If you were able to go back in a time machine and witness the tomb of Christ only to find that Christ did not raise from the grave, what would that do to your Christian faith?

Fill out the poll on the right in addition to your answer here.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    139 replies to "Quick Question for You"

    • EricW

      The point is that Mormons, intelligent Mormons, hold to their faith because of the burning of the bosom and perhaps also because they would say, “how can you explain the rise of Mormonism” (the difficult journey to Utah, deaths along the way, etc). without saying its from God?

      I suppose Muslims would say the same thing about the spread of Islam and how it’s conquered Christian countries.

    • C Michael Patton

      While I understand how one might compare the spread of Islam and Mormonism to the spread of Christianity, there is a gulf of difference between them, both historically and theologically, which make the type of comparisons that some are trying to make misleading.

      1. The type of claims. What are the essential claims of both? They both have to do with the subjective experience of their founders. It could only be comparable if Jesus Christ came and said personally that he was God because he had such and such experience and that we should believe him even if we have no way to validate his experience. But Christianity is built upon many historical markers, the most important of which is Christ’s resurrection. We don’t believe that Christ rose from the grave because he said he did even though no one witnessed this. But because of the testimony of many others and the impact the testimony itself had on history.

      2. Implications. The implications of this historical event are incredible for Christians. If Christ did raise from the gave, his testimony is true and he is Lord. This is much different than one person’s (Mohammad or Joseph Smith’s) testimony that what they saw indeed happened as it does not have the same implications and could be written off very easily.

    • Mike Beidler

      I think a point that some may be missing is this: The bio-physical resurrection of Jesus was a “sign” of a greater spiritual reality, i.e., the literal and historical resurrection of Jesus’ spirit from Sheol/Hades. The reanimation of Jesus’ bio-physical body was designed to provide definitive proof of this event, which took place in the spiritual, non-physical realm, and presented to the disciples so that there would be no doubt as to the true state of their Messiah’s spirit. It would also bolster their faith and leave no room for the idea that it was all “in their heads,” so to speak.

      Read Romans 6:5-11 very, very carefully. The death which is/has/will be conquered by Christians is not physical death. That’s simply a fact of life, and it always has been. What we have defeated/will defeat/are defeating is spiritual death, i.e., eternal separation from God. We have all been crucified with Christ, we have all been buried with Christ, we have all been raised to new life with Christ. Yet physical death still follows us, each and every one.

      I could care less if my bio-physical body were never reanimated. I really don’t have an attachment to it. I’m much more looking forward to my bio-spiritual body, described in 1 Corinthians 15. What is sown is not what is raised.

      That being said, if the main enemy to be conquered is not physical death, but spiritual death, then Jesus’ bio-physical body is not the important thing. It’s the resurrection of his spirit. If his spirit were truly raised from Sheol/Hades, without the flesh being reanimated, Jesus has still truly conquered something greater than physical death.

      Again, when Paul speaks of our faith being in vain if Jesus truly has not been raised, I don’t believe that the physicality of the event is what Paul is concerned about. In fact, I don’t see mention of Jesus’ bio-physical body at all in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, although I can see how easily that is assumed. What really concerns us is whether Jesus defeated spiritual death, and if in fact it did not occur as promised, then we are fools and still dead (spiritually, not physically!) in our sins.

      To paraphrase Jesus (and maybe take it out of context a bit), it is not the resurrection of Jesus’ flesh that gives life, but rather the resurrection of Jesus’ spirit (cf. John 6:63).

    • cherylu

      Mike Beidler,

      I believe that I Cor 15 is speaking of physical death and spiritual death both. You say you don’t see physical death spoken of at all in verses 12-19. However, that discussion is based on the first 11 verses of the same chapter where the resurrection that was spoken of was certainly a physical one since it speaks of all of the people that saw Jesus. And from the Gospels we know that Jesus had a body. He made that very plain. The point is, that if He hadn’t conquered death, He wouldn’t of been raised. And neither would we. We need both what was done on the cross and in the resurrection to complete our salvation. Death came through Adam, resurrection (spiritual and physical), through Jesus.

