In this series, we have been discussing the minimal facts argument for the resurrection of Jesus. In my first post in the series, I laid out the 12 minimal facts we will using in our argument. Minimal facts are those facts about the resurrection account that the majority of scholars, even skeptical ones, believe to be true. While these same scholars may not believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, they do concede these points in the account are accurate. In my last post, I explained why the first 4 facts believed to be true. Here are the minimal facts 5-8 explained.
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
The disciples report seeing, eating with, walking with and touching the risen Jesus. They did not mean this to be interpreted as a spiritual resurrection. They saw a bodily risen Jesus. We see this when Thomas physically touches Jesus (John 20:24-29). Jesus also eats fish with his Disciples ( John 21:9-14).
6. Due to these experiences, the disciple’s lives were thoroughly transformed, to the point of being willing to die for this belief.
The Disciples were radically transformed by the resurrection. They went from a dispirited group in hiding to bold proclaimers of the Gospel willing to die for the message they were giving. Stephen, Paul, Peter and James the brother of Jesus can all be reliably shown to have been put to death rather than recant their teaching. While the other Disciples are rumored to have been martyred, the accounts are less reliable. What can be shown is that they all suffered for their beliefs, and there is no record of them ever changing their story.
7. The resurrection message was the center of preaching in the early church.
All of the sermons given by the Disciples in the book of Acts are centered on the resurrection. This is something we should take note of in the modern Church. I think we tend to underestimate the power of this argument. We tend to try and win people with our emotional experience. But this is the same tactic used by other religions as well. Why use this tactic when we can make an impactful argument from the historical resurrection of Jesus? We can and should take a page out of the Disciples play book and preach the resurrection.
8. This message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
The message of Jesus resurrection was first proclaimed by the Disciples in Jerusalem. Why is this important? Because this is where the event actually took place. If the Disciples had been lying, people would have known. If Jesus hadn’t been crucified and died, the message never would have taken off. Had Jesus been strolling around town, it would be evident that he never died. Both the Disciples and the Jewish leadership knew where Jesus had been buried. If Jesus’ body was still in the tomb, it would have been easy to prove. The fact that the story began where it took place makes the idea that it was just a legend much more difficult to swallow.
We are almost through explaining our 12 minimal facts. I’ll have one more post explaining facts 9-12, and then we’ll begin looking at different theories on how to explain these facts. See you next time!
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