A year ago, my wife surprised me with news that we were pregnant. I was overjoyed and the next few days were like Christmas morning over and over again. A month later, we lost our child. Times like this bring up questions about God's goodness and why God allows these things to happen. This is something beyond attempting to prove that God does not exist because of evil. This is believing there is a God and He doesn't care.
We often wonder what possible good can come from something evil that has happened to us or people we know and love. This weekend, we lost a friend and colleague, Nabeel Qureshi, to stomach cancer. The impact Nabeel has had on so many causes us to question why God chose him at this time?
The story of Ruth is one that has been taught to Christians emphasizing her meeting Boaz. Boaz was what was known in Israelite culture as a "Kinsman Redeemer". This was a man who was responsible for helping a relative in times of trouble. To help rescue person or property. This is a clear picture of what Jesus has done for the human race by dying on a cross as a ransom for our crimes against a Holy God. But there's something else in the story. The story of Ruth begins with a drought in Israel. Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon [meaning Sickness] and Chilion [meaning Annihilator] departed Bethlehem for Moab. The two sons took Moabite wives - Orpah and Ruth.
While there, Elimelech died. 10 years later, Naomi's two sons also died leaving Naomi and her two daughters in law. Orpah returned to her people in Moab, but Ruth left with Naomi to return to Bethlehem in Judah. It was here that she met Boaz - a relative of Naomi. A day came where Naomi was selling her land. With this land would come Ruth. Boaz redeemed the land and took Ruth as a wife. In time, Ruth gave birth to Obed who then had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David from whose line the Messiah would come.
But notice the tragedy that befell Ruth and Naomi. The drought drove Elimelech to take his family from Bethlehem to Moab where he and his two sons died leaving them widows and without any male to work the land. But if Elimelech had not gone to Moab, his son would not have married Ruth. If Elimelech and Ruth's husband had not died, she and Naomi would not have returned to Bethlehem where Boaz redeemed Ruth and from who's line Jesus was born.
What we can see is that even though we do not see the end of the story, we must ask the question is it possible for God to have a morally just reason to allow evil in our lives? From this story - and many others in the Bible - we see God using tragedy to bring about good. This does not mean that God caused the evil. But God can use an event such as this to bring about a good result.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
Notice that Paul does not say that all things are good, but rather all things work together for good, for those who are called.
When we are faced with the unthinkable, we can hold on to the fact that God does have a reason to allow it. We may never know the reason until we see God face to face, but there is a reason. CS Lewis wrote that God screams at us in our pain. God uses this to speak to us all the more boldly.
Nabeel effected so many lives in his preaching but even more in his illness. The grace with which he faced his illness was more than inspiring. Personally, he affected not so much my apologetic, but how I should live my life before God. And he gave the best illustration of the Trinity I'd ever heard. He will continue to make an impact here even after his death and we can take comfort knowing that he has met his redeemer.
This past July, my wife and I welcomed our second child into this world. A baby girl named Bridget. He is our redeemer as well.
The past decade has seen a Renaissance in Christian Apologetics. This movement began decades before with the work of men like Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, and William Lane Craig. Now, average Christians are taking up the mantle of the apologist and are giving good reasons for the truth of Christianity and answering objections to it.
But with this resurgence, the Church is still mostly resistant to apologetics. But why is this the case? Former Cold Case Detective, J. Warner Wallace, notices this trend when coming to churches to speak:
"I am blessed by opportunities to make the case for Christianity every weekend in churches across the nation. As a result, however, I get to see how many of my Christian brothers and sisters are interested in the evidence supporting their faith. I must tell you, the interest in Christian case making is thin, at best. In a typical church, about ten percent of the congregation is usually concerned enough about “apologetics” to attend a training session or conference. My fellow speakers and traveling case makers report the same interest wherever they go, and if you are among the few Christians who are actively studying or making the case, you know what I am talking about first-hand. "
Many people feel they are just not intellectually equipped to learn apologetics. It's something that does require time and study. But if we approach apologetics the way we do other things in our lives, we can learn to present a well reasoned faith. And each one of us can present these arguments in our own way to help communicate well to people who have questions or objections.