      The body that is raised is not the same. It is changed, transformed. But it is still raised.

    • Greg

      #John1453, Re #49,

      I was surprised to hear you say this. Unless you’re trying to play the devil’s advocate, this position is impossible in light of scripture no matter how you try to slice it. There really isn’t a way to get around the New Testament author’s statements regarding the risen Christ. The only way to do it is by denying any truth to their statements.

      Matthew 28:7 – Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you. (Risen past tense)

      Mark 9:9 – And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (They told already, therefore the Son of Man has risen from the dead.)

      Mark 16:6 – And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (He has risen, what more can be said?)

      Luke 24:3-7 – but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. (Three days after his crucifixion an angel is saying he rose on the third day. No room for a non-literal interpretation)

      Luke 24:36-39 – As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he 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. (With Jesus standing in front of them saying he isn’t a ghost, I think I can say with certainty that Luke thought of Jesus as bodily risen from the grave, past tense.)

      1 Corinthians 15:14-17 – And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (Paul speaks in the past tense too.)

      Paul says it very plainly. I don’t see anything referring to a future risen Christ, only one who has been risen already and will come a second time. Peter’s speeches in Acts contains numerous references to God having raised Jesus too.

      There just isn’t any room for reinterpretations.

    • Joshua Allen


      In I Cor 15, Paul says that Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are all part of the Gospel that He preached to them and that will save them if they hold fast to that belief. Those verses sound to me like belief in the resurrection is very necessary right from the start of a person’s faith in Him.

      Yes, I agree. Like you, I read Paul to be saying that someone would be crazy to claim to be a Christian but not believe unequivocally in the resurrection. That’s why I feel the original question makes no sense. It’s like saying “First, imagine that you’re not a Christian. Now, imagine that you encounter some evidence that appears to disprove Christianity. Would you still be a Christian after that?” By demanding that the person imagine that he or she isn’t a Christian from the start, the rest of the exercise becomes redundant. The resurrection and Christianity are inseparable — that’s what Paul is saying.

      On the other hand, I don’t think that belief if the resurrection is a doorway to Christianity for individuals. Nobody becomes Christian by first becoming convinced of the plausibility or likelihood of the resurrection. Can you think of anyone who has *ever* said, “Now that I’ve become convinced that bodily resurrection is possible, and that the man named Jesus of Nazareth did, probably, raise from the dead; it clears my last remaining objections, and I am prepared to accept the Godship of Jesus”?

      That isn’t how Peter or Paul were converted, and isn’t how untold millions of Christians were converted. Can you think of *anyone* who was converted that way? The only example that even comes to mind is Thomas — and Thomas already knew Christ, was prepared to die for Christ, and clearly articulated his desire to believe as well as the specific sign he desired to see as “evidence” of the resurrection. So for Thomas, too, the “evidence” of the resurrection was personal and experiential.

      CMP is making an important point, that our belief in the resurrection is not based on some completely unfalsifiable testimony of a single individual. Our belief in the resurrection is based on considerably more “evidence” than any other major religion can claim, including Judaism. But this point about evidence is primarily useful for explaining to unbelievers why our belief in the resurrection is not unreasonable. It is emphatically *not* a road to belief. Since the original question was about the effect on *individual* faith, I consider the admittedly powerful contribution to apologetics to be irrelevant.

    • DDP

      The more I think about what I would do with that type of information the more it makes my head hurt. At first I thought I would simply abandon my Christian faith, but it’s really not that simple. Though I could not maintain a faith based on a lie I would attempt to cling to some form of hope to avoid despair. I then thought about Enoch and Elijah thinking God could still make a way for the rest of us as He did those individuals and other OT people like David, Abraham, etc., who didn’t have anything except the promise of the redeemer. This led me to think that I would embrace OT writings and look forward to the Messiah. But then I would have to wrestle with the fact that none of the OT prophecies regarding the messiah, example Isaiah 53, have yet to be fullfilled. I would also struggle with the fact that OT was written for the Israel audience, not gentiles. In addition, the fantastic stories in the OT would be even more difficult to swallow. How could I then endure the questions that would continue to surface and trust OT writings as the ones to rely on? I would come to question whether the reliability of the OT is any different than other religious writings.

