Lies about children not in detention centres

The Murugappan couple Priya and Nadesalingam with their Australian-born children Kopika and Tharunicaa.

(photo courtesy SBS News, 16 September, 2021 )

By Spencer Gear PhD[1]

As a person who is actively interested in Australian politics, I was shocked by what seemed to be a lie perpetrated in the leaders’ debate on 8 May 2019 with a potential audience of millions.

In his opening reply to a question from the moderator, Sabra Lane, Scott Morrison discussed the unpopular turn-back-the boats policy that was eventually successful and saved many lives. Then he added, “We’ve got every child out of detention”.

Later he repeated it: “Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention”. That is fake news. What is the truth about children in detention?
If you read the change.org petition link, “Our PM knows these kids are suffering. See
https://www.change.org/p/peter-dutton-bring-priya-back-to-biloela/u/24530228 of 9 May, where you’ll discover that there are still children in detention in Australia

This link begins with what Scott Morrison said at the 3rd leaders’ debate. “Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention. Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention. Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention. Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention. Ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention, etc.”

He repeated this slogan over and over. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ypddAEAQFI&feature=youtu.be. However, these two little Sri Lankan children have been in detention for 15 months. Their father has been evicted from Australia and been returned to Sri Lanka. His wife and children may never see him again.

The Scriptures exhort Australia and individuals, “Whoever gives to the poor will have plenty. Whoever refuses to help them will get nothing but curses” (Proverbs 28:27).

This is a callous government that splits up families against the UNHCR’s pleading and legal representation. Where are the mercy and compassion of the people (including the Minister of Immigration) in this department to devastate a family this way?
As I watched the debate, I shouted to myself, ‘That is not the case. That is not the case. He’s lying’.

I was thinking of Priya, Nades (Thileepan) and their two beautiful children (born in Biloela Qld), Kopika and Tharunicaa who are Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who were wonderfully assimilated into the small central Qld town of Biloela.

That was until they were reefed out of their Biloela house in the early hours of the morning and whisked away to be eventually placed in a detention centre 15 months ago.

The change.org petition has been signed by 184,000 people. From this petition, I learned that after months of severe vitamin deficiencies and dental problems little Tharunicaa’s mouth hurt so much she couldn’t eat solid food.

Because we need sunlight to receive vitamin D to strengthen teeth and bones, the children have suffered from this deficiency. In addition they need fresh and healthy food and access to proper medical care.

These children ‘have been locked indoors for most of the last 15 months. Fresh food is restricted and visitors are banned from bringing it with them. And when Priya begs for her kids to see a doctor, she is fobbed off with Panadol’.

They have been refused visas to stay in Australia by the Department of Home Affairs and right now the mother and two children are in a Melbourne detention centre. To say that ‘ultimately, we’ve got every child out of detention’ is a whopper!
Sadly, it seems that Scott Morrison lied over and over with his repeated statement. The children and parent in this family are still locked away in detention. The Coalition does not deserve to be in government when it treats people like this and tells this kind of lie.

Have they forgotten that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’? Giving a comfortable and peaceful life to Mum, Dad and the two children should be a top priority for this government.

Asylum seekers on the roof of Villawood IDC, Sydney

According to The Guardian Australia, in July 2018 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic, said from Geneva, that Nades’ expulsion from Australia contravened ‘the basic right of family unity, as well as the fundamental principle of the best interests of the child’.

In spite of the UNHCR trying to gain assurances from the Coalition government that Nades ‘would not be removed from Australia and be allowed to remain with his family’, there were multiple requests lodged by legal representatives for intervention by the Minister for Home Affairs, but ‘collective representations were unsuccessful’.

I attempted to obtain an update on this situation from the UNHCR in the ACT by asking two questions: “Are mother and two children being allowed to remain in Australia permanently?”

Secondly, “What is the situation for the husband Thileepan who has been returned to Sri Lanka by the Australian government? Has any progress been made by the UNHCR in its further negotiations with the Australian Department of Home Affairs/Immigration for him to be reunited with his family?”

Unfortunately, I was unable to progress this inquiry because of the UNHCR’s response: “For reasons of confidentiality and protection, UNHCR does not comment on individual refugee cases”.

In the final week of this election campaign, the LNP can live up to its promises of no children in detention and release this family from the Melbourne detention centre and bring the father back from Sri Lanka.

Then, I urge the Coalition to apologise to this family for the trauma it has unnecessarily inflicted on them. It is a priority to grant them permanent residency and pay for their return fares to the Biloela community in Qld.

Notes


[1] I am a retired counselling manager, a minister with the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia, researcher, and freelance writer. My PhD is in New Testament from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 September 2021.

Holy Books of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism & Hinduism: Which are most reliable?

The gilded “Emaciated Buddha statue” in an Ubosoth in Bangkok representing the stage of his asceticism

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I’ve written extensively on this topic. See:

The Bible passes the test of reliability, using the tests any ancient historian uses. Some historians call them indices while others call them criteria.

See my articles that investigate this topic to demonstrate the Bible is a reliable book:

clip_image001[17]Can you trust the Bible? Part 1

clip_image001[17] Can you trust the Bible? Part 2

clip_image001[17] Can you trust the Bible? Part 3

clip_image001[17] Can you trust the Bible? Part 4

clip_image001[18] Secular assaults on the Bible: The inerrant Bible battles

 clip_image001[19]Bible bigotry from an arrogant skeptic

clip_image001[19] The Bible: fairy tale or history?

clip_image002[5] Why Christianity is NOT a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists

In On Line Opinion this “comment” stated: ‘The Bible is no more reliable than the Muslim Koran, the Buddhist Tripitaka or the Hindu Bhagavad Gita’.[1]

How historically reliable is the Quran?

Matthew Wong, Christian, answers questions on the Bible:

The Quran

?????? al-Qur??n

Quran opened, resting on a stand

Just look at the crucifixion of Jesus and you already see where the evidence leads.

Islam vehemently denies the crucifixion as a historical event while most historians, both secular, Jewish and Christians find it to be an almost indisputable part of Jesus’s life – in fact perhaps the most verifiable event in his life, other than his baptism.

Islam instead proposes that Jesus never died on the cross but that it was made to appear that way, and someone else was put on the cross instead to look like him. According to the Quran, Allah did this to trick the Jews into thinking they killed him:

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

Quran, Surah 4:157–158

Of course this already has problems in the very verse. First, why on earth would Jews admit to killing not only Jesus as a person, but to killing the Christ and Messenger of Allah? Those involved would not have made such confession that he was the Messiah and prophet from God, because they didn’t believe him to be such.

Muslims believe this account because it has been written in the Quran but all other historical sources say the crucifixion happened and the resurrection has strong support as well. There are no sources outside the Quran and Islamic works to indicate their version of things (emphasis added). Certainly, one would think if someone else had been switched with Jesus, that person could not possibly say the things on the cross like, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” or “Into your hands I commit my spirit”. Also, who was standing before Pontius Pilate up to the accusations of the Sanhedrin and High Priests? Would not such a person protest. Jesus remained silent for much of the trial before Pilate. And certainly the person who switched with Jesus would certainly have to undergo the scourging that took place BEFORE Jesus was raised onto the cross. Or did Allah allow Jesus to be scourged and then decide to replace him before the cross?

To explain away the following events afterwards, namely the resurrection and teaching of the death, resurrection and deity of Christ, Muslims claim the gospel was then lost and corrupted and that Muhammad had the final revelation of Allah in its perfectly preserved form. This leads to problems though in understanding reliability of Allah’s revelations.

If Jesus is proclaimed by Muslims to have been the Christ, born of a virgin, righteous and having performed so many miracles, how it is that he barely leaves a footnote with his mission and none of his disciples could transmit the gospel (Injeel) that Allah intended to give to the people? The truth is that this Jesus could be none other than a failure as he (and Allah) lead to the start of a false religion. Is Allah not strong enough to preserve past revelations and then suddenly gained powers to preserve these through the Quran after learning from past mistakes? This video presents clearly why Islam shoots itself in the foot through their version of the crucifixion and what the Quran says about Jesus:

https://youtu.be/O2tYAgboOrI

Muslims deal the same way towards the Torah and other writings of the Old Testament. They were revelations from Allah which Muhammad is told to verify the Quran is correct by, and also state Muhammad was promised in these past revelations, yet the revelations were corrupted.

I have also encountered various Muslims responses’ in relation to the Ahadith, collection of writings about Muhammad and expands on some of the Quranic revelations. While Ahadith is considered important to Muslims and certainly they get a lot of their customs including the Five Pillars from there, many accounts Muslims will say are simply fabricated or da’eff (weak). Thus less than kind reporting from various narrators of Muhammad’s life in the Hadith are dismissed as being tales and not to be taken seriously, despite some of these hadiths being from Sahih (verified) sources:

https://youtu.be/UzzLXPTVQFY

https://youtu.be/HaOsB2nlzaY

Islam’s revelations from Allah lack consistency and distort the revelations from Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, i.e. it cannot be trusted as a reliable revelation of the Islamic religion.

Reliability of the Buddhist Tripitaka

The Pali tipitaka was an open canon for several hundred year after the Buddha’s death, so later developments were added to the canon. Even after the cannon (sic) was closed there has been extensive editing. Additionally, many of the oral texts were not in pali, but were in other prakrit languages and had to be translated to pali.

The Abhidhamma is a later development. Some early schools rejected the Abhidhamma system, because they felt it was not the Buddha’s teaching. Additionally, the Theravada Abhidhamma shares very little in common with other existent Abhidhammas.

The Pali Suttas are very similar to the early cannon (sic) preserved in other languages, e.g. Chinese. Some Suttas are though to be older for a number of reasons. One is simplicity of doctrine, e.g. no lists. Another is, it is unlikely the sutta was added to the cannon (sic) at a later date, because it doesn’t fit into Theravada orthodoxy. Signs of editing help date texts or understand what an earlier version looked like. The Sutta Nipata is thought to be some of the of the oldest texts by both academic and religious scholars.

The vinaya is felt to be an early text, because existent versions are very similar.

At this point in time it is very unlikely we can tell what suttas are the original words of the Buddha. The critical textual study of the Suttas is just starting and is immature compared to critical biblical studies.[2]

Since it was ‘an open canon’ where words were added, it cannot be a reliable document related to the original document. Quartz India indicated the atheism of Buddhism:

While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion.

The Buddha himself rejected the idea of a creator god, and Buddhist philosophers have even argued that belief in an eternal god is nothing but a distraction for humans seeking enlightenment.

While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment.

A similar form of functional atheism can also be found in the ancient Asian religion of Jainism, a tradition that emphasises non-violence toward all living beings, non-attachment to worldly possessions, and ascetic practice. While Jains believe in an eternal soul, or jiva, that can be reborn, they do not believe in a divine creator.[3]

Reliability of the Hindu Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita (“Song of God” or “Song of the Lord”) is among the most important religious texts of Hinduism and easily the best known. It has been quoted by writers, poets, scientists, theologians, and philosophers – among others – for centuries and is often the introductory text to Hinduism for a Western audience.

It is commonly referred to as the Gita and was originally part of the great Indian epic Mahabharata. Its date of composition, therefore, is closely associated with that of the epic – c. 5th-3rd century BCE – but not all scholars agree that the work was originally included in the Mahabharata text and so date it later to c. 2nd century BCE.

The Gita is a dialogue between the warrior-prince Arjuna and the god Krishna who is serving as his charioteer at the Battle of Kurukshetra fought between Arjuna’s family and allies (the Pandavas) and those of the prince Duryodhana and his family (the Kauravas) and their allies. This dialogue is recited by the Kauravan counselor Sanjaya to his blind king Dhritarashtra (both far from the battleground) as Krishna has given Sanjaya mystical sight so he will be able to see and report the battle to the king.[4]. . .

The Gita combines the concepts expressed in the central texts of Hinduism – the Vedas and Upanishads – which are here synthesized into a single, coherent vision of belief in one God and the underlying unity of all existence. The text instructs on how one must elevate the mind and soul to look beyond appearances – which fool one into believing in duality and multiplicity – and recognize these are illusions; all humans and aspects of existence are a unified extension of the Divine which one will recognize once the trappings of illusion have been discarded.[5]

How accurate is the Gita?

P. R. Sivakumar wrote:

All versions of Srimad Bhagavad Gita is (sic) correct. There is nothing like accurate or inaccurate Bhagavad Gita. It is the interpretation that differs. And even if you read the original verses of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, you are not understanding its meaning – instead, you are forming your own interpretation of the Sanskrit verse.

Personally speaking, I would try to understand an acharya’s (like Adi Shankara, Ramanuja or Madhvacharya) interpretation, rather than my own, given my limited knowledge of Sanskrit and spirituality.

My suggestion will be for you to seek a guru, as per your spiritual inclination and try to understand the message through them. As far as Sanskrit verses go, there are many websites. You can also find them here – http://www.bhagavadgita.org/[6]

Therefore, it is impossible to speak of the accuracy of the Gita.

Conclusion

I have confirmed the reliability of both Old and New Testaments. However, Got Questions Ministries summarised it concisely:

The books of the Bible were written at different times by different authors over a period of approximately 1,500 years. But that is not to say that it took 1,500 years to write the Bible, only that it took that long for the complete canon of Scripture to be penned as God progressively revealed His Word. The oldest book of the Bible, according to most scholars, is either Genesis or Job, both thought to have been written by Moses and completed around 1400 BC, about 3,400 years ago. The newest book, Revelation, was written around AD 90 (Got Questions).[1]

There is a 400 year gap between the end of OT revelation and the beginning of the NT. During this time, God was not revealing himself to his people – for his reasons (Got Questions).

Both OT and NT deal with historical facts and spiritual reality.

With Islam, it is based on a ‘revelation’ to Muhammad but includes too many inaccuracies when compared with the Bible (see above).

For Buddhism, the Pali tipitaka was an open canon for several hundred year after the Buddha’s death where writings were added that did not come from Buddha. In addition, Buddhism is an atheistic religion.

For Hinduism, “there is nothing like accurate or inaccurate Bhagavad Gita,” we can’t discuss the reliability of the Gita as it is outside the realm of Gita’s parameters. Interpretation is what matters for Gita.

Works consulted

[1] Got Questions Ministries 2021. “How long did it take to write the Bible?” accessed 15 September 2021.

Notes


[1] Available at: Posted by david f, Friday, 20 September 2019 7:23:54 PM, https://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20505&page=5, accessed 14 September 2021.

[2] Reddit, bucon, “How much of the tipitaka is reliable, and be reliable i mean true to the buddha’s words?” accessed 14 September 2021, https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/28dj7v/how_much_of_the_tipitaka_is_reliable_and_be/.

[3] Quartz India 2019, “The ancient connections between atheism, Buddhism and Hinduism,” 3 April, accessed 14 September 2021, https://qz.com/india/1585631/the-ancient-connections-between-atheism-buddhism-and-hinduism/.

