Christianity as proof of the resurrection

 | 3 min

I've seen a few Christian arguments for (proof of) the resurrection of Jesus. As I've mentioned previously, most of the evidence they use comes from the bible itself. One of the articles on had a very interesting argument that the very existence of Christianity is proof of the resurrection of Jesus. I'll quote the whole section below before I comment on it:


The Fact of the Origin of the Christian Faith

Even the most skeptical NT scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. In fact, they pinned nearly everything on it. To take just one example: the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews had no conception of a dying, much less a rising, Messiah. The idea that the Messiah would be killed was utterly foreign to them. We find this attitude expressed in John 12:34 "The multitude therefore answered him, 'We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say "The Son of man must be lifted up?" Who is this Son of Man?'"

Here Jesus predicts his crucifixion, and the people are utterly mystified. The Messiah would reign forever-so how could he be "lifted up"? It is difficult to overemphasize what a disaster the crucifixion was, therefore, for the disciples' faith. Jesus' death on the cross spelled the humiliating end for any hopes they had entertained that he was the Messiah.

But the belief in the resurrection of Jesus reversed the catastrophe of the crucifixion. Because God had raised Jesus from the dead, he was seen to be Messiah after all. Thus, Peter proclaims in Acts 2:23,36: "This Man... God raised... again... let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified." It was on the basis of belief in the resurrection that the disciples could believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thus, without this belief in the resurrection, early Christianity could not have come into being. The origin of Christianity hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God had raised Jesus from the dead. But the question is: How does one explain the origin of that belief? As R.H. Fuller says, even the most skeptical critic must posit some mysterious X to get the movement going.16 But what was that X?


The author goes on to speculate about where the idea of resurrection could have come from, dismissing pagan sources, despite the fact that many legends commonly known at the time centred around the death and resurrection of the primary hero.

But what I find very interesting is this line: "Thus, without this belief in the resurrection, early Christianity could not have come into being." The author of this article obviously believes that this constitutes an argument for the fact of the resurrection. I think its an argument for exactly the opposite.

As he explains, the disciples were basically screwed when Jesus was killed. If you believe the gospels, they'd followed him around for years and proclaimed him as the messiah. (Against many competing claims - there were apparently lots of Jewish Rabbis claiming to be the messiah back then.) Then suddently, their messiah was dead, and messiahs aren't supposed to die.

So, they are faced with accepting that they were wrong, they've wasted their time and effort. And anything they'd given up to wander around with Jesus was all in vain. Next, there are a few possible things that could've happened:

  1. Jesus really does come back from the dead, because he really is the son of god.
  2. The disciples, unable to accept his death, convince themselves that he must have come back to life, and so they were right after all to follow him. You really only need one person to say they saw him in a vision to start the whole thing - urban legends are nothing new.
  3. The disciples, unable to believe that all their efforts to establish a church based on Jesus as messiah are down the toilet decide they can maintain their constituency and perhaps even get more followers by telling people that Jesus was resurrected (borrowing from pagan stories).
  4. Nothing. Jesus stays dead. Maybe 50 years later someone, maybe a disciple of one of the disciples, decides to revive Jesus's ministry. He (through either misunderstanding or deception) starts telling his followers that Jesus rose from the dead, in order to attract more followers.

I just don't see option 1 as being the most plausible. Personally, I'd vote for a combination of 2 and 3. One or two disciples hide the body and start the story, the others are only too willing to believe it, because, as the guy argues above, their budding church is literally fucked if they don't.

The article I cited does somewhere consider the fact that the disciples may have deceived but dismisses it as impossible because the gospels say how good and devout they are. But an organisation doesn't usually confess its lies in its own propaganda, does it?

As House says, everybody lies.