This was my research paper, which I wrote for my apologetics class. Which I proud to say I received an A on! Enjoy.
Mr. Garry Peterson
In this paper, I aim to provide evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, for someone who is on the fence regarding this issue. As such, I will assume that my time with this skeptic will be breath. Therefore, each of my points will be brief, but long enough to stir some thoughts in mind and the heart of this lovely fellow. To help establish my points, I plan on using resources from Josh McDowell, Garry Habermas and Antony Flew, Lee Strobel, Hank Hanegraff, and of course William Lane Craig. After presenting my case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, I will end with concluding remarks, however, let’s open this conversation with honesty. The resurrection of Christ has been one of my deepest struggles in my walk with God, how can I possibly know that Christ rose from the dead? There have been many periods of doubt along the way, and I don’t suspect that doubts to ever fully leave. That is until I see Jesus as he is in eternity.
I say all this to you, my friend that’s filled with questions because you’re not alone in your issues and doubts. A man named Thomas doubted Jesus until Jesus appeared in front of him and others after his resurrection. Thomas, or rather “doubting Thomas,” was able to not only see the risen Jesus with his own eyes, but he was able to touch him with his hands. Furthermore, there was also a man in the scriptures who had a son who suffered from seizures. The man cries out to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If I can?” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” The man’s reply would be one that Christians will always be quoting in our context today “I believe, but help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:20-25) My reason for sharing all this is because even we Christians have seasons of questions and doubts, as I am sure you do as well. So, let’s tackle (as briefly as we can) some of the rejections regarding the resurrection of Jesus.
Objections to the Resurrection
The first objection I’d like to bring to your attention is The Swoon Theory, at its most basic level, those who believe the swoon theory, think Jesus never died on the cross, perhaps he only fainted. This is a very cute way of looking at the crucifixion of Jesus, but let’s put aside briefly whether or not Jesus was who he said he was, and look at what he suffered through from a purely human standpoint. Roman soldiers were in many ways trained in the highest levels of violence, if a human being were flogged the way he was, they would quickly enter a state of hypo eutectic shock and die. In his book, The Case for Easter, Lee Strobel, who was a former Atheist, sought to embark on a journey to find out what all the fuss behind the Jesus of the scriptures was about. Along the way in his journey, he met with Alexander Metherell. Mr. Metherell has a medical degree from the University of Miami, Florida. Furthermore, he has a doctorate in engineering from the University of Bristol, in England. Regarding the flogging that Jesus Endured, Metherell had this to say “We know that many people would die from this beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and into hypovolemic shock”. (This means that the victim loses large amounts of blood, fainting, loss of kidney function, etc.). Regarding the actual crucifixion, Metherell had this to say “Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation.” (Strobel 15-16)
There is much more that can be said regarding the medical evidence regarding the evidence that Jesus died on the cross, but I’m afraid this will have to suffice for now. A second mythology that people use to dismiss the ideas that Jesus died and even resurrected was The Twin Theory; this is at its basic level the idea that Jesus had a twin brother named Home. This view was founded by Robert Greg Cavin, who furthermore believes that Hurome was separated from Jesus at birth and does not see him again until the time of the crucifixion. In his book Resurrection Hank Hanegraaff, says that Cavin squared off against acclaimed apologist William Lane Craig, Craig had this to say about the supposed Twin Theory “The Twin Theory may make great comedy, but no one should take them seriously-particularly no one such as Cavin, whose research has forced him to agree that Christ was fatally tormented, that the tomb was empty, that the disciples were convinced Jesus had appeared to them, and as a result of the resurrection their lives were utterly transformed.” (Hanegraaff 7)
There are, of course, more objections that we could examine, but for the sake of time let’s examine some proofs of the resurrection.
Proofs for the Resurrection
If you remember from the start of the conversion, I never saw any proof of there being a God, let alone someone resurrecting from the dead. Okay, I knew from looking at the world that there was something out there, but I didn’t think it was the God of the Bible. If it was, then, in the words of Bruce Almighty, “he liked to burn off my feelers and watch me squirm!” (Bruce Almighty) Seriously, though, I wanted to get down to the bottom of this God issue, I was raised as a Buddhist, meditating and everything. Though as I got older, I realized it was taking care of whatever vacancy was inside me. There was also a huge refusal inside me to believe the idea that the universe we live in came to be by chance, or that there wasn’t some grand designer behind it all. That was the hound of Heaven tackled me with the most loving and caring I have ever known. This would lead me to Grace University, where I would not only study psychology but the Bible. It was here that I would uncover the historical proofs supporting the very fact that Jesus even existed.
