Below is the text of a previously shared Facebook Post on Good Friday 2017 based on material from Dr. William Lane Craig’s On Guard.
Interestingly enough, I later presented essentially this same case in the context of a seminary classroom in which not everyone in the room — blackboard to the door — affirmed the bodily Resurrection of Christ (nor thought it consequential either way).
In any case, the Resurrection of Christ is the crux of Christianity (pun intended). That is, if Christ has not been raised our faith is futile (1 Cor 15:14, 17).
People can argue about the Bible all day and night, but I believe such discussions often just end up on tangential rabbit trails. Not to mention, many people have a tendency of taking Bible “verses” out of context.
To avoid discussions that almost inevitably devolve into disagreements about biblical interpretation, it is perhaps wiser to stick to the agreed-upon “Minimal Facts”. Skip to the video here.
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?
Atheist, skeptic, Jewish, and Christian scholars, based on historical and archaeological evidence, virtually all agree on several facts:
- 1) Jesus was crucified
- 2) Jesus’ disciples were convinced that He rose from the dead and appeared to them — in the flesh
- 3) Paul, a persecutor of the early Christian church, became a Christian — and one of the most influential Christian writers of all time)
- 4) James, Jesus’ unbelieving half-brother, also became a Christian and a leader of the early church
- 5) The tomb was empty.
Considering the historical evidence, and using criteria historians typically use for explaining evidence, the “Resurrection Hypothesis” has far more explanatory power and scope, plausibility, less contrivance, and less disconfirming data than any other theory that attempts to explain the agreed upon facts.
The primary reason to reject this explanation is to presuppose atheism (no god(s)), naturalism (nothing exists outside of nature), [and/or] materialism (nothing immaterial — not made of matter — exists). Such presuppositions cannot be proven and there is strong scientific, philosophical, etc. evidence for theism (belief in God [i.e., The Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuning Argument, the Moral Argument, etc.). And, a theistic worldview is compatible with miracles.
In sum, considering the historical evidence, believing that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day is an inference to the best explanation.