For Young Adults in the province of Ontario. Madonna House has an excellent Summer Program. You can ALSO CLICK on the picture for a pdf download. God bless
For Young Adults in the province of Ontario. Madonna House has an excellent Summer Program. You can ALSO CLICK on the picture for a pdf download. God bless
Holy Family Parish is pleased to host a four-day Lenten mission entitled “First Encounters,” to be preached by Fr. Gerard Saguto, FSSP. Father will profile a few meetings between Our Lord and different persons in the gospel.
The mission will run from March 1 to 4 (Thursday to Sunday). There will be Holy Mass on Thursday and Friday evening and on Saturday morning, followed by a 90-minute program consisting of a sermon, Exposition, rosary, a second sermon, and Benediction. Fr. Saguto will preach at both Masses on Sunday. There will be confessions before all Masses. Admission is free. For a detailed schedule, please see the mission poster.
Fr. Saguto has served as Superior of the North American District of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter since 2015 and is based at the Fraternity headquarters in Pennsylvania. He was born on Long Island, New York, studied at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, and was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in 2004.
Please mark your calendars! Free-will donation envelopes will be provided during the mission for those who would like to help Holy Family defray the expenses of the Lenten mission.
An excerpt from “Innercity Health and the Gospel”, a talk by Dr. Stephen W. Hwang MD, MPH. Given at Toronto’s Theology on Tap, hosted by Faith Connections, October 30, 2017.
This is just a short portion of a longer evening of thought-provoking discussion, food, fun and friendship! To learn more about Toronto’s Theology on Tap, visit: http://www.faithconnections.ca/toront…
Faith Connections is a young adult (19-39) ministry of Fontbonne Ministries, Sisters of St. Joseph, Toronto. http://www.faithconnections.ca
View an awesome recent Theology on Tap event. The topic was Church History.
In the area around Vancouver, British Columbia 914 people died from drug overdoses in 2016. This is nearly double the number of deaths in 2015 (when 510 people died from drug overdoses). Prior to 2015 the record year for drug overdose deaths in British Columbia was 1998 (when 400 people died from drug overdoses).
The monthly total of 142 deaths in December 2016 is also a record high for British Columbia, surpassing the previous record of 128 deaths in November 2016. The death rate for so far this year indicates January 2017 will break December’s record.
This proves drug use increases as the number of supervised injection sites increase. The purpose of the supervised injection sites is to reduce drug-use fatalities by providing addicts with clean needles and immediate access to medical care in overdose cases.
Since the number of fatalities is actually increasing as the number of supervised injection sites increase, it is obvious that this is not working. This is because supervised injection sites send give the false impression that the government not only tolerates “recreational drug use” but also provides (free of charge) a “safety-net” for those who wish to get high.
Technically most of the deaths are not from heroin use per se. Heroin, ecstasy and other drugs in British Columbia (and elsewhere) now contain Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more powerful (and hence much cheaper) than heroin.
This is largely irrelevant. I say this because heroin (and other such drugs) are illegal precisely because they are poisonous. They should never be used for “recreational” purposes. Tolerating their use (even legalizing it) will not make them less poisonous.
So now the poison of heroin contains the even more powerful poison of Fentanyl making “recreational drug” use even more deadly. The answer is to discourage “recreational drug” use, not to facilitate it.
Nobody dies from withdrawal and withdrawal is the only way to escape addictive use. Treating an addict for overdose and then releasing the addict back to the street to inject themselves with drugs again does not prevent death, it only postpones it. The records show some addicts have been treated for overdoses again and again until finally their luck ran out and they died before they could be treated. One case was reported of an addict being treated for overdoses seven times in the same day!
Believe it or not this problem began with the legalization of “medicinal” marijuana in British Columbia. I put quotes around “medicinal” because marijuana in fact has no real medicinal use. It does not cure any illness or disease. It is only a “feel good” substance that relieves some symptoms about as well as “medicinal whiskey” does. This is why the American Medical Association does not recognize marijuana as a bona-fide medicine or recommend its use as a medicine.
Shortly after “medicinal” marijuana became available in British Columbia the government lost all control of its use. Recreational marijuana use increased so much that the police quit enforcing the law and several marijuana “coffee shops” began to operate in open defiance of the law. Soon Vancouver, Canada became known as the “Amsterdam” of Canada.
As always, hard drugs began to follow. The human brain starts to adjust to all “mind-altering” substances in something like an immune-system response. Soon what once was enough to get high is no longer enough. We see this in wine drinkers that become cognac drinkers and with beer drinkers that eventually graduate to bourbon.
So “recreational” drug users eventually find that marijuana is no longer enough for them and they go to harder drugs. Of course the providers of “recreational” drugs are right behind this, for profits in any addictive market (including alcohol and nicotine) greatly increase as the addiction of customers increases. More money is made selling hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine than selling marijuana. The drug market (like all markets) is competitive and the aggressive drug pushers soon dominate the market.
