Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: 4 Step Proof for God & Minimal Facts Approach

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power

    Default 4 Step Proof for God & Minimal Facts Approach

    4 Step Proof for God & Minimal Facts Approach

    The non-Christian will (a) shut his mind down, (b) misread the Bible, (c) avoid dealing with God's word, and (d) remain unable to disprove the 4 Step Perfect Proof for God and Minimal Facts Approach. We can respond with... (A) "In the name of Jesus Christ, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4.10,12). (B) If you choose to refuse God's forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ on the cross, you will be resurrected for Hell, for Jesus said, "I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life" (John 5.24).

    4 Step Perfect Proof for God of the Bible

    1. There cannot be an eternity of the past of cause and effects because mankind would have approximated into that alleged past eternity and not still be sinning to the extent we still do along the exponential progression of conscience we are clearly on. Therefore, the cause of the universe must exist outside of time and space. This is whom we call God. ("Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Homes.)

    2. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of trillions and trillions of cause and effects in nature, and no hard evidence something comes from nothing, tells us everything in nature needs a cause. Since the universe can't come from nothing that which does not exist and can't always have existed, the cause must be immaterial, outside of time and space. Again, this is whom we call God. ("If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," Spock on Star Trek.")

    3. Don't argue against a quality of some god that is not the nature of God of the Bible, otherwise you are arguing not against God of the Bible but about something else. I am standing on this hill while you are over there arguing on another hill. (It is necessary to point this out because the problem of misreading the Bible happens so often.)

    4. There cannot be an eternity of the past of cause and effects in the supernatural realm, because mankind would have approximated into that past eternity, derived from it, and not still be sinning to the extent we still do along the exponential progression of conscience we are clearly on. Therefore, there must exist necessarily that which is outside of time, space and matter that brings about the universe.

    Minimal Facts Approach - Proving the Resurrection of Jesus

    1. Without assuming Biblical inerrancy, what can we glean from the Scriptures? Almost all skeptical scholars who do their thesis work, are accredited and have peer review journal work done on the resurrection in the past half century (see Gary R. Habermas) agree Paul really wrote and really believed what he wrote in 1 Cor. 15 and Gal. 1 & 2.

    2. In these three chapters, Paul said he spent fifteen days with Peter and also time with James, the brother of Jesus, within five years from the cross. Paul was converted two years after the cross then went away to study the Scriptures for three years after which time he returned to Jerusalem whereupon he got to know Peter and James. Later on he met up with John. And he continued to see them again over the years. They all testified to having seen Jesus alive from the dead in various group settings.

    3. People do not willingly allow themselves to die for something they know is a lie so the Apostles really believed they saw, talked with, touched, walked with and even ate with Jesus in various group settings after He died on the cross which convinced them He was God so they became bold proclaimers when before they were doubters.

    4. Therefore, it must be true they saw Jesus alive from the dead, since all naturalistic explanations have been exhausted these past two thousand years.

    Read There are only 3 choices.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power

    Default Only Four Choices

    There Are Only 3 Choices

    At least 90% of people believe these 3 religions. Since God is accessible we need consider only these three. Agnosticism and atheism can't be true because the universe can't start up all by itself nor can it always have existed. There is no moral compass, thus, causing you to increase sin and not approach sinlessness. True morality can't come out of that which has no objective moral values. Conscience and consciousness can’t be derived from that which has no conscience and consciousness. A bird house can never produce a bird.

    1) Hinduism is false because you're not going to become a frog, but if you are a good frog, you get to come back as a human, for this never effectively deals with sin. "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Heb. 9.27). Brahma is amoral. How can God have lower standards than us (moral beings)? Buddhism practices Nirvana which is shutting one's mind down, but where did God ask us to do that? He gives us nerve endings for pleasure, sensations, and feelings; mind, will, emotion, and intuition; the ability to commune and develop our conscience which can't be accomplished by shutting your mind down or by repetitive mantra. This is an inappropriate way of trying to deal with human suffering. Our greatest achievements are realized through full awareness and vibrant activity of all our faculties.

    2) Islam fails because it is just some guy without any evidence six centuries later in a cave all by himself who said Jesus never died, despite the well attested historical record of primary sources in the first century. If you can revise history without any evidence, you can assume anything which opens the door to sin more. Islam is the most anti-Caucasian and anti-Semite religion on the planet. Surely this can't be God's will.

    3) Christianity remains victorious. Jesus said, "He that is not with me is against me. For whoever is not against us, is for us" (Matt. 12.30; Mark 9.40). Are you against Him? Do you accept these teachings of God's word?
    • Jesus died for you on the cross for you to receive forgiveness from God the Father for all your sins and selfishness;
    • Jesus was resurrected and raised to the right hand of the Father;
    • Jesus revealed to us He is the 2nd Person of the Trinity; and
    • Jesus clearly said He is the uncreated Creator of the universe with the Father and the Spirit.
    Go back to the 4 Step Proof for 4 Step Proof for God.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power

    Default How Apologetics Changed My Life

    How Apologetics Changed My Life
    Author Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for the Real Jesus and The Case for a Creator

    Skepticism is part of my DNA. That's probably why I ended up combining the study of law and journalism to become the legal editor of The Chicago Tribune-a career in which I relentlessly pursued hard facts in my investigations. And that's undoubtedly why I was later attracted to a thorough examination of the evidence-whether it proved to be positive or negative-as a way to probe the legitimacy of the Christian faith.

    A spiritual cynic, I became an atheist in high school. To me the mere concept of an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe was so absurd on the surface it didn't even warrant serious consideration. I believe that God didn't create people, but that people created God out of their fear of death and their desire to live forever in a utopia they called heaven.

    I married an agnostic named Leslie. Several years later she came to me with the worst news I thought I could ever get: She had decided to become a follower of Jesus. My initial thought was that she was going to turn into an irrational holly roller who would waste all her time serving the poor in a soup kitchen somewhere. Divorce, I figured, was inevitable.

    Then something amazing occurred. During the ensuing months, I began to see positive changes in her character, her values, and the way she related to me and the children. The transformation was winsome and attractive. So one day when she invited me to go to church with her, I decided to comply.

    The pastor gave a talk called "Basic Christianity" in which he clearly spelled out the essentials of the faith. Did he shake me out of my atheism that day? No, not y a long shot. Still, I concluded that if what he was saying was true, it would have huge implications for my life.

    That's when I decided to apply my experience as a journalist to investigate whether there is any credibility to Christianity or any other faith system. I resolved to keep an open mind and follow the evidence wherever it pointed-even if took me to some uncomfortable conclusions. In a sense, I was checking out the biggest story of my career.

