In this series we’ve been looking at alternate explanations for the Resurrection of Jesus. We started the series by looking at the 12 minimal facts of the resurrection. These are facts that are agreed upon by the majority of new testament scholars. These same scholars may not necessarily believe the resurrection actually occurred. They do however concede that our list of facts actually occurred. We then looked at how skeptics try to explain away the facts of the resurrection. So far, we have looked at The Swoon Theory, The Twin Theory, The Wrong Tomb Theory, The Legend Theory, Hallucination Theory and The Stolen Body Theory. In this post we’ll look at the Christian explanation of the resurrection.
While there are hundreds of alternate explanations that try to account for the resurrection. Most of them fall somewhat into the one of the categories we have already discussed. Some argue that a combination of the theories might explain things. But his proves to be even more problematic that the individual theories alone.
What Do Christians Believe?
So what about the Christian explanation for the resurrection? The idea that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. This is of course what classical Christianity teaches. We don’t believe it was a “spiritual” resurrection. We don’t believe that the Disciples thought that Jesus had returned to them in some mystical sense. Our view is that Jesus actually rose physically from the dead.
The Facts Revisited
As with all out theories, we test them against the agreed upon facts. For review, here are the 12 facts we are working with. These facts were assembled by Dr. Craig Hazen from Biola University.
- Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion.
- He was buried, most likely in a private tomb of Joseph of Arimathea
- Soon afterwards, the disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent having lost hope.
- Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon after his burial
- The disciples had experiences which they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
- Due to these experiences, the disciple’s lives were thoroughly transformed, to the point of being willing to die for this belief.
- The resurrection message was the center of preaching in the early church.
- This message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
- As a result of this preaching, the church was born and grew.
- Sunday became the primary day of worship.
- James, who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he believed he saw the resurrected Jesus.
- A few years later, Paul became a Christian believer due to an experience which he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.
Which Facts Are Explained By The Christian Explanation?
So which of the facts does this theory explain? Unsurprisingly, all of them. If Jesus actually did rise from the dead, then all of the facts above make sense. Jesus was crucified and buried. The Disciples encountered the risen Jesus and it changed their lives. The skeptics Paul and James also had experiences they believed to be the risen Jesus. This group of followers and skeptics went on to change the world spreading the message of Jesus.
What’s The Fatal Flaw In The Explanation?
So what’s the rub? I told you that there was a flaw in the Christian explanation for the resurrection. And for some, this flaw is what keeps them from believing in the risen Christ. Have you guessed what it is yet?
The flaw with the Christian explanation is that you have to have a world view that allows for the possibility of supernatural events. If you have no room for such ideas, the Christian explanation for the resurrection will be forever flawed. Even though all the facts are explained, some just can’t take that step.
People Don’t Rise From The Dead.
But Drew, I can hear you say, people just don’t rise from the dead! Well, of course people don’t normally rise from the dead. I am always somewhat stunned to hear this objection raised. Does the person making it honestly think Christians don’t know that people don’t normally rise from the dead? The whole point of Jesus rising from the dead is to prove He was who He said He was. Had Jesus lived a normal life and died quietly in his sleep at 95 years old and stayed in His grave, no one would have given His life’s teachings a second thought. He would have faded into history as simply another wise sage. Just as with all the other miracles Jesus performed, the resurrection is meant to give evidence that His message is true.
This wraps up our series on using the minimal facts approach to argue for the resurrection of Jesus. I hope you have found it helpful. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the subject further, feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’ll be happy to talk with you! See you all next time!
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