Summary: Assuming there is a God who can bring a universe into existence anytime he wants, here are ten reasons to believe that resurrection from the dead is the true, rational view of things.
Ten Reasons to Believe in Resurrection
“That’s just impossible! Since it flies in the face of everything we know, you’d have to be an idiot to believe in the resurrection.”
I hear this sort of thing all the time, and it’s often spoken as though it’s the very essence of bear-trap logic. The only sensible response I can think of is something like this: “You’re right, you’d have to be an idiot to believe in the resurrection or any of miracles of the Bible, but only if the God of the Bible doesn’t exist. But if he does exist, then you’d have to be an idiot to think that this God couldn’t do what the Bible says he did.”
So the real problem of the skeptic is not so much the miraculous events at all, but God’s existence. Once that’s settled, the rest is pretty easy. But this article isn’t about whether or not God exists; it’s about the likelihood that resurrection is the natural outcome of his plan for history.
If this were an argument for God’s existence, I would just point out that the universe is hard to account for without a Creator. Without a clockmaker, how did the clock get here? The remaining three alternatives to creation don’t have much to commend them: (1) The universe had no beginning; it was always here; (2) it just somehow popped into existence by itself; or (3) it’s not really there; it’s only an illusion.
But that’s for another day.
Now assuming there is a God who can bring a universe into existence anytime he wants, here are ten reasons to believe that resurrection from the dead is the true, rational view of things. Many of the best intellects in history have looked into the matter and came to accept the clear testimony of Scripture that it’s true, and that it’s consistent with what we can know about the world.
So why people should believe in resurrection:
1) The New Testament Claims It
The New Testament claims that Jesus arose from the dead on Easter morning and that one day his followers will too. Unless you’ve looked into it carefully, this might strike you initially as a fairly lightweight validation of the resurrection hope. Just claiming something doesn’t make it true, and holy books claim all kinds of things that are hard or impossible to believe.
Of course, the critically thinking person (as we all should be) has every right to suspect any such claim, religious or not. But if anyone takes the time and energy to examine all the evidence, the fact emerges that, in many ways, the New Testament has already been demonstrated to be head and shoulders above all the other Greek and Latin documents ever to come out of the ancient world.
The New Testament has been subjected to the hottest fires of criticism ever devised by the human mind. It’s history and the landslide of manuscript evidence has been filtered, sifted, researched, debated too many times to count, and by the best minds—for generations!
I refer you to the mountains of information already compiled in this area, not simply by believers, but by world-class historians, archeologists, paleontologists, and text critics, some who began their investigations with the intent of debunking the entire foundation of the Christian faith, but as a result were driven to accept it. A short list of works include:
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by classic scholar F. F. Bruce; Can We Trust the New Testament? by world renowned skeptic J. A. T. Robinson; Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison; Oxford scholar N. T. Wright’s massive work, The Resurrection of the Son of God; The Case for Resurrection, by Lee Strobel. Also consider the work of Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne who transposed the documentary evidence of the resurrection into current probability theory, concluding that there is a 97% probability that it actually happened.
So if the New Testament claims that this or that happened, it has the proven credentials to be given the benefit of the doubt.
And, by the way, if you’re still struggling with the existence of God, try looking at There is A God, by the twentieth century’s most famous atheistic philosopher Antony Flew. In his latter years, he shocked everyone by changing his mind, and even suggested that we should seriously consider the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
2) The Early Church Didn’t Debate It
Strangely, even though every aspect of the Christian faith was debated and squabbled over within the first century Christian community, the resurrection of Jesus was not. It was never the conclusion of any argument among the apostles and earliest eyewitnesses, but rather the premise of all other arguments. If a topic under debate had any connection with the resurrection, the writers simply resolved the issue by reminding all contenders that Jesus arose from the dead. That ended the debate simply because the event was the one established, irrefutable fact the church didn’t doubt.