Blog

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell

Just as we test the historicity of any event, not through emotional conviction, but with historical evidence, I would like to devote some time to laying out a brief historical case for the Resurrection of Christ, the central issue of the Christian faith. If Christ rose from the grave, it is all true and we just have to work out the details. If Christ did not raise from the grave, Christians are to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:13-19).

Here is what we need:

1. Internal Evidence: Evidence coming from within the primary witness documents.

In this case, the primary witness documents are the twenty-seven works that make up the corpus that Christianity has traditionally called the New Testament. These works stand or fall individually from an historical standpoint. Therefore, they provide twenty-seven sources of documentation, not one.

2. External Evidence: Collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.

Some may include the non-Gospel works of the New Testament in this category. However, since most of the works suppose to come from eye-witnesses of the event in question, it is proper to keep them primary.

Internal Evidence:

  • Honesty
  • Irrelevant Details
  • Harmony
  • Public Extraordinary Claims
  • Lack of Motivation for Fabrication

Honesty:

A hallmark of embellishments and fabrications is that they display people in a positive light, normally only bringing to light their successes and triumphs. True history, on the other hand, will contain accounts that might cause some embarrassment.

The entire Bible records both successes and failures of the heroes. I have always been impressed by this. It never paints the glorious picture that you would expect from legendary material, but shows them in all their worst moments. The Israelites whined, David murdered, Peter denied, the apostles abandoned Christ in fear, Moses became angry, Jacob deceived, Noah got drunk, Adam and Eve disobeyed, Paul persecuted, Solomon worshiped idols, Abraham was a bigamist, Lot committed incest, John the Baptist doubted, Abraham doubted, Sarah doubted, Nicodemus doubted, Thomas doubted, Jonah ran, Samson self-served, and John, at the very end of the story, when he should have had it all figured out, worshiped an angel (Rev 22:8). I love it!

And these are the Jews who wrote the Bible!

In addition, the most faithful are seen as suffering the most (Joseph, Job, and Lazarus), while the wicked are seen as prospering (the rich man). In the case of the Gospels, the disciples who recorded it claimed to have abandoned Christ and did not believe in His resurrection when told. Even after the resurrection, they still present themselves as completely ignorant of God’s plan (Acts 1:6-7). Women are the first to witness the resurrection which has an element of self-incrimination since a woman’s testimony was not worth anything in the first century. If someone were making this up, why include such an incriminating detail? (I am glad they did—what an Easter message this is for us today!)

(The primary departure from this, although in the OT, is 1 and 2 Chronicles which does hide some of King David’s failures. But, even then, the accounts are not promising for Israel as a whole). 

One last thing that I think belongs in this category: None of the Gospel writers give their names. In other words, the reason why we believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (two disciples and two colleagues of the disciples) wrote the Gospels is due to early tradition. Even John simply refers to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.” Initial reaction is one of skepticism (even though the traditions are very early). Why didn’t they include their names? However, from another historical perspective, this is a significant mark of genuineness. The MO of the day was to write pseudopigrapha. Pseudopigrapha are writings that seek to gain credibility by falsely attributing their work to another of more prominent stature. It would be like me writing a book and saying it was by Chuck Swindoll in order for it to sell more copies. Pseudopigrapha normally came late (hundreds of years) after the death of the supposed author. However, since the Gospel writers did not include their name, it demonstrates that they were not following this model of fabrication. This actually adds another mark of historical credibility. Why would they leave their names out if it was a fabrication? If these works were not really by them, they would have no hope of acceptance.

Irrelevant Details:
The Gospel writers (especially John) include many elements to their story that are really irrelevant to the big picture. Normally, when someone is making up a story, they include only the details that contribute to the fabrication. Irrelevant details are a mark of genuineness in all situations.

Notice this small segment of the Gospel of John 20:1-8 (adapted from Gregory Boyd):

“Early on the first day of the week (when? does it matter?), while it was still dark (who cares?), Mary Magdalene (an incriminating detail) went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one who Jesus loved (John’s modest way of referring to himself—another mark of genuineness) and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have taken him!” (note her self-incriminating lack of faith here). So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. They were running, but the other disciple out ran Peter and reached the tomb first (who cares who won the race? a completely irrelevant detail). He bent over (irrelevant, but the tomb entrance was low—a detail which is historically accurate of wealthy people of the time—the kind we know Jesus was buried in) and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in (why not? irrelevant detail). Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb (Peter’s boldness stands out in all the Gospel accounts). He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head (irrelevant and unexpected detail—what was Jesus wearing?). The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen (somewhat irrelevant and unusual. Jesus folded one part of his wrapping before he left!). Finally the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went inside (who cares about what exact order they went in?)

