IS CHRISTIANITY MAN-MADE?
I was recently sucked into an interesting, almost two hour long conversation with a colleague on God, Jesus Christ and the basic doctrines of Christianity when another fellow co-worker who we had no idea had been listening in on our very passionate discourse interjected, “You know all religions are man-made right?”. I tried my best to ignore how the fact that someone was equating Christianity with religion grated me and I immediately retorted, “What exactly about Christianity strikes you as man made?”, I never got a satisfactory response to this question as the co-worker abruptly ended the conversation by stating how she did not have enough knowledge about Christianity and did not intend to get into a debate but that brief brush was enough to get my theological wheels turning. What possible angles could a person claiming Christianity is man made be coming from?
First, maybe they mean Jesus Christ was a man and since He started Christianity then it is man-made in that sense. While this is true, it is only half the truth because Jesus was no ordinary man. Josephus, the notable Romano-Jewish historian of the 1st century AD in his book Testimonium Flavianum writes about Jesus,
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared”
Mind you, Josephus himself was not a Christian. Scriptures also testify as to the esteem of Jesus in the sight of His Jewish contemporaries. He was described as “a man mighty in words and deed before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19) by the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. In another place, the people said He had done all things well (Mark 7:37), Peter described Him as a man approved of God before all the people (Acts 2:22). Whichever way you look at it, Jesus was not your average man and in addition to these credentials, after being put to death, He was strongly believed to have risen from the dead and appeared to men after three days. No man before Him had done that and no man after Him has done that. The Jesus Christ of Christianity is not only a man but is also God Himself. Fully man and yet fully God. Just as the Bible says…
Right! The Bible, was that not written by men? And if it was written by men, how is Christianity not man made?
The central message of Old testament scriptures were prophesies about this man Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection(as well as its implications for mankind). There are prophesies about His exact place of birth, (Micah 5:2), His tribe (Judah) and lineage (David), His betrayal by a close acquaintance (Psalms 41:9), Even His specific method of death was predicted in Psalms 22, this was about 200 years before crucifixion was even invented as a method of punishment. Even if men wrote the scriptures, the prescience and foresight is uncanny. Even in less important predicted minutiae like the scattering and regathering of the nation of Israel on their own land (which, by the way, was fulfilled in 1947), the person and power of King Cyrus 200 years before his birth (Isaiah 44–45), the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Roman empires (Daniel 2), the accuracy is unprecedented. Clearly there was something beyond mere men scribbling down stuff they made up.
Maybe the fact that the teachings of Christianity were spread by men makes it man made. First and foremost, the key question is whether those teachings that form the tenets of Christianity are true. To wit that Christ died for the sins of mankind as the scriptures said He would and rose again the third day as the scriptures said He would (1 Corinthians 15:3). If the answers are yes, then the fact that men spread the message would not make it man-made since men neither made nor made up the facts they were spreading. In fact, Jesus Christ told men to spread those facts (Matthew 28:18–20, Mark 16:15–20)
Maybe the fact that a lot of men of God continue to preach, abuse and monetize the gospel today means Christianity is man made. Again, not a correct conclusion to arrive at. Scriptures are clear that Jesus plants men of God in the church (I mean the church as a body of people who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) for a reason,
“And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints…” (Ephesians 4:11–12)
The fact that men abuse these positions have nothing to do with the authenticity of the faith or the core of Christianity. Thankfully there are far more men of God who do in fact fulfill their mandate with all humility and reverence for God.
So again, on whatever argument one may posit, whether or not you believe in God or agree with the tenets of Christianity, it is difficult to run away from the conclusion that there is at least something beyond the power of men about it.