In order for this hypothesis to work, it must be admitted that heretics had beliefs which if investigated, would prove to be true. The early Christian apologists, with the exception of the ones who were considered heretical, assumed the validity of certain beliefs of heretics (e.g. a general resurrection, the bodily resurrection of the saints, the doctrine of the Trinity and a continuing revelation. Because of this, the apologists had to admit that simply because someone (e.g. Paul, Barnabas, etc) had contrary-to-fact beliefs, it did not entail that Christ was a fraud.
At this point, the case for Christ is complete. In fact, one of the arguments of the Christian apologists can be said to be that the resurrection of Jesus is the most likely explanation of the origin of the Christian faith. It is so because it satisfies all the criteria we have laid out.
Later they saw him on the road to Damascus. Later still, after the crucifixion and resurrection, they appeared to the apostles. In all these scenes, we have the dramatic evidence from real eyewitnesses to these events. Now, some of the events were recorded by ancient historians, others we have to be inferred to the apostles, but for the most part everybody agrees that these things actually happened. God in the Person of Jesus Christ was raised from death and was seen by many people. We have his own first mover, Jesus, who says to his disciples that he will do mighty deeds. We have many nonauthorities who saw him alive after the crucifixion, like St. Paul and St. James. We have many scriptures in which God says that those who are resurrected will be witnesses to him. We have ancient nonhistorians who accept the resurrection as real, like Josephus and Tacitus. In fact, all the New Testament writers affirm the resurrection of Jesus. We have several sources which provide evidence for the re-enactment of a prior episode in history--like the land of Israel. And we have the testimony of the original apostles themselves that it was true. They were there. They testified to it. He showed up in person during their lifetimes. d2c66b5586