    At first, I thought my investigation would be short-lived. In my opinion, having "faith" meant you believed something even though you knew in your heart that it couldn't be true. I anticipated that I would very quickly uncover facts that would devastate Christianity. Yet as I devoured books by atheists and Christians, interviewed scientists and theologians, and studied archaeology, ancient history, and world religions, I was stunned to find that Christianity's factual foundation was a lot firmer than I once believed.

    Much of my investigation focused on science, where more recent discoveries have only further cemented the conclusions that I drew in those studies. For instance, cosmologists now agree that the universe and time itself came into existence at some point in the finite past. The logic is inexorable: Whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist, and therefore the universe has a cause. It makes sense that this cause must be immaterial, timeless, powerful, and intelligent.

    What's more, physicists have discovered over the last 50 years that many of the laws and constants of the universe-such as the force of gravity and the cosmological constant-are finely tuned to an incomprehensible precision in order for life to exist. This exactitude is so incredible that it defies the explanation of mere chance.

    The existence of biological information in DNA also points toward a Creator. Each of our cells contains the precise assembly instructions for every protein out of which our bodies are made, all spelled out in a four-letter chemical alphabet. Nature can produce patterns, but whenever we see information-whether it's in a book or a computer program-we know there's intelligence behind it. Furthermore, scientists are finding complex biological machines on a cellular level that defy a Darwinian explanation and instead are better explained as the work of an Intelligent Designer.

    To my great astonishment, I became convinced by the evidence that science supports the belief in a Creator who looks suspiciously like the God of the Bible. Spurred on by my discoveries, I then turned my attention to history.

    I found that Jesus, and Jesus alone, fulfilled ancient messianic prophecies against all mathematical odds. I concluded that the New Testament is rooted in eyewitness testimony and that it passes the tests that historians routinely use to determine reliability. I learned that the Bible has been passed down through the ages with remarkable fidelity.

    However, the pivotal issue for me was the resurrection of Jesus. Anyone can claim to be the Son of God, as Jesus clearly did. The question was whether Jesus could back up that assertion by miraculously returning from the dead.

    One by one, the facts built a convincing and compelling case. Jesus' death by crucifixion is as certain as anything in the ancient world. The accounts of His resurrection are too early to be the product of legendary development. Even the enemies of Jesus conceded that His tomb was empty on Easter morning. And the eyewitness encounters with the risen Jesus cannot be explained away as mere hallucinations or wishful thinking.

    All of this just scratches the surface of what I uncovered in my nearly two-year investigation. Frankly, I was completely surprised by the depth and breadth of the case for Christianity. And as someone trained in journalism and law, I felt I had no choice but to respond to the facts.

    So on November 8, 1981, I took a step of faith in the same direction that the evidence was pointing-which is utterly rational to do-and became a follower of Jesus. And just like the experience of my wife, over time my character, values, and priorities began to change-for the good.

    For me, apologetics proved to be the running point of my life and eternity. I'm thankful for the scholars who so passionately and effectively defend the truth of Christianity-and today my life's goal is to do my part in helping others get answers to questions that are blocking them in their spiritual journey towards Christ.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power


    Religions or world-views can't prove their systems to be of the One True God, ultimately leading you to a faith of being antichrist in unbacked assumptions.

    That is why Christianity is so powerful because we can prove God of the Bible is the One True God by proofs that other religions or world-views don't have available to them.

    This is done by simply taking what most skeptical scholars believe about Paul that he was being genuine in what he said and what they believe he really wrote in Galatians 1 & 2, 1 Corinthians 15; then seeing where that leads us as evidence.

    Galatians 1 & 2 and 1 Corinthians 15

    Greetings from Paul
    Gal. 1.1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group or by human authority. My call is from Jesus Christ himself and from God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

    2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending greetings to the churches of Galatia.

    3 May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 5 That is why all glory belongs to God through all the ages of eternity. Amen.

    There Is Only One Good News
    6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way 7 that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.

    8 Let God's curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. 9 I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God's curse fall upon that person.

    10 Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant.

    Paul's Message Comes from Christ
    11 Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. 12 For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself. No one else taught me.

    13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion-how I violently persecuted the Christians. I did my best to get rid of them. 14 I was one of the most religious Jews of my own age, and I tried as hard as possible to follow all the old traditions of my religion.

    15 But then something happened! For it pleased God in his kindness to choose me and call me, even before I was born! What undeserved mercy! 16 Then he revealed his Son to me so that I could proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When all this happened to me, I did not rush out to consult with anyone else; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. No, I went away into Arabia and later returned to the city of Damascus. 18 It was not until three years later that I finally went to Jerusalem for a visit with Peter and stayed there with him for fifteen days. 19 And the only other apostle I met at that time was James, our Lord's brother. 20 You must believe what I am saying, for I declare before God that I am not lying. 21 Then after this visit, I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn't know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, "The one who used to persecute us now preaches the very faith he tried to destroy!" 24 And they gave glory to God because of me.

    The Apostles Accept Paul
    Gal. 2.1 Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. 2 I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I talked privately with the leaders of the church. I wanted them to understand what I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure they did not disagree, or my ministry would have been useless. 3 And they did agree. They did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile.

    4 Even that question wouldn't have come up except for some so-called Christians there-false ones, really-who came to spy on us and see our freedom in Christ Jesus. They wanted to force us, like slaves, to follow their Jewish regulations. 5 But we refused to listen to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the Good News for you.

    6 And the leaders of the church who were there had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) 7 They saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the Good News to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. 8 For the same God who worked through Peter for the benefit of the Jews worked through me for the benefit of the Gentiles. 9 In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 The only thing they suggested was that we remember to help the poor, and I have certainly been eager to do that.

    Paul Confronts Peter
    11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who don't bother with circumcision. But afterward, when some Jewish friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore because he was afraid of what these legalists would say. 13 Then the other Jewish Christians followed Peter's hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was influenced to join them in their hypocrisy.

    14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter in front of all the others, "Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you trying to make these Gentiles obey the Jewish laws you abandoned? 15 You and I are Jews by birth, not `sinners' like the Gentiles. 16 And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ-and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law."

    17 But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! 18 Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God's approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

    The Resurrection of Christ
    1 Cor. 15.1 Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message. 2 And it is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it-unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

    3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me-that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. 6 After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, I saw him, too, long after the others, as though I had been born at the wrong time. 9 For I am the least of all the apostles, and I am not worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted the church of God.

    10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than all the other apostles, yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach. The important thing is that you believed what we preached to you.

    The Resurrection of the Dead
    12 But tell me this-since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, but that can't be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! 19 And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.

    20 But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.

    21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. 22 Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will be raised.

