Thursday, November 18, 2010

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

Today we shall speak on the topic of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

    We will now attempt to demonstrate why Jesus had to have died and risen from the dead.  Based on the fact that the New Testament and the Christian faith exist, regardless of whether or not they are the truth, there are only five ways in which some would answer the question, did Jesus die and rise: The first is the swoon theory or the theory that Jesus only appeared to die and then staggered out of the tomb; the second is the conspiracy theory that the Apostles purposefully deceived the world; the third is that the Apostles hallucinated and therefore were deceived themselves; the fourth is myth, that the Apostles mythologized Jesus’ life and death; finally we have Christianity, that Jesus died and Jesus rose.
    First we will demonstrate why the swoon theory is inconsistent with the facts. Remember, this theory assumes that the Gospels are genuine accounts. If Jesus did not die then why did blood and WATER pour from Jesus’ side when the Romans pierced his heart, meaning his lungs had collapsed? Why did the centurions not break his legs, which they always did to quicken the death of those still alive?  Finally, if the Romans had not killed him and he was only “mostly dead” in the tomb then how could a half dead man move a stone that took several centurions to move in the first place.  I say impossible!!!

    Let’s look at the hallucination theory. It would really be silly to think that Jesus’ Apostles were merely seeing hallucinations of Jesus.  When hallucinations happen they only happen to a single person and they only last a short amount of time.  The Gospels portray Jesus appearing for forty days to many people, eating with the Apostles, and then rising from them.  Also, if it was merely a hallucination then why did the Jews not present Jesus’ body?  They did not, nor did the Romans and remember the tomb of Jesus was heavily guarded so how could the Apostles have stolen Jesus’ body? And now we have arrived at the conspiracy theory.

    A slightly better argument than these past two is that the Apostles purposefully deceived the rest of the world.  Let’s consider how likely this is. First of all, what could possibly motivate a person to die for a deception which they themselves invented? Remember there were twelve Apostles and many more disciples, many of which died for proclaiming the power and resurrection of Christ, something of which they claimed to be eye witnesses. I believe Blaise Pascal puts it best, “The human heart is singularly susceptible to fickleness, to change, to promises, to bribery. One of them had only to deny his story under these inducements, or still more because of possible imprisonment, tortures and death, and they would all have been lost. Follow that out."(Pascal, Pensees 322,310)   Thanks, Pascal. Beyond the complete lack of a motive for such a massive and brilliantly orchestrated lie, we also have the difficulty of the body, the stone, and the Roman Centurions. Furthermore, there is the difficulty of lying to people in the same Geographic location and time period in which the fictional events were supposed to have occurred. As the list goes on, the probability of this theory drops like a stone.

    Perhaps the best and most popular argument against Christ’s Resurrection in our day is that the Apostles benevolently mythologized Jesus’ life, perhaps to romanticize the memory of a wise but non-miraculous teacher.  Let’s see how this argument stands up.  The Gospels as we can see are written in a completely different style than mythology, not to mention the epistles. There are many details which would not have been included in a mythologized account. For example, why would a mythological account of the resurrection depict women, who had a very low social status, discovering the empty tomb? Also, why are there no historical records of a non-mythologized and non-miraculous Jesus? Furthermore, the New Testament explicitly says it is not mythological in 2 Peter 1:16 (“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”), so if it is mythologized, then it is deceitfully so and we are therefore back at the conspiracy theory and all its problems. Another point is that there is not enough time for a myth to develop. The Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation were finished by 90 A.D. so there would have been eye witnesses who would have been able to discredit these myths.  Again, no one would have died for it. Therefore Christ’s Resurrection could not have been a myth.

    So, we can see that only one possibility is left: Jesus died and Jesus rose. There is no other way around it.  If Jesus died and rose then that means Jesus is God and King and therefore we must obey his teachings.  If Jesus didn’t die and rise then I might as well stop speaking on this subject as it would only be in vain… but because Jesus did rise from the dead and conquer all of the sin, negativity, and murderous cruelty the world could muster, I will proclaim his name above all.  God bless

Now we would like to end with a quote from Dr. Peter Kreeft:

“The answer is not obscure,” Dr. Kreeft says for those who follow this logic out to its conclusion, “traditional Christianity awaits them, complete with adoration of Christ as God, obedience to Christ as Lord, dependence on Christ as Savior, humble confession of sin and a serious effort to live Christ's life of self-sacrifice, detachment from the world, righteousness, holiness and purity of thought, word and deed. The historical evidence is massive enough to convince the open-minded inquirer. By analogy with any other historical event, the resurrection has eminently credible evidence behind it. To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?”

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