A Skeptic's Easter

Easter comes and goes without impact for many who attend church more out of tradition (and to please family members) than anything else. Some remain unbelieving unless overwhelmed by evidence,  like the Apostle Thomas in the painting above. Church attendance notwithstanding, are there good, solid reasons to believe the rather outlandish claims that God incarnate laid down His life willingly and was miraculously raised from the dead? There had better be!

Many have noted that Christianity stands or falls on the merits of the resurrection of Christ. If true, then Christ's claims to deity and the eternal hope portrayed in the Bible are issues to be dealt with seriously. If not, nothing important would be lost in the investigation. Many have sought to disprove it, only to believe.

We offer you arguments - in the propositional, non-combative sense of the word - and evidence, musings and personal experience from the convinced side of faith in Jesus Christ. Are you open enough to entertain the plausibility of these things and willing to consider the claims that purport not only to change mortal lives, but to lead to immortality? The stakes could not be higher, so we urge you to consider deeply and carefully the claims of Easter, including those found in our Special Focus.

—Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Articles

Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History?
Professor Edwin M. Yamauchi
That the Easter faith in the Resurrection of Christ is the core of Christianity can hardly be denied. Whether that conviction is rooted in myth, in hallucination, or in history has often been debated.

Learning Faith From Doubting Thomas
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
This personalized story tells of St. Thomas the Apostle - Doubting Thomas - who witnesses the resurrected, risen Jesus and, in a crisis of faith, confesses him as "My Lord and My God."

How to Pick Your Own God
John Gay
Picking a god is tricky business. Some Hindus say there are more than 300,000 gods. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Buddhists who say there are no deities. And the Shinto religion, found primarily in Japan, believes that gods reside in all creatures, and even in trees, soils and objects. How do you decide?

Would You Like to Know God Personally?
The following four principles will help you discover how to know God personally and experience the abundant life He promises, according to the message of the Bible.
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Diving Deeper: Most Recent Articles by Dr. William Lane Craig on The Historical Jesus

Following are a few previously published journal articles by, arguably, Christendom's top current debater. See more of his articles and debates at Dr. Craig's Virtual Faculty Office.

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the presuppositions and pretentions of the Jesus Seminar are exposited and assessed. It is found that the principal presuppositions of (i) scientific naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a cultural agenda.

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
(Part 2 of 2) Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics who accept the historical credibility of the gospel accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life are addressed, including his radical self-concept as the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker, his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from the dead.

Visions of Jesus: A Critical Assessment of Gerd Lüdemann's Hallucination Hypothesis
Dr. William Lane Craig
Gerd Lüdemann's provocative hypothesis that early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection was the product of hallucinatory experiences originally induced by guilt-complexes in Peter and Paul is assessed and contrasted with the traditional resurrection hypothesis in terms of the usual standards of hypothesis testing: explanatory power, explanatory scope, plausibility, ad hoc-ness, accord with accepted beliefs, and superiority to rival hypotheses.

Reply to Evan Fales: On the Empty Tomb of Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Evan Fales' curious hypothesis that the gospel narratives of the empty tomb are of the genre of mythology and so were not taken to be historical accounts by either their purveyors or their recipients is critically examined. Then Fales's responses to eleven lines of evidence supporting the historicity of the discovery of Jesus' empty tomb are considered.

Personal Stories

Propositional argumentation is one thing, but a personal testimony is another. Here are a few sources of stories of lives changed through faith in Jesus Christ.

Does Christianity Work?
Josh McDowell
I longed to be happy. I wanted to be one of the happiest people in the entire world. I also desired meaning in life. I was looking for answers to the questions: "Who am I?"; "Why in the world am I here?"; and "Where am I going?"

World Religions Index Personal Pages
Various people formerly of other faiths
Personal stories from people who have experienced a wide variety of world religions and religious philosophies and have decided on faith in Jesus Christ.

Stonewall Revisited Personal Pages
Various former gays and lesbians
More than 75 testimonials of the power of faith in Christ to change the desires and the very lives of homosexuals who wanted out of the lifestyle.

