I would like to finish this series on the Christian case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ by summarizing what we covered and adding some final thoughts.
To summarize, at the heart of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection, you have no Christianity. But if the resurrection is true, then Christianity automatically follows.
I didn’t make this case by appealing to Scripture as divinely inspired (although I believe it is), but by treating it like any other history book, showing that our faith is firmly grounded in historicity. And I used the “Minimal Facts Argument” to do this. As former atheist, Antony Flew stated:
“The evidence for the resurrection is better than any other for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity…” (“Did the Resurrection Happen?”, p.85)
And that historical evidence includes the following (not exhaustive):
- Jesus existed, reported to have “worked wonders” (by external sources), and was crucified in either 30 AD or 33 AD.
- Early dating of oral creeds and hymns recorded in Pauline epistles, validated as authentic by almost all textual Scholars (see “New Testament hymns and creeds“).
- His disciples said that Jesus appeared to them alive, including over 500 at one time.
- Skeptics (Paul, James) reported Jesus appeared to them (before their conversion).
- The conversion and transformation of skeptics like Paul and James.
- The empty tomb, which could’ve easily been refuted by the Sanhedrin (why they claimed the body was stolen).
- Immediate proclamation in Jerusalem where hostile witnesses to the crucifixion could’ve easily refuted their story.
- Low status of women in the ancient world as witnesses (unlikely fabrication).
- Voluntary suffering of the disciples and eyewitnesses (no one will die for what they know for certain is a lie).
- Jesus’ bodily resurrection was unprecedented and unanticipated in the Jewish religion, unlike any pagan myth or world religion.
- The unbroken testimony of the church from the first century onward.
- Unlike all other Jewish messianic sects in that day, Christianity continued and thrived after the death of its leader and in spite of intense persecution.
Furthermore, it was stated in part one that in order to refute the resurrection claim, you must make a counterclaim, and the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim.
We looked at common counterclaims in parts two and three, including the mythic theory, hallucination theory, and conspiracy theory (or combinations of these). These were compared with the resurrection theory and were found lacking in explanatory scope and power and plausibility.
It all comes down to your worldview
But when we get to the bottom of it all, we find that skeptics and atheist’s biggest objection to the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that it violates their naturalistic worldview. They won’t believe in anything outside the natural realm, so they a priori dismiss the resurrection claim. We looked at how that argument is circular in part four.
So, ironically, which worldview we put our trust in is a matter of faith, whether it be the Christian worldview or the naturalist one.
While science is very good at analyzing and testing observable data, it cannot help us transcend the natural world or answer the deeper existential questions that also must be answered. It cannot answer why science, and why there’s even such a thing as the natural world. These are philosophical questions.
On that note, I will show a short video clip with a former atheist and trained Naturalist Scientist, Alister McGrath, PhD. He explains so much better what I’ve been trying to explain, that the naturalist worldview is inadequate in explaining everything in our reality.
Why it matters
I will end by letting Biblical experts tell us why the resurrection of Jesus Christ matters. This is actually the first video in Godnewevidence’s series titled: “After Life?” It will serve well for some closing thoughts on the most significant event in human history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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