He is risen!

Today is the day of Pascha, more commonly known in English as Easter. (At least in the Western tradition — the Eastern tradition will celebrate it one week later this year). It is, bar none, the most important celebration of the year for Christians, more important even than Christmas. Christmas is when we celebrate Christ’s birth, but Pascha is when we celebrate His resurrection! Christ’s birth was the beginning of His time on Earth, but His death and resurrection were culminating point of His ministry, the whole purpose of His coming.

This makes Christianity a very interesting thing indeed, because it’s a faith that could be utterly destroyed if one specific event was proven to have never taken place. If someone could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was not raised from the dead, if archaeologists found a two-thousand-year-old body in a tomb near Jerusalem that could somehow be proven to be Jesus’ body, then the foundation on which the entire edifice of Christian doctrine rests would be destroyed. Because if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead as He promised He would, then He cannot truly be God, and thus cannot save anyone from their sins. Even the Bible even says so — look at 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

But Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and therefore we do have a hope that does not deceive us (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). We do not simply follow the teachings of a great religious leader, passed on after his death. Rather, we worship the Lord Jesus, who is alive today and forever! He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, and that He will be with us always, even to the end of time. (Matthew 28:18-20).

Halleluyah! He is risen!

13 Comments

  • Lily says:

    Just wondering who you are exactly. I ran across your website as I was searching for a Christian geek dating/matchmaking site and found it interesting. Are you still in Africa? And particularly, do you like Narnia and LOTR? ;-)

    Lily (not my real name)

  • Robin Munn says:

    Yes, I’m still in Africa. I’ll be here for several more years, most likely.

    And yes, I *love* the Narnia books. And quite liked the movie. And I do like LotR as well. Why do you ask?

    BTW, a Christian *geek* dating/matchmaking site? That’s getting pretty specific. :-)

  • Surprise! says:

    Thomas Paine effectively disproved Christianity 200 years ago through “The Age of Reason” and “The Examination of the Prophecies.” You are all wasting your lives and retarding the progress of our world. I feel very sorry for each of you and your families.

    This comment was originally posted on the wrong thread. I’ve moved it to where it’s actually on-topic. – Admin

  • Robin Munn says:

    If Christianity really is false, then you’re absolutely right to feel sorry for us. “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

    As for Paine’s disproval, I hadn’t read The Age of Reason before. I’ve found an online text and I’m skimming it now. I’ll post a more detailed response once I’ve read the whole thing; so far, though, the objections I’ve seen him come up with are ones I had already come up with myself — and answered to my own satisfaction.

    Paine concludes, for example, that Jesus’ resurrection must be a fable invented by his disciples. And indeed, that does seem to be the most natural explanation — until one considers the fact that all the disciples, with the exception of John, died (in most cases, quite painfully) while still maintaining the truth of the resurrection. If they had invented the whole thing, it beggars belief that they would allow themselves to be tortured to death to maintain the fable. There’d be no reason for them to do so — it’s contrary to human nature. While they were still receiving benefits from maintaining the story, such as a respected position of leadership in the new-formed Christian church, yes, they would have stuck to the story. But if indeed it was a fable of their own invention, then why in the world wouldn’t someone have cracked under torture? One or two might have held the story to the end out of sheer stubborn pride, but all of them? No, that’s too hard to believe.

    I’ll write a longer post sometime with my detailed thoughts on Jesus’ resurrection. I’ve spent quite a while thinking about it, after all. There was a period during college in which I questioned the whole basis for my faith — but eventually I concluded that Jesus really was raised from the dead, because the other possibilities end up being impossible. And “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

    I then realized something else: there were two claims that Jesus made that, on their face, seem totally improbable. He claimed to be God, and he claimed that after he was killed, he would rise from the dead. Well, if the second totally-ridiculous claim (that he’d rise from the dead) turned out to be true, then suddenly the first claim needs to be looked at very carefully as well.

    It was on this basis that I started to rebuild my faith after my period of questioning. I first concluded that Jesus really was raised from the dead — because I can’t make the facts fit any other conclusion. And on the cornerstone of Jesus’ resurrection, I rebuilt the rest of the edifice. I’ll write a longer post explaining this in detail.