[4] Joshua J Mark 2020, World History Encyclopedia, “Bhagavad Gita,” 15 June, accessed 14 September 2021, https://www.worldhistory.org/Bhagavad_Gita/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Quora 2016. “Where can I find the most accurate book on Srimad Bhagavad Geeta?” accessed 14 September 2021, https://www.quora.com/Where-can-I-find-the-most-accurate-book-on-Srimad-Bhagavad-Geeta.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2021.

Were the Puritans consistent Calvinists?

Pilgrim’s Progress, first edition 1678.

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I was engaged in blog discussions with Bond-servant of Christ who demonstrated Calvin believed in universal atonement.

The poor man [Calvin] had problems making up his mind! His comments on John 3:16 are very clear:

That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

1. Calvin wavered

I responded:

You are correct bond-servant.
You have given the one side of his doctrine. This is the other side:
Calvin’s online edition of
1 John 2:2 states:

And not for ours only He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.
Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.?

I used the language he was a fence-sitter. Perhaps it would be better to state he wavered between universal and limited atonement.

2. A hyper-Calvinist jumped in

I’ve had battles on the Calvinism topic over the years with an administrator at christianforums.com, Hammster. He jumped into this discussion with a brief comment: “Fortunately, the Puritans that [came] after him didn’t waver.”[1]

2.1 Some Puritans also wavered

2.1.1 Richard Baxter

I find it interesting to examine Richard Baxter, the Puritan, and his teaching on the atonement. He stated in this article on the extent of redemption:

I have perused,” he said, “all the articles of the Synod of Dort and unfeignedly [genuinely] honour them as  containing sound and moderate doctrine”. He wrote: “In the very article of perseverance, which some are pleased to quarrel with me about, I subscribe to the Synod.” “Yea” he adds, “in the article of the extent of redemption, wherein I am most suspected and accused, I do subscribe to the Synod of Dort, without any exception, limitation, or exposition of any word, as doubtful or obscure. . . .
“I do subscribe to the Synod of Dort, without any exception, limitation, or exposition, of any word, as doubtful and obscure.” Baxter’s view was that Dort’s theology expresses the mind of Calvin. Fundamental to the Dort Canon’s conception of the atonement is the formula ‘sufficient for all, efficient for the elect'” (Sec Orme’s Memoir of Baxter in
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 1, p. 456, emphasis in original).

A fundamental teaching of the Synod of Dort was strict Calvinism expressed by the slogan, the atonement was “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect.”

2.1.2 John Bunyan

The Puritan, John Bunyan, rejected limited atonement. He wrote:

O how heartily He will receive us into his arms!  He offers all freely; yea, He comes in the word of the gospel with the blood running down his face, tears upon his cheeks, fresh wounds in his hands and feet, and blood still flowing from his side, to entreat you to accept his gracious offer of reconciliation.  Will you love sin more than grace, and darkness more than light?  Will you shut your eyes to Him but open them wide for the pleasures of the flesh?  Will you run the hazard of death in the day of judgment?  Will you despise Him and reject his grace? (Works 1:1 31-36).

2.1.3 Jonathan Edwards

The Puritan, Jonathan Edwards, viewed the atonement this way:

Universal redemption must be denied in the very sense of Calvinists themselves, whether predestination is acknowledged or no, if we acknowledge that Christ knows all things. For if Christ certainly knows all things to come, he certainly knew, when he died, that there were such and such men that would never be the better for his death. And therefore, it was impossible that he should die with an intent to make them (particular persons) happy.

For it is a right-down contradiction [to say that] he died with an intent to make them happy, when at the same time he knew they would not be happy-Predestination or no predestination, it is all one for that. This is all that Calvinists mean when they say that Christ did not die for all, that he did not die intending and designing that such and such particular persons should be the better for it; and that is evident to a demonstration. Now Arminians, when [they]Ibid. say that Christ died for all, cannot mean, with any sense, that he died for all any otherwise than to give all an opportunity to be saved; and that, Calvinists themselves never denied. He did die for all in this sense; ’tis past all contradiction (Jonathan Edwards [1722], The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500; “t”: Universal redemption, Works of Jonathan Edwards, online Vol. 13) , Ed. Harry S. Stout, page 174.)

2.1.4 The Synod of Dort

The Synod of Dort stated in . . .

Article 2.8: The efficacy of the death of Christ. For this was the most free counsel of God the Father, that the life-giving and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect (John 17:9). It was his most gracious will and intent to give to them alone justifying faith and thereby to bring them unfailingly to salvation (Ephesians 5:25–27; Luke 22:20.).

This means: God willed that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) [Luke 22:20; Hebrews8:6] should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and tongue (Revelation 5:9) all those, and those only, who from eternity were chosen to salvation and were given to him by the Father. God further willed that Christ should give to them faith (Philippians1: 2, 9), which, together with other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he acquired for them by his death; that he should cleanse them by his blood from all sins (1 John 1: 7), both original and actual, both those committed after faith and before faith; and that he should guard them faithfully to the end (John10:28) and at last present them to himself in splendour without any spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).

3.  Conclusion

Some leading Puritans did not support limited atonement. See my articles in support of the biblical basis of universal (unlimited) atonement:

cubed-iron-sm Is this verse forced into limited atonement theology?

cubed-iron-sm Unlimited atonement by Jesus;

cubed-iron-sm Limited atonement conflicts with God’s goodness.

cubed-iron-sm Did John Calvin believe in limited atonement?

cubed-iron-sm Does the Bible teach limited atonement or unlimited atonement by Christ?

cubed-iron-sm If Jesus’ atonement is for all, should all be saved?

cubed-iron-sm Was John Calvin a TULIP Calvinist?

cubed-iron-sm Can people choose to reject salvation?

4.  Notes


[1] Christianforums.com 2020. “Can a person that believes Jesus is the Son, but not God be saved?” Hammster #236. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/can-you-be-saved-not-believing-jesus-is-god.8189988/page-12 (Accessed 8 December 2020).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2021.

Labor, progressive politics & Christian voters

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Full-term abortion is legal

clip_image002

Even a healthy late-term baby of a healthy mother can be aborted in Queensland.
(But only 5% of Queenslanders agree with abortion right up to birth)*

Labor’s treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, in pulling out of the leadership challenge in the ALP, stated that an urgent fix was needed for the Party’s problem with religious voters:

“People of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them. These are people with a social conscience who want to be included in the progressive movement,” he said.

“We need to tackle this urgently. I think this is an issue from the federal election that we simply haven’t yet focused on”.[1]

Labor’s values don’t coincide with people’s values.

It’s time for Labor to realise it can combine progressive social values that care for people (which I support) with biblical ethical values.

However, this means Labor will have to abandon these the following values:

Labor and abortion up to time of birth

Before the 2019 election,

The Australian Labor Party announced a policy that would have once been regarded as high-risk politics at the least.

It signalled that if it won office at the looming federal election, it would use federal funding arrangements for state-run hospitals to pressure them to provide abortions.

“This is a service that is not required by many Australian women, but for those who need it, it’s absolutely vital,” said Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Women. . . .

Abortion law is state-based and varies around the country. It is still illegal in New South Wales and South Australia unless doctors find the woman’s health is at risk. . . .

“I have no intention to overstep what the constitutional authority of the Commonwealth is on these matters,” Mr Morrison said (Tingle 2019).

Would this provide abortion right up until birth?

To my dying day, when God takes me to glory, I will never vote for the Labor Party that supports this culture of killing pre-born children right up until the time of birth.

Labor and euthanasia

Historic voluntary euthanasia laws have passed Victoria’s Upper House after a 28-hour marathon sitting, leaving the state on the brink of becoming the first in the country to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Key points:

  • Patients wanting to access the scheme would face two independent medical assessments before being able to obtain lethal drug
  • They must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, and have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months
  • The patient must administer the drug themselves, but a doctor could deliver the lethal dose in rare cases

In a dramatic end to days of debate, the Andrews Government’s voluntary assisted dying bill passed — with amendments — 22-18 votes in the 40-member Upper House.

It was a conscience vote for all MPs and some wept as they cast their vote (Willingham & Edwards 2017).

The Labor Party in WA has legalised euthanasia. The Department of Health in WA stated:

  • As of 1 July 2021, voluntary assisted dying is a choice available to eligible people under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019.

  • Voluntary assisted dying involves a process to access medication and to enable a person to legally choose the manner and timing of their death.

  • Put simply, voluntary assisted dying means that some adults can now ask for medical help to end their life if they have a disease or illness that is so severe it is going to cause their death and their suffering cannot be relieved in a manner tolerable to them.

  • The term ‘voluntary assisted dying’ emphasises the voluntary nature of the choice of the person and their enduring capacity to make this decision.[2]

As I write, Queensland Labor Government is on the verge of legalising voluntary assisted dying.

A Queensland Parliamentary Committee has recommended a bill for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) be passed.

Key points:

  • The legislation will be debated in Parliament next month (September 2021).
  • The committee says it supports considered requirements to allow for balance between accessibility and safeguards
  • Cherish Life says the legislation would have “irreparable damage” to an already struggling health system.

The legislation was introduced to Queensland Parliament by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in May (2021).

A committee has since been examining whether any changes to the bill were needed.

The legislation is expected to be debated next month (September 2021).

The move marks another step towards legalising voluntary assisted dying in Queensland.

MPs from both major parties will be granted a conscience vote.[3]

There is a further development on Tuesday, 14 September 2021:

There will be no changes to the state government’s signature voluntary assisted dying laws, set to be debated in – and expected to pass – Queensland Parliament this week.

It came after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remained coy on Monday(13 September 2021) when asked whether any changes would be made by her cabinet to the voluntary euthanasia bill.

Under the existing bill, adults would be able to end their lives under strict criteria – which includes them having a diagnosed eligible condition expected to cause death within a year.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles will announce on Tuesday (14 September 2021) that the government will not propose any changes to the bill, and he will urge MPs to not support changes potentially put forward by others.

Mr Miles will also outline to Parliament the guidelines for doctors at faith-based hospitals, such as Mater and St Vincent’s facilities, and how they will perform voluntary euthanasia procedures.

The guidelines for faith-based providers to be confirmed on Tuesday address the circumstances where patients may be transferred to another facility, and how facilities or institutions can inform the public they do not provide VAD dying services (Crockford & Dennien 2021).

To my dying day, when God takes me to glory, I will never vote for the Labor Party that supports this culture of killing people.

The major problem with voluntary assisted dying is that it violates a fundamental between people and God:

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb 9:27 NIV). People accepting VAD must be ready to face God in judgment.

clip_image003Whose responsibility is it to take life? God gives and takes life. It is not within the realm of a Labor government to introduce unbiblical teaching of killing people who have serious illnesses.

Labor and same-sex marriage

ABC News reported in 2015:

“What the Labor Party does with this resolution is we lay down the challenge to Mr Abbott and his Liberals — please give your members of parliament a free vote so we can make marriage equality a reality now,” he said.

Labor’s greatest conference moments

As part of the compromise deal, Mr Shorten pledged to move to legalise same sex marriage should he win the election.

“I promise that within 100 days of a Labor government being elected that I shall move in the parliament of Australia for marriage equality for Australians,” he said.

“Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change that sends a powerful message.”

Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek had been pushing for a binding vote but seconded Mr Shorten’s motion at the conference.

“I still hope we can have marriage equality by Christmas, but if this Parliament doesn’t pass marriage equality a Shorten-Labor government will within its first 100 days,” she said (Norman & Uhlman 2015).

The Scriptures clearly oppose homosexuality as a sin. See Romans 1:24-27 (NIV) and 1 Cor 6:9-11 (NIV). Therefore, Labor promotes sin which destroys families, society and causes people to lose their eternal salvation.

Again, I cannot vote for Labor with its support for outright wrongdoing (sin). In addition, the promotion of homosexual marriage violates God’s view of the heterosexual marriage union as his absolute for married life. See Gen 2:18, 24; Matt 19:5; and Eph 5:31.

The Australian Medical Association opposes euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Read its statement HERE.

Works consulted

Crockford, Tony & Matt Dennien 2021. The Sydney Morning Herald, “No changes to voluntary euthanasia bill, set to become law this week,” 14 September, accessed 14 September, https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensland/no-changes-to-voluntary-euthanasia-bill-set-to-become-law-this-week-20210913-p58r6t.html.

Norman, Jane & Chris Uhlmann 2015. ABC News, 26 July, accessed 14 September 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-26/labor-party-national-conference-same-sex-marriage-vote/6648834.

Tingle, Laura 2019. ABC News, “Why conservatives are not making a fuss over Labor’s abortion policy,” 14 March, accessed 13 September 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-14/conservatives-arent-making-a-fuss-over-labors-abortion-policy/10893662.

Notes


[1] Michael Koziol 2019. “Chris Bowen withdraws from Labor leadership race as Albanese and Chalmers deal firms,” The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 22 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/chris-bowen-to-withdraw-from-labor-leadership-race-as-albanese-and-chalmers-deal-firms-20190522-p51q2r.html (Accessed 23 May 2019).

[2] Government of Western Australia, Department of Health, “Voluntary Assisted Dying,” accessed 13 September 2021, https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying.

[3] ABC News, “Voluntary assisted dying legislation recommended to be passed in Queensland Parliament,” 20 August, accessed 13 September 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-20/qld-voluntary-assisted-dying-bill-recommended-by-parliament/100394626.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2021.

The New Testament evidence refutes a postmodern resurrection

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. The surplus of views on Jesus’ resurrection

Jesus has caused lots of unorthodox and orthodox views of his resurrection to be promoted. Let’s look at some of these views:

1.1 Unorthodox verdicts

Immediately below are examples of different views of the resurrection that are unorthodox.

Paul Tillich

“Tillich’s own theory: the resurrection really is a statement that the existential Jesus has become, for those who have faith, the essential Christ in whom Godhead and manhood are so united that existential human possibility has become essential manhood or humanity. This is the ‘restitution’ theory, as Tillich calls it” (source).

Rudolf Bultmann

Bultmann’s view on the resurrection is:

It is also possible for something to have profound historic (geschichtlich) meaning and significance but remain unverifiable as a historical (historisch) fact: e.g., the resurrection of Jesus.

The distinction becomes especially critical in terms of the death and resurrection of Jesus, because the two terms overlap in this case. The crucifixion and death of Jesus are both historical (historisch)—they actually happened in history and can be verified by historical research—and historic (geschichtlich)—they have lasting significance and meaning for history. The resurrection of Jesus, however, is not a historical (historisch) event—it cannot be verified by historical research, and thus cannot be proven to have actually occurred in history—but it is a historic (geschichtlich) event—it has lasting effects and significance for history (source, pp. 54-55).

Karl Barth

After Carl Henry identified himself as the editor of Christianity Today, he asked Barth:

“The question, Dr. Barth, concerns the historical factuality of the resurrection of Jesus.” I pointed to the press table and noted the presence of leading religion editors. . . . If these journalists had their present duties in the time of Jesus, I asked, was the resurrection of such a nature that covering some aspect of it would have fallen into their area of responsibility? “Was it news,” I asked, “in the sense that the man in the street understands news?”