    24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For the Scriptures say, "God has given him authority over all things." (Of course, when it says "authority over all things," it does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28 Then, when he has conquered all things, the Son will present himself to God, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

    29 If the dead will not be raised, then what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?

    30 And why should we ourselves be continually risking our lives, facing death hour by hour? 31 For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in you. 32 And what value was there in fighting wild beasts-those men of Ephesus-if there will be no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection,

    "Let's feast and get drunk,
    for tomorrow we die!"

    33 Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character." 34 Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't even know God.

    The Resurrection Body
    35 But someone may ask, "How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?" 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn't grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a dry little seed of wheat or whatever it is you are planting. 38 Then God gives it a new body-just the kind he wants it to have. A different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 And just as there are different kinds of seeds and plants, so also there are different kinds of flesh-whether of humans, animals, birds, or fish.

    40 There are bodies in the heavens, and there are bodies on earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the beauty of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their beauty and brightness.

    42 It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die. 43 Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power. 44 They are natural human bodies now, but when they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, so also there are spiritual bodies.

    45 The Scriptures tell us, "The first man, Adam, became a living person." But the last Adam-that is, Christ-is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What came first was the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Every human being has an earthly body just like Adam's, but our heavenly bodies will be just like Christ's. 49 Just as we are now like Adam, the man of the earth, so we will someday be like Christ, the man from heaven.

    50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever.

    51 But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. 53 For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.

    54 When this happens-when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die-then at last the Scriptures will come true:

    "Death is swallowed up in victory.
    O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?"

    56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power

    Default 8 Things Sceptical Scholars Agree About the Resurrection Claim of Jesus

    8 Things Sceptical Scholars Agree About the Resurrection Claim of Jesus
    Experiences of the Risen Jesus:
    The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection
    by Gary R. Habermas
    Originally published in Dialog: A Journal of Theology, Vol. 45; No. 3 (Fall, 2006), pp. 288-297; published by Blackwell Publishing, UK.


    Having specialized for several decades in critical studies of the resurrection of Jesus, I recently decided to update my Bibliography. What began rather modestly evolved into a five year study of well over 2000 sources on this topic, published from 1975 to the present in German, French, and English. I was most interested in scholarly trends, resulting in a survey of well over 100 sub-issues.

    One area of concentration was the common historical content recognized by virtually all researchers. For a variety of reasons, contemporary scholars widely conclude that after his death, Jesus' followers at least thought that they had seen appearances of the risen Jesus. Do the disciples' beliefs that they had witnessed resurrection appearances provide any clues as to what may really have occurred? The answer depends on how one accounts for these experiences. Here, where scholarship differs widely, three chief options prevail. In spite of these differences, it is my contention that this is the single most crucial aspect of the historical question.

    During the examination of this subject, I will attempt to clarify some of the relevant issues in order to narrow the major options. While I will not choose between these answers regarding the underlying cause, my chief task is to tighten the focus of the discussion. In the process, I will use chiefly those data to which the vast majority of recent researchers agree, at least in principle, regardless of their theological positions. Due to the volume of relevant material, I will often resort to summarized conclusions of recent scholarly trends. The endnotes provide additional background information, perspectives, argumentation, and other details.

    For a variety of reasons, almost all contemporary skeptical scholars conclude that after his death, Jesus' followers at least thought that they had seen appearances of the risen Jesus. Do the disciples' beliefs that they had witnessed resurrection appearances provide any clues as to what may really have occurred? The answer depends on how one accounts for these experiences. Here, where scholarship differs widely, three chief options prevail (see below "Accounting for the Disciples Experiences").

    The Disciples' Experiences of the Risen Jesus

    Reginald Fuller refers to the disciplesí belief in Jesus' resurrection as "one of the indisputable facts of history." Upon what was their claim based? Fuller continues that it is clear that the disciples had real experiences, characterized as appearances or visions of the risen Jesus. Whether these are explained naturally or supernaturally, this experience "is a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever may agree." [Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Scribner's, 1965), 142.]

    In recent studies of the historical Jesus, this aspect has enjoyed the support of a broad scholarly consensus. E.P Sanders declares that the "equally secure facts" indicate that Jesus' disciples "saw him (in what sense is not certain) after his death . . . . Thereafter his followers saw him." [E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1993), 11, 13.]

    That the vast majority of scholars, in spite of extensive disagreements in other areas, recognizes that the disciples had some sort of experience is a significant starting point. How these experiences are explained is another matter. But there are some rather impressive reasons that explain such a widespread, initial conclusion. We will begin by listing eight pointers, four from Paul and four more from various other sources.

    (1) Contemporary critical scholars agree that the apostle Paul is the primary witness to the early resurrection experiences. A former opponent (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:4-7), Paul states that the risen Jesus appeared personally to him (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; Gal. 1:16). The scholarly consensus here is attested by atheist Michael Martin, who avers: "However, we have only one contemporary eyewitness account of a postresurrection appearance of Jesus, namely Paulís." [Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University, 1991), 81.]

    (2) In addition to Paul's own experience, few conclusions are more widely recognized than that, in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff., Paul records an ancient oral tradition(s). This pre-Pauline report summarizes the early Gospel content, that Christ died for human sin, was buried, rose from the dead, and then appeared to many witnesses, both individuals and groups.

    Paul is clear that this material was not his own but that he had passed on to others what he had received earlier, as the center of his message (15:3). There are many textual indications that the material pre-dates Paul. Most directly, the apostle employs paredoka and parelabon, the equivalent Greek terms for delivering and receiving rabbinic tradition (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23). Indirect indications of a traditional text(s) include the sentence structure and verbal parallelism, diction, and the triple sequence of kai hoti. Further, several non-Pauline words, the proper names of Cephas (cf. Lk. 24:34) and James, and the possibility of an Aramaic original are all significant. Fuller attests to the unanimity of scholarship here: "It is almost universally agreed today that Paul is here citing tradition." [Reginald Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1980), 10.]

    Critical scholars agree that Paul received the material well before this book was written. [Of the vast number of scholars who agree, some examples include John Kloppenborg, "An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Formula in 1 Cor 15:3b-5 in Light of Some Recent Literature," Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40 (1978), especially 351, 360; Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "Tradition and Redaction in 1 Cor 15:3-7," Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 43 (1981), 582-589; John Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 2001), Vol. 2:139; Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, 277; Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis: Augsberg, 1983), 97-99.]

    The most popular view is that Paul received this material during his trip to Jerusalem just three years after his conversion, to visit Peter and James, the brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:18-19), both of whose names appear in the appearance list (1 Cor. 15:5; 7). An important hint here is Paul's use of the verb historesai (1:18), a term that indicates the investigation of a topic. [Several studies on the meaning of historesai in Gal. 1:18 have reached similar conclusions. See William Farmer, "Peter and Paul, and the Tradition Concerning 'The Lord's Supper' in I Cor. 11:23-25," Criswell Theological Review, Vol. 2 (1987), 122-130, in particular, and 135-138 for an apostolic, Petrine source for the pre-Pauline tradition. Also helpful is an older but still authoritative study by G.D. Kilpatrick, "Galatians 1:18 historesai Kephan" in New Testament Essays: Studies in Memory of Thomas Walter Manson, A.J.B. Higgins, editor (Manchester: Manchester University, 1959), 144-149. Paul Barnett reports that this same term appears in Herodotus, Polybius, and Plutarch, for whom it meant to inquire (41). Similar ideas are contained in J. Dore, "La Resurrection de Jesus: A L'Epreuve du Discours Theologique," Recherches de Science Religieuse, Vol. 65 (1977), 291, endnote 11.]

    The immediate context both before and after reveals this subject matter: Paul was inquiring concerning the nature of the Gospel proclamation (Gal. 1:11-2:10), of which Jesus' resurrection was the center (1 Cor. 15:3-4, 14, 17; Gal. 1:11, 16).

    Critical scholars generally agree that this pre-Pauline creed(s) may be the earliest in the New Testament. Ulrich Wilckens asserts that it "indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity." [Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection: Biblical Testimony to the Resurrection: An Historical Examination and Explanation (Edinburgh: St. Andrew, 1977), 2.]

    Joachim Jeremias agrees that it is, "the earliest tradition of all." [Joachim Jeremias, "Easter: The Earliest Tradition and the Earliest Interpretation," New Testament Theology, trans. John Bowden (N.Y.: Scribner's, 1971), 306.]

    Perhaps a bit too optimistically, Walter Kasper even thinks that it was possibly even "in use by the end of 30 AD . . . ." [Walter Kaspar, Jesus the Christ, new ed., trans. V. Green (Mahweh: Paulist, 1976), 125.]

    Indicating the wide approval on this subject, even more skeptical scholars frequently agree. Gerd Ludemann maintains that "the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus. . . . not later than three years. . . . the formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in I Cor.15.3-8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 CE. . . ." [Gerd Ludemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 38 (Ludemannís emphasis).]

    Similarly, Michael Goulder thinks that it "goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion." [Michael Goulder, "The Baseless Fabric of a Vision," in Gavin DíCosta, editor, Resurrection Reconsidered (Oxford: Oneworld, 1996), 48.]

    Thomas Sheehan agrees that this tradition "probably goes back to at least 32-34 C.E., that is, to within two to four years of the crucifixion." [Thomas Sheehan, The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986), 118; cf. 110-111.]

    Others clearly consent. [For instances, see A.J.M. Wedderburn, Beyond Resurrection (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999), 274, note 265; Robert Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels (New York: Macmillan, 1993), 24; Jack Kent, The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth (London: Open Gate, 1999), 16-17; G.A. Wells, Did Jesus Exist? (London: Pemberton, 1986), 30.]

    Overall, recent overview of critical sources mentioned above indicates that those who provide a date generally opt for Paul's reception of this report relatively soon after Jesusí death, by the early to mid-30s A.D. [Besides those listed above, a few of the many others include: Meier, A Marginal Jew, 2:139; Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 10, 14, 48; Raymond Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (N.Y.: Paulist, 1973), 81; Francis X. Durrwell, La Resurrection de Jesus: Mystere de Salut, (Paris: Les edtions du Cerf, 1976), 22; Peter Stuhlmacher, Jesus of Nazareth--Christ of Faith, trans. Siegfried S. Shatzmann (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), 8; C.E.B. Cranfield, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Expository Times, Vol. 101 (1990), 169; James D.G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus (Louisville: Westminster, 1985), 70; Leander E. Keck, Who is Jesus? History in Perfect Tense (Columbia: University of South Carolina, 2000), 139; Helmut Merklein, "Die Auferweckung Jesu und die Anfange der Christologie (Messias bzw. Sohn Gottes und Menschensohn)," Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der alteren Kirche, Vol. 72 (1981), reprint, 2.]

    This provides an additional source that appears just a half step removed from original eyewitness testimony.

    (3) Paul was so careful to assure the content of his Gospel message, that he made a second trip to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10) specifically to be absolutely sure that he had not been mistaken (2:2). The first time he met with Peter and James (Gal. 1:18-20). On this occasion, the same two men were there, plus the apostle John (2:9). Paul was clearly doing his research by seeking out the chief apostles. As Martin Hengel notes, "Evidently the tradition of I Cor. 15.3 had been subjected to many tests" by Paul. [Martin Hengel, The Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the New Testament, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 38.]

    These four apostles were the chief authorities in the early church, and each is represented in the list of those who had seen the resurrected Jesus (1 Cor. 15:5-7). So their confirmation of Paul's Gospel preaching (Gal. 2:9), especially given the apostolic concern to insure doctrinal truth in the early church, is certainly significant. On Paul's word, we are again just a short distance from a firsthand report.

    (4) Not only do we have Paul's account that the other major apostles confirmed his Gospel message, but he provides the reverse testimony, too. After listing Jesus' resurrection appearances, Paul tells us he also knew what the other apostles were preaching regarding Jesus' appearances, and it was the same as his own teaching on this subject (1 Cor. 15:11). As one, they proclaimed that Jesus was raised from the dead (15:12,15). So Paul narrates both the more indirect confirmation of his Gospel message by the apostolic leaders, plus his firsthand, direct approval of their resurrection message.

    (5) Critical scholars usually recognize that James, the brother of Jesus, was a rather skeptical unbeliever prior to Jesus' crucifixion (Mk. 3:21-35; Jn. 7:5). Not long afterwards, James is a leader of the Jerusalem church, where Paul finds him during his two visits (Gal. 1:18-19; 2:1-10; cf. Acts 15:13-21). In-between, the pre-Pauline statement in 1 Corinthians 15:7 states that the risen Jesus appeared to James.

    Scholars find several reasons for believing that James was an unbeliever before this event. John Meier points out that James' unbelief is multiply attested. Further, the criterion of embarrassment is probably the strongest consideration, since it would be highly unlikely that the early church would otherwise sponsor what would potentially be some "deeply offensive" statements regarding Jesus' brother, as well as a major leader. To a lesser extent, the criterion of coherence indicates a similarity between Jesus' frequent call to place God before one's family, and Jesus' own example, in that he did the same although some of his own family members were unbelievers. [Meier, A Marginal Jew, 2:68-71.]

