Too Good to be True

Today’s Guest Post is by Tim Fall. Tim is what I call a “virtual friend,” which basically means that we’ve never actually met in real life, but have corresponded enough that if we did actually meet, it would be like old friends having coffee.

“Vengeance is mine,” sayeth the Dentist

I read a news article the other day that had me thinking that truth is stranger than fiction. It was about a man who went to the dentist for a sore tooth, was put under anesthesia and woke up with a mouth completely sans teeth. Not a molar or incisor in sight. Gum resting on gum, lips squashing up against each other like folds on an accordion, chin-to-nose emptiness in the oral cavity.

The story went on to explain that the man, who lived in Poland, had gone to his ex-girlfriend for his dental work. Oh-ho, I thought. The story said he had a bad toothache and his regular dentist was out of town so he went to her. She was only too eager to fit him in the schedule. See, he’d done her wrong by taking up with another woman; that’s what led to their break-up, since this taking up was before their own relationship was over. There he was, in her chair, and she put him under the deepest anesthesia he could still wake up from. She took out the aching tooth and thought, “Why stop there?” So she didn’t.

To add insult to this injury, the story said the man’s new girlfriend left him because “she can’t be with a man without teeth.”

Story-telling

“What some people will do for revenge”, you might be thinking. But this story turned out to be more “What some people didn’t do.”

A week after reading that article I saw a follow-up on msnbc.com. They had called the police department in Wroclaw, Poland. They called Poland’s Supreme Chamber of Physicians and Dentists. Someone even checked the regional chamber overseeing dentists in Wroclaw. No one had heard of the dentist, the boyfriend, or the missing teeth. There was no man; there was no dentist; there wasn’t even a sore tooth. The whole thing was a hoax.

Here’s the part that gets me. The U.S. news outlets that ran the original story included the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, MSN, the Huffington Post, and Yahoo News. Are they all infallible? Certainly not, but one would think that not all of them would end up showing their fallibility in the same way on the same day over the same bogus story. Yikes for them!

A Report that Stands Up to Scrutiny

A lot of people hear Christians talk about God and think the stories about him are too good – or perhaps too awful – to be true.

Creation: But what about the Big Bang?

Sin: Hey, we all make mistakes.

Crucifixion: Sounds like a horrible way to go.

Heaven: No harps and long white robes for me thanks. (Although having wings and flying sounds kind of cool.)

Resurrection: Sure, tell me another.

People hear these kinds of things and, if they don’t dig into them, they understandably consider them a bit too much to take. One thing though about the good news concerning Jesus, what we call the Gospel, is that God doesn’t require us to take it on face value. Instead, he gave us eye-witnesses to pass on the news. Here are two separate accounts:

            That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life [Jesus Christ]. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:1-2.)

And,

            Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3-7.)

So at this point some might say, “Sure the Bible says that stuff, but why should I believe what it says?”  Because it’s true and the non-Bible evidence backs it up.

Ancient historians like Josephus and Tacitus (both decidedly non-Christian), for example, attest to the fact that Jesus really walked the earth and was crucified by a Roman Governor, just like the Bible says. Other contemporary records talk of the work (the miraculous work, in many instances) that Peter, John, Paul and the other Apostles did in the years following Jesus’ death. His body really was laid in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, and it really wasn’t there when the sun rose on the third day of his death despite that guard being on duty.

The early church knew these historical facts were so important that they included them in one of the earliest statements of faith: “he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again.” (Council of Constantinople, 381 CE.) Christians claim a faith supported by evidence, not something that falls apart under scrutiny like the story of the vengeful dentist.

Too Good Not to Be True

There you have it. Believe it or don’t, but don’t reject it because you think it’s just another made up story. That position just won’t stand up to scrutiny.

Believe it because it’s true.

About the author: Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college; one just graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California.

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Comments

    • says

      Thanks Karen. You’re encouragement is awesome! What’d you think of the responses I wrote for Creation, Sin, etc.? I’m hoping they don’t some across too much as straw men or stereotypes.

      Tim

  1. says

    And Paul brings it on home in 1 Cor. 15:32b: “If the dead do not rise, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
    I’ve heard (& read) people say that their faith would not be deterred if there was ever evidence that Christ did not really raise from the dead. But that is not the faith of Christianity. Our faith is based on a historical event. Paul himself says that if there were no resurrection from the dead than he is most of all to be pitied–but he saw the risen Christ! Wow.
    Great article, Tim. Goes well with your “wait for all the facts” article.

    • says

      Thanks Aimee. I like how Paul makes no bones about it: either Christianity is true or it’s not worth a hill of beans. And I hadn’t thought of the connection to the article I wrote over at Kingdom Civics, but you’re right; they are like two prongs on the same fork.

