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Quick Question for You

If you were able to go back in a time machine and witness the tomb of Christ only to find that Christ did not raise from the grave, what would that do to your Christian faith?

Fill out the poll on the right in addition to your answer here.

139 Responses to “Quick Question for You”

  1. If you asked after I went back in time I would probably reply,”What faith?”

  2. Instantly become the greatest hedonist, narcist, jerk the world has ever seen.

  3. This reminds me of a debate I had recently. My opponent asked me the question – “What if God is lying to you?”

    My answer was that it is impossible for God to lie. He tried every way he knew how to get me to admit it was *possible* – hypothetically.

    God determines possibility. It just ain’t happenin. God lying about His Son’s crucifixion and resurrection just isn’t possible.

  4. If Christ is not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins.

  5. I would hurry out and buy “you best life now”

  6. I would use my time machine to manipulate the financial markets and political systems of the world to make myself emperor. ….and get a tattoo.

  7. We have no hope aside from the resurrection. It is the hinge of the Christian faith, w/o it our belief is broken. Who wants to believe in a liar?

  8. My “Christian faith” would be shattered, because “Christian faith” relies on the death, burial and rising of Christ from the grave. Without His rising, the gospel is not a gospel, i.e. – the good news was never good news.

    I would probably become Jewish after crying and wailing for days. There would have to be something that was true and my mind would search and hope (confident expectation) to find the truth of the finality of this life.

    Without the rising of Jesus, the New Testament breaks at its core, but the Old Testament woule still be pointing to a Messiah. Like I said, after some thoughts, tears and deliberation, I would probably become a Jew.

    Just my thoughts.

  9. My faith would be gone…

    eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die…

  10. He didn’t ask “if Christ is not risen from the dead” – he asked if his body were not raised. I’d like to ask the faith abandoners, do you not believe that you have encountered the risen Christ? If you do, does this belief rely solely on another belief (the physical resurrection) taken without proof and not much evidence? Why?

  11. I’d probably convert to a form of deistic humanist confucianism. I greatly doubt my heart would be in it though.

  12. He didn’t ask “if Christ is not risen from the dead” – he asked if his body were not raised.

    It seems to me that such a distinction would be nonsense to the NT writers. If He was not bodily raised from the dead, then the NT is wrong on its fundamental point and can be discarded as a meaningful interpretation of what we have personally encountered in our own lives.

  13. Gammell,

    There are a lot more definite irresolvable problems with the NT than the issue of Christ’s resurrection; if it’s wrong in one way, it’s subject to being wrong in other places. The NT writers, as noted by modern scholarship, were not quite as sure about the physicality of Christ’s resurrection.

    Regardless, I don’t think using a non-inerrant Bible (which is still the testimony of actual people in history) to help me make sense of the experiences of countless believers for the last two millennia is even a tiny bit more of a leap than believing in the face of evidence to the contrary that the NT is perfectly inerrant.

  14. I agree with most of the people here. No bodily resurrection, No Christianity. I would either eat, drink and be merry (mostly to avoid thinking about the meaningless of life), or lose myself in the meaningless of life and, well we won’t go there.

    As much as I disagree with Greg Boyd on some of his theology (I always have to put this preface in here lest I get flamed for bringing up his name – it has happened before) I think his discussion in Letter From a Skeptic is dead on we he talks about humans having a innate desire for things like meaning and purpose which the naturalistic explanations of the universe cannot provide. He states that if the naturalistic explanations are true and there is no God, no purpose, no meaning, and no morality then human beings are like fish in need of water, except that in our universe there never was such a thing as water.

  15. The ressurection is what gave Jesus the carpenter, the name of Christ, the mesiah, the redeemer… Kisanri’s answer, Very funny… Michael has something under his sleeve with this question, after some thought, the only thing I can think of is the apostle Paul’s reference to our own resurrection as “born again” if we can go back in time and find that our rebirth was not genuine, real, what would we do?…
    Soli Deo Gloria

  16. Paul says are faith would be busted… so I’m going with that.

  17. As Paul said, if there was no resurrection then Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins and we are of all people to be most pitied.

    1 Cor 15

  18. My answer would have to be the same as those that have already said that Jesus’ resurrection is central to my faith. I Cor 15 says, as somone already noted, that if He is not raised, I (and all of you too!) are still in our sins, and our faith is vain.

