Is Christmas an elaborate hoax—or the pivotal point in human history? And can an intelligent person really embrace that God became a man? Or that a virgin conceived a child?
In the course of Lee and her discussion, Lee also shares new material not included in any of his best-selling books.
Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books and curricula that have sold fourteen million copies in total. He is Founding Director of the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. His books include The Case for Christ, which is also available as a movie on Netflix; The Case for Faith; The Case for a Creator; The Case for Grace; and The Case for Christmas. He and Leslie have been married 47 years and divide their time between Houston and Denver.
LEE STROBEL, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:04
Is Christmas an elaborate hoax or the pivotal point in human history? And can an intelligent person really embrace that God became a man? Or that a virgin conceived a child? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And on this podcast, I’m going to be speaking with leading apologist and author Lee Strobel about the case for Christmas. This is an interview I did last year with Lee and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to air it again. And of course, with Christmas just a few weeks away, there’s no better time than the present to release this podcast. Again, Christmas is in some ways a magical time right? Filled with family traditions andpresents. And before COVID there were actually parties. But sometimes I think with all the festivities, we forget that Christmas is absolutely foundational to our faith. But does Christmas, this foundational event in the Christian faith, actually stand up to scrutiny? Can we really have confidence in the virgin birth? Can the genealogies in Matthew be trusted? And what’s the deal with the wise men? Well, I explore all these questions and more with Lee Strobel, a former atheist turned apologist, and the author of The Case for Christ. But before we dive into that interview, I want to take a minute to thank the sponsors of The Roys Report, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson is a top ranked Christian University in the Chicago suburbs providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. The school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information, just go to Judsonu.edu/visit. Also, if you’re in the market for a car, I so encourage you to check out my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. And right now Marquardt is celebrating the holidays with employee pricing on almost all GMC trucks and SUVs. So for more information, and to check out their inventory, just go to buyacar123. com. And now here’s my interview with leading apologists Lee Strobel about The Case for Christmas. Welcome to the program. It is such a joy to talk to you.
LEE STROBEL 02:29
Well, thanks, Julie, always great to talk with you. I hope you’re having a great Christmas season.
JULIE ROYS 02:33
We are, we are although it’s kind of just going to begin after today. Because working hard up into this point, then I’m looking forward to doing a lot of last minute Christmas shopping.
LEE STROBEL 02:45
Me too.I got alot of that ahead of me.
JULIE ROYS 02:47
It’s it’s good to know that there’s some other last minute folks like me out there. Let me just start with sort of an overarching question now that you’ve invested years in researching the evidence for Christmas. In all of your investigations on Christmas, are there any traditions that you found don’t withstand scrutiny?
LEE STROBEL 03:07
Yeah, I really have. It’s it’s fun as I’ve tried to separate sort of the, the holiday from the holy day and the facts from the fantasy and the truth from the tradition. I’ve found that you know, certain things have kind of come into our popular conception of Christmas but don’t really have a biblical basis. I’ll give you a good example. You know, the popular conception of the Christmas story is that Mary and Joseph, because of the census, are called the Bethlehem. She is about to give birth. And they come into town and there’s an innkeeper that says sorry, no room at the inn. So they don’t have any place to go. They go into a stable or a cave and she gives birth among the animals and then puts the baby in the manger. Well, there’s a problem with that. There probably was no inn and no innkeeper. There were commercial lodging places available in the first century, but probably not in Bethlehem. It was kind of a it was a small town and it wasn’t on a major thoroughfare. But the key is the word that’s used there. That’s translated as in it’s a Greek word called kataluma. And it’s only used two times in the New Testament. And the other time it’s used is the place where the Last Supper was held, where it clearly means a spare room. And so if Luke wanted to say this was an inn, this was a commercial lodging institution, you would use a different Greek word. But he used kataluma, and the best translation of kataluma is guestroom. In fact, in fact, if you look at the NIV version, the New International version, it says that there was no guest room available for them. And you can trace that back. I traced it back to the year 1395 where John Wycliffe’s translation, used the word chamber room. And then later the King James Version kind of picked up this idea that it was an inn. And that’s kind of what spawned this story. But so let me explain real quickly what this involved. In the first century, in this locale, a typical house had one large room, but it was divided in two parts. The first part, the larger area was the family room. And that’s where you would cook and eat and sleep. And, and, and then there were a few steps down to the animal room. And this is where the family donkey or the cow or a couple of sheep would spend the night. So at the last thing in the day, they would bring them into this section of the room that’s separated by some stairs. Maybe half a dozen stairs that go up to the family room. And the animals would stay in there and there was a manger in there. And then often these animals, during the night, would come up the little stairs into the family room. And they would hang out with the family, you know, the sheep and so forth. And so they had a manger in the family room as well. What some houses did is they added a second room. This was the kataluma the guest room, and it had its own entrance, its own exterior entrance. So this is the room that Luke was referring to. So what he’s saying basically is that they came into Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph had relatives there. They went to one of the relative’s house. And golley would have been great for pregnant Mary to be in the guest room. But there was no room was already occupied. So she had to give birth in the, in the living area. And of course, there were animals around. She did give birth among the animals. And there, there was a manger there. And so all that is probably accurate. It probably is not, by the way, accurate that she was on the verge of giving birth, when she came into town. That actually comes from a second century account that’s that’s pretty much legendary, and not based on historic reality. If you read carefully, Luke 2:6 says that the time for the baby to be born came while they were there in Bethlehem. So that could be they were there five hours or there five weeks, it’s unclear. So she may or may not have been on the verge of birth. So anyway, that’s just one clarification that I think adds some some historical validity to what probably happened.