    Surprisingly, Fuller concludes that even if the New Testament had not referenced the resurrection appearance to James, "we should have to invent" one in order to account for his conversion and his promotion to his lofty position in the Jerusalem church! [Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 37.]

    The majority of recent scholars, including many rather skeptical ones, agree that James was converted from unbelief by Jesus' personal appearance. [Of the many examples, see Ludemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, 109; Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), Vol. 2:84; Robert Funk, Honest to Jesus (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996), 33; Wedderburn, 116; John Shelby Spong, The Easter Moment (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 68; Peter Stuhlmacher, "The Resurrection of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead," trans. Jonathan M. Whitlock, Ex Auditu, Vol. 9 (1993), 49; E.P. Sanders, "But Did it Happen?" The Spectator, Vol. 276 (1996), 17.]

    (6) Many other early creedal texts are found throughout the New Testament. Many scholars think that the Book of Acts incorporates some of these early traditions, located in the sermons contained there. [The most popular candidates for these condensed confessional segments are located within the sermon material in Acts 1:21-22; 2:22-36; 3:13-16; 4:8-10; 5:29-32; 10:39-43; 13:28-31; 17:1-3; 17:30-31.]

    They are generally identified by factors such as their compactness, theological simplicity, and because the structure, style, and/or diction reflect word patterns other than the author's. Not as widely accepted as the pre-Pauline tradition(s) in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff., it still appears that a majority of critical scholars conclude that some of these snippets reflect the early preaching of the Gospel message. [For some examples, see Gerd Ludemann, Early Christianity According to the Traditions in Acts: A Commentary, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), especially 47-49, 112-115; Hengel, 34; Kloppenborg, 361; John Alsup, The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories of the Gospel Tradition: A History-of-Tradiitons Analysis with Text-Synopsis, Calwer Theologische Monographien 5 (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1975), 64-65, 81-85; Merklein, 2; Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology (Mahweh: Paulist, 1994), 112-113, 164; Durrwell, 22; Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM, 1979), 61, 64, 66; Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 44-45; Pheme Perkins, Resurrection: New Testament Witness and Contemporary Reflection (Garden City: Doubleday, 1984), 90, 228-231; Max Wilcox, The Semitisms of Acts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965), esp. 79-80, 164-165; Luke Timothy Johnson, Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1999), 34; C.H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint, 1980), 17-31.]

    The risen Jesus is the center of each tradition, and Jesus' appearances are mentioned frequently. [For examples, mentions of Jesus' appearances are found in Acts 2:31-32, 3:15, 10:39-41; 13:29-37.]

    These Acts traditions are often dated very early. Gerald OíCollins thinks that this book "incorporates resurrection formulae which stem from the thirties." [Gerald OíCollins, Interpreting Jesus (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1983), 109-110.]

    John Drane concludes that this material "almost certainly goes back to the time immediately after the resurrection event is alleged to have taken place." [John Drane, Introducing the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986), 99.]

    (7) Virtually no critical scholar questions that the disciplesí convictions regarding the risen Jesus caused their radical transformation, even being willing to die for their beliefs. Their change does not evidence the resurrection appearances per se, but it is a clear indication that the disciples at least thought that they had experienced the risen Jesus. [For critical agreement in various elements here, see Willi Marxsen, Jesus and Easter (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), 66; J. Dore, "Croire en la Resurrection de Jesus-Christ," etudes, Vol. 356 (1982), 536-537; Funk, Honest to Jesus, especially 270; Wedderburn, 46-47; Hengel, 65; J.K. Elliott, "The First Easter," History Today, Vol. 29 (1979), 210, 215, 218; Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus--God and Man, second ed., trans. Lewis L. Wilkins and Duane A. Priebe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977), 96; Michael Grant, Saint Peter: A Biography (N.Y.: Scribner, 1994), pp. 89, 96; Sanders, 11, 276-280; Hugh Jackson, "The Resurrection Belief of the Earliest Church: A Response to the Failure of Prophecy," The Journal of Religion, Vol. 55 (1975), 419-422; Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (NY: Random House, 1979), 8.]

    Alternatives must account for this belief.

    (8) Approximately 75% of the surveyed scholars accept one or more arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb. The remaining 25% accept one or more arguments against the early church's knowledge of an empty tomb. If the majority is correct that Jesus' burial tomb was later found empty, this perhaps adds some credibility to the disciples' claim that they saw the risen Jesus. If the minority view is correct, this reason would of course not support Jesus' appearances. [This data is summarized in my forthcoming article, "The Empty Tomb of Jesus: Recent Critical Arguments."]

    The survey revealed almost two dozen reasons supporting Jesusí empty tomb. These include the potentially embarrassing but unanimous agreement in all four Gospels that women were the earliest witnesses, Jerusalem being the least-likely place for a resurrection proclamation, the attestation by multiple sources, the early pre-Pauline creed (1 Cor. 15:3-4) implying an empty tomb (cf. the possible early tradition in Acts 13:29-31, 36-37), along with the later report that the Jewish leaders conceded it (Matt. 28:11-15). [Similar reports are also found in Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 108 and Tertullian, On Spectacles 30.]

    The minority position that accepted one or more reasons against the empty tomb cited a total of about a dozen opposing considerations. These tend to center on the lateness of the Gospel reports, Paul's lack of discussion (and perhaps knowledge) of the empty tomb, and that the report served apologetic purposes in Christian preaching.

    The empty tomb is not as widely held as are the other historical reasons for the disciples' experiences, which are seldom disputed. Still, most critical scholars agree that Jesus' tomb was found empty. James D.G. Dunn concludes: "I have to say quite forcefully: the probability is that the tomb was empty. As a matter of historical reconstruction, the weight of evidence points firmly to the conclusion. . . ." Potential alternative explanations are not feasible. [Dunn, 68.]

    Historian Michael Grant surprisingly states that "the historian . . . cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb" because normally applied historical criteria indicate that, "the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty." [Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historianís Review of the Gospels (N.Y.: Collier, 1992), 176.]

    These eight reasons indicate why virtually all recent scholars conclude that the disciples thought that they had seen the risen Jesus. Paul's eyewitness testimony, the early date of the pre-Pauline creed(s) in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff., scrutinizing his Gospel message at least twice before the chief apostles who were also witnesses, and Paul's knowledge of their eyewitness teaching on the resurrection appearances produces a simply astounding, interconnected line of evidence nearly unheard of in ancient documents. Howard Clark Kee surprisingly remarks that Paul's research "can be critically examined and compared with other testimony from eyewitnesses of Jesus, just as one would evaluate evidence in a modern court or academic setting." [Howard Clark Kee, What Can We Know about Jesus? (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1990), 1-2.]

