Kudos to ABC and Elizabeth Vargas for an excellent documentary tonight on The Resurrection. The program featured scholars on three sides of the issue: conservatives who believe in a physical resurrection (Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig were particularly effective), liberals who believe in some sort of spiritual resurrection (Shelby Spong was the poster boy for this view), and Jewish scholars who don't believe in the resurrection but agree that "something happened" and the tomb really was empty on Easter Sunday morning. Filmed partly in the Holy Land, the cumulative force of the hour led toward faith in the Resurrection, not away from it. Click here to read short summaries from the various experts featured on the program. Biggest disappointment: Luke Timothy Johnson who went out of his way to pooh-pooh the importance of a physical resurrection, saying it reduces the Resurrection to a "resuscitation," which happens (he said) all the time. That's a nonsensical statement because "resurrection" and "resuscitation" are two totally different categories. If someone is resuscitated, they die later. If someone is resurrected, they never die again. It was all the more disappointing to hear him apparently come out in favor of a "spiritual" resurrection in light of his fine book on the Apostles' Creed. To be fair about it, Johnson appears to be saying that we shouldn't insist on a physical resurrection because it doesn't really matter, but he ends up sounding more like Spong than Spurgeon. The advocates of a "spiritual" resurrection don't really know what they believe in because a "spiritual" resurrection could be anything you want it to be. As Elizabeth Vargas points out in this interview, the New Testament accounts emphasize the physicality of the Resurrection.
I thought the whole hour was a faith-building experience. When all the viewpoints are fairly presented, you are left with this reality: The tomb really was empty on Easter Sunday morning, and the only thing that explains it is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
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