The Problem with the Christian Explanation

by J Warner Wallace

Even if we accept a few minimal truths related to the alleged Resurrection of Jesus (i.e. the tomb was empty, the disciples believed they saw the risen Jesus, and the disciples were transformed following their alleged Resurrection observations), there are still a number of possible explanations for this set of facts. These explanations have been thoroughly examined by a number of Christian case makers over the years:

The disciples were mistaken about Jesus’ death
The disciples were lying about Jesus’ resurrection
The disciples were delusional and only imagined Jesus’ resurrection
The disciples were fooled my an imposter who claimed to be the risen Jesus
The disciples were influenced by a vision experience by only one of them
The disciples were distorted and misrepresented by those who followed them

Each explanation has several liabilities, and these explanatory deficiencies have been exploited by Christian apologists for many years in an effort to establish the Christian explanation as the most reasonable:

The disciples were correct about their observations related to the death and resurrection of Jesus

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As a detective, I’ve come to recognize that any explanation of an event in the past has its own set of virtues and liabilities. Even in my own cases, when I’ve gathered the evidence, reconstructed and articulated an account of criminal events, and successfully prosecuted a defendant in a case, I’ve always been aware of the liabilities and evidential deficiencies in my explanation of events. No case is perfect. All cases have unanswered questions. All cases have strengths and weaknesses. Juries are able to make decisions in spite of this reality because they reach a point of evidential sufficiency and conclude that the liabilities are outweighed by the strengths of the case. They also come to accept one explanation as superior to the rest.

So as I examine the Christian explanation for the Resurrection, I am quick to recognize its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, it accounts for the minimal evidences thoroughly (and it also accounts for a much larger set of evidences related to the Resurrection as described by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus). On the other hand it suffers from what some would say is an insurmountable liability…

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The Problem with the Christian Explanation | Cold Case Christianity



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