Apologetics, Kreeft Chapter 9: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (part1)
The Resurrection Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics Chapter 9 Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli
Every sermon preached by Christiansin the NT centres on the resurrection.Kreeft says, “The Gospel or “goodnews” means essentially the news ofChrist’s resurrection.” he goes on tosay that the news that set the ancientworld on ﬁre was not that of ‘loveyour neighbour’ but of theresurrection of Jesus Christ, whoclaimed to be the Son of God andSaviour of the world.The resurrection is of crucialimportance because it completes oursalvation - Rom 6:23
Abraham, Buddha,Muhammed, Confucius andLao Tzu all still lie dead in theirgraves - the tomb of Jesus isempty.In life changing terms we seethe difference in the disciplesbefore and after theresurrection - before hiddenbehind closed doors, afterconﬁdent world changingmissionaries and ready to facemartyrdom if necessary.
It is important to see that theresurrection is not in the past,“Christ rose”, - but in thepresent, “Christ is risen”He is living - Lk 24:5Do you keep Christ mummiﬁedin words like apologetics andhistory - or do you allow him tolive and set lives alight now ashe did millennia ago?For that is what theresurrection did - and still does.
The strategy of the argument for the resurrection - 5 theoriesThe resurrection can beproved and believed with asmuch historical credibility asany other well documentedevent in ancient history. Thetwo basic assumptions forsuch a belief are simple andare based on empirical datawhich is no disputed:
The strategy of the argument for the resurrection - 5 theoriesThe existence of the NTtexts as we have them,and the existence (but notnecessarily the truth) ofthe Christian religion aswe ﬁnd it today.
The question to ask is this:Which theory about whathappened in Jerusalemon that ﬁrst EasterSunday can account forthe data?The following ﬁvediagrams represent thepossible theories.
5 Theories about the resurrectionJesus Died Jesus Rose 1. Christianity
5 Theories about the resurrectionJesus Died Jesus Rose 1. Christianity The apostles 2. Hallucination Jesus were deceived didn’t rise
5 Theories about the resurrectionJesus Died Jesus Rose 1. Christianity The apostles 2. Hallucination Jesus were deceived didn’t rise The apostles were myth-makers 3. Myth
5 Theories about the resurrectionJesus Died Jesus Rose 1. Christianity The apostles 2. Hallucination Jesus were deceived didn’t rise The apostles were myth-makers 3. Myth The apostles 4. Conspiracy were deceivers
5 Theories about the resurrectionJesus Died Jesus Rose 1. Christianity The apostles 2. Hallucination Jesus were deceived didn’t rise The apostles were myth-makers 3. Myth The apostles 4. Conspiracy were deceivers Jesus 5. Swoondidn’t die
Could it be that Christ in factsurvived the cruciﬁxion, he didnot die but just swooned?Here are 9 arguments inresponse to the swoon theory:1. Jesus could not havesurvived cruciﬁxion. Romanprocedures were very careful toeliminate that possibility. Romanlaw even laid the death penaltyon any soldier who let a capitalprisoner escape in any way,including bungling a cruciﬁxion.It was never done.
2. The fact that the Romansoldier did not break Jesuslegs, as he did to the other twocruciﬁed criminals (Jn19:31-33), means that thesoldier was sure Jesus wasdead. Breaking the legshastened the death so that thecorpse could be taken downbefore the sabbath.
3. John, an eyewitness,certiﬁed that he saw bloodand water come fromJesus pierced heart (Jn19:34-35). This shows thatJesus lungs had collapsedand he had died ofasphyxiation. Any medicalexpert can vouch for this.4. The body was totallyencased in winding sheetsand entombed (Jn19:38-42).
5. The post-resurrectionappearances convinced thedisciples, even doubting Thomas,that Jesus was alive (Jn20:19-29). It is psychologicallyimpossible for the disciples to havebeen so transformed and conﬁdentif Jesus had merely struggled outof a swoon, badly in need of adoctor. A half-dead, staggeringsick man who has just had anarrow escape is not worshipedfearlessly as divine lord andconquerer of death.
6. How were the Roman guards at thetomb overpowered by a swooningcorpse? Or by unarmed disciples? Andif the disciples did it, they knowinglylied when they wrote the Gospels, andwe are into the conspiracy theory.
7. How could a swooning half-dead man have moved the greatstone at the door of the tomb?Who moved the stone if not anangel? No one has everanswered that question. Neitherthe Jews nor the Romans wouldmove it, for it was in both theirinterests to keep the tomb sealed,the Jews had the stone put therein the ﬁrst place, and the Romanguards would be killed if they letthe body "escape."