Former Atheist Josh McDowell, in his book The Resurrection Factor, says “There are both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions that acknowledge the empty tomb. These sources range from the Jewish historian Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings call the Toledoth Jeshu.” McDowell calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then the fact is genuine.” (McDowell 65).
William L. Craig, in his book On Guard, says that the historical case for the resurrection can be broken down into three facts:
1) Jesus’ empty tomb
2) Jesus’ appearance alive after his death
3) The origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection
On the subject of the empty tomb, Craig supports it by stating that the tomb of Jesus was found empty by a group a group of His women followers on the Sunday after his crucifixion. He goes on to say that if the burial story is accurate, then the location of Jesus’ tomb was known in Jerusalem to both Jew and Christian alike since both were present when Jesus was laid in the tomb. In that case, the tomb must have been empty when the disciples began to preach that Jesus had rose. He then also points out that the disciples could not have believed in Jesus’ resurrection if His corpse still lay in the tomb. (Craig 220-221) On Jesus’ appearance after his death, to support Jesus’ bodily appearance after his death, Craig first points us to the apostle Paul’s lists of eye witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15. First in his appearance to Peter, second, his appearance to the twelve (disciples), third his appearance to the five hundred brethren, fourth his appearance to James and fifth his appearance to all the apostles (Craig 230-34) On the origin of the disciple’s belief in the resurrection, one important point that Craig mentions on this point is that Jews had no conception of a Messiah, who instead of triumphing over Israel’s enemies, would be shamefully executed by them as a criminal. A messiah was supposed to be a triumphant figure who would command the respect of Jew and Gentile alike and who would establish the throne of David in Jerusalem. A messiah who failed to deliver and to reign, who was defeated, humiliated and slain by His enemies, is a contradiction in terms (Craig 241)
To conclude our time together, I hope the evidence that I have brought to your attention has stirred something inside you. As I have said before, I have had many questions and doubts come up along the way, but the question I always have to ask myself, is why would this be a lie? Could you possibly fabricate a story about the apostle Paul, who was once a persecutor of Christians? This man had Christians thrown in jail and even killed, yet this very same man who persecuted Christians would meet the risen Christ in Acts 3. The good news of the Gospel changes lives, despite all my doubts and questions, I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that stories such as the apostle Paul’s are all made up.
Secondly, I believe that there is a reason you are asking questions related to the miracle of the resurrection. Atheists will tell you that the reason that we make the leap to there being something more beyond our physical reality is a simple confirmation bias, or chemicals in our brains simply allowing to believe in a spiritual experience. There are even atheists who, while they don’t believe in God still say they can be spiritual people. At the core of that argument, a friend of mine once told mine told me that the reason some atheists believe they can still be spiritual is that atheism is not enough. I believe that the reason you are asking such questions is because the Bible tells us that God has put eternity in our hearts (ECL 3:11). Perhaps God is at work in the inner recesses of your soul. There is so much more I could tell you, but if I could leave you with any piece of wisdom and truth, it would be that the God of the universe loves you. He loves you so much that he sent his Son to take upon himself all of our sins and struggles. I can tell you that God has always proven Himself faithful to me, and if can trust him with all your heart, you have not only found a friend and companion that will never leave your side. You have found the greatest love you will ever know. No other person, animal or pass time will ever love you the way the father does. He is the only one who can make all things new. He is the only one who can make you a new creation.
Many of us, I believe have a deep sense that there is more to life than what we can perceive with our five senses. The problem because when we suppress the truth as the apostle, Paul writes in Romans 1:18. Furthermore, he writes in Romans 1:19-21
“19 For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The psalmist David wrote in Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, there is no God. As it was mentioned, God, through his Spirit can make you a new creation. And as such he can awaken our darkened hearts. The truth of the resurrection is the greatest triumph this world has ever seen, because of the resurrection of Christ. In light of this fact, those who put their trust in the resurrected Christ have the greatest love any human being could ever ask for.
“Bruce Almighty (2003).” IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
Craig, William L. “Did Jesus Rise from The Dead.” On Guard. N.p., n.d. 230-241. Print.
Hanegraaff, Hank. “Mythologies.” Resurrection. Thomas Nelson, 2000. 5-7. Print.
McDowell, Josh. “Facts to be Reckoned With.” The Resurrection Factor. San
Strobel, Lee. “The Medical Evidence.” Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the