They saw Jesus alive! — But does that mean I will be happy to die too?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

A glass of port wine.
Image via Wikipedia

I was led to this comment on the blog of Joel Watts (whose comments I have in the past filtered as spam on this blog because of his childish “nyaa nyaa” tripe that he once posted here)

When I was going through my confrontation with Atheism and doubt 20 years ago, “More than a carpenter” by Josh MacDowell gave the BEST explanation, that has preventewd my faith from faltering in tumultuous times. (Especially now when Atheism is the :in” thing. He used the fact that the disciples, were about to give up, seeing their “messiah” dead..they even went back to fishing…but after they saw the resurrected Christ, they all (save 10 died for Christ in horrible ways. Many people will die for a lie, but how many would die for a lie they KNOW is a lie? That statement alone changed me from disbelief to belief. I then read the 2 volumes of “Evidence that demands a verdict”

I highly recommend it.

There is nothing special about this comment. It is a sentiment often enough expressed. But being in a fortified-wine-induced reflective mood this evening it occurred to me to stop to ask some questions:

What is it that predisposes people to read a narrative in a bible-black bound book and assimilate it as “true history”, and not only “true history”, but as true history that has a direct relevance to a reader 2000 years later, rather than as just one of many other ancient tall tales of the miraculous?

What makes the commenter above apparently believe that at least some (if not many) people will die for a lie that they KNOW is a lie? (Note his or her “Many people will die for a lie, BUT. . . .”)

What is different between what the commenter says the disciples did than from what anything anyone else ever did who died for their beliefs?

So even assuming the story is “true”, and that the disciples really did see, let’s say, a vision of the resurrected Jesus. How does their dying for their belief in the “fact” of their vision have any meaning for anyone else?

Or let’s go one step further. Suppose Jesus really DID rise from the dead and appeared again to his disciples. How does THAT “fact” explain why the disciples themselves would have died martyrs’ death? (I am of course assuming the tales of the martyrdoms of the disciples as “true”.)

Had you seen someone you loved “alive” after their death, what would it take for you to die a cruel death on account of that conviction of yours?

In other words, the question might be framed more simply as “So what?”

Even if Jesus were alive, why should that compel me to die a similar fate?

Surely there has to be a lot more in the mix here than the simple fact of Jesus’ so-called reappearance after his death.

Or is this “more” really found only in the fortified-wine decline-into-sleep after a long week already after only two days?

Refreshing honesty of Jim West, part 2

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

So there’s a supposedly new discovery that is about to shatter everything we thought we knew about early Christianity etcetera etcetera blah blah blah. No, no, that’s just the headline or header paragraph to grab readers on the cheap: Are lead tablets discovered in a remote cave in Jordan the secret writings about the last years of Jesus? I read nothing in the article about Jesus. But ho hum, that’s headlines and marketing of news media.

Dr Jim West appears to despise all I stand for in this blog (atheism, serious consideration of the Christ myth theory in any explanation for Christianity) but I sometimes find more honesty among such “reactionary” or “conservative” scholars (I don’t know what descriptor really applies for American readers — and I am using “conservative” here in a more universally orthodox sense than in what it means in an insular U.S. context) than among some scholars who seem to pride themselves on more liberal (again in the non-U.S. sense) values.

He wrote: Without provenance, without context, there is no meaning. This is true of both texts and artifacts.

Now where were we in our discussion of the canonical gospels? Their provenance is . . .  ? Their context is  . . .  ?

Or are some questions valid only when applied to that proverbial “Other”?

Related post: