This past week, I had the opportunity to meet with an amazing sister in Christ. She recently discussed the reliability of the Bible with someone she knows, and we subsequently had a conversation about the topic.
With the celebration of Easter yesterday, what better way to discuss the reliability of the Bible than to examine the evidence for the resurrection of Christ? I believe it’s crucial to share the Gospel with those we encounter and be able to communicate the Good News. I also believe it’s important to understand our faith and how it can be supported both scientifically, historically, and logically.
1 Peter 3:15 states, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, […].”
There are many arguments against the resurrection of Christ, yet these can all be debunked. Both today and tomorrow, we’ll be exploring why four theories can be proven as false.
The Hallucination Theory: in this theory, Jesus did not rise from the dead. Rather, people simply hallucinated seeing Him after the crucifixion.
The Bible instantly proves this theory as false. Paul says the following in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7: “And that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” Jesus also appeared to Cleopas and a companion as they were traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
Considering that over 500 witnesses confessed to seeing Jesus after His crucifixion at the same place and time, how could all of them claim to experience the exact same hallucination? Psychologist Gary Collins made this statement regarding hallucinations:
“Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce a hallucination in somebody else. Since a hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.”
Regarding the disciples, they knew they were not hallucinating for two main reasons. First, they held intellectual, two-way conversations with Jesus for extended periods of time. According to modern research of hallucinations that occur after the death of a person, an imagined person only makes brief appearances and may only speak a few words that do not hold substantial meaning.
Second, when they first saw Jesus, they believed He was a ghost. They had to not only touch him, but they also had to witness Him eating food to believe He was truly with them. As mentioned above, the disciples spent a considerable amount of time with Jesus, whereas hallucinations are brief and infrequent occurrences.
The Hidden Body Theory: according to this theory, the Romans or Pharisees hid Jesus’ body after the burial.
According to cultural and historical documentation, the Jewish Pharisees and Romans were attempting to terminate Christianity — not increase its following. If Jesus had not risen from the dead and left His tomb, it would mean that everything He had spoken during His life was a lie. If the principles of Christianity were based on a lie, the religious following would have ended.
The Pharisees and Romans were attempting to end Christianity, so they would have presented Jesus’ body to His followers — proving that He was dead and ending the spread of Christianity. There was nothing for the Pharisees or Romans to gain by hiding the body; rather, it would only work against their mission. Considering that Jesus’ body was gone, Christianity grew as they began to share of Christ’s resurrection.
Decades after Jesus’ resurrection, Rome was still attempting to end Christianity. Cornelius Tacitus (56 – c. 117 A.D.) was a Roman historian that recorded the measures that Rome took during Emperor Nero’s reign: “Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians.”
He also wrote the following: “Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.”
If Rome was still attempting to end Christianity decades after the death of Jesus, wouldn’t they have presented Jesus’ body to prove the religion as false?
Quite simply, there was no body to produce, as Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.
Check back tomorrow as we explore two more theories against Christ’s resurrection that can be proven false!