I cringe, just as I’m sure you do, when someone comments in conversation or on a social media post, that the Resurrection and miracles are nothing more than fairy tales, which can’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.
These types of comments make us feel awkward, dare I say embarrassed, or even unsure at times. In an age where militant Atheists have declared war on Christians and their beliefs, self-doubt is not uncommon, among us. Since none of us wants to appear foolish, the obvious choice is to remain silent.
So, is it time? Should we continue to proclaim the Resurrection as fact, or is it time to move aside, under the force of the self-proclaimed, irrefutable evidence of science?
Science Analyses Empirical Data, Not Historical Events
As wonderful as the benefits of science have been to the modern world, nonetheless we need to remember science is limited to the physical world, in the moment.
The scientific method cannot prove something happened or didn’t happen in the past. For instance, there is no way the scientific method can prove or disprove that Captain Cook discovered Australia in 1770. Historical events just don’t lend themselves to repeatable laboratory experiments.
So, when scientists discount the Resurrection as a fairy tale, they’re being completely disingenuous, dare I say prevaricating? They need to refute the Resurrection because it requires a supernatural god, and that would demolish their fantasy world. Oh well, like they say “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”.
How can we know something happened in the Past?
This is the realm of expertise in which Historians and Literary Critics dwell. They apply with rigor a set of measures by which to judge the veracity of a recorded event in the past.
So, let’s see how this method can be applied to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Firstly, Make Sure You Grease the Slope
‘Greasing the slope’ is a term used in marketing and sales. It means let’s remove all barriers to purchase, in order to make the purchase as easy as possible, for the customer.
Well, I think you’d agree. Since we’re starting a new religion; ‘Christianity’, within the extremely hostile and competitive religious market of the C1st Roman Empire, then we need to make it as easy as possible to gain new converts.
However, instead of making it easy to become a Christian, the barrier to entry was set very high. Making the Resurrection a mandatory doctrine in order to become a Christian seems really crazy. Yet, Paul empathetically insists that ………
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. Romans 10.9
The ruling and intellectual classes were steeped in Platonism and similar philosophies where the ultimate goal of life was entering into the ‘World’s Soul’ and so become one with the godhead. To enjoy an eternal and immaterial existence after death was esteemed the highest state one could attain. Having your body resurrected to live again was not just banal, it was odious.
The working class didn’t envisage a Resurrection either. It was simply unheard off. Why would you want to be raised to life, to repeat the same life of inequality, exploitation and oppression all over again? Death is a guaranteed escape plan from your current misery.
It Was No Easier Then, Than Now to Believe in the Resurrection.
We flatter ourselves if we feel that those of the C1st were benighted and ignorant, while we are of an enlightened generation. On the contrary, those the in C1st share our contemporary scepticism. For instance, when the Athenians heard Paul mention the Resurrection, while delivering the Gospel at the Aeropagus ‘They scoffed and left” (Acts 17).
We know from the literature at the time that those in antiquity found the Christian Resurrection ridiculous and a cause for derision. And yet the Resurrections stands defiantly, and at the centre of every Gospel presentation we have recorded in the New Testament.
So, why is that? Why not simply remove it, and develop a moral code around Jesus’ teaching or propose that belief in a spiritual Resurrection is another means of entering into the world’s soul, in order to enjoy an immortal-spiritual existence with the true God after you die? This type of message would be readily accepted then, as it would today.
The answer is obvious, the Resurrection was a catharsis for Jesus’ followers. Finally, they got it, the Resurrection of Jesus broke through the obscure prophetic promises which they had longed to see fulfilled. The wonder of it so overwhelmed and empowered them that they could not deny the miracle which they had seen. It was an incontrovertible event that couldn’t be removed from God’s plan of salvation for humanity, without them lying or whole message falling apart.
With the unshakable conviction that the Resurrection had taken place, Jesus’ followers boldly proclaimed the Resurrection to a sceptical world, and so should we.
Next time we’ll look at some other measures against, which to test the veracity of the Resurrection accounts.
Vic Matthews has three degrees: B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. He is a kiteboard tragic, and a fledgling author, and copywriter. His books can be found at http://www.graphw.co/books/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html