Why Is the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Important for Christian Faith?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/why-is-the-bodily-resurrection-of-jesus-important-for-christian-faith
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Based on scientific evidence, we should reject the notion of bodily resurrection and realize that the text was just using the language to make a theological point. You are distorting the text if you think it actually means that Jesus rose from the dead physically. We all know that science says that is impossible. All the science points the other direction.

Of course I jest a bit. But only a bit. This is a serious problem for you.

Yes, I read the recent two articles. They are special pleading, an ignoring of issues because of the importance of the matter. They purport to rely on eyewitness testimony. Fine. But these are the same people that ignore eyewitness testimony in Gen 1-2. That is special pleading. There are far more scientific reasons to believe in a young earth by direct creation (vs. evolution) than there are to believe in the resurrection. Yet you accept the one that is less scientific and deny the one that is more scientific.

Your whole paradigm is that science matters more than the text and the text is just an ancient unscientific way of making theological points.

It seems to me you can’t legitimately hold your position on Genesis 1 and the resurrection at the same time.

I understand the force of this perspective, having grappled (as a philosopher) with all the existential questions of religion, including subjecting my own beliefs to radical doubt at some point in my life. However, I just don’t buy this Modern Western bias against what can’t be explained by science. As someone who comes from the Third World, my experience has made me much more open to that which seems out of the ordinary, including the resurrection. I can think of no reason except a prejudice against miracles to rule the bodily resurrection our of court. Hume’s “argument” against miracles has been shown on logical grounds to be circular.


9 posts were split to a new topic: Is Genesis 1-3 an eyewitness account + defenses of YEC as science

That’s actually not my paradigm. I don’t subject the biblical text to science at all.

Rather, I am interested in an emic reading of the text (from the inside), taking into account the genre of the text, and the concomitant assumptions the original readers would have brought to the text. Creation accounts in the ancient world didn’t intend to be scientific, so I don’t impose modern (etic) assumptions on them, either trying to make them fit modern science or dismissing their significance because they don’t fit.

And just as creation accounts are not teaching science, so the resurrection accounts intend to say that Jesus was raised bodily. So I take that seriously.


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. Hebrews 11:1-3

We believe in God as Creator by faith, not by scientific evidence or proof. Why do we believe this? Because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, not because we learned it in physics or biology class. The constant search for scientific evidence to “prove” the literal truth of Genesis 1-11 betrays a lack of faith, in my opinion.

As for eyewitnesses, this is the primary proof of Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the Son of God. We believe the witnesses, or we don’t. It’s as simple as that. That is why Jesus designated them “apostles,” or “messengers.” I find their testimony believable, and it is backed by the witness of the prophets, who foretold the meaning of the “Christ event” hundreds of years prior.

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable about details. The key here is that there are multiple witnesses, and whereas some details of their stories may disagree or grow fuzzy with time, there is little likelihood that they missed the main point. They claimed that a man had come back to life from the dead. This isn’t something that one could be mistaken about. As John says in the opening of his letter:

“This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life— and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

And Jesus was not just any man, but a man the Scriptures foretold. What we so often fail to remember was one of Blaise Pascal’s favorite themes: The form of this world is deliberately ambiguous, because this world is a test. Absolute proof would destroy faith, not encourage it. Why did Christ entrust his message to apostles (messengers) rather than writing it down himself? Why does God use us to spread his message, rather than simply revealing himself directly to the elect? God routinely works through secondary means, which require the exercise of faith. This is because the knowledge of God is knowledge of a person, not a theory or an explanation or a philosophy. As Paul said in his great conclusion to 1 Cor. 13:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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