Mythmaking of Early Christian History by Eusebius

Question:

A lot of what we know about the early Church comes from Eusebius, is he a reliable source of information?

Answer:

In his work, Praeparatio  Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel), Book 12, Chapter 31 is titled as follows:

“That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment.”

Eusebius makes it clear that Christians have to necessarily lie, use falsehoods for the propagation of the Gospel message. It is therefore quite difficult to trust someone who is seen as a historian who openly argues that as a Christian, it is necessary for him to use falsehoods. This is not a teaching that is hidden away or poorly translated, this is someone making it absolutely clear that lying is necessary when it comes to the Gospel message. Chapter 31 reads as follows:

“But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?”

Eusebius is referencing a Platonic argument from Plato’s Laws. This argument essentially means that it’s okay to lie, it’s okay to hold a false belief, if in the end the lie benefits someone morally. An example of this is to teach the Gospel message and even if the Gospel message is false, invented, a myth, by believing in this lie, someone may stop being promiscuous. They may stop stealing due to their belief in a false Gospel message. The person does not know the Gospel message is false, they believe it to be true, and so despite unknowingly believing in a false teaching, they still morally benefit in the end.

Plato’s Laws

Eusebius is referencing the following argument from Plato found in Plato’s Laws (translated by R.G. Bury 1926):

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The Greek phrase we need to focus on is, “ἀγαθῷ ψεύδεσθαι” (agatho pseudesthai):

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Which he translates as follows, “useful fiction”:

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Plato puts forth the idea of “ἀγαθῷ ψεύδεσθαι”, or as translated, “useful fiction”. Eusebius then borrows this idea and applies it to Christianity, with the conclusion being that it is necessary to lie  as a Christian because even if the belief is false, a useful fiction, in the end a person is morally better off due to believing in that lie. As he (Eusebius) argues, “is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this“.

Christian Apologists on Eusebius’s Controversial Argument

In “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, they offer a re-contextualizing of what Eusebius said. Their argument can be summarized as claiming that Eusebius’s use of the phrase, “ἀγαθῷ ψεύδεσθαι” (useful fiction, falsehood, lie), does not mean what the text says. They begin by saying on page 275:

“It may be helpful to look at the Greek employed. The word used by Plato is pseudos, which typically means a lie or imitation”.

They acknowledge that the standard use and meaning of the word, “ψεύδεσθαι”, is one of dishonesty. After establishing the normal use of the word, they attempt to argue that Eusebius (in quoting Plato), meant to argue for a “good lie”.

“However, Plato’s context and the passage may justify a nuance for the following reasons: (1) Plato uses the term, “good lie” (agatho pseudesthai), eliminating harmful intent.”

They continue:

“One translator renders the term as “useful fiction,” instead of “falsehood” (Plato in Twelve Volumes, 12 vols, R.G. Bury, trans.[Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1914-1935], 10.125).”

The leaps in reasoning they make are quite ridiculous to say the very least. A good lie, is still a lie. Though the intent may not be harmful, to say that it is necessary to use fiction and falsehoods to achieve some moral goal, does not preclude the fact that he argues that it is necessary, required, obligatory to use falsehoods to convince people of the Gospel message. For some odd reason, they found it important to mention that one translator uses the term “useful fiction” instead of “falsehood”. I’m not sure why they found that this difference in translation needed to be mentioned as the end result is still that Eusebius argued for the necessity of fiction and falsehoods within the Christian faith.

Usage of “ψεύδεσθαι” (fiction, lie, falsehood) in the New Testament

There are some 12 occurrences of this word in various forms throughout the New Testament, every instance of which uses it in the context of dishonesty:

  • Matthew 5:11, “…against you falsely, for my sake.”
  • Acts 5:3, “…your heart to lie to the Holy…”
  • Acts 5:4, “…in your heart? You have not lied to men…”
  • Romans 9:1, “… in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience…”
  • 2 Corinthians 11:31, “…God, I lie not.”
  • Colossians 3:9, ” Do not lie to one another…”
  • 1 Timothy 2:7, “…the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher…”
  • Hebrews 6:18, “…for God to lie, we who have taken refuge…”
  • James 3:14, “…do boast against and lie against the…”
  • 1 John 1:6, “… in the darkness, we lie and do not practice…”
  • Revelation 3:9, “…that they are Jews and are not, but lie— I will make…”

Thus, the normative use of the term in the New Testament literature, agrees with the aforementioned conclusion that it refers to dishonesty, falsehood and lying.