The best example I can think of is the polar bear. What? Okay, only those of you who watched the television series Lost will get this. In the first season, there was a polar bear in the show. We all wondered why it was there on the island. How did it get there? What is the meaning of the polar bear? How is it going to fit into the big picture of the story? These are all legitimate questions that many of us sat on the edge of our seat for five seasons waiting to get the answers to. However, the polar bear (along with so many other incidentals) were never explained. There was a great outcry because there were so many questions left unanswered. So many irrelevant details that remained irrelevant. The reason why the outcry was legitimate was because in fictional (or fabricated) stories, details are never irrelevant. They are written into the script and have a purpose that supports the whole of the fictional story. However, if the show Lost were not fictional but historical, the irrelevant details would be expected. True history does not have to work itself out into a paradigm of the story arch. When irrelevant details are present, while not conclusive, it does speak to the historicity of the story.

Harmony:
The four Gospel writers claim to have witnessed the resurrected Christ. The same is the case for most of the other writers of the NT. The four Gospel writers all write of the same event from differing perspectives. Although they differ in details, they are completely harmonious to the main events surrounding the resurrection, and all claim that it is an historical event.

Many people are disturbed by the seeming disharmony among the Gospels since the Gospel writers do not include all the same details. However, this is actually a mark of historicity since if they all said exactly the same thing, it would be a sign that they made it up and collaborated together. However, the Gospel writers contain just enough disharmony to give it a mark of genuine historicity.

Public Extraordinary Claims:
The Bible records that the resurrection of Christ happened and gives the time, place, people involved, and it names many of the witnesses. In other words, the extraordinary claims were not done in secret as would be the case if it were fabricated. Look to all the ancient myths and you will see how obscure the mythology has to be in order to claim historicity. Why? Because if you give too many details of times, people, and places it can be easily disproven. If it was a fabrication, the author should have said only one person knew about it. He should have said it happened in a cave or a place no one has ever heard of. We have those type of stories that start religions.

I made this graphic last month that caused quite a bit of a stir. It is appropriate to post it here:

 

As Paul says to King Agrippa, “For the king knows about these matters [concerning the resurrection of Christ], and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner. (Act 26:26)

Lack of Motive for Fabrication:
There is no reasonable explanation as to why the Apostles (or anyone for that matter) would have made up such a story. They had no popularity, power, or riches to gain from it if it was a lie. They were in constant persecution because of their confession, and finally, most met a terrible death, sealing their testimony in blood.

Beyond this, it was culturally unacceptable at all levels to have a crucified and resurrected Messiah. The Jews certainly were not expecting their Messiah to be crucified. The Greek world would have nothing but disdain for the idea of a bodily resurrection since, from their perspective, the material body was something from which we desire to escape. Therefore, for this idea to arise as a fabrication at this time in history would have been about the most counterproductive story anyone could have made up!

It could not have been an illusion, for illusions do not happen in mass over time. It could not have been a case of mistaken identity (i.e., they merely thought they saw Christ), since it is impossible to explain how this many witnesses could be mistaken about seeing someone dead and buried, and then seeing the same person alive three days later. It could not be that Christ did not really die, since the Romans were expert executioners, and many people helped in the burial process, wrapping Christ in burial cloths as was their custom. It is very unlikely that it could not have been made up since all the objectors (and there were plenty of them) had to do was to produce a body.

External Evidence

While the internal evidence looks to the evidence coming from within the primary witness documents, the external evidence seeks to find collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.

