Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR

Do Facts Matter To Faith?

According to THIS report, tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Okay, that’s not exactly true. However, the article does suggest that tomorrow is the day before Jesus’s TRUE birthday. The article claims…

The Gospels inform us that John the Baptist, who was Jesus’s cousin, was born six months before Jesus. John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem in the order of Abijah. We can find when the order of Abijah served in the Temple in I Chronicles 24:10, and from this we can calculate that the birth of John fell at Passover.


Jesus, then, was born six months later, on Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, which falls on Tishrei 15.

This may not mean very much to us who use the Gregorian calendar, but Tishrei 15 falls this year on Thursday 23 September.

Biblical days begin at sunset, so the feast actually starts on the evening of 22 September, which would have been the “silent and holy night” we will all be singing about three months later.

So Jesus’s real birthday will pass with hardly a soul knowing it.

I assume that most of us know that most theologians and historians agree that Jesus was probably not born on December 25. Some have said he was actually born in the spring, and as you just read, others believe in September.

Do these kinds of facts (or perhaps, the lack of facts) matter to you? Should they matter? Are those who research such things wasting their time? Or should we seek factual answers to questions such as these…

How do the “facts” or the “lack of facts” affect your faith?

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Danny Bixby

posted September 21, 2010 at 11:55 am

I think facts should matter to faith…seems little good to have faith in something that is factually inaccurate.

But I think that’s a whole different discussion than the current one ūüėČ As you said, there’s plenty of debate about when Jesus’ actual birthday may have been. But I don’t see that as reason to not celebrate it on the agreed upon date…whether it really happened on that day or not.

Lots of parents celebrate birthdays for their kids on days other than their actual birthday. Maybe this kind of goes along that road?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

I think some facts are useful to faith…after all, faith ought not be “blind”. So the fact that they keep digging up cities and records of kinds referred to in the Bible…those are helpful. But something like when precisely Jesus’ birthday occurs doesn’t matter to me, since it doesn’t contradict anything specific in scripture.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

There are no facts that pertain to faith. I got saved before I had any facts. I just know that I met a living God and I have been changed forever – well, for the last 35 years or so.

If we have faith in God (relationship), and what is written in our hearts is from heaven, then we have salvation. (Romans 2:14-16)

Theology then becomes an exercise of understanding the nature and Character of Jesus, learning to hear the voice of God, and carrying it out in everyday life.

The Apostle’s and Nicene creeds contain the truthful facts, they in themselves, are not even faith.

So, no, these things are not crucial. Facts are helpful for some to enter into faith. Things like “is the Bible reliable,” “did Jesus actually live,” “get raised from the dead” etc. If those are not facts, then Chritianisty becomes a philosophy – but isn’t that what we have faith in?

I don’t really care if Adam and Eve had bellybuttons.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

do facts matter? sure. if the bible is going to outline geography, like it does, that should be accurate. when jesus was born? meh. not so much.

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Sbux Josh

posted September 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

If you have faith that something is true because you have conclusive proof through evidence.. is that even faith?

If you have faith that something is true without any facts.. is that a virtue?

If you have faith that something is true because you have some facts but not conclusive proof.. Why do you believe? Is it good to follow an evidence based paradigm for the first few steps, only to take a leap of faith at the end?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Growing up, many parents in my church (including mine) were anti-Santa Claus because saying he was real was a lie, which was exceedingly sinful. Plus Santa, as part of Satan’s evil scheme, stole from the “Real Meaning of Christmas”. But if you think about it, the holiday originated as pagan worship to the Goddess of Nature. So, what exactly is the real meaning again?

This double standard with Christians just drives me crazy. Maybe that’s why facts matter to me so much. Personally I think it’s a lie to teach our kids that December 25th is Jesus’ birthday. I enjoy celebrating Christmas for fun, but I don’t make it a religious holiday.

Christians should know what they believe and why they believe it. Without facts, how could someone possibly be taken seriously or ever have enough credibility and information to stand up for what’s truly important?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

christians should speak truth and point to truth so that all may come to know what is truth. fiction may be easier, but it sets us up for mistrust. fiction may seem more clean cut, but it is the messy mystery that truly makes the miracle. fiction is our foe and truth is our freedom.

(excerpt from my post Fiction:Friend or Foe )

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posted September 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm

“6 months before” seems pretty vague to me. I know the Israelites were not as literate or as good at record keeping as the Romans, but it seems fishy to me that none of his followers recorded anything personal at all about Jesus. I can’t find any reason to believe that the stories are based on any actual person. I’m sure you are all aware that there is a dispute over where Jesus might have been born, if he existed.

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    posted September 22, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Actually there is not any serious debate over the factual birth or life, and crucifixion. Lots of debate over why he was crucified, and obviously over ressurrection and miracles, but not whether he was born lived and was crucified. May wanna read some higdher criticism more recent than 1950.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Facts are all that matter.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Since the Bible isn’t very explicit with information about the date of Jesus’ birth, I’m inclined to not be too concerned about figuring it out. The New Testament is pretty clear that the kingdom that Christ preached isn’t about which days are holy and which aren’t. So arguing about the date we remember such and such event is at best silly, at worst anti-Christian.

The point of Christian holidays and rituals, is, as I understand it, a method of reminding distractable human minds about what’s important. I don’t have a problem celebrating the event without knowing when exactly it occurred – to me (and most Christians, I think), it’s the remembering and re-centering of my life that’s important.

Sure it would be cool to figure out exactly what day Jesus was born on. But it’s not crucial to my faith. Maybe if it is one day proved, we will have two holidays. And maybe one of them wouldn’t come with all the social baggage that’s accumulated around Christmas. That might actually be kind of nice…

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posted September 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

The Biblical writers were not writing history books by the standards of the Enlightenment, 20th Century, or 21st century. To impose our standards for facts upon ancient writings is to misunderstand the point the ancients were making. The Bible is not answering all questions–the how’s, the why’s or the when’s necessarily. We need to ask the right questions.

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    posted September 23, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I agree with you. The Bible is not a history book. Those who wrote the parts cannot be held to the same standards as how we read history today.
    Once I realized the Bible is a book of theology, historical facts simply do not matter. I do read it with historical criticism with a lot of leeway for facts. I find that the best facts come from historians, not theologians. I find the best life and God insights come from theologians and not historians.

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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted September 21, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I thought it was clear it was a celebratory day and not an actual one? If the Bible wanted a certain day it would have been more particular…

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    posted September 22, 2010 at 6:48 am

    That is my feeling, too. I’ve had several priests announce at Christmas that Jesus was in all likelihood not born on December 25th but “around the harvest” (which seems accurate based on the information here), but the theological explanation I’ve heard is that celebrating in late December is appropriate because it is the time in the year when there is the least amount of light on the earth; but thanks to our Savior, the light can grow again. It may not be accurate in terms of “what day”, but it certainly fits for “what it means”.

    I had an interesting conversation like this with my seventh graders yesterday (I teach CCD, which is like Catholic Sunday School). It was about truth and how we find it, and even though scientific and religious truths can seem to contradict each other, they’re still both very important, and can still inform each other. (Our conversation steered more towards the “creationism vs. evolution” debate, which is odd since it’s not a debate at all in Catholicism – our theology easily can reconcile the two.) And I think this is another issue which is reconcilable.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I suggest you read Bart Ehrman’s books.

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