Barth became angry.  Pointing at me, and recalling my identification, he asked “Did you say Christianity Today or Christianity Yesterday?” The audience—largely nonevangelical professors and clergy—roared with delight. When encountered unexpectedly in this way, one often reaches for a Scripture verse. So I replied, assuredly out of biblical context, “Yesterday, today and forever.” 1

Indeed! The historically verifiable, bodily resurrection of Jesus the Lord must be defended in every generation—a perennial responsibility with great privilege as part of Gospel proclamation. Christian leaders have done so from antiquity, and the Church now enjoys a wealth of resources for the challenge (source).

Wolfhart Pannenberg

It is certainly true that Pannenberg repeatedly uses the word metaphor in connection with the resurrection. He does so, for example, in his Systematic Theology: ‘The language of the resurrection of Jesus is that of metaphor’. As such, it rests on the underlying metaphor which speaks of death as sleep. This is part of the reason that Pannenberg prefers Paul’s account of the resurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:5–7) to the Synoptists: the latter have a tendency ‘to underscore the corporeality of the encounters’ and therefore offer no firm basis for historical considerations’ (source).

Robert Funk

But scholars — who included Burton Mack, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan — also concluded that the religious significance of Jesus’ resurrection did not depend on historical fact (Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2005).

Marcus Borg

“Professor MARCUS BORG (Oregon State University): I do believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I’m just skeptical that it involved anything happening to his corpse. . . .

“Note that Jones does not simply believe that the resurrection was material, physical, and bodily, but insists that it must have been so. Though I disagree I am happy to say to him and others who hold this view, “Believe whatever you want about whether the resurrection of Jesus was in material physical bodily form” – which I understand to mean that it was an event that could have been recorded by a news crew if they had been there. Believe whatever you want about that. Now let’s talk about what the resurrection of Jesus means (source).

John Dominic Crossan

All great religions offer humanity parables bigger than themselves. So also here. When Christ, rising from the dead after having been executed for nonviolent resistance against violent imperial justice, grasps the hands of Adam and Eve, he creates a parable of possibility and a metaphor of hope for all of humanity’s redemption. Even though Christ is crucified for his nonviolent resistance, this Crucifixion and Resurrection imagery challenges our species to redeem our world and save our earth by transcending the escalatory violence we create as civilization’s normal trajectory. And the universal resurrection imagery makes it clear that we are all involved in this process” (source).

Bart Ehrman

One of the most outspoken detractors of Jesus’ deity and the truthfulness of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, writes, “But then something else happened. Some of [Jesus’ followers] began to say that God had intervened and brought [Jesus] back from the dead. The story caught on, and some (or all – we don’t know) of his closest followers came to think that in fact he had been raised” (Did Jesus Exist?, 233). So did the early Christians invent the resurrection of Jesus? For his part, Ehrman disputes that Jesus’ tomb was empty. This is in part because neither Joseph of Arimathea—the man who put Jesus in the tomb according to the Gospels—nor the tomb itself are mentioned in the earliest creed (1 Cor 15:3b-5a; How Jesus Became God, 129-69). Yet 1 Cor 15:4 does say, “He was buried,” and proceeds to affirm, “He was raised.” The obvious historical conclusion is that whatever Jesus was buried in, presumably a tomb, was now empty! (source)

2. Orthodox perspectives

Gary Habermas

Dr. Gary Habermas has coined a method to show the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus called “The Minimal Facts” approach to the resurrection.

These facts are used by Habermas for three main reasons:

1. The vast majority of scholars accept these facts as historical.

2. They are well established by the historical method.

3. The only explanation that can account for the existence of all these facts is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

Actually, Habermas uses about 11 or 12 minimal facts but the resurrection can be demonstrated using only about 3 or 4. Here we will include the 6 facts that fulfill the requirement of being accepted by most scholars. These facts are:

1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.

2. The disciples had experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.

3. The disciples were thoroughly transformed, even being willing to die for this belief.

4. The apostolic proclamation of the resurrection began very early, when the church was in its infancy.

5. James, the brother of Jesus and a former skeptic, became a Christian due to an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.

6. Saul (Paul), the church persecutor, became a Christian due to an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.

Habermas knows this because he has traced about 3400 sources including atheist, agnostic, and other critical scholars in French, English and German (source).

Norman Geisler

However, there are many good reasons to reject this “dehistoricizing” of the text:

1. This passage is part of a historical narrative in a historical record—the Gospel of Matthew. Both the larger setting (the Gospel of Matthew) and the specific context (the crucifixion and resurrection narrative) demand the presumption of historicity, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary in the text, its context, or in other Scripture—which there is not.

2. This text manifests no literary signs of being poetic or legendary, such as those found in parables,  poems, or  symbolic  presentations.*  Hence, it should be taken in the sense in which it presents itself, namely, as factual history.

3. This passage gives no indication of being a legendary embellishment, but it is a short, simple,  straight-forward account in the exact style one expects in a brief historical narrative.

4. This event occurs in the context of other important historical events—the death and resurrection of Christ—and there is no indication that it is an insertion foreign to the text. To the contrary, the repeated use of “and” shows its integral connection to the other historical events surrounding the report.

5.  The resurrection of these saints is presented as the result of the physical historical resurrection of Christ.  For these saints were resurrected only “after” Jesus was resurrected and as a result of it (Matt 27:53) since Jesus is the “firstfruits” of the dead (1Cor 15:20).  It makes no sense to claim that a legend emerged as the immediate result of Jesus’ physical resurrection.  Nor would it have been helpful to the cause of early Christians in defending the literal resurrection of Christ for them to incorporate legends, myths, or apocalyptic events alongside His actual resurrection in the inspired text of Scripture.

6. Early Fathers of the Christian Church, who were closer to this event, took it as historical, sometimes even including it as an apologetic argument for the resurrection of Christ (e.g., Irenaeus, Fragments, XXVIII; Origen,Against Celsus,  Book II, Article XXXIII; Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews, Chap. XIII).

7. The record has the same pattern as the historical records of Jesus’ physical and historical resurrection: (a) there were dead bodies; (b) they were buried in a tomb; (c) they were raised to life again; (d) they came out of the tomb and left it empty; (e) they appeared to many witnesses.

8. An overwhelming  consensus of the great orthodox teachers of the Church for the past nearly two thousand years supports the view that this account should be read as a historical record, and, consequently, as reporting historical truth.

9. Modern objections to a straight-forward acceptance of this passage as a true historical narrative are based on a faulty hermeneutic, violating sound principles of interpretation. For example, they (a) make a presumptive identification of its genre, based on extra-biblical sources, rather than analyzing the text for its style, grammar, and content in its context; or, (b) they use events reported outside of the Bible to pass judgment on whether or not the biblical event is historical.

10. The faulty hermeneutic principles used in point 9 could be used, without any further justification, to deny other events in the gospels as historical.  Since there is no hermeneutical criterion of “magnitude,” the same principles could also be used to relegate events such as the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection of Christ to the realm of legend (source).

William Lane Craig

Jesus’ resurrection – The doctrine should be understood as an historical event

Liberal theology could not survive World War I, but its demise brought no renewed interest in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, for the two schools that succeeded it were united in their devaluation of the historical with regard to Jesus. Thus, dialectical theology, propounded by Karl Barth, championed the doctrine of the resurrection, but would have nothing to do with the resurrection as an event of history. In his commentary on the book of Romans (1919), the early Barth declared, “The resurrection touches history as a tangent touches a circle-that is, without really touching it.” Existential theology, exemplified by Rudolf Bultmann, was even more antithetical to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.

Though Bultmann acknowledged that the earliest disciples believed in the literal resurrection of Jesus and that Paul in I Corinthians 15 even attempts to prove the resurrection, he nevertheless pronounces such a procedure as “fatal.” It reduces Christ’s resurrection to a nature miracle akin to the resurrection of a corpse. And modern man cannot be reasonably asked to believe in nature miracles before becoming a Christian. Therefore, the miraculous elements of the gospel must be demythologized to reveal the true Christian message: the call to authentic existence in the face of death, symbolized by the cross. The resurrection is merely a symbolic re-statement of the message of the cross and essentially adds nothing to it. To appeal to the resurrection as historical evidence, as did Paul, is doubly wrong-headed, for it is of the very nature of existential faith that it is a leap without evidence. Thus, to argue historically for the resurrection is contrary to faith. Clearly then, the antipathy of liberal theology to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection remained unrelieved by either dialectical or existential theology.

But a remarkable change has come about during the second half of the 20th century. The first glimmerings of change began to appear in 1953. In that year Ernst Käsemann, a pupil of Bultmann, argued at a Colloquy at the University of Marburg that Bultmann’s historical skepticism toward Jesus was unwarranted and counterproductive and suggested re-opening the question of where the historical about Jesus was to be found. A new quest of the historical Jesus had begun. Three years later in 1956 the Marburg theologian Hans Grass subjected the resurrection itself to historical inquiry and concluded that the resurrection appearances cannot be dismissed as mere subjective visions on the part of the disciples, but were objective visionary events.

Meanwhile the church historian Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen in an equally epochal essay defended the historical credibility of Jesus’ empty tomb. During the ensuing years a stream of works on the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection flowed forth from German, French and English presses. By 1968 the old skepticism was a spent force and began dramatically to recede. So complete has been the turn-about during the second half of this century concerning the resurrection of Jesus that it is no exaggeration to speak of a reversal of scholarship on this issue, such that those who deny the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection now seem to be the ones on the defensive.

Perhaps one of the most significant theological developments in this connection is the theological system of Wolfhart Pannenberg, who bases his entire Christology on the historical evidence for Jesus’ ministry and especially the resurrection. This is a development undreamed of in German theology prior to 1950. Equally startling is the declaration of one of the world’s leading Jewish theologians Pinchas Lapid, that he is convinced on the basis of the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Lapide twits New Testament critics like Bultmann and Marxsen for their unjustified skepticism and concludes that he believes on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead.

What are the facts that underlie this remarkable reversal of opinion concerning the credibility of the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection? It seems to me that they can be conveniently grouped under three heads: the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith. Let’s look briefly at each.

Jesus’ resurrection – The resurrection appearances (source)

N T Wright

The Question of Jesus’ resurrection lies at the heart of the Christian faith.  There is no form of early Christianity known to us that does not affirm that after Jesus’ shameful death God raised him to life again.  That affirmation is, in particular, the constant response of earlier Christianity to one of the four key questions about Jesus that must be raised by all serious historians of the first century.  I have elsewhere addressed the first three such questions, namely what was Jesus’ relation to Judaism?  What were his aims?  Why did he die?1  The fourth question is this: Granted the foregoing, why did Christianity arise and take the shape it did?  To this question, virtually all early Christians known to us give the same answer, “He was raised from the dead.”  The historian must therefore investigate what they meant by this and what can be said by way of historical comment (source).

Wayne Grudem

Jesus rose from the dead. The Gospels contain abundant evidence to demonstrate Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-53 and John 20:1-21:25. In addition, the rest of the New Testament depends on Jesus rising from the dead.

But Jesus resurrection was not a mere resuscitation. Unlike what happened to Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Jesus rose from the dead with a new kind of life. For instance, Jesus was not immediately recognized by his disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-22). And Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus at first at the tomb on Sunday morning (John 20:1).

On the other hand, there was continuity between Jesus’ resurrected body and his other body. Though they may have been initially startled at meeting Jesus again, they were convinced he had risen from the dead (Luke 24:33, 37). There are some important aspects of Jesus’ resurrected body:

The Significance of Jesus’ Resurrection

There are several doctrinal implications to Jesus’ resurrection. For one, Christians are born again through Jesus’ resurrection: “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). In another place, Paul tells us God “raised us up with him” (Ephesians 2:6). So the resurrection ensured our spiritual regeneration.

In addition, the resurrection ensured our justification. Paul wrote to the Romans, Jesus was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). That means our approval before God is contingent upon Jesus rising from the dead. All the penalties we deserved were counted toward Jesus because of his resurrection, at least partially.

Finally, Jesus’ resurrection points to our eventual resurrection. Paul tells us, “and God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). In another place, Paul calls the resurrection of Jesus the “firstfruits” or first taste of a ripening crop. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so also Christians will be raised from the dead according to the Scripture (source).

George Eldon Ladd

Our modern world has a very different view of the supernatural and miracles than was the case in the time of Jesus. Accounts of alleged miracles were common at that time. There are a variety of interpretations of the historicity of the resurrection. Some believe it was an historical event and subject to public verification, while others believe faith is necessary for properly interpreting the historical facts. Others maintain that it was a historical event but it transcends historical verification and historical meaning (i.e. it is an eschatological, meta-historical event). Bultmann denies that the resurrection was an event in history and asserts that its meaning is found in the kerygma and encounter with Jesus through preaching.

This book will argue that the historical facts do not coerce faith, but faith is supported by these facts. For many, the resurrection is denied on an a priori basis, following Enlightenment presuppositions about naturalistic causes and effects in a closed system. In this model, supernatural intervention in history is ruled out in principle. The biblical world is one where people believed in supernatural acts. It is not properly scientific to reach conclusions before the evidence is studied inductively. Naturalism is not open to certain possibilities, and as a result misses the best explanation of the data (source).

2.1 Critique of metaphorical / symbolical resurrection

How do we know that the metaphorical/symbolical resurrection of Jesus is the incorrect one? When we go to the Gospel texts, we find these post-resurrection appearances of Jesus that were not apparitions:

  • He met his disciples in Galilee and gave them ‘greetings’ (Matt 28:9);
  • They ‘took hold of his feet’ and Jesus spoke to them (Matt 28:10);
  • ‘They saw him’ and ‘worshiped him’ (Matt 28:17);
  • Two people going to the village of Emmaus urged Jesus to stay with them. ‘He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them’ and their eyes were opened concerning who he was (Luke 24:28-35).
  • Jesus stood among his disciples and said, ‘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).
  • ‘He showed them [the disciples] his hands and his feet’. While they still disbelieved, Jesus asked: “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them’ (Luke 24: 42-43).
  • Jesus ‘opened their minds to understand the Scriptures’ and told them that ‘you are witnesses of these things’ – Jesus suffering and rising from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:45-48).
  • Jesus said to Mary [Magdalene], ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”’ (John 20:17);
  • Jesus’ stood among his disciples (the doors were locked) and said to them, ‘”Peace be with you.” When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord’ (John 20:19-20) and then Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).
  • Doubting Thomas was told by the other disciples that ‘we have seen the Lord’ but he said, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe’ (John 20:25). Eight days later, Thomas was with the disciples again and Jesus stood among them and said to Thomas, ‘”Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”’ (John 20:27-29).
  • The metaphorical resurrection is an extra added to the biblical texts.

This string of references from the Gospels (and I haven’t included the glut of information in 1 Corinthians 15) reveals that in Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, he demonstrated to his disciples that ‘a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39).

There is an abundance of witness here to the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was bodily. His post-resurrection body was one that spoke, ate food and could be touched. It was a resuscitated physical body and not some metaphorical / symbolic event.

