(RNS) “On the third day, he rose again.”

The resurrection of Christ, painted by Noel Coypel in 1700.

“The Resurrection of Christ,” painted by Noel Coypel in 1700. Photo courtesy of Noel Coypel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

That line, from the Nicene Creed, is the foundational statement of Christian belief. It declares that three days after Jesus died on the cross, he was resurrected, a glimmer of the eternal life promised to believers. It’s the heart of the Easter story in seven little words.

But how that statement is interpreted is the source of some of the deepest rifts in Christianity — and a stumbling block for some Christians and more than a few skeptics.

Did Jesus literally rise from the dead in a bodily resurrection, as many traditionalist and conservative Christians believe? Or was his rising a symbolic one, a restoration of his spirit of love and compassion to the world, as members of some more liberal brands of Christianity hold?

As Easter approaches, many Christians struggle with how to understand the Resurrection. How literally must one take the Gospel story of Jesus’ triumph to be called a Christian? Can one understand the Resurrection as a metaphor — perhaps not even believe it happened at all — and still claim to be a follower of Christ?

The struggle keeps some Christians from fully embracing the holiday. A 2010 Barna poll showed that only 42 percent of Americans said the meaning of Easter was Jesus’ resurrection; just 2 percent identified it as the most important holiday of their faith.

“More people have problems with Easter because it requires believing that Jesus rose from the dead,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of the new book, “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.”

“But believing in the Resurrection is essential. It shows that nothing is impossible with God. In fact, Easter without the Resurrection is utterly meaningless. And the Christian faith without Easter is no faith at all.”

Scott Korb, 37, has a different take. Though he now describes himself as a non-practicing Catholic, he once wanted to become a priest. At that time, he believed Jesus literally rose from the dead, but now finds himself accepting the story only symbolically.

“The miracle of a bodily resurrection is something I rejected without moving away from its basic idea,” Korb, a New York University professor, said. “What I mean is that we can reach the lowest points of our lives, of going deep into a place that feels like death, and then find our way out again — that’s the story the Resurrection now tells me. And at Easter, this is expressed in community, and at its best, through the compassion of others.”

A painting of Jesus' crucifixion, part of a Stations of the Cross series, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

A painting of Jesus’ crucifixion, part of a Stations of the Cross series, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

And that change — from a literal to a metaphorical approach — has given the story more power, he said.

“There is only one story to be told of a single man who dies and then rises,” Korb said. “But if we think about the metaphor of the Resurrection, that allows us to return to the story year after year and find new meaning in it.”

Reg Rivett, 27, finds the repetition of the Easter story a big problem. A youth minister at an evangelical house church near Edmonton, Canada, he said his belief that Jesus literally rose from the dead is central to his Christian identity and faith. Nonetheless, he still has conflicting feelings about how the Resurrection story is used in some circles.

“You hear about it year after year or at the end of every youth event — ‘This is why Jesus came and why he died,’” he said. “We tack it on to the end of everything and that is not what it should be. It’s like we’ve taken something that is very sacred and made it very common.”

That leads to some internal conflict on Easter Sunday, even as he goes to church with his family and joins them for a big meal.

“It becomes something I need to do and I do it out of respect for others,” he said.

To restore the Resurrection and the Easter story to its appropriate place, Rivett said, the church should “build” toward it throughout the year — place it in its context within the whole biblical saga.

“It is another story about Jesus, another piece of the whole Bible, but at the same time it is such a significant piece,” he said. “Neglecting it completely would be wrong, but over-saturation is wrong, too. It is hard to find a balance.”

Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, best known for his famously liberal interpretation of Christianity, does not adhere to Rivett’s literal view of the Resurrection. His 1994 book, “Resurrection: Myth or Reality?” caused a dust-up when it asked, “Does Christianity fall unless a supernatural miracle can be established?”

For Spong, 82, the answer is an emphatic no.

A statue depicting Mary holding Jesus after his crucifiction death, is displayed at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

A statue depicting Mary holding Jesus after his crucifixion death, is displayed at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“I don’t think the Resurrection has anything to do with physical resuscitation,” he said. “I think it means the life of Jesus was raised back into the life of God, not into the life of this world, and that it was out of this that his presence” — not his body — “was manifested to certain witnesses.”

Like Rivett, he too thinks the Resurrection must be placed in context to be interpreted and understood — something he tried to do as a young priest in the Bible Belt through yearlong Bible study classes culminating in the Easter story, he said.

“I tried to help people get out of that literalism,” he said. “But you don’t do it in a single sermon. You need time to lay the groundwork and for people to process it, ask questions. You have to begin to build it.”

Spong’s Bible studies were enormously popular, attracting 300 people to each session, he said. His congregations grew as a result.

“When people hear it, they grab on to it,” Spong said. “They could not believe the superstitious stuff and they were brainwashed to believe that if they could not believe it literally they could not be a Christian.”

