Stories And Evidence – What Would You Do? Bible Journey (Luke 24)
One of my favorite Jesus-teachers recently said, “There are two kinds of Christians – those who believe in Jesus because of the Resurrection and those who believe in the Resurrection because of Jesus.” There are people whose faith in Jesus hinges on the historical enigma of the empty tomb (I know, several of my readers do not accept the idea of the empty tomb – I appreciate where you are coming from, but I believe that this moment in history is at least as well-documented as Caesar crossing the Rubicon or the trial of Socrates). Also, there are Christians who accept the resurrection as a fact because of their faith in Jesus. Reading Luke’s account of the empty tomb with those thoughts in the back of my head made me think of a shocking development in current events.
In November, computer hackers broke into the files of the UK’s Climate Research Unit and disseminated tons of emails detailing the falsification and fabrication of temperature records, the destruction of data that did not support the CRU’s conclusions, and blatant conspiring to deceive the public on the subject of Anthropogenic (human-caused) Global Warming / Climate Change (AGW/CC). [you can read my favorite report of the situation here]The CRU has confirmed that the emails are genuine, and the ground is seriously shaking under the pillars of science that have convinced world powers and economic leaders of the reality and urgency of AGW/CC. I have consistently said that my skepticism about AGW/CC has no bearing on my rock-solid understanding that my God created a good world and commissioned humanity to take care of it. Christians don’t need AGW/CC, whether it is real or invented, to motivate them to care for this world.
My thoughts ran in a different direction this time, though. After thinking about the “two kinds of Christians” statement, and the recent devastating blow to the credibility of AGW/CC, I wonder: how would my faith survive if proof as credible as these emails surfaced that completely undermined the historicity of the Resurrection? Would such evidence destroy Christianity? Would Christianity deserve to be destroyed if such evidence existed?
See, I find myself standing between two camps once again. There are four reasons why I believe in the Resurrection.
- I don’t believe the men and women who first told the story had anything to gain. There’s only one messianic movement (out of scores) in the history of Judaism between 100BC and 100AD where people continued to believe in the messiah-figure once he was killed by the authorities – and that is Christianity.
- The people most threatened by stories of a risen Jesus never published a credible counter-story, never produced the body, and the vast amount of extant documentation from Judaism and Palestine of the day undermines any conspiracy theory of document destruction.
- The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the best-documented events in ancient history. But I’m pretty much a post-modern at heart. I appreciate facts and arguments (I really do!), even though I hold to the axiom that “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And I have absolutely no desire to return to pre-modern dentistry, among other things. I appreciate so much of what Modernity and “The Enlightenment” generated for mankind.
But I think in terms of narrative and plot and theme and climax. And the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the most unimaginable, and yet utterly perfect climax to the story of God told in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus of Nazareth internalized the stories of the One True God returning to Jerusalem, and when he was tried, he made bold and brazen claims that could only be vindicated if, as the fulfillment of his prophetic ministry, he died to absorb the wrath of God against a rebellious nation and world, and that God raised him from the dead to confirm his total victory against the forces of corruption and evil in the universe. What an awesome story – and one that still hasn’t been told enough.
What do you think?