I was recently asked if I considered myself a skeptic…
I guess I do.
So, imagine me at a conference called, “Skepticon.” Hearing the name of this event, I was so excited to go! By the title, one would think that the conference was a place for people to come together and talk about different ideas and theologies rationally, and for them to decide on beliefs themselves based on all the facts considered. So, you can imagine how upset I was to find out that this was not a conference for skeptics. It was a conference for atheists to come and make mostly ad hominem attacks on theism and, more specifically, on God himself.
In my previous blog, I laid down an argument against Naturalism, stating that empirical science fails because it cannot prove itself. I also stated that these “sciences” have at their foundation an atheistic understanding, which most people use to disprove the existence of the supernatural a priori, and with it, God. But, with this philosophical framework crumbling at its foundation, there is lying amidst the rubble an idea that has been long forgotten – buried by time. And though some people in the Western world still believe in God, it is seen as folklore and fanciful, good for some but not to be pressed upon others.
There are people waiting to rebuild from the rubble.
At the crux of Christianity lies the doctrine of the resurrection. In 1Corinthians 15, Paul says that without the resurrection, Christianity would be worthless! Many have used the previous understanding of naturalism to disprove the resurrection, and in doing so, diminish Jesus and his message of a future hope for the world. But is the resurrection rational?
There are few that disagree with the historicity of the Bible – stating that Jesus was merely a myth. Most of them think that 1st century Christians (mainly Paul or Mark) saw prophesies of the past and formed them into this myth of “Jesus.” However, the gospels weren’t written as though they were myths – they were written as historical narratives. There were also no Jews that believed that their messiah would die and resurrect before Jesus came… and just because there is a correlation between these prophesies and what happened doesn’t mean that the material is therefore fabricated. Correlation does not mean causation.
Some people think that the life of Jesus was distorted, and that what we have now is an exaggeration of his life. They go from this hypothesis and try to decide which sections of Scripture Jesus “really did and said.” However, their argument is biased from the beginning, and therefore clouds their vision as they decide arbitrarily what they think is “historical.” There are also almost a countless number of manuscripts that attest to the Jesus of the Gospels. As far as manuscripts are concerned, there is more proof for the legitimacy of Christ than there is for the lives and writings of Aristotle, Plato, and Homer. There are far more documents about Jesus, written closer to the time he lived than there are for many figures in ancient history. But we don’t question these men’s existences.
But what about the Jesus of the Gospels, God incarnate, resurrected from the dead?
There are many things that make the resurrection the most plausible solution for one to consider. Of all the possibilities that are available, the empty tomb is the most likely option. Many Christian Apologists make this claim, and all of my “evidence” will be based from their arguments. I think if one leaves open the possibility for the miraculous, then Jesus makes a whole lot of sense with reference to the world in which we live.
Many people in the New Testament claimed to have seen the risen Christ. Aside from the 12 disciples and witnesses mentioned in the gospels, there are others, such as Paul and James, who have witnessed the resurrected Messiah. Paul is written in Acts as a persecutor of Christians until he experiences a vision from Christ. James is one of the brothers of Jesus, and previously didn’t believe his brother was the Messiah (Mark 3) until after Jesus’ resurrection where after James proclaimed him to be the risen Lord.
Mary Magdalene and Mary, Christ’s mother, were also the first to witness Jesus resurrected. Though this doesn’t seem important, women at the time were not seen as being “higher up” in society. Why would Mark say that women were the first to see Christ if he were fabricating the resurrection? Wouldn’t he want to put someone whose testimony would be more credible in his gospel if he were making it up? He could have put Peter, or any other disciple, or even a Jew high among society as the first witness of the empty tomb, but instead it was two women who first saw the risen Lord.
And let’s consider the changed lives of Jesus’ disciples. There are many people who are willing to die for what they think is true, but the disciples died for what they knew was either true or false. If the resurrection were fabricated, then roughly a dozen men died for something they KNEW was not true. I might die for something I think to be true, but I wouldn’t die for something I knew to be false!
Lastly, I think it is important to notice that there is continuity in Jesus’ character in the gospels. If you read the life of Jesus, a man performing miracles and teaching the way he did, and even claiming his own divinity, you shouldn’t be surprised to read that later he would be resurrected from the dead. Not to mention that Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection.
Maybe you thought that Jesus was a great teacher but never before considered him to be who he claimed to be – Lord. C.S. Lewis does a great job explaining that there are only three options of Christ’s character: that he was a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord. If you have never considered Jesus to be Lord, I ask that you look into it. Read the bible. Listen to some debates. Truly seek for what might be true, without having any presuppositions.
And if you are a Christian, remember to have some tact if you are telling someone about Jesus. We can win some arguments but lose the person in the process. We have at our hands the message of hope to the world! Let’s not have our pride or let condescending remarks get in the way. The world should know who we are by our love.
Be challenged – whether it is to know more or to love more. And maybe through that we can change the world.