A Christian, Spong said, is one who accepts the reality of God without the requirement of a literal belief in miracles.

“What the Resurrection says is that Jesus breaks every human limit, including the limit of death, and by walking in his path you can catch a glimpse of that,” he said. “And I think that’s a pretty good message.”

KRE/AMB END WINSTON

148 Comments

  1. Just something to think about:

    17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

    18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

    19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    – 1 Cor. 15:17-19

    • Frank Boateng AGYARKWA

      So America can believe everything from ‘the big foot’, star wars, possible life on mars,UFOs et so many ceteras but find it an arduous task of impossibility to believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth woke from the dead in his bodily form about 2000 years ago and was later seen by so many witnesses including Paul who was then Saul? Will heaven fall if the bodily resurrection of Jesus did indeed occur? I’ll rather believe(swallow nail hook and sinker) the biblical account, “He is not here, He is risen”.

      • Frank Boateng AGYARKWA

        Hei! if you want to see ‘miracles’ of resurrecting dead people visit my country Ghana or Benin(all in west Africa) and see real black witchcraft power called vodoo and magic at play in your face. yes I bet if you see a man literally shot to death coming back to life by the power of magic, you will so easily believe the Jesus bodily resurrection story. There are supernatural powers that control the physical realm.

        • Keep talking about voodoo. You say – The physical realm is commanded by the supernatural realm? Jeesh.

          More people abandon religion the more they hear how much superstitious nonsense is really out there. Wow.

          • restorationgirl

            Jesus Christ of the Old Testament and the New Testament is real, Max! He’s giving you opportunity after opportunity to see who He is. It’s your choice whether you submit your life to Him or not…. but you’ll have no excuse when you die – it is appointed once for a man to die and then the judgement…. God has been extending His hand of Grace for 2,000 years…. He truly is long suffering – letting you and every person have their free will & come willingly or be in rebellion to Him…. it’s your choice…. whether you receive His love for you to heal the bitterness, hatred & venom in your heart here is your choice. You are choosing your eternal destiny – not God. It’s your choice to be in relationship with Him or not. If He’s not real then tell Him you don’t think He’s real & if He is & The Bible is real make Himself real to you. If you waste every second of every day hating Him you’ll be shocked when you die & you’re face to face with Jesus – who created everything & who gave you the very breath to insult Him…. your mouth will be silent before The Lord Jesus Christ & your knee will bow…. I bet you crumple in a heap in front of Him like anyone would in the Light of His all consuming Love, Glory, Purity, Holiness, Power, Grace, Kindness, Gentleness, Peace, Joy & Patience…. and you’ll instantly know every moment you had on earth – chance after chance to accept His hand of Peace & you rejected Him…. I pray that’s not the case & will continue to pray for you, Max! If I could go from hating god to having an experience like the Apostle Paul anyone can see The Light! I hope to see you in heaven, Max! I’m praying for you to see who the real God is and how wonderful He is! If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord & believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved…. May God’s Word become SHARP and ALIVE to you & God come in no uncertain terms to bring light to the darkness!

        • Thank you so much for this perspective from your country. The devil’s hard at work making post-modern Christians disbelieve a literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ when in fact it was that point of history that jump-started the entire movement we have inherited. I live in CA, USA, among the pluralist tribes and yearn to know — as your comment proves — that Christians elsewhere understand Jesus as “Christus Victor.” We need some Christus Victor praying in the name of Jesus Christ (instead of the diluted Islamic-led prayers public leaders here have recommended) to end the CA drought. James 5:18.

          Any American who wants to call this nonsense of superstition might read Greg Boyd, Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary and pastor of Woodland Hills church in MN on “God at War.” If the demonic realm isn’t operating in hatred of us who God loves (as the Bible witnesses), then human beings collectively are too evil to live under any day’s news report (or any look at online gonzo porn, human slavery, school kids shooting each other, wars never ending) Oh, hey, maybe that’s why we needed a Savior to die and rise for us and restore right relationship with a good and supernatural God. Just saying.

    • Amen in total agreement also…!

      And I believe this is a another specific verse we need to revisit to mention… relating to the Doubting Thomas that confounds the disbelievers of the physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

      John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
      John 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
      John 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
      John 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
      John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
      John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

      • @PAUL ROSS,

        Wait.
        I assumed you knew the Gospels at least as well as an Atheist.
        Apparently I must point out the enormous holes in your story.

        Thomas already saw Jesus on the first Sunday of the Resurrection according to Luke. Please explain how both versions can be true.

        According to Luke, Thomas was ALREADY a witness to the risen Jesus
        on the exact day it supposedly happened.

        On the day of the resurrection ONLY Judas was missing:
        Jesus…. “appeared to the eleven” and they “worshipped him” with great joy – Luke 24:39)

        How is it that Thomas forgot that?

