Archive for the ‘resurrection’ Category

I know of no one fact in the history of mankind…

May 1, 2014

[T]he evidence of our Lord’s life, and death, and resurrection, is of the same sort as that which we rest on in human matters. Whoever has heard the summing up of a judge on any great trial, will be able to understand what I mean; the jury have heard a great many witnesses; some of them have perhaps contradicted others, some have stated things very improbable; in a long cause, if the jury are unaccustomed to what are called the laws or rules of evidence, they may be utterly puzzled what to believe. But it is their business to pass a judgment in the matter, and therefore they must make up their minds one way or the other. In order to do this they are glad to listen to the summing up of the judge. He goes clearly through all the mass of evidence which seemed so contradictory and perplexing; he gives them reasons why such a witness is to be believed rather than another; how he had better means of knowing the truth, and less temptation to depart from it; how his evidence is in itself consistent when examined carefully, and has a look of truth about it; and so he shows the jury that they have very good grounds for making up their minds, and for giving their verdict. Now in this same way, the evidence of our Lord’s life and death and resurrection, may be, and often has been shown to be, satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and ten thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as ever judge summed up on a most important cause: I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others, but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the history of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them; and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind, which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God has given us, that Christ died and rose again from the dead.

Thomas Arnold, Christian Life, Its Hopes, Its Fears, and Its Close, 6th ed. (London: T. Fellowes, 1859), pp. 14-16.

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John’s Gospel is hopelessly inaccurate (at least when judged by arbitrary naturalistic criteria)

April 23, 2011

John’s Gospel is hopelessly inaccurate and has virtually nothing to tell us about Jesus’ life – never mind his alleged resurrection from the dead.

Dr James Crossley, Head of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield in 2007 debate on resurrection with William Lane Craig.

(what evidence does he provide?)

John’s Gospel contains inventions such as Thomas’ confession of Jesus’ as ‘My Lord and God’.

This occurs only in John and no other gospel would have omitted something as staggeringly dramatic as this. John’s Gospel is the only gospel where there is the full equation of Jesus and God. And he’s (John is) making it up.

By the standards of conventional historical research then, these stories would be regarded as pieces of creative invention. And I think to argue otherwise would be to abandon a useful historical method and it gets very close to letting blind faith take over.’

Giving the abundant evidence for the resurrection offered by Craig, this last remark seems somewhat baseless.

The claim that John’s Gospel has too high a Christology and, allied to this, the claim that the only historically reliable gospels are the synoptics (and then only partially) must be proven not assumed by Crossley.

All the synoptics have language that makes Christ divine (ability to forgive sins – all the synoptics, the very first verse in Mark’s Gospel and the repeated statement from the demons He is the Son of God etc., Mt. 11.27b “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” – is very high Christology. To deny these ‘high’ statements are unreliable later inventions is to beg the question as well as to establish an arbitrary (naturalistic in Crossley’s case) criterion of reliable history – namely that Jesus couldn’t possibly have claimed divinity.

Further, He was crucified for blasphemy, not for being a typical Jewish peasant preacher – explicitly in Mt. and Mk – see Mk.14.62 etc..

All must account for the historical fact that the disciples believed in the resurrection of Jesus

April 21, 2011

Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.” This early belief in the resurrection is the historical origination of Christianity.

Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 231. quoted by Gary Habermas

In other words, a radical sceptic like Ehrman admits that it is a historical fact that the disciples believed in Jesus’ resurrection. What everyone must do, then, is account for that fact. The Christian says that the only plausible explanation is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

The Christian will ask the sceptic to consider this:

Wright asks how the disciples could have recovered from the shattering experience of Jesus’ death and regrouped afterwards, testifying that they had seen the risen Jesus, while being quite willing to face persecution because of this belief. What was the nature of the experience that dictated these developments?

quoted by Habermas, ibid., N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 109-111.

Why the resurrection was not expected

December 16, 2009

N.T. Wright does an extensive survey of the non-Jewish thought of the first century Mediterranean world, both east and west, and reveals that the universal view of the people of that time was that a bodily resurrection was impossible. Why? In Greco-Roman thinking, the soul or spirit was good and the physical and material world was weak, corrupt and defiling. To them the physical was always falling apart and therefore salvation was conceived as liberation from the body. In this worldview resurrection was not only impossible, but totally undesirable. No soul, having gotten free from its body, would ever want it back. Even those who believed in reincarnation understood that the return to embodied life meant that that soul was not yet out of its prison. The goal was to get free of the body forever. Once your soul is free of its body, a return to re-embodied life was outlandish, unthinkable and impossible.