What Korb and Spong promote is a postmodern, reader-response free play invention, according to the creative imaginations of Korb and Spong. It does not relate to the truth of what is stated in the Gospels of the New Testament.

John Shelby Spong stated, “I don’t think the Resurrection has anything to do with physical resuscitation,” he said. “I think it means the life of Jesus was raised back into the life of God, not into the life of this world, and that it was out of this that his presence” — not his body — “was manifested to certain witnesses” (source).

Winston obtained a comment from Professor Scott Korb of New York University, aged 37 at the time, a non-practicing Catholic, who moved from a literal to a symbolic resurrection. His concept of the resurrection is, ‘What I mean is that we can reach the lowest points of our lives, of going deep into a place that feels like death, and then find our way out again — that’s the story the Resurrection now tells me. And at Easter, this is expressed in community, and at its best, through the compassion of others’. Korb rejects ‘the miracle of a bodily resurrection’. For Korb, this change from literal to metaphorical resurrection ‘has given the story more power’. For him the metaphorical view allows people to return to the story year after year and find new meaning in it (source).

3. My postmodern reconstruction of Korb and Spong’s writings

Since both Korb and Spong rewrite the resurrection of Jesus to replace the bodily resurrection with a metaphorical perspective, what would happen if I read Korb and Spong as they read the resurrection accounts?

Let’s try my free play deconstruction of Korb. According to Winston, Korb said of Jesus’ resurrection, ‘What I mean is that we can reach the lowest points of our lives, of going deep into a place that feels like death, and then find our way out again — that’s the story the Resurrection now tells me. And at Easter, this is expressed in community, and at its best, through the compassion of others’. Korb rejects ‘the miracle of a bodily resurrection’ but this metaphorical resurrection ‘has given the story more power’.

What he means is that when people reach the end of the drought declared in the outback country of Australia, they are about to receive cash from the government as a handout to relieve this sheep-rearing family from the death throws of drought. The resurrection is into new hope for the family and the community of that outback town in Queensland. At Easter, the compassion from the government has reached that community and family. This metaphorical, postmodern, deconstructed story of what Korb said is powerful in giving that town hope for a resurrected future.

That is the meaning of what Easter means to me, as told by Scott Korb. Why should my reconstruction not be as acceptable as Korb’s? Mine is a reader-response to Korb’s statement as much as his was a personal reader-response of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection.

My reader-response is destructive of Korb’s intent in what he said. The truth is that what Korb stated needs to be accepted literally as from him and not distorted like I made his statements. Using the same standards, Korb’s deconstruction of the Gospel resurrection accounts destroys literal meaning. He and I would not read the local newspaper or any book that way. Neither should we approach the Gospel accounts of the resurrection in such a fashion.

Therefore, the biblical evidence confirms that Jesus’ resurrection involved the resuscitation of a dead physical body to a revived physical body.

4. The facts point to Jesus’ bodily resurrection

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(Jesus’ bodily resurrection best explains the data: factsandfaith.com )

Since I have demonstrated from the Gospels that Jesus’ resurrection appearances involved a bodily resurrection, we know this because,

5.1 People touched him with their hands.

5.2 Jesus’ resurrection body had real flesh and bones.

5.3 Jesus ate real tucker (Aussie for ‘food’).

5.4 Take a look at the wounds in his body.

5.5 Jesus could be seen and heard.

There are three added factors that reinforce Jesus’ bodily resurrection. They are:

5.6 The Greek word, soma, always means physical body.

When used of an individual human being, the word body (soma) always means a physical body in the New Testament.  There are no exceptions to this usage in the New Testament.  Paul uses soma of the resurrection body of Christ [and of the resurrected bodies of people – yet to come] (I Cor. 15:42-44), thus indicating his belief that it was a physical body (Geisler 1999 668).

In that magnificent passage of I Corinthians 15 about the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of people in the last days, why is Paul insisting that the soma must be a physical body?  It is because the physical body is central in Paul’s teaching on salvation (Gundry in Geisler 1999:668)

In his magisterial publication, The Resurrection of the Son of God, N T Wright (2003) spent approximately 500 of 817 pages demonstrating that soma meant ‘body’ and so when applied to Jesus’ resurrection, it meant bodily resurrection and not an apparition or some other kind of resurrection. Wright’s assessment of the 1 Corinthian letter is that …

The resurrection would not only be bodily (the idea of a non-bodily resurrection would have been as much an oxymoron to him as it would to both Jews and pagans of his day; whether you believed in resurrection or not, the word meant bodies), but it would also involve transformation (Wright 2003:372)

5.7 Jesus’ body came out from among the dead

There’s a prepositional phrase that is used in the NT to describe resurrection “from (ek) the dead” (cf. Mark 9:9; Luke 24:46; John 2:22; Acts 3:15; Rom. 4:24; I Cor. 15:12). That sounds like a ho-hum kind of phrase in English, ‘from the dead’. Not so in the Greek.

This Greek preposition, ek, means Jesus was resurrected ‘out from among’ the dead bodies, that is, from the grave where corpses are buried (Acts 13:29-30).  These same words are used to describe Lazarus being raised ‘from (ek) the dead’ (John 12:1). In this case there was no doubt that he came out of the grave in the same body in which he was buried. Thus, resurrection was of a physical corpse out of a tomb or graveyard (Geisler 1999:668).

This confirms the physical nature of the resurrection body.

5.8 He appeared to over 500 people at the one time.

Paul to the Corinthians wrote that Christ

appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] also, as to one abnormally born (I Cor. 15:5-8).

You could not believe the discussion and controversy one little verb has caused among Bible teachers.  Christ ‘appeared’ to whom?  Here, Paul says, Peter, the twelve disciples, over 500 other Christians, James, all the apostles, and to Paul ‘as to one abnormally born’.

The main controversy has been over whether this was some supernatural revelation called an ‘appearance’ or was it actually ‘seeing’ his physical being. These are the objective facts: Christ became flesh; he died in the flesh; he was raised in the flesh and he appeared to these hundreds of people in the flesh.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was not a form of ‘spiritual’ existence. Just as he was truly dead and buried, so he was truly raised from the dead bodily and seen by a large number of witnesses on a variety of occasions (Fee 1987:728).

No wonder the Book of Acts can begin with: ‘After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3).

6. Why is the bodily resurrection of Jesus important?

We must understand how serious it is to deny the resurrection, the bodily resurrection, of Jesus.  Paul told the Corinthians: ‘If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised , our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (I Cor. 15:13-14).

The updated World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press, says that by mid-century there will be 3 billion Christians, constituting 34.3% of the world´s population, up from the current 33%.

Christians now number 2 billion and are divided into 33,820 denominations and churches, in 238 countries, and use 7,100 languages, the encyclopedia says (Zenit 2001).

If there is no bodily resurrection, we might as well announce it to the world and tell all Christians they are living a lie and ought to go practise some other religion or whoop it up in a carefree way of eating, drinking and being merry.

British evangelist and apologist, Michael Green (b. 1930), summarised the main issues about the bodily resurrection of Christ:

The supreme miracle of Christianity is the resurrection. . . . [In the New Testament] assurance of the resurrection shines out from every page.  It is the crux of Christianity, the heart of the matter.  If it is true, then there is a future for mankind; and death and suffering have to be viewed in a totally new light.  If it is not true, Christianity collapses into mythology.  In that case we are, as Saul of Tarsus conceded, of all men most to be pitied (Green 1990:184).

7. BELIEF IN THE BODILY RESURRECTION IS ESSENTIAL FOR CHRISTIANS

7.1 Belief in the resurrection of Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation

Romans 10:9 states: ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’. Salvation means that you are saved from God’s wrath because of the resurrection of Christ. You are saved from hell.

Your new birth, regeneration is guaranteed by the resurrection. First Peter 1:3 states that ‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.

The spiritual power within every Christian happens because of the resurrection. Paul assured the Ephesians of Christ’s ‘incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 1:19-20).  You can’t have spiritual power in your life without the resurrected Christ.

In one passage, Paul links your justification through faith to the resurrection; he associates directly your being declared righteous, your being not guilty before God, with Christ’s resurrection.  Romans 4:25 states that Jesus ‘was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification’.

Your salvation, being born again, justification, having spiritual power in the Christian life depends on your faith in the raising of Jesus from the dead.  Not any old resurrection will do. Jesus’ body after the resurrection was not a spirit or phantom. It was a real, physical body. If you don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ, on the basis of this verse, you can’t be saved.

Also,

7.2 Christ’s resurrection proves that he is God

From very early in his ministry, Jesus’ predicted his resurrection.  The Jews asked him for a sign. According to John 2:19-21, ‘Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days”… But the temple he had spoken of was his body’.  Did you get that?  Jesus predicted that he, being God, would have his body – of the man Jesus – destroyed and three days later, he would raise this body.

Jesus continued to predict his resurrection: ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ (Matt. 12:40).  See also Mark 8:31; 14:59; and Matt. 27:63.

The third reason Christ’s bodily resurrection is core Christianity is:

7.3 Life after death is guaranteed!

Remember what Jesus taught his disciples in John 14:19, ‘Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live’. If you truly have saving faith in Christ, his resurrection makes life after death a certainty.

Another piece of evidence to support the resurrection as a central part of Christianity is:

7.4 Christ’s bodily resurrection guarantees that believers will receive perfect resurrection bodies as well.

After you die and Christ comes again, the New Testament connects Christ’s resurrection with our final bodily resurrection. First Cor. 6:14 states, ‘By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also’.

In the most extensive discussion on the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the Christian’s own bodily resurrection, Paul states that Christ is ‘the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Cor. 15:20).  What are ‘firstfruits’? It’s an agricultural metaphor indicating the first taste of the ripening crop, showing that the full harvest is coming.  This shows what believers’ resurrection bodies, the full harvest, will be like. The New Living Translation provides this translation of 1 Cor. 15:20 to explain it in down to earth terms, ‘But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died’.

Do you see how critically important it is to have a biblical understanding of the nature of Christ’s resurrection – his bodily resurrection?

In spite of so many in the liberal church establishment denying the bodily resurrection of Christ or dismissing it totally, there are those who stand firm on the bodily resurrection. Among those is Dr Albert Mohler who provides a summary of the essential need for Jesus’ resurrection:

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19].

Yet, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been under persistent attacks since the Apostolic age. Why? Because it is the central confirmation of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God, and the ultimate sign of Christ’s completed work of atonement, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. Those who oppose Christ, whether first century religious leaders or twentieth century secularists, recognize the Resurrection as the vindication of Christ against His enemies (Mohler 2016).

8. Conclusion: Genuine hope

What is the ‘genuine hope’ of Jesus’ resurrection? Nothing could be clearer than what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 (NLT), ‘If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins’.

The hope that relates to Christ’s resurrection was not expressed by Archbishop Coleridge in what was cited by Cooper, ‘genuine hope that satisfies the human heart’ and not the cheap cosmetic hope. The latter was not defined. Was it a hope so?

The fact is that if there is no bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith is futile, worthless or useless and all human beings are still in their sins. This means there is no forgiveness and cleansing for sins and so no hope of eternal life with God. It is serious business to deny or reconstruct the resurrection. It is redefining Christianity to make it something that it is not.

First Corinthians 15 (NLT) gives at least 8 reasons why Jesus’ bodily resurrection is more than that expressed in Cooper’s (2016) article:

a. Christ’s resurrection is tied to the resurrection of believers who have died (15:12);

b. If Christ has not been raised, preaching is useless (15:14);

c. If no resurrection, faith is useless (15:14);

d. If Jesus was not resurrected, those who have preached the resurrection are lying about God and the resurrection (15:15);

e. No resurrection of Jesus means faith in Jesus is useless and all unbelievers are still guilty in their sins (meaning there is no forgiveness for sins) (15:17).

f. If Jesus was not raised, those who have already died are lost/have perished and there is no future resurrection for them (15:18).

g. If we have hope in this life only with no hope of future resurrection, Christians are more to be pitied than anyone in the world (15:19).

h. BUT, the truth is that Christ has been raised from the dead (not metaphorically, but bodily), and He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died (15:20).

9. Can you doubt the resurrection and still be Christian?

There have been those (as pointed out in this article) who have redefined (deconstructed) the resurrection to make it metaphorical or symbolic. Korb, Borg, Funk, Spong, Coleridge and Crossan have done that as Christian representatives. Thus they have doubted and denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. Their reconstructions have caused them to engage in a reader-response innovation of their own making. They have invented what the resurrection means. It is a meaning out of their own minds and worldview. It is not a perspective based on a historical, grammatical, cultural interpretation of Scripture.

Reasons have been given in this article to demonstrate that a person must believe in the bodily resurrection to receive eternal life. Otherwise faith and preaching are useless; people do not have their sins forgiven, and hope is hopeless (see §7).

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God…  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Cor. 15:13-15, 17, 19).

The conclusion is that if Jesus has not been bodily resurrected, faith is faithlessness because it is a useless faith. Now to answer the question of this article: Can you doubt the resurrection and still be Christian? No! Your faith is useless or vain if you doubt or reconstruct the bodily resurrection. You may not like my conclusion, but I’ve provided the evidence above that leads to that biblical conclusion.

Much of this material has been adapted from my article: Junk you hear at Easter about Jesus’ resurrection.

10. Works consulted

Geisler, N L 1999. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Wright, N T 2003, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

The New Testament evidence refutes a theological liberal resurrection of Jesus

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. The surplus of views on Jesus’ resurrection

Jesus has caused lots of unorthodox and orthodox views of his resurrection to be promoted. Let’s look at some of these views:

1.1 Unorthodox verdicts

Immediately below are examples of different views of the resurrection that are unorthodox.

Paul Tillich

“Tillich’s own theory: the resurrection really is a statement that the existential Jesus has become, for those who have faith, the essential Christ in whom Godhead and manhood are so united that existential human possibility has become essential manhood or humanity. This is the ‘restitution’ theory, as Tillich calls it” (source).

Rudolf Bultmann

Bultmann’s view on the resurrection is:

It is also possible for something to have profound historic (geschichtlich) meaning and significance but remain unverifiable as a historical (historisch) fact: e.g., the resurrection of Jesus.

The distinction becomes especially critical in terms of the death and resurrection of Jesus, because the two terms overlap in this case. The crucifixion and death of Jesus are both historical (historisch)—they actually happened in history and can be verified by historical research—and historic (geschichtlich)—they have lasting significance and meaning for history. The resurrection of Jesus, however, is not a historical (historisch) event—it cannot be verified by historical research, and thus cannot be proven to have actually occurred in history—but it is a historic (geschichtlich) event—it has lasting effects and significance for history (source, pp. 54-

55).

Karl Barth

After Carl Henry identified himself as the editor of Christianity Today, he asked Barth:

“The question, Dr. Barth, concerns the historical factuality of the resurrection of Jesus.” I pointed to the press table and noted the presence of leading religion editors. . . . If these journalists had their present duties in the time of Jesus, I asked, was the resurrection of such a nature that covering some aspect of it would have fallen into their area of responsibility? “Was it news,” I asked, “in the sense that the man in the street understands news?”

Barth became angry.  Pointing at me, and recalling my identification, he asked “Did you say Christianity Today or Christianity Yesterday?” The audience—largely nonevangelical professors and clergy—roared with delight. When encountered unexpectedly in this way, one often reaches for a Scripture verse. So I replied, assuredly out of biblical context, “Yesterday, today and forever.” 1

Indeed! The historically verifiable, bodily resurrection of Jesus the Lord must be defended in every generation—a perennial responsibility with great privilege as part of Gospel proclamation. Christian leaders have done so from antiquity, and the Church now enjoys a wealth of resources for the challenge (source).

Wolfhart Pannenberg

It is certainly true that Pannenberg repeatedly uses the word metaphor in connection with the resurrection. He does so, for example, in his Systematic Theology: ‘The language of the resurrection of Jesus is that of metaphor’. As such, it rests on the underlying metaphor which speaks of death as sleep. This is part of the reason that Pannenberg prefers Paul’s account of the resurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:5–7) to the Synoptists: the latter have a tendency ‘to underscore the corporeality of the encounters’ and therefore offer no firm basis for historical considerations’ (source).

Robert Funk

But scholars — who included Burton Mack, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan — also concluded that the religious significance of Jesus’ resurrection did not depend on historical fact (Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2005).

Marcus Borg

“Professor MARCUS BORG (Oregon State University): I do believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I’m just skeptical that it involved anything happening to his corpse. . . .

“Note that Jones does not simply believe that the resurrection was material, physical, and bodily, but insists that it must have been so. Though I disagree I am happy to say to him and others who hold this view, “Believe whatever you want about whether the resurrection of Jesus was in material physical bodily form” – which I understand to mean that it was an event that could have been recorded by a news crew if they had been there. Believe whatever you want about that. Now let’s talk about what the resurrection of Jesus means (source).

John Dominic Crossan

All great religions offer humanity parables bigger than themselves. So also here. When Christ, rising from the dead after having been executed for nonviolent resistance against violent imperial justice, grasps the hands of Adam and Eve, he creates a parable of possibility and a metaphor of hope for all of humanity’s redemption. Even though Christ is crucified for his nonviolent resistance, this Crucifixion and Resurrection imagery challenges our species to redeem our world and save our earth by transcending the escalatory violence we create as civilization’s normal trajectory. And the universal resurrection imagery makes it clear that we are all involved in this process” (source).

Bart Ehrman

One of the most outspoken detractors of Jesus’ deity and the truthfulness of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, writes, “But then something else happened. Some of [Jesus’ followers] began to say that God had intervened and brought [Jesus] back from the dead. The story caught on, and some (or all – we don’t know) of his closest followers came to think that in fact he had been raised” (Did Jesus Exist?, 233). So did the early Christians invent the resurrection of Jesus? For his part, Ehrman disputes that Jesus’ tomb was empty. This is in part because neither Joseph of Arimathea—the man who put Jesus in the tomb according to the Gospels—nor the tomb itself are mentioned in the earliest creed (1 Cor 15:3b-5a; How Jesus Became God, 129-69). Yet 1 Cor 15:4 does say, “He was buried,” and proceeds to affirm, “He was raised.” The obvious historical conclusion is that whatever Jesus was buried in, presumably a tomb, was now empty! (source)

2. Orthodox perspectives

Gary Habermas

Dr. Gary Habermas has coined a method to show the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus called “The Minimal Facts” approach to the resurrection.

These facts are used by Habermas for three main reasons:

1. The vast majority of scholars accept these facts as historical.

2. They are well established by the historical method.

3. The only explanation that can account for the existence of all these facts is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

Actually, Habermas uses about 11 or 12 minimal facts but the resurrection can be demonstrated using only about 3 or 4. Here we will include the 6 facts that fulfill the requirement of being accepted by most scholars. These facts are:

1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.

2. The disciples had experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.

3. The disciples were thoroughly transformed, even being willing to die for this belief.

4. The apostolic proclamation of the resurrection began very early, when the church was in its infancy.

5. James, the brother of Jesus and a former skeptic, became a Christian due to an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.

6. Saul (Paul), the church persecutor, became a Christian due to an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.

Habermas knows this because he has traced about 3400 sources including atheist, agnostic, and other critical scholars in French, English and German (source).

Norman Geisler

However, there are many good reasons to reject this “dehistoricizing” of the text:

1. This passage is part of a historical narrative in a historical record—the Gospel of Matthew. Both the larger setting (the Gospel of Matthew) and the specific context (the crucifixion and resurrection narrative) demand the presumption of historicity, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary in the text, its context, or in other Scripture—which there is not.

2. This text manifests no literary signs of being poetic or legendary, such as those found in parables,  poems, or  symbolic  presentations.*  Hence, it should be taken in the sense in which it presents itself, namely, as factual history.

3. This passage gives no indication of being a legendary embellishment, but it is a short, simple,  straight-forward account in the exact style one expects in a brief historical narrative.

4. This event occurs in the context of other important historical events—the death and resurrection of Christ—and there is no indication that it is an insertion foreign to the text. To the contrary, the repeated use of “and” shows its integral connection to the other historical events surrounding the report.

5.  The resurrection of these saints is presented as the result of the physical historical resurrection of Christ.  For these saints were resurrected only “after” Jesus was resurrected and as a result of it (Matt 27:53) since Jesus is the “firstfruits” of the dead (1Cor 15:20).  It makes no sense to claim that a legend emerged as the immediate result of Jesus’ physical resurrection.  Nor would it have been helpful to the cause of early Christians in defending the literal resurrection of Christ for them to incorporate legends, myths, or apocalyptic events alongside His actual resurrection in the inspired text of Scripture.

6. Early Fathers of the Christian Church, who were closer to this event, took it as historical, sometimes even including it as an apologetic argument for the resurrection of Christ (e.g., Irenaeus, Fragments, XXVIII; Origen,Against Celsus,  Book II, Article XXXIII; Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews, Chap. XIII).

7. The record has the same pattern as the historical records of Jesus’ physical and historical resurrection: (a) there were dead bodies; (b) they were buried in a tomb; (c) they were raised to life again; (d) they came out of the tomb and left it empty; (e) they appeared to many witnesses.

8. An overwhelming  consensus of the great orthodox teachers of the Church for the past nearly two thousand years supports the view that this account should be read as a historical record, and, consequently, as reporting historical truth.

9. Modern objections to a straight-forward acceptance of this passage as a true historical narrative are based on a faulty hermeneutic, violating sound principles of interpretation. For example, they (a) make a presumptive identification of its genre, based on extra-biblical sources, rather than analyzing the text for its style, grammar, and content in its context; or, (b) they use events reported outside of the Bible to pass judgment on whether or not the biblical event is historical.

10. The faulty hermeneutic principles used in point 9 could be used, without any further justification, to deny other events in the gospels as historical.  Since there is no hermeneutical criterion of “magnitude,” the same principles could also be used to relegate events such as the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection of Christ to the realm of legend (source).

William Lane Craig

Jesus’ resurrection – The doctrine should be understood as an historical event

Liberal theology could not survive World War I, but its demise brought no renewed interest in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, for the two schools that succeeded it were united in their devaluation of the historical with regard to Jesus. Thus, dialectical theology, propounded by Karl Barth, championed the doctrine of the resurrection, but would have nothing to do with the resurrection as an event of history. In his commentary on the book of Romans (1919), the early Barth declared, “The resurrection touches history as a tangent touches a circle-that is, without really touching it.” Existential theology, exemplified by Rudolf Bultmann, was even more antithetical to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.

Though Bultmann acknowledged that the earliest disciples believed in the literal resurrection of Jesus and that Paul in I Corinthians 15 even attempts to prove the resurrection, he nevertheless pronounces such a procedure as “fatal.” It reduces Christ’s resurrection to a nature miracle akin to the resurrection of a corpse. And modern man cannot be reasonably asked to believe in nature miracles before becoming a Christian. Therefore, the miraculous elements of the gospel must be demythologized to reveal the true Christian message: the call to authentic existence in the face of death, symbolized by the cross. The resurrection is merely a symbolic re-statement of the message of the cross and essentially adds nothing to it. To appeal to the resurrection as historical evidence, as did Paul, is doubly wrong-headed, for it is of the very nature of existential faith that it is a leap without evidence. Thus, to argue historically for the resurrection is contrary to faith. Clearly then, the antipathy of liberal theology to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection remained unrelieved by either dialectical or existential theology.

But a remarkable change has come about during the second half of the 20th century. The first glimmerings of change began to appear in 1953. In that year Ernst Käsemann, a pupil of Bultmann, argued at a Colloquy at the University of Marburg that Bultmann’s historical skepticism toward Jesus was unwarranted and counterproductive and suggested re-opening the question of where the historical about Jesus was to be found. A new quest of the historical Jesus had begun. Three years later in 1956 the Marburg theologian Hans Grass subjected the resurrection itself to historical inquiry and concluded that the resurrection appearances cannot be dismissed as mere subjective visions on the part of the disciples, but were objective visionary events.

Meanwhile the church historian Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen in an equally epochal essay defended the historical credibility of Jesus’ empty tomb. During the ensuing years a stream of works on the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection flowed forth from German, French and English presses. By 1968 the old skepticism was a spent force and began dramatically to recede. So complete has been the turn-about during the second half of this century concerning the resurrection of Jesus that it is no exaggeration to speak of a reversal of scholarship on this issue, such that those who deny the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection now seem to be the ones on the defensive.

Perhaps one of the most significant theological developments in this connection is the theological system of Wolfhart Pannenberg, who bases his entire Christology on the historical evidence for Jesus’ ministry and especially the resurrection. This is a development undreamed of in German theology prior to 1950. Equally startling is the declaration of one of the world’s leading Jewish theologians Pinchas Lapid, that he is convinced on the basis of the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Lapide twits New Testament critics like Bultmann and Marxsen for their unjustified skepticism and concludes that he believes on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead.

What are the facts that underlie this remarkable reversal of opinion concerning the credibility of the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection? It seems to me that they can be conveniently grouped under three heads: the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith. Let’s look briefly at each.

Jesus’ resurrection – The resurrection appearances (source)

N T Wright

The Question of Jesus’ resurrection lies at the heart of the Christian faith.  There is no form of early Christianity known to us that does not affirm that after Jesus’ shameful death God raised him to life again.  That affirmation is, in particular, the constant response of earlier Christianity to one of the four key questions about Jesus that must be raised by all serious historians of the first century.  I have elsewhere addressed the first three such questions, namely what was Jesus’ relation to Judaism?  What were his aims?  Why did he die?1  The fourth question is this: Granted the foregoing, why did Christianity arise and take the shape it did?  To this question, virtually all early Christians known to us give the same answer, “He was raised from the dead.”  The historian must therefore investigate what they meant by this and what can be said by way of historical comment (source).

Wayne Grudem

Jesus rose from the dead. The Gospels contain abundant evidence to demonstrate Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-53 and John 20:1-21:25. In addition, the rest of the New Testament depends on Jesus rising from the dead.

But Jesus resurrection was not a mere resuscitation. Unlike what happened to Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Jesus rose from the dead with a new kind of life. For instance, Jesus was not immediately recognized by his disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-22). And Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus at first at the tomb on Sunday morning (John 20:1).

On the other hand, there was continuity between Jesus’ resurrected body and his other body. Though they may have been initially startled at meeting Jesus again, they were convinced he had risen from the dead (Luke 24:33, 37). There are some important aspects of Jesus’ resurrected body:

The Significance of Jesus’ Resurrection

There are several doctrinal implications to Jesus’ resurrection. For one, Christians are born again through Jesus’ resurrection: “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). In another place, Paul tells us God “raised us up with him” (Ephesians 2:6). So the resurrection ensured our spiritual regeneration.

In addition, the resurrection ensured our justification. Paul wrote to the Romans, Jesus was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). That means our approval before God is contingent upon Jesus rising from the dead. All the penalties we deserved were counted toward Jesus because of his resurrection, at least partially.

Finally, Jesus’ resurrection points to our eventual resurrection. Paul tells us, “and God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). In another place, Paul calls the resurrection of Jesus the “firstfruits” or first taste of a ripening crop. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so also Christians will be raised from the dead according to the Scripture (source).

George Eldon Ladd

Our modern world has a very different view of the supernatural and miracles than was the case in the time of Jesus. Accounts of alleged miracles were common at that time. There are a variety of interpretations of the historicity of the resurrection. Some believe it was an historical event and subject to public verification, while others believe faith is necessary for properly interpreting the historical facts. Others maintain that it was a historical event but it transcends historical verification and historical meaning (i.e. it is an eschatological, meta-historical event). Bultmann denies that the resurrection was an event in history and asserts that its meaning is found in the kerygma and encounter with Jesus through preaching.

This book will argue that the historical facts do not coerce faith, but faith is supported by these facts. For many, the resurrection is denied on an a priori basis, following Enlightenment presuppositions about naturalistic causes and effects in a closed system. In this model, supernatural intervention in history is ruled out in principle. The biblical world is one where people believed in supernatural acts. It is not properly scientific to reach conclusions before the evidence is studied inductively. Naturalism is not open to certain possibilities, and as a result misses the best explanation of the data (source).

2.1 Critique of metaphorical / symbolical resurrection

How do we know that the metaphorical/symbolical resurrection of Jesus is the incorrect one? When we go to the Gospel texts, we find these post-resurrection appearances of Jesus that were not apparitions:

  • He met his disciples in Galilee and gave them ‘greetings’ (Matt 28:9);
  • They ‘took hold of his feet’ and Jesus spoke to them (Matt 28:10);
  • ‘They saw him’ and ‘worshiped him’ (Matt 28:17);
  • Two people going to the village of Emmaus urged Jesus to stay with them. ‘He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them’ and their eyes were opened concerning who he was (Luke 24:28-35).
  • Jesus stood among his disciples and said, ‘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).
  • ‘He showed them [the disciples] his hands and his feet’. While they still disbelieved, Jesus asked: “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them’ (Luke 24: 42-43).
  • Jesus ‘opened their minds to understand the Scriptures’ and told them that ‘you are witnesses of these things’ – Jesus suffering and rising from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:45-48).
  • Jesus said to Mary [Magdalene], ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”’ (John 20:17);
  • Jesus’ stood among his disciples (the doors were locked) and said to them, ‘”Peace be with you.” When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord’ (John 20:19-20) and then Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).
  • Doubting Thomas was told by the other disciples that ‘we have seen the Lord’ but he said, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe’ (John 20:25). Eight days later, Thomas was with the disciples again and Jesus stood among them and said to Thomas, ‘”Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”’ (John 20:27-29).

This string of references from the Gospels (and I haven’t included the glut of information in 1 Corinthians 15) reveals that in Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, he demonstrated to his disciples that ‘a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39).

There is an abundance of witness here to the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was bodily. His post-resurrection body was one that spoke, ate food and could be touched. It was a resuscitated physical body and not some metaphorical / symbolic event.

What Korb and Spong promote is a postmodern, reader-response free play invention, according to the creative imaginations of Korb and Spong. It does not relate to the truth of what is stated in the Gospels of the New Testament.

3. My postmodern reconstruction of Korb and Spong’s writings

Since both Korb and Spong rewrite the resurrection of Jesus to replace the bodily resurrection with a metaphorical perspective, what would happen if I read Korb and Spong as they read the resurrection accounts?

Let’s try my free play deconstruction of Korb. According to Winston, Korb said of Jesus’ resurrection, ‘What I mean is that we can reach the lowest points of our lives, of going deep into a place that feels like death, and then find our way out again — that’s the story the Resurrection now tells me. And at Easter, this is expressed in community, and at its best, through the compassion of others’. Korb rejects ‘the miracle of a bodily resurrection’ but this metaphorical resurrection ‘has given the story more power’.

What he means is that when people reach the end of the drought declared in the outback country of Australia, they are about to receive cash from the government as a handout to relieve this sheep-rearing family from the death throws of drought. The resurrection is into new hope for the family and the community of that outback town in Queensland. At Easter, the compassion from the government has reached that community and family. This metaphorical, postmodern, deconstructed story of what Korb said is powerful in giving that town hope for a resurrected future.

That is the meaning of what Easter means to me, as told by Scott Korb. Why should my reconstruction not be as acceptable as Korb’s? Mine is a reader-response to Korb’s statement as much as his was a personal reader-response of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection.

My reader-response is destructive to Korb’s intent in what he said. The truth is that what Korb stated needs to be accepted literally as from him and not distorted like I made his statements. Using the same standards, Korb’s deconstruction of the Gospel resurrection accounts destroys literal meaning. He and I would not read the local newspaper or any book that way. Neither should we approach the Gospel accounts of the resurrection in such a fashion.

Therefore, the biblical evidence confirms that Jesus’ resurrection involved the resuscitation of a dead physical body to a revived physical body.

4. The facts point to Jesus’ bodily resurrection

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(Jesus’ bodily resurrection best explains the data: factsandfaith.com )

5.  Since I have demonstrated from the Gospels that Jesus’ resurrection appearances involved a bodily resurrection, we know this because,

5.1 People touched him with their hands.
5.2 Jesus’ resurrection body had real flesh and bones.
5.3 Jesus ate real tucker (Aussie for ‘food’).
5.4 Take a look at the wounds in his body.
5.5 Jesus could be seen and heard.

There are three added factors that reinforce Jesus’ bodily resurrection. They are:

5.6 The Greek word, soma, always means physical body.

When used of an individual human being, the word body (soma) always means a physical body in the New Testament.  There are no exceptions to this usage in the New Testament.  Paul uses soma of the resurrection body of Christ [and of the resurrected bodies of people – yet to come] (I Cor. 15:42-44), thus indicating his belief that it was a physical body (Geisler 1999:668).

In that magnificent passage of I Corinthians 15 about the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of people in the last days, why is Paul insisting that the soma must be a physical body?  It is because the physical body is central in Paul’s teaching on salvation (Gundry in Geisler 1999:668)

In his magisterial publication, The Resurrection of the Son of God, N T Wright (2003) spent approximately 500 of 817 pages demonstrating that soma meant ‘body’ and so when applied to Jesus’ resurrection, it meant bodily resurrection and not an apparition or some other kind of resurrection. Wright’s assessment of the 1 Corinthian letter is that …

The resurrection would not only be bodily (the idea of a non-bodily resurrection would have been as much an oxymoron to him as it would to both Jews and pagans of his day; whether you believed in recurrection or not, the word meant bodies), but it would also involve transformation (Wright 2003:372)

5.7 Jesus’ body came out from among the dead

There’s a prepositional phrase that is used in the NT to describe resurrection “from (ek) the dead” (cf. Mark 9:9; Luke 24:46; John 2:22; Acts 3:15; Rom. 4:24; I Cor. 15:12). That sounds like a ho-hum kind of phrase in English, ‘from the dead’. Not so in the Greek.

This Greek preposition, ek, means Jesus was resurrected ‘out from among’ the dead bodies, that is, from the grave where corpses are buried (Acts 13:29-30).  These same words are used to describe Lazarus being raised ‘from (ek) the dead’ (John 12:1). In this case there was no doubt that he came out of the grave in the same body in which he was buried. Thus, resurrection was of a physical corpse out of a tomb or graveyard (Geisler 1999:668).

This confirms the physical nature of the resurrection body.

5.8 He appeared to over 500 people at the one time.

Paul to the Corinthians wrote that Christ

appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] also, as to one abnormally born (I Cor. 15:5-8).

You could not believe the discussion and controversy one little verb has caused among Bible teachers.  Christ ‘appeared’ to whom?  Here, Paul says, Peter, the twelve disciples, over 500 other Christians, James, all the apostles, and to Paul ‘as to one abnormally born’.

The main controversy has been over whether this was some supernatural revelation called an ‘appearance’ or was it actually ‘seeing’ his physical being. These are the objective facts: Christ became flesh; he died in the flesh; he was raised in the flesh and he appeared to these hundreds of people in the flesh.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was not a form of ‘spiritual’ existence. Just as he was truly dead and buried, so he was truly raised from the dead bodily and seen by a large number of witnesses on a variety of occasions (Fee 1987:728).

No wonder the Book of Acts can begin with: ‘After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3).

6. Why is the bodily resurrection of Jesus important?

We must understand how serious it is to deny the resurrection, the bodily resurrection, of Jesus.  Paul told the Corinthians: ‘If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised , our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (I Cor. 15:13-14).

The updated World Christian Encyclopedia, just published by Oxford University Press, says that by midcentury there will be 3 billion Christians, constituting 34.3% of the world´s population, up from the current 33%.

Christians now number 2 billion and are divided into 33,820 denominations and churches, in 238 countries, and use 7,100 languages, the encyclopedia says (Zenit 2001).

If there is no bodily resurrection, we might as well announce it to the world and tell all Christians they are living a lie and ought to go practise some other religion or whoop it up in a carefree way of eating, drinking and being merry.

British evangelist and apologist, Michael Green (b. 1930), summarised the main issues about the bodily resurrection of Christ:

The supreme miracle of Christianity is the resurrection…. [In the New Testament] assurance of the resurrection shines out from every page.  It is the crux of Christianity, the heart of the matter.  If it is true, then there is a future for mankind; and death and suffering have to be viewed in a totally new light.  If it is not true, Christianity collapses into mythology.  In that case we are, as Saul of Tarsus conceded, of all men most to be pitied (Green 1990:184).

7. BELIEF IN THE BODILY RESURRECTION IS ESSENTIAL FOR CHRISTIANS

7.1 Belief in the resurrection of Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation

Romans 10:9 states: ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’. Salvation means that you are saved from God’s wrath because of the resurrection of Christ. You are saved from hell.

Your new birth, regeneration is guaranteed by the resurrection. First Peter 1:3 states that ‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.

The spiritual power within every Christian happens because of the resurrection. Paul assured the Ephesians of Christ’s ‘incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 1:19-20).  You can’t have spiritual power in your life without the resurrected Christ.

In one passage, Paul links your justification through faith to the resurrection; he associates directly your being declared righteous, your being not guilty before God, with Christ’s resurrection.  Romans 4:25 states that Jesus ‘was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification’.

Your salvation, being born again, justification, having spiritual power in the Christian life depends on your faith in the raising of Jesus from the dead.  Not any old resurrection will do. Jesus’ body after the resurrection was not a spirit or phantom. It was a real, physical body. If you don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ, on the basis of this verse, you can’t be saved.

Also,

7.2 Christ’s resurrection proves that he is God

From very early in his ministry, Jesus’ predicted his resurrection.  The Jews asked him for a sign. According to John 2:19-21, ‘Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days”… But the temple he had spoken of was his body’.  Did you get that?  Jesus predicted that he, being God, would have his body – of the man Jesus – destroyed and three days later, he would raise this body.

Jesus continued to predict his resurrection: ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ (Matt. 12:40).  See also Mark 8:31; 14:59; and Matt. 27:63.

The third reason Christ’s bodily resurrection is core Christianity is:

7.3 Life after death is guaranteed!

Remember what Jesus taught his disciples in John 14:19, ‘Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live’. If you truly have saving faith in Christ, his resurrection makes life after death a certainty.

Another piece of evidence to support the resurrection as a central part of Christianity is:

7.4 Christ’s bodily resurrection guarantees that believers will receive perfect resurrection bodies as well.

After you die and Christ comes again, the New Testament connects Christ’s resurrection with our final bodily resurrection. First Cor. 6:14 states, ‘By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also’.

In the most extensive discussion on the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the Christian’s own bodily resurrection, Paul states that Christ is ‘the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Cor. 15:20).  What are ‘firstfruits’? It’s an agricultural metaphor indicating the first taste of the ripening crop, showing that the full harvest is coming.  This shows what believers’ resurrection bodies, the full harvest, will be like. The New Living Translation provides this translation of 1 Cor. 15:20 to explain it in down to earth terms, ‘But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died’.

Do you see how critically important it is to have a biblical understanding of the nature of Christ’s resurrection – his bodily resurrection?

In spite of so many in the liberal church establishment denying the bodily resurrection of Christ or dismissing it totally, there are those who stand firm on the bodily resurrection. Among those is Dr Albert Mohler who provides a summary of the essential need for Jesus’ resurrection:

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19].

Yet, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been under persistent attacks since the Apostolic age. Why? Because it is the central confirmation of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God, and the ultimate sign of Christ’s completed work of atonement, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. Those who oppose Christ, whether first century religious leaders or twentieth century secularists, recognize the Resurrection as the vindication of Christ against His enemies (Mohler 2016).

8. Conclusion: Genuine hope

What is the ‘genuine hope’ of Jesus’ resurrection? Nothing could be clearer than what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 (NLT), ‘If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins’.

The hope that relates to Christ’s resurrection was not expressed by Archbishop Coleridge in what was cited by Cooper, ‘genuine hope that satisfies the human heart’ and not the cheap cosmetic hope. The latter was not defined. Was it a hope so?

The fact is that if there is no bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith is futile, worthless or useless and all human beings are still in their sins. This means there is no forgiveness and cleansing for sins and so no hope of eternal life with God. It is serious business to deny or reconstruct the resurrection. It is redefining Christianity to make it something that it is not.

First Corinthians 15 (NLT) gives at least 8 reasons why Jesus’ bodily resurrection is more than that expressed in Cooper’s (2016) article:

a. Christ’s resurrection is tied to the resurrection of believers who have died (15:12);

b. If Christ has not been raised, preaching is useless (15:14);

c. If no resurrection, faith is useless (15:14);

d. If Jesus was not resurrected, those who have preached the resurrection are lying about God and the resurrection (15:15);

e. No resurrection of Jesus means faith in Jesus is useless and all unbelievers are still guilty in their sins (meaning there is no forgiveness for sins) (15:17).

f. If Jesus was not raised, those who have already died are lost/have perished and there is no future resurrection for them (15:18).

g. If we have hope in this life only with no hope of future resurrection, Christians are more to be pitied than anyone in the world (15:19).

h. BUT, the truth is that Christ has been raised from the dead (not metaphorically, but bodily), and He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died (15:20).

9. Can you doubt the resurrection and still be Christian?

There have been those (as pointed out in this article) who have redefined (deconstructed) the resurrection to make it metaphorical or symbolic. Korb, Borg, Funk, Spong, Coleridge and Crossan have done that as Christian representatives. Thus they have doubted and denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. Their reconstructions have caused them to engage in a reader-response innovation of their own making. They have invented what the resurrection means. It is a meaning out of their own minds and worldview. It is not a perspective based on a historical, grammatical, cultural interpretation of Scripture.

Reasons have been given in this article to demonstrate that a person must believe in the bodily resurrection to receive eternal life. Otherwise faith and preaching are useless; people do not have their sins forgiven, and hope is hopeless.

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God…  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins . . . .  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Cor. 15:13-15, 17, 19).

The conclusion is that if Jesus has not been bodily resurrected, faith is faithlessness because it is a useless faith. Now to answer the question of this article: Can you doubt the resurrection and still be Christian? No! Your faith is useless or vain if you doubt or reconstruct the bodily resurrection. You may not like my conclusion, but I’ve provided the evidence above that leads to that biblical conclusion.

Much of this material has been adapted from my article: Junk you hear at Easter about Jesus’ resurrection.

10. Works consulted

Wright, N T 2003, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

How to shame Christianity

Lee Strobel

Strobel in 2007

Strobel in 2007

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If you wanted to bring Christianity and its Bible into disrepute, how would you do it? If you go to the ‘Comments’ section of this interchange at Online Opinion, What is your view for one to worship humans? there you’ll see how some antagonists do it.

Christianity is currently the world’s largest religion with 2.22 billion followers according to the World Atlas. It includes approximately one-third of the world’s population but its numbers are declining.

clip_image002(Graph courtesy Pew Research Center, Conrad Hackett & David McClendon 2017)

Beginning in the first century AD, after the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity spread through the preaching of Jesus’ disciples, the apostle Paul and other preachers/teachers of the Gospel. You can read about the start of the Christian Church in the Bible’s Book of Acts.

1. Christ changes people

This Gospel’s content deals with the human condition and how it can be changed – permanently: ‘But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ and placing our faith in Christ brings new life – eternal life. This brings changed lives.

There are many examples of those who were sinners who became saints. Manny Pacquiao, former world boxing champion and now a member of the Philippine’s Senate, was defeated by Australia’s Jeff Horn. However, Manny says ‘the best thing that has happened in my life was that I encountered God’.

In this Christianity Today interview, it was revealed that his drinking, gambling and womanising behaviour was overlooked by fans, but those sins ‘were tearing apart his marriage and family’. See his wife’s comments below.

Lee Strobel

Strobel wrote on his webpage (photo from his homepage):

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than 40 books and curricula that have sold 14 million copies in total. He has been described in the Washington Post as “one of the evangelical community’s most popular apologists.”

Strobel was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law). He was a journalist for 14 years at the  Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI’s top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.

After probing the evidence for Jesus for nearly two years, Strobel became a Christian in 1981. He subsequently became a teaching pastor at three of America’s largest churches and hosted the national network TV program “Faith Under Fire.” In addition, he taught First Amendment law at Roosevelt University and was professor of Christian thought at Houston Baptist University.

In 2017, Strobel’s spiritual journey was depicted in an award-winning motion picture, “The Case for Christ,” which showed in theaters across America and around the world. The movie is still on Netflix. Strobel won national awards for his books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. His latest book is The Case for Miracles.

He and co-author Mark Mittelberg recently created the Making YOUR Case for Christ video-driven small-group curriculum, which trains Christians how to share and defend their faith. The Christian Post named Strobel one of the top seven evangelical leaders who made an impact in 2017.

Strobel and his wife, Leslie, have been married for 47 years. Their daughter, Alison, is a novelist, and their son, Kyle, is a professor of spiritual theology at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.[1]

C. S. Lewis

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis
Lewis, age 48

On the intellectual side of things, G.K. Chesterton had a significant influence on Lewis. As Lewis read The Everlasting Man, he appreciated Chesterton’s humor and was surprised by the power of his presentation. He began to feel that “Christianity was very sensible ‘apart from its Christianity'” (p. 130). Lewis also found that he was drawn to many other authors that had this strange Christian twist:Spenser, Milton, Johnson, MacDonald, and others. In contrast, those with whom he theoretically agreed-Voltaire, Gibbon, Mill, Wells, and Shaw-seemed thin and “tinny.” On top of this, some of the brightest, most intelligent at Oxford were also “supernaturalists.” People like Neville Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and J.R.R. Tolkien were kindred spirits and also Christians. One by one, the arguments that were obstacles to faith were removed.

Once while riding on a bus in Oxford, Lewis had the sense that he was “holding something at bay, or shutting something out” (p. 131). He could either open the door or let it stay shut, but to open the door “meant the incalculable.” He finally submitted himself to God, the most “dejected and reluctant convert” in all England. This belief in God happened in 1929, but it was not until 1931 that he surrendered himself to Christ.

When Lewis finally came to Christ, he at last resolved the “dialectic of desire” he had been struggling with since childhood. Downing points out that Lewis’s first experience at Oxford was highly symbolic. When he exited the Oxford railway station for the first time, he was loaded down with luggage. Mistakenly, he started walking down the street in the wrong direction. As he kept walking, he grew disappointed at the rather plain houses and shops he found. Only when he reached the edge of town did he turn around to see the beautiful spires and towers that constitute Oxford. In telling this story, Lewis says, “This little adventure was an allegory of my whole life.” Boyhood was a “fall” from the joys of childhood. Growing up was even more of following the wrong way. The “path less taken” was a return to wonder and glory and a rejection of the mundane inanities of modern life (p. 153). He needed to look back in order to go forward. Good only comes by “undoing evil;” a wrong sum can be put right.

His faith changed his direction from “self-scrutiny” to “self-forgetfulness.” He rejected the “unsmiling concentration on the self” and was “taken out of my self” to love God and others (p. 156). Downing says: “The real story of Lewis’s conversion, then, is not about dramatic changes in a man’s career but about dramatic changes in the man.”[2]

Hugh Ross (astrophysicist)

image-hugh-ross-465x280

Hugh Rosss (CRU)

Part of his story is:

I delayed making a personal commitment of my life to Christ. Although I knew God with my mind, I struggled to surrender my will to him. What if God changed the direction of my life? What if the people around me found out about my new beliefs?

As I continued to wrestle with the decision, my grades began to drop, and I discovered the meaning of Romans 1:21, which warns that rejecting God’s truth results in a darkening of the mind. After two months of vacillation, I finally turned my whole self to God and signed the “decision statement” at the back of my now well-worn Bible, acknowledging my life now belonged to Jesus Christ, my Creator and Savior.

With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of British Columbia and my graduate degrees in astronomy at the University of Toronto.[3]

Alister McGrath

The Reverend

Alister McGrath

FRSA

Alister McGrath.jpg

Christianity Today stated of Oxford University Professor McGrath:

The relationship between Christianity and science is hotly debated, and both believers and skeptics have appealed to Albert Einstein to buttress their positions. Believers point to Einstein’s many references to God while skeptics note his rejection of revealed religion. Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, has written a new book on the famous physicist, A Theory of Everything (That Matters): A Brief Guide to Einstein, Relativity, and His Surprising Thoughts on God (Tyndale).

McGrath also recently published Narrative Apologetics: Sharing the Relevance, Joy, and Wonder of the Christian Faith (Baker), in which he argues that stories are an important but often overlooked resource for commending Christianity. In both books, he contends that the Christian faith has a better story to tell than secular alternatives and offers great explanatory power.

Christopher Reese spoke with McGrath about the interconnected topics of faith, science, and apologetics.[4]

Rosalind Picard

Rosalind Picard

Panel Discussion Close-up, Science, Faith, and Technology Cropped.jpg

Rosalind Picard at the Veritas Forum Science, Faith, and Technology session on “Living Machines: Can Robots Become Human?”

In the British magazine, Premier Christianity, there was an article by Ruth Jackson, “Professor Rosalind Picard: ‘I used to think religious people had thrown their brains out the window.’ She was asked:

How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a family that never went to church or talked about religion. I thought people who were religious had thrown their brains out the window. I used to babysit for this really cool family – he was a doctor and she was really neat – while they went to Bible studies. They invited me to church and I told them I was sick. Then they invited me again and I told them I was sick. Faking sickness to a doctor really wasn’t working! They caught on that I didn’t want to go and told me that what I believe matters. They asked if I’d read the Bible. I was a straight A student – one of those obnoxious kids who thought myself really smart. So, I thought I should probably read the bestselling book of all time. I agreed to take their advice to read the book of Proverbs, one a day for a month. I saw there was all this wisdom. Not wacky, made-up gobbledygook, but stuff I could learn from. I was humbled. Then I set out to read the whole Bible. And that changed me.

It took time, because I did not want to believe in God. And I resisted. But as I read the Bible, I felt God talking to me. I eventually went to church and the pastor challenged us to consider inviting Jesus to be Lord of our life. That sounded a little wacky to me. But I decided to run it as a scientific experiment: if it’s really stupid, it won’t make any difference, it doesn’t really matter. And if it makes a difference, wouldn’t it be better to have the mind of the whole universe, who knows everything, as Lord of my life? So, I took that step and it made an enormous difference. This load was lifted, I felt amazing peace (25 May 2021).

She is a leading expert in Artificial Intelligence.

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life

She wrote:

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life(Nicole Cliffe photo courtesy Christianity Today)

I became a Christian on July 7, 2015, after a very pleasant adult life of firm atheism. I’ve found myself telling “the story” when people ask me about it—slightly tweaked for my audience, of course. When talking to non-theists, I do a lot of shrugging and “Crazy, right? Nothing has changed, though!” When talking to other Christians, it’s more, “Obviously it’s been very beautiful, and I am utterly changed by it.” But the story has gotten a little away from me in the telling.

As an atheist since college, I had already mellowed a bit over the previous two or three years, in the course of running a popular feminist website that publishes thoughtful pieces about religion. Like many atheists (who are generally lovely moral people like my father, who would refuse to enter heaven and instead wait outside with his Miles Davis LPs), I started out snarky and defensive about religion, but eventually came to think it was probably nice for people of faith to have faith. I held to that, even though the idea of a benign deity who created and loved us was obviously nonsense, and all that awaited us beyond the grave was joyful oblivion.

I know that sounds depressing, but I found the idea of life ending after death mildly reassuring in its finality. I had started to meet more people of faith, having moved to Utah from Manhattan, and thought them frequently charming in their sweet delusion. I did not wish to believe. I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.

What I Already Knew

There are two different starting points to my conversion, and sometimes I omit the first one, because I think it gives people an answer I don’t want them to have. It is a simple story: I was going through a hard time. I was worried about my child. One time I said “Be with me” to an empty room. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know why I said it, or to whom. I brushed it off, I moved on, the situation resolved itself, I didn’t think about it again. I know how people hear that story: Oh, of course, Nicole was struggling and needed a larger framework for her life! That’s part of the truth, but it’s not the whole truth.

The second starting point is usually what I lead with. I was surfing the Internet and came across John Ortberg’s CT obituary for philosopher Dallas Willard. John’s daughters are dear friends, and I have always had a wonderful relationship with their parents, who struck me as sweetly deluded in their evangelical faith, so I clicked on the article.

Somebody once asked Dallas if he believed in total depravity.

“I believe in sufficient depravity,” he responded immediately.

What’s that?

“I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, ‘I merited this.’ ”[5]

Nicole Cliffe is co-founder and co-editor of the website, “The Toast,” and lives in Utah.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974 (photo courtesy Wikipedia).

Christian Life Ministries wrote:

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Templeton Award in 1983, he began his address with these words:

Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: they said,

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well near fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own towards the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that has swallowed up sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Sixty Million people suffered and died from deprivation, weakness, starvation, famine, cruelty or imprisonment in the concentration camps of Siberia. Solzhenitsyn said that he could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”[6]

How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus (Sarah Irving-Stonebraker)

Doctor Sarah Irving-Stonebraker(photo courtesy Western Sydney University)

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History,
Humanities (Arts)

 

Sarah wrote:

I grew up in Australia, in a loving, secular home, and arrived at Sydney University as a critic of “religion.”  I didn’t need faith to ground my identity or my values. I knew from the age of eight that I wanted to study history at Cambridge and become a historian. My identity lay in academic achievement, and my secular humanism was based on self-evident truths.  As an undergrad, I won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake my Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge.  King’s is known for its secular ideology and my perception of Christianity fitted well with the views of my fellow students: Christians were anti-intellectual and self-righteous.

After Cambridge, I was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford.  There, I attended three guest lectures by world-class philosopher and atheist public intellectual, Peter Singer.  Singer recognised that philosophy faces a vexing problem in relation to the issue of human worth. The natural world yields no egalitarian picture of human capacities. What about the child whose disabilities or illness compromises her abilities to reason? Yet, without reference to some set of capacities as the basis of human worth, the intrinsic value of all human beings becomes an ungrounded assertion; a premise which needs to be agreed upon before any conversation can take place.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.  But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof.  The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent.  I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.

One afternoon, I noticed that my usual desk in the college library was in front of the Theology section. With an awkward but humble reluctance, I opened a book of sermons by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. As I read, I was struck at how intellectually compelling, complex, and profound the gospel was.  I was attracted, but I wasn’t convinced.

A few months later, near the end of my time at Oxford, I was invited to a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion.  I sat next to Professor Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials, who happened to be a Christian.  During dinner, Briggs asked me whether I believed in God. I fumbled. Perhaps I was an agnostic?  He responded, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?” That question made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.

With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

In the Summer of 2008, I began a new job as Assistant Professor at Florida State University, where I continued my research examining the relationship between the history of science, Christianity, and political thought. With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed.  At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God.  A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.[7]

2. Resistance from everyday people

I blog on Christian forums and meet open and honest people who have trouble with believing in Christ and they question the Bible’s reliability. There are others who are hard-headed atheists who won’t listen to any reasonable argument in support of Christianity.

Foxy tried it on me in this online blog:

Not everyone believes that what is written in the Bible is the literal word of God. After all The Bible was written by men and it’s their interpretations that are recorded. Therefore can you really claim that it is what God stated? Isn’t it just what you happen to believe? Therefore you are not in any position to preach to any one else. You are merely preaching your interpretations and beliefs. Other people have their own and don’t need you to educate them.

My reply was: Nice try, Foxy! Not one line of your response had anything to do with the content of what I wrote.

So, you committed a red herring logical fallacy. It is faulty reasoning because you attempted to redirect my argument to your doubting Thomas views about the Bible, God and interpretation. This is a deliberate diversion from my topic.


When you engage in the use of a logical fallacy, this flaw in reasoning undermines the validity of your arguments. It makes it impossible to have a productive conversation.

I could provide an answer to all of your questions and assertions, but that wouldn’t address the content of my post, to which you replied.

You have given me a few of your anti-Bible presuppositions in your post. Why don’t you use a few of these in an article for Online Opinion? Slam dunk God, the Bible and interpretation.
Then we can have a discussion that is related to your topic.
[8]

Foxy’s response was:

On the contrary – it was you were gave the Bible references. I merely stated what many theologians have stated. And yet you took that as an attack of some sort on the Bible. It wasn’t at all and what I personally believe or do not believe you have no way of knowing therefore your assumptions are not correct. But I agree that a rational, well reasoned intelligent discussion with you it seems would be pointless.
Cheers.
[9]

My response was:

Foxy,
Again you’ve not dealt with the content of what I wrote about your use of a red herring fallacy against me.

We cannot have a rational discussion when you continue to use this logical fallacy. It is your flawed reasoning that is contributing to this.[10]

Foxy came back:

OzSpen,
Could you be a tad more specific.
Exactly what red-herring fallacy are you referring
to that I provided?
Or are you stating that your quotes from the Bible
are a red herring fallacy?
[11]

I replied:

Foxy,
You don’t seem to understand the nature of the red herring logical fallacy you committed: See:
https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/150/Red_Herring
When you responded to my post with very different content and did not address what I wrote, you changed topics to address what you wanted to say. Thus, it you committed the red herring fallacy.
It had nothing to do with my quoting Bible verses. It was what you stated in response to me.
[12]

You can read my further discussion with Foxy and others in this thread on the Bible and rejection of it as God’s Word.

3. Antagonism from atheists and agnostics

The trainer of Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, who has trained him for 15 years, says he is an agnostic/atheist, so he has seen Pacquiao’s change firsthand.

He told The Guardian, Australia Edition (5 October 2014),

“I’m happy because I found the right way, salvation, born again. We are required to be born again, all of us. Christ said unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it’s very important to me. Jesus Christ said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus.”

“Pacquiao once was not so righteous. He once was an all-night hound dog, taking his pleasure where he pleased, ignoring all advice to respect the sanctity of his marriage vows and determined to squeeze as much fun from life as was available to someone who was born into grinding poverty. Those were his hardcore inclinations until only a few years ago”.

Eminent scientist and atheist/agnostic, Richard Dawkins, has been called the ‘High Priest of Unbelief’. His view is that

not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor,[13] fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable (emphasis added).[14]

Is that so? Science can explain nature but explanation has no creative power. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and a Christian, responded to this view: ‘Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a description of what normally happens under certain given conditions’.

5. Disinterest from those who don’t give a hoot about religion

There’s a story in the New Statesman:

Jonathan Derbyshire writes: Jeremy Bentham, his disciple John Stuart Mill once wrote, would always ask of a proposition or belief, “Is it true?” By contrast, Bentham’s contemporary Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mill observed, thought “What is the meaning of it?” was a much more interesting question.

Today’s New Atheists –Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens principal among them – are the heirs of Bentham, rather than Coleridge. For them, religion – or the great monotheistic faiths, at any rate – are bundles of beliefs (about the existence of a supernatural being, the origins of the universe and so on) whose claims to truth don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. And once the falsity of those beliefs has been established, they imply, there is nothing much left to say.

The New Atheists remind one of Edward Gibbon, who said of a visit to the cathedral at Chartres: “I paused only to dart a look at the stately pile of superstition and passed on.” They glance at the stately pile of story and myth bequeathed to humanity by religion and quickly move on, pausing only to ask of the benighted millions who continue to profess one faith or another that they keep their beliefs to themselves and don’t demand that they be heard in the public square.[15]

6. Shame Christians by using logical fallacies

Foxy did it above with his red herring logical fallacy.

Jayb wrote:

OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection,
I think you better do some reading up on History. The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua. . . I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.
[16]

Jayb committed the argument from silence fallacy as I explained:

<<OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection, I think you better do some reading up on History>>.
It’s too late to tell me I need to read up on history. I’ve taught Church history and its place in secular history – at the college level. I have a university PhD in NT, with emphasis on the historical Jesus.
You argue from silence (which is a logical fallacy) when you don’t know my background. You stated:


<<The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua>>.