But there are those who feel that apologetics itself is a wrong approach and not needed.
One response I often hear myself is "we just need to preach the simple Gospel". One well known speaker stated that "when you are sitting across from a person... using intellectual arguments.. facts about history, illustrations, all sorts of things, you're not proclaiming "Thus Saith The LORD". There's not the power of simply going to scripture".
Is he correct? Is the Bible against giving reasoned arguments for Christianity? If I do go to scripture, I find the following passages:
"but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." 1 Peter 3:15
"Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all" Jude v 3
"Conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" - Colossians 4:5-6
"If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” John 10:37-38
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
It is clear from scripture that giving a reasoned, evidential answer to the questions raised against and about Christianity is commanded.
We should always preach the Gospel, but I wonder if some see the act of preaching as speaking an incantation over someone calling upon the power of God to supersede their free will and make them a believer in Christ. The power of the Gospel is the power to save those who would put their trust in Christ's finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. But this power is not in the pronouncement.
Jesus said "..Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:18
This is immediately after John 3:16. The Gospel is not magic, but is the truth proclaimed. We live in a post modern world where truth is considered to be relative. So, we must be ready to meet each person where they live.
As Francis Schaeffer noted:
"As we get ready to tell the person God's answer to his or her need, we must make sure that the individual understands that we are talking about real truth, and not about something vaguely religious which seems to work psychologically. We must make sure that he understands that we are talking about real guilt before God, and we are not offering him merely relief for his guilt-feelings. We must make sure that he understands that we are talking to him about history, and that the death of Jesus was not just an ideal or a symbol but a fact of space and time. If we are talking to a person who would not understand the term "space-time history" we can say: "Do you believe that Jesus died in the sense that if you had been there that day, you could have rubbed your finger on the cross and got a splinter in it?" Until he understands the importance of these three things, he is not ready to become a Christian.
Francis, Schaeffer (1982). The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer A Christian Worldview. Chicago, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 978-0-89107-236-2.
I still remember the first apologetics small group I ever led. I was pumped at finally being able to share with other Christians at my church why Christianity was true and rational.
I chose my curriculum carefully after some research and what I settled on was an offering from the apologist who got me started, Ravi Zacharias. I chose RZIM's Foundations of Apologetics DVD course which was quite an investment for a single guy. This had me so excited. We were going to hear lectures and take notes from some of the greatest apologists in the world. People like John Lennox, Alistair McGrath, Stuart McAllister, Amy Orr Ewing and Ravi himself!
I had previewed the DVDs and soaked up every minute of it. And then came the first night.... and the second... and the third... and.... the class was bored. Turns out that listening to 55 min lectures by Oxford professors was just not speaking to my group.
What I learned from that experience was that what an apologetics nerd like me finds enjoyable doesn't necessarily excite the average Joe.
Many times, we as apologists tend to forget that God has gifted us with the ability to teach and lead in apologetics. As such, we are more apt to enjoy reading Ireneaus' Against Heresies or GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy. But Bob, one of our class members, is doing all he can to understand the self refuting statements we talked about the previous night.
In leading, we need to be mindful of our audience. If you have a group full of academically minded people, then something like my aforementioned study may be perfect. If you have a cross section of average folks, perhaps using The Case for Christ may be more realistic as they can relate to Lee Strobel's story of researching the truth of Christianity for himself.
In our zeal to bring apologetics teaching to our local church, we have to remember that not everyone will be as enthusiastic as we are and that this is very unfamiliar territory for most. So whether we are using a prepared course or are formulating our own curriculum, we need to make sure it has a broad appeal so that everyone will have the ability to learn something.
I recently started a new group at my home church. We are using Frank Turek's I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist and it was a hit. Everyone loves Frank.
