Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why Should We Believe Christ’s Resurrection (Evidences For Christ’s Resurrection)

            Easter is commercialized into eggs and bunny. Although the bunny and eggs are oft associated with pagan connotations such as Eastre (or Eostre), better evidences suggests the contrary. reports that German immigrants were the source of Easter bunny and the eggs were a depiction of Christ’s resurrection.1

            Significantly, if Christ did not resurrect, our faith is useless, says the Bible, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15: 13-14, NIV).

            How could we be reasonably sure that Christ rose from the dead?

Historical Basis Affirming Christ’s Resurrection

            Mike Licona, associate professor in theology at Houston Baptist University, offers reasons as to why historians consider Christ’s resurrection as a credible historical event. Historians consider confirmations by independent sources, unsympathetic sources and eyewitnesses as objective and reasonable evidences for Christ’s resurrection: 2

            Confirmation by Independent Sources: The gospels and Paul’s letters are independent of each other, yet they affirm Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The gospels and the Pauline letters were authored by different people from varied contexts.

            Since the gospels and the Pauline letters, being independent of each other, affirm Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, historians trust the authenticity of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Historians term this process of validating a historical account as the “Criterion of Multiple Attestation.”

            Confirmation by Unsympathetic Sources: Publius Cornelius Tacitus, historian of the Roman Empire, was not a friend of Christianity. In his work Annals (15.44), Tacitus referred to Christianity as an evil and a mischievous superstition. However, at the same time, he attested to Christ’s crucifixion by Pontius Pilate (crucifixion was an antecedent event to resurrection).

            When antagonistic sources confirm Christ’s crucifixion, historians trust that Christ was indeed crucified. While Christ’s disciples may have an innate bias to affirm the crucifixion, Tacitus, as the unsympathetic source, had no reason whatsoever to affirm Christ’s crucifixion. This process of validating a historical account is termed as the “Criterion of Unsympathetic Sources.”

            Confirmation by Eyewitnesses: Historians trust both the reports of eyewitnesses and reports written closer to the event described. This is termed as the “Criterion of Early Attestation.”

            Therefore, historians trust that Apostle Paul preserved an oral tradition about Christ’s resurrection that goes back to the early Christian church or the Jerusalem apostles, who were eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection. Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church narrates Christ’s resurrection from the perspective of the eyewitnesses and also as a written record of Christ’s resurrection closer to the time of Christ’s resurrection, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

Minimal-Facts Affirms Christ’s Resurrection

            Furthermore, Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, who specializes in the study of Resurrection-of-Jesus research, states five highly credible historical facts a.k.a. “Minimal Facts” that almost every historian accepts:

            “1) Jesus died due to crucifixion.

            2) His disciples had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.

            3) Their lives were transformed because of this conviction.

            4) As a result, they proclaimed this message very soon after Jesus’ death, actually within weeks…

            5) A man named Saul of Tarsus was converted to Jesus Christ by what he also concluded was a personal appearance of the risen Jesus to him.

            These are five tough facts that virtually everyone is going to grant as historical, especially the scholars who have studied this area.” 3

            Moreover, Habermas includes the conversion of Apostle James, brother of Christ Jesus and a skeptic, who became a follower of Christ after HE appeared to him. These historical facts are sufficient to conclude that Christ’s resurrection was factual.

Defeating Objections to Resurrection

            Christ’s Disciples Hallucinated: The detractors of Christianity may argue that Christ’s disciples hallucinated and that they did not see the real Jesus.

            Habermas offers reasonable refutations to defeat the hallucination hypothesis: 4

            1. Hallucinations do not occur to groups. On the contrary, the risen Christ appeared to groups of people (1 Corinthians 15: 5-7).

            2. Those that experienced the risen Jesus were different genders and different personalities – the hardhearted Peter, tender-hearted John, soft-hearted Marys. It is rather implausible for people that are so different (personality, gender, time and place of sighting the risen Jesus) to hallucinate the same risen Jesus. They would not have been in the proper frame of mind to hallucinate.

            3. Hallucinations do not change people, whereas the apostles were thoroughly changed when they saw the risen Jesus. These disciples were so changed that they were gave up their lives for Christ’s sake.

            4. The conversion of Apostle Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, also defeats the hallucination hypothesis. Paul was actively persecuting Christians. James was a skeptic. Neither of them would have longed to hallucinate the risen Jesus. So both these men would not have been in the proper frame of mind to hallucinate the risen Christ.

            Given these reasonable evidences, we could reasonably conclude that those who posited the hallucination hypothesis probably hallucinated this hypothesis.

            Jesus Did Not Die At The Cross (Swoon Theory):5 The Quran states that Jesus did not die on the cross. Other detractors of Christianity state that Jesus merely swooned or lost consciousness at the cross.

            Medical science strongly suggests that Jesus died of asphyxiation. The heart wound inflicted by the soldier upon the crucified Christ confirmed Christ’s death. The sucking chest condition (Piercing of the spear into Christ’s upper thoracic area would have prevented effective breathing and produce sucking sound from the wound. This would have certainly killed Christ) is an added affirmation for Christ’s death on the cross.

            But the supreme defeater to the objection that Christ did not die on the cross comes from the German liberal scholar, David Strauss.

            Strauss asserted that the swoon theory was self-contradictory. If swoon theory was accurate, then Jesus would have been alive. The disciples then would have no reason to preach the gospel, for there need be no forgiveness, no church, and no eternal hope in Christ.

            Finally, we can safely bury the swoon theory for we also have the affirmation of Christ’s crucifixion by non-Christian historians such as Thallus (52AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Josephus (93AD), Pliny the Younger (112AD), Cornelius Tacitus (116AD), and Phlegon (140AD).

            Jesus Was Buried Elsewhere: 6 Absence of authentic evidences placing Jesus’ body elsewhere and the earlier source that Mark used for his gospel narrative are sufficient for the historians to believe that Christ was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s family burial cave.


            Be assured that every objection against resurrection could be reasonably defended with the evidences already at hand.

            Habermas’ words constitute the most appropriate conclusion, “Now, if you’re sitting there wondering, “Look, I don’t know. I’m a Hindu. I’m a Buddhist. I’m an agnostic. I’m an atheist.” Sure, you can walk away and not believe in Jesus, but do you know what? I don’t think you can walk away and say there’s no data. I don’t think you can walk away and say that there are no facts. I really wonder if you want to throw out or to ignore these facts because we can get to each one of them independently and for multiple reasons.
            But do you know where all this is going? Paul says that it’s because of the resurrection that death has no sting. It’s because of the resurrection that the grave has no victory. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we have the precious opportunity for eternal life. But we need to say “I do” to Jesus. It’s all in whether we make that commitment…If you don’t say “I do” to Jesus, what do you have? You still haven’t trusted his teachings. “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” [1 Cor. 15:55] I leave you with the words of Jesus: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” [John 14:19]” 7


Websites cited were last accessed on 27th March 2016.



3, p54.

4 Ibid, p57-58.

5 Ibid, p65-66.

6 Ibid, p68-70.

7 Ibid, p87.

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