A Minimal Facts Argument for the Resurrection
Some of the strongest evidence we have seen for the resurrection is the willingness of the original disciples and the apostle Paul to die for their testimony that Jesus rose from the dead. We also have the non-Christian writings that support the resurrection. Now we will review a consensus of 1,400 scholars.
The minimal facts approach to the resurrection was originated by biblical scholar Gary Habermas (garyhabermas.com). It is based on his research of 1,400 in-depth scholarly writings regarding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Habermas relies only on those facts supported by multiple sources and accepted by the vast majority of scholars. The facts below, except number four, are accepted by 95 to 100 percent of the 1,400 scholars. Number four is accepted by about 75 percent:
1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. His death caused the disciples to despair and to lose hope.
4. The tomb where he had been buried was found empty.
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
6. The disciples were changed from doubters to bold witnesses.
7. The resurrection was the central message.
8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
9. The Church was born and grew.
10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
11. James converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a known skeptic).
12. Paul converted to the faith (he was an enemy and skeptic).
Minimal facts argument by Biblical Scholar and author Gary Habermas. www.garyhabermas.com
The fact that such a large percentage of scholars accepts these twelve points is quite compelling. One thing is certain—Jesus really existed. When it comes to number four, the empty tomb, there is some disagreement about why it was empty and if Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead. As you review the following six possibilities offered through the years, consider which one you believe offers the best explanation. Keep in mind that the facts indicate God exists, therefore miracles cannot be ruled out.
1. Hallucination Theory
This theory claims the witnesses did not see a resurrected Jesus, they saw a hallucination. The problem with this theory is that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people, in different locations and circumstances (eating, walking, talking) for forty days. Hallucinations do not repeatedly happen to different groups of people for extended periods. The resurrected Jesus even told Thomas to touch him.
Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27, emphasis added).
Not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead (Acts 10:41, emphasis added).
And He (Jesus) said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:28-39, emphasis added).
2. The Witness Went to the Wrong Tomb Theory
This theory claims that instead of going to the tomb Jesus was buried in, the witnesses went to the wrong tomb. If this was true, the Romans who had posted guards at the actual tomb could have produced the body to stop Christianity cold, but they never even suggested the possibility. If you saw a loved one’s body placed in a tomb, do you think you would forget the location three days later?
3. Swoon or Apparent Death Theory
This theory says the whipping, beating, and crucifixion of Jesus did not kill Him and not even his professional executioners realized it. Then His disciples mistook a severally beaten Jesus, who would have been in desperate need of a doctor, for the risen Christ. Common sense and this testimony from medical experts disagree.
“Clearly the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross is at odds with modern medical knowledge.” William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Assoc., p. 255.
4. Someone Else Was Crucified in Place of Jesus
This is what Islam claims, but there is no evidence to support it. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was standing at the foot of the cross with John. Peter saw Him arrested and taken before Pilate, beaten, and led off to be crucified. The Bible records others who knew him and saw what was happening, including Nicodemus, who placed his body in the tomb. Don’t you think someone would have said, “They killed the wrong guy?”
5. The Disciples Stole the Body
This is the only explanation the Bible says the Jewish leaders offered for the empty tomb, and in doing so, they admitted the tomb was empty. But think about it—if the disciples stole the body, we are right back to the premise that they snuck by the posted Roman guards, rolled back the two-ton stone without the guards noticing, and made the entire resurrection story up to get themselves martyred. If this were the case, they died for what they knew was a lie.
6. Jesus Really Rose From the Dead
Numerous scholars believe this offers the best explanation. The main reason someone might reject this option is their prior rejection of miracles. But since the facts indicate God exists, miracles like the resurrection are possible.
“You may be surprised to learn that the majority of New Testament critics investigating the gospels in this way accept the central facts undergirding the resurrection of Jesus. I want to emphasize that I am not talking about evangelical or conservative scholars only, but about the broad spectrum of New Testament critics who teach at secular universities and non-evangelical seminaries. Amazing as it may seem, most of them have come to regard as historical the basic facts which support the resurrection of Jesus”. Christian Philosopher and Theologian Dr. William Lane Craig, www.reasonablefaith.org
“I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” Sir Lionel Luckhoo, won 245 murder acquittals in a row, most successful lawyer in the world, according to The Guinness book of World Records. God's Outrageous Claims, Lee Strobel.
“Only Jesus predicted he would be resurrected after his death, and only his followers rest their faith on such an event. Jesus' death on the cross is unique not only in its manner but also in its alleged redemptive meaning. Neither Zoroaster, Buddha, Socrates nor Muhammad claimed his death would save men from their sins.” Edwin M. Yamauchi, Professor Emeritus of History, Miami University, www.irr.org/yamauchi.html
This article was taken from "Gravity True For You But Not For Me - Evidence for Gods Existence and Identity." A free ebook, Gravity is currently running close to 5 stars with over 200 reviews online. It is the perfect book to equip the believer and help the skeptic. Those who study will tell you that the objective evidence reveals how little faith it takes to believe, while giving you great faith at the same time.
Learn much more about the evidence for God's existence and identity in this free book here:www.God-Evidence-Truth.com. Read it yourself and send the free ebook to family and friends.
Read more studies:
More: NEW COVENANT ARTICLE LINKS