  19. Steve,

    My point regarding the value of the NT without a bodily resurrection does not require inerrancy. It does, however, rest on two propositions:
    1) The NT writers were convinced of a bodily resurrection.
    2) This resurrection was fundamental to their understanding and purpose.

    As to the first, I am not familiar with any scholarship that concludes the NT writers were not convinced of a bodily resurrection that does not unfairly impose external perspectives (e.g. gnostic or egyptian) on their ancient jewish worldview. If there is such scholarship without those impositions I would be very interested as to how it stacks up against the work of N. T. Wright.

    As to the second, the lack of a resurrection would not merely cast doubts on the credibility of the rest of the NT but would tear out its heart. Without the resurrection the Gospels become stories that go nowhere, Acts loses all impetus, Paul would tell you forget his epistles, and Revelation becomes a bizarre and vain fantasy. There would be scraps of value to scavenge, but most of the NT would fade to mere fable.

  20. I would cease becoming a Christian and start sinning a lot more.

  21. I must side with RazorsKiss on this one, in so far as the question is self-stultifying because it predicates a falsehood while simultaneously denying the reality of truth (the inerrant Word of God being the ground of metaphysics and epistemology). If there is no such thing as truth, then there is no such thing as falsehood. Such is the unintelligible nonsense at the event horizon of Nihilism. I could not vote on your poll because this option was not provided.

  22. I would not be able to call myself a Christian, because a Christian (among other things) accepts the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

    However with a time machine I could always travel back and get the winning Lotto tickets so I wouldn’t be too unhappy.

    I’d probably follow Chris and become a Jew. I know some nice Jewish people.

  23. I would still be a theist on the basis of the arguments for God’s existence. I would investigate whether or not God has revealed himself in human history. I would start by living by a fusion of the Noahide Covenant and therapeutic moralism while trying to figure out what to make of the OT now that the NT is no longer in the picture. It would also be time to reread Aristotle.

  24. I would spend the rest of my days investigating just how the New Testament could have been written by authors fully knowing it is all false. I would interview Paul and the Disciples and ask them why they are writing lies which they would be more then willing die for. Not only that but quite how they could be so passionate about such an anti-climax and build a complete world-view around completely nothing.

    After that I would probably write a PhD on “Collective Sychosomatic Behavior and Global-historical-spanning connected Neurosis,” do a two year long lecture tour and then quite possibly commit suicide from depression.

  25. i’d say your machine is broke …

  26. I’d be more likely to write the publisher of my “Time Traveler’s Guide to Ancient Jerusalem” to make SURE they had the correct tomb.

    I fail to imagine how the events in the church of the last 2000 years could be accounted for if it was all based on a lie.

  27. Wow, it is a little surprising that some folks say that if Jesus was not resurrected, they would start sinning. So does that mean than you would also believe there is no Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit is not within you conforming you to the mind of Christ? Does that mean that you would not then care if you hurt people?

    I DO believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus and I believe the New Testament writers believed so too and believed that it was all-important. YET…if they were wrong, I would STILL believe that Jesus was God made flesh and that what he told us was true. And that included the fact that what we do matters and that we are to love God, love ourselves, love others. So we would still conduct our lives with love. And we STILL would be with Jesus forever after this life ended, in some fashion, even if it was not in a physically resurrected body.

    Happily, Michael’s scenario is only a fantasy anyway, so we can all sleep peacefully tonight! :-)

  28. Regarding the “bodily resurrection:”

    I would ventured to say that Paul defines the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1ff as the death, burial, resurrection and others seeing Jesus. Without the viewing the the rising body of Christ, there is no complete gospel.

    There would be no ascension without the risen body of Jesus. What did the apostles see in Acts 1? If Acts 1 is false, then how accountantable is Luke, then the rest of the gospels.

    Just my thoughts,

    Chris

  29. If I found out that there was no bodily resurrection of Christ I would abandon Christianity. I find almost no value in organizations that promote like mindsets and actions if those mindsets and actions are not based on objective truth. The resurrection is the window to the supernatural realm from which this objective truth pours.

    I would embrace naturalism. I would do only that which profits me tempered by the appearance of unselfishness because in the long run that would profit me as well. I wouldn’t care about any form of evil because in a materialistic, deterministic world there is nothing that is really wrong, only that which is useful or not useful to me. While I wouldn’t kill or rape anyone I would have no choice to not care if it happed except for how the impact of rape and murder affect society and, ultimately, my well being and comfort. I’d go get drunk and laid. Not necessarily in that order.