    As I mentioned, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then you’re right to feel sorry for us. But if he did rise from the dead, then you shouldn’t feel sorry for us at all. Rather, if Jesus really is alive, it’s you whom I feel sorry for, because you’re missing out on the hope and joy of following Him.

  • Junk says:

    Off topic.

    I saw a comment of yours fom a few years back on GOPBlogging.
    A question was asked and answered, being why are Jews hated.
    Here: http://www.gopbloggers.org/mt/archives/001855.html

    All Jews are not the same, Read Jacks story, he is a Jew and was murdered by MOSSAD (Israeli CIA) for speaking out.

    Here: http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/israel.htm

    You will then understand why some people hate Jews,
    Zionist Jews, who took over Israel.

    Also are you aware of the Tulmud? It’s the Jewish book of explanations regarding the Torah (First 5 books of the O.T.)

    Here are some tidbits from it:

    http://www.talmudlies.com/talmud_tidbits.html

    I hate noone. But those links should help you understand the reasons some do

  • Robin Munn says:

    I debated whether to remove the comment above, then finally decided to let it stand. If I were to start censoring ideas I don’t agree with, it would be very hard to get an honest debate going. That being said, though, I want to make a couple of points clear:

    1) I absolutely disagree with the point of view expressed in the second and third links of “Junk”‘s post. The GOPBloggers link is the only island of sanity and rational discourse in that post — the other two are either laughable conspiracy theories (“Jacks [sic] story”), or else disgusting and vile (the “Tulmud [sic] tidbits”, which is one of the worst examples of cherry-picking and out-of-context quoting I’ve seen in a long time).

    2) The best remedy for such vile nonsense isn’t censorship, it’s exposure. Pick up the rock and see what starts scuttling away from the sudden light.

    To save anyone else from having to go back and read those links, I’ll just quote two paragraphs from “Jacks [sic] story”:

    Regarding the tie between the elite Ashkenazi Jew and the Nazis, take a look at the word ‘Ashkenazi’ — look again ‘Ashke-NAZI‘.

    Interesting isn’t it?

    I swear, I am not making that up. The rest of the page is of similar intellectual quality. I could feel my IQ dropping the longer I skimmed the page.

    For anyone who doesn’t understand why this is nonsense — the word “nazi” was a shortening of “national socialism” (Nationalsozialismus in German). The word “ashkenazi” comes from “Ashkenaz”, which was the term for Germany in Medieval Hebrew. The two words are from completely unrelated linguistic families; finding significance in the similarity reveals a total and complete lack of understanding of linguistics. Which is matched, by the way, by a similar lack of understanding of history, and a total inability to lay out a reasoned argument.

    Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?

  • Thomas says:

    If someone could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was not raised from the dead, if archaeologists found a two-thousand-year-old body in a tomb near Jerusalem that could somehow be proven to be Jesus’ body, then the foundation on which the entire edifice of Christian doctrine rests would be destroyed.

    Can one prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that aliens did not visit and seed the earth with DNA? Then let’s believe that too. There are a lot of claims out there that are more credible than resurrection, and yet are not believed. (Claims of having achieved cold fusion and proven extrasensory perception, as well as some claims regarding cloning were considered plausible until it was shown that the researchers making the claims had either been mistaken or fudged their data.) Christians believe, ultimately, because they WANT to believe. It beats pondering the imponderable, and provides fellowship and a comforting context in which to live — not to mention that it provides a reasonable basis for a civil society. That doesn’t necessarily make it fact. Myths, fables, legends and parables often provide such things.

  • Thomas says:

    If they had invented the whole thing, it beggars belief that they would allow themselves to be tortured to death to maintain the fable. There’d be no reason for them to do so — it’s contrary to human nature. While they were still receiving benefits from maintaining the story, such as a respected position of leadership in the new-formed Christian church, yes, they would have stuck to the story. But if indeed it was a fable of their own invention, then why in the world wouldn’t someone have cracked under torture? One or two might have held the story to the end out of sheer stubborn pride, but all of them? No, that’s too hard to believe.

    Isn’t suicide bombing also contrary to human nature? Is Islam also true, since there is a Koran that has survived for several centuries? Christians, Muslims, Jews and others have all cracked under torture and converted. True, some don’t, and those are the ones remembered as heroes, martyrs, and saints. It’s not very popular or inspiring to talk of the ones who cracked.