For the resurrection of Christ, I submit this line of external evidence:

  • Preservation of the Documents
  • Archeology
  • Extra-biblical Attestation
  • Survival in a Hostile Environment

Preservation of the Documents:

This has to do with the manuscript evidence of the New Testament, the primary source documents concerning the resurrection. While we don’t have any of the originals in our possession (nor should we expect to), the manuscript evidence for the New Testament is very strong. According to top text critic Daniel Wallace, “We have an embarrassment of riches.” Not only do we have hundreds of manuscripts that date before the fifth century (some into the second and third), we also have many quotations from the early church fathers that alone could be used to reconstruct most of the New Testament. All of this tells us that the accounts that we read are essentially the same as the accounts that were originally given. While there are some differences among the manuscripts, even Bart Erhman, former Fundamentalist, text critic, and critic of Christianity, says that no major doctrine is effected by the differences and that most are very insignificant.

In addition, and very significantly, the manuscript evidence tells us that the Gospel accounts of the resurrection were all written within a generation of the events which they record, giving evidence for their claims of eye-witness testimony. Therefore, there is not enough time for legendary material to arise.

Archeology:

The witness of archeology has continually confirmed the scriptural data. When there has been doubt in the past about the Gospel accounts (e.g., date of the Gospel of John, etc.), later archaeological and historical finds seem to always confirm the Scriptures to be historically accurate.

Jewish Archaeologist Nelson Glueck says this about the Bible: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.” (Nelson Glueck Rivers in the Desert; History of Negev [Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969], 31).

Sir William Ramsay is regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists ever to have lived. As an atheist, he set out to dis-prove the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. However, after researching the writings of Luke (Luke-Acts), he changed his mind. He became a firm defender of Christianity and the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts. About Luke he wrote: “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.”

As well, it cannot be overlooked that Christ’s remains were never found. This is an issue of archeology. Combined with the understanding that Christianity arose very early under the claim of Christ’s resurrection and that there were many detractors, the archaeological evidence of the historically empty tomb is important. Those who denied the resurrection in the first century could not produce a body (much less can those who deny it today). This is a necessary precondition to collaborate the evidence of such a belief.

Extra-Biblical Attestation:

Over 39 extra-biblical sources attest to more than 100 facts regarding the life and teachings of Jesus. Besides all of the early Apostolic Fathers (whose witness cannot be dismissed simply because they believed that Christ was the Messiah) are the Jewish and Roman historians.

There are numerous first and second-century extra-biblical writings that witness to the fact that Christians believed that Christ did extraordinary things, died on a cross, and rose from the grave: Josephus, Clement, Papias, Didache, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Hermas, Tatian, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria.

In reality though, “extra-biblical attestation” is not really the best word for this line of evidence. Really, it should be “collaborative attestation” since it is not attestation that is outside the Bible or even the New Testament that we are looking for, but collaborative evidence outside the respective document that is under historical investigation. Therefore, the New Testament itself provides more than enough collaborative support for the events of the resurrection since each of the twenty-seven documents must be seen as pieces of individual evidence that stand on their own. There is no reason, at this point, as I said at the beginning, to put them together in a single corpus called “The New Testament” and say that the corpus must find its own collaborative support. Mark supports Luke. John supports Matthew. Paul supports Acts. The point is that every New Testament book individually provides very strong collaborative evidence for the historicity of the resurrection.

As a side note, I am often humored by those who say that Christians must produce “secular” support for the resurrection, defining “secular” as those who are not believers. It is as if those who believed in the resurrection have less credit than those who did not believe in it. It would be like saying that in order for me to believe in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I have to have evidence from those who do not believe that he was assassinated and that those who do not believe it are more credible than those who do. However, as in the case of the resurrection, if it truly happened, then we would expect the closest people to the evidence to believe it rather than not believe it. Therefore, to deem “secular” or “skeptical” support as necessary and more trustworthy evidences is a bias that is too bent to come to objective conclusions.

Survival in a Hostile Environment:

The very fact that Christianity could have survived with such public and extraordinary truth claims is offered as a line of external evidence. That Christianity had its hostile objectors is supported by all the evidence, internal and external. The objectors of Christianity had every opportunity to expose the fabrication of the resurrection if it were truly a fabrication. The fact that those who were hostile to Christianity did not put forth a substantial or unified case against it adds to its historicity.