JULIE ROYS 07:18
What about the wise men? Because obviously, in many of our nativity scenes, we have these three wise men. My understanding is they probably weren’t there at Jesus’s birth either.
LEE STROBEL 07:29
Right. That’s correct. I mean, the they came at some later time. And given the fact that King Herod ordered the killing of all children under the age of two, in Bethlehem, trying to figure out when the birth had taken place, and he wanted to eliminate all possible suspects, you know. So within the first couple years is when this happened. It’s interesting though, when you read the actual account in Scripture, it doesn’t say explicitly that they were led to Bethlehem by the star, the Magi. It says, they were led to where Jesus was. And so perhaps, Mary and Joseph had already left Bethlehem by then and were elsewhere. But that is where wherever it was, that they were, that’s where the Magi were led and met with the child. Of course, we also have the shepherds who they were there. They were, they came at the time that the baby was born, or shortly thereafter. And so we do have the accuracy of the Nativity scenes with the shepherds being there.
JULIE ROYS 08:31
Just not the wise men. And we have wise men in our nativity scene at home, but I really like it. So I’m just keeping it.
LEE STROBEL 08:36
Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with that. We made our movie, The Case for Christ, that we did what they call time shifting. There are some things in movies where you have to shift some time to make it work. And that’s a little bit of time shifting, but that’s okay. They were ultimately there.
JULIE ROYS 08:52
Absolutely. A little bit of artistic license, there.
LEE STROBEL 08:55
There you go! That’s a good way to put it.
JULIE ROYS 08:58
So let’s talk about the reliability of these accounts that you’re obviously referencing in the Gospels. We have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each recounting different parts of the story of Jesus in his life on earth. Can we really trust these? Or what reason do we have that we can trust them?
LEE STROBEL 09:18
There are two gospels that mentioned that specifically. And that’s Matthew and Luke. What’s interesting, though, is when you look at the number of times that Mary and Joseph are specifically mentioned in those two gospels, what you realize is that Luke’s gospel tells the story from Mary’s perspective. And which makes sense. Luke was sort of a first century investigative reporter. That’s why he’s one of my favorite characters from the first century. And he interviewed people. He checked things out, as he said, make sure of the certainty of what took place. And so he probably interviewed Mary herself, or friends of Mary, to get her side of the story. Matthew, on the other hand, writes from Joseph’s perspective. And when you think about it, it makes sense because Joseph, the, you know, the earthly father of Jesus, died apparently before Jesus earthly ministry began. But Matthew became a leader in the church in Jerusalem. Well guess who else was a leader there? James, they half brother of Jesus. And so it would have made sense that Joseph would have told the children this story of what happened with the the birth of Jesus, and this unusual circumstance, this virgin conception. And that’s apparently where James heard it, and then he probably pass it on to Matthew when they were leaders of the church in Jerusalem. So you have two different perspectives. Why that’s important is, this means we have two independent sources for the story of the Virgin conception of Jesus. Which is the central teaching of the birth of Jesus, the incarnation. And these go back very early. So these are sources that Matthew and Luke drew upon. That go back even before the gospels were written. Some critics say, Oh, this idea that Jesus was born of a virgin. That was a later addition that the Christians later said, Well, we want to bolster the divine credentials of Jesus. So let’s let’s invent this story that he was born of a virgin. No, I mean, we have a story, it goes way back to the beginning. To the first generation of Christ followers. Now the question comes up that well, what about John? And what about Mark? How come they don’t mention the virgin conception? And what about Paul? He doesn’t mention it either. So what’s the deal? And I think the answer is not all the Gospels report every detail about the events of Jesus’ life. In fact, John was the last gospel written. And so he doesn’t repeat a lot of material that’s already been made known in the other gospels. So but it is interesting. There is