That is false. John is described as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ (John 21:20).
Your claim of no Gospel written before AD 100 is challenged. Dr Paul Barnett is a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University, Sydney. His research indicates that:
** ‘by the late fifties a number of written texts – Mark, Q and L (and others?) – were in existence. . . . We do not know precisely when these traditions reached written form’ (Paul Barnett 1999. Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity, InterVarsity Press, pp 380).
** The infamous John A T Robinson of Honest to God fame has published some magnificent research on Redating the New Testament.


After the research, he concluded that all NT books were written before AD 70. They began with the Book of James (ca. 47-48) and concluded with the Book of Revelation (ca. late 68-70). That challenges your historical-critical belief that the Gospels weren’t written until after AD 100.


<<All the branches of Christianity established by the Apostles were eliminated by the Pauline branch after the Nicene Council by the Pauline Bishops>>.
That’s your hypothesis that needs to be verified or falsified through research.
<<I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.>>
Again you argue from lack of knowledge.
[17]

See my other articles dealing with this topic:

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies hijack debate and discussion[1]

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies used to condemn Christianity

matte-red-arrow-small Christians and their use of logical fallacies

matte-red-arrow-small One writer’s illogical outburst

matte-red-arrow-small Why Christianity is NOT a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists

7.  Notes

[1] The Lee Strobel Center, Colorado Christian University, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.ccu.edu/strobelcenter/.

[2] A book review by Art Lindsley of The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/48. Page numbers refer to this review.

[3] “My Story: Dr Hugh Ross,” CRU, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/my-story-a-life-changed/hugh-ross.html.

[4] Christianity Today, “Alister McGrath: Both Science and Stories Declare God’s Glory,” December 4, 2019, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/alister-mcgrath-science-and-stories-declare-gods-glory.html.

[5] Nicole Cliffe 2016, Christianity Today, “Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life,” May 20, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/june/nicole-cliffe-how-god-messed-up-my-happy-atheist-life.html.

[6] Christian Life Ministries, Scarborough WA, Australia, “A Man of Enormous Christian Faith,”

[7] Sarah Irving-Stonebraker 2017.The Veritas Forum, “How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus.”

[8] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 5:29:03 PM.

[9] Posted by Foxy, Thursday, 5 July 2018 6:15:54 PM.

[10] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 8:50:29 PM.

[11] Posted by Foxy, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:42:20 AM.

[12] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 5:38:58 PM.

[13] Thor was an ‘American comic strip superhero created for Marvel Comics by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The character derived from a Germanic god of the same name’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2020. s.v. Thor).

[14] R Dawkins 2006. Edge (online). Why there almost certainly is no God, 25 October. Available at: https://www.edge.org/conversation/richard_dawkins-why-there-almost-certainly-is-no-god (Accessed 13 June 2020).

[15] New Statesman 2013, “After God: What can atheists learn from believers?” 27 March, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/culture/2013/03/after-god-what-can-atheists-learn-believers.

[16] Posted by Jayb, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:25:05 AM

[17] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 7:30:59 PM.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 September 2021.

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Why Christianity is NOT a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible (mid-15th century)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Is Christianity based on mythology? Are Christian believers dim-witted followers of their alleged Almighty God?

I was persuaded to pursue this subject, based on a ‘Comment’ made by Daffy Duck in response to my article on Jesus’ resurrection in On Line Opinion. This person wrote that of ‘the usual dim-witted “theists”’ and ‘dim-witted “religion”’. The latter designation is from another author.

Daffy wrote: ‘the multivarious (sic) “religious” myths of humankind, especially in the case of “Jesus” then everything that one says is mere conjecture and hearsay’.[1]

It was my suggestion that the person write an article to support his ideology: ‘Why Christianity is a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists’.[2]

1. Elements of mythology

The third edition of the Australian, The Macquarie Dictionary (1997:1425), gives this as the first definition of myth: Myth is

a traditional story, usually concerning some superhuman being or some alleged person or event, and which attempts to explain natural phenomena; especially a traditional story about deities or demigods and the creation of the world and its inhabitants.

One such scholar who pursues this understanding of myth in the Gospels is Burton Mack. He stated that “the narrative gospels can no longer be viewed as the trustworthy accounts of unique and stupendous historical events at the foundation of the Christian faith. The gospels must now be seen as the result of early Christian mythmaking” (1993:10).

Please understand that this perspective contains Mack’s presuppositions about the Gospels. He admits that in the early church ‘an explosion of the collective imagination signals change’ in the creation of these new myths that formed the gospels.

These are indeed challenging days when postmodern deconstructions like these intrude into discussions about Scripture and the historical Jesus.

Using this kind of definition of myth, scholars of the Jesus Seminar or of similar persuasion, have made comments like this by John Dominic Crossan:

What happened after the death and burial of Jesus is told in the last chapters of the four New Testament gospels. On Easter Sunday morning his tomb was found empty, and by Easter Sunday evening Jesus himself had appeared to his closest followers and all was well once again. Friday was hard, Saturday was long, but by Sunday all was resolved. Is this fact or fiction, history or mythology?

Do fiction and mythology crowd closely around the end of the story just as they did around its beginning? And if there is fiction or mythology, on what is it based? I have already argued, for instance, that Jesus’ burial by his friends was totally fictional and unhistorical. He was buried, if buried at all, by his enemies, and the necessarily shallow grave would have been easy prey for scavenging animals. We can still glimpse what happened before, behind, and despite those fictional overlays precisely by imagining what they were created to hide. What happened on Easter Sunday? Is that the story of one day? Or of several years? Is that the story of all Christians gathered together as a single group in Jerusalem? Or is that the story of but one group among several, maybe of one group who claimed to be the whole? . . .

The Easter story at the end is, like the Nativity story at the beginning, so engraved on our imagination as factual history rather than fictional mythology. (Crossan 1994:160-161).

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “myth” means: “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events” (lexico.com 2021. “myth”).

This dictionary provides various subsidiary meanings including, “A widely held but false belief or idea”; “A misrepresentation of the truth”; “A fictitious or imaginary person or thing”; “an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing” (lexico.com 2021. “myth”).

Therefore, because of these multitudinous meanings, I find it confusing to use in attempting to define the truth of Christianity.

2. Differences between myth and narrative

A narrative refers to “a spoken or written account of connected events; a story” (lexico.com 2021. “narrative”). The narrative of Captain Cook’s voyages to what was to become Australia is not myth but historical narrative. Cook’s voyages could be called mythology but that confuses the meaning of myth and narrative.

3. Show Christianity does not have these elements

Christianity does not have a foundational myth or falsehood but historical narrative of its beginning and spread in the Middle Eastern territory – to begin with. See the Book of Acts for examples of the early expansion.

4. Christianity is a historical religion.

Christianity is a historical religion because it intersects with historical persons and events of the Old and New Testament era.

This is fleshed out in my articles,

3d-red-star-small Old Testament documents confirmed as reliable again[1]

3d-red-star-small The Bible as reliable history.

3d-red-star-small Does the New Testament contain history or myth?

5. Enter logical fallacies to obscure the argument

If you want to frustrate a discussion, try the use of logical fallacies. That’s what Daffy did here:

3d-red-star-small To speak about ‘dim-witted theists’ reveals: (a) his use of an ad hominem (abusive) fallacy. These people need to be called out for what they do to a discussion.

3d-red-star-small and (b) demonstrates his presuppositions of shaming Christian religion, but without providing evidence to support his claims. To call a theist a ‘dim-wit’ without evidence is to demonstrate shallowness of the claim.

6. Works consulted

Crossan, John Dominic 1994. Jesus: A revolutionary biography. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Mack, Burton 1993. The Lost Gospel: The Gospel of Q & Christian Origins. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

7.  Notes


[1] Daffy Duck’s comments on 4 April 2018 to the article, “Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter ‘treat’” by Spencer Gear. Available at: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19656&page=0 (Accessed 5 Apil 2018).

[2] ‘Cynicism about Jesus …’, OzSpen, 5 April 2018. My penname is OzSpen.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 September 2021.

Scott Morrison’s failure to integrate faith with politics

Morrison in 2009

By Spencer D Gear PhD

See Acts 5:29 (NLT), ‘But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority”’. The NRSV has a similar translation.

1. Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn’t mix religion with politics.

Before the 2019 election,

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his “faith is not about politics”. . . . Asked directly . . . if he believed gay people go to hell, Mr Morrison replied: “I support the law of the country.”

“I don’t mix my religion with politics or my faith with politics and it’s always been something that has informed how I live my life and how I seek to care for and support others,” he said. “That is what I always seek to do”

The Liberal leader abstained from the final vote on the floor of Parliament.

“It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about” (Bagshaw 2019).

2. I find Morrison to be a disobedient Christian

Firstly, ScoMo is to be commended that he abstained from the final vote on homosexual marriage.

However, the position, “I don’t mix my religion with politics or my faith with politics” is in violation of Acts 5:29.

How is it possible for him to have a Christian faith that “has informed how I live my life and how I seek to care for and support others,” and yet not affect how he votes in Parliament.

The biblical view is that “we must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29 NLT). Therefore, He is not a holistic believer in Christ. However, I must admit that it’s a tough job being an evangelical, Pentecostal Christian in a secular, democratic society. I’ll be surprised if he survives the next election.

However, some extreme statements have been made about Morrison’s rise as a PM at the last election:

Pastor Adam F Thompson from Voice of Fire Ministries and Adrian Beale from Everrest Ministries told a congregation of Hope City Church that Morrison’s elevation to power was divinely inspired.

Thompson, who says he can interpret dreams and that supernatural signs and manifestations accompany his ministry, said he’d received a message from God that Morrison and the Coalition must win the election (Hutchens 2018).

Is Thompson prepared to make a signs and wonders prophecy for the next Australian election?

3.  Could this be one of those jobs?

Could this be one of those positions where it would be better not to take such a position, even though Christians are desperately needed in the political process?

Here’s a Christian ethical dilemma:

Do homosexuals go to hell? If a journalist asks this question, how should Scott Morrison reply?

First Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV) states:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[1] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Here homosexual male acts are included with other wrong-doing such as sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, theft, greed, being a drunkard, slanderer and swindler. It doesn’t say such sinners will be sent to hell but that they “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What is the message in Romans 1 regarding homosexuality? See Rom 1:21-31 (NIV) where male and female homosexuals “received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (v. 27). They “invented ways of doing evil” (v. 29). What is the result of such actions? “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen” (v. 25).

There are consequences for doing such evil. They will not “inherit the kingdom of God” and will receive “the penalty for their error.”

  • This is a journalistic question, “Do you believe homosexuals go to hell?” where it would be appropriate for ScoMo to respond: “Go read your Bibles! Particularly read Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. That’s where you’ll find the answers.”

Could this be a job as an MP to avoid? I don’t think so. Instead, ScoMo needs to practise the Matt 10:16 (NLT) principle, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”

4. Conclusion

In my view, Morrison has failed to integrate his Pentecostal faith with his day-time job of Prime Minister. At least he took a step in not voting in the final vote on gay marriage. But he admitted his perspective, “faith is not about politics.”

To the contrary, all that he does has to do with his relationship with Jesus. His values must be informed by the Acts 5:29 requirement.

5.  Notes

[1] “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.”

6. Works consulted

Bagshaw, E 2019. ‘I support the law of the country’: Debate over sexuality and religion creeps into election campaign. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/i-support-the-law-of-the-country-debate-over-sexuality-and-religion-creeps-into-election-campaign-20190513-p51mxm.html (Accessed 16 September 2019).

Hutchens, Gareth 2018. “’Darkness’ coming if Scott Morrison not re-elected, Pentecostal leader claims,” The Guardian Australian Edition, 7 September. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/07/darkness-coming-if-scott-morrison-not-re-elected-pentecostal-leader-claims (Accessed 11 September 2021).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 September 2021.

Prime Minister’s call to prayer is ‘offensive’

At the 2019 Lowy Lecture, Scott Morrison argued that the “distinctiveness of independent nations is preserved within a framework of mutual respect”.

By Spencer Gear PhD

In a speech in Albury NSW, NewsCorp (through AAP) reported on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to prayer. He said . . .

he was praying for rain in drought-affected areas, and he urged those who “believe in the power of prayer” to pray too.

“I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that,” he said.

“And everyone else who doesn’t like to do that, you just say, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well.’ Think good thoughts for them, or whatever you do” (Livingston 2018).

Ridiculing the PM’s Christian call to prayer

Angus Livingston, the journalist could not report on this Christian call to prayer to break the drought, without some scoffing words!

blue-corrosion-arrow-small The article’s heading was, ‘Love each other, PM preaches’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small  ‘Scott Morrison tells Christian conference he was called to do God’s work as prime minister’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-smallScott Morrison is a genuine Christian – of course he’s going to pray’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-smallScott Morrison’s sermon was a carefully planned speech, not a moment of unguarded sincerity.”

This is a subtle attack on some Christian methodology. It is not needed if objectivity is the goal of reporting. It also infers another world view of the journalist and it’s not Christian.

For outrageous statements and ridicule about Morrison’s call to prayer, see the more than 1,000 comments in The Guardian Australia’s, ‘Scott Morrison invokes Menzies and ‘power of prayer’ while on Liberal pilgrimage’ (6 Sep 2018). A sample includes:

design-gold-small ‘Separation of any “religious” crap from our secular state is desperately needed. Too much religious/church influence with these LNP muppets’;

design-gold-small ‘The power of prayer is the power of delusion. It’s worrying that another PM should be that gullible and naive. Religion has no place in government, or in fighting climate change.

design-gold-small ‘Did he say: “Can I get an amen..!”’

design-gold-small ‘the power of PRAYER!?? no No NO! honestly this effing pulpit thumping twit has to go!

The call to prayer is ‘offensive’ because . . .

‘To pray for rain is offensive’: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/why-it-was-offensive-for-the-prime-minister-to-call-for-prayer/10245992

Scripture predicted that would happen

The above brief samples put in a nutshell what Scripture predicted would happen:

‘Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires’ (2 Peter 3:3 NLT).

Jude 1:18 (NLT) gives a similar message: ‘They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.’

I find it unpleasant when stated before my eyes and when experienced as an apologist for the Christian faith. I accept that Scripture proclaims this as coming.

There is a biblical response for all Christians:

You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen (2 Pet 3:17-18 NLT).

In an Australian culture that is so antagonistic to the things of God, Christians need one another for support and encouragement.

First Thess 5:11 (NLT), ‘So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing’.

John 13:34-35 (NLT), ‘So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT),

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

What are you doing to encourage and assist your brothers and sisters in Christ? How can you help them tell you their specific needs for prayer and practical support?

I have a husband and wife who voluntarily visit with me for encouragement. They visit weekly or phone every few days. This is a supreme example of encouraging me. My family also phones to check how I’m going in aged care.

Works consulted

Livingston, A 2018. Love each other, PM preaches. News.com.au (from AAP) [online], 6 September. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/love-each-other-pm-preaches/news-story/892b8b738d5a0bd5882c61541829c4d4 (Accessed 11 September 2021).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 September 2021.