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, (Hodder 2008), pp.206-7

The first accounts of the empty tomb and the eyewitnesses are not found in the gospels, but in the letters of Paul, which every historian agrees were written just fifteen to twenty years after the death of Jesus

December 16, 2009

The first accounts of the empty tomb and the eyewitnesses are not found in the gospels, but in the letters of Paul, which every historian agrees were written just fifteen to twenty years after the death of Jesus. One of the most interesting texts is 1 Corinthians 15:3-6…Here Paul not only speaks of the empty tomb and resurrection on the “third day” (showing he is talking of a historical event, not a symbol of metaphor) but he also lists the eyewitnesses.

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, (Hodder 2008), pp.203-4

This is to show that the resurrection narratives were not added to the later Gospels – the resurrection story goes back to the earliest traditions.

Also,

If there had been only an empty tomb and no sightings, no one would have concluded it was a resurrection. They would have assumed that the body had been stolen. Yet if there had been only eyewitness sightings of Jesus and no empty tomb, no one would have concluded it was a resurrection, because people’s accounts of seeing departed loved ones happen all the time. Only if the two factors were both true would anyone have concluded that Jesus was raised from the dead.

ibid.,p.205

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, both Biblical and non-Biblical, factual and circumstantial, historical and experiential, is so convincing and so complete that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead

November 24, 2009

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, both Biblical and non-Biblical, factual and circumstantial, historical and experiential, is so convincing and so complete that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead, just as the Scriptures state and as Christians claim.

former Lord Chief Justice Darling

However, a biased jury would give the verdict that suited itself. Therefore the evidence alone is not decisive in any person’s verdict regarding the claims of Christ.

It appears to me that we shall never know with any certainty whether the resurrection of Jesus was a bodily event; or consisted in visions

October 3, 2009

It appears to me that we shall never know with any certainty whether the resurrection of Jesus was a bodily event; or consisted in visions (technically hallucinations, perhaps auditory as well as visual) of Jesus; or in an intense sense of his unseen personal presence. But we do know the effects of the event and we know that whatver happened was such as to produce these effects.

John Hick, Christianity at the Centre, SCM, 1969, p.48

But (see last post) an halluination is not ‘to die for’. Also, are we to believe that the appearances (for there were reported to be many, at different times, to different people in different places) were all, joint, communal hallucinations? Was the Great Commission, given post-resurrection, merely an hallucination or vision? What is the meaning of the Ascension if it does not presuppose the bodily resurrections? Hick proposal creates far more anomalies and problems than it pretends to solve or explain.

When this scared, frightened band of apostles suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation

October 3, 2009

When this scared, frightened band of apostles which was just about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee: when these peasants, shepherds, and fisherman, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter, then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation…

If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on autosuggestion or self-deception –without a fundamental faith experience — then this would be a much greater miracle that the resurrection itself…

Any kind of deception is excluded in any case, be it the theft of the body, trance, or the invention of a miracle…

Dr Pinchus Lapide,The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Persepective, SPCK, 1984, p.125. He accepts the literal resurrection of Jesus yet remains a Jew. His attack is upon Liberal ‘Christian’ ‘scholars’ who say that Jesus rose “in the kerygma”, “in the hearts of his people”, or in the sense that his message goes on. To which this Jew responds:

But most of these and similar conceptions strike me as all too abstract and scholarly to explain the fact that the solid hillbillies from Galilee who, for the very reason of the crucifixion of their master, were saddened to death, were changed within a short period of time into a jubilant community of believers…

One thing we may assume with certainty: neither the Twelve nor the early church believed in the ingenious wisdom of theologians. Indeed, they hardly would have understood what the gentlemen of scholarship want to say in such a roundabout manner…

However, for the first Christians who thought, believed, and hoped in a Jewish manner, the immediate historicity was not only a part of that happening but the indispensable precondition for the recognition of its significance for salvation. For all these Christians who believe in the incarnation ( something which I am unable to do ) but have difficulty with the historically understood resurrection, the word of Jesus of the “blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” probably applies. (Matt. 23:24 )

How can a non-event (a resurrection which did not occur) be regarded as a symbol of hope or indeed of anything else?

October 2, 2009

Lloyd Geering wrote a book called, Resurrection:  A Symbol of Hope, in which he argued that the resurrection itself was not a historical fact to be believed in, but it was a symbol.  It was a myth to invest life with meaning.  The reviewer in the Times literary supplement, who reviewed Lloyd Geering’s book, said this: How can a non-event (a resurrection which did not occur) be regarded as a symbol of hope or indeed of anything else? If something has happened we try and see what it means, if it has not happened the question cannot arise. We are driven back to the need for something to have happened at Easter.

(more…)

the resurrection is the turning point in the existence of the Son of God. Before that he was the Son of God in weakness and lowliness, Through the resurrection he becomes the Son of God in power

October 2, 2009

…the resurrection is the turning point in the existence of the Son of God. Before that he was the Son of God in weakness and lowliness, through the resurrection he becomes the Son of God in power.

Anders Nygren, Bishop of Lund in John Stott, Romans, BST, p.50