So before any community anywhere considers legalizing “medical” marijuana and “recreational” marijuana I urge them to take a close look at what has happened in the Vancouver, Canada area in the last few decades where the situation has progressed from legalized “medical” marijuana, to still-illegal but out-of-control “recreational” marijuana use, to soaring use of hard drugs that are killing nearly 1,000 people a year.
Illegal drugs are poisonous. They destroy people and they destroy societies. That is why they are illegal. If we are losing the war on drugs it is for the same reason all wars are lost: we just aren’t fighting hard enough
Too often people have a parrot-like propensity to be seduced by a catchy saying, hold to it, and assert it repeatedly without thinking seriously about what they’re saying. They remember before they speak, but they don’t think before they speak. And the most astonishing fact is that all too often they really do believe they have said something wise.
Chesterton provided an example when he critiqued the popular exhortation to “believe in yourself” in his classic Orthodoxy. “Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world,” he said. “They rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true.” In short, when we get intellectually lazy we tend to lean thoughtlessly on faddish sayings. We speak on autopilot.
This is a human folly, so neither I nor those who believe what I believe are exempt from this inclination. Nonetheless, here I would like to narrow down my critique to one phrase often asserted by naturalists: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you’ve ever engaged in dialogue with a skeptic (or listened to others), you have likely heard this catchy saying in response to theistic claims. But it seems that it is often asserted as a brute fact without qualification—and all too often we let our skeptical friends get away with it.
Indeed, the saying has become something of a maxim among modern nonbelievers. Astronomer Carl Sagan popularized the principle, although the idea predates him. French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace asserted something similar when he wrote, “The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.”
In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, skeptical philosopher David Hume wrote, “A wise man . . . proportions his belief to the evidence.” Skeptics have cited this quotation in support of their belief that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but look closely at what Hume says; or better yet, look at what Hume does not say.
He says a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence, and I couldn’t agree more. He does not say, however, that the wise man proportions his evidence to the belief. Hume is right: it is wise to hold beliefs that are well supported by evidence.
Thus we return to our chief inquiry: what exactly does the skeptic mean by his principle that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”?
The problem is, the term extraordinary in this case is arbitrary. It is unreasonable for the skeptic to merely state that belief in the supernatural is extraordinary without further qualification. As always in rational discourse, defining terms is paramount.
Perhaps by extraordinary the skeptic means uncommon or rare. That seems reasonable. But the paradox is that rare things happen all the time. Identical twins are born, lotteries are won, atheists become Catholics, and new species of animals are discovered. But not even the most committed skeptic would deny the reality of these rare events—at least once the evidence is out.
The skeptic sees the lottery winner on the news, and he believes without demanding access to the winner’s bank statement. The atheist sees his twins on the ultrasound monitor, but he believes despite not seeing his babies directly with his own eyes. He believes without direct observation because of what he deems to be trustworthy evidence.
Perhaps we might say that because the evidence supports the truth of an unexpected reality, the evidence is extraordinary by virtue of what it proves.
Or maybe the skeptic means that belief in the invisible is extraordinary and therefore requires extraordinary evidence. Yet he does not suspend belief in the existence of Darwin, electrons, the mind of his best friend, or the free will of Hitler, despite the fact that they are directly unobservable. He believes in these things on intuition and on the testimony of others, and for him that kind of evidence is good enough to warrant faith in the invisible.
Or perhaps he means by extraordinary what the term typically means—namely, something not ordinary. Ordinary is synonymous with usual or normal, so extraordinary would be “not the usual.” But here’s the thing: the majority position in regard to God’s existence—or the most usual belief across humanity—in almost every (if not every) era, including our own, has been belief in God, not atheism (this is the first premise of the common consent argument).
If this is the case, then perhaps we should flip this thing around and demand “extraordinary evidence” from the skeptics, since it is they who make the extraordinary claim, or the minority claim among men in this age and probably all the ages preceding it.
But there is still another question to ask :
Now, here’s another scenario. Perhaps the skeptic calls a supernatural claim extraordinary because he believes, unlike atheism, there is no good evidence for theism,. On this view it is implied that the ordinary claim is that which has good evidence to support it.
But this viewpoint hinges on whether or not supernaturalism is, in fact, lacking evidentially and whether there is better evidence for atheism. If there is better evidence for theism than for atheism, then it is actually theism which is the more ordinary claim.
The skeptic must therefore demonstrate the evidential basis for his scepticism, and he must do it primarily with philosophy; for God is not just another “being among beings” taking up space in the empirical realm of the universe; rather, God is the sheer act of “to be” itself.
For while remaining present to the physical world as Creator and Sustainer, God is transcendent of the physical world, unbound by time, space, and matter. Thus trying to prove or disprove God’s existence by scientific evidence alone is as absurd as trying to prove or disprove Napoleon’s historical existence by geometry alone.
