Sermon 17 February

17 February 2019

What is Truth

I am taking a diversion in this time of Epiphany to look at the death of the boys by Herod when he found the Magi had tricked him. It is seen as the fulfilling of prophecy. The problem is, we cannot prove it happened.

Many scholars today do not believe that this event happened, and those who seek to prove the Christian faith a delusion, use it to say the whole Nativity is a lie.

The basis of the argument is that Herod’s life was well documented by  historian called Josephus. Josephus wrote about the good and the bad of Herod. When he was dying, he wanted all the Jewish leaders gathered and on his death they were to be killed. His reasoning was that the people would rejoice at his death, so he wanted to make sure that they would grieve, maybe not for him, but he didn’t care why, only that there would be grief, not rejoicing. Josephus wrote two books on Herod’s life, and this means that there is more about him than Jesus, Paul, even Augustus Caesar. Josephus does not hide Herod’s atrocities, so the fact that Josephus does not mention the death of the children suggests it did not happen.

The doubters say that the story was created to create a link between Jesus and Moses. As Pharaoh sought to kill all the Jewish boys he saw as a threat, so Herod sought to do likewise.

Of course there are those who say that this does not mean it didn’t happen. Dr. Paul L. Maier is a historian who believes it could still have happened. He points out that the number of boys was probably only about 12 boys.

I tell you this because I believe we need to be aware of the challenges that come out of the Bible, and not to ignore, or avoid them. If what I write does not challenge you, then great. However if it does, then how do we engage with it?

The fact is that only those who were there truly know. We can seek to find out, but we will never know in this life. There is a point where truth is a belief rather than a fact.

This is so important. If we base our faith on a truth that can be proven, then we leave ourselves open to lose our faith to a good argument. Living in faith is to live the truth we believe.