Why I Am a Christian, Part 3c

[See parts 3a and 3b if you haven’t already; parts 1 and 2 might also be helpful].

All of the alternative explanations to the claim that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead have been found wanting.  As N. T. Wright argues in The Resurrection of the Son of God, the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances are individually necessary conditions for demonstrating the historical validity of the resurrection, but neither condition is sufficient on its own.  Together, however, they are jointly sufficient conditions for demonstrating that claim.  Take the empty tomb without the appearances, and grave robbery would be the most likely conclusion.  Take the appearances without the empty tomb, and hallucination seems plausible.  But taken together, the empty tomb combined with the appearances of Jesus to his disciples alive after his crucifixion makes a sufficient case for the historical event of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

This is one of the major reasons I am a Christian.  It is not just because I believe something supernatural happened.  The supernatural in and of itself does not establish a truth claim.  Satan can perform miracles too.  My point is not simply that a man being raised from the dead automatically qualifies him to be the Messiah.  My point is, rather, that this particular man, who made these particular claims, was raised at this particular time and place and in this particular way.  The resurrection of Jesus validates his personal claims about his own Messiahship and divinity.  It demonstrates that God is on his side, not the side of those who rejected him.  It fits right into the story of Israel like a hand in a glove, bringing the promises of a renewed people and a renewed world to a proleptic fulfillment.  It establishes that his sacrifice for the sins of his people has been accepted by God and that he no longer lies under the curse (nor, consequently, do those who find refuge from the curse in him).  The penalty for sin has been exhausted, for death no longer holds him in the grave. 

With the exception of Judaism (the parent of Christianity), no other religion in the world that I am aware of rests on the claim of a major, verifiable, historical event.  God has given us sufficient evidence to conclude that, in Jesus Christ, he has brought his saving plan to fulfillment, and that as a result everyone has an obligation to receive Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord.

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