Thus the unbeliever is not exempt from a burden of proof, for even he is making a knowledge claim about reality: that God does not in fact exist. We wouldn’t let someone off the hook for asserting that they know aliens don’t exist. Rather, we would demand qualifying evidence for such a conclusive statement instead of accepting it as self evident.
So I would agree that if indeed there is no good evidence for a given belief, then to claim the contrary is to make an extraordinary claim. If an unorthodox claim is asserted—that unicorns exist, for example—there would be a burden of proof to show good evidence (or what philosophers call a defeater) for the commonly held belief that unicorns don’t actually exist.
Of course, in the case of unicorns there is no good evidence for their existence, and there is good evidence for its mythological fabrication. But unlike the arguments for unicornism—if there are any—the arguments for theism are a force to be reckoned with (as Trent Horn demonstrates in Answering Atheism and Hard Sayings) as they draw widely and deeply from philosophy, history, and science.
Thus the take-home point can be boiled down to this: the assertion “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” requires further qualifications in order to function as an acceptable principle of reason. Merely asserting it is not enough to validate it.
Furthermore, what is needed to reasonably believe any claim seems to be just good evidence; or evidence that makes a claim more reasonable to believe than its opposite.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be hearing interventions concerning Bill C-14, the bill that will legalize and “regulate” euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) will be presenting to the committee next week. We will be represented by: Amy Hasbrouck (EPC – VP), Hugh Scher (EPC – Legal Counsel) and Dr Will Johnston (Chair of EPC – BC).
Committee Chair: Anthony Housefather (Lib) – Anthony.Housefather@parl.gc.ca
Committee Vice Chair: Murray Rankin (NDP) – Murray.Rankin@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Chris Bittle (Lib) – Chris.Bittle@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Michael Cooper (CPC) – Michael.Cooper@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Colin Fraser (Lib) – Colin.Fraser@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ahmed Hussen (Lib) – Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Iqra Khalid (Lib) – Iqra.Khalid@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ron McKinnon (Lib) – Ron.McKinnon@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Hon. Rob Nicholson (CPC) – firstname.lastname@example.org
EPC also encourages you to send letters to your Members of Parliament. Link to contact your Member of Parliament.
(Name) Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A6
by Josh McDowell
A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. “Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?”
“For a very simple reason,” I answered. “I am not able to explain away an event in history–the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?
A QUESTION OF HISTORY
After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings–or it is the most remarkable fact of history.
Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.
From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.
The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.
The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means “good news,” the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.
F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”
IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE?
Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection, many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents.
By the end of the 1 9th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.
Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F. Albright, who in his day was the world’s foremost biblical archaeologist, said: “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”
Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of “authentic evidence” concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. ”
I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .
E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.
A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to “prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many “infallible proofs.” Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. Consider these facts:
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus’ disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.” Paul Althaus states that the resurrection “could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”
Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the “Toledoth Jeshu.” Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine.”
Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God’s doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ’s body.
Paul Maier observes that ” . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”
FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.
Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus’ body, how could they have done that without the guards’ awareness?
FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL
The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors’ wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit’s failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment “produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches.”
FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE
In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty–because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty–like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon. That’s enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes–undisturbed in form and position.
FACT #6: JESUS’ APPEARANCES CONFIRMED
Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.
OVER 500 WITNESSES
Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.” Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.
Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.
Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.
F. F. Bruce
The argument that Christ’s appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just “an insignificant few.”
Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties.
The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by “natural causes” are weak; they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection.
THE WRONG TOMB?
A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women’s statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there!
If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.
Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn’t it produced?
DID JESUS SWOON?
Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted today. This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn’t die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss–certainly no believer in the resurrection–gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life,
For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.
A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian
an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.”
THE BODY STOLEN?
Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that.
The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ’s body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn’t they explain: “Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn’t rise from the grave”?
And if such a rebuttal failed, why didn’t they explain exactly where Jesus’ body lay? If this failed, why didn’t they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity–not in the cradle, but in the womb!
THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT
Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said: “raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”
REAL PROOF: THE DISCIPLES’ LIVES
But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?
Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts–prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits–we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ .”
As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ’s empty tomb? What do you think of Christ?
When I was confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection, I had to ask the logical question: “What difference does all this evidence make to me? What difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins!’ The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted–Thomas. Jesus told him: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
On the basis of all the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God, who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is alive! He is living today.
You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. If you have never trusted Christ, you can do so right now.
The prayer I prayed is: “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and trust You as my Savior. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You that I can trust You.”
Josh McDowell, according to a recent survey, is one of the most popular speakers among university students today. He has spoken on more than 650 university and college campuses to more than seven million people in 74 countries during the last 21 years.