        • According to Luke, Thomas was ALREADY a witness to the risen Jesus
          on the exact day it supposedly happened.

          Luke 24
          1 And at very early dawn on the first day of the week they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared: 2 and found the stone already rolled away from the door of the tomb. 3 They went into it, and could not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They were still puzzling over this, when two men came and stood by them, in shining garments. 5 These said to them, as they bowed their faces to the earth in fear, Why are you seeking one who is alive, here among the dead? 6 He is not here, he has risen again; remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 The Son of Man is to be given up into the hands of sinners, and to be crucified, and to rise again the third day. 8 Then they remembered what he had said, 9 and returned from the tomb bringing news of all this to the eleven apostles and to all the rest.[1] 10 It was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, who told the apostles this; 11 but to their minds the story seemed madness, and they could not believe it. 12 Only Peter rose up and ran to the tomb, where he looked in, and saw the grave-clothes lying by themselves, and went away full of surmise over what had befallen.[2]

          At this point in Luke’s Gospel, Christ had yet to reveal Himself to his followers. John explains the rest.

          1 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalen went to the tomb, and found the stone moved away from the tomb door.[1] 2 So she came running to Simon Peter, and that other disciple, whom Jesus loved; They have carried the Lord away from the tomb, she said to them, and we cannot tell where they have taken him. 3 Upon this, Peter and the other disciple both set out, and made their way to the tomb; 4 they began running side by side, but the other disciple outran Peter, and reached the tomb first. 5 He looked in and saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Simon Peter, coming up after him, went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and also the veil which had been put over Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths, but still wrapped round and round in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw this, and learned to believe. 9 They had not yet mastered what was written of him, that he was to rise from the dead. 10 The disciples went back home; 11 but Mary stood without before the tomb, weeping. And she bent down, still weeping, and looked into the tomb; 12 and saw two angels clothed in white sitting there, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 They said to her, Woman, why art thou weeping? Because they have carried away my Lord, she said, and I cannot tell where they have taken him. 14 Saying this, she turned round, and saw Jesus standing there, without knowing that it was Jesus.[2] 15 Woman, Jesus said to her, why art thou weeping? For whom art thou searching? She supposed that it must be the gardener, and said to him, If it is thou, Sir, that hast carried him off, tell me where thou hast put him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus said to her, Mary. And she turned and said to him, Rabboni (which is the Hebrew for Master). 17 Then Jesus said, Do not cling to me thus; I have not yet gone up to my Father’s side. Return to my brethren, and tell them this; I am going up to him who is my Father and your Father, who is my God and your God. 18 So Mary Magdalen brought news to the disciples, of how she had seen the Lord, and he had spoken thus to her. 19 And now it was evening on the same day, the first day of the week; for fear of the Jews, the disciples had locked the doors of the room in which they had assembled; and Jesus came, and stood there in their midst; Peace be upon you, he said. 20 And with that, he shewed them his hands and his side. Thus the disciples saw the Lord, and were glad. 21 Once more Jesus said to them, Peace be upon you; I came upon an errand from my Father, and now I am sending you out in my turn. 22 With that, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit; 23 when you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven, when you hold them bound, they are held bound.[3]

  2. As Doc mentioned above, Paul himself noted that without the resurection, we’re wasting our time. Christopher Hitchens, a huge critic of religion, noted that without several beliefs… one of them that Christ rose from the dead… then you can in no way call yourself a Christian in any honesty.

      • No we do not. We are just saying that the word Christian has a meaning. It is so obvious that an atheist can see it.

        The resurrection, body &soul coming out of the grave, is part of the meaning of the word Christian.

        Just like Paul said “if Jesus is not death, your faith is worthless you are still in you sins. ” yeah back the there where Spongs denying the resurrection and refute them.

        Hitchens and the apostel can see it. why liberals and Jehova Witness can’t see is beyond me.

        Probably because denying the resurrection is liberals dogma.

        Probably because

        • Thomas did not forget. Luke is describing the same event. The only difference is that Luke does include any details or description of the “doubting Thomas” event. This is far from a contradiction of course. One could ask why Luke leaves it out, which is a perfectly legitimate question, but there is nothing earth-shattering about this.

    • give-me-a-break

      If there is no resurrection, then it is all as meaningless as the materialists insist. Anything Jesus taught or claimed is “blah, blah,blah” without the resurrection. Without the resurrection he is just another old dead guy, turned to dust and legitimately forgotten. Without the resurrection, love or hate are equally meaningless sentiments and the very best we can hope fore is to die without too much discomfort. If there is no resurrection, then my walking up to a “christian” who claims otherwise and shooting them in the head deserves condemnation only because 51% of you say that it is bad….not that convincing really. In fact, just laughable.

