Saturday, November 13, 2010

Please Read the Verdict

Forget about the Bible for a minute. Maybe you get hung up on the idea of it's contents being divinely inspired and you can't get pass that. Your professors have told you that a vast majority of the Gospel accounts are "unreliable" and you just don't know anymore what to believe about the historicity of Christianity.

Let's pretend for a moment.

Let's imagine that you turned on the news and there is a huge story about a document discovered , dated 56 A.D, signed by a "Paul". In it he describes his background involving his having been a Pharisee at the time of Christ . He tells of his problem- a very large one, concerning  a group of 500 people that have claimed to have seen Jesus Christ after his crucifixion "at the same time". It has been about two decades and of the original 500 witnesses a majority are still alive, along with the disciples and the brother of Jesus, namely James, a post crucifixion conversion so powerful that he was head of the Jerusalem Church. Earlier on in his life Paul, known then as Saul of Tarsus, had actually persecuted to the point of death some of these very witnesses. While persecuting early Christ believers Saul  had had his own seemingly fantastical conversion  with the resurrected Christ "on the road to Damascus". He is writing then this newly discovered text as a Christian.

Back to Paul's problem- It appears that Paul has to make a choice as he presses on with his spreading of the good news of the great liberation- of the coming resurrection. If he is wrong about one historical fact that happened in space in time (or had not) then he, Paul would have to face God as a blasphemer that had led many to a false Messiah and God. He had had his own experience, he had had much fellowship with Christ's own disciples and he had the remaining eyewitnesses of the original 500 who were adamant what they saw. Paul after all had been a devout Pharisee and Pharisees believed in the afterlife and the judgment of God. So yes, if this whole thing had been an outright lie or  mass hysteria  Paul had a whole lot of explaining to do before  God.

Paul makes his choice, the same as always as he lays out the risk reward he is taking- the economics of his gamble.

If this text were discovered tomorrow and there was consensus of Biblical scholars of it's authenticity it would surely be proclaimed as the greatest Christian discovery of all time. Well it has been with us nearly  20 centuries, it is deemed authentic by the most skeptical biblical scholars and it is indisputably written by Paul. Did your professor mention that? It is commonly called the First Letter to the Corinthians and I have referred to chapter 15.

The question facing Paul should face every thinking man woman and in the world. If I may be so bold, this account has nothing to do with inspiration but rather cold hard facts. It is historical. Maybe you have rejected Christ by definite decision or by decision by indecision. Maybe you are a Christian but when you are doubting you could use a little more knowledge or facts in your arsenal. Well then I urge you to look at this chapter as an "extra biblical source" of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.                                                                          
  So Paul puts this proposition out there. He puts us all in the jury box and asks us to consider "reasonable doubt". The judge has allowed the evidence as authentic, in fact the prosecutors didn't even object.  Imagine yourself in the jury room and someone says there is no way this resurrection thing happened, it is "impossible" . What would you think? When I heard such evidence I knew myself well enough to admit I was done for as far as trying to dispel it in my mind. That is,  I knew I would just come back over and over to this story so why bother with waiting? It had what is often called "the ring of truth." What a world opens up that will allow for the possibility that God brings his own back to life - to live forever in his presence. No wonder these witnesses changed the world.
                                                                                                                                              Like an unsolved mystery the evidence may have been in front of us the whole time, it just got buried and may just need new eyes to see the truth . Tonight, before bed, give Chapter 15 a read. Be forewarned, it may keep you awake- forever.


  1. The facts do seem indisputable... and Paul even mentions in Romans how the invisible qualities of God are seen around us so that all people are without excuse in the end.

    However, I also think about how "ever hearing but not understanding; ever seeing but not perceiving" and I think that describes me... in the end, I'm grateful that for some crazy reason, I am one of God's elect and that he's shown me great mercy.

  2. Nice argument. Seems convincing to me!