“If you are a skeptic, agnostic, or even antagonistic to the claims of Christianity, come join us for the Investigate Series. Let’s investigate together.” -Ben Joyce
The Truth On Which Christianity Stands or Falls
The truth of Christianity stands or falls on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul, an early enemy of Christianity who converted, said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
Paul provides an objective criterion by which to judge the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. Show that Christ has not been raised from the dead and you will have successfully proven Christianity false. Conversely, if Jesus did rise from the dead then His life and teachings are vindicated. The Christian faith, as it turns out, is falsifiable. It is the only religion which bases its faith on an verifiable event.
Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that an objective examination of Christianity focus on the most pivotal historical event of the faith: the Resurrection. And what better time to do that than the Easter season?
Historical Data on the Resurrection?
But what can we actually know about the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus? What evidence exists and how convincing is it? Can an argument be made from historical data rather than ‘divinely inspired scripture’?
In our Investigate Series we will argue that the best explanation for the existing historical data is that Jesus rose from the dead. But rather than make the argument using data that just Christians accept, or even Christian scholars accept, I will make the argument based on historical data that is so substantially evidenced that it is accepted by the vast majority of scholars—including atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and adherents to other religions. These historical facts are agreed upon by the vast majority of skeptical, liberal scholars in major universities around the world.
There are many historical facts that are widely accepted by scholars, but we will use just four of these facts to argue that the resurrection of Jesus is a better explanation for the historical data than any competing theory offered by scholars.
Investigating the Resurrection
During our Investigate Series, we will examine these four historical facts as well as four competing theories, showing that the resurrection of Jesus is the best existing theory that accounts for all the facts.
Four Historical Facts
- Jesus died
- Jesus’ followers claimed and believed Jesus rose from the dead
- Paul, an early enemy, claimed and believed Jesus rose from the dead
- The tomb was empty
Four Competing Theories
- Legend Theory—The resurrection of Jesus was a legend that developed over time
- Apparent Death Theory—Jesus didn’t actually die
- Fraud Theory—Jesus’ followers lied or were deceived about the resurrection
- Psychological Phenomena Theory—Hallucinations and other psychological experiences explain the resurrection claims
Each week evidence will be presented supporting these historical facts and competing theories will be compared to the claim that Jesus rose form the dead. Q & A will follow.
Christianity doesn’t blush about the fact that Jesus’ own followers were skeptical that he rose from the dead. Skepticism about such a claim is a reasonable starting point—probably the most reasonable starting point!
If the first leaders of the church were skeptics, than certainly the church is a place where skeptics are welcome. That is certainly the case at Soma Community Church. If you are a skeptic, agnostic, or even antagonistic to the claims of Christianity, come join us for the Investigate Series. Let’s investigate together.
Week 1: History or Legend, April 2
- Early and Independent Sources for the Historical Facts
- Competing Theory — The Legend Theory
Week 2: Death, Resurrection or Deceit, April 9
- Historical Fact — Jesus died
- Historical Fact — Jesus’ followers claimed and believed Jesus rose
- Competing Theory — Apparent Death Theory
- Competing Theory — Fraud Theory
Week 3: An Empty and Full Easter, April 16
- Historical Fact — The Tomb Was Empty
- Various Competing Theories
Week 4: In the Flesh or In The Head, April 23
- Historical Fact — Paul, an early enemy, claimed and believed that Jesus rose
- Competing Theory — Psychological Phenomena Theory
We gather Sundays at 9:30am at the Sycamore Clubhouse in Danville. Learn more about our Sunday gatherings below.