Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 12:50:04 -0400

I got this email from a friend and ASA colleague. I pass it along as it expresses my own position so very clearly -- jwb

From: "Ted Davis"

Subject: Easter homily #3

This one comes from one of the best books I've ever read, NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 717.

The question which must be faced is whether the explanation of the data which the early Christians themselves gave, that Jesus really was risen from the dead, 'explains the aggregate' of the evidence better than these sophisticated scepticisms. My claim is that it does.

The claim can be stated once more in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. The actual bodily resurrection of Jesus (not a mere resuscitation, but a transforming revivification) clearly provides a *sufficient* condition of the tomb being empty and the 'meetings' taking place. Nobody is likely to doubt that. Once grant that Jesus really was raised, and all the pieces of the historical jigsaw puzzle of early Christianity fall into place. My claim is stronger: that the bodily resurrection of Jesus provides a *necessary* condition for these things; in other words, that no other explanation could or would do. All the efforts to find alternative explanations fail, and they were bound to do so.

Many will challenge this conclusion, for many different reasons. I do not claim that it constitutes a 'proof' of the resurrection in terms of some neutral standpoint. It is, rather, a historical challenge to other explanations, other worldviews. Precisely because at this point we are faced with worldview-level issues, there is no neutral ground, no island in the middle of the epistemological ocean, as yet uncolonized by any of the warring continents. We cannot simply arrive at a topic and make grand declarations, as in Francis Drake's celebrated annexation of California, and suppose that all the local inhabitants will take them as binding. Saying that 'Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead' is not only a self-*involving* statement; it is a self-*committing* statement, going beyond a reordering of one's private world into various levels of commitment to work out the implications. We cannot simply leave a flag stuck on a hill somewhere and sail back home to safety.

To which I add, "AMEN." -- Ted


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