The Game Changer – Resurrection

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you have been at church for the past two weeks, you know that Pastor Lincoln has been going through a sermon series called the Game Changer. The resurrection is the Game Changer and is the foundation of everything that we believe. As Paul says, “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). As we learn how the resurrection is so crucial to our faith, we need to make sure we have a solid foundation for why we believe in the resurrection and “be ready to give a defense [to others] for the hope that we have,” (1 Peter 3:15).

There are five possible theories when it comes to the resurrection: Christianity, hallucination, myth, conspiracy and swoon. Christianity states that Christ died and was resurrected, the hallucination theory suggest that the apostles were deceived by hallucinations, the myth theory proposes that the apostles were myth-makers and didn’t mean any of it literally, the conspiracy theory states that they apostles were deceivers and lying about the whole thing, or finally the swoon theory, that Jesus didn’t actually die to begin with. Over the next couple of weeks, I would like to go through some of these theories and look at the evidence for the foundation that we have that Christ, our Lord, did in fact die on the cross and rise in the third day.

In I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist Norman Geisler points out that are many non-Christian sources, such as Josephus, Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud that all point out the facts that that Jesus was a real man that lived in the time of Tiberius Caesar, was acclaimed to be the Messiah, was crucified under Pontius Pilate on the eve of the Jewish Passover, there was darkness and an earthquake when he died, his disciples believed that he rose from the dead and were willing to die for their belief, that Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome, and that the disciples denied Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God. Therefore, if the disciples believed and claimed that Christ rose from the dead then they were either delusional, myth-makers or liars. This week I would like to look at the possibility that the disciples were delusional and what they thought they saw was really a hallucination.

There are a couple of things that are wrong with the theory that the disciples were all just hallucinating. To start, hallucinations are private to an individual mind. However, Christ appeared to over five hundred people. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, James, the disciples, the fisherman on the shore,  the two disciples at Emmaus, and even to five hundred people at once (1 Cor 15:3-8). So if the hallucinating theory is true, we must believe that five hundred people all had the same hallucination at the same time. It is not reasonable to believe so many qualified witnesses had hallucinations of physical interactions with the resurrected Jesus, especially five hundred people at one time. Many even thought they were “seeing things” and made Jesus eat something to prove he was really there in the flesh.  C.S. Lewis also make the point that even if it was in fact a hallucination then why did those he knew not recognize him? He states:

Any theory of hallucination breaks down on the fact (and if it is invention [rather than fact], it is the oddest invention that ever entered the mind of man) that on three separate occasions this hallucination was not immediately recognized as Jesus (Lk 24:13-31; Jn 20:15; 21:4). (Miracles, chapter 16)

The hallucination theory also has some major missing pieces. Dr, Peter Kreeft makes the point that even if there was a hallucination, that a “hallucination would explain only the post-resurrection appearances; it would not explain the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the inability to produce the corpse. No theory can explain all these data except a real resurrection.” When we look at the facts, hallucinations do not hold up. Next week we will look at the possibility that the disciples lied and pulled off one of the greatest cons in history.

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