I would like to ask this person what they mean by “Biblical Literalism”. This is such a loaded term and can mean so much to so many. But given the context of his three words, I will be assuming the view that the events described in the Bible as actual events are to be taken literally.
The first issue is that this is a straw man argument as there is an implied suggestion that Christianity is promoting the idea that snakes speak as a matter of natural occurrence. I’ve never known any Christians who are promoting this idea and the event itself is a supernatural one which is not present in normal, natural conditions.
However, this passage from Genesis 3 depicts Satan as taking the form of a serpent and deceiving Eve. Satan has been described in many ways throughout the Bible including as being a dragon. But Christians are not suggesting that dragons are real any more than suggesting that unicorns are real. But it isn't just a talking snake in Genesis, there is another recorded instance in the Bible where an animal speaks.
The story of Balaam’s donkey is an event in Numbers where God sends an angel to stop Balaam on his way to curse the nation of Israel on the behalf of the Moabites.
“But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So, Balaam hit her to return her to the path. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow passage between the vineyards, with a stone wall on either side. The donkey saw the Angel of the Lord and pressed herself against the wall, squeezing Balaam’s foot against it. So he hit her once again. The Angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn to the right or the left. When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. So he became furious and beat the donkey with his stick.
Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” Numbers 22:21-39 HCSB
It is clear from this passage that a speaking donkey is not a normal, natural occurrence and would be considered a miracle. God caused the donkey to be able to speak. This does not mean that the Bible or Christianity is suggesting that donkeys can talk.
This brings us to problem number two which is the main undergirding of the objection. Most skeptics will assert that the supernatural is not possible and that an appeal as such is not falsifiable. Falsifiability, however, is related to a scientific inquiry. The supernatural, by definition, is not something testable by science as science deals with the natural world. You can use science to falsify a specific supernatural claim (for example, a person claims to be healed from cancer, but medical records show they were never diagnosed with cancer, etc.), but science cannot show the supernatural to be false in principle. So, other tools must be used. Some skeptics argue for methodological naturalism stating that science is barred from investigating the supernatural. But this is not the case. Science can study the effects of the supernatural on the natural world. With enough effects, one could make a rational inference as to the cause and if, given the evidence, it is more reasonable for the cause to be supernatural, then such a claim could be made even if the everyday experience of the average person does not include supernatural occurrences.
Given these reasons, the three-word argument “Snakes Don’t Talk” fails to ‘debunk’ Biblical Literalism in a broad sense and more over fails to show that the supernatural is a less reasonable explanation for the events described in the biblical narratives.
One objection that is still prevalent on the internet and in some atheist circles is the idea that Jesus is just a copy cat god. That His story is just a repeating of ancient god-man myths from history such as Osiris, Mythras, etc.
This mostly comes from an internet film called "Zeitgeist" and this theory has been refuted a number of times by scholars both secular and theistic. A cursory examination of these so called copy cats reveal very little if any resemblance to the account of Jesus of Nazareth.
But, let's assume for a moment that those stories are similar. Does that mean that Jesus is merely a copy of those stories and never existed?
I do not believe this to be the case and there is historical evidence that can demonstrate this as a non sequitur.
Everyone has heard of the ocean liner that couldn't be sunk even by God Himself that hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April and sunk with the majority of its passengers dying in the frigid waters. The ship was the RMS Tit... Titan. That's right, the Titan. The Titan was the name of an ocean liner in the fictional novel Futility a.k.a. The Wreck of the Titan. This novel was written in 1890 by Morgan Robertson and the name was changed from Futility after the Titanic sank.
While this is quite an eerie coincidence, what kind of similarities can we find between the Titan and the Titanic?
Now, given this, do we consider the Titanic sinking to be a myth copied from other ancient myths? Certainly not. But why? It's because of the eyewitness accounts and the historical records. We can also go out to the North Atlantic and visit the Titanic's wreck.
As we can clearly see, just because other older myths exist with similarities to Christ, it does not follow that the account of Jesus of Nazareth is itself just another myth copied from older ones. And while this objection will probably continue to resurface, we can refute such claims both from the actual mythical accounts and from the facts that do not follow from the objection.