The story the Jewishauthorities spread, that theguards fell asleep and thedisciples stole the body (Mt28:11-15), is unbelievable.Roman guards would notfall asleep on a job like that;if they did, they would losetheir lives. If they did fallasleep, the crowd and theeffort and the noise it wouldhave taken to move anenormous boulder wouldhave wakened them.
8. If Jesus awoke from aswoon, where did he go?Think this through: you havea living body to deal withnow, not a dead one. Why didit disappear? There isabsolutely no data, not evenany false, fantastic, imagineddata, about Jesus life afterhis cruciﬁxion, in anysources, friend or foe, at anytime, early or late. A man likethat, with a past like that,would have left traces.
9. Most simply, theswoon theory necessarilyturns into the conspiracytheory or thehallucination theory, forthe disciples testiﬁed thatJesus did not swoon butreally died and reallyrose.
Refutation of the Conspiracy Theory: Seven ArgumentsWhy couldnt the discipleshave made up the wholestory?1. Blaise Pascal gives a simple,psychologically sound prooffor why this is unthinkable:"The apostles were eitherdeceived or deceivers. Eithersupposition is difﬁcult, for it isnot possible to imagine that aman has risen from the dead...
Refutation of the Conspiracy Theory: Seven Arguments
The hypothesis that the Apostles were dishonestis quite absurd. Follow it out to the end, andimagine these twelve men meeting after Jesusdeath and conspiring to say that he has risenfrom the dead. This means attacking all thepowers that be. The human heart is susceptibleto ﬁckleness, to change, to promises, to bribery.One of them had only to deny his story underthese inducements, or still more because ofpossible imprisonment, tortures and death, andthey would all have been lost. Follow that out."Pascal, Pensees 322, 310
The "cruncher" in this argument is the historicalfact that no one, weak or strong, saint or sinner,Christian or heretic, ever confessed, freely orunder pressure, bribe or even torture, that thewhole story of the resurrection was a fake a lie,a deliberate deception. Even when people brokeunder torture, denied Christ and worshipedCaesar, they never let that cat out of the bag,never revealed that the resurrection was theirconspiracy. For that cat was never in that bag.No Christians believed the resurrection was aconspiracy; if they had, they wouldnt havebecome Christians.
2. If they made up thestory, they were the mostcreative, clever, intelligentfantasists in history, farsurpassing Shakespeare,or Dante or Tolkien.Fishermans "ﬁsh stories"are never that elaborate,that convincing, that life-changing, and thatenduring.
3. The disciples characterargues strongly against such aconspiracy on the part of all ofthem, with no dissenters. Theywere simple, honest, commonpeasants, not cunning,conniving liars. Their sincerityis proved by their words anddeeds. They preached aresurrected Christ and theylived a resurrected Christ.They willingly died for their"conspiracy." Nothing provessincerity like martyrdom.
They change in their livesfrom fear to faith, despair toconﬁdence, confusion tocertitude, runaway cowardiceto steadfast boldness underthreat and persecution, notonly proves their sincerity buttestiﬁes to some powerfulcause of it. Can a lie causesuch a transformation? Aretruth and goodness suchenemies that the greatest goodin history -- sanctity -- hascome from the greatest lie?
4. There could be nopossible motive for such alie. Lies are always told forsome selﬁsh advantage. Whatadvantage did the"conspirators" derive fromtheir "lie" ? They were hated,scorned, persecuted,excommunicated, imprisoned,tortured, exiled, cruciﬁed,boiled alive, roasted,beheaded, disemboweled andfed to lions - hardly a catalogof perks!
5. If the resurrection was a lie, theJews would have produced thecorpse. All they had to do was goto the tomb and get it. TheRoman soldiers and their leaderswere on their side. If the Jewscouldnt get the body because thedisciples stole it, how did they dothat? The arguments against theswoon theory hold here too:unarmed peasants could not haveoverpowered Roman soldiers orrolled away a great stone whilethey slept on duty.
6. The disciples could not havegotten away with proclaiming theresurrection in Jerusalem - sametime, same place, full ofeyewitnesses - if it had been a lie.William Lane Craig says,"The fact that the disciples were able toproclaim the resurrection in Jerusalemin the face of their enemies a few weeksafter the cruciﬁxion shows that whatthey proclaimed was true, for they couldnever have proclaimed the resurrection(and been believed) under suchcircumstances had it not occurred.”