Sunday, March 23, 2008

Smoke & Mirrors?

Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there's no resurrection, there's no living Christ. And face it—if there's no resurrection for Christ, everything we've told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you've staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there's no resurrection.

If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries...

If there's no chance of resurrection for a corpse, if God's power stops at the cemetery gates, why do we keep doing things that suggest he's going to clean the place out someday, pulling everyone up on their feet alive?

And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn't be the end of me? Not on your life! It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there's no resurrection, "We eat, we drink, the next day we die," and that's all there is to it. But don't fool yourselves. Don't let yourselves be poisoned by this anti-resurrection loose talk. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, 29-33 (The Message)

It's Easter Sunday... and resurrection is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Paul said it best - if this is all a con job, the whole thing is as stable (and as useful) as a house of cards.

OTOH... if it's real - yowsa. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Maybe you're reading this & have some real doubts about the veracity of the resurrection: I'd recommend 3 books for you to study/read:


Steven Carr said...

Always good to see Christians changing the Bible because it does not say what they want it to say.

Paul never talks about the resurrection of a corpse.

And it was the converts to Jesus-worship who scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse, while still believing Jesus was alive.

Clearly they had never been converted by tales of a corpse rising , or else they would have packed it all in they had ceased to believe whatever story had converted them.

I have a debate on the resurrection at Resurrection Debate

The Christians are getting hammered....

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

And Happy Easter to you, Steven!

Exactly what is a resurrection, asks the ex-D&D player, if it doesn't involve a corpse?

Color me confused.

Unknown said...

Let me suggest another book: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Athiest by Geisler & Turek.

I liked "The Case for Christ" by Sobel (as wells as "The Case for Faith"), but I am curious why you also recommend "The Case for the Real Jesus." What does it add, if anything? What additionally would I get from that one?


Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

"The Case for the Real Jesus" deals with more recent attacks on the resurrection, including Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus".

On a more critical note, I think Strobel's writing has improved with each book in this series - it's written much tighter & with more "edge".

Anonymous said...

As my pastor puts it, there's a difference between "resurrection" and "resuscitation". The second is the explicit coming back to life of something that was dead. The first is ... something else. We may not know what it is, because we weren't there (and all we have is the word of the Gospel writers, who likely weren't there either).

I believe in the Resurrection. I remain in the dark about a resuscitation, for Jesus or myself.

Anonymous said...

Great book recommendations, Mark. I'm finding that if someone is absolutely committed to naturalism, the historical evidence is irrelevant. A meaningless resurrection (e.g., a resurrection without a corpse) sounds just groovy to the post-modern mind. However, it could certainly not have fueled the explosion of the early church, nor sustained it through the intense persecution it endured.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Naturalism has always seemed like a great faith leap to me... essentially, you're saying that the system is closed when we haven't reached the edges of the system.

At what point will we know everything there is to know about "outer space" - or "inner space" (nod to Monsanto & the weirdest ride ever to grace Disneyland) - or the workings of the human body? Until we reach those points, there is no definitive way to say that they are a closed system...

...without taking a big, honkin' leap of faith.

Well said, otscotty. (BTW, dude, you haven't updated your blog in a long time.) :-)

ironcates said...

For those that listen to podcasts, there is a great defense of the resurrection here:

Resurrection: Fact or Fiction by William Lane Craig the talk was at Fresno State in 2004.