Unshakable Proofs of the Resurrection by Lou Blanchard

In this season when we commemorate Our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, we cannot help but notice that the media usually look upon these events as old myths or legends. They tend to denigrate religion in general (unless it is of a New Age denomination). Yet there is plenty of information available to make a defense of our faith if we will only take time to examine it. I have recently re-read two brief but very rewarding books that discuss the foundations of our faith. Though each was written several decades ago, their analysis is still sound. These books are:
1. Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison, published by Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois; and
2. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce, also published by Intervarsity Press.
These are available at many libraries, and I believe the first one (and perhaps the second, too) is still in print.

Here are some quotations from them; first, from Who Moved the Stone?

“Such, then, in broad outline is how the Crisis overtook the friends of Jesus in Jerusalem on that ever-memorable Friday in human history….
“Thus Jesus, in the austere but exact phrasing of the English Prayer Book, ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried….’ I have put dots in place of the famous context because as a young man I used to stop dead at this point in the English Church Service, set my teeth tightly, and refuse to utter another word….
“But today I feel differently….” (P. 66-67)

“Something came into the lives of these very simple and ordinary people [the disciples] which transformed them out of all similitude to the broken and shattered party of Jesus which we have recently studied.” (P. 104)

“The story of the Resurrection which was taught and preached throughout the ancient world during the first forty years of the Christian era was not told or created by outsiders, but by the original band of followers of Jesus. They did not wait two or three decades before giving their version to the world. They began their organized campaign within two months of the occurrences. Within three decades most of them had perished violently for their adhesion to this very story.” (P. 107)

“With a single exception [Saul of Tarsus]… there is nothing in the whole of this strange story which impresses me so profoundly as the part played by the individual known to the ancient church as James, the Lord’s brother, or alternatively, as James the Just….
“As early as A.D. 36 this man James was a prominent figure in the early community, sharing with Peter … and John the leadership of the party.
“How did it come about that this man, whose coldness and even hostility towards Christ during the living Ministry is written plainly in the earliest record … is found in the inner circle and councils of the Christians?
“He [James] stood just sufficiently far apart to be an impartial witness, and yet so near to Christ that, had the Priests been able to command his allegiance, his influence alone might have changed the face of history. But they could not, and they slew him in the end.
“It is said the Christians inscribed upon his monument the words, ‘He hath been a true witness both to Jews and Greeks that Jesus is Christ.’ ” (P. 125-131)

“When Saul was really convinced that he had seen the risen Jesus the immense and overpowering significance of the empty tomb swept for the first time into his mind…. He saw that if the disciples were not deceivers, they then were right – right through the whole range and gamut of their claim…. He began to understand why Peter was so sure, and why everyone connected with this movement was so unaccountably joyous and so immovably convinced….
“And the curious thing is … that once this conviction has been reached, its effect upon any normally constituted mind was enduring. The vacancy of the tomb was an historic fact – fixed and unalterable. Its authority grew rather than declined with the passing of the years. It was never shaken throughout St. Paul’s lifetime, and in the writer’s judgment it remains unshaken to this day.” (P. 144)

“There may be, and, as the writer thinks, there certainly is, a deep and profoundly historical basis for that much disputed sentence in the Apostles’ Creed – ‘The third day he rose again from the dead.’ ” (P. 192)

The following quotations are from The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

“The Christian Gospel is not primarily a code of ethics or a metaphysical system; it is first and foremost good news, and as such it was proclaimed by its earliest preachers…. And this good news is intimately bound up with the historical order, for it tells how for the world’s redemption God entered into history, the eternal came into time, the kingdom of heaven invaded the realm of earth, in the great events of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.” (P. 7-8)

“The New Testament was complete, or substantially complete, about AD 100, the majority of the writings being in existence twenty to forty years before this….
The situation is encouraging from the historian’s point of view, for the first three Gospels were written at a time when many were alive who could remember the things that Jesus said and did, and some at least would still be alive when the fourth Gospel was written.” (P. 12-13)

“The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no-one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.” (P. 15)

“Attestation of another kind is provided by allusions to and quotations from the New Testament in other early writings. The authors known as the Apostolic Fathers wrote chiefly between AD 90 and 160, and in their works we find evidence of their acquaintance with most of the books of the New Testament.” (P. 18)

“To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient MSS was second to none:

The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as fully established.’ ” (P. 20)

“One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect.” (P. 27)

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is not just of historical interest, as important as that is. It is the decisive event of all time, changing a man’s life, affecting everything he does. Once we repent and make Jesus first in our lives, the Holy Spirit gives us life as a new great adventure with the promise of eternal life to come. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
– Lou Blanchard

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