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The Challenge


For some odd reason I find myself in unusual discussions about a variety of issues, and for those who know me best, it’s really no surprise. I don’t mean to, but certain issues just seem to stalk me, and no matter where I find myself, there they are.


As is my nature, I began talking with an acquaintance at the local YMCA and for the sake of confidentiality, I’ll call him “Joe.” Joe was a “Y” regular as was I and while we usually talked in passing, this time our discussion wondered into more important matters like God, heaven, hell and other things about which he seemed interested.


Joe was very straight-forward in our discussion. He couldn’t quite understand why I was so certain about who God really was or why I was equally certain that the Christian truth claims were any more “true” than other religious truth claims. How can I claim, he asked, that Christianity is any truer than Islam, Buddhism, or a host of other religious ideas?

That, if I may say so, is a very good question.


You see, Joe clumped all religions into the same category and, according to him; all religious truth claims were equally valid. Religious claims, he thought, have nothing to do with neither fact - scientific or historical – nor real knowledge. Such claims are a matter of mere “faith,” according to him, the kind of faith that excludes certainty in any form or fashion.


The discussion, as usual, gravitated to the “capstone” of the Christian faith – the resurrection – and Joe, consistent with his naturalistic mindset, also rejected its historicity as well. Well, I had no choice at that point. I challenged Joe right then and there. If he could disprove the physical resurrection of Christ, I bargained, I would throw my Bible in the trash and walk away from my faith without a word.


Joe accepted the challenge but he had somebody else in mind to do his “dirty work.” He invited me to meet a friend whom he claimed could disprove the resurrection and send Christianity packing, a task he seemed all too eager to accomplish.


Well, the meeting was set and on the appointed day I met with Joe and his friend as I braced myself for an onslaught of “new” arguments designed to undermine the foundation upon which Christianity stands – the resurrection. Joe made the coffee and after all the introductions and small talk, the “battle” began.


If my memory serves me correctly, his primary objection to the physical resurrection was the “stolen body theory.” According to this argument, Jesus actually died, but given a naturalistic view of the world, somebody must have stolen the body, plain and simple. It may have been the disciples they tell us; but it could just as well have been either the Jews or the Romans that dragged the body of Jesus away.


A quick look at such a position, however, doesn’t pass the muster of honest historical inquiry. If the Romans or the Jews had stolen the body of Jesus, the Church would have collapsed within the first few weeks or so. Think about it. The moment the disciples began preaching their “gospel” to which the resurrection was central, the authorities, Roman or Jewish, could have easily silenced them by dumping the body of Jesus in their midst. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what would have happened next because, predictably, the crowd would have dispersed and that would have been the end of the so-called “good news.”


Can you see why the Disciples were so bold and why they preached with such confidence? They were convinced that Jesus had risen; so certain, in fact, that they were willing to die and the majority of them did. This historical reality also handily dismantles any idea that the previously terrified and hiding disciples stole the body of Jesus and perpetrated such a hoax.


Well, despite the logical unraveling of their prime arguments neither Joe nor his friend were convinced that day and I really can’t say what affect the meeting had on either of them afterward. One thing, however, is certain. No naturalistic argument sent Christianity packing! In fact, they stand as benign as ever because God, in Christ, has entrenched himself in human history and the resurrection elevates Him, convincingly, above all others.


Oh, and by the way, I’m still carrying my Bible.



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