a church tradition that says that John mentored an early church father by the name of Ignatius. And in the first century, Ignatius wrote a letter specifically confirming that Jesus was, “truly born of a virgin”. So where did he get that idea? Well, maybe from his mentor, John. And then Mark, well, Mark doesn’t deal with the early years of Jesus at all. So he doesn’t reference this. But he does in Mark 6:3, he refers to Jesus as the Son of Mary. Now, normally, a Jewish person would be identified with the Father’s name, be the son of Joseph, even if the dad was dead, they would identify someone that way. But here we have an implicit acknowledgement that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. And then, in terms of why Paul didn’t mention it, I think that it simply wasn’t an issue relevant to the things that prompted him to write his epistles. He doesn’t mention a lot of details about Jesus. He doesn’t mention Mary, Joseph, Bethlehem. But that doesn’t mean that those places didn’t exist. But then again, in Galatians 4:4, Paul says, God sent forth his Son coming from a woman. So here again, you have this reference that apparently something unusual about his birth. And in fact, in I Corinthians 15, Paul talks about, in different ways, how Adam and Jesus came miraculously from the hand of God. And an early church apologist named Aaron Aes, later connects us with the virgin birth. So he’s indicating that there’s something miraculous about his birth. So I think we have good solid historical reasons to believe in the virgin birth. The records of the of the Gospels, I think, are reasonable to believe from a historical standpoint, and especially when you look at their dating. You know, when you look at the book of Acts, we see that it doesn’t mention a lot of things that happened in the 60s A.D. Jesus was crucified either in 30, or 33 A.D. So in the 60s, there were a bunch of things that happen, that would have been in Acts had it been written later. But it apparently was written before about 62 A.D. Well Acts is the second part of Luke’s work. The first part being the Gospel of Luke, so that’s even earlier. And then one of Luke’s sources was Mark, and so Mark is dated even earlier. So we have these are very close. These are first generation. This is stuff coming from the first generation. And, and so that gives a credibility. The other thing is, we see the careful nature, Luke has the most complete account of the Virgin conception and, and the birth of Jesus. And Luke has been studied and is known for being an extremely reliable historian. You can check the references that he makes to various things and they tend to check out. And over and over again, where archaeology can confirm an event, it does confirm what Luke says. I’ll give you a great example of that related to the birth of Jesus. The gospels tell us that Jesus later grew up after being born in Bethlehem, in Nazareth. And a lot of skeptics used to say, well, Nazareth didn’t exist in the first century. So there you go. Shows Luke doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And yet just a few years ago, in what had been Nazareth in the first century, archaeologists discovered a house from Jes’us era. And what’s interesting about that house is it had limestone pottery in it. And what that means is that the limestone pottery was used by Jewish families because they believe that would not make the food impure. So what’s interesting though, is this house that they discovered from the Byzantine era, had been revered as being the very house that Jesus had lived in. In fact, they built a convent above this house to kind of recognize it as being the actual birth place where Jesus grew up. We can’t prove that one way or the other through archaeology. But what we can confirm is that again, Luke was right that Nazareth did exist in the first century. Jewish people did live there. And just one more case, where you looked at the reliability of Luke.
JULIE ROYS 15:51
And I love how you write about archaeology as it’s sort of like the corroborating witness that we talk to as journalists. I mean, if you get a story, you go out and you try to corroborate it with people around it. You can’t necessarily find out whether the story the person told was true. But what you can do is find out did the other details check out? And if the other details check out, you say, Hmm, sounds like a credible witness. If they don’t, then you go, hhhmm, not a credible witness. And it is amazing, isn’t it Lee, how time and time again, archaeology backs up what the Scriptures say. There is no other holy book like that.
