In his book The Historical Jesus, author and ancient historian Gary Habermas quotes the following ancient source, Lucian, who was a critic of Christianity.
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take on faith . . . (p.206)
Lucian’s words are significant to Christian apologetics for a couple of key reasons. First, this is an early account, with Lucian living circa 125 – 180 AD. Thus his comments are made in reference to Christians in the second century, roughly a mere century after the apostles wrote the New Testament and founded the church. Therefore Lucian’s words establish that 1) the church existed in the second century, 2) it was reasonably widespread, and 3) the central teachings of Christianity were known to those outside the church. This destroys the skeptics argument that the church was invented late, and places the establishment of the church well before Lucian’s time.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Lucian was a critic of Christianity who had a goal of speaking against the Christian faith. Certainly no one would claim that a critic would intentionally say something that would help the cause of the Christian church, nor would a supporter of the church publish a document that ridiculed their own faith. So we are certain that Lucian was a non-Christian with the goal of hurting the church. Therefore when he describes what the church taught, and corroborates what Christians have always taught, his statements become some of the most valuable in all of history: that of a critic who verifies what his subject taught.
We have therefore one more solid support of Christianity, based on the teachings of both the proponents and the opponents of the Christian church, who both corroborate that Christians have taught from the earliest days the same things that the Bible says today: eyewitnesses wrote down what they saw, and went around teaching that Jesus lived, was crucified, and rose from the dead. Faith in this Jesus will bring one eternal life.
This is what Christians have taught from the time of Christ, and Lucian’s words inadvertently add strong support to our claims.