Did Jesus Rise from the Dead

The bedrock of Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in history. Once a sceptic in regards to the resurrection, the Apostle Paul infamously wrote after his conversion, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. … and we are of all people to be the most pitied” (1 Cor 15:17, 19). It could not be stated more bluntly. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christianity is false. There is no God-man; no forgiveness of sins; no eternal life. So why on earth would modern day Christians put their faith in an unbelievable event that defies scientific explanation? Who would be so foolish to trust the word of uneducated ancients from a backwater province of the Roman Empire who lived in a culture where religious superstition reigned supreme?

Unbeknownst to many, the fascinating uniqueness of Christianity amongst the world’s religions is that its central miracle, the very bedrock of belief, is open to historical investigation. The is a mountain of historical evidence through which to sift, and a host of explanatory hypotheses to weigh in search of which explanation best fits the facts. An entire field of historical studies exists across the spectrum of religious belief that deals with the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.

Of the thousands of publications in this field, two scholars stand out in a methodology they developed to argue that the resurrection happened. In a field dominated by the criteria of historical scepticism, Gary Habermas and Michael Licona have developed an approach that first highlights the “minimal facts” of the historical case, before demonstrating why the hypothesis that “God raised Jesus from the dead” best explains the known facts. What are the facts?

  1. Jesus of Nazareth died by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman guard.
  2. Days later, the disciples had experiences that they genuinely believed were post-resurrection appearances of Jesus of Nazareth.
  3. Years later, Saul of Tarsus was converted through an experience that he genuinely believed was a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus of Nazareth.

Last year I partook in a debate with someone I now consider a friend on just this topic. If you want to check out a podcast of our opening arguments, click the link below…

Debate: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

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