Note: This is the third and final installment of a three part series submitted and published in Huntington Beach’s local paper, The Wave. Part one was primarily an existential argument diagnosing and treating our need for Jesus’ resurrection. Part two outlined (in bare-bones fashion) the historical argument for Christianity. Part three narrows the focus directly on the resurrection, using what Gary Habermas calls “the bare minimum facts” approach. You can learn more about the details of his argument (among other things related to apologetics) at www.garyhabermas.com and in his excellent book, “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus,” co-authored by Michael Licona. Lastly, bare in mind that this article was confined to 425 words for the column’s space limitations.
Is Christianity just pretend for adults, like believing in the tooth fairy or a flying spaghetti monster? Many say, “Yes.” However, Christianity appeals to facts and historical evidence to support its central claim. Namely, Jesus was crucified; then seen alive again three days later. Not a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in real history. To quote Dan Akyroyd in Dragnet, “All we want is the facts, ma’am.”
Every credible historical account begins with facts. Facts are like bricks. Constructing a building requires a solid foundation. Similarly, demonstrating that Jesus’ resurrection really happened requires facts. So, what bricks support Christianity’s claim that Jesus rose from the dead? The following six facts include 1) well established evidence regarding their veracity and 2) acceptance by a wide range of scholars, including those skeptical of Christianity’s claim.
- Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
- The disciples claimed to experience actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
- The disciples’ proclamation of the resurrection dates within three years of Jesus’ death.
- Two people, Paul and James, who didn’t believe in Jesus during his ministry, were later convinced Jesus rose from the dead.
- Neither Jewish nor Roman authorities opposed to Christianity produced a corpse, despite their counterclaims (i.e. the disciples stole the body). Every alternative theory failing to include these six basic facts is poor scholarship, disingenuous, or both.
- The disciples were utterly transformed by their conviction that they had seen the risen Jesus, and were willing to die for this belief. Moreover, tens of thousands of Jews, including priests and Pharisees, converted, undermining Christianity’s opposition. [endnote 1]
What theory takes all this evidence into account? Only one, Jesus rose. When the plaintiff and defendant in court agree, this yields the strongest evidence. That both Christian and non-Christian scholars agree on these points, lends trustworthiness to the claim. Moreover, these facts derive from a wide range of eyewitnesses, both hostile and supportive, further increasing credibility. Finally, these facts appeal to common ground, building an argument solely on data that is known and generally accepted by scholars in this field.
Because these facts can be known they can also be investigated, trusted, and believed. Since Jesus rose, his promise to rescue you from death is also trustworthy. No fantasy here, just the facts, ma’am, or sir.
 These six facts are adapted from Gary Habermas’essay, The Core Resurrection Data: The Minimal Facts Approach, found in Tough-Minded Christianity: Honoring the Legacy of John Warwick Montgomery, ed. William A Dembski and Thomas Schirrmacher. B & H Publishing Group: Nashville, 2008, p. 387-405.