    • Steve


      That Christ appeared to many is, for me, undoubtable. But need he have done so in a physical body? For instance, we have excellent reason to believe that it wasn’t a physical appearance of Christ that got Paul converted.

      Besides, Paul made a big point in 1 Cor 15 about the fact that the thing that is sown was not the same thing that is raised. Why Christians have insisted so much upon the idea of “selfsame body”, or even just a glorified physical body, I can’t imagine.

    • cherylu


      I Cor 15:53-55 speaks about the mortal and perishable body that we die with, that which is “sown”, putting on immortality and the imperishable. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, “put on” means, “to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self”.

      “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” I Cor 15:53:55

      That certainly speaks of it being the same body we had when we died but changed and made immortal and imperishable, does it not? I would think this is where the emphasis among Christians on the “selfsame” body came from.

    • Ryan Phelps


      Negative: No more meaning to life (1 Cor. 15:14, of course).
      Positive: Dude, I have a TIME MACHINE.

    • Mike Beidler

      @ #105,


      However, that discussion is based on the first 11 verses of the same chapter where the resurrection that was spoken of was certainly a physical one since it speaks of all of the people that saw Jesus. And from the Gospels we know that Jesus had a body. He made that very plain.

      I have never denied that Jesus’ physical body was reanimated. I think what may be happening is that you’re conflating the idea of “resurrection” with the reanimation of a bio-physical body. Cherylu, resurrection is, oh, so much more than that. When the entire Pauline corpus is examined, it’s fairly clear to me that whenever Paul speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, his primary emphasis is on the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ resurrection, not just the raising of his physical body.

      (It is, I think, unfortunate that the Church—at least the teachers from the multitude of denominations and traditions in the Church with which I’ve been familiar over the last 40 years—rarely, if ever, assign a spiritual—and equally, if not more, real—aspect to Jesus’ resurrection.)

      But I can understand the ease with which Jesus’ spiritual resurrection is conflated with his physical resurrection, much as baptism in the NT has been, at various times in the history of the church, conflated with salvation, as it usually occurs immediately following belief. (And then there’s Peter’s thorny statement that baptism saves.) I think we can both agree that it is not actually baptism which saves, but one’s faith. It is, in fact, a physical manifestation (or reflection) of a greater spiritual reality. Likewise, it is not Jesus’ physical resurrection that is of primary importance but rather his spiritual resurrection, of which his physical resurrection is a manifestation (or reflection) of the more important reality.

      The point is, that if He hadn’t conquered death, He wouldn’t of been raised. And neither would we.

      But which death is the real enemy? Physical or spiritual?

    • JoanieD

      Mike Beidler said, “I’m much more looking forward to my bio-spiritual body.” Me too!

      I think most of us agree that Jesus’ actual body DID raise, although in a changed way. (It is odd that when he was on the beach cooking up fish for Peter and pals, that they did not recognize him from his physical looks, but from what he said and did.) BUT…even before that happened, there were those who believed he was the Son of God. Peter confessed that. Even the demons knew that! And the centurion, upon seeing the things that happened when Jesus died on the cross said something to the effect of, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Heck, when he walked the earth, he raised the dead; he healed leprosy on the spot; he brought sight to people blind since birth. While he was on the cross, it went dark for some period of time. And when he died, dead people came out of their tombs and walked among the population. The curtain hiding the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn in two. And after his death, as he said would happen, the Holy Spirit came upon his disciples and they were empowered to tell the rest of the world that God’s Kingdom had begun with Jesus, the first-born of creation.

