Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Defense of Christ's Resurrection

Hope you all enjoyed your Easter. As it's Easter Sunday, I felt it was warranted to at least write a post that tackles the strawman arguments against Christ's resurrection. The further we get from his death, the more theories (devoid of evidence) seem to creep in and take hold in our secular society. Unfortunately, the Bible isn't a living, breathing document, so we need to do our best to defend the evidence as presented therein.

I was raised as a lazy Roman Catholic who attended church on major holidays, and went through the the major sacrements. My mother was also a lazy Catholic, my father an atheist who was bitter about losing friends in the Vietnam War, so obviously it was God's fault. Ok that's my opinion (in case he finds out I just let the cat out of the bag). Either way, my spiritual journey was something that I had to spearhead, since no one was going to going to lead this adventure for me. Any normal teenager will do a soul-searching in which they will question their religious upbringing and either come away with a stronger faith or devoid of faith, in which they will reject the church/temple/mosque doctrine they were taught and become a black-fingernail painting atheist/agnostic. I was no different. However, in each of my 'soul-searchings', I specifically asked myself the questions about Jesus and his resurrection that most skeptics ask - and each time I came back with the same answer - this guy did the unthinkable and actually rose from the dead! And He died on a cross for my sins! What a class act! And hear I am, complaining about my first-world problems like a worthless piece of shit. You probably do the same! So here's the deal - to question is completely normal. Don't feel like you are some heathen. As Jesus says in John 20:29 - “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We weren't alive then, so don't kick yourself for having your doubts. Just do your research with an open mind and the truth will set you free! Here's a list of common arguments against Christ's resurrection, and a correspondingly common sense refute of them so you can sleep easier tonight. Enjoy!

Argument One: "Jesus Didn't Die on the Cross, He Just Faked It"
I love this one. Overwhelming evidence in four gospels, but skeptics creep in and start to paint a picture of Jesus as a faker. The guy was whipped, scourged, beaten to a bloody pulp and then forced to carry a cross, at which point He was then crucified on it and still managed to live after pretending to die and then somehow removed a boulder from His own tomb, crawl out and, Monty Python-style exclaim, "I'm not dead yet." Yeah, great way to impress your disciples. The Son of God, one foot in the grave, acting like he barely survived an Evil Knievel stunt. Lee Strobel, a lawyer and former atheist, has written numerous best-sellers building the case for God, Jesus, Faith, and more. He interviewed  Dr. Alexander Metherell, a physician who extensively studied the historical, archaeological, and medical data concerning the death of Jesus of Nazareth. In the book, he listed diagnosis after diagnosis of ailments that Jesus was suffering from, and by the time he was put on the cross he was in critical condition. In fact, the word 'excruciating' (out of the cross') was coined as a result of His death. There's no way he could have survived, and I urge you to read the book The Case for Christ to deepen your understanding. These books blew away the misconceptions and screwy theories that seem to pop up around Easter.

Argument Two: "The Disciples Took His Dead Body"
The Roman centurions were pretty good at their jobs. Their goal was to inflict pain on criminals during scourgings, and were accountable for the incarceration of criminals and keeping watch over the jails. The theory that His 12 wussy Disciples (most of which ran and hid after Judas betrayed Him) suddenly grew a set and hatched a scheme to break into a tomb in front of armed guards is implausible. They would have had the smack laid down on them and retreated into the shadows to lick their wounds. Plus, the centurions would have been faced with death if Jesus was spirited away by the Disciples. It's bad enough that Jewish tradition forbade women from making claims in the absence of a man, and low and behold Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James were the first ones at the grave (Islamiscists heard of this tradition and were like, 'Jackpot!'). Matthew 28 captures the infamous scene where the tomb is found empty and women are greeted by an angel saying "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." So why would the Gospels knowingly back up women finding the empty tomb when they knew it would lead to outrage? Why would this stolen body theory gain traction? What would they do with the body? Why wouldn't it turn up somewhere? How would they organize the next steps forward when some of them doubted whether to continue Christ's ministry? Also, the grave clothes were left behind (see: newly re-dated Shroud of Turin that links it to 1st century AD Middle East locale) - so who steals a naked bloody/sweaty body and leaves the garments behind? Gotta think before you launch a bogus theory - remember, the onus is on the doubters to prove Christ's faked resurrection.