    Thank God for Christ because that would be a crappy world to live in.

  30. If it were conclusively proven (although I don’t believe that it can be), my faith would be shattered. If Christ died not in vain, then I am still in my sins.

    For my alternative, I would probably embrace Judaism. After all, the Old Testament is still valid, and the Messiah has yet to come, right?

  31. Bleah, early morning post. I meant to say “If Christ be not raised from the dead” then I’m still in my sins, and my faith is in vain.

  32. Wow, it is a little surprising that some folks say that if Jesus was not resurrected, they would start sinning.

    Not really. For many belief in sin is tied to belief in the supernatrual, specifically God and his moral truth. Without this there is no moral truth, sin is no longer sin. There is only what is and isn’t.

  33. I would not only abandon Christianity but I would be utterly hopless. If God in the flesh could not reverse the sting of death and seperation from God then I have no hope to ever accomplish what God himself could not do. I would be of all men most miserable..there would be nothing left but to die in our sins..Yes, I would sin to the utmost. Why not? That Christ was resurrected is our proof that our sins are forgiven.

  34. Well, after visiting the smelly tomb (cf Jn 11.39), I’d set the Way-Back Machine for a decade earlier, grab Jesus, and go back even further to see what life in the Garden was like. Then I’d kill every talking reptile I could find. And a lot of non-talking reptiles, too.

    I think Jesus would be cool to hang out with, resurrection or no. And without the Fall, his resurrection wouldn’t matter so we could just walk around and play tricks on people.

  35. I have to say as a resident atheist that living a decent life – sins and all – is not such a hard thing to do. I guess I do not approach the supernatural avoidance of sin that some here imply comes with Jesus’ Resurrection plus the whole Holy Spirit thing but I am still motivated by human compassion, love, and a thirst for justice. The glass is still half full.

    And I don’t have a tattoo!

  36. Scott F,

    I can’t speak for anyone but me… I was not so much trying to imply that the resurrection of Christ was a motivator for the avoidance of sin, but that the resurrection of Christ is what finally says..ahhh there is peace between God and me, he did it! and for me! without that, I might as well live as if there is no tommorrow, and live to myself and for myself. It would be all that I would have..this life only. I’m sure I would not totally loose compassion or caring for others, society would alienate me for that (that would be no fun) but in my heart there would be nothing beyond me and a few years with some other people who would go to dust as well and always the uncertainty that maybe I would meet a God after my death who I had rejected. I find that thought unsettling and hopless

  37. I already know that He rose from the grave, because I have a lifetime of accumulated experiential evidence.

    There could be an unlimited number of explanations for a single isolated “time machine” incident, given that we don’t have a long history with such technology. It would be imprudent to dismiss the new “evidence” out of hand, but it would also be imprudent to negate one’s entire accumulated store of life experience based on a single incident which could turn out to have many different interpretations.

    I’m reminded of the one or two Christian biologists in the 60s who were “stunned” into committing suicide when they became convinced that Darwin’s theory had merit. Today, such a reaction seems ridiculous. Perhaps one could admire their stocism back in those days, but today they just seem stupid and volatile.

    The idea that there could only be two types of reactions to new evidence: “blind faith/denial” or “dejected loss of faith”, ignores the fact that Christianity has *always* consisted of many things which don’t have easy explanations and which Christians are comfortable not understanding.

    It feels like you’re trying to contrive a scenario to illustrate Flew’s “falsifiability” argument. But I think you’re just demonstrating the limitations of his argument.

  38. Joshua,
    For me the problem isn’t the existence of accumulated experiential evidence, it is what makes that evidence valid as evidence. Thousands (hundreds of thousands, millions) of people have experiential evidence that proves to them that their religion is true. Muslims, Hindus, etc. claim their religion is true and many base this on their experience. The resurrection is the event that says “this one is true.” Without it I would have to believe that my experiences were nothing more than sentimental notions based cultural beliefs that were passed down to me over time.

  39. Fact is, as others have said, without the resurrection our faith is in vain, we are still in our sins, and we are of all people to be most pitied.

    For me, if Christ were never resurrected, I would probably end up – still in my sins – giving Paul a run for his money as “the chief of sinners”.

  40. I would also caution against a reading of 1 Corinthians 15:14 (“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”) which puts words into Paul’s mouth and makes it seem as if he is making belief in Christ’s divinity as being contingent on a “sober a judicious evaluation of the historical evidence”.

    This doesn’t describe Paul’s conversion at all. Paul did not convert to Christianity because he evaluated the evidence and determined the resurrection to be plausible. Paul considered the resurrection plausible because he had a direct encounter with God.

    Romans 8:38-40 is instructive. Paul does not say, “I am convinced that nothing except new evidence overturning the testimony of Christ’s resurrection…”. And lest this verse be construed as an example of Flew’s contrived argument about “blind belief”, also note that Paul did not say “I insist on believing”, where belief would be an act of stubborn will. He says, “I am convinced”, which points to an external source of persuasion based in personal experience.

  41. That would make Christ a liar and he surely wouldn’t be God. Therefore, my life wouldn’t be worth living because there would be no hope stored up for me. There would be no escape for me to go to heaven. I would be eternally separated from the God because I wouldn’t be seen as perfect through Jesus Christ. There would be no forgiveness, no words that I can say to plead my cause, no act of worship that I could pay for peace. The wrath of God would be on my shoulders. Life wouldn’t be worth living without Jesus Christ as God. I would surely die by my own hands rather than to inflict the pain and suffering of my sin on a righteous and Holy God.

    There is no hope or peace in God without Jesus Christ, a risen savior who kept his word even to death and to rise again. I would have no Christian Faith.

  42. JoanieD writes:

    I DO believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus and I believe the New Testament writers believed so too and believed that it was all-important. YET…if they were wrong, I would STILL believe that Jesus was God made flesh and that what he told us was true. And that included the fact that what we do matters and that we are to love God, love ourselves, love others. So we would still conduct our lives with love. And we STILL would be with Jesus forever after this life ended, in some fashion, even if it was not in a physically resurrected body.

    I am 100% with Joanie on this one. The Bible tells us that God took on human flesh. He could have just as easily let that human flesh dissolve into the ground, and had only a spiritual resurrection. Christ is redeemer, because he was God himself, taking our punishment on the cross. If Jesus as God, could die, could not he also let his flesh return to the dust as well? I agree that he did not do so, but for me the resurrection is not nearly as important as the death itself.

    I am quite dismayed, that Christ’s sinless life, and death on the cross, means so little to so many of you, that you would turn your back on Christ if God had chosen not to resurrect him. All? of the other world religions follow a non-resurrected leader, and the fact of a non resurrection does not impact their faith.

    That is why I voted “It would have significant effect, but I would press on in my Christianity”.

    By the way I also agree with JoannieD that:

    Happily, Michael’s scenario is only a fantasy anyway, so we can all sleep peacefully tonight!

  43. Along with the other Dave, I’d still have faith in the Being that created the universe and kick-started life, in part because naturalistic explanations just don’t cut it and in part because I have experienced that Being’s power at work in my life. But I don’t see how my faith could be specifically Christian. As iMark said, “What faith?”

  44. Convert to orthodox Judaism, move to the Holy Land, and wait for the Messiah.

  45. Yes, no more Christianity for me; but I wouldn’t just “party on down”, either. After all, the same problems are still present as before; I just picked the wrong solution to them. I’d become an atheist temporarily, and use the time machine to find a better solution. If none other appeared, and I still had lifespan left, I’d spend a few minutes making a billion dollars on the stock market, and settle down for a comfortable life of public philanthropy and private misanthropy.

  46. I am quite dismayed, that Christ’s sinless life, and death on the cross, means so little to so many of you, that you would turn your back on Christ if God had chosen not to resurrect him. All? of the other world religions follow a non-resurrected leader, and the fact of a non resurrection does not impact their faith.

    A Jesus who was not resurrected isn’t a Christ, he is a Jewish dude from Palestine that created a cult following that turned into a worldwide movement. He’s a bigger John Lennon. The things he said about himself would be lies and he wouldn’t be worth following. We would have no basis to believe that he led a sinless life. It isn’t about whether or not God chose to resurrect him. The OT predicts that God would resurrect him. It is the resurrection which says to us “this is the guy I was telling you about; this is the one who can sit at my right hand” Without the resurrection he isn’t the atonement for our sins, he isn’t sitting at the right hand of the Father, he isn’t the one who sent the Holy Spirit. There would be no justification, propitiation, sanctification. Without the resurrection Jesus is nothing.