  • Thomas says:

    One final thought for the moment: One has to buy into the premise that a set of stories from 2000 or more years ago, bundled together is truth. There’s historical evidence for SOME of the folks mentioned in ancient religious texts, but again, one can find legends of other popular heroes. The heroes may have existed, but not every story attributed to them is factual.

    People making similar claims today would not be considered prophets by most: They would be considered psychotic. In an age where schizophrenia was unknown, it could easily be interpreted as having a supernatural origin: visions from a god or possession by a devil… How do you feel about Joseph Smith? There are a lot of Mormons who believe he was a prophet, and a lot of other Christians who would deny that.

  • Robin Munn says:

    Those are some good questions, Thomas. Let me tackle them one at a time.

    Can one prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that aliens did not visit and seed the earth with DNA? Then let’s believe that too. There are a lot of claims out there that are more credible than resurrection, and yet are not believed.

    No, one can’t disprove alien visits beyond the shadow of a doubt. But that’s not a good reason to believe it, nor is “You can’t prove that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead” a good reason to believe that, either. In the case of the resurrection, there are recorded accounts that claim to be eyewitness testimony. In the case of alien visits, there are also accounts that claim to be eyewitness testimony. What one has to do, then, is read the accounts and decide whether the accounts are plausible, by asking oneself:

    1) Is this account internally consistent?
    2) Is this account consistent with other accounts?
    3) (In the case of the resurrection accounts): Is the copy I have in my hands an accurate transcription of the original account, or was it modified and “improved” by someone along the way?
    4) Does the purported eyewitness seem to be lying?
    5) Does the purported eyewitness seem to be deluded? Perhaps they’re engaging in wish-fulfillment and ended up believing their own story, for example — or maybe they’re suffering from a mental illness. Would that explain their claims?

    Now, in the case of alien abduction stories, I tend to buy “paranoia” or “wish-fulfillment” as the grounds for the people who truly believe their own stories.

    In the case of the resurrection, if there’s any psychological explanation that makes sense, it’s the wish-fulfillment explanation. The disciples didn’t want to believe that their Messiah had been killed and that their hopes had been shattered, so they started telling each other that they’d seen him, and eventually came to believe their own stories.

    One of the biggest problems with the wish-fulfillment hypothesis, though, is that if it were true, then Jesus’ body would still have been in the tomb. And when the disciples started claiming that Jesus had been raised, anyone wanting to disprove their story (and there was much opposition to the story in the early years) would simply have had to go open up the tomb and produce Jesus’ body. If such a thing had happened, I personally doubt that Christianity would have been nearly as successful in the first century A.D. as it was. Oh sure, a few people would have believed in spite of the evidence — there are always some — but not nearly enough to make Christianity the world-spanning religion that it quickly became.

    Isn’t suicide bombing also contrary to human nature? Is Islam also true, since there is a Koran that has survived for several centuries? Christians, Muslims, Jews and others have all cracked under torture and converted. True, some don’t, and those are the ones remembered as heroes, martyrs, and saints. It’s not very popular or inspiring to talk of the ones who cracked.

    Sure, it’s well within human nature to voluntarily die for a cause. Happens all the time. Could be religion (suicide bombers), could be nationalism (the Japanese kamikaze pilots during WWII), could be many things. It’s also well within human nature to die, even under torture, without spilling a secret — usually the motivation is loyalty (e.g., to the rest of the resistance cell). That last doesn’t happen very often, though — it’s quite common to crack under torture. But what I find contrary to human nature is to maintain, under torture and to death, a story that one knows to be a lie. If Jesus’ disciples had stolen his body out of the tomb and buried it secretly in some abandoned location, they would have known that the story was false. Under those specific circumstances, I find it hard to believe that one of them wouldn’t have cracked eventually.

    This is getting long. I’ll post this comment and continue in a separate comment.

  • Robin Munn says:

    During that time in college when I was questioning the basis for my faith, I came up with the following argument for the resurrection. I’ll summarize, since I don’t want to produce an essay in my comments section (it would do better as a separate post).