To debate or not to debate. That is the question.
What I will share is just my humble opinion. It's based on trial and error [and a lot of error], but each person may have a different experience.
Personally, I don't recommend internet conversations. The reason being is manifold and I will share some of those reasons here along with an alternative end goal for online debating.
Reason 1: Emotions Run High
The internet can be deceptively intimate as well as offer a sense of safety from immediate consequences. As a result, people can be more nasty and terse online than they normally would be in person. This isn't only with your internet infidel, but with many Christians as well. Look over any blog on apologetics and you will see comments from Christians calling people morons or other ad homenim language.
There is nothing truly intimate about the internet and a face to face conversation over a cup of coffee is always a better approach.
Reason 2: Multiple debaters
Usually, you can have a conversation with one person and it always ends up involving 70 of their 'defenders'. It's hard enough making a reasoned argument with one person, let alone the entire Richard Dawkins Facebook fan club. Often your point will get lost and a multitude of unrelated objections get slung into the thread exhausting you to the point of frustration.
Reason 3: Your grouped in with bad debaters
Let's face it, there are a lot of well meaning, but ill-informed Christians out there who make very bad arguments and use old cliche's attempting to convert the internet atheist at hand. Not only will your arguments tend to get lost, but you will be grouped in with their statements and end up having to defend or detract those statements and never getting your argument off the ground.
A Stone in Their Shoe
Now some people love this sort of thing and are very good at it. But, I would offer an alternative goal. I have found sometimes that simply asking a question to dig out why someone holds their view does more than writing a 10 page argument on the resurrection in a single comment post. It exposes some of the faulty thinking in the view for all to see. Then, you can leave the conversation as it is without moving any further. I have found this to be helpful at least in giving the other person a better sense of kindness on the part of Christians than they usually experience on the internet.
So, if you are going to debate on the internet, I recommend following some simple rules:
This can change the experience not only for you but for the person you are chatting with.
If you’ve ever read an atheistic objection to Christianity, you’ve probably heard something like “believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. You don’t believe in Santa Claus do you? So why would you believe in a different mythical being like God?”.
On the surface, this seems like a plausible question. I mean, what’s the difference between believing in a Jolly elf who flies around the world in a sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer once a year and drops presents down chimneys and believing in an all powerful, all knowing, maximally good invisible creator God?
Well, let’s examine the claims of Santa Claus to see if it is truly the same as claims for God.
1. No witnesses
The one thing that Santa lacks is a large group of eyewitnesses. You never hear of anyone claiming to see Santa Claus other than little kids sitting on the mall Santa’s lap. And there are no documented mass sightings of the red-suited fat man in history.
2. No forensic evidence
There is no real trace evidence for Santa having visited your home. Now, kids may say “but Santa always eats the cookies and drinks the milk!”. But if you ask the parents out of earshot of their child, they will tell you they did it. So unless parents all over the world are lying, it’s more likely than not they ate the goodies. Another lacking piece of evidence – perhaps the proverbial smoking gun – is the lack of mysterious presents left under the tree. No parent has ever scratched their heads and stated on Christmas morning “where did that come from?”. If you polled parents, they will never tell stories of the mysterious arrival of THE GIFT that their child wanted, but they didn’t buy.
3. No flying reindeer spotted in nature
Now, this is something akin to Bigfoot. However, unlike the North American hairy giant, there has never been a piece of purported film, photography or hoofprints related to flying venison. If Santa Claus were real, you would expect someone at a research base in the Arctic to have reported a sighting or two. Afterall, Donner has to get some exercise when not taxing St. Nick around.
4. No one dies for a belief in Santa.
There have not been any reported mass persecutions of Santa-ists in history. No one who saw Kris Kringle and took that claim to their grave despite warnings to recant their story. For such a worldwide appeal, one would expect that true believers would be dying for such a belief.