According to Gregory Boyd,

“Christianity was born in a very hostile environment. There were contemporaries who would have refuted the Gospel portrait of Jesus—if they could have. The leaders of Judaism in the first century saw Christianity as a pernicious cult and would have loved to see it stamped out. And this would have been easy to do—if the ‘cult’ had been based on fabrications. Why, just bringing forth the body of the slain Jesus would have been sufficient to extinguish Christianity once and for all. In spite of this, however, Christianity exploded. . . . Even those who remained opposed to Christianity did not deny that Jesus did miracles, and did not deny that His tomb was empty.” (Gregory Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic [Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communication Ministries, 2003], 85-86).

Conclusion

Considering the internal and external arguments for the resurrection of Christ, I don’t ask anyone to look to one of these lines of evidence alone, but to consider the cumulative case. It is very impressive. If the resurrection indeed occurred, it would be hard to expect more evidence. In fact, what we would expect is exactly what we have.

Of course, alternatives to each one of these could be and have been offered. Alternatives to many well established historical events have been offered as well, including the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, and the death of Elvis. However, in most cases the alternatives go against the obvious. In the end, all other alternatives for the resurrection, while possible, are completely improbable and take a greater leap of faith than believing that Christ rose from the grave. The simplest explanation is always the best. The simplest explanation to the data here is that Christ did rise from the grave. Those who deny the resurrection do so not on the basis of the evidence, but because they have other presuppositions that won’t allow them to believe. The historical evidence is simply too strong.

I believe that any objective historian must look to the evidence for the resurrection of Christ and concluded that he is indeed risen.

Happy Easter.

58 Responses to “Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell”

  1. Great post! Thanks for the work, very well done.

  2. Michael,

    In regards to non-believers giving testimony of the resurrection, we have two: James and Paul. Neither believed in Jesus prior to their witnessing the resurrection. They of course believed it afterward – anyone who saw it would have to believe it.

    If anyone wants anything more than this, it would have to be a source that says “I saw Jesus risen from the dead. But I don’t believe it.” Which is obviously ridiculous. We have more than enough evidence anyone could reasonably require.

  3. Chad, that is a great point that I often try to make people realize. Perfectly said.

  4. Really great post! Thanks! God bless you!

  5. Michael, a truly outstanding post! I start each day reading Parchment and Pen. God bless your life and ministry.

  6. Great comments, Michael. Just one clarification please:
    Where do Mark and Luke claim to have seen the risen Christ? (See your first sentence under “Harmony.”)

  7. Yeah Jim, I thought that only the only gospel which the writer claimed to have seen the risen lord was the beloved disciple (the writer of John’s Gospel). I think the only other books where the writer claims to have seen the risen Jesus is Paul in Corth. and John the Presbyter, in Revelation. So its more like 3 eye witness accounts instead of 27.

    Paul also lists Cephas (Peter) and James as two others who have personally seen Jesus risen and from Galatians it appears that Paul met them personally.

  8. They looked into Jesus’ eyes. They saw him raise the dead. And yet they did not believe.

    I think evidence is great, as far as it goes. Trouble is, I don’t think it goes very far.

    Believers are made (by God – not us) through the hearing of the gospel.

    You want people to believe in Christ. Share the pure gospel with them (no add on’s) …and then leave it up to God.

  9. Truth Unites... and Divides April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Hi CMP,

    I love your posts during Holy Week. Just love them.

    Thanks for doing them every year.

  10. Steve,

    I understand what you are saying but I don’t agree. First I would ask if you would say the same thing to Luke when he said that Christ appeared and showed himself by “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3). Do you think that Christ’s many convincing proofs was also superfluous (more than needed)?

  11. interesting, you end a great article with a PAGAN slogan! Easter is Baal worship, plain and simple. Wake up to the Truth and the Light.

  12. Something also has to be said that of the many recorded “messiah” leaders during the early 1st century (the non Jesus ones), Christianity is the only one still following their messiah, the Resurrection is one possible explanation.

  13. I have noted that, when presented with these kinds of facts, in their continual denial, nonbelievers mistake their own metaphysical biases for “science” (actually this is scientism). It is always amazing that nonbelievers fail to see that their certainty is really no different from that of any fundementalist, although at least the fundementalists realize that their views are theological or metaphysical in nature.

  14. I don’ t think its hard for an unbeliever to doubt the authenticity of the Resurrection and not believe they are in a state of denial. I think that’s why they do the give me the secular sources mentioned above, but really if you witnessed the death and then resurrection of Christ how many people wouldn’t be a believer.

