of Jesus?

Psalm 22 and its significance – what was Jesus thinking?

The unconditional love of Christ manifest in His self-sacrificial death.

Unit II-N Is Jesus Really Emmanuel – “God With Us”?

The love of God and Christ in the writings of St. Paul.

The love of God and Christ in the writings of St. John.

Conclusions about the unconditional love of God and the divinity of Jesus.

Unit II-O References

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