The Resurrection: A Crucial Topic in Christianity
written by: Spencer White
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV
A lynch-pin is a make-or-break part of a plan. A lynch-pin of a good study plan is to find a way to study without distractions. There have been many lynch-pins throughout history. One is the treaty America made with France during the French Revolution. The rest of the world would not have taken the rebels seriously without a major nation allying to fight with them. This also gave America a navy—a useful tool in the fight with the then greatest naval power in the world. Charles Darwin said of his theory of evolution,“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, [his] theory would absolutely break down.”[i] The lynch-pin of his theory is that interdependent systems or, irreducibly complex systems, do not exist. Otherwise, the entire theory is disproved.
World religions also have their own lynch-pins. In Islam, it is the confession that “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” If this statement is false, then the entire religion is false. In the New Age system, it is the belief in the inherent perfectibility of mankind. In Christianity, it is (to quote Paul) “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Paul writes that this is “of first importance.” This is the lynch-pin of the Christian faith, causing everything to rely on these facts: 1. Christ died for our sins and 2. He rose from the dead.
In fact, this verse is paraphrased in the middle part of the oldest creed of Christianity: The Apostles’ Creed, which says,
“[Jesus] was crucified, died, and was buried
He descended into Hell
And on the third day, rose again from the dead.”
If Christ had not died for our sins, then we would have no forgiveness of sins, and the power of Sin would not have been broken. Had Christ not risen from the dead, our sins would be forgiven, but there would be no hope of the resurrection.
How do we know, however, that the resurrection is true today? Well, I’m sorry to say this, but we cannot scientifically prove without a doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. It just is not possible. Too much time has passed between now and c. 33 A.D. Also, scientifically proving that Jesus rose would actually have to rely on the lack of evidence—a body—and an idea cannot be scientifically proven based on lack of evidence.
So, should we all stop being Christians because of what we cannot prove scientifically today? No, of course not. Events may not be able to be proved scientifically (by direct or indirect observation), but they can be proved historically. Jesus’ followers ran away, hid, or even denied knowing him after he was captured. But then, they all turned around within a few months and began evangelizing. What causes men to behave like that against immense persecution? Only the Truth. Luke writes in his letter to Theophilus, otherwise known as the Gospel of Luke, that he interviewed “eyewitnesses.” He implies that all the characters in the story are real people and, if Theophilus wanted to, he could have interviewed them also. This is not the assertion of a liar.
Paul also writes in Corinthians that Jesus appeared to at least 513 people, again implying that the readers could talk to those who were still alive. Finally, all of the Apostles died either martyrs’ deaths or in exile. If they were lying for personal gain, they would have denied the faith to save themselves. It is highly unlikely that all twelve of them would have endured grievous persecution and death for a lie.
The witness argument has always been, for me, the most convincing argument for the resurrection of Jesus. He must have risen from the dead—plain reasoning of the accounts demands it. The resurrection of Jesus forces skeptics to give an explanation for it. It assures believers that their faith is true. While no argument will stop every question concerning this topic, the argument from witnesses comes pretty close.