    Joseph Smith had a group of 12 elders sign and be witnesses to the golden tablets yet I don’t believe for a second that he translated the book of mormon from tablets given by an angel.

    When we live in a society which is constantly bombarded with varying degrees of stories and beliefs, its hard not to become skeptical about it all and view the world through a skeptics eye.

  15. Val, please forgive me, but are you serious? This is a defense of the central foundation belief in Christianity and all you can say is “I can’t believe he said happy Easter?” Sigh….

  16. Since I am one that does not believe in the resurrection of the body none of this is relevant. He is among His believers in spirit always and there is no need for second coming because his presence is ever with us through the Holy Spirit. I don’t need magical manufactured events to believe in Jesus or to have faith.

  17. Well done .I like your build up to argue your point for belief in the ressurection of Christ Have you read “the Easter Enigma ” and ” Who moved the stone” ?

  18. So why then did they crucify him?

    Did he not do enough convincing proofs then?

    How many blind men does one need to make see? How many does one have to feed? 10,000, maybe?

    How many people does one have to raise from the dead?

    They were in an awful hurry to nail him to that cross.

  19. johnrob bantang April 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    What about the extra-biblical (living) evidence? This is the living Traditio (ergo: Tradition) that passed on that knowledge that Jesus indeed was raised from the dead? And that knowledge was kept and preserved through one and single visible leadership under the Spirit of Christ — the Holy Spirit? “Lo, I will be with you until the end of Times. The Sprit will bring you to remember what I have said and He will lead you to the whole Truth.”

    The presentation was wonderful but I think the addition above will make it complete and even more self-consistent. The Word is living in Men (not just books and archeology).

    Thank you and God bless.

  20. Carl, I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 15

  21. Carl D’Agostino says he doesn’t believe in the resurrection of the body but he believes in Jesus. Sorry, but you don’t. You believe in a false Christ. The apostles were witnesses to His resurrected body. What can you rely on for your faith if you do not believe the testimony of witnesses? The apostles have the authority from Jesus Christ, God the Son, to give us doctrine. To deny the resurrection is to reject the Son of God outright. That is dangerous, because we will all stand before Him someday to give an account. Don’t be in the same crowd that will be cast into the lake of fire because you rejected the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  22. TOMAS: The authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith were purposely vague about the meaning of resurrection of the body. Those who believed in the resurrection of the physical body , both for Christ and believers, and those who believed the word meant the “spiritual” body of the entire historical church membership as well as Christ. That was the compromise, however vague, that brought unity to amicable alternative understandings within Puritan/Presbyterian thinking. I do believe in the resurrection Christ. The difference in our understanding is that I do not think it is an event in the future but that it is now as He is with us now. Jesus said “Look, the Kingdom is all around you.” If Jesus is part of your life is has already resurrected. RON: Corinthians and all of Paul’s letters are accepted as inspired scripture by most but others have taken his teaching as a guide and not exclusive of adjusted understandings. Why else would there exist debate over Paul’s theology? Hap…

  23. Grady Patterson April 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Val (post #14) – you said:
    “interesting, you end a great article with a PAGAN slogan! Easter is Baal worship, plain and simple. Wake up to the Truth and the Light.”

    Well – as a firm believer in the life and power of the risen Christ, I absolutely worship baal – the word, in Hebrew, simply means master, lord, or even husband. I do worship the Master of my spirit, the Lord of my life, and the Husband of the perfected Bride. I don’t however, worship any of the Semitic deities who simply took the honorific title (not name) “Master”.

    The term Easter, according to Bede, is simply the Germanic month-name Eostur – from the minor Germanic/Norse deity named Eostre or Austra. Eostre *may* have been related to Asherah, but definitely not Baal. Eostre-worship was never widespread, and had died out completely prior to the Bede’s writings. Grimm agrees, and both conclude that Easter is simply named for the month April.

    Sorry, but History beats Hysteria.

