Discussing the legitimacy of Christ’s resurrection using historical evidence/dates in a way that is granted by skeptics

empty tomb

On February 27, 2013 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Dr. Gary Habermas talked about how to defend the legitimacy of Christ’s resurrection using historical evidence/dates in a way that is granted by skeptics. In doing so, he provided students a way to defend the Gospel against arguments that say the New Testament was written too long after the resurrection for the information to be correct.

Dr. Gary Habermas is a distinguished research professor of apologetics at Liberty University as well as the department chair of Philosophy. He has authored over 36 books and teaches primarily in the Ph.D. program for theology and apologetics at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Gary Habermas:

Easter gives a stamp of approval to Jesus’s ministry and what he taught. Usually, when I go to university campuses, I am asked to speak on the resurrection, and I tell them I’m going to start speaking on 1 Corinthians 15, and the interesting thing about this is that I can start by defining the Gospel, because that’s how Paul starts 1 Corinthians 15. Paul begins by saying, „I gave you the Gospel when I came to Corinth. And, paraphrasing Paul, he says, „Whatever you do with the Gospel will determine whether you will or will not be saved. What you do with the Gospel determines where you will spend your eternity. He begins with that, and I’ll just add this: Whenever the Gospel data, God’s side of the Gospel- there’s God’s side, there’s our side, what we need to do. But, on God’s side, these 3 facts are always mentioned when the definition of the Gospel is given:

  1. The deity
  2. The death,
  3. and The resurrection of Jesus.

Paul begins, and he says, I taught you that when I first came here. And then, you’ve got a response to make: Believe, which in Greek the synonym means to commit to, to surrender to, to trust, to commit, and that’s what we’re called to do with regards to Christ. The Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus who is the Son of God, who died for our sins, who was raised from the dead. What are we gonna do about it? Are we ready to make a lifetime,  indeed, an eternal commitment? Those 2 sides is what we call salvation. Facts + faith = salvation. But, faith by the biblical definition, which means your life will change, and so on…

Even on a skeptical look at the New Testament, here’s what a lot of people don’t understand, skeptics will quote the New Testament- they’re not opposed to using the New Testament.But, of course they will only use verses they think can be verified by other means. And, my point is that you can take those facts alone, and show that Jesus is raised from the dead. So, theoretically, the skeptic who gives you certain facts, they’re enough to show that Jesus is saved. In the timeline today, (I’m not gonna keep reminding you of this, but) virtually everything I say to you today is granted by the critics/ skeptics.

What makes a fact a fact. How do our historical tools work? How do we determine that George Washington was the first president of the United States? Or that Julius Caesar conquered Gaul? How do we determine these sorts of things? Two of the most important things you need are early reports (as close to the facts as possible) and eye witness testimony. Unfortunately, in the ancient world we rarely have these things.

Habermas goes through a timeline of 25 years after the cross

What are the historical facts that most historians accept?

1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
7. The resurrection was the central message.
8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
9. The Church was born and grew.
10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

Read more about this here –

Lee Strobel interviews resurrection historian Mike Licona

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