Some thoughts to get the conversation going - though I’m not sure I’ve got much to add compared to the knowledge of Dr Vince and Jo Vitale.
I listened to the podcast first and some points I got was
I would also add some followup questions (as the podcast question states a husband was asking the question of his wife)
- why would the Romans bother trying to fabricate the story? they already had power, and used that power to destroy (they thought) Jesus by killing him. Is the books author suggesting that, Constantine revamped Jesus to continue to control the people 300 years after the events and put his own spin on history? Hardly.
- the entire Old Testament points forward to Jesus coming, and fulfilling almost countless prophecies, thousands of years before the Roman civilisation were even known about or rose to power. Even in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, there was the promise of the Messiah, who would ‘crush the head of the serpent’, and in turn would have his heel bruised by the serpent. I’d like to know how the Romans would have fabricated the entire Old Testament - the Jewish Scriptures.
- the message of Jesus was so different, and as theBibleProject describes it is an ‘upside down kingdom’, where the way up was down, through humility and serving others. All world kingdoms setup by humans rise to the top by power, violence and even today people climb the corporate ladder by treading on everyone else, stabbing people in the back and all the usual office politics that we see. Human nature is no different, we just pretend to be more civilised.
- as in this video from the BibleProject acts series towards the end, the Romans saw the message of Christ as a huge threat to their way of life. the Romans were happy if you came into their civilisation and just added your own cultural gods into their collection. But, the Apostle Paul’s message was that Jesus Christ was the only way. Why would the Romans have created a competing worldview that was actually very confusing to them - and completely replaced the worship of Caesar as god. My understanding was that Christians helped out people who were sick during Roman times during plagues because they were so changed by what Christ has done for them, they were in turn sharing Christs love to others.
the theme video ‘the way of the exile’ asks the question of us: how do we live well in a world system that is about money, power, and violence
During the Crusades, there was violence committed in the name of Christ - and we know the history of religion mixed with politics throughout the centuries. The Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection, were into Judaism for money and power. If they believed that death is the end, and there was no resurrection, then why not use religion as a means to gaining power.
I remember John Lennox suggesting in one of his books or videos that anyone using violence in Jesus name, or to further the cause of Christ, is actually going against his teachings directly - Jesus rebuked Peter for cutting off the high priest’s servants ear (Malchus was his name) in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then healed his ear. What on earth must have gone through Malchus’ mind as here he was arresting Jesus, and Jesus picked up his ear of the ground and just stuck it back onto his head! The account just casually mentions it, but this miracle right there surely must have got Malchus’ attention?
Jesus told Pilate that ‘if this kingdom was of this world, His servants or followers would be fighting’. John 18:36
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
I think the argument that Romans created a ‘Jesus story’ to control the masses is fairly weak - and as Vince quotes in the podcast a ‘parallelism’ (I forget the exact words and I can’t find it again in the podcast to quote it properly) .
hope this is helpful and gets the conversation started…