Christianity, on the other hand, does have these characteristics we mentioned above:
It seems after a closer look, the belief in Santa or any other so called ancient myth or ‘god’ is not at all the same as a belief in Christianity.
One of my hobbies is training in Martial Arts. Specifically, an Israeli system called Krav Maga.
It is a realistic system of combat developed for the Israeli military that parts of which are now being taught to civilians. The core of Krav Maga is instilling muscle memory so that students and quickly learn and develop skills necessary to survive a violent encounter.
The main way this is achieved is through what is known as Stress Training. Stress training is usually done by bringing a person close to physical exhaustion and then having them perform techniques and combative strikes repeatedly. This simulates the stress felt during an attack and helps not only to install muscle memory, but lessens the chances of freezing up during such an attack.
In Christian apologetics, such training is also needed. It’s one thing to study the arguments for Christianity, but it is another to be able to answer questions when the heat is on and you are being pressed by a non-Christian for answers. This can be achieved through role play with others studying apologetical arguments. The internet is a good source of arguments against Christianity, so people can take on the role of atheist, LDS, Jehovah’s Witness, etc. and present those arguments and questions while you practice fielding and answering those questions.
Training is essential in learning to present an argument under pressure. Without training, we may find ourselves left flat-footed when we are presented with questions. If I simply watched my Krav Maga instructor perform the techniques or simply practiced them slowly without any pressure or resistance from my training partner, then I may not perform as well under pressure or be able to think on my feet. If I study apologetics by reading books, articles, the Bible or watching debates or my favorite apologists answer questions, I may find it difficult to respond when I feel nervous or even afraid when confronted with a difficult question or a hostile questioner.
In his book, Tactics, A Gameplan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions , Greg Koukl recommends a 3 step process in between engagements to help better prepare for each encounter:
1. Anticipate - think about what type of questions or arguments may be given and the responses that may come to your answers.
2. Reflect - Reflect on the encounter and think about how you may have answered differently or is there something you should bone up on to give a better answer in the future.
3. Practice - Get a friend to role play with you and practice giving answers that are seasoned with salt and that convey the type of Christian character we are commissioned to give.
The old saying “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle” rings true. So get together with your training partners and sweat it out answering objections and questions so that you will be better prepared when the moment arrives.
 Koukl, Gregory. (2009). Tactics, A Gameplan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Often when I begin teaching an apologetics group at my church, one ultimate question comes up "when do we share the Gospel in these conversations?". It's a legitimate and important question. Apologetics is often seen by some in the church as unnecessary or an attempt to "argue someone into the kingdom"
While nothing could be further from the truth, it does require an explanation as to the place of Christian Case Making in the life of the believer.
Apologetics itself should never be thought of as the ultimate end. It's a means to an end. Apologetics can be rightly referred to as the "handmaiden of evangelism". But in today's culture, sharing the Gospel can be difficult if we haven't first answered questions non-believers have about Jesus, the Bible, the Origin of the Universe and a host of other objections. Being a trained, Christian Case Maker is essential to sharing the Gospel in our society.
One way to think about Christian case making is this example. Have you ever been driving and pulled up to a intersection on a red light? You need to make a right turn and so you need to make sure traffic is clear to make the turn safely. You look to your right and it's clear, but you look to your left and you can't tell if their is oncoming traffic or not because right on the corner blocking your view of traffic is a big, bushy hedge.
Sure, the hedge looks great, but given the position of the curb, the hedge and your vehicle, it's blocking your view - making it almost impossible to see clearly enough to pull out safely. And so, you must wait for the green light. You think to yourself "someone should really clear out that bush so I can see clearly enough to make my turn".
When we want to share the Gospel, often the person we are talking with cannot see Jesus clearly enough or understand the Good news that Christ offers because their "vision" is obstructed by objections they have.
Some objections may be:
- How can there be a good, all loving God with all of the evil in the world?
- How can I trust a 3,000 year old book?
- Isn't the idea of Jesus just a continuation of other God-man myths?
