Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jesus is risen: a well attested historical event

There are several things about history that we can be very sure of.  Napoleon was a short man.  George Washington cannot tell a lie: he chopped down a cherry tree.  Socrates was forced to take hemlock.  Oh, and Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

But how can such a (seemingly) far-fetched and miraculous event be something we are certain of?  The answer: it is the most plausible conclusion from what we know historically.

Consider the following events that are generally agreed upon to have happened:
  1. Jesus lived in first century (AD) Israel and died by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate.
  2. His tomb was discovered to be empty.
  3. His disciples suddenly became fearless, preaching that Jesus was risen and almost to the man going to their death proclaiming this.
  4. The enemy of Christianity Saul of Tarsus suddenly believes in the risen Christ and devotes the rest of his life to Christ.
  5. The skeptic James (brother of Jesus) suddenly believes in the risen Christ and devotes the rest of his life to Christ.
What explanation do we have for these "facts"?   By far, the best explanation is that Christ actually did rise.  It's not even close.  Note that "facts" 3-5 all refer to people who suddenly change and are beaten and even go to their deaths because of their faith.  If these guys made this up, they certainly would have admitted their lie. 

These "facts" are what has been called "The Minimal Facts Approach" that has been championed by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, and is laid out wonderfully in their book, "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus."

PS: the part about George Washington was, of course, tongue-in-cheek.