Minimal Facts Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
by Alan Anderson
The proposal that someone can resurrect after being dead for three days is often a very tough product to sell in todays’ westernized self-proclaimed intellectual cultural, which is primarily dominated by naturalists who claim that nothing can occur outside of the laws of nature. Of course, we Christians firmly hold to the idea that our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, rose from the dead three days after being crucified. Some of us place faith in this fact solely based upon the reading of the Bible and others have read the Bible and have gone the extra mile to confirm the historical credibility of such a claim. Regardless of how you came to your faith in Christ and his resurrection, it is important that we assess our own beliefs by objectively viewing the facts to see how they reinforce or contradict our worldview.
In the defense of the skeptic, Christians are making a gigantic claim. You would be somewhat skeptical if you heard your friend say, “You are not going to believe this but Bob (who died three days ago) is now alive and talking to everyone in front of the mortuary. You should stop by and see him!” You would likely think your friend was crazy and would not seriously consider the notion that Bob could resurrect from the dead because it is believed that once a living organism dies, it remains dead.
However, imagine if you started getting text messages from multiple friends saying something like, “Did you hear? Bob is back from the dead and he is in front of the mortuary! You should come down!” If you are anything like me, you would probably come to the conclusion that your friends are playing a distasteful joke on you and would dismiss the text messages as foolish. After receiving the texts, pretend you turned on your computer and logged into Facebook only to find that there are pictures of Bob in front of the mortuary on some of your friend’s profiles with posts stating, “Bob is back from the dead! He says Jesus brought him back!” Now, you are starting to become a little less skeptical of your friends’ wild and seemingly impossible claims. Even though you went to Bob’s “showing” earlier that same day and intended to go to his funeral the following day, the evidence is compiling high enough to compel you to investigate the evidence to its conclusion.
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With this newfound evidence, you jump into the car and drive hurriedly to the mortuary to see if these claims are genuine rather than some morbid prank. You get to the mortuary only to see Bob surrounded by a group of ecstatic people who are as shocked to see Bob as you. The seemingly impossible claims were truthful. Bob’s claim that Jesus raised him from the dead validated the existence of the Christian God because you recognize that a corpse does not naturally rise from the dead without divine intervention. This divine intervention can now be attested to by Bob, you, and all of those who also witnessed Bob back from the dead. Those that do not believe in this event can view the evidence for themselves however their non-belief would be contrary to the evidence provided by the eyewitnesses.
Using this illustration, we can identify the natural absurdities of what Christians are asking skeptics to believe. However, using the same example, we can recognize that if we follow the evidence to where it leads, we will discover our Savior as long as the investigation is approached with the commitment to accept the logical conclusion of the available evidence. However, imagine that the evidence was never followed. Bob being raised from the dead by God would have been dismissed due a failure of being ideologically accepting of supernatural occurrences. If presuppositions are devastatingly devout to a naturalistic worldview, even the strong evidence as the one presented in this example could potentially be disregarded or easily dismissed as a hoax. The truth is plain to see in the case of Bob and Jesus but the lack of openness to the supernatural hinders people from discovering the truth in both stories.
This illustration does not serve the purpose of portraying an exact parallel to Jesus’s resurrection. The point behind this example expresses how dogmatic naturalistic ideologies keep some people from accepting the logical conclusions that are founded on objective evidence. The facts contained within the minimal facts argument are accepted by a large majority of New Testament scholars, which include believers and skeptics. While everyone may not find the Bible to be a reliable authority, these facts that are being presented are historically reliable and can be attested to by scholarly skeptics and believers alike. As you read, allow yourself to objectively weigh the resurrection hypothesis versus all naturalistic hypotheses and let the evidence dictate your conclusion, not your ideology…
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