    If you accept the following premises:

    1) Jesus really existed and was well-known in his day.
    2) He was executed by the authorities of his time, who didn’t like what he had been saying.
    3) A short time later, his disciples started claiming that he’d been raised from the dead.
    4) That story spread (and was believed) widely, and has endured to this day.

    Then you can reason as follows:

    If Jesus’ body was still in the tomb, the authorities who’d opposed his message (and who weren’t too happy about the disciples’ claim that he’d been raised) could simply have produced the body to refute the claim. But the story of the resurrection spread widely, and was believed by many. Therefore:

    5) The tomb was empty.

    Why? The simplest explanation is that someone removed the body. The authorities? Clearly not — they would have produced the body to refute the disciples’ claim. Some random graverobber, unconnected with Jesus’ disciples? Why? The usual motive for graverobbing (jewels and gold) would hardly apply to the body of an executed criminal. If it was for notoriety, they would surely have produced the body at some point, because that would have gained them even more notoriety.

    No, if anyone stole the body, the only people with a motive to steal it, hide it, and keep it hidden would have been his disciples. The same ones who were the first to claim his resurrection, and died under torture still maintaining that claim. See my previous comment about people not maintaining a lie (that they know to be a lie) under torture. Therefore:

    6) Nobody stole the body.

    Alternative explanation for the empty tomb: Jesus didn’t die on the cross. He just fainted, and later recovered inside the tomb and made his way out. Problems with this scenario include: a) the Roman soldiers would have had to be incompetent, b) a man recovering from a faint, after two days without food and water, would have had a hard time (to say the least) pushing the stone aside that covered the tomb entrance, and c) he would have had to be extraordinarily lucky to run into just his disciples after his death, and not anyone else who would have recognized him. “Hey look, isn’t that that Jesus fellow? What’s he doing still alive? Grab him! And this time, let’s make sure he’s dead — cut off his head before you bury him this time around.” In fact, one of the purported eyewitness accounts (in the gospel of John) records the Roman soldier making sure Jesus was dead by stabbing him in the side with a spear. One presumes the Roman soldier knew his business and stabbed for the heart, rather than just giving Jesus a poke in the stomach area.

    Anyway, I’m already going into more depth than I wanted to. The summary is:

    5) The tomb was empty.
    6) Nobody stole the body.
    7) Alternate non-resurrection explanations like “he just fainted on the cross” don’t work either.

    Therefore,

    8) By process of elimination, he really did rise from the dead.

  • Robin Munn says:

    One last quick comment:

    Christians believe, ultimately, because they WANT to believe. It beats pondering the imponderable, and provides fellowship and a comforting context in which to live — not to mention that it provides a reasonable basis for a civil society. That doesn’t necessarily make it fact.

    It’s true that many Christians want to believe. But that doesn’t necessarily make Christianity false, either. For example, most people want to believe that their parents love them. In many cases, that belief is true, and in some cases, that belief is false. You have to look at the evidence, not the person believing it. If the evidence seems to lean in one direction or another, then you can draw conclusions.

    Finally, there are many Christians who started out as atheists who didn’t want to believe. Then they eventually became persuaded that Christianity was true, and converted. One such person, if I remember his autobiography correctly, was C.S. Lewis. Another (I think) was Lee Strobel. Both have written books on the evidence for Christianity. If you are saying “You just believe it because you want to believe it”, then talking to someone for whom that wasn’t the case, and asking them why they changed their mind, would be very informative. Or, if that person is dead (as is the case with C.S. Lewis), the best you can do is read what they’ve written.

    That’s enough for now — I have to run.

  • Robert says:

    The premise of Thomas’ arguement is absolutely true. There is not concrete evidence that the Bible is true. To have such evidence would eliminate Faith. The Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace through faith. If God were to allow the evidence to be found, what would be our motive to follow Him? Would it be because we love Him or because we fear Him? It always strikes me as funny when an atheist talks about the lack of evidence. Evolution lacks concrete evidence as well. Scientists who stubbornly cling to this longshot, still haven’t found one transitional creature. You would think that searching 200 years for creatures who have been around for millions of years would produce at least on fossil showing the animal in transitional state. Yet, any scientist who exposes the weakness in their logic is drummed out as a hack. Thomas, I truly pray that God will reveal Himself to you before it is too late.