      • @Give me a break,

        You are making at least three wrong assumptions:

        1. You seem to not understand that the laws that protect your religious freedom are written into a Constitution which enshrines Atheism, as in; “Congress shall make NO LAW establishing a religion.”
        This specific clause ensures your freedom to your religion as long as nobody else has to share it if they don’t want to.
        This clause is not under threat by Atheists (we like it the way it is).

        2. You seem to not realize that the Law does not allow anyone to kill you for any reason other than self-defense. Nobody has the right under the law to walk up and shoot someone else.

        3. You are assuming that the Crucifixion is the only thing that gives life meaning. Completely ridiculous.

  3. The story of death and resurrection has been a common mythical story one across time and across cultures. I think this is just one more example of early Christians combining (incorporating) parts of their earlier “pagan” traditions into their own traditions. Many don’t grasp the concept of metaphors. Those that are Black and White thinkers see things as TRUTH or LIES and simply don’t understand that somethings (metaphors) are neither. They are either “good” metaphors as in carry a meaning that is understood across time and cultures or “not so good “metaphors that might carry meaning only for a specific group.

    • @Susan Humphreys,
      What is the value of a metaphor? Isn’t it zero?

      Look under your pillow tonight. I put a metaphorical $50 bill under it.

      You can spend it on a metaphorical tank of gasoline.
      If that doesn’t help the car move, please get out of your real car and get in a metaphorical car and go to any metaphorical place you want. On me!
      I’ll give you all the metaphorical gas money you need.

      God is real – or he isn’t. Don’t pretend.

    • This idea that Christians borrowed from neighboring Pagan myths has been pretty well debunked. For a more detailed look you can check out The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel.

      • @Steven,

        Christianity borrowing pagan rituals is DEBUNKED? NONSENSE!
        Why then does your God hate PAGAN YULETIDE TREES?

        “For the customs of the [pagans] ARE VAIN: for one cutteth a tree
        out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.” (Jeremiah10:3)

        “They deck it with SILVER AND GOLD; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.” (Jeremiah 10:4)

        …so don’t deck the halls. God says it is “vain.”

        YET YOU HAVE CHRISTMAS TREES ANYWAY
        AND YOU DON’T CREDIT THE PAGANS!?

        You don’t need to believe in the GOD YULE – the Scandinavian fertility god to enjoy the traditon of yuletide carols and greetings.

        You don’t need to be a Wiccan to enjoy the tradition of WREATHS or decking the halls with holly.

        You don’t need to be a DRUID to enjoy the tradition of hoping to get a kiss under the mistletoe

        You don’t need to believe in the GOD SATURN to enjoy decorating the Saturnalia Tree in your home.

        You don’t need to believe in THOR, ODIN or ST. NICHOLAS to enjoy the tradition of a visitor bringing gifts at night.

        You don’t need to believe in SLEPNIR, Odin’s 8-legged flying horse to wait for the sound of hooves on your roof.

        You don’t need to believe in the GOD MITHRAS to enjoy the tradition of celebrating the sun’s rebirth on December 25th.

        And you don’t need to believe in Jesus Christ to enjoy the tradition of renaming this VERY ANCIENT HOLIDAY “Christ’s Mass”.

        Just be Merry!

        • More atheist nonsense. Honestly, i don’t mind people being athests, but when they are arrogant snotty atheists (why or why are they usually snotty and arrogant?)
          The quotes from Jeremiah have nothing to do with Christmas trees. They are about building false idols out of wood. Nothing to do with trees at all. Try reading for meaning next time rather than trying to be cute.

          Also, you want to give pagans way more credit than they deserve. So what if certain outward signs carried over. Big deal. The holiday is about Christ, not anything pagan. Whoop de do. It is kind of funny that you think you are being disruptive by pointing this out, We;ve known for a long time about this, it is not as if it was hidden or something. But atheist make such a big deal about it.

      • @STEVEN,

        Easter originated with ISHTAR – THE FERTILITY GODDESS.
        This is why we celebrate Easter with Easter eggs and bunny rabbits.

        Education on all of these things is easy.
        Introduce yourself to some history.

        • And do you know why easter is not on a set date every year the was Christmas is?

          It’s the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox.

          What does that have to do with religion? Nothing. It’s completely pagan.

          • It is set to coincide with Passover every year, since Christ died during Passover week. The Jewish feast days follow the lunar cycle.

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            Nonsense to your nonsense, Shawnie5 is quite right. Happy Resurrection Sunday.

          • Passover is set to the lunar calendar and intended for the Spring and Spring-like conditions. The Torah commands that Spring be used for the holiday. (Deuteronomy 15:1). The date is not an arbitrary one specifically for religious rationale but is one of many elements of Mosaic Law which is based on practicality. The vernal equinox is the determining factor here.

            Easter’s date was set by the Council of Nicaea to be related to Passover. The Orthodox Christian Church is pretty explicit about that. The reason for the differences of Easter dates between the sects has to do with the Julian/Gregorian calendar adoption.

