2011-03-22

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

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by Neil Godfrey

A glass of port wine.
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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?

 


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Neil Godfrey

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  • Steven Carr
    2011-03-22 21:33:05 GMT+0000 - 21:33 | Permalink

    ‘He used the fact that the disciples, were about to give up, seeing their “messiah” dead..they even went back to fishing’

    Joel doesn’t read the Bible very carefully. They went back to fishing, even after seeing the resurrected Jesus. I guess it takes a few applications of resurrected Jesus for things to happen.

    They even saw Moses return from the dead, and were still about to give up. If I saw Moses return from the dead, my life would be transformed, and I’m not even Jewish.

    ‘Many people will die for a lie, but how many would die for a lie they KNOW is a lie?’

    Gosh, Paul said Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision.

    There is zero evidence anybody was ever killed for preaching a resurrection, and the mere fact that somebody tells people he has been hoaxing and fooling them and making monkeys out of them, will not stop them lynching that person.

    Fraudsters get punished for fraud all the time. Why would Bernie Madoff go to prison for something he knew was a lie?

    This is despite the fact that Mark 4 says they had been given the secret of the Kingdom of God, and Matthew 10 explains that the disciples had been given the power to raise the dead.

    • 2011-03-22 21:58:48 GMT+0000 - 21:58 | Permalink

      I think I also once remarked somewhere that the resurrection appearances in the Gospel of John were clearly quite unremarkable events if the witnesses merely yawned and returned to fishing. It took a cold skinny dip and good feed of fried fish to get Peter excited enough to do anything, it seems.

      One question: if someone in a strange aura appeared to you and said he was THE Moses, or even THE Jesus!, why would you believe him?

      • 2011-03-23 03:19:26 GMT+0000 - 03:19 | Permalink

        Neil: “…why would you believe him?”

        Because of the name tag. Duh.

        It is odd, isn’t it, that at the Transfiguration the inner-circle disciples immediately know the other two guys are Elijah and Moses. Yet on the road to Emmaus, the unnamed disciples don’t recognize their own leader. Not until Yahweh beams up Jesus do they say to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us?”

        The gospels are chock-full of these kinds of stories, and they make sense only on the mythical level. It’s the primary clue that we aren’t dealing with anything remotely like history.

  • Steven Carr
    2011-03-22 21:40:53 GMT+0000 - 21:40 | Permalink

    Of course, Joel Watts cannot produce a single Christian who wrote a document in the first century naming himself as ever having even heard of Thomas or Judas….

    And Joel might like to look at the evidence of David Whitmer who went to his grave insisting that his testimony be put on his tombstone.

    Was it an hallucination?

    ‘No, sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!’

    Whitmer’s response when asked if he “had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance, or hallucination, which had deceived them into thinking he saw the Personage, the Angel, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the sword of Laban.” Interview with Joseph Smith III et al. (Richmond, Missouri, July 1884), originally published in The Saints’ Herald (28 January 1936). Also quoted in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), p. 88.

    Named witnesses who give eyewitness testimony to seeing those things.

    Joel Watts would cut off his right arm for similar evidence for Christianity. Not even Paul could actually describe these ‘appearances’ even when speaking to Christian converts who were scoffing at the very idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

    ‘It is recorded in the American Cyclopaedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at an time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, “Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.”‘

  • 2011-03-23 01:11:48 GMT+0000 - 01:11 | Permalink

    Thinking that the resurrection of Jesus proves the existence of god is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Christian story.

    Assuming that the gospels are 100% history, what did the resurrection of Jesus prove? It proved that traditional Judaism was false. It proved that the sacrificial system was no longer necessary. It proved that the Jews are no longer YHWH’s chosen people, but the inheritence now belongs to non-Jews. It really has no direct relevance to the existence of god; that has to be established by other means (i.e. traditional Judaism).

    I have to wonder about the logic of the quoted post. Are there many Jews who are captured in the thrall of atheism who then find solace in the resurrection of Jesus? Of course not. They would no longer be Jews then; they would be abandoing their prior religion either way.

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