  24. Let’s go to the Scriptures for our revelation of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, not to the opinions of men who were not inspired by the Holy Spirit. The last witness, John, saw our Lord who told Him I was dead and now am alive forevermore. There are way too many things about God’s grace that we don’t understand much less about His having to die (Genesis 3:15) and rise again. His entire life on Earth was prophesied. It is true that He said the kingdom of God is within you, but who was he talking about? Those who believed in the promise of Genesis 3:15! The Jews knew all about the promised Messiah! If He would not have had to come to us in the flesh to pay the penalty of our sinful nature then what would have been the purpose of all the prophecies and the revelation of the last days? He told the apostles to touch him and feel him, he ate fish and a honeycomb. Nothing is impossible with God. Sometimes the truth can be in your face and you will still choose to deny…

  25. others have taken [Paul’s] teaching as a guide and not exclusive of adjusted understandings.

    Paul actually presents an argument in 1 Corinthians 15. Feel free to interact with it, and explain why we should side with Carl D’Agostino over Paul of Tarsus in this matter.

  26. you people need to do your research on pagan holidays. easter is for Ishtar worship, my comment about Baal was referring to how the Israelites worshiped Baal and Yah and it was an abomination.

    Paganism has destroyed the FAITH! Get out of it. Keep the Feasts, the Lord said they are forever.

  27. Read Hebrews Chapter 11 everyone, and also 1Cr 1:23 . If there is anyone who is depending on their own knowledge rather than on the infallible, eternal, unchanging word of God, then let God be their judge, not me. The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Use Scripture to defend your statements, and convince me USING SCRIPTURE ALONE for your disputation, otherwise your contention has no foundation in truth and it is based on man’s opinion rather than on God’s Word.

  28. Interesting article. I hope a nitpick will not be taken amiss: the word “collaborate” (or “collaborative”) is misused over and over again, when what you clearly mean to say is “corroborate” or “corroborative”. All of them are words but they mean quite different things.

  29. RE TOMAS #33 How can we use scripture alone? It gives us a closed self validating reference. Shall I exclude astronomy, for example, that shows a conjunction of planets at the time of Jesus’ birth proves that the Star was real ? You mean if I use St Augustin, St Thomas, Luther and Calvin to develop understanding I am in error? They help us understand scripture. They also disagree what the same scripture speaks. Since these are the opinions of 4 men, not scripture authors, is what they say invalid and to be discarded? Are not their ideas valid? Their ideas are based on the same scripture. The Holy Spirit also speaks. The Holy Spirit provides revelation. So the faith is not solely per scripture. Is the speaking of the Holy Spirit as valid as the speaking of scripture? I think so. I also think it is reasonable to suggest that the 4 aforementioned men are as full of the spirit as Paul. God inspired them too, to help us understand RON #31 Carl D or Paul of T ? No question. Choose Paul.

  30. Read the Bible. Jesus said, many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many wonderful works? And I will say to them, depart me from, ye workers of iniquity, and these will go away into everlasting contempt, but the righteous unto life eternal. Either you believe the Word of God or you don’t. It seems that some here have decided against the Word of God. So be it. I shake the dust off my feet.

  31. *It never paints the glorious picture that you would expect from legendary material*

    I find your whole writeup interesting and thought-provoking, but I do take issue with this one point… Have you read much mythology and legend? Because both religious mythos and legendary tales are FULL of main characters who are both heroic and flawed, glorious and driven by base impulses.

  32. I think these points are excellent. The few tweaks should be made regarding vocabulary choice and Luke as an eyewitness of the risen Christ (unsubstantiated), as per the comments. I like Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” also.

    Unbelievers don’t all take to these points, choosing instead to deny that there were any records of eyewitness testimonies before 300 AD, and anti-historical nonsense such as that. I predict that one day it will be hard to verify the 20th Century Holocaust based on similar skeptical tactics.

    Two words of caution: Christ was not out to provide sensory proof to the whole world of his resurrection, even as he told many of the healed to tell no one about what had happened. He didn’t go back and appear to Pilate or the Sanhedrin to rub their noses in it.

    Second: II Thes 2:9-11 and Rev. 13:3, 13:13-15 speak of verifiable public supernatural wonders, yet this alone does not lead to saving belief in God.

  33. Tomas, I’m confused. The people that you seem to suggest are denying scripture are not denying scripture at all. Rather, the post and the comments are indicating that the external evidence supports what scripture says. No one is denying scripture. The point IS to proclaim that scripture is indeed trustworthy and true. The point IS to validate the trustworthiness of the resurrection.

