Sunday, April 05, 2015

Quick Defense of the Resurrection of Jesus

Here is my Q&A for the Easter Sunday bulletin at my church. I thought it fitting on this day to answer a question about the resurrection of Jesus. Please note that, with only the space of a column to work within, I had to cut out a lot of information (for example, why the NT is trustworthy as proof of the resurrection) and additional proofs. I would expand upon it here but honestly, I'm enjoying my time away from the computer. I think that, as it is, this post is at least a good start. For more information, I highly suggest Peter Kreeft's "Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ," a chapter from his Handbook of Christian Apologetics that you can read online.

That said, how would you answer this question?:

What proof is there in the resurrection of Jesus?

First, let's outline what happened. The Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Messiah, was arrested, condemned by Pontius Pilate, and crucified. He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which was sealed with a large boulder and guarded by Roman soldiers. Three days later, some women who went to His tomb found the boulder removed and the body gone. In a span of 40 days, He appeared to over 500 people and then ascended into heaven. But, is it true?

With any historical event, you discover what happened by utilizing eyewitness accounts and the documents of those who collected such accounts. For the resurrection of Jesus, the New Testament is our primary source for such documentary evidence. There simply is not enough room here to defend the historical reliability of the New Testament, but trust me, we can be exceedingly confident in the purity of the New Testament as it has come down to us (despite the fact that we do not have the originals), and we can rest assured that it gives us an accurate reporting of what actually happened.

That said, we know that Jesus resurrected from the dead because: 1.) all of the reliable historical evidence tells us that He did, and 2.) There is no other explanation that better accounts for the facts of the matter. Of course, people have their theories, but they are easily refuted.

Some say that, in their great psychological distress, everyone who thought they saw the resurrected Lord was actually hallucinating. But, 500 people hallucinating the same thing? Not likely. You can’t touch a hallucination either (like Thomas did), and last time I checked, hallucinations don’t eat, nor do they last for 40 days.

Others say that once Jesus died, the apostles realized that He was actually a quack and so, to avoid embarrassment, they devised a grand conspiracy to fool everyone into believing that He was actually the Messiah. Also not likely. For one, these are simple people we’re talking about here. The apostles did not have the brains to conceive of such a perfect scheme. Secondly, the conspiracy theory requires them to do things that would have been nearly impossible, such as rolling away the boulder, separating Jesus’ body from the burial linens (which by then would have been securely glued to his skin), and then running away with the body all without the Roman guards seeing. There’s also the fact that no one travels to far distant lands and then suffers a martyr’s death for a lie — unless he is absolutely deranged!

The fact is that the tomb was empty, Jesus appeared to over 500 people during those 40 days, and the gospel message spread like wildfire because Jesus Christ had truly risen from the dead. Thanks be to God! Alleluia!!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

6 comments:

Robert said...

Hi,

My name is Rev Robert Wright, Editor for Christian.com, a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the entire Christian community an outlet to join together and better spread the good word of Christianity. Christian.com has many great features like Christian TV, prayer requests, finding a church, receiving church updates and advice. We have emailed you to collaborate with you and your blog to help spread the good word of Christianity. I look forward to your response regarding this matter. Thanks!


Rev. Robert Wright
rev.robertwright@gmail.com
www.christian.com

chris said...

Your argument was essentially that we can be sure he was resurrected, because we can trust the bible. By disproving 2 very weak arguments (straw men) you have not proven your own.

Regardless, I am not commenting to challenge your assertion that he in fact rose from the dead. I just wanted to offer constructive criticism of your article.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

I appreciate your comment Chris. My post is merely a "quick" defense of the resurrection, so I have no doubt that more could be said to bolster my argument. But, it is true that the authenticity of the Bible accounts was only half my argument.

Gary said...

For every other alleged historical event we determine its historicity by examining contemporaneous, corroborating, independent testimony from two or more known sources along with any available archaeological evidence.

The Resurrection of Jesus has no such supporting evidence. To believe that this supernatural event occurred, one must suspend belief in the laws of nature and in the rules of evidence to believe it.

This alleged event can only be believed by faith.

Gary said...

Who wrote the Gospels? For what purpose were they written? Were they meant to be historical accounts of the life of Jesus or were they meant to be historical fictions for the purpose of selling books?

The Christian faith rises or falls on the bodily resurrection of Jesus. If we cannot answer the above questions with any level of certainty, how solid is the evidence that justifies belief in the Christian Faith?

Anonymous said...

Let me ask you this. Are not the strange symptoms experienced by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart leading up to his supposed death of dropsy parelleled in the modern Zombie genre? Is it not the least bit strange that there is no grave for him? Even his manner of death is filled with mystery, exuding a stench and then spewing his effluvia with his final breath.

Could it be that the Old Master, himself, still lurks through the Austrian night subsisting upon the flesh of the living? Antonio Salieri certainly thought so. In fact, it drove him mad and he stayed locked in his room until his death, fearful that Mozart would come for him. In his last days, he was quoted as saying “This creature, Mozart, is truly immortal. Though I destroyed the man, he has risen. What designs of God and Hell have made such an abomination possible? Even now, he hungers for revenge.”

Why is the Catholic Church silent on such maters? They profess that Jesus rose. Yet, what about others who rise? What of them and this mystery of “life beyond the grave”? Why the theological taboo?

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