Monday, April 01, 2002

Theological Foray #8: Did Christ Rise?

Well, Easter just finished, and I was thinking some more about Christ. I don't think this refutes Theological Foray #7, but is just a different take on the subject.

How do you know the apostles weren't just in it for the power? After all, there are a lot of perks to being the head of a church!
There weren't an awful lot of perks to being a Christian back then. All of the original apostles and Paul were martyred except for St. John the Evangelist. They were tortured, and none of them recanted. Furthermore, the only disagreements between the apostles were over practice, not facts. You can allege that they were delusional, but not that they were insincere. If they were sincere, then they must have believed that everything recorded in the gospels and Acts really happened. Therefore, they believed that Christ was crucified, died, buried, and resurrected.

Well, maybe they were delusional. How do you know they weren't just hallucinating?
We know that at least twelve people (the eleven remaining apostles and Mary Magdalene) actually touched him. It's possible that someone is so delusional they believe that something is physical when it isn't, but I've never heard of a case of twelve people all agreeing on the details of a hallucination and of having touched it. Again, none of them ever recanted.

How do you know it wasn't just an impostor?
To be successful, the impostor would've had to be good enough to fool the men who'd best known Jesus for the previous three years. They probably knew almost every detail of him, from how he smelled to the hue of his eyes and hair to way he smiled. He'd only been gone from them for three days, and so they would've forgotten extremely little. Also, the impostor would've had to have been given stigmata. To what end? That's pretty far for a prank. The Romans and Pharisees certainly didn't want Jesus to return. The only possibility if it was an impostor was that it was a disciple, and yet we know that the only disciples to remain faithful during the crucifixion were St. John and several women. They obviously couldn't have pulled the faking off, and so this possibility must be discounted.

Perhaps Jesus didn't really die, and was only in a coma.
We know that Christ was crucified with nails (as opposed to merely rope), punctured with a spear by a Roman soldier, and buried for three days in a tomb. To suggest that he didn't die is to say that a man with broken hands and feet, punctured organs, and no food or water for three days was able to roust himself and roll away the massive stone that sealed his crypt. After that, he had the strength to walk on broken feet to his disciples and convince them that he actually died and was risen. If you can find another case in medical history of someone with similar injuries doing so much, I'd love to hear about it.

Okay, so Christ was resurrected. So what?
Only two things in the world are assured: death and taxes. Jesus bested taxes by stating that we should render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. Having beaten death, he proved that there's nothing he couldn't do. After all, what in the world is less controllable than death? If he can do anything, than he must be God. And if he's God, then we'd have to be insane not to follow him.

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