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Copy of Jesus' resurrection: fact or fiction?

Sermon outline for Pakenham Lakeside Church 2017.04.23

Nathan Hedt

on 23 April 2017

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Transcript of Copy of Jesus' resurrection: fact or fiction?

a reasoned DEFENSE of the Christian faith
From the Greek 'apologia' - a legal or public defense
"The most dangerous idea in human history remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and that he rose from the dead."
"It alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities.
It changes the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope, and therefore we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If we reject it, it alters us all as well. It's incredibly dangerous and that's why so many people turn against it."
Peter Hitchens on Q&A at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House, 2013

The Reason for God
Tim Keller
A brilliantly clear and concise engagement with the major objections to Christianity followed by a powerful statement of the truth of Christianity from various perspectives.

Life of Jesus: Who he is and why he matters
John Dixon
A historian’s guide to the evidence for the truth of the Gospels and the New Testament based on archaeology, historical and manuscript evidence.

Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Peter Kreeft
Summarised, condensed dot-point statements of the truth of Christianity. A good place to start for those who want to begin thinking in this way or know the reasons for their faith with a view to learning more.

The Case for Christ/The Case for Faith/The Case for a Creator
Lee Strobel
Popular level writing by an ex-atheist. Strobel investigates some of the toughest questions sceptics raise about Christianity by posing the same questions he had as an atheist and interviewing some of the world’s leading experts in their fields.

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
John Lennox
A more technical, scientifically rigorous creation-based apologetic. Lennox is a professor of science and mathematics at Oxford University (where Richard Dawkins also teaches)

The Irrational Atheist
Vox Day
A controversial and polemical deconstruction of the irrational arguments used by leading atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and Onfray. Vox Day researches the ‘facts’ often quoted by atheists and debunks them.

CS Lewis
A classic in the field of philosophical apologetics by one of the greatest Christian apologists of the twentieth century. Lewis begins by positing that rationality itself is an inbreaking of the ‘supernatural’ (ie nonmaterial) into the material world. Very well worth a read.

The Mind of God
Paul Davies
Davies is not a Christian but presents intriguing arguments that there is more to this universe than materialism, and that God is definitely a possibility. A technical, scientific book by a world-class physicist.

The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths
David Robertson
Robertson is a Scottish pastor who wrote a letter responding to Dawkins’ The God Delusion on the dawkinsnet website. This book collects a series of letters in which Robertson responds to each of the chapters of The God Delusion. Worth reading just for the letter at the end called ‘Salvation came through Richard Dawkins’ written by an atheist who came to faith through Robertson’s letters.

The Language of God: a Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Francis S Collins
Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project, one of the world’s leading geneticists, who presents compelling arguments for the existence of God from the world of science – cosmology, biology and physics in particular. An excellent creation-based apologetic.

The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins
The famous bestseller. Read it yourself, with a critical eye, asking, ‘How strong are the arguments Dawkins raises here?’ If you need to, do this in conjunction with a pastor or Christian friend. I include this in the list of apologetics works because I read it and came away thinking, ‘Is that the best set of arguments that atheists can present for the non-existence of God? How pathetic.’
Philosophically weak, but highly polemical. Know your enemy.

There IS a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Philosophical Atheist Changed His Mind
Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese
Antony Flew wrote what has become THE textbook on philosophical atheism and the presumption of atheism. In recent years he ‘followed the evidence wherever it might lead’ and declared that with recent scientific evidence especially in the realms of cosmology, origins of life and consciousness studies, that he now did believe in God and considered himself a theist rather than an atheist. A very interesting memoir of a sharp-minded thinker.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity
Nabeel Qureshi
A deeply personal book, chronicling one Muslim's wrestle with the historical realities of Islam and Christianity, his many years long journey to becoming a Christian, and the personal cost of his conversion, including losing links with his own mother and father. An excellent and compelling read, with a deep and compassionate understanding of Islam from within.

