He Is Risen Indeed!

April 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Posted in False teaching, Questions for Pastor Glenn | 1 Comment

One Easter a young man in our conregation sent me the following note:

Dear Pastor Glenn,

            I read this article on MSN this morning.  Does it have any merit?  I know you studied the early church, so I was hoping to get your insight.  There are so many articles and opinions just flying around about Christ these days, most I’ve found are unsubstantiated, but it’s important for me to understand and try to decipher what’s true and what is not.


Thanks __________

Dear ________

            Thanks for your inquiry.  I appreciate your desire to discern the truth in these matters.  I will try to address the problems in this article as briefly as possible.  It might be best to look at a few major issues rather than the details of every point the author makes.

            The author begins by stating that “Christians in the first few centuries also had difficulty embracing the idea of a real, bodily resurrection.”  The first question you need to ask is what is his definition of a “Christian?”  If a Christian is anyone who claims to follow someone from the early First Century named Jesus, then everything he says in this article is true.  However, if a Christian is what the New Testament calls a disciple of Jesus, then there is much that isn’t true.  As an example, for some “Christians,” according to the article, “Jesus’ earthly body and his death were seen as illusory, the divine Christ merely appearing to have a normal body.”  But this is precisely what the New Testament claims is not a disciple of Jesus.  Read 1 John 4:1-6.  John wrote his letter against a Gnostic form of Christianity, saying it isn’t Christian at all.  Yet the article refers to these Gnostics as Christians (second page, second paragraph.  By the way, his point in this paragraph that those who believed in a bodily resurrection of Jesus were more willing to face martyrdom rather than acquiesce to the Romans is totally valid.  I just intend to show that he considers for his purposes that the Gnostics were valid Christians.)  Paul addresses a similar disbelief in 1 Corinthians 15:12-34.  Many of the NT letters were written to address misunderstandings of who Jesus really was or what he came to do.

            As one other example, the author states correctly that Judaism in Jesus’ day was divided over the question of resurrection.  As he says, the Sadducees were famous for their denial of any form of resurrection.  However, his inference that this division in Judaism carried over to the early Christians is mistaken.  In fact, it was the very idea of Jesus’ bodily resurrection that distinguished the genuine Christians.  I would point out how often the early church referred to the resurrection in their messages, particularly to Jews.  (In fact, every time they addressed the Jews they made reference to it – see Peter’s words in Acts 2:22-32; 3:15; 4:9-10; 5:29-32; and notice Paul’s trials in Acts 23:1-6; 25:17-21; 26:8)  It’s no wonder the Jewish authorities “were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:2)

            Finally, I must point out that the real issue here, and, concerning all those theories about Christ, is one’s authority.  Or, stated more directly:  Are the NT documents reliable?  If they are, then there is no doubt about the bodily resurrection.  Those documents, without question, affirm Jesus’ death on the cross and his physically coming out of the tomb.  However, this matter is beyond the scope of this letter, and if that is a concern, it must be dealt with at another time.

            The article you referenced is introduced with these words “Easter Sunday represents the foundational claim of Christian faith.”  To that I say “Amen,”  and would add that without such a foundation, there is no Christian faith at all.  As Paul has said, “If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!”  (1 Corinthians 15:16-20)  He is risen indeed!


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  1. thanks Glenn!

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