    The Christian understanding and interpretation of the OT is guided by NT revelation. It is Christ being able to point back at the OT and say, “That is me” and be believable. After his death the disciples had no direction. They had no reason to believe any of the things Christ said about himself. They were going back to fishing. When he “walked” into the room the full impact of his deity and revelation were felt.

    Without a resurrected Christ we are trapped in legalism and bloody sacrifices if we even still believe in the God of Israel

    All? of the other world religions follow a non-resurrected leader, and the fact of a non resurrection does not impact their faith.

    Which is what makes them pointless. Like you I am dismayed. But I’m dismayed that many Christians view Christ’s resurrection as non-essential to the Christian faith. Without it there is no Christian faith. Not one that is worth any more than any of the other world religions anyway.

  47. @Dale – But you didn’t experience the resurrection, did you? And there are literally hundreds of millions of people who will testify that it didn’t happen. Therefore, your belief in the resurrection is already contingent on your interpretation of your own personal experiences and the testimony of a small handful of others.

    You are essentially saying that your own life experiences, which you witnessed firsthand, are suspect and open to revision unless you maintain a level of certainty about a miraculously improbable event that is reported to have happened 2,000 years ago. That turns Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 15 upside-down.

  48. You are essentially saying that your own life experiences, which you witnessed firsthand, are suspect and open to revision unless you maintain a level of certainty about a miraculously improbable event that is reported to have happened 2,000 years ago. That turns Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 15 upside-down.

    I won’t say that is exactly right but that is pretty darn close. And I don’t see how that turns 1 Cor 15 upside down. It seems to verify 1 Cor 15.

    I’d like to add here that I think we are approaching a topic from two non-existent points of view. The fact is that Christ rose from the dead and our experiences are relevant. These things go together and can’t be separated. This thought experiment tries to partition these ideas and if forces us to retreat to other means by which we find truth aside from revelation, i.e. empiricism vs. rationalism, based on our personality.

  49. Nope, wouldn’t make a difference to me. I’d argue that Christ is still to be raised, just not yet. I’d also argue that He is with me in Spirit just as He is now (i.e., I’m joined to Him spiritually through God the Spirit).

    regards,
    #John

  50. @Dale

    But I’m dismayed that many Christians view Christ’s resurrection as non-essential to the Christian faith.

    Yes! I would go so far as to say that someone who regards the resurrection as non-essential is, by definition, not a Christian.

    Regarding 1 Corinthians 15:14, what Paul was doing is very similar to what C.S. Lewis was doing in his famous “trilemma” [1], stating that Christ was either God or else a lunatic, but not anything in-between. Like Lewis’s trilemma, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14 is utterly devastating to the people who want to believe in some in-between Christianity. In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:14 is why I have always regarded the popularization of “Pascal’s Wager” [2] to be absurd. The “wager” says “If you believe in Christ and turn out to have been wrong, at least you will have lived a healthy, fruitful, and rewarding temporal life.” Paul rejects that idea entirely, saying, “If you believe in Christ and turn out to have been wrong, you’ll be proven to have been a pitiable lunatic who wasted his life for nothing”

    This is a very strong statement, and one that far too many Christians seem to want to ignore. It is essentially the personalized form of Lewis’s trilemma. Just as Christ was either a lunatic or God, and nothing in-between; we who follow Him are either lunatics or right, and nothing in-between.

    Note that neither Lewis nor Paul are making their belief in Christ’s divinity contingent on the stated facts. They are doing the opposite; by placing the belief in stark light and illustrating why there can be no middle ground. Lewis doesn’t bother trying to prove that Christ was not a lunatic. In fact, he argues that lunacy is the only logical thing to assume if you’re not a Christian. Likewise, Paul is not saying that the resurrection “proves” that Christians are not lunatics. He is saying that only a lunatic would be a Christian and simultaneously entertain the idea that there was no resurrection. Since we know that Christ is God, and since we’re not lunatics, this cements our certainty about the resurrection — just as it did for Paul, who did not believe in the resurrection prior to his encounter with God.

    It would be nonsensical to ask Lewis, “If you went back in a time machine and did a psychological evaluation of Christ and found him to be a lunatic, what would that do to your faith?” Lewis’s belief in Christ’s divinity does not proceed from or rest on Lewis’s “judicial and sober estimate of Christ’s mental stability”. Nor should our belief in Christ’s divinity proceed from or rest on our convictions about the historicity of the resurrection. Rather, our certainty about Christ’s sanity and resurrection proceed from our faith, knowledge, and experience of God.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis's_trilemma
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_wager

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