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Nearly every religion has some sort of creation account. But only in the Bible do we find a God who makes it all (1) by himself, (2) on purpose, and (3) out of nothing. Not only that, but Genesis 1 tells us that God made humans to look like him—what Scripture calls the “image of God.”

If all things come from God, and he made us in his image, that means there are two things we’ll only ever be able to find in him:

1. Being Made in God’s Image Gives Us The MEASURE of Our Life

By “measure,” I mean things like good and bad, true and false, beautiful and ugly. Without God, it’s impossible to posit any sort of ultimate measure and purpose to our lives at all. “Good” and “true” and “beautiful” become empty terms.

Atheists, you see, have a problem. And many of them know it, because the best of them (Nietzsche and Sarte and others) repeatedly point it out. It starts, as Sartre put it, with good news: once you dispense with God, you can do whatever you want, guilt-free. If you get away with it on earth, you get away with it forever. But there’s also, Sartre concluded, bad news: without God, there is no longer an intellectual basis for declaring anything right or wrong.

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Earlier this week, we’ve been considering the question of whether the Jesus depicted in Mark’s Gospel contradicts the Jesus in John’s Gospel. For a review of that argument, click here. For Part 1 of our rebuttal, click here.

The purpose of this post is to question whether Mark’s depiction is actually all that different from John’s. Spoiler: we believe it’s not.

To recap, the argument goes something like this: Mark’s “Jesus” is shy, coy, and human. He doesn’t claim to be God and doesn’t want other people thinking he is. But John’s “Jesus” is overt in his claims to divinity.

It is often said that error is truth out of proportion. That certainly applies here. The grain of truth in this is that Mark’s depiction of Jesus is more indirect and more secretive than John’s. For the modern reader especially, it’s easier to understand Jesus’ claims to divinity in the book of John than in the book of Mark. They are legitimately distinct portraits, emphasizing different aspects of Jesus’ ministry.

But recognizing differing emphases doesn’t mean we’re talking about two contradictory people. Let’s take each side of the argument and look at the Gospels themselves.

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Yesterday I (Chris) introduced a common objection to the historicity of Jesus: the accounts of Jesus’ life are so varied in the Gospels that they cannot be about the same person. (You can go back to read that here.) To many, the idea of contradictions in the Gospels is compelling. My purpose in this post is to show why that narrative rests on faulty foundations. (Be sure to check out the last in this 3-part series, in which I address the contradictions themselves.)

At the heart of the argument is the assumption that if two biographies differ, their differences must necessarily be contradictory. That’s one option, of course. But differing accounts might also be complementary, depending on the evidence. Consider these two sets of claims:

Scenario 1

Person A: Our friend Mike passed away last year this time.

Person B: I played basketball with our friend Mike last week.

Scenario 2

Person A: Our friend Mike passed away last week.

Person B: Wow. And to think, just last week Mike and I were playing basketball together.

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