I recently had the incredible opportunity to attend the Cross Examined Instructor Academy in Charlotte, NC. In attendance were some of the greatest instructors including: Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, Brett Kunkle, J. Warner Wallace, Bobby Conway, and Richard Howe. They each gave amazing presentations to the students in attendance an a variety of topics. The next few blogs will focus on important topics that I learned during their presentations.
What did I learn from J. Warner Wallace’s presentation on the Cold Case Resurrection?
As Christians we are often looking for convincing arguments to share with skeptics. The truth of Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. The importance of the resurrection makes it one of my favorite topics to discuss with skeptics. When discussing the resurrection, we need to focus on the two E’s; evidence and explanatory possibilities. The four main evidential facts that are accepted by many atheists include:
- Jesus was crucified and buried.
- The tomb was empty and no one ever produced his body.
- The disciples believed they saw the risen Jesus.
- The disciples were transformed following their alleged resurrection observations.
Now what are some of the explanatory possibilities and how do they relate to the evidence?
1.The disciples were wrong and Jesus didn’t die.
This goes against the first line of evidence that Jesus was crucified. The disciples had extended contact with the body of Jesus after his death and would have known if he was truly dead or still alive. We can also see in the historical documents that blood and water came out of Jesus when they punctured his heart and lung with the spear. Science has now discovered that the blood and water that came out of Jesus was the result of pleural effusion. This is strong evidence that Jesus really was dead and that the disciples weren’t wrong.
2.The disciples were lying.
If the disciples were lying, they would have had to keep a successful conspiracy for over 60 years. The disciples were also spread out around the known world and would not have been able to contact one another to know if the conspiracy was still intact or if one had confessed. J. Warner Wallace showed that the motive behind any lie or crime falls into three categories: financial greed, sexual lust, and the pursuit of power. The disciples didn’t fall into any of these categories, so it was unreasonable for them to create this lie and die for it.
3.The Gospel records were distorted.
Some skeptics claim that the Gospel records were distorted, and that the resurrection of Jesus is a late legend. However, this claim does not follow the evidence. When tracing the dating of the Gospel records, we can see that Mark wrote his gospel around 45-50AD and Luke followed around 50-53AD. These records are not late legends, but were written very close to the time of the resurrection.
4.They disciples were accurate
This is the only explanatory possibility that fits the evidence. Based on abductive reasoning, which seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation, we can conclude that the disciples were really telling the truth. Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
The four lines of evidence shown above are supported by evidence and accepted by many skeptics. Our job is to look at the different explanatory possibilities and show that the resurrection of Jesus is the most reasonable.