      I agree that Jesus’ body DID raise from the dead and God thereby is reinforcing to us his love for his creation, for the world, for us. He is giving us the promise that all will be renewed. There is no place for gnosticism in Christianity. God made matter and loves matter and loves human beings.

      Someone above says it’s a waste of time to contemplate something that isn’t true. My husband as well hates “What if” scenarios. I understand the dislike, but it’s also kind of interesting. People like to consider things like, “What if there had been no Hitler.”

      I do have to wonder if Christianity would have spread the way it did without Jesus’ disciples seeing him raised physically. I think they had to see him physically resurrected. I think they had to see him ascend and know that he is always with us until the end of the world and then even after that. I think they needed to know that the body is important and it is THROUGH our bodies that God actually works! What an important message that is, especially at this Christmas season. God has been born from a woman and took on flesh to become one of us so that we may become united to God. He conquered the power of evil through his death, freeing us to love completely. Amen.

    • EricW

      If I had a time machine, certain people whom I would visit would be invited onboard and then transported back to the Mesozoic era where they would be summarily ejected from said time machine and left to enjoy the rest of their lives. 🙂

    • […] would be it (the end) … what other conclusion could you […]

    • […] would be it (the end) … what other conclusion could you […]

    • Steve

      cherylu (#110),

      But the point is, of what nature is that which is put on? In his analogy of the seed, the physical is the shell from which the inside life springs upon the perishing of the shell. Our minds, who we really are, are currently tied to the chemical firings of our physical brains, so as such they are quite mortal — until our essence is given a new home in which to reside.

      If we found Jesus’ bones, I would shrug it off as merely the husk of the living Savior I’ve known.

    • EricW

      If we found Jesus’ bones, I would shrug it off as merely the husk of the living Savior I’ve known.

      If we found Jesus’ bones, then Matthew’s angel at the tomb would have been lying about what he said to the women (it reads as if he stayed there on the stone after he rolled it away and guarded the tomb until the women came), and we’re also left with the odd implication that someone first laboriously unwound the myrrh-and-aloes-wrapped body of its linen wrappings and spices and headcloth before transporting it nude and letting it rot so all that would be left would be the bones for an ossuary.

    • Mike Beidler

      I agree with Steve (#116). And I would venture to guess that he also believes in some sort of continuity between our current selves and our future selves, without labeling what the nature of that continuity is.

    • cherylu


      I guess we are probably going to have to agree to disagree on this one as I can’t read that chapter any other way than saying that our current bodies are swallowed up by the new one. I just don’t see it as saying that the old one is discarded to the point where even the bones are left behind. To put something on, (clothe the mortal) with immortality, speaks of putting the immortality on over the mortal to me, not of leaving the mortal, i.e. the bones, totally behind.

      “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 24:39

      Even Jesus resurrection body had flesh and bones. And He made a point of saying to them, “It is I, Myself”! He was not so totally changed into a different form that He was no longer recognizable to the disciples.

      I think maybe the differences we see here are that you seem to be focusing more on the analogy of the seed perishing, while I am focusing more on the mortal “putting on” immortality and the fact that Jesus still had flesh and bones post resurrection and was still known by the disciples.

    • cherylu

      And I agree with Eric W. If His bones were left in the grave, we would be faced with the fact that angels lie, or that the writers of the New Testament were not telling the truth.

      Either of which leaves us in the position of then having to question the reality of the whole story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection from start to finish as far as I can tell. Not a good place to be–having no objective reality to base our faith on!

    • Mike Beidler


      Let’s not be too hasty here. Would you also say that if the writers of the gospel accounts were merely in error (an alternate possibility that you didn’t offer), that it casts into doubt the entirety of the gospel accounts?