We can think of these objections as bushes that are blocking a person's view of Jesus. Christian Case Making clears those bushes out of the way so Christ is more clearly seen and the Gospel we share can be better understood. The Holy Spirit then draws a person to Christ as the fallacy of these objections are exposed and a person stands naked before a Holy God. We are all commanded to be able to give a defense for the good news we believe [1 Peter 3:15, Phil 1:7]. But understanding the relationship between Christian Case making and sharing the Gospel helps us to see that they work together as we share our faith with a sin-sick world.
I'm a history buff. I love to learn about how and why things occurred and how they are related to the world we see today. One of my favorite time periods to study is World War II. I think my wife and I have visited the WWII Museum in New Orleans about 4 or 5 times over the years. Inevitably, when you study World War II, you think about Nazism. And when you think about the Nazi's, what comes to mind first is the Holocaust.
Director Steven Spielberg made a film in the mid 90's called Schindler's List which portrayed the actions of Oskar Schindler who rescued over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust. About this same time, he got involved with The Shoah Foundation. The foundation records visual eyewitness accounts of survivors of the Holocaust for the sake of preserving the living testimony of the eyewitnesses. This is important due to the many Holocaust deniers that have been active since the end of World War II.
The reason their testimony is so important is because they were there. 100 years from now, someone will watch their accounts and be confident that what they described actually happened.
So this brings us to a very important point: Can we apply the same test to the Gospel accounts and the New Testament as a whole? And is early dating important? One component to any eyewitness testimony is that the person claiming to be an eyewitness was actually present at the events they describe. If it can be reasonably shown that the New Testament was written early - that is, in the lifetime of the eyewitnesses - then that is one confirmed test to establish the reliability of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
Let's look at a set of 4 quick facts that can help us determine if an early dating is reasonable.
1. Paul's Martyrdom
Most scholars place Paul's death in the late 60's AD. This is based on some historical data and some tradition. Tradition states that Paul was beheaded. Some believe this to not be likely as it was the emperor Nero's practice to burn, crucify, or feed Christians to wild animals. However, Paul being a Roman citizen afforded him the right to be beheaded. This is further corroborated by the account in Acts where Paul used his Roman citizenship status to appeal to Caesar. There is good historical evidence, however, that Paul was indeed martyred regardless of the methodology.
As Sean McDowell, PhD noted "early evidences for the martyrdom of Paul can be found in Ignatius (Letter to the Ephesians 12:2), Polycarp (Letter to the Philippians 9:1-2), Dionysius of Corinth (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.25.4), Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1.1), The Acts of Paul, and Tertullian (Scorpiace 15:5-6)".
2. James Martyrdom
James, the brother of Jesus was martyred in Jerusalem in AD 62. We have extra-biblical, corroborative evidence for this from the writings of Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews.
The strongest evidence for the writing of the book of Acts is around the early 60's AD, though some skeptical scholars place it at AD 125-30 (well outside of Luke's lifetime) while others place it at around AD 80-90. A few possible reasons that the dating of the early 60's is likely is the lack of mention of the above martyrdoms (though Acts mentions the stoning of Stephen and the beheading of James, the brother of the apostle John). Also, there is no mention of the destruction of Herod's Temple in AD 70 by General Titus or the siege of Jerusalem by his father, Vespasian. One could make a comparison to this event to that of 9/11. This was such a catastrophic event in the Judaeo world that one could argue Luke would have included it if Acts had been written after.
4. The Epistles
It would seem obvious to conclude that the epistles would have been written prior to the author's death. If we take the agreed upon Pauline Epistles (Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians), these would have been written prior to his death in the late 60's. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, we have was is believed to be the earliest known creed in the church.
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that 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,
then to the Twelve.
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.
It's easy to see the cadence in this passage. While the original was written in Greek, the pattern is the same. This means that the high Christology of the Church existed prior to Paul's being converted and was the earliest teaching of the Church. This stands in contrast to the accusations of skeptics that the teaching of Jesus being deity only came later in the 4th century.