How do we know that Jesus rose from the dead?

Hi UP Community!

Perhaps the central claim of the Christian faith is what the Apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost:

God has raised this Jesus; we are all witnesses of this…Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:32-36).

To put it mildly, this is a contested claim! As the BBC reports, even many Christians don’t believe in the resurrection.

A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, a survey commissioned by the BBC suggests.

And for those who are not Christian, it is even less clear that Jesus is somehow alive today. Many reasons are proposed for denying the resurrection.

Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Dead people don’t come back to life; it’s an unscientific, irrational theory

  • The gospels are unreliable oral traditions, no better than rumors

  • Sociologically, Christianity is a cult that shaped people’s behavior so that it grew whether or not it was true

  • Other theories make more sense — for instance, that the story of the resurrection is a legend

  • God doesn’t exist, so miracles don’t happen

  • The evidence is too mixed to come to any firm conclusions; agnosticism is the wisest approach

(If you’re interested in one or more of these critiques, why not dig into it and start another discussion in UP?)

For now, I’d like to consider some of the different ways that the resurrection of Jesus is demonstrated.

  • Resurrection People — seeing the transformation Jesus makes to individual lives and communities

  • Resurrection Power — experiencing or acknowledging the power of miracles and answered prayers

  • Resurrection Practice — “trying out” the way of Jesus and finding that it “fits”

  • Resurrection Presence — experiencing the risen Jesus for yourself

  • Resurrection Proclamation — Responding in faith to the Spirit-empowered proclamation that Jesus has risen from the dead

  • Resurrection Promises — seeing how Jesus’ resurrection fulfills God’s promises in the Old Testament

  • Resurrection Proofs — carefully examining the historical evidence for the resurrection

  • Resurrection Stories — seeing how the story of the Resurrection makes sense of all of life

I think each of these “ways” deserves its own discussion, so I’ll start those soon.

For now, I’d like to know:

  1. Why do YOU believe in the resurrection of Jesus?

  2. What are the main reasons that your friends and family don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

1 Like

I look forward to the discussion on the ‘ways’ that Resurrection makes sense. I think some are really subjective, which could be more easily unpicked by critics of Christianity. For much of my Christian life, I have relied on using my own experiences of the risen Jesus as the basis of my faith. Answered prayer, sensing the presence of Jesus etc. None of this could be proved rationally on its own. However, there are several very objective reasons to believe in the resurrection, which is what has led me in more recent years to have a much more solid faith. I feel like I can take my own faith more seriously, having explored the historical evidence for the resurrection. Some of the biggest reasons for me right now are the reliability of the gospel accounts. It’s been such a discovery for me as I’ve learned about the historicity and reliability of the written accounts in the Bible, and has strengthened my belief in the resurrection, and consequently the rest of the Biblical narrative. For me, if the resurrection can be soundly argued for, it makes the rest of the Bible much easier to believe too.

One of my unbelieving friends that I chat with about my faith has questioned the reliability of the Bible, saying that it’s been tampered with over the centuries, so that what we have today has to be taken with a pinch of salt. I actually shared a book with her, called “Can I really trust the Bible”, by Barry Cooper, which gives a really neat explanation of what the Bible says about itself, what Jesus said about the Old Testament, and how the New Testament fits with Jesus’ words too. I think it was a really easy to understand explanation for someone genuinely wanting to know more. I’m looking forward to having more conversations about this with her, as it strengthens my faith as I dig deeper into the reasons why the resurrection can be believed.

Can I really trust the Bible? - Barry Cooper | The Good Book Company

1 Like