Remember the time when you lied to make yourself look good? Don’t we all!! Remember the time when you lied to make yourself look foolish…..on purpose? Huh?!?! Who does that?
Here is a term that may be unfamiliar to many, The Principle of Embarrassment (PoE). The PoE is a tool used by historians to determine whether an ancient writing displays evidence of authenticity. The principle goes like this: It is highly improbable that an individual, wanting to report a true event, will concoct details of the story that make themselves, or the main characters look foolish. If the individual is simply reporting the event, they will just report the event, embarrassing details and all.
The Bible contains embarrassing details. There are numerous passages that do not portray the character in a flattering position. For example, Peter. What a guy!!! Peter ran his mouth off to Jesus in front of the disciples, bragging, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matt. 26:33). Yet, forty-one verses later, Peter calls down curses on himself denying Jesus. It does not get any better for Peter. In Mark 8:33 Jesus calls Peter, SATAN!!! Peter is the prominent figure in the first half of the book of Acts. Some say he was the first Pope. Why would Matthew and Mark include these embarrassing events surrounding Peter unless they were faithfully recording real history?
Embarrassing details about the life of Jesus exist too. We read In John 7:5, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” The people who knew him best, his brothers, one of whom was James, did not believe his claims. Later, in verse 20, John reports a crowd that claims Jesus is demon-possessed. Why would this be included in the report if John and others were trying to make up a story to start a new religion? Perhaps John is faithfully recording history.
By far, the most embarrassing detail is the narrative on the discovery of the empty tomb. Several of Jesus’ women followers travel early one morning to put spices on Jesus’ body. Upon arrival, they discover the empty tomb. They report their find to the disciples. Luke records the response of the disciples in Luke 24:11, “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” In the first century, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in a court of law. The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal event in Christianity. Without it, there is no Christianity. Why, if the gospel writers are making up a story, would they have as their primary witnesses, women, when they knew their testimony would not take them very far? Again, they are simply telling the story as it happened.
We have good reasons to conclude that the gospel writers are telling the truth. The PoE, is evidence to support this claim. This evidence does not prove that the Bible is the Word of God, but it does show that at least the gospel writers were not lying, but were attempting to portray the events surrounding the life of Jesus and the disciples as they actually happened. That’s something to think about.