Some days I aspire to be a semi-competent armchair theologian. This is one of those days.
Yeah, let’s get that one out of the way. It’s the 800 pound chocolate gorilla in the room. It’s no where as deep as the next two, but I have to think even Dr. Atkins got his marshmallow peep jones on at least one day a year.
#2 There’s no downside
The account of Noah (“account” — good word. Better than story. Story has an ambiguity regarding truthfulness and accuracy. Account signifies a real life incident.) doesn’t really belong on nursery walls. All those cute, out of proportion animals looking out over the edge of the ark, with Noah looking like Santa in a bathrobe. The problem is millions of people died from drowning about five minutes after the Noah’s version of the S.S. Minnow took off.
Millions of drowned, rotting corpses. Better get an extra teddy bear in the nursery, Mrs. Howell.
What about Christmas? The baby Jesus was born. Awesome! Herod kills hundreds of male newborns. Not so awesome.
But Easter? All the sadness is in Good Friday so Easter can be pure unadulterated joy!
#3 It’s history
Jesus rising from the dead isn’t a philosophy.
Jesus rising from the dead isn’t a way to live.
Jesus rising from the dead isn’t a morality.
Jesus rising form the dead isn’t a way to become a better you.
Jesus rising from the dead is a historical event.
I caught a pastor/politician being interviewed on TV a few years back. He was asked, “What’s the proof of Christianity to you?” The pastor responded with accounts of lives that have been changed through faith in Jesus. I cringed.
Here’s how Jesus answered a similar question.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:38-40 ESV)
Lives change many ways. People of all faiths and no faiths do amazing things. Coming back from the dead — 3 days and 3 nights worth of dead? That isn’t one of them. Only Jesus did that.
Look at the Apostle’s Creed, an early statement or summary of faith from the early church.
A philosophy, moral code or self-improvement program would not need to site an otherwise obscure Roman government official like Pontius Pilate. A historical claim would site Pontius Pilate to further ground the claim of events in a specific time and place.
It’s not just any historical claim. Christ’s resurrection and ascension is both the beginning and center of the Christian faith, the gospel. Read what the apostle Paul wrote.
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (I Corinthians 15:14)
Paul didn’t write, “And if live and let live isn’t true (fill in the life enhancement advice of your choosing), then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Paul said everything rode on one thing, the physical, historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
George Carlin was a comedic genius. As a kid during the seventies I could quote many of his routines chapter and verse (irony intended). George Carlin once said, “Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” This statement would apply to Christianity if it was a self-improvement program or a philosophy. It isn’t. It’s a truth claim about an historical event. It’s like saying, “Thinking the Allies won WWII is like a pair of shoes. That may fit you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” The shoe analogy simply doesn’t work with historical events.
I’m not so naive to think that every reader of this blog believes in the reality of the resurrection, but it’s a category error to think this is something that could fit me, but not fit you. History isn’t a “fit”. It simply is. Understand, a person is perfectly free to believe the Allies lost WWII, but they’d obviously be wrong. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Why is this topic on OSR?
The about page of this blog reads, “Old School Rules uses truth & humor to cut through the trendiness, hype & bull that is today’s culture.” Like much in this fallen world, Christianity is assaulted with “trendiness, hype & bull”. Sadly, these assaults are frequently self-inflicted.
Cut through the bull. The candy, brighter than usual dresses, emotions, family sentiment and Easter hams are great. I enjoy all of them. At their heart all of those things center on how they make you feel. Easter isn’t a feeling, philosophy, way of life or moral viewpoint.
Easter is a celebration of a profoundly powerful historical truth claim. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.