            That being said, there is nothing Christian about rabbit and egg imagery used in Easter celebration. However, it is not universal in the celebration of the holiday either.

          • You’ll believe anything.
            Yeah, I noticed all those easter bunnies on the pyramids.

            The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a fantasy character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the Easter Hare originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide.[1] The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus[2] (About Easter Eggs) in 1682[3] referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs for the children.

        • Actually Atheist and Shawnie are both correct. The whole point of a festival associated with the Vernal Equinox is that it celebrates fertility, the “resurrection” of the grains from the earth (e.g., Demeter/Proserpina), and the continuation of life. Look back far enough into the setting of the date for Passover and you will also see such a theme. And yes, Easter, Ishtar, Eostar, all come from a common fertility goddess. Think of it. Can you find the word “easter” in the Bible. (i will give you a hint: don’t waster your time looking.)

    • give-me-a-break

      So your basic thesis is that, “I am opposed to Christianity because it is too white”. Spoken from the heart of a true racist, but honest at least. An honesty that is denied white people to say. The same logic we hear for opposing liberty and free enterprise…too white. The sum total of Mr. Obamas, hatred of America…too white. But thank you, the revelation of what is in your hear is one more brick in the ramp that might allow the white west to pass over the wall that encloses it and reassert itself.

      Absent God, there is no right or wrong. There is only the gun and the willingness to use it. There are no metaphors or other meaningless nonsense. There is the will of one group to kill you, your family and every vestige of resistance to what the dominant group wishes to impose.

      Isnt this what you really oppose. Your imagining that it is the white hand on the gun when what you want is for it to be your own hand on the gun. Your imagining while you sit fat and happy in your warm house and fill your belly with food bought in a store with white money that says “In God We Trust”.

    • Myth..how many people were or are willing to be violently martyred for a myth?

      If Jesus did not rise, if jesus did not appear…the apostles would have never went out to preach and the people who were there and knew of Jesus and his preaching/miracles, etc…would have laughed at them.

      • @Mark,

        “how many people are willing to be violently martyred for a myth.”?

        Ask Al Queda Muslims – maybe then you’ll understand.
        The fact that people are willing to die for their beliefs is nothing new – AND IT ISN’T AN ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF THE TRUTH of the religion.

        The Kamikaze pilots of WW2 believed Emperor Hirohito was the incarnation of the Sun God. The war with Japan was a RELIGIOUS matter for them.

        Death is not an argument in favor of religion. It is an argument against it!

    • So the early Christians risked their lives, and often died painfully for a metaphor? That’s just silly.

      And the early Christians weren’t pagans. They were Jews. At least the ones who wrote the New Testament were. Go read up on historic monotheism and come back.

    • Actually, this has long been debunked. What you are referring to has been labelled as “paralell-o-mania,” where people will associate things in the Bible with anything of any similarity and assert it to be a resource without any evidence beyond their apparent or otherwise limited similarities. The Christ resurrection story is actually quite unique, especially for two reasons. Jesus was not portrayed as the myths, but as a historical figure with a given era of birth, a lineage, a geographic area, a biography, and named disciples who are known to be true, historical figures and who proclaimed a physical resurrection. The Bible portrays Jesus as God incarnate, yes, yet he is portrayed as a fully human man. This was a permanent resurrection of a human being also historically attested to. One does not have to find it believable to realize the distinction.
      Moreover, many of the myths supposedly incorporated into the Bible are distorted, taken out of context, and grossly worked into the biblical text. Its the product have poor scholarship.

  4. “bring to me those enemies of mine….and EXECUTE THEM.” – Jesus (luke 19:27)

    Real? Metaphor? Such arguments are entertainment for the survivors.
    But this is NOT a parlor game!

    MILLIONS of real people have been killed over this nonsense.
    Religion is poison.

    • Why are atheists so stupid? In Luke 19:17, Jesus is telling a story, you moron. He is not instructing someone to kill somebody, he is telling a story about a king who decided to have someone executed.
      Again, why do atheists always have to lie to make their points?

      • @Gelbertin,

        1. OF COURSE, Luke 19 Jesus is telling a parable. But Jesus IS THE NOBLEMAN of the story. The lesson of the Parable is that there are serious consequences, such as execution, for not allowing the nobleman his rightful place as KING. EXECUTION is the moral of the story. EXECUTION is the price to be paid for denying the KING.

        2. Your interpretation of this parable is not superior to mine. YOUR interpretation of anything in the Bible is separate AND EQUAL to mine.
        You have no more authority to interpret the Bible than I do.

        3. If Jesus was God he was not an all-knowing God, or He was not a Good God. Because if He was all-knowing he would understand that Hitler, for example, would consider the parable of the 12 Minas as his favorite and use it to justify the murder of 6 million Jews:

        “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

        This puts the Jews in danger immediately.