    • Steve

      EricW (#117),
      What it would mean would be that perhaps all the details of the actual resurrection were not recorded accurately. There’s plenty of precedent for inaccurate historical detail (or inaccuracy in general) in Scripture, so it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

      I’m not trying to convince you, per se. But I would like you to see that the discovery of Jesus’ bones would not necessarily mean the devastation of Christianity — there are other coherent ways of reading the text. It might would turn out to be a matter of, “If the Bible’s not got it recorded 100% accurately, and if Jesus’ body was not physically risen, I have no interest in Christianity anymore. If this means Christians have been wrong about this stuff, despite the genuineness of their experience with God through a relationship with Christ, then count me out.” This I find more disturbing than no physical resurrection.

      Everyone on this blog seems to say that nothing matters and Christianity’s in the grave if Christ’s body was left in the tomb. Before you come to that conclusion, don’t seal the door shut behind you — a resurrection may occur. 😉

    • cherylu

      Well, Steve, if the Bible can’t even get it right about the very foundations of our faith–Jesus resurrection–then I honestly don’t see any point in basing our faith or our practice on anything we read there at all.

      It is one thing to say that we have misunderstood the details of the creation story in Genesis. Or even that some details were wrong elsewhere. It is another altogether to say that the Bible is telling us a lie about the very basics of our faith. It isn’t just one Gospel account that makes it plain that His body was not in the tomb either. And these are the things we are told we are to base our faith on! Remember, John said he wrote what he did so that we might believe.

      How could you continue to base your faith on what you read in a book that tells you lies about the very things it says you are to believe?

      And if all that you are basing your faith on is your subjective experiences with the Lord, which of course we all have, you have no more basis for assuming what you have experienced is true than the Mormon’s do, for instance.

    • Wm Tanksley

      Cherylu, resurrection is, oh, so much more than that.

      Mike, if resurrection is so much more than that it must, for the Christian, include at least that. It’s more, yes; but that means that it’s not less. Almost every other religion, and every folk tradition, believes that the soul lives on after death; Christianity from the earliest days added that the body would be resurrected. This is what gives us hope.

      When the entire Pauline corpus is examined, it’s fairly clear to me that whenever Paul speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, his primary emphasis is on the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ resurrection, not just the raising of his physical body.

      Paul puts extraordinary emphasis on the physical nature of the resurrection, for example in 1 Co 15. It’s not about experiencing more than a body can give you; it’s about experiencing in your new body what your old body couldn’t handle.

      It’s a bit vague to say that Paul is emphasizing “the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ resurrection”, as though Paul was only talking about what historically happened to Christ. No. The only “aspect” Paul talks about that isn’t what physically happened to Christ on the 3rd day was what we can know will happen to us because we are in union with Christ. You can call that a spiritual aspect if you want, but Paul grounds it on the certainty of Christ’s physical resurrection.

      And if that specifically didn’t happen, we have no reason to believe that we have anything special to wait for. Nice feelings? Cool, but drugs or a pleasing conversation can get you those. Euphoria, and convictions of a relationship to a higher power? Science has long since explained those (although I must add that this doesn’t make them irrelevant — God created all men to have these).

      (It is, I think, unfortunate that the Church—at least the teachers from the multitude of denominations and traditions in the Church with which I’ve been familiar over the last 40 years—rarely, if ever, assign a spiritual—and equally, if not more, real—aspect to Jesus’ resurrection.)

      There are many unfortunate things in the Church, yes (and to be fair, you’re exactly right). One of them is the kind of gnosticism that allows people to say that “a spiritual meaning” can be more real than “a physical meaning”. Whatever either one might mean; the people who say it (including yourself) have absolutely nothing concrete in mind. As your last post above says, “without labeling what the nature of that continuity is”. You don’t seem to know what’s right, but you seem quite certain what’s wrong.


    • Steve

      (…)then I honestly don’t see any point in basing our faith or our practice on anything we read there at all.

      I seriously doubt you hold anything else to this standard. Since when did you believe everything the newspaper tells you — does this mean that, balancing it and other news sources, you automatically disbelieve everything it says? Of course you don’t. Your faith is already a “best guess” scenario, unless you’ve got some definitive proof that you’re withholding from the rest of us!

