Twenty-fourth in a series
1 Corinthians 15:1-11

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

A few years ago, this article appeared in the Washington Post. It reads:

American schools are producing students with "startling gaps in knowledge" of history and literature, teaching them how to think without giving them anything to think about, the National Endowment for the Humanities charged Sunday.

The endowment said 68% of high school students questioned in a new survey could not place the Civil War within the correct half-century.

The survey of nearly 8,000 17-year-olds found that 43% could not place World War I in the correct half-century, 39% could not do the same for the writing of the U.S. Constitution and nearly a third placed the date of Columbus' discovery of the New World after 1750.

The students lack of knowledge about literature was equally disturbing, the NEH said, reporting that 84% could not identify Fyodor Dostoevsky as the author of "Crime and Punishment" and 67% could not say in what region of the country William Faulkner set his novels.

Nearly two-thirds could not identify Geoffrey Chaucer as author of "The Canterbury Tales," 60% could not name Walt Whitman as the American poet who wrote "Leaves of Grass" and most were unfamiliar with classics written by Dante, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Jane Austen.

These facts are all the more astonishing when you realize that 80% of these students were enrolled in an American history course at the same time when they took the multiple choice test.

Some educators blame the poor state of humanities education on several factors, including a curriculum that emphasizes skills over knowledge, a system of teacher training that stresses teaching methods over subject matter and text books that have become "an overcrowded flea market of disconnected facts." One observer stated, "Usually the culprit is 'process' — the belief that we can teach our children how to think without troubling them to learn anything worth thinking about."

It is amazing what we don't remember or what we never knew. These young people, and perhaps some of us, are U.S. citizens who live bereft of a conscious, factual database about our heritage. Most of us are quite well-educated people, who have either forgotten or have never known the basic facts about history and literature.

The same can be said about the religious and spiritual facts of life.

I.

Our basic thesis statement of today is that the most important event of all human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That's right. The greatest event in all history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for this event is the earthly culmination of God's atoning work on the cross.

The Apostle Paul, throughout the first fourteen chapters of 1 Corinthians, has dealt with many, many issues. Some are of only peripheral significance to the Christian faith. Now as he nears the conclusion of this letter, he reminds the Corinthians and us today of our heritage, writing, "Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you — unless you have come to believe in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).