The Incarnational Narrative as Historical: Evidence for Belief

C. Stephen Evans

in The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith

Published in print April 1996 | ISBN: 9780198263975
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600579 | DOI:
 The Incarnational Narrative as Historical: Evidence for Belief

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This chapter is the first of three asking how knowledge of the incarnational narrative might be acquired. To do this an examination is made of two distinct theological traditions that give rather different answers to the question of how Christians gain this historical knowledge: the first, which is examined in the next chapter, gives great emphasis to the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit; the second, which is the subject of this chapter, puts the central focus on objective evidence, and regards the knowledge of the incarnational story as based on other things that we know or believe. It is commonly claimed that all historical beliefs must be based on evidence, and so it is not surprising that there is a long tradition of Christian apologetics that attempts to show that there is indeed good evidence for Christian beliefs about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This is the evidentialist approach, which, philosophically, has often been characterized by at least an implicit acceptance of epistemological internalism, although it is possible for an evidentialist apologetic to be developed that is not committed to internalism. The different sections of the chapter are: Classical examples of the two-stage approach (the first phase is mainly natural theology and attempts to show the reasonableness of believing in a God with at least some characteristics of the Christian faith, the second attempts to show that the events recorded in the Bible are a true revelation of God and his activities); Swinburne’s contemporary evidentialist apologetic; problems with evidentialist accounts; and, conclusions: values and limits of an evidentialist case.

Keywords: epistemological internalism; evidence; evidentialism; evidentialist apologetics; incarnational narrative; internalism; Jesus; knowledge

Chapter.  10721 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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