    Further, four additional reasons include the conversion of James from unbelief after witnessing an appearance from his brother Jesus, other early creedal texts in Acts and elsewhere, the disciples' transformation, and the possibility of the empty tomb. It is clear that the disciples were thoroughly convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead and that they had seen him. Still other factors could be mentioned, but these are sufficient for our purposes. [For details on all of these reasons, as well as other pertinent information, see Gary R. Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), Chapter 1.]

    No other thesis viably opposes the conclusion that the disciples at least thought that Jesus was raised from the dead. This was what Fuller termed "one of the indisputable facts of history."

    The disciples thought that they had witnessed Jesus' appearances, which, however they are explained, "is a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever may agree." [Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology, 142.]

    Fuller adds that "[e]ven the most skeptical historian" must do one more thing: "postulate some other event" that is not the disciples' faith, but the reason for their faith, in order to account for their experiences. Of course, both natural and supernatural options have been proposed. [Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 2, 169, respectively; cf. 181.]

    Accounting for the Disciples' Experiences

    Each of the eight reasons above argues clearly for the belief that Jesus was seen alive after his crucifixion. The widespread view of contemporary scholars is that a visual claim was being made, either as a perceived revelation or as some type of presence. The disciples proclaimed that they had seen appearances of Jesus. This is what Paul clearly attested. The pre-Pauline creed lists Peter, James, and the other apostles as recipients. Peter, James, and John were all present when Paul's Gospel was affirmed. Paul knew of their preaching on Jesus' appearances. Most scholars agree that Jesus' tomb was empty. As a result, these disciples were transformed.

    Recent scholars agree. Helmut Koester points out that, "We are on much firmer ground with respect to the appearances of the risen Jesus and their effect." Jesus' appearances "cannot very well be questioned." [Koester, 2:84.]

    Bart Ehrman declares: "we can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead." [Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University, 1999), 230.]

    Ehrman adds: "Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus' resurrection, since this is a matter of public record." [Ehrman, 231.]

    Holtz thinks that the disciples' "experience of resurrection . . . is in fact an undeniable historical event." [Translation of the German text in Traugott Holtz, "Kenntnis von Jesus und Kenntnis Jesu: Eine Skizze zum Verhaltnis zwischen historisch-philologischer Erkenntnis und historisch-theologischem Verstandnis," Theologische Literaturzeitung, Vol. 104 (1979), 10.]

    Ludemann reminds us that the appearance language employed by Paul is that of sight: "active sensual perception. . . . Paul is claiming a visual side to the appearance . . . ." [Ludemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, 50; cf. 37.]

    More specifically, Paul thinks that Jesus appeared in his "transformed spiritual resurrection corporeality." [Gerd Ludemann, What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, with Alf ÷zen, trans. John Bowden (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 103.]

    It seems clear that the disciples were utterly persuaded that the risen Jesus had appeared to them. The data are strong enough that this is granted by virtually all critical scholars. Can we get any closer to the nature of the experience that convinced the disciples? We will mention three avenues, each of which presents its own problems.

    Those who deny (or question) whether the disciples actually saw Jesus in some sense would seemingly sever the connection between what the disciples thought, and what really happened. They generally move in either of two directions, by directly or indirectly positing their solution.

    (1) The more popular of the two skeptical approaches, reaching its heyday in nineteenth century thought, posed a naturalistic theory to account for the data. Such a move basically accepted the strongest historical facts, while veering off in a natural direction instead of affirming the resurrection. [For details, see Gary R. Habermas, "The Late Twentieth-Century Resurgence of Naturalistic Responses to Jesus' Resurrection," Trinity Journal, new series, Vol. 22 (2001), 179-196.]

    However, in spite of a minority resurgence at present, [Represented by the works of Ludemann, Goulder, and Kent above.] this approach has proven to be the most difficult. In fact, the vast majority of critical scholars reject this option. They are often well aware that the weight of the known historical facts opposes each of the proposals, and comparatively few attempt it. Scholars generally concede that there are multiple historical problems with each of the options.

    For instance, Raymond Brown refers to these theses as "gratuitous charges." [Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, 163; cf. 163-167.]

    James D.G. Dunn charges that these "alternative interpretations of the data fail to provide a more satisfactory explanation." [Dunn, 76. Cf. N.T. Wright, "Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Problem," Sewanee Theological Review, Vol. 41 (1998), 118-122.]

    Stephen Davis agrees: "All of the alternative hypotheses with which I am familiar are historically weak; some are so weak that they collapse of their own weight once spelled out. . . . the alternative theories that have been proposed are not only weaker but far weaker at explaining the available historical evidence. . . ." [Stephen T. Davis, "Is Belief in the Resurrection Rational?" Philo, Vol. 2 (1999), 57-58.]

    John A.T. Robinson admits that, "It is indeed very difficult to dismiss [Jesus' appearances] and still find a credible explanation." [John A.T. Robinson, Can We Trust the New Testament? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 124.]

    (2) Another option [Represented by the works of Marxsen and Wedderburn above.] is the agnostic plea that we do not (or cannot) really know what happened. The disciples indeed were sincere in their belief that they saw Jesus, but we cannot determine the cause.

    This position sometimes seems to reject even the possibility of actual appearances, rather than following the data to its conclusion. The approach is difficult to maintain, since its question mark could be answered by the many factual considerations. Perhaps we have plenty of evidence already to decide the case, especially since we used only those minimal data that virtually all critical scholars accept, including agnostics. So critics must not reject, or pull up short of, the results that are indicated by their own research, which may clearly indicate that more than an undefined "something" occurred to Jesus' disciples.

    Recognized historical particulars must be accounted for in a viable manner. For example, perhaps the eight areas mentioned above could settle the matter of the cause of the disciples' experiences. But simply to label these data as insufficient does not explain them--they may be precisely what is capable of solving the historical issue. With Fuller, many scholars counter that we are capable of positing a cause for the disciples' faith beyond the faith itself. [Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 2, 169, 181.]

    (3) By far the most popular option at present is that Jesus was actually raised in some form, either as an objective vision or in a transformed body. [The first is favored by Jeremias and the second by Wright above.]

    The former view was more popular a few decades ago, while the latter appears clearly to be the majority view at present. Reasons such as those listed here are most frequently mentioned for establishing this position, each of which points to a visual event that changed the disciples' lives, completely convincing them that they had seen the risen Jesus.