      It did sound very much like you were saying that if you can’t have the proof of Scripture, which proof you accept by faith, you can’t scrape up enough faith to believe the evidences for belief in the resurrection. I’m simply not there. The testimony of first century accounts from early believers (fallible and years after the fact as they may be), the meteoric rise of Christianity, etc., are things a resurrection appearance of some sort explain quite well; taking the fact that you, I, and millions more have had “subjective experiences” based around this explanation is good enough for me. I don’t expect 100% proof to come out of an unprovable text — that would require blind belief that I find unbelievable.

    • Bill

      I think Steve is closest to the truth.

      Read ALL the many old, different accounts of resurrection, and you see that they could all be metaphors for some kind of spiritual afterlife. Especially say Paul’s reference to our new “spiritual body.”

      Jesus to be sure in one account, suggests he is not just a spirit; but that doesn’t rule out a spiritual “body.”

    • EricW

      Well, if Quentin Tarantino ever makes a movie in which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus break into the tomb and haul Jesus’ nude corpse away, leaving the unwrapped graveclothes for others to find and wonder what happened, I guess he can cast Eli Roth as Jesus (aka “The Bare Jew.”) 🙂

      In other words, I think the possibility of finding Jesus’ bones AND thereafter holding on to one’s faith in the reliability of the Gospel accounts and the rest of the NT is ludicrous.


    • Steve

      Wm Tanksley,

      You don’t seem to know what’s right, but you seem quite certain what’s wrong.

      I am quite sure that neither Mike nor I are sure at all about the nature of the resurrection. He has said and I agree that a bodily resurrection of some sort is the most likely scenario. What I’m saying (and I think he is, too) is that the discovery of Jesus’ bones aren’t entirely without possibilities of explanation in a Christian way. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Mike.)

    • Henry

      I think Steve is closest to the truth.

      Am I embarrassed by being in just 1% of the population? It could be the top 1%, after all.

      Jesus affirmed having a “body” and not just a spirit; but Paul spoke after all, of a spiritual “body.”

    • cherylu


      John 20:30-31 “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

      John makes that statement directly after he makes a huge point of making it clear that Jesus body was not in the tomb and speaking about His post resurrection appearances. Since the resurrection is such a lynch pin of our faith as Paul makes it clear it is in I Cor., for the Bible to be wrong about that and then tell us this is why we are to believe, would leave it with very little credibility with me whatsoever.

      Isn’t it true that if an author is wrong in his statements of the very most basic of facts on a subject, it gives you good reason to doubt the rest of what he says? It certainly makes you wonder where else he has his facts totally wrong or if he even made the whole thing up.

      It is becoming obvious that your whole approach to the Bible and mine are totally different. It seems you don’t take it to be the inspired Word of God even on matters of the very basics of our faith.

      I may not be able to do much commenting the rest of the day as I think my Grandaughter will be here soon and we are going to be doing Christmas projects. Grandma can’t wait!

    • Wm Tanksley

      I think the rise of Christianity can be explained on the basis that some people THOUGHT they saw Christ alive just as easily as it could be by a historical, physical resurrection.

      No, it’s not “just as easy”. None of the proposed workarounds is as straightforward explanation of the data. Now, with that said, we could all be wrong. It’s conceivable that all the historical evidence we refer to is just wrong; those people were (perhaps) all deceived by something we didn’t think of. Who knows — if we’re being wild, perhaps that was Loki playing a VERY EFFECTIVE trick on Odin. But we don’t have any evidence for the wild speculations. We have evidence only for the simple conclusion that Christ rose physically from the dead. (I do agree that this isn’t enough to accept Christianity — after all, we could conceivably have the same evidence about Lazarus, and that wouldn’t make us believe in Lazarianity.)

      That is not what he says. He says he would know his senses are being deceived because of the “witness of the Spirit.”