        “….the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.”
- Adolf Hitler (following the
 position of Martin Luther), Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 11

        

”Hence today I believe that I am 
acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself
 against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” -Adolf Hitler 
(Mein Kampf)

        4. Why JESUS IS STUPIDER THAN ATHEIST MAX:
        Jesus made a big mistake in telling this parable. I wouldn’t have told the story if I were Jesus because I would know the future and understand the people would use it to kill millions of people – Don’t you think Jesus should have been smarter than me? But he wasn’t.

    • So site a single person who was slayed…fiscally…before Jesus. You can’t. what was Jesus talking about? salvation. The allusion to the slaying is the loss of salvation to those who were offered it. Take a look at all the verses of those given talents that were to reward the Jewish beneficiaries and glorify God’s son…which they didn’t:
      Luk 19:9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
      Luk 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
      Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
      Luk 19:12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
      Luk 19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
      Luk 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
      Luk 19:15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
      Luk 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
      Luk 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
      Luk 19:18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
      Luk 19:19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
      Luk 19:20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
      Luk 19:21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
      Luk 19:22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
      Luk 19:23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
      Luk 19:24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
      Luk 19:25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
      Luk 19:26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
      Luk 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

      He is projecting judgement on those disbelievers in the era of his Israeli kingdom,who denied him, remember this part? Luk 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

      His Kingdom offer, made before the prophets, which has not been finaly fulfilled, but is on hold until after the tribulation….which may be coming soon.

  5. Without a literal resurrection the Biblical story and Christianity falls, period. Scripture itself builds the necessity of a literal death and resurrection in order to complete God’s planned reality of redemption, and that includes the very real victory over death. Scripture will not let this just be a metaphor. That is reserved for progressives and reductionists who need to dismiss the miraculous or falsely and naively accuse Christianity of stealing from other legends. As always, everything hinges on Jesus Christ – his deity, his humanity, his life, his death, his resurrection. He is the pinnacle of redemptive history without whom the Christian story is bunk. It should therefore come as no surprise that dismissing Jesus and the biblical accounts of his actions must be a primary target for those intending to discount the faith or minimize it to something nicer and more tolerable.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Thank you,John! You and I are of like mind in this; all this dancing around on pseudo-theological pins is sheer nonsense. I am astonished at the relentless efforts being propogated nowadays towards re-making Almighty God in our sin-laden,twisted,weak image;it’s sickening,frankly. I have more respect in a certain sense for those who flat-out call Our Saviour a liar(like Spong),than for those who make what they call”metaphor”their idol.

  6. Per the article title, yes you can struggle with the resurrection and still be a Christian. It is not the struggling and wrestling with the tenets and claims of Christianity that keep you from being a Christian, but it would be the rejection of Jesus that is the marker. In fact, struggling with the many hard sayings and miracles is normal and not to be judged as little faith. I would more wary about those who do not struggle with some things in the Bible than I would about those who do.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Frankly Philip I fail to grasp the problem. If almighty God is a God of revelation,and He is,then what He has revealed in Scripture to His people can be believed without question;there’s nothing to struggle with. One either believes God,or one does’nt. All the tweaking,parsing,and metaphorical nonsense in the world won’t make the Lord God Almighty into a liar. Maybe it’s your own weak,vacillitating,tenous hold on belief you should fear. Trust me, the Savior’s authentic servants,who trust and believe Him without question,will be just fine. God Bless You!

      • Since you don’t know me, I’ll assume the comments about a weak vacillating faith is directed to someone else. My point – it is not wrong or necessarily weak to struggle with the claims of Christianity. God gave us a mind and intellect and we can reason, judge, perceive, interpret, etc. But God’s ways are also much higher than ours and we do not always understand them and get them right in the moment. To ask questions and consider is not a lack of faith, even though one possible outcome would be the rejection of biblical claims. That is a risk for sure, but God took that risk in creating us the way that he did. Yet, he did give us more than enough evidence and reason for trusting him. But to denigrate the real faith struggle of people is not founded in the love and grace of Jesus.

        • @Philip,

          If you struggle with it and work through the details AND let the words speak for themselves you can bring yourself to believe that Gandalf is God.

          Religion is a charade!

  7. When reading the gospels, we should keep in mind that they were written between 30 and 60 years after Jesus died by four men who never laid eyes on him. Mark, who wrote the firs gospel in the 60s, was transcribing popular legend, and Matthew and Luke copied Luke’s gospel, adding and subtracting some. Of the 661 verses in the New Testament, all but 24 are used by Matthew and Luke. That’s why they are called the synoptic gospels. When stories are told and retold for generations, they grow and grow and become more elaborate to the point where the newest versions are almost unrecognizable from the first tales. This is especially true of stories of divinities. We should not take all of them literally, including the resurrection story.

