Friday, April 06, 2007

Fact #3: The Appearances

The third and final fact I'll present to determine if the Resurrection is fact or fiction is the numerous appearances of Christ after his death to friends, an enemy and a skeptic.

1. Friends
The creed in 1Cor 15: 3-8 states, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve, after that he appeared to more than five hundred followers of Jesus at one time, most of whom are still alive, but some have died, after that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to [Paul]"

Scholars date this creed to within 5 years of Christ's death, including atheist scholar Gerd Ludermann in 2004. Many sources in antiquity also attest to the disciples' willingness to die and suffer for this belief that he appeared to them after his death including, Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Dionysius, Tertullian and Origen.

Granted this does not prove their beliefs in this creed were true, but it does prove they believed it so strongly they were willing to endure great suffering and even die for proclaiming it. Liars make poor martyrs.

2. Enemy
Paul was an avowed enemy of Christians, yet he became its biggest proponent and as a result spread it throughout the Mediterranean. His testimony is that Christ appeared to him and as a result he changed from persecutor to persecuted. Many oral traditions that even predate the New Testament as well as all of the ancient sources I cited above attest to Paul's testimony of Christ appearing to him thus accounting for his radical change.

3. Skeptic
Many would have loved to use the fact that during Jesus' life, his own family didn't believe he was the Messiah and many do. However, one brother in particular who started off as a skeptic also had a radical change all the way to becoming a martyr proclaiming his new belief as reported by ancient sources including, Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.

Boston University scholar and critic, Paula Fredriksen, states, "The disciples' conviction that they had seen the Risen Christ...[is] historical bedrock, facts known past doubting."

So, due to the many Biblical and non-Biblical sources and testimonies that claim Christ appeared to friends, an enemy and a skeptic, we can conclude that he did in fact appear to many after his death.

In the comments of this post, let's try and stick to just the facts and arguments presented in this post. On Sunday, I'll write a final post with the conclusions that are drawn from these three facts.


shannon w. said...

you hit it on the head that even though the evidence is 'secondary', one can still reach a legitimate conclusion after reviewing it all. And then, does one accept the evidence? And really, no one can deny that even though there isn't cold-hard proof that the Bible's claims about Jesus are true, the evidence is pretty impressive, even overwhelming.

Still, in the end, it all comes down to belief and trust. If one trusts in Jesus as the Christ and desires to worship and serve Him for eternity, then they get exactly that: an eternity in Heaven worshiping and serving a perfect God! And if one does not trust in Jesus as their Savior nor wants to worship and serve Him, that is exactly what they'll get. Unfortunately, the Bible explains that an eternity no where near Christ means an eternity in Gehenna, where there is darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I wish that on no man or woman, that is why I hope and pray that as many people as possible believe in Jesus as LORD and trust in Him to take them to a better place with a better future.

We have a map to the most wonderful treasure in the world, and instead of coming down hard on people who don't accept the validity of the map, we should instead leave a copy of the map with them and gently encourage them to study it for themselves, and see what conclusion they come to.

Great effort and commendable conviction on this CT! I hope it plants some seeds...

Mike's America said...

Happy Easter Cajun!

Skye said...

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~ St. Augustine.

Happy Easter to you and your family, Cajun!

Can you believe it was snowing briefly in Philly today! SNOWING!

Ron said...

Happy Easter, Shane.

When it is all said and done, it ultimately does comes down to faith. But it is always good to have facts to back up what you and I believe.
Too bad you did'nt have more feedback on this topic.

Good Job!

Shannon W said...

I was looking back through some of the earlier posts, and found a dialogue between CT, Joe and speechie. I know I'm a bit late, and a little off topic from this particular post, but I wanted to add two things:

first, Joe, your comment of 'not worrying about retribution b/c you're not a a jihadist muslim out to attack'- completely uncalled for. That was a lash out on a group of people that God loves and wants in Heaven, if they but accept His Son. So you may end up walking the streets of gold with former jihadist muslims. Let's be a little more kind and avoid such jabs.

second, with the whole Jesus as Messiah vs there are many messiahs topic and the we are all children of God topic, a solid point was missed. Yes, speechie is right: there have been many 'anointed ones' in varying religions and cultures, so some non-Christians can still agree that Jesus was a messiah. The breaking point is the whole 'deity' issue which was mentioned but not delved into far enough. Jesus claimed directly numerous times not only that He was the Son of God, but that He was God. He was equal to the Father, He was One with the Father. He took God's Name "I AM", the voice in the burning bush.

The Jewish religious leaders of the day were not mad at Jesus b/c He claimed He was a messiah. They were mad at Jesus b/c He claimed He was God. So unfortunately speechie, it is a black/white, hot/cold issue. You either believe Jesus is God or not.

Cajun Tiger said...

Shannon...all great points.

Mike...hope you had a great and blessed Easter holiday

Skye...same to you and it snowed down here as well!!!

Ron...same to you as well. Not surprised that these threads didn't garner more feedback as most readers of my blog probably agree and the couple who didn't hopefully they were at least convicted to research the points I made.