Conclusion

From having read both Plato’s use of the argument and Eusebius’s copying and appropriating of it, the end result is that:

  1. It is a necessity to use falsehoods to spread the Gospel message,
  2. because it is better to believe in a falsehood that makes you morally pure,
  3. than to live and behave unjustly.

Even if Eusebius had good intentions, he still considered it a necessity to lie about Christianity to win converts, for him, the ends justify the means. It would therefore be difficult to believe that his writings are historically accurate and objective. His representations of competing groups of Christian sects may not be impartial, and there is no way to validate his version of early Christianity.

and God knows best.

 

 

Missionary Mishap: Seeing Jesus Challenge

On January 8th (2017), Neil Littlejohn, or as he is fondly called by his friends and family, Colin made it known that he had a vision of Jesus:

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He challenged anyone, quite literally, anyone to have him tested with a polygraph to verify that he wasn’t deluded or lying. Unfortunately, it’s been almost a week later and after offering to pay for both a polygraph test and a psychological evaluation, Colin (or Neil, or whatever identity he assumes today) has failed to take up the offer, after having put out the challenge himself.

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Has Colin/ Neil realised he was deluded and now does not want to expose himself by being tested? The challenge still stands, and so does our acceptance of the challenge. We await his response, if he ever decides to give one. However the chances of him accepting are slim, he knows he’s lying. Only time will tell.

and God knows best.

Not All Muslims are Terrorists, But All Terrorists Are Muslims

In my debate review of, “Is Islam a Threat to Modern Society,” I provided citations to prove the above assertion incorrect. To further my response, I would like to provide a complementary quote from Chris Hedges:

The Afghans, the Iraqis, the Yemenis, the Pakistanis, and the Somalis know what American military forces do. They do not need to read WikiLeaks. It is we who remain ignorant. Our terror is delivered daily to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. But to us, it is invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated body and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets.

We do not listen to the wails and shrieks of parents embracing the shattered bodies of their children. We do not see the survivors of air attacks bury their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. We are not conscious of the long night of collective humiliation, repression, and powerlessness that characterizes existence in Israel’s occupied territories, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

We do not see the boiling anger that war and injustice turn into a cauldron of hate over time. We are not aware of this very natural lust for revenge against those who carry out or symbolize this oppression. We see only the final pyrotechnics of terror, the shocking moments when the rage erupts into an inchoate fury and the murder of innocents. And willfully uninformed, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them.

This is a recipe for endless terror.

He continues:

Manning, by providing a window into the truth, opened up the possibility of redemption. She offered hope for a new relationship with the Muslim world, one based on compassion and honesty, on the rule of law, rather than on the cold brutality of industrial warfare. But by refusing to heed the truth that Manning laid before us, by ignoring the crimes committed daily in our name, we not only continue to swell the ranks of our enemies but put the lives of our citizens in greater jeopardy.

Manning showed us through the documents she released to WikiLeaks what all Iraqis know. They have endured hundreds of rapes and murders, along with systematic torture by the military and police of the puppet government we installed. None of the atrocities from the leaked videos and documents were investigated. Manning provided the data showing that between 2004 and 2009 there were at least 109,032 “violent deaths” in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians, and that coalition troops were responsible for at least 195 unreported civilian deaths.

In the “Collateral Murder” video, she allowed us to watch as a US helicopter attacked unarmed civilians in Baghdad and as a US Army tank then crushed one of the wounded lying on the street. The actions of the US military in this one video alone, as law professor Marjorie Cohn has pointed out, violate Article 85 of the First Protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the targeting of civilians; Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires that the wounded be treated; and Article 17 of the First Protocol, which permits civilians to rescue and care for the wounded without being harmed.

These quotes were taken from Chris Hedges’s, Wages of Rebellion, pages 186-188.

and God knows best.

The New Testament Today

The New Testament Today – What is it? Where did it come from? Can we rely on it?

These questions and more are answered, as our journey into 2017 begins. Let this year, be a year of guidance for our Christian brothers and sisters.

YouTube Mirror if above Facebook video is not available.

Thanks to Dr. Chris Claus for inspiring this video and this series of videos that will be coming out on various pages, YouTube channels and Islamic TV channels shortly.

 

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