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Resurrection

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The term resurrection deals with the phenomenon of resuscitating from death an inanimate and lifeless corpse into a life-filled animated physical body. The term in its modern usage refers to the historical-theological doctrine of Christianity that declares Jesus Christ a real historical figure that died by crucifixion and was physically resurrected from the dead.[1] Christianity maintains a supernatural origin for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A real event in history not verifiable in the present and is thus approachable by not scientific methods but historical methods (See: Epistemology). Many notable Christian apologists during the 20th and 21st centuries have developed robust arguments for the physical resurrection as a literal event in history like Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig and Michael R. Licona. Different questions are asked by the historical method put forth by Habermas and Licona that attempt to be as objective as possible. Trying not to tread on theological methodology as a ecclesiastical historian might do. The minimal facts method, developed by Habermas is an attempt to show that historical Jesus scholarship may conclude that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God specifically. In the attempt of weighing hypotheses for and against resurrection the minimal facts method adopts a line of inquiry (with answers provided by atheist and liberal scholars) that focuses on, for example, if Christ was seen after His death, and if the apostles actually saw the risen Christ, and what ancient documents are pertinent to the historical event.

Contents

Miracle

Main Article: Miracle

A miracle is an act of supernatural intervention by God. Miracles are brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, without the use of mechanisms capable of being discerned by empirical senses, and in many cases designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message. Monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam believe that the universe is the result of a miraculous act of creation by God. In addition to providing basic moral guidelines, the Bible is a history book that records God's creation and interaction with the physical realm. Miracles performed by God, Jesus, and their servants or disciples have taken place throughout history, including modern times. Such a supernatural history may indeed preclude a naturalistic interpretation of Earth history.

Judaism

Christianity

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the center of Christianity and is considered a real historical event. During the process of applying a historical method historicity is achieved by engaging diverse bodies of literature, such as the New Testament and other early Christian literature.

Minimal Facts approach

Main Article: Minimal facts method

The minimal facts method is a historical apologetic that makes the case for the supernatural resurrection of Jesus Christ. The minimal facts method is also called the minimal facts approach and was pioneered in the 1970's by the philosopher, historian and prominent Christian apologist Gary R. Habermas. It is considered within specifically historical apologetics as a scholarly approach to establish specific reliability in the Bible showing the central doctrine of Christianity as historical fact.[2]

Natural theories

There are natural theories that critics attempt to correspond to the historical data forming a hypothesis. Knowing how natural or supernatural hypotheses account for the data is essential when forming coherent Christian apologetics. Critics claim that there is no way to posit a miracle event in history. Alternative explanations however are shown lacking not accounting for a historical method like the traditional resurrection hypothesis does. Because natural theories do not satisfy components of a historical method to varying degrees depending on the theory Christians conclude the supernatural resurrection hypothesis as the most coherent conclusion that fully accounts for the historical bedrock.

Hallucination

A naturalistic attempt to account for the historical fact of the disciples claiming what they saw was the risen Jesus is the hallucination hypothesis. Proponents claim because of deep psychological trauma and grief suffered by the disciples after the demeaning and horrific death of Jesus their savior and Lord, visions or detailed hallucination episodes manifested. Presenting Jesus Christ in a glorified manner and attempting to deal with the trauma and grief.

A more coherent hypothesis is that the disciples were very sincere about their beliefs. It is significant that most scholars agree that the tomb was empty because of many powerful evidences.[3] The hallucinations of Jesus do not necessarily need the empty tomb, the hypothesis does not mandate conclusion either way lacking explanatory power. The hallucination hypothesis suggests ambiguity rather than coherence with a critical historical methodology. The historiography of the resurrection hypothesis follows an exegesis of eyewitness accounts that claim they saw the risen Jesus, and because of this truth, it changed their lives. So much did this impact the disciples particularly that they were willing to be martyred for it. People do not die for what they think is a lie, people willingly die for what they willingly believe.

Martyrdom

Critics of the resurrection of Christ usually take issue with the honest belief by the apostles that what they saw was the risen Jesus and because of that reality they were willing to die for it. It is claimed by critics that this is no different than when other people die for what they believe in. Maintaining that people die for what they believe in all the time in the contemporary world. Islam is a common example used because radicals who go on to become suicide bombers actually die for their faith in God. The critics contend that if put side-by-side with James or Peter who died for their Christian faith and suicide bombers today who kill themselves for Muhammad that lived in 600 AD, there are striking similarities. This comparison is a way to discredit the element of honest belief of the apostles. There remains some similarity however as the adherents to both religions did die for what they thought to be true. But that is about as far as it can go. The reason the honest belief of the apostles of Christ is used and why the suicide bombers isn't credible, or cannot be used in the same way is crucial. Also why they (the suicide bombers) died for what they thought was true is very different than the apostles experience. Peter and James contrasted to the suicide bombers differ as the latter was in a direct position to know if what they believed was actually true or not. The first martyred Christians had an experience based on reality that they lived through, which is what gave them conviction to confess the truth of the resurrection even until death. Suicide bombers who actually kill themselves differ considerably. Rather than being a true martyr for their faith, suicide bombers do not maintain the epistemological authority as the apostles. The jihadists cannot go back in time and live with Muhammad, like the apostles did with Jesus, which would give justification for the reasons of their attempted counterfeit martyrdom. Another substantial difference is that the apostles did not indiscriminately murder people as they died for their faith. The apostles suffered true martyrdom which amounts to being severely tortured and even murdered for their Christian faith. There is no simultaneous taking of innocent life as is the case with the jihadists. So while at first glance there may seem to be similarities they are superficial. To place historical weight on a claim of the Qur'an, in the same manner as the the minimal facts method does with the Bible, based on suicide bombers a thousand years later rather than eyewitnesses and observers of the actual event who then became martyrs, is to place credibility into a gravely misconceived notion of equality in this particular case. Also to claim that the suicide bombers of today are akin to the apostles of the first century, and to be used in the historical method for the historicity of some aspect of Muhammad's life is to invest in anachronism that does not see anything wrong with long chronological gaps from the actual event in the past. This is really an attempt by the critics to use the red herring logical fallacy, by using the shock and awe of a suicide bomber as an attempt to dismiss real historical investigation.

The honest belief of the apostles and those who witnessed the resurrected Jesus coupled with context of the appearances sheds light on the improbability of the hallucination hypothesis. There are groups and individuals each at different times, places and ways in which they interacted with the risen Jesus. Group hallucinations of the same sensations by themselves are extremely rare but multiple group and individual hallucinations in varied contexts and situations producing the same experience is exponentially even rarer.[4]

Swoon theory

Bodily or spiritual

There are two significant views of the resurrection of Christ, either bodily/physical or spiritual.

References

  1. Resurrection. By Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resurrection). Accessed September 16, 2011.
  2. A historical fact is what historians consider knowable history; they do not necessarily mean it to be a logical proof.
  3. The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus By William Lane Craig
  4. Explaining Away Jesus' Resurrection - A Critique of the Hallucination Hypothesis By Gary Habermas. Christian Research Journal / vol. 23, no. 4, 2001

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