I believe that the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is very much central to Christianity. This comes from both experience and Scripture. In my experience, I was converted to Christianity in March of 2007 on the basis of the evidence that Jesus Christ indeed rose from the dead. The apostle Paul talks about the centrality of the Resurrection to Christianity in 1 Corinthians 15:
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” -1 Corinthians 15:14
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” -1 Corinthians 15:17-19
In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul makes a direct connection between the Resurrection of Jesus and our faith. If He has not been raised, then our faith is in vain. And this is not some atheist saying that the absence of the Resurrection would prove our faith to be in vain. This is the man who wrote much of the New Testament.
Then, in verse 17, he says that our faith is futile, “if Christ has not been raised.” And in verse 18, he says that if the Resurrection didn’t happen, then the atheists (and the Sadducees) are right- when you die, you die, period. Then in verse 19, he makes quite an interesting argument. Verse 19 is the second half of an “if, then, if, then.” The first half goes like this: If Christ has not been raised, then in Christ we have hope in this life only.” Then, you get verse 19: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
So, in conclusion, “if Christ has not been raised,” then:
1) Preaching is in vain
2) Faith is in vain
3) Faith is futile
4) Dead people are dead, and not ‘in a better place’
and 5) Christians are, “of all people most to be pitied.”
Therefore, Christ having been raised is both central to Christianity and should be central to any Atheism/Christianity debate.
This is part one of what I see working out to be a three-parter, in response to a couple of comments to my recent posts. This could change, but as I see it now, part two will be what the Bible teaches about the ramifications of whether or not Jesus was resurrected- namely what that means about God, what that means about our standing before God, what Jesus Christ did to reconcile us with and to God, and what we must do in response to these truths. And part three will be my argument that 1 Corinthians 15:4 is indeed true, namely that Jesus Christ, “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
What is the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer?
God created this world, and it is magnificent. But is that the Best News?
Hell is more infinitely terrible than our simple brains can fathom, and in Jesus, God gives us a “get of hell free” card. But is that the Best News?
Heaven is as infinitely great as hell is infinitely terrible and then some, and God tells us in His Word that by putting our faith in His Son we can spend eternity in heaven. But is that the Best News?
God loves us and wants us to be happy, and as our Father He wants to bless us with every good thing and every perfect gift. But is that the Best News?
Those are all included in the great news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but John Piper would say that none of those things qualify as the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer. Piper would say that the Best News is that, through Christ, we are able to have an intimate knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever. And after listening to his two-part message called “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ”, I joyfully concur.
What I love about John Piper is how Biblically solid he is and how he always strives to exult Jesus Christ. Because he backs up what he says with the Word of God (and usually with multiple texts), it is often impossible to both accept that the Bible is the Word of God and logically disagree with Piper. And because he strives to ceaselessly exult Jesus, I rarely leave his books or sermons without a desire to imitate him in that fashion.
The “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” messages were intended to give his audience the best way to Godly sexuality, but the Supremacy of Christ was indubitably the central theme. And the Supremacy of Christ is essential to both living the Christian life and combatting the sins of this world. Therefore, although the message was intended to encourage Godly sexuality, the messages can definitely be applied to all areas of the Christian life.
I have a new pastime…
I joined an atheist/agnostic group on myspace: http://groups.myspace.com/atheistsagnostics
and I posted some comments here: http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/10/09/when-i-say-i-am-an-atheist/
both with the intention of striking up some possibly fruitful conversations. At first, I had high hopes that things might go well with these conversations. I quickly realized that I was just striking up debates that were not going to get anywhere. I would argue with something that somebody else said and give my 2 cents, and unbelievers would argue with what I said and give their two cents. We all were holding stubbornly to our beliefs and I saw that there was little or no chance of these conversations going anywhere.
Then I thought of a new approach, and posted a comment stating that I was willing to accept, for argument’s sake, that everything that I had said was wrong, if we could change our direction and they would answer these questions:
“Do you agree that the center of the issue is whether Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross? Do you agree that if you were convinced that Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, your beliefs and your life would have to change? Do you agree that the ramifications of this are huge? Do you agree that if Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, and you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?”
Perhaps it would be wise to wait and see how this approach turns out before blogging about it, but I am willing to take a chance. I hope that there will be a lot of comments here… I would love to hear the thoughts of both believers and unbelievers on these questions and whether they are central to Christianity.
Also, my thinking is that if the people I have been conversing with accept that these issues are central and are willing to at the very least not refuse information that opposes their beliefs from the start, I will encourage them to read “The Case for Christ.”
“The Case for Christ” cut the final threads of my unbelief, and I was convinced first that the Bible was credible and that Jesus really conquered death. The end of my unbelief and beginning of my belief happened when I was convinced that Jesus conquered death, which is why I see it as the center point. I have probably given “The Case for Christ” a little bit more credit than it deserves; although I still believe that it deserves a lot of credit and is a GREAT book. But to give it as much credit as I did and sometimes still do, undermines other things that took place leading up to the time when the book cut those final threads of unbelief. Without my amazing brother (http://jimhamilton.wordpress.com), Baptist Church of the Redeemer (http://www.bcredeemer.org), and some great Christian influences at my then-employer Texas State Bank and in the group of guys that I was playing church league basketball with, I never would have been in the position that I was to a) actually read the book, and b) give it the open mind that it must have to have any impact.
So, due to those outside factors, I was in a position to say “yes” to those questions that I listed above. Once I was in that position, “The Case for Christ” did the rest. So, if you are an unbeliever, and you can answer “yes” to those questions, I would encourage you to read “The Case for Christ” with as much of an open mind as you can, as I did. And if you are a believer, and you are having conversations with unbelievers or would like to have conversations with unbelievers about Christianity, I THINK this could be a good course to take.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
- "The Dawkins Letters"
- "The God Delusion"
- 2 Samuel 20
- 2008 Presidential election
- Acts 17:24-31
- Anglican Church
- Anthony Flew
- Australian Christian music
- Ayn Rand
- Charles Darwin
- child of God
- Christ crucified
- Chuck Norris
- Church History
- David Robertson
- Desiring God
- Doers of the Word
- Dr. Jim Hamilton
- expository preaching
- Gene Robinson
- glory of God
- I Was There
- Intelligent Design
- James Hamilton
- Jesus Christ
- Joel Osteen
- John Piper
- justification by faith
- King David
- Lee Strobel
- Mark Driscoll
- Mars Hill Church
- Mike Huckabee
- Nathan Tasker
- preach the Word
- Psalm 1
- Richard Dawkins
- roe v. wade
- seminary professor
- Sermon on Mars Hill
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
- the apostle Paul
- the Bible
- The Case for Faith
- The Law of the Lord
- the rebellion of Sheba
- The Resurrection
- the Word of God
- William Tyndale