Myths of the Resurrection
- Sunday, April 10, 2011
This doesn't work either. If this theory were true, it must be the dumbest idea in history. It is hard to imagine the disciples saying, "Let's start an organization that will infuriate our Jewish brethren and irritate the Romans." They had just witnessed what happened to Jesus. Why would they want to take the same abuse for something that wasn't true?
Again, it would require the disciples—every one of them—to be liars. It also means these men were ready to die for a lie. It lacks a reasonable motivation, and the price would far outweigh the personal gains.
Men and women will die for the truth, but very few will willingly suffer for something they know to be a lie. Even if we can stretch our imaginations enough to believe several disciples would condescend to perpetrate such a fraud, it is impossible to believe all of them would participate.
This is the earliest of the Resurrection debunking theories. Matthew shows us its origins: "As they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money and told them, ‘Say this, "His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping." If this reaches the governor's ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.' So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day" (Matt. 28:11-15).
That contrived concept would spread worldwide and last through the centuries.
The Gullible Gentlemen of Galilee
A favorite way to attack the Resurrection is to attack the witnesses in general and the disciples specifically. One popular theory is that the disciples were the victims of mass hypnosis. So eager were they to believe that Jesus would rise as he said he would, they began—as a group—to "see" him.
A variation of this idea suggests that Jesus selected people who had highly suggestible personalities whose imaginations would lead them to see things, hear things, and touch things that were not there.
As with the previous theories, this one has problems. First, while it might be possible to trick a group of people once or twice, it would be difficult to do so repeatedly over a period of forty days.
The disciples not only saw Jesus, they touched him, ate with him, and listened to him. Some of these sightings involved groups like the women, the disciples, the five hundred, but others were one on one (Mary Magdalene, Peter, and James).
The appearances of Christ occur at different times in the day, in different locales (from Jerusalem to Galilee), and with a varying mix of people. One can imagine a mass hallucination, but a dozen is beyond the boundaries of credibility.
Two millennia after the event, contemporary Christians can state their belief in the resurrection and postresurrection appearances of Christ without bowing their heads in shame. No argument exists that has put the smallest dent in the armor of truth.
The Resurrection and appearances are reasonable—the result of reason. While there are those who wish to cast the believer as a gullible supporter of myths, the evidence shows otherwise. The ridiculous theories put forth to explain away the Resurrection are easily seen for what they are: desperate attempts to avoid the supernatural intervention of God.
The Resurrection is a historical fact replete with eyewitnesses. The fact that the church meets on Sunday is just one piece of evidence the early believers took the Resurrection literally.
There will always be critics. Detractors plagued Jesus during his ministry and the disciples in the early church and will continue to do so until Jesus returns.
The Resurrection requires an ability to believe in the supernatural work of God. For those who dismiss such things, no amount of evidence or logic will serve as proof.
While we should show patience with those who have doubts—remember, the Resurrection is a difficult concept—we need not be embarrassed by the biblical account.
Excerpted from 40 Days: Encountering Jesus Between the Resurrection and Ascension, by Alton Gansky. B & H Publishing Group, 2006. Used with permission.
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