The Resurrection is "Of First Importance"
- Monday, March 25, 2013
What also makes this point interesting is that some major world religions claim their founder’s revelations were received in isolation. For example, consider the Buddha’s experience under the Bodhi tree and Mohammed’s revelations from Gabriel. In contrast to those private experiences, the proclamation of the apostles was about a public event – the eye-witnessed crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
2. The manuscript evidence
Decades passed between the events these apostles witnessed and the writing of the gospels. Many scholars suggest that the gospels were composed between AD 70 and AD 95, over forty years after the events they recorded. Likewise, some Bible scholars suggest the gospels cannot be taken as historical because of this passage of time. When my senior students ask me about this, I ask them about their own senior history projects. In these projects, the students interview World War Two survivors. I remind students that their history projects feature the eyewitness accounts of events now almost seventy years past. If their interviews contain believable historical facts, then why not allow the same for the gospels, which were composed much closer to their recorded events. Admittedly, we don’t have the original copies. However, we do have copies of copies that we can compare (See F.F. Bruce. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?). And we have thousands more copies of these documents to test and compare than we have of ancient classics such as Homer’s Illiad or Plato’s Republic. Those who critique the manuscript evidence for the New Testament then must also condemn much of our knowledge about the ancient world.
3. Jesus was not just a good teacher
McDowell’s book first introduced me to C.S. Lewis' famous “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” argument. The argument was helpful because it challenged the option that Jesus was only a good moral teacher, and not really divine. In summary: If I claim to be God, then you can’t simply call me a “good moral teacher.” Such a claim means either (a) I am knowingly deceiving you, which would make me an almost demonic liar, (b) I don’t know that I am lying, which would mean I was a lunatic, or (c) I really am God, making me The Lord.
4. Life change
McDowell also appealed to the life change he experienced when he became a Christ-follower. I had seen similar changes in the lives of both my friends and myself, so there had to be something to all this Bible stuff.
Once I became convinced that Jesus' resurrection was a historical reality, a lot of my other questions about Christianity became less of a stumbling block. I often tell my students that because I believe the resurrection happened, the other stuff about the Bible that I don't understand does not bother me as much as it once did. To put it mildly: people aren't supposed to come back from the dead. If that actually happened to someone, it changes everything. The world is a different place.
There is some personal history behind my amazement at a dead man coming back to life. My grandfather died when I was about seven. Because I was so young, there was much of the experience I did not understand, and I was not especially emotional about the loss until one particular moment. At the end of the graveside service, as the pastor was shaking hands with our family, I looked over and noticed the hole in the ground that was about to receive my grandfather’s casket. At that moment, I had an overwhelming sense of loss. I realized my grandfather was going into that hole and he was not coming out. The emotions of that experience intensify my belief that if someone does come back from the dead, it changes everything.
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- All That Matters vs. All I Live For - Crosswalk the Devotional - March 25, 2013
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