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The Resurrection: Fact or Conspiracy?

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The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in history, as well as the basis for faith in Christ. But many claim it never happened. Let’s look at some popular theories that explain away the resurrection, and the historical facts these theories can’t explain.

Swoon Theory: “Jesus just fainted on the cross.” Everything we know about crucifixion, not to mention the severe flogging Christ endured beforehand, undermines this idea. The Romans were too good at killing to let a “criminal” live through execution. After dying, Jesus was wrapped in seventy-five pounds of sticky burial dressings and put in a tomb sealed with a two-ton stone and guarded by Roman soldiers. Even if he somehow survived the beating and crucifixion, how would he escape this and convince the disciples he resurrected?

Stolen-Body Theory: “The disciples stole the body while the guards slept.” But the disciples were crushed and fearful (see Peter’s denial of Christ in Luke 22:56ff) surrounding Jesus’ death. In this state there was no way they would risk the wrath of Roman guards, who would’ve been killed for letting someone enter the tomb. And how could the disciples move a two-ton stone without waking up the guards? This theory also doesn’t explain why all the disciples suffered and 11 were martyred to uphold what they would have known was a lie.

Hallucination Theory: “The disciples all imagined seeing Jesus alive.” This argument doesn’t explain the empty tomb. If the dead body existed, the authorities would’ve quickly squelched the resurrection rumor. The disciples didn’t even understand Jesus was supposed to come back to life, and sometimes didn’t recognize him after his resurrection. Jesus also made a point to show he was real by eating and inviting them to touch his wounds. And there is no evidence for many people having the same hallucination. Paul reports 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive after his death (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Legend Theory: “It’s all a legend the early church came to believe.” The problem here is that legends take time to develop, but the New Testament documents are accurately dated to 50-95 A.D. Eyewitnesses were still living and would have discounted a legend easily. This theory also fails to explain the disciples’ willingness to die for a “lie”.

The evidence overwhelmingly points to the resurrection as the best explanation of the facts. For a more thorough discussion, see The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, or More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.

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