By Don Boys, Ph.D.
The German sociologist Ernst Troeltsch contended that, since dead men don’t rise, Jesus could not have risen from the dead. However, Troeltsch reasoned from a flawed premise and when that happens, the resultant conclusion will always be wrong. The dead have been raised and Easter is not a farce or a fraud but a fact. If the atheists and skeptics are correct then not only is Easter fake news, it leaves mankind helpless, hopeless, and hapless. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “We are of all men most miserable.”
But Easter is good news for mankind. Christ arose and gave credibility to his messiahship and lordship. Easter put all the other world religions in the little league. I’m sorry, but what would you expect me to say?
When Christ stood before the Jewish leaders and admitted to being God, they were obligated to do one of two things—bow down and worship or kill Him. That is basically the same decision every person on earth must make. I would be more politically and religiously correct to take an ecumenical position but that would be an inaccurate position and would be dishonest.
The emasculated Easter message with talk of a “symbolic” resurrection, bunnies, rabbits, eggs, and chocolate is inane, irrational, and inaccurate.
This passage by the Apostle Paul refutes all other world religions: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
If that Gospel is not true then I’m going home, pull down the shades, eat a box of chocolates, and wait for the end. Furthermore, if that passage is not literally true then Christian leaders down through the ages—of all denominations—have been cheats, crooks, charlatans, and even criminals.
Even some “Christian” leaders disbelieve His resurrection and if they were principled people, they would return their religious credentials, walk away from their church, university, or seminary, and go into the insurance business.
Bart Ehrman is such a man. While he is brilliant and talented, he renounced his background and education and often exceeds the most blasphemous Bible critic. To justify his apostasy from the faith of his youth, he must justify it by defaming, distorting, and denying the Bible. Ehrman is very concerned because Luke and Mark don’t tell the same story. While they both tell the story of Christ, they don’t emphasize the same things. Who said they were expected to do so? Each writer had different objectives and wrote from a different perspective.
Ehrman tells us that Paul doesn’t say much about “Jesus’s words or deeds…but focuses on what for Paul were the critical issues.” Paul was aware that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were perfectly capable to tell the story of Christ, and that he had been commissioned to deal with doctrine, church organization and procedures, apologetics, etc. Bart adds that “the message of the Revelation of John differs from the message of the Gospel of John.” Does someone need to remind Bart that there is a vast difference in subject matter? There is a great difference in a cookbook or a history book or science fiction—where all his books should be found!
All biblical scholars know that each Gospel reveals Christ from different perspectives. Each author could have revealed the same incidents in His life with the same emphasis but for what purpose? John had no desire to mention Christ’s birth, since he knew Matthew and Luke could handle it.
Ehrman declared “[T]he accounts are fairly unanimous in saying (the earliest accounts we have are unanimous in saying) that Jesus was in fact buried by this fellow, Joseph of Arimathea, and so it’s relatively reliable that that’s what happened.” However, he changed his mind and believes that the body of Jesus was eaten by scavengers. What a crock.
Ehrman and all Bible critics take the approach that raising the dead is impossible so the Bible is not reliable; however, they set up a fabricated presumption and defend their position from the false premise. Nevertheless, it should be understood that there were many early Christian writers who testified to physical resurrections long after the resurrection and ascension of Christ! Quadratus, the first Christian apologist (who preached in the early 100s) who was a disciple of the Disciples, said that some who had been raised from the dead even reached his times. Irenaeus said the same thing.
Critics go on and on about the “differences” in the events surrounding Christ’s resurrection. One writer mentions one angel at the tomb while another mentions two. One says the angel (or angels) sat while another Gospel has them standing. Tom Paine charged that if the witnesses were to testify in court, they would be charged with perjury. No, in court the four stories would be blended to make a total picture of what happened. If Tom had not been so blind, he would have realized that the angels stood and sat. In addition, is it not possible that there were two angels and then one angel? This old criticism was buried a long time ago and is known by all informed critics.
Flavius Josephus (37 B.C.—100) was a Jew and Roman citizen who had the support of Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus. Josephus was a Jewish military leader stationed in Galilee, and saw the handwriting on the wall (the Jerusalem wall!) and it said, “defeat, destruction, and death,” so he surrendered (although all his men committed suicide except one), turned against his own people, and became a Roman flunky in Caesar’s court. He supped from the same poisonous stream as Judas and Judas died a suicide but Josephus lived a life of luxury in the Roman court.
Josephus wrote the Antiquities of the Jews about A.D. 93 which contains a passage known as the Testimonium Flavianum. The famous passage reports the death and resurrection of Jesus as follows: “When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned [Jesus] to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease [to follow him], for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvelous things concerning him.”
Wow, that’s from a Jewish historian recording the life, death, and resurrection of Christ but some critics don’t even believe He lived.
Julius Africanus was a Christian living in the third century after Christ. He wrote a History of the World in five volumes and in that history, he discussed the darkness during the crucifixion of Christ. He quotes Thallus (died A.D. 75), an earlier writer, who also mentioned the darkness. Julius and Thallus are both favorably mentioned by other contemporary historians. Another historian Phlegon, who wrote a fourteen-volume history, recorded the darkness as well, specifying the very hours of the darkness!
The Jewish Talmud is a compilation of oral rabbinic tradition dating to about A.D. 200 and refers to Christ, His disciples, and His crucifixion. That Jewish holy book even mentions His miracles suggesting that it was magic which He learned in Egypt. Are you going to believe famous writers shortly after Christ’s death and resurrection and hostile Jews living in the third century who have reasons not to believe in Christ’s reality or unbelieving Bible haters living in modern times who have reasons not to believe in Christ?
The Disciples were so sure about Christ’s Resurrection that they were willing to put their lives on the line, and many of them became martyrs for the sake of the Gospel. That is very unrealistic if they knew Christ did not rise from the dead. Christ’s own brother James was such a person according to John 7:5, “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” However, Christ appeared to James following His resurrection according to Galatians 1:19, and James became a believer.
Furthermore, some of Christ’s enemies were converted after His death and resurrection and it is admitted in every court of law that the best evidence is from your enemies.
The early Christians yelled triumphantly, “He’s alive!” He still is. Man’s best friend, Jesus, has conquered man’s worst enemy, death!
Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for eight years. Boys’ book, Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning! is available here. Follow Dr. Boys on Facebook at Don Boys, Ph.D. and TheGodHaters, Twitter, and visit his blog.
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