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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Resurrection Apologetics

The resurrection of Christ is really the hinge of Christianity. The resurrection validates everything that Jesus said and did. We even have a warning from St. Paul in
1 Corinthians 15:17 - and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

Yet some do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Here are their arguments and how we can respond?

There are five arguments surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, here they are in brief and then we will go through each one.
1. Jesus didn’t actually die, he just swooned or passed out.
2. Jesus died and rose from the dead - Christianity
3. The apostles just think he did - Hallucination
4. The resurrection is just a myth.
5. The apostles invented it to deceive - Conspiracy.

Lets start with the first one - Did Jesus actually die or did he just swoon or pass out?
The Romans were pretty good at killing people and they don’t break Jesus’ legs because they think he is dead, but to be sure, they stab through the lung into the heart to be sure. Blood and water come out - Yep he’s dead.
But lets pretend that he was really just passed out. He wakes up in a tomb two days later holes in his hands and feet, one collapsed lung and a leaking heart, he roles the stone away by himself and overpowers a troop of Roman soldiers?
- I don’t think so.

Did the apostles have a mass hallucination, and just think he rose from the dead?
From what I understand about Hallucinations, they are private, individual, and subjective. Hallucinations usually only last a matter of second or minutes.
But this one hangs around for 40 days. The apostles touch the resurrected Jesus, and he even eats something to show that he is not a ghost.
During those 40 days they spoke with Jesus, and he even surprised some disciples on the road to Emmaus. They don’t recognize him until he disappears.
But there is also the problem of the empty tomb. Several people look inside and see that there is no body there. Where did it go? They certainly were not hallucinating.

What about the story of Jesus growing out of proportion and the resurrection became a myth?
Dan: First of all the Bible says that the resurrection isn’t a myth. Now that doesn’t not make it a myth, but it would make it into a lie, which we are going to talk about next. The Gospels are written from first or second hand accounts and include details that no myth would ever include.
Jesus writing in the sand.
Telling people to sit down, and the commenting that it is because there is much grass there.
Translating Aramaic words so your readers can understand. Like Eli Eli Lamasabathana - why even mention it, unless you were there.

Usually with the myth argument is the underlying desire to disprove every trace of Jesus’ divinity. But there are several problems with this. The first is that the miracles and all of the amazing things that Jesus did are so linked to his regular teaching that to remove one from another usually damages the text so as to make the story nonsense. The second is that Miracles still happen today by the power of Jesus’ name. Not to mention that people who are possessed are liberated by the power of the name of Jesus as well. It would seem that if Jesus of miracles that we all know was just a myth that his name would be on the same level as Zeus who has no power.

Would the apostles have made up such a story about the resurrection?
Considering that about 2 billion people in the world follow the teachings of the New Testament, this would mean that the 12 were the most creative, intelligent, fantasy writers in all of history. More than Shakespeare, Dante, or Tolkien.

Why would they teach such a thing? What would they gain from these teachings?
First of all the teachings themselves aren’t very popular. And history tells us what happened to those people who taught these teachings first. Almost everyone was murdered. We also know that they were all persecuted severely. What would they gain by all of this persecution and imprisonment? It just doesn’t make sense.
As for myself having read the pages of the New Testament, the stories and the theology is so interconnected that I think it would take centuries to make up such a story, which of course the evidence for the opposite is true.

You can find these arguments in their full length in two places:
#1 - Handbook of Christian Apologetics By: Kreeft and Tacelli
#2 - Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics By: Kreeft and Tacelli

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