      I haven’t read him on this, but let me admit that I don’t admire it. To me, it smacks of someone who’s utterly confident in his reason. Philosophy is good, but the longer a chain of reasoning becomes — the further from the evidence — the less certain its conclusion becomes. The physical resurrection evidence is some of the most direct evidence we could possibly have; anyone who didn’t doubt after having THAT disproven is missing the point.

      Most critical scholars would say that the Bible is also not reliable although its much harder to show since its so old and BOM is much more recent.

      I don’t know if you’re right about “most critical scholars”. I know many historians doubt/disbelieve the miracle stories, at least methodologically; but they tend to accept the usefulness of the Bible as historical evidence, without necessarily accepting it as infallible or inerrant. I suspect you’re outright wrong in what you’re trying to say here, but I’m not certain what you mean; perhaps by “critical” you actually mean the scholars who have a negative attitude :-), rather than the scholars who “examine and judge carefully.”


    • Joshua Allen

      I think that a form of “Christianity” would actually be more appealing to more people if the resurrection were proven false. We prefer religions that are malleable — that can be twisted to our own aims. It’s been difficult for people to turn Christianity into a very effective tool, because of the Christian rejection of gnosticism and insistence on physical evidence and multiple witness testimony.

      Think about it: if you’re someone like Simon Magus, you don’t want a religion that forces you to adhere to its precepts. You want a religion that can be bent to your will, and which rewards your mental prowess in constructing impenetrable spells by which to hypnotize the masses.

      If Christianity were forced to toss out this foundational physical evidence, and build instead on a cornerstone of interpretive prowess and mental gymnastics, it would lose all integrity — and would be more virulent than any of the other unfalsifiable cults out there.

    • Ben

      The simple answer for a tired mind:

      I’d go back in time to the moment when the time machine was being invented and thwart the project, which of course I could never have done if I was successful.

      Now we know why God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts: we hit the ceiling with just a simple conundrum!

    • EricW

      The simple answer for a tired mind:

      I’d go back in time to the moment when the time machine was being invented and thwart the project, which of course I could never have done if I was successful.

      Now we know why God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts: we hit the ceiling with just a simple conundrum!

      Ergo, if a backward-in-time-moving and space-time-affecting (i.e., not simply observational with NO EFFECT at ANY level on that which is observed) time machine can be invented, it’s already been invented.

    • Mike Beidler

      Totally off topic (or is it?) …

      Has anyone seen that MAD TV Terminator/Jesus parody on YouTube?

    • Wm Tanksley

      Read ALL the many old, different accounts of resurrection,

      There’s a peculiarity in your phrasing there which draws my attention. What “old, different accounts” are you talking about? When you uppercase “all”, are you trying to say that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to the ones that we believe are true, but also look at the ones we now think are pure myth? Does this mean Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian myth? If so, what you’re saying is really, really different from the rest of this conversation.

      I’m going to assume that you’re only talking about the Biblical accounts, Old and New Testaments. I’m not sure why you’d say “ALL” and “different”, but let’s leave it at that.

      and you see that they could all be metaphors for some kind of spiritual afterlife.

      If you really wanted to believe in that, you could interpret anything or nothing in favor of some amorphous conception of it. You’d be reasoning without either data or conclusion, though: no data, because you’re assuming that every possible point of every account is literally false but means something symbolic; and no conclusion, because you don’t bother figuring out WHAT is being symbolized.

      And … what if the conclusion actually matters? What if God actually wants you to display faith in Him by becoming a Jew and working to rebuild the Temple, and this “Jesus” thing was a misunderstood distraction? He even gave you the knowledge to build a time machine to prove His point, and you looked at the evidence and didn’t modify your beliefs _at all_?

      Did you even believe anything in the first place? How could anyone ever tell, since nothing you see actually affects your actions?

      This winds up being a most unfortunate manner of protecting one’s Christianity — by spiritualizing it to insulate it from all challenge, you wind up losing any belief in any actual point.


    • Ron Wolf

      Would blow my faith out of the water!

    • […] (A Quick Question – @Parchment and Pen) […]

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