May 2018

Christianity - a Reasonable Faith

As we are in the Easter season I thought I would address a question that many Christians feel afraid to ask: "Does it matter if the resurrection really took place?" You might be surprised about the answer. We don't have to do any guesswork and it does not matter what I think – the Bible gives us the answer. The apostle Paul spells out the implications of the question if the answer is negative: "and if Christ hath not risen, then void is our preaching, and void also your faith, and we also are found false witnesses of God, because we did testify of God that He raised up the Christ, whom He did not raise".1 What he is saying is that if the resurrection is not a real occurrence then the Christian faith is null and void. It is a made-up scam. Jesus Christ by implication is a con artist and the disciples and the early Christians (many of whom were persecuted) were at best sincerely deceived.

C.S. Lewis, the author of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe said, "for the apostles to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the resurrection". I still remember and can hear all the gasps of the congregation when one of the vicars in the church I attended threw the Bible in the bin from a very high pulpit. He of course did that to illustrate the truth of the above verses, but it was quite a shock to the congregation! However, as a young Christian that incident really got me to investigate the Christian faith. If you want to read this story from the Bible itself, then the proof text is found in I Corinthians (15) – a book in the New Testament.

One is not being disrespectful or unfaithful by questioning the most critical truth of the Christian faith. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith. If one wanted to disprove Christianity, then all one must do is to disprove the resurrection. Particularly that it was bodily resurrection and not just a spiritual act. I guess you are familiar with the apostle Thomas who did not believe what the other disciples saw and said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." 2 Later, when he saw the evidence he ended up saying "my Lord and my God!"

Increasingly, there is a tendency to think of the ritual and celebration of Easter whether Jesus had bodily risen from the dead or not. I think we need to steer away from treating Easter as merely liturgical and as an important Christian festival. It is rather a groundbreaking historical event in which the truth of Christianity stands or falls. Further, because of the resurrection, forgiveness of sins became a reality (1 Cor. 15:17; cf. Rom. 4:25), hope both in this life and in the future is made certain, and our future inheritance of an eternity with God both in both body and spirit is secured.

Finally let me finish with a quote from the Bible: "17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all humans.3 We have a reasonable faith, examine it know why you believe!

1 Young, R. (1997). Young's Literal Translation (1 Co 15:14–15). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

2 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Jn 20:25). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

3 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (1 Co 15:17–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.