Many of the most important events of my life cannot be proven by external evidence. Despite social media, camera phones, and a daily blog, I cannot prove these things happened. You have to take my word for it.
Personal events are often, by nature, private events. Try to remember a romantic moment, the loyalty of a friend at a key juncture, or a wise word from a mentor. These events happened, but they were, by nature, intimate.
Privacy is often a condition of intimacy, and thus intimacy is hidden from history. Unless the few—often merely two—report what happened, no one will ever know. Often no one should know. Privacy makes the common, say a man and woman making love, intimate and rare—personal.
Sometimes the content of an event depends on the feelings of the participants. Is this good or bad? The morality of some moments depends on the will of the participants. “May it be done unto me . . .” Sincere consent can only be known by Almighty God and the person giving the consent.
History has, at many moments, depended on what only the participants knew.
We have the diaries and letters of Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra, but we do not know many of the conversations that led to decisions that ruined an Empire and their lives. When real friends meet to do great things, by the very nature of the event, they meet in private. The American founders began making our nation in secret with friends they could trust. History will never have an external account of those pivotal meetings.
The world is most often changed with a private chat, a nod in a pub, or a handshake.
It is with this in mind that I approach an interesting question from M*:
24. What if anything outside of the biblical text corroborates the virgin birth of Jesus or the ascension of Jesus into heaven?
Nothing. What would?
Jesus was not taking selfies to document His life, He was living, creating, and making a wonderful life with his friends. No outsider could have remained an outsider while witnessing the Ascension—that would have changed the nature of the event.
Socrates died with his friends (and a jailer!). That was all this great man could give to his friends: a last moment of intimacy.
Documenting an intimate moment destroys the intimacy and does nothing to help history.
Jesus was beaten and crucified in public. Everyone saw. That was the nature of His sacrifice, but He chose to save the moment of His final glorification for His friends. Jesus wanted this intimate moment, the moment of His leave-taking, for His true friends: those that loved Him without the treats or tricks.
Perhaps if He had invited some earlier version of Josephus to the spectacle, then a few latter day atheists might be helped. I doubt it. They would find reasons to suggest that Christians had corrupted the text, or they might simply ask for more.
Worst of all, having gained so little in terms of history, Jesus would have changed the very nature of the event. An outsider cannot document the leave-taking of a man and His friends without twisting and pulling it out of shape.
It is worse when you consider the moment when God came and filled a woman. The first Christian was a woman: she took God in her womb and became the Mother of God. Be disposed to trust women when they report what only they can know. Nobody could be there to know except for Mary—only she knew for sure. God came and she was for God alone. No man had received her consent to intimacy, and by the very nature of the times in which she lived, only she could know this truth.
I believe the Woman.
*M is a non-Christian that sent me 55 questions earlier this year. He has asked that I not reveal his or her name. I will write as if “he” is a male, but this is for convenience. I do not know if I will get to all his questions. I try to limit my answers to hundreds and not thousands of words. Here are questions 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 47, 54 , and 55.
This post was edited by Rachel Motte.