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An Introduction to the Study of the Resurrection
We live in a world full of skeptics and alternate theories. Christians are often called upon to
"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense, to everyone that asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15)
If found to be a true fact of history, the study of the resurrection will build a foundation for that defense. As seen in the study of Biblical apologetics, Black's Law Dictionary defines a prima facie case as one that "will prevail until contradicted and overcome by other evidence." Our question is, does this degree of evidence exist with regard to the resurrection?
Over time I have had numerous discussions with people about this topic. Some were Christians, some were not. In those discussions one thing is always evident, at least when skepticism about Jesus' life and death is present. There seems to be a perpetual bias towards believing stories of history that have no moral significance, over those that do. The facts of history regarding the resurrection are impractical to challenge, and yet they are continually set aside as a matter of popular opinion.
How do I know that Alexander the Great swept through Europe and Asia, conquering most of the known world? How do I know that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo? How do I know that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in broad daylight? I know none of these facts because I was an eyewitness, and yet I believe them. Why? Because they were recorded by eyewitnesses and substantiated by testimony and evidence.
In the same way I know that the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a fact of history. These events were recorded by eyewitnesses and substantiated by testimony and evidence. We will review some of that testimony and evidence in this section. Specifically,
Please note we will not prove the resurrection scientifically. Scientific proof, by definition, begins with a hypothesis and is then proven by executing repeatable procedures in a controlled environment. Historical events, such as World War II, the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the resurrection of Christ, are not repeatable and therefore cannot be proven scientifically. Instead they are supported and proven by testimony.
Third, it is likely that nothing here will be found useful to those who are not searching for the truth.
"...with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Paul tells the Thessalonians that those who do not receive the love of the truth will be deluded that they might believe what is false. In other words, if you seek truth, you will find it. If you seek deceit, you will find it.