Once again this year, the American Atheists have launched a Christmastime campaign baselessly claiming that Jesus is no more than a mythical character. This year’s campaign is placing billboards in the Bible belt, in the states of Tennessee and Arkansas. The ads show a young girl writing a letter to Santa, which says, “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”
The billboard speaks of Jesus as mythical, but no leading scholar, Christian or secular, believes Jesus didn’t exist. In fact, his life has influenced our planet more than any other person.
The argument against Jesus’ existence, known as the Christ-myth theory, began seventeen centuries after Jesus is said to have walked the rocky hills of Judea.
Ellen Johnson, former president of American Atheists, summarized the Christ-myth view on CNN TV Larry King Live:
“There is not one shred of secular evidence there ever was a Jesus Christ … Jesus is a compilation from other gods…who had the same origins, the same death as the mythological Jesus Christ.”
The stunned host replied, “So you don’t believe there was a Jesus Christ?”
Johnson fired back, “There was not…there is no secular evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed.”
King immediately requested a commercial break. The international television audience was left wondering.¹
In his early years as an atheist Oxford literary scholar C. S. Lewis also considered Jesus a myth, thinking all religions were simply inventions.²
Years later, Lewis was sitting by the fire in an Oxford dorm room with a friend he called “the hardest boiled atheist of all the atheists I ever knew.” Suddenly his friend blurted out, “The evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good…It almost looks as if it had really happened once.”³
Lewis was stunned. His friend’s remark that there was real evidence for Jesus prompted Lewis to investigate the truth for himself. He writes about his search for truth about Jesus in his classic book Mere Christianity. (Click here for a free copy.)
So, what evidence did Lewis’ friend discover for Jesus Christ?
¹ Ellen Johnson and Larry King, “What Happens After We Die?” Larry King Live, CNN, April 14, 2005, http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0504/14/lkl.01.html.
² Quoted in David C. Downing, The Most Reluctant Convert (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 57.
³ C. S. Lewis, The Inspirational Writings of C. S. Lewis: Surprised by Joy (New York: Inspirational Press, 1986), 122-3.