Unlike most religions, Christianity gambles its plausibility on certain datable events. Jesus not only died for our sins, but he “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” Most of our churches, however, end up focusing on the practical and therapeutic aspects of faith, and rarely, if ever, address questions related to “the Jesus of history.” So how can we be sure that Jesus ever really existed in the first place, or whether the Gospels can be trusted as authentic eyewitness reports? Shane Rosenthal discusses these questions and more with John Dickson, author of Is Jesus History?
I think one reason that the early church was so big on catechesis, or hours of learning of this material, was they knew that only a depth of the knowledge of the truth of Christ as it is found in the Old and New Testament will sustain Christians through persecutions. You might win people with candy and happy times but if you want Christians to maintain the faith amidst very serious pressure, which the early Christians faced at various times, it’s only depth of knowledge that is the grounding that can hold you firm in those times. I think that’s partly what is behind their insistence of depth of learning.John Dickson