Argument Three: "He was never crucified - in fact, he married Mary Magdalene, traveled to France and lived happily ever after with his wife and kids."
To all of you Da Vinci Code fans (myself one of them), hate to burst your bubble. There is no evidence from the same period that collected the source documents for the New Testament that the two were married. All of the new age propaganda that has been shoved down our throats is at least 150 years after the fact, as opposed to the basic gospels, compiled within a generation of Christ's death. The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Judas, etc all materialized a few generations later, thus their exclusion from the Bible. When the final content was being agreed, the criteria called for the removal of any inconsistent gospels that were not corroborated by at least another source. What's good for a courtroom is good for the Bible. No conspiracy theories necessary. So naturally, Hollywood and the mainstream media get hold of a book threatening to blow the lid off of the Jesus story and run with it. Dan Brown is a great and talented author, but he's a cafeteria Christian with a wild imagination. Also, the popular book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln launched this thesis on Christ marrying and escaping to France to start the Merovingian bloodline. These authors based their interpretations on 1) a book written in another language that they didn't even speak let alone accurately translate and 2) the source book that they built their theory on was a known forgery to numerous historians in France. But why would that matter? Jesus could have had kids!!!! Think of the money they could make!!!!! Some say the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, and Freemasons hold the eternal secrets of what really happened with Jesus, but no one who has left those orders seems to spill the beans about the inner secrets. So it's all just speculation. Ask yourself - if you don't question Socrates' history, Plato's history, Alexander the Great's history, or Julius Caeser's history, which are all based on significantly LESS documentation, why do you then doubt the divinity of Jesus?

Other items to consider:
1) Why would the Disciples die for a lie? Did you know that 11 of the 12 Apostles died a horrid death because they believed in Jesus' resurrection? If I hung out with someone and doubted their divinity, I would grab the nearest microphone and expose them as a fraud. These guys were beheaded, crucified upside down, tortured, hung, bludgeoned and more. Why would you do that if you weren't a convinced follower?
2) Jesus was seen six times after his resurrection. He approached Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Paul (formerly Saul) was the Bill Maher/Richard Dawkins of Jesus-haters in his day. He had a religious experience and did a complete 180. Jesus also appeared to his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, his disciples, and to a party of 400 before his final ascension, to name a few. Wouldn't someone step in and throw a flag on the play if this was not true? Why didn't they?
3) If the accounts of the converted aren't enough, then look to the secular historians of the day. 1st century secular scholar Josephus wrote extensively of the time Jesus lived. Eighty years later, Pliny the Younger and Tacitus chronicled this Jesus character and the supposed miraculous events surrounding His life, death and resurrection. Even the Talmud makes vague references to Jesus being put to death for sorcery. Wouldn't these non-Christians expose the Jesus myth to advance their own causes? They merely reported what was said at the time in a neutral manner. This then leaves us with the actual text of the Bible to make an informed opinion.
4) Jesus fulfilled a ton of Old Testament prophecies. Some say no less than one hundred. Others, like the link below, list 351 signs fulfilled:

This is amazing stuff. All the way down to the casting of lots for his clothes, the fact that he didn't break a bone at His crucifixion, riding a donkey into Jerusalem, dying for our sins, etc. Something was special about this guy. The more you read about Him, the closer you get to Him. Keep that in mind as you deal with the emerging secular world that we now live in. Mentioning Jesus pisses people off, because he was grounded in moral principles and did supernatural things. I guess that's not cool in 2013. Oh by the way - you can't call yourself a Christian if you don't believe he's going to return at some point in human history. So laugh all you want about end of the world/tribulation/armageddon soothsayers. We are fast approaching the Great Tribulation called for in the Book of Revelation. Might be nice to get your ducks in a row spiritually before the shit hits the fan.

God bless and have a great week!

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