Diving Deeper: More Resources from Dr. William Lane Craig on The Historical Jesus

The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
An examination of both Pauline and gospel material leads to eight lines of evidence in support of the conclusion that Jesus's tomb was discovered empty: (1) Paul's testimony implies the historicity of the empty tomb, (2) the presence of the empty tomb pericope in the pre-Markan passion story supports its historicity, (3) the use of "on the first day of the week" instead of "on the third day" points to the primitiveness of the tradition, (4) the narrative is theologically unadorned and non-apologetic, (5) the discovery of the tomb by women is highly probable, (6) the investigation of the empty tomb by the disciples is historically probable, (7) it would have been impossible for the disciples to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem had the tomb not been empty, (8) the Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb.

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
It has been argued on the basis of Paul's testimony that Jesus's resurrection body was spiritual in the sense of being unextended, immaterial, intangible, and so forth. But neither the argument appealing to the nature of Paul's Damascus Road experience nor the argument from Paul's doctrine of the resurrection body supports such a conclusion. On the contrary, Paul's information serves to confirm the Gospels' narratives of Jesus's bodily resurrection. Not only is the Gospels' physicalism well- founded, but it is also, like Paul's doctrine, a nuanced physicalism.

The Disciples' Inspection of the Empty Tomb
Dr. William Lane Craig
There are three alternatives concerning the relation of Luke and John's stories of the disciples' inspection of Jesus's empty tomb: (1) Luke is dependent upon John, (2) John is dependent upon Luke, or (3) Luke and John are dependent upon a common tradition. (1) is not a plausible hypothesis because in light of Luke 24:24, a later scribe borrowing from John would have had another disciple accompany Peter. (2) is not plausible in view of the non-Lukan elements in 24:12 which are characteristic of Johannine tradition. Moreover, good grounds exist for positing pre-Lukan tradition. (3) is most plausible in view of its ability to explain all the relevant data, the improbability of Luke's dependence on John, and the improbability of John's dependence on Luke.

The Guard at the Tomb
Dr. William Lane Craig
Matthew's story of the guard at the tomb of Jesus is widely regarded as an apologetic legend. Although some of the reasons given in support of this judgement are not weighty, two are more serious: (1) the story is found only in Matthew, and (2) the story presupposes that Jesus predicted his resurrection and that only the Jewish leaders understood those predictions. But the absence of the story from the other gospels may be due to their lack of interest in Jewish-Christian polemics. There are no good reasons to deny that Jesus predicted his resurrection, in which case the second objection becomes basically an argument from silence. On the positive side, the historicity of the story is supported by two considerations: (1) as an apologetic, the story is not a fail-safe answer to the charge of body-snatching, and (2) a reconstruction of the history of tradition lying behind Jewish-Christian polemic makes the fictitiousness of the guard unlikely.

The Problem Of Miracles: A Historical And Philosophical Perspective
Dr. William Lane Craig
Modern skepticism concerning the gospel miracles first asserted itself by denying the miraculous nature of the events. Soon, however, the historicity of the events themselves was denied. Behind this skepticism lay the broad conception of a Newtonian world-machine, the arguments of Spinoza against the possibility of miracles, and the arguments of Hume against the identification of miracles. Counterpoised to these attacks were the defenses of miracles written by Le Clerc, Clarke, Less, Paley, and others. An assessment of the debate shows that, contra the Newtonian conception, miracles should not be understood as violations of the laws of nature, but as naturally impossible events. Contra Spinoza, admission of miracles would not serve to subvert natural law, and the possibility that a miracle is a result of an unknown natural law is minimized when the miracles are numerous, various, momentous, and unique. Contra Hume, it is question-begging or invalid to claim that uniform experience is against miracles.

Related Resources

A (Not So) Brief Defense of Christianity
Jimmy Williams
A master Christian apologist gives a comprehensive overview of these critical issues of rational faith: evidence for God's existence, the reliability of the Biblical documents, and the person of Jesus Christ.

The Gospels As Historical Sources For Jesus, The Founder Of Christianity
Professor R. T. France
The four canonical gospels will not answer all the questions we would like to ask about the founder of Christianity; but, sensitively interpreted, they do give us a rounded portrait of a Jesus who is sufficiently integrated into what we know of first-century Jewish culture to carry historical conviction, but at the same time sufficiently remarkable and distinctive to account for the growth of a new and potentially world-wide religious movement out of his life and teaching.