Jesus' resurrection: Fact or fiction?
which requires a faith response
John 20:28-31
Thomas said: 'My Lord and my God!'
These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Not 'Christ has risen'
but 'Christ IS risen'
He is risen indeed!
Faith and evidence
In John 20:24, Thomas refuses 'blind faith'
and demands
Thomas's request (John 20:26-27)
Faith is not 'belief in spite of the evidence'
Faith is not 'blind' but 'informed'
Faith is an act of trust and commitment grounded in the truth
A resurrection-based apologetic
historical evidence
Acts 2:22-32
Did Jesus rise from the dead?
There are really six possibilities:

Jesus died
Jesus didn't die
Jesus rose
1. Christianity is true
Jesus didn't rise
The apostles were deceived
2. Hallucination
The apostles were
3. Myth
The apostles
were deceivers
4. Conspiracy
5. Swoon theory
6. A body was substituted (Islam)
'Minimal facts' accepted as historically close to indisputable by a vast majority of scholars (Christian, skeptical, atheist)
Jesus died on the cross
Jesus was buried in the tomb
His disciples claimed that he was seen by them, alive, after his death. This became the core of their proclamation
The tomb was empty/no body was ever produced
The rise of the early church, its beliefs and practices (eg Sunday as day of worship)
People who had been skeptical or hostile to Jesus/Christianity became converts
Any explanation (including naturalistic theories) should account for all or many of the minimal facts
It's easy to find a naturalistic theory that accounts for one or perhaps two of the minimal facts
But difficult to find a theory that accounts for these two concurrently:
the empty tomb
the resurrection appearances to the disciples.
historical investigation does not give
'scientific proof' but 'historical probability'
Analysis of the evidence for the resurrection - by some non-Christians
"The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It's outstandingly different in quality and quantity, I think, from the evidence offered for the occurrence of most other miraculous events."
Antony Flew
(who was one of the world's leading philosophical atheists until his late conversion to theism [not Christianity])
Did the Resurrection Happen?
Rabbi Pinchas Lapide
, an Orthodox Jew, wrote a book called '
The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective
.' (1979)
In it he argued that Jesus' was a prophet whose resurrection was ordained by God to bring in non-Jewish people to monotheistic faith. In other words, he sees the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact, but does not believe that Jesus is Son of God or Messiah.
Nabeel Qureshi
, previously a Muslim who has since become a Christian.
After witnessing a debate between a Muslim and a Christian apologist on the death and resurrection of Jesus, Nabeel said this: '..."As far as arguments go, the only thing Christianity has over Islam is the resurrection."...It was clear that they had gotten me with their strongest arguments first, and they certainly were strong. The historical evidence pointed categorically to Jesus' death on the cross, and the best explanation for the events surrounding his death was that Jesus was raised from the dead.'
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
(including New Testament evidence)
Manuscript evidence
Archaelogical evidence
Circumstantial evidence
The biblical evidence:
The evidence of the women (eg Luke 23:55-24:11)
The non-empty tomb (eg Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9)
The claimed appearances of the resurrected Jesus to the disciples and others
1 Cor 15:3-6
, John 20:19-22)
The proclamation of the apostles and the early Christian church (eg Acts 2, Acts 5) including to those who were hostile. Note in Acts 5 the priests do not say, ‘Rubbish, Jesus’ bones are here!’
The conversion of skeptics and anti-Christians such as James, Paul and Thomas

The circumstantial evidence
(ie outside of the bible)
the rise of the early church
the deaths of the apostles
the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion
Sunday as the day of worship
Secular historians documenting the beliefs of early Christians (eg Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus)

"You can't make this stuff up"
A summary of the
embarrassing evidence
for the resurrection of Jesus

'The incredulity of St Thomas' by Caravaggio
John 20:24-27
Embarrassing evidence part 1
The testimony of women?

Embarrassing evidence part 2
The ending of Mark's gospel

Mark 16:5-8
"The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone, because they were too frightened."

Embarrassing evidence part 3
Doubting disciples and fearful followers
Mark 16:5-8
Matthew 28:17
Luke 24:35-42
John 20:24-27

Embarrassing evidence part 4
Five different resurrection accounts

Paul (1 Corinthians and elsewhere)
Embarrassing evidence part 5
"My Lord and my God"
"Alexamenos worships (his) God"
Full transcript