    • “four men who never laid eyes on (Jesus)…”

      …Except for Matthew and John, of course. It is a tenet of faith among the skeptics that they are automatically to be rejected as the authors of the gospels named for them, but that’s what it means to subscribe to the religion of skepticism. But there’s no requirement that a rational person has to do so.

      There’s no evidence that rules out Matthew and John as being the authors of their respective Gospels. Moreover, oral tradition and memorization was a lot higher priority in their time and place than it is in ours. So there’s really NO reason (other than blind subservience to skepticism) to assume that they got it wrong about Jesus’ Resurrection.

      And by the way, in the world of ancient literature, a mere 30-to-60 year gap is NOT shabby at all. In fast, that’s extremely quick.

      Do we accept Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon as historically true even though Suetonius wrote about it 110 years after the fact? Yes? So what’s stopping us from likewise accepting the historical factuality of Jesus’s Resurrction?

      (Sure, doing so might wreck our religion of skepticism, but what’s wrong with that?

      • “Do we accept Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon as historically true even though Suetonius wrote about it 110 years after the fact? ”

        We do not dismiss criticism of its accuracy and veracity out of hand. In fact it is now common to consider most writings about Caesar (including his own) to be full of factual errors and outright fabrications. We accept it to be true because there are several mundane accounts of it by various sources.

        You would never accept such critical views of the Bible, nor would be willing to revise them upon being shown further evidence. Religious belief compels you to avoid such things.

        “So what’s stopping us from likewise accepting the historical factuality of Jesus’s Resurrction?”

        Physical impossibility. The fact that nobody else has done so outside of a religious or mythical text….

        • “A physical impossibility”? How so? How do you know? There are lots of things that by Newtonian laws of physics would appear to be physical impossibilities. But by Quantum laws of physics, they are accepted by experts as quite likely true and operant.

          Just because we have not personally seen or interviewed a person who has returned from the dead doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. Space-Time doesn’t hold all the secrets of the universe.

      • Thanks, Doc. There is no substantiated problem whatsoever with the traditional gospel attributions. Even those who attacked the gospels in the early christian era never attacked their authorship, only their theology. It is a never-ending source of amusement to me how people will repeat this notion about the gospels’ anonymity with the most childlike trust imaginable and without any earthly clue about why they believe it, other than to refer to some vague “scholarly consensus.”

        • After all it is perfectly natural to take a supernatural event described in a religious writing as being credible history. By the same token, thanks to Homer, I can consider the existence of cyclopses, sirens and magicians who can turn people into pigs to be credible phenomena.

          Criticism of the authorship of the New Testament got its start in the 17th Century. Not by atheists or people wishing to attack it on theological grounds but by Protestants looking to put their own stamp on Biblical interpretation. Just around the time people being burned at the stake on for heresy was becoming less popular.

          • Authorship and credibility are two entirely separate issues.

            Your remarks about 17th century authorship criticism are irrelevant to my point, and say nothing more than that you obviously belong to the category of unthinking conformists to which I was referring.

          • So now you are changing your argument.

            You scoffed at criticism of authorship and wrote it off as some modern anti-religious element (to be ignored). Unfortunately facts got in the way. Now you just sneer and hurl insults. Oh well.

            Much of the kind of questions, criticism and refutations of fundamentalist articles of faith didn’t even originate from non-believers. But from christians who valued inquiry and thinking as a major element of their belief. Even secularism began with Christianity.

            Credibility is not even an issue. There is none.

            One cannot expect a story of someone rising from the dead to be considered credible. That is why its a tenet of faith, not a fact. Its so easily questioned because it requires adherence to a specific religious belief to be accepted. Nobody but a Christian has a reason to take it seriously.

          • Excuse me but I said exactly nothing about objections to the gospels’ authenticity originating in either belief or nonbelief, nor is that relevant to my point. I made a comment about naysayers blindly accepting the assumption (and it IS merely an assumption) that the gospels are inauthentic without any reason whatsoever for doing so. And of course you responded with yadayada about credibility, which has nothing to do with authenticity.

            You really need to work on your reading comprehension, Larry.

          • Of course also we are playing around with the term authentic as well. Fact remains there are issues as to whether the Gospels were written by the people they are named for. This is not merely conjecture but a serious field of study for both believers and religious alike. Issues are constantly raised as to authorship as scholars note various stylistic/tonal shifts in various sections.

            As for authenticity of the Gospels as a historically accurate document, there is none. But then again, there is little likelihood there would be anything which would corroborate them. Jesus and company were unlikely to have been of much notice to contemporary authorities. Documentary evidence from antiquity is rather fragmentary to begin with. I am willing to chalk it up to inconclusive.

            That is except for the parts about the miracles. That can be dismissed out of hand as mythical writings. There is no reason why the Resurrection has to be considered true in a factual sense.