LEE STROBEL 16:26
Exactly. And what this tells us is that Luke was a very careful historian. And that’s been recognized by secular and Christian scholars through the ages that Luke was very careful. In fact, one archaeologist carefully examined the references that Luke made to 32 countries, 54 cities and 9 islands. And he couldn’t find a single mistake. That gives credibility to Luke to say, you know, this guy was not sloppy, he was very careful in what he reported. And so the implication is, therefore, he was probably careful in reporting really important things like the resurrection, like the birth of Jesus, and so forth.
JULIE ROYS 17:04
Yeah. And we’re starting to get into some things that aren’t in your original book, The Case for Christmas; however, it is in, I guess, a curricula that you put together The Case for Christmas and The Case for Easter, a study guide with DVDs. So some of this information is available there. But it’s newer information that you’ve discovered. And one of the things is the virgin conception. Now, you had said in some notes to me before the show, it’s really the virgin conception, not the virgin birth. What’s the difference there?
LEE STROBEL 17:34
Yeah, it’s kind of a difference without much importance. But it is theologically important because we’re talking about how Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The virgin birth often is a Catholic term that refers to the perpetual virginity of Mary. That that continued through her birth, through her subsequent life and so forth.
JULIE ROYS 17:54
How does she have other children?
LEE STROBEL 17:55
Catholics would say that those were were cousins, and not necessarily children she had. But I think a clear reading to me of the New Testament is that Jesus did have half brothers, including James, who became a leader of local church. The church there in Jerusalem. There is a slight distinction. Most people would use virgin birth and virgin conception interchangeably. And that’s fine.
JULIE ROYS 18:19
Hmm. Well, let’s talk about the importance of the Virgin conception. Why is that so critical to our faith?
LEE STROBEL 18:28
Yeah, two reasons. One is, the virgin conception makes it possible for Jesus to be both fully God and fully man. So clearly, there was both a human and a divine influence in his birth. So the full humanity is evident from the fact of his birth from a human mother. And his full deity is evident from the fact that the conception was by the power of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus can be fully God and fully man. And then second, the virgin birth makes it possible for Jesus to be born without Original Sin. Bible teaches that all people have inherited this corrupt moral nature, thanks to Adam, our first father. But because Jesus didn’t have an earthly father, a human father, this line of descent from Adam was partially interrupted. And also it’s interesting that the Bible says that somehow, in a way we don’t quite understand, this conception by the Holy Spirit prevented the transmission of sin from Mary. How do we know? Well, when you read carefully what Luke says in his first chapter, he says, The angel replied to Mary, the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, in other words, as a direct consequence of this, the baby to be born will be wholly, morally pure, without sin. So, in some manner, this unbroken line of descent from Adam is interrupted by the Holy Spirit’s divine conception of Jesus. And so Jesus is born without the stain of original sin. I like the way one scholar put, he said, You know, it seems likely that the influence of the Holy Spirit was so powerful and sanctifying in its effect, that there was no conveyance of depravity or from guilt. Of guilt from Mary to Jesus. So those two things are really important – that Jesus fully God and fully man, he’s without Original Sin. Those are foundational ideas. And we see, of course, the virgin birth being mentioned in the Creed’s of the Church. It’s an important doctrine that specifically mentioned in the Creed that Jesus was born of a virgin. And so it’s not a side issue. I think it’s an important central issue.
JULIE ROYS 20:27
Yeah, absolutely. It is. Matthew references the Old Testament, a passage in Isaiah where it says, Therefore the Lord himself will give a sign. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son. And we’ll call him Emmanuel. Now some critics say that word that’s translated virgin doesn’t really mean virgin. That it should be what, young woman or something. Can you address that?
LEE STROBEL 20:49
Sure, yeah. And this is a common objection that people make. Isaiah, this reference that the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, call him Emmanuel. That was written like 700 years before Jesus was born. And Matthew says, this is a prophecy that applies to Jesus. Well, critics criticize it for three reasons. Number one, they say, Well, wait a minute, this is actually a prophecy for King Ahas of Judah. And it was fulfilled centuries before Jesus was born, because there was a maiden who later got married and gave birth to a son. And then they say the word virgin is a mistranslation. The Hebrew word usused there is Alma, which simply means young woman. If the writer had meant to say virgin, you would use a different word, betula. And then third thing they say, Well, Jesus wasn’t named Emmanuel. So there’s kind of three problems with this thing. Well, here’s the answer. First, yes, the immediate prophecy was fulfilled centuries earlier. Some say it was with the birth of (Maher Sallow Hasbaas). Others say, Well, that can’t be because he wasn’t called Emmanuel. But here’s what’s important. There was a broader messianic context that remained unfulfilled until the time of Jesus. In other words, you can’t read this verse in Isaiah in isolation. It’s actually part of a larger complex of verses foretelling the coming of the Messiah. So in Isaiah, chapter 7, he is about to be born. In Isaiah 9, he’s already born and declared to be mighty God and divine King. And then in Isaiah 11, He’s ruling and reigning in the supernatural power of the Spirit. So this broader context points toward the coming of the Messiah, which means Matthew was right in applying it to Jesus. In terms of the word Alma used, and meaning young maiden. In those days, a young maiden was presumed to be a virgin. In fact, Alma is never used in ancient biblical Hebrew. It’s never used of a non virgin. While the word Betula could refer to a widow or a divorced woman who wasn’t a virgin. So I talked to one scholar. He said, Look, if any notion of virginity were intended, Alma is the best or the only word to do that job. So it is correct to translate it as virgin. And then third, what about the fact that baby It was not called Emmanuel? He was called Jesus? Well, biblical names are often symbolic. And Emmanuel literally means ‘God with us’. And that’s exactly what Jesus is! You know, hundreds of millions of people around the planet say Jesus is God with us. So in that ultimate sense, He is Emmanuel. So I think it’s appropriate for Matthew to have applied this prophecy to Jesus. I think it did mean Virgin and the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures that was done a long time before Jesus was born, did translate it as virgin. It was appropriately applied to Jesus. And it did suggest that there would be something supernatural about his birth.
JULIE ROYS 23:44
Well, and that happens throughout the Gospels, where you have the gospel writer saying, referencing something in the Old Testament that had a partial fulfillment, or one meaning, and then the gospel writer gives it that full meaning and that you know exactly how to apply. So yeah, and it’s just interesting, how myopic so often these criticisms are. It’s like they don’t see the whole picture. Yet they can sound credible. So appreciate you just sort of unpacking that. Let’s go to another criticism of the virgin birth. And I think this was popularized in the Da Vinci Code. And that is that the virgin birth was just stolen from pagan mythology. How do answer that?
LEE STROBEL 24:21
Yeah, you hear this a lot. And the example that’s often given and I think the one used the Da Vinci Code, was Mithras. There was a mythological God named Mithras, who lived supposedly long before Jesus was born. And guess what? He was born of a virgin in a cave on December the 25th. And he had 12 disciples and He sacrificed himself for world peace. And guess what? He was buried in a tomb and he rose again three days later. So then people say, Well, isn’t that the real source of this story? And that Christianity just borrowed or stole these ideas plagiarized these ideas from this mythology called Mithraism? Well, the problem is you dig into this and you find this totally unfounded. First of all, the myth says that Mithras emerged fully grown out of a rock, and he was wearing a hat. There was no virgin birth. He emerged fully grown from a from a rock. Secondly, he was born on December 25. So what?! We don’t know when Jesus was born. The Bible doesn’t tell us the date that Jesus was born. In fact, in the year about 200 A.D. a bunch of theologians got together and said, Let’s try to figure out when Jesus was actually you know, what his birthday is. They concluded it was May 20. Other say now, it could have been March, could have been April, it was most likely in the spring, because that’s when the shepherds were watching their flocks at night, when the yews bore their young. So we don’t know the exact birth date of Jesus. And then it got to be about the fourth century. And Christian said, Well, wait a minute, we have all these pagan celebrations with a lot of immorality taking place around the winter solstice. If we’re going to pick a date, or to celebrate Jesus birth, let’s make it December 25, around the solstice, and we’ll bring a Christian influence to these pagan celebrations. So that’s no parallel, either. And then you look, he didn’t have 12 disciples. The one version said he had one disciple and other version said he had two. He didn’t need to sacrifice himself for world peace, he was known for killing a bull. And then finally, there was no belief in the mythology of Mithraism, about his death, and therefore nothing about a resurrection. So this is typical of what we find. We find that these were people try to bring parallels between these pagan myths and the birth of Jesus. They use secondary sources, they, they wrap it up in Christian terms and make it sound like it’s a parallel, they use partial quotes. They exaggerate, and just plain inaccurate. You know, the fact that he was supposedly born in a cave. Well, Jesus wasn’t a cave. So there’s no parallel there, either.
JULIE ROYS 26:58
Wow. And there seems to be obviously something driving that, isn’t it? I mean, there’s some sort of bias that the authors bring to the table, and then they make the narrative fit, even if it doesn’t fit, and then it gets sold.
LEE STROBEL 27:11
That’s right. Yeah, in fact, a lot of this was brought up in the 19th century, and by some German theologians. And, and so the Christians got together in the early 20th century, and they refuted it completely. But what happened is, in recent years, a lot of internet atheists have gone back to these original claims that were made, ignoring the fact that they’ve been answered and responded to and refuted and bringing up again. And I know one author, it was a Greek scholar, wrote a book about it and said, I don’t know why I’m writing this book. This has been refuted 100 years ago. But I guess I got to do this, again, just because this has risen again, in popular culture.
JULIE ROYS 27:51
Because everything that’s on the internet must be true. Well, we only have about five minutes left. But in this last five minutes, I’d love to just delve into the topic about Jesus being the Jewish Messiah, and whether or not he matched it. Because there were so many as we touched on the Isaiah passage, so many Old Testament prophecies looking to what the Messiah would look like. And I mean, what’s the likelihood that one human being would match all of these factors that that the Messiah has to meet? And yet Jesus did. So unpack that a little bit for us.
LEE STROBEL 28:28
Yeah, there was a scientist mathematician by the name of Peter Stoner, who was part of Westmont College out in California. And he decided to do a study, a mathematical study of this issue of, you know, what are the odds that any human being through history could fulfill just 48 of these ancient prophecies? And so he took these prophecies and they ran mathematical models on these things conservatively. And what he determined is that the odds of any human being in history fulfilling just 48 of these prophecies would be one chance in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.
JULIE ROYS 29:10
My husband, who’s a statistician, would say that, that doesn’t meet the null hypothesis.
LEE STROBEL 29:17
Scientists say there’s a word for that ‘ain’t gonna happen’. And you know, it would be the equivalent of taking one atom and spray painting it red, and putting it somewhere in the known universe, and then giving you a spaceship and letting you fly among the known universe, blindfolded. But you can open your porthole one time, and you could pull in one atom. What would be the odds that would be the atom that has previously been spray painted red? One chance at a trillion to the same odds that any human being could fulfill 40 of these prophecies. But Jesus did it. Jesus did it. And and this tells us that against all odds, Jesus’s has demonstrated that he is the unique Son of God, He is the Messiah. The one referred to in Isaiah as the Mighty God. When it talks about the coming Messiah. We call him mighty God. And so I think that’s just one more confirmation of the supernatural nature of the Bible, that it has these fulfilled prophecies. But also one more confirmation that when Jesus makes transcendent and messianic and divine claims about himself, he backs that up. He backs up his divine claims by His resurrection from the dead, for which I think we have plenty of historical data being an actual historical event.
JULIE ROYS 30:42
We do and that’s something you’ve written on extensively. Last thing, we had mentioned this too, and I just a piece of almost trivia, but the Christmas star. You write about that, that that might have been a recurring Nova?
LEE STROBEL 30:58
Yeah, that’s one explanation, a lot of different explanations given for the Christmas sta. And I think several of them have some good credibility to them. But Hugh Ross, who’s of course got a PhD in astrophysics, from the University of Toronto, says it may have been a recurring Nova. A Nova is a star that suddenly increases in brightness, and then in a few months or years, it grows dim. And they happen about once every decade or so. They’re sufficiently uncommon enough that they would catch the attention of trained observers like the Magi. But most people would just ignore it. They wouldn’t think it was spectacular enough to catch their attention. But most of these Nova exploded just once. But there are a few examples of multiple explosions, a recurring Nova. Which means that this would match the description of how Matthew describes a star, which is that the star appeared and disappeared and it reappeared and then disappeared later. That would kind of fit the description of a recurring Nova
JULIE ROYS 31:57
Well Lee, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, and for helping us discover the evidence surrounding Christmas. Just so appreciated. And God bless you and bless your family. Lee.
LEE STROBEL 32:08
Thanks, Julie. Always great to talk with you.
JULIE ROYS 32:10
Well, again, you’ve been listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’d like to find me online, just go to Julieroys.com. Also, make sure you subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts. That way, you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you have a wonderful day and a blessed Advent season.