      Tim

    • Tim says

      Thanks Jane. With what I see in my courtroom I would not have been completely surprised if the dentist story were true, but it would have been a stretch even for me!

      Tim

  2. says

    Tim,
    Such an awesome article! It’s hard to believe it made it that far without a fact check. I love the tie in, too, because I always feel like a fool when I proclaim the gospel. Sometimes I think we Christians get too caught up in trying to make foolish truths sound non-foolish, and sometimes we don’t do enough philosophical “fact checking” to see how God’s wisdom pans out in His word. Great stuff, Tim, thanks!

    Nick

    • Tim says

      Nick, I know what you mean about the foolishness being misunderstood. (1 Corinthians 1:18, right?) I’m glad you came over to check out Leslie’s site. She has a great blog going here!

      Tim

  3. says

    Great article, Tim. I never heard that the dentist story was a hoax (strangely, that part didn’t make the front page of my yahoo page), so that was a relief. I love how you tie it in to the message of the gospel and the need to dig further. Good stuff! I also like what Nick said about feeling like we sound foolish when we proclaim the gospel. I feel that way often. In the ministry I am in right now, I am beginning to feel like much less of a fool, and not because of apologetics (the people whom I serve have not the slightest interest in apologetics). Instead, the “fruit” of a transformed life is so much better than the “fruit” of a life without God. The level of messed-up-ness in this neighborhood is such that it makes our nuclear, loving family look like a miracle. Thus, I’m realizing more and more how living a life of love is all the proof of the gospel that I currently need.

    • says

      Thanks Kim. A transformed life is a powerful witness to the work Christ does in each of us, isn’t it? Sometimes that’s the opening that God uses to bring others to himself, if the story of the woman at the well (John 4) is any indication!

      Tim

  4. says

    I read that article too, Tim, and had the same response — the depths people will go to plan pay back. Yet, how many of us put that much effort into planning another’s welfare for good?

    • says

      Awesome question, Karen. Jesus showed how far he was willing to go for our welfare; if we are truly little Christs then it seems we should be willing to put effort into working for the good of others as well, right?

      Tim

  5. says

    Over the past few years, I’ve found that people who do whatever they can to make sure they continue to be ignorant about the facts and the proofs of the existence of Jesus, like living how they do and have pride in sin. They believe they are “good people” and are the toughest people to get through to, in my life. I’ve been trying to reach out and witness to people I’ve known since I was a teenager or even longer, and because of all the materialism and the “bad things ‘God-if-there-is-a-god’ lets happen”. . .it becomes the toughest way to reach out as a witness in the US. In my years of trying to tell people about God, I have only seen one successful transformation and that person has now been a Christian for 10 years. I have led others to Christ who were young but quickly turned away from their cries to God to live the way they were, and have encouraged many in their faith journey to return to the truth. Beyond all this, I have the toughest time with the ones who want to see proof upon proof but continue to be blind or the people who claim Christianity but are not turning their lives around at all. They live in complacency. I can’t stand it! It is so hard. I pray and pray though.

    When we are left with nothing (stripped of our teeth), then we start to see God moving in our lives. I want to see more people come to that. . .and even still there is one I know in my life who I’m close to who lost all she had and became a nomad, decided to lose her virginity before she turned 30 only to have some sort of “disease” that we’re still trying to hear about, and she still pushes God away. Will these people ever come to grasp the salvation of Christ? I pray they will!

    Oh yeah, Tim, did you read this article this week about proof of Bethlehem?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/dig-proves-bethlehem_n_1538665.html

    • says

      Thanks for the link, Victoria, and thanks for coming to Leslie’s excellent blog site. The more archaeologists dig around, the more we see that the Bible is supported by the historical and factual record. I’m thankful for scientists!

      And I know what you mean about people who think being good enough is good enough. I remember a colleague who once told me about a friend who had died, and she said he has to be in heaven because he was such a nice man. It was all I could do to keep myself from popping up with Romans 3:23 as some sort of biblical bullet.

      The Bible does tell us why a lot of people don’t get it, though: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14.) I figure that means it’s up to us to live faithfully and speak truthfully, but it’s up to the Spirit to change lives. Glad it’s his job and not mine!

      Tim

  6. says

    Tim! Thanks for using 1 John 1:1-2! What an amazing example of the pure enthusiasm of John as he tried to convey the absolute wonderfulness of knowing Jesus first hand, but of the guaranteed knowing of Jesus for ourselves without having laid eyes on Him! The enthusiasm of others’ who believe, who are convicted, who, well, just know stand as the greatest narratives of who Jesus is!

    • says

      Aviya, that is such a good way to put it, that we can know Jesus for ourselves even without seeing him face to face. It’s like that scene where Jesus tells Thomas that there will be many who believe without seeing. I am constantly re-amazed that I’m one of those people.

      Tim

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