    Besides the rejoinders posed by the naturalistic hypotheses, various a priori objections have been proposed. While seldom addressed specifically to the resurrection, these philosophical misgivings are aimed at miracles in general. For example, naturalists or more deistic thinkers object that miraculous events do not occur. Or, these reservations might concern background information (as with Bayes Theorem), or issues regarding the nature of the evidence. While favored by some philosophers, these responses are also opposed by many. [For examples of each, see Rodney D. Holder, "Hume on Miracles: Bayesian Interpretation, Multiple Testimony, and the Existence of God," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Volume 49 (1998), especially 60-62; George N. Schlesinger, "Miracles and Probabilities," Nous, Volume 21 (1987), especially 219, 230-232; John Earman, "Bayes, Hume, and Miracles," Faith and Philosophy, Volume 10 (1993), especially 293, 305-306; Richard Otte, "Schlesinger and Miracles," Faith and Philosophy, Volume 10 (1993), especially 93, 97; David Owen, "Hume Versus Price on Miracles and Prior Probabilities," Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 37 (1987), 187-202.]


    Jesus' disciples were totally convinced that they had seen the risen Jesus. Many strong reasons support the historicity of these beliefs. Virtually all critical scholars agree that these the disciples' convictions are thoroughly historical.

    Do the disciples' beliefs that they had experienced resurrection appearances provide any clues as to what caused these convictions? We have outlined three chief options. It is not our purpose here to choose between these general paths that purport to account for the cause of the disciples' experiences.

    One option might potentially show itself to be superior. For example, since many researchers accept the maxim that a viable natural hypothesis is to be accepted before a supernatural one, postulating and checking alternative scenarios by the known data will probably continue. This process makes sense. On the other hand, if alternative theses continually fail amid dissatisfaction with agnostic reluctance, the reasons favoring the disciples' experiences might indicate that the most likely scenario is that the disciples actually did see the risen Jesus.

    In general, the more thoroughly one option fails, the more likely the others become. And the more strongly an option is established, the more the others diminish. Even without a final solution here, however, there is still value in honing our instruments and narrowing our options.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power


    To see a video presentation of MFA, see the video by Gary R. Habermas, a leading scholar on resurrection: Lecture at UNC Chapel Hill - April 11, 2007. Watch Part I to Part VII and if you cannot overturn specifically the argument by Gary R. Habermas, then what should you do? In all my years of study and past two millennia that I am aware of, the argument presented by Habermas has always remained the ultimate proof for Christ. If you are convinced as I am and once you have given your life to Christ, what do you do next? Build up your life in Christ in the most efficient way possible. Read Scripture, but also seek help from a spiritual Christian. Find the most spiritual Christian writer (Watchman Nee, CFP & CLC), and read his or her writings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Church of
    Sherwood Park
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power

    Default 12 Groups saw Jesus Resurrected

    Jesus appeared 12 times to different group sizes ranging from just one person to 500 people:

    1) Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.9-11; John 20.11-18), Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor. 15.5), Jesus' brother (insider skeptic) James (1 Cor. 15.7).

    Some of the New Testament authors explicitly claimed to be eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry. For example, it’s claimed in 2 Peter 1.16 that "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." Similarly, 1 John 1.1,3 states that "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched...we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard."

    It's interesting that the two people Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 and Galatians 1 are the first two original Apostles he met in Jerusalem after he had spent three years in Damascus. For two weeks in Jerusalem on a fact finding trip he met with Peter and James. We have good evidence in the gospels none of the brothers of Jesus believed he was the Messiah, until that day James saw Jesus resurrected. In fact, Jesus' brothers tried to goad him into a deathtrap by showing himself publically at a feast when they knew the Jewish leaders were trying to persecute and kill him. But then James emerges as one of pillars of the NT church and one of its leaders. Even if Paul didn't mention James seeing Jesus resurrected, you would have to invent something to account for his transformation and leadership in the church. What would it take make you believe your brother is the Lord such that you would be willing to go your death for this belief as James did was when he as martyred in AD 67 by the Jewish Sanhedrin for his belief Jesus was Lord, Son of God-the Messiah?

    2) the other women at the tomb (Matthew 28.8-10).

    3) The two travelers on the road (Mark 16.12,13; Luke 24.13-34).

    4) Ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.35-43; John 20.19-25).

    5) All the disciples, with Thomas (excluding Judas Iscariot) (John 20.26-31; 1 Cor. 15.5).

    6) Seven disciples while fishing (John 21.1-14).

    7) Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28.16-20).

    8) A crowd of 500 "most of whom are still alive" at the time of Paul's writing (1 Cor. 15.6). This may have been the same group as in Matt. 28.16: the rendezvous was to "to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them." Unlike the other accounts which were unexpected and by surprise, and to gather such a large number of people, this meeting was held outdoors. The women were told to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee as well. "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted" (Matt. 28.17) may be a reference to many present, both believers and non-believers. Paul had firsthand contact with them. So it was not a legend. He knew some of the people had died in the interim, but most were still alive. He is saying in effect they are still there to be questioned. You can talk to some of the witnesses. He never could have made this challenge if this event had not occurred.

    9) "Then to all the apostles" (1 Cor. 15.7) which includes the Twelve plus all the other apostles.

    10) Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24.44-49).

    11) Those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven (Mark 16.19,20; Luke 24.50-53; Acts 1.3-8).

    12) Least of all Paul (outsider skeptic) with others present and as though he was not living in the proper time (1 Cor. 15.8-9; Gal. 1.13-16; Acts 9.1-8, 22.9, read all of chapters 22 and 26; 13.30-37; 1 Cor. 15.10-20; Gal. 2.1-10).

    For further consideration, observe these points:

