Even some biblical scholars—a group that can be quite hostile to Christianity—engage in massive attempts at revisionism. Among their conclusions: the real Christ did not claim to be divine, he didn’t want to found a church, and his simple message of love was subsequently distorted by Christians into an elaborate theology. Typical of this debunking theology is the Jesus Seminar, a group whose members vote on whether central events in the Bible actually happened. So far, the group has decided that Christ’s divinity is a myth, the virgin birth is a myth, Christ’s resurrection is a myth, and that fewer than 20 percent of the sayings attributed to Christ were really said by him. These “discoveries” are regularly trumpeted in the media.

Put aside the credibility of these claims for a minute and ask a different question: Why are these issues such a big deal? If you are not a Christian, why would you care? There are three important reasons.

The first answer is that Christ remains the most influential figure in history. Any list of world-transforming individuals would no doubt include Moses, Buddha, and Muhammad. Moses, Buddha, and Muhammad, however, occupy totally different places in Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam than Christ occupies in Christianity. Moses, Buddha, and Muhammad never professed to perform miracles; indeed, they never claimed to be anything more than men. They viewed themselves simply as God’s messengers. Christ is the only person in history who has defined a whole religion around his person.

Even people who are not Christian or even religious are influenced in big and small ways by Christ. They divide history into the time before and after his birth, BC and AD. Sunday is a worldwide holiday, not, as many believe, because it is the day of the Sabbath (which is Saturday) but because it was traditionally held to be the day of Christ’s resurrection. The history of the West, indeed of the world, is incomprehensible without Christ, and would be unimaginably different had he not lived.