The Resurrection of Jesus: Investigation & Apologetic Approach
by Steve Wilkinson
“… God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” (Acts 17:30–32 NASB)
I decided to move the evidence to a third part and spend a bit more time looking at how we go about this investigation, as well as some of the apologetic methods which approach this topic. For those too anxious to get to the evidence, please see the ‘Resources’ at the end of the article.
Last time, we looked at the presuppositions which often underlie the skeptic’s arguments put forth against Jesus’ Resurrection. Are they really neutral as portrayed? If one rules something out of possibility from the get-go, they exclude the very thing under investigation. If a police chief – upon hearing witnesses describe a 6-foot caucasian leaving the murder scene – tells the investigation team to find the killer, except ignore the testimony about ‘caucasian’ because we all know white people don’t murder, he won’t be seen as the noble skeptic, but more likely as part of some other nefarious, less than objective, group.
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For the Christian, a presupposition or bias is also involved, as we have not only the historical evidence to consider, but the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, our experience with Jesus, and the revelation of God’s Word. I believe it is justified bias, but bias nonetheless. But as we learned last time, if you witnessed a crime, you’re biased, but that isn’t a bad thing. This is just to say that the average Christians typically doesn’t weigh the evidence for the Resurrection, arrive at a 52.3% likelihood, and thus become a convert. On the other hand, seeing how strong the evidence really is should bolster their faith and give skeptics pause.
In this segment I would like to take a look at some methods of weighing the evidence. This (or especially when we get to the data) will not be an exhaustive examination by any means. Entire books (many of them!) have been written on the subject, along with doctoral dissertations at prominent universities around the world.1 I’m only going to scratch the surface, but I want to provide a taste of the evidence and look at the flow of argumentation to see why it is so powerful…