    • Paul entered a life of incredible hardship as Christian when he didn't need to.
    • Paul died in the Neronian persecution in 64-65 AD. Luke set forth the biography of Paul in Acts, his mission activities. But at the end of the book, Paul had not yet died. So Acts had to have been written before his death. Had he died the author would have mentioned it. Death is important in a biography. Luke is part one of Acts and is stated as such. In the book of Acts the writer says, "The former treatise I presented to you Theophilus." That's Luke. So Luke was written prior to Acts. But Luke used Mark. Now you are moving back from 64-65, and Jesus died 33 AD. That places all this stuff within a decade or two. Put Acts at 55 AD, Luke at 45 and Mark at 35 AD.
    • What was the origin of the disciples beliefs? It couldn't have been the result of Christian influences, obviously and for the simple reason, there wasn't any Christianity yet and they were the first believers. The origin of their beliefs can't be pagan such as Adonis and Osiris because they don't make the claim they are attached to historical persons at all. Rather they are just symbols for passage of the seasons. The god dies in the winter and comes back to life as a new crop in the spring. It would be simply unthinkable for the disciples to believe this is what Jesus meant. There is actually not only no causal relationship, but in first century Palestine these myths of dying and rising gods was a later invention added in, and the disciples had no contact with these sorts of things. Therefore, the best explanation is Jesus rose from the dead.
    • To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing recorded in antiquity so close to the events that happened. Therefore, it is holding the highest of standards of historical record.
    • Paul said in Gal. 1 & 2 he met James and Peter a few years after the cross as indicated in 1 Cor. 15 in which he says he is delivering what he received from them. Scholars place his conversion 2 years after the cross. Galatians says it was "3 years" after his conversion he met James and Peter, so that's 5 years after the cross he met the original eyewitness apostles. And its safe to say they talked about more than just the weather.
    • Luke has no problem between Paul's appearance and those made to the disciples in Luke 24, Acts 1.1-11. Luke records both types of appearances of Jesus to the disciples and to Paul.
    • "Last of all he was seen of me also" (1 Cor. 15.8).
    • "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9.1).
    • Others saw the light and heard the voice during Paul seeing Jesus bodily, however because Paul's experience was post-ascension, it may be slightly different.
    • Evolution of a resurrection theory actually devolved from the accounts of the 40 days with the disciples to when Paul saw Jesus (Gal. 1.15-16).
    • "To reveal His Son in me" (Gal. 1.16,18) took three years following the Damascus road experience. Don't mistake this portion as being the bodily appearance.
    • "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man" (Acts 9.7). This presumes that Paul saw the Man.
    • Many years after Paul saw the vision on the Damascus road, he testified, "Wherefore . . . I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26.19).
    • Paul reports knowing some of the disciples personally who had seen Jesus resurrected including Peter, James, and John. Acts confirms this (Acts 9.26-30; 15.1-35). And Paul says in 1 Cor. 15.11 that whether "it was I or they, this is what we preach," referring to the resurrection of Jesus.
    • "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1.18,19). Suffice it to say, they talked about more than just the weather.
    • "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2,1-2,9,11) with James regarding the matter of circumcision.
    • "I said to Cephas before them all, If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Gal. 2.14) And they continued in long discourse.
    • Altogether, there is Paul's writings, oral traditions in creeds, hymns and sermon summaries in various NT books, and writings of the early church fathers such as Polycarp and Clement of Rome who personally knew the Apostles, John and Peter.

    Now if so many people saw Jesus resurrected (see even more compelling testimony), is it really so hard to believe the saved will be resurrected at the consummation of the age of the dispensation of grace-the end of the mystery age of the church?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Church of
    South Beaver
    Rep Power


    Quote Originally Posted by Churchwork View Post
    Minimal Facts Approach - Proving the Resurrection of Jesus

    1. Without assuming Biblical inerrancy, what can we glean from the Scriptures? Almost all skeptical scholars who do their thesis work, are accredited and have peer review journal work done on the resurrection in the past half century (see Gary R. Habermas) agree Paul really wrote and really believed what he wrote in 1 Cor. 15 and Gal. 1 & 2.

    2. In these three chapters, Paul said he spent fifteen days with Peter and also time with James, the brother of Jesus, within five years from the cross. Paul was converted two years after the cross then went away to study the Scriptures for three years after which time he returned to Jerusalem whereupon he got to know Peter and James. Later on he met up with John. And he continued to see them again over the years. They all testified to having seen Jesus alive from the dead in various group settings.

    3. People do not willingly allow themselves to die for something they know is a lie so the Apostles really believed they saw, talked with, touched, walked with and even ate with Jesus in
    various group settings after He died on the cross which convinced them He was God so they became bold proclaimers when before they were doubters.

    4. Therefore, it must be true they saw Jesus alive from the dead, since all naturalistic explanations have been exhausted these past two thousand years.

    Wow, Troy we actually agree on something that I thought we would never agree on... Concise and simple apologetic proving the historicity of the Gospels and of the Work of Christ on the Cross... Kudos!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power


    Perfect Proof for God

    Since nature has been proven to always have a cause by the overwhelming preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of trillions and trillions of cause and effects, and no hard evidence something comes from nothing, this necessarily leads to an infinite regress, but you would have happened already having had an eternity to do so; so therefore, there cannot be an eternity of the past of cause and effects. Pure and simple! Since nature can't always have existed, that which is outside of nature-time, space and matter-necessarily must be the cause. This is whom we call God.

    So the question then becomes who is God? Many can claim to be God or make claims about who God is, but unless they have some evidence they need not be considered. Forget about any claims where God is not intelligent, personal and accessible, for how can God's standards be lower than our own? Any belief system that does not effectively address sin would be deficient. By holding out for the future there could be some evidence to prove God does not exist eventually requires that you be all-knowing but only God could be all-knowing.

    Only does Jesus prove He is God! After saying He is God and predicting His death and resurrection, the original disciples testified to having seen Him alive from the dead in various group settings. Since all naturalistic explanations are impossible, then no naturalistic explanation can account for their testimony. Hence, Jesus rose from the dead proving His deity as the uncreated Creator, that He died on the cross for the sins of the world and salvation is only through Him. No atonement would be satisfactory unless it was God Himself. If a person is unwilling to come to the cross as a helpless sinner, they are saying they want to be eternally separated from God.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power


    Clay Jones writes,

    In apologetics we provide argument and evidence for the truth of historic Christianity. For example, consider Jesus’ resurrection. We know that Jesus’ disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and ate with Jesus—they knew who Jesus was. They were with Jesus when he was arrested and they then scattered. The Romans then scourged Jesus, drove spikes through His wrists and His feet to nail him to the cross, and thrust a spear in His side to make sure He was dead. Then they buried Jesus.

    But three days later, Jesus’ tomb was found empty and the disciples started testifying that they again walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and ate with Jesus. And what’s really amazing is that many testified to his resurrection even to their own torture and death. We know extra-Biblically that Nero beheaded the Apostle Paul and we know from the Jewish historian Josephus that the Sanhedrin stoned to death Jesus’ brother James, who had become a leader of the Christian church.

    So here’s my question: if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then why would the first disciples willingly die for what they knew was a lie?

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Regarding the 4 Step Proof for God
    By Marquis Naryshkin in forum Philosophy
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 12-07-2011, 10:08 PM
  2. Questions About the 4 Step Proof
    By Silverhammer in forum Atheist & Agnostic
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-14-2011, 05:07 PM
  3. The Minimal Facts Approach Stated Simply
    By Parture in forum Minimal Facts Approach
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-21-2011, 10:24 PM
  4. The Minimal Facts of Paul's Trustworthiness
    By Faithful in forum Minimal Facts Approach
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-03-2009, 04:51 AM
  5. The Minimal Facts Approach
    By Churchwork in forum Minimal Facts Approach
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 04-08-2007, 03:08 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts