On the Resurrection

Whether you believe or reject the claim of the Resurrection of Jesus, there seems to be on either side a single key consideration.  For believers, there is an account of the Resurrection given in the Bible.  For doubters, this is an account of a miracle, and miracles do not occur.  Those are the main competing considerations.  There are others, but these are the most important ones.

It is with no pleasure that I judge the doubters to have the stronger of these considerations.  So, a few thoughts on what makes the biblical account weak.  One is that the Bible cannot be the evidence for its own authority.  However, it isn’t clear what a more valid alternative would be.  It makes sense that the evidence for the Bible’s authority has been incorporated into the Bible itself.  Why would any serious person exclude it?  Another thought is that those who are giving the reports of the Resurrection in the Bible are themselves believers.  Well, here is another case of “well, what do you expect?”  If you had personal testimony to the Resurrection, wouldn’t you be more likely than others to count yourself a believer?  So, that the Bible claims to provide the source evidence for its own authority actually isn’t that unreasonable.  Still, isn’t it possible that the early Christians were all lying, or at least deluded?  Yes of course that is possible.  They themselves do seem to have believed, insofar as many became martyrs for their faith.  So the martyrs at least were not Machiavellian liars — if they lied, they believed their own lies to a certain extent.  Why do martyrs sacrifice their lives on behalf of claims that deep down they might know are not true?  Something becomes muddled deep down between what is true and not true.  There are swarms of maybes swirling around our hearts.  We seek out patterns, dots that we can connect in order to make sense not just of everything we believe to be physically true, but also everything that we feel.  Emotional responses have a truth to themselves.  In intense pleasure we find truth, at least a moral truth.  In happiness we find truth.  In love we find truth.  There is also truth in extreme pain.  The dots we connect reveal how all of these emotional and moral truths relate to the physical, historical and mathematical truths.  We can recall here the second temptation of Jesus in the desert, where the devil tempts Jesus to throw himself down from the top of a temple to see if angels will rescue him.  The temptation is to see your emotional truth as greater than your physical truth, and to set at odds these things rather than harmonize them.  Jesus of course resists the temptation.  The challenge to doubters of the Resurrection, who doubt because miracles are impossible, is the same problem in reverse.  Is it not an affront to truth itself to see one half of truth–physical truth–as boundlessly superior than the other half–emotional truth?  Is there not something more honest in saying as Jesus did from the top of the temple that “It is also written, ‘do not put the Lord your God to the test,'” than to say “certainly if I throw myself down, no one will save me?”

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