    So I think your insinuation in citing Matthew 7:21-23 is unwarranted and uncharitable since it suggests that you do not believe the people you are taking issue with are Christians, even though they are proclaiming what scripture says, that the resurrection did happen and that Jesus is worthy of our trust.

  34. I’ve liked the bit of this article I’ve read, look forward to reading all soon. Someone has pointed out that the bit on Ramsay might be exaggerated – “As an atheist, he set out to dis-prove the historical accuracy of the Scriptures” might be better stated “Ramsay began his study as a skeptic with regards to Luke’s historical accuracy.” See http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/2010/10/sir-william-mitchell-ramsay.html (this exaggerates as well and seems to minimize Ramsay’s change of mind, I don’t recommend it on its qualities but on the point of ‘what conversion’? – important that we get facts right)

    Blessings to you and thanks for reminding us of Ramsay, his story is a great witness to the reliability of Scripture, even though he may not have been converted from atheism because of it.

  35. The tomb is closed. Everybody goes home. A woman, two men and a donkey are hiding offstage. When it’s good and dark, they roll the stone back (Mt’s guards are iffy. Actually any pericope appearing solus in Mt between parallel passages in Mk and Lk — ac/abc/ac — is iffy), unwrap the corpse, douse it with retsina and drape it over the donkey. If a patrol approaches (clanking and carrying torches) the men duck down and the woman explains to the guard that her husband has gotten stinko again, plus he was making a play for their neighbors’ daughter, the hussy ..

    At the southwest corner of the wall, the little cortege turns east and up over Zion until they reach whatever arrangements are made to receive the annual torrent of Pesach offal (I have no doubt the site will be somewhere in Talmud), dismember the body, throw it in and go home — the traditional Last Supper house is not far.

  36. Thanks for sharing, a lot of information here. Great read.

  37. I think I’m starting to give up on any of these “proofs”, I think the counter argument for any of them are decent also.

    The one thing I do know is that a belief in God has change my heart and life. I far from the only one, I know many people who were lost, strung out, confused, hateful, ect. and believing in the life changing power of God has made them a new creature.

    I’ll never be fully satisfied on any of the evidence (at least external), but I have enough internal evidence to accept these things.

    I don’t know why Christ and the resurrection happened this way, it would sure be easier for belief if every 50 years he showed back up to check on the progress. There are thing which I would love to be different. I’m just going to have to continue on what I do know. I guess that’s enough for me.

  38. RE # 45 DAVID T : You are experiencing Jesus. What you do know is more valuable than the scriptural and external back and forth here. Your personal Jesus, not the one of doctrine by those claiming to be in sole possession of orthodoxy. You don’t need evidence because of your ” internal evidence,” the gift of the Holy Spirit. You have said it all much better than I have. You are quite wise.

  39. Sir, this has gone on long enough. It is evident your Jesus is not the one who died and rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of power. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” You are denying the risen Lord with your own words!

  40. God does not work with human standards. He is much more loving, giving Man the power to create and have dominion over the created things.

    Looking evidence in the Scripture should never ever overlook the living witnesses that passed on their knowledge and witness (martyrdom) through generations. This is indeed important as we could read from Acts 10:39-42. There are living testimonies passed on from generation to generation, including those “internal” and personal experience of God and the Trinity as ever-growing deposit of “proofs” (not just those recorded in the Bible) about God’s interest in and love of Man.

    Doubting the Resurrection event also doubts the Incarnation itself. Without these, Christianity is no different from Mahameddan, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, and many other -isms whose “founders” are long, long dead. The God of the Christians is a living God: He who loved Man to the point of giving Himself, being the Love Itself, to restore Justice in the World.

  41. Here’s some additional thoughts that might enhance the presentation. Of course, its up to you to decide.

    1) One time when an un-believer mentioned all of the ancient myths that told of a man becoming a god, it occurred to me that this is not what Christianity was claiming at all. Rather, Chrisitianity tells of a god, renouncing his godhood to become a man AND did this out of love for mankind. Not the same! In fact, it is hard to imagine how a culture in which the ideal was for the hero to become a mighty, powerful and immortal god, could produce this story of a mighty god who chose helplessness and death. If someone was making it up, how could they have hoped to be believed?

    To be continued…

  42. 2) Its funny, but alot of the textual evidence and evidence for historicity that you cite is actually used by certain other faiths to “prove” that Christianity is false! In their argument, the wealth of texts, the imperfections of the Biblical characters are the evidence of falsification by men! But..you are still absolutely right that Christianity meets the tests of historicity while a more perfect text (once all the inconvenient variations have been deliberately destroyed) could not hope to do so. Some other faiths require that all of the proven methods of history be set aside so that a single so-called perfect book can be deemed more trustworthy than a book which can actually meet the historical standard! Its like saying that history is good thing for obtaining the truth until it comes to judging between holy books. Then, it is a bug rather than a feature for a book to have a wealth of historical documentation. What utter nonsense!

  43. I forgot to mention that StandFirm has a discussion of this posting – in general very thankful for it. http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/27392/

    I still think the text would be improved if the information regarding Ramsay were corrected. We don’t need to be perpetuating a myth – however trivial some might find the error to be, it’s best corrected. Perhaps a note at the bottom could indicate the original text of the sentences if you feel obliged out of honesty to admit the mistake in case any skeptics are pointing to this as “proof” that Christians exaggerate or whatnot (though I doubt it). Apparently this information has been floating all over the place.

  44. This was an excellent post. Not too theological easy to read and understand by anyone. More importantly I think you tried to answer the questions before they were asked. Lastly I amazed how much I learned form your little comparison graphic .

  45. Interesting read. Most of the arguments are kind of flimsy stick figures. For example-the notion that those who deny the resurrection need to produce a body. Really? If I can’t produce the body of a Jewish peasant-teacher who died 2000 years ago the logical conclusion is that he came back to life?!

    The most compelling evidence in this whole debate is simple. Dead is dead. Dead people don’t get up and walk around. Except in zombie movies.

  46. Surely the simplest explanation would be the use of a body double. History is full of them being used successfully.

  47. The crux of the matter literally and figuratively is probably best summed up in this quote from Thomas Aquinas.

    “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

    Thomas Aquinas

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Prince William Campus News » Blog Archive » Evidence for the Resurrection in a Nutshell - April 20, 2011

    […] Just as we test the historicity of any event, not through emotional conviction, but with historical evidence take a look at the article at Credo House Ministries. […]

  2. Ekklesia521: Undone By Grace » Blog Archive » Evidence of the Resurrection in a Nutshell - April 20, 2011

    […] here to read a thorough, yet concise description of each […]

  3. Thursday Headlines & Links - Shane Raynor - April 21, 2011

    […] War’ – Justin Kinney Megaconferences and False Dichotomies – Jared Wilson Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell – C. Michael Patton Multi-Tasking God – Nicole Unice Recovering a Theology of Martyrdom […]

  4. Evidence for the Resurrection | Communion. Community. Mission. - April 21, 2011

    […] http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/04/evidence-for-the-resurrection-in-a-nutshell/ […]

  5. TGIF | - April 22, 2011

    […] Patton of Credo House Ministries posted an interesting article here about the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. His points are nothing new and I doubt his […]

  6. Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell - April 23, 2011

    […] Excellent summary: Just as we test the historicity of any event, not through emotional conviction, but with historical evidence, I would like to devote some time to laying out a brief historical case for the Resurrection of Christ, the central issue of the Christian faith. If Christ rose from the grave, it is all true and we just have to work out the details. If Christ did not raise from the grave, Christians are to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:13-19) […]

  7. RESURREXIT! IO TRIUMPHE! ECCE REGEM CHRISTUM REDEMPTOREM! « Travis Lambert - April 24, 2011

    […] Parchment & Pen Blog, Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell […]

  8. How Christianity’s different: evidence « Thoughts of Sam Isaacson - April 26, 2011

    […] I took it from over here. […]

  9. Why My Back Healing Does not Prove Christianity True | Parchment and Pen - February 16, 2012

    […] By the way, here is a good place to start in pouring your foundation. […]

  10. Links – March 23, 2013 | Bob's Recommended Web Resources - March 25, 2013

    […] 7)  Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell by C Michael Patton of the Credo House in Oklahoma City. Very helpful article by this popular blogger who used to be on the staff of Chuck Swindoll’s church in Frisco, TX. […]

Leave a Reply