            The New Testament wasn’t written and passed down as a historical document but as a religious text. Any expectation of literal factual accuracy is merely wishful thinking of the faithful. Any degree of certainty on such subjects only betrays a dogmatic belief rather than serious inquiry.

          • You may be playing around (or more likely, just confused), but I’m not playing around with anything. Authenticity has to do with what the document is, whose it is, and the form it’s in. Whether its content is believable or not is another issue. There is no compelling evidence that rebuts the traditional attributions of the gospels, which were unanimous, entirely plausible, and uncontested up until just a few hundred years ago–which is almost two millenia too late to contest anything convincingly. And you just proved my original point beautifully by citing nothing to support your belief in the incorrectness of the gospel’s traditional attributions other than a vague appeal to authority in the form of “scholars” and their 2000-year-too-late guesswork about “stylistics.”

    • Edward Borges-Silva

      Your argument is utter supposition. Higher Criticism is the art of people most greatly removed in time and space from an event declaring they know better than the people who actually experienced it.

      • “Higher Criticism is the art of people most greatly removed in time and space from an event declaring they know better than the people who actually experienced it.”

        Like everyone who declares the Gospels are objectively true historical documents. An honest person would agree the authorship of the Gospels is supposition as well. More an article of faith than a verified fact.

        There is nothing wrong with saying something is believed on faith, as long as they are not trying to pretend otherwise. Faith is faith. It doesn’t need to be believed by anyone else or proven true.

        • The gospels were attributed in the same manner as other ancient writings were attributed–and far more unanimously and closer to the events than than most. That being the case, it is on the naysayer to rebut them and nobody has actually done so, although certainly an abundance of fluff and speculation have been offered.

          • That sounds more like shifting burdens of proof. Coupled with special pleading.

            The attribution and acceptance of Gospel authorship for most of their existence is for reasons having virtually nothing to do with the veracity and authenticity of the writings. Supposition which serves a function in the religious belief. This forecloses most efforts at serious scholarship and acceptance of critical examination of the texts. Speculation serves a purpose, it encourages inquiry and study.

          • “The attribution and acceptance of Gospel authorship for most of their existence is for reasons having virtually nothing to do with the veracity and authenticity of the writings.”

            That is correct, but not in the sense you mean. They were not attributed after the fact in order to give a veracity to the writings that they did not already possess, but the writings were given veracity from the beginning because of who the authors were known to be. In the same way that other writings that the early church liked very much were not accepted as on par with scripture because they were not written by apostles or came too late to have had any connection with an apostle.

            Nobody is shifting the burden of proof. Authentication is a relatively simple matter. Once it’s in place it IS the responsibility of the naysayer to rebut it convincingly. Nobody has accomplished that, nor is anyone likely to do so at this late date.

          • Any document written 30-40 after the fact and compiled by hearsay reports must be considered of suspect validity. The bible was compiled by a committee some writings left in and others left out. Believers must ask themselves why the supernatural events supposedly happened 2000 years ago but don’t happen today! If they haven’t happened since how can anyone believe they happened then? The bible is not the first book to describe virgin births, great floods and resurrections. Why then should the bible be special? Is there a reason why the majority of the population back then didn’t accept Jesus as a Messiah but this thought only gained acceptance when the Romans decided to make the Jesus story their state religion?

          • Except that it is merely another assumption that the gospels came 30-40 years later. There is some strong evidence that John came that late, but it is by no means proven that the others did. And even if you want to argue that the gospels consist of hearsay (that is another long and complicated topic), this has nothing to do with the authenticity of their traditional attributions.

            Also, no committee compiled the NT. This is a popular myth. We know from the Muratonian Fragment that the canon of the NT (minus a few minor epistles) was already set via tradition by 170 at the latest–more than 150 years before the Council of Nicea.

            I think the widespread confusion about Nicea is owing the historically-uninformed reading about Nicea and how they adopted “canons” there and thinking this referred to scripture. The “canons” that Nicea adopted were church LAWS. Canon of SCRIPTURE is something entirely different–and was not even discussed there.

    • Once again, this is nonsense. In those days, most people did not read or write. So things were not written down very often, as they are now. What happened was obvious – the Aposlles saw what happened and went out and preached about it. They gave speech after speech in town after town telling people what they had seen. When they grew old and was time for them to pass on, their followers finally decided that they had better start writing down their stories. So although the writers may not have been the apostle, they usually were close followers who had heard the stories over and over. And the source for the Gospels were probably those who they are named after.

  8. Spong’s theology is right out of the pit of hell. Satan would like nothing more than for those who have not met the requirements of gospel salvation to think that they have.

    But that aside, this is an important matter, somewhat hindered by the rather unfortunate phrasing of the question. If to question the literal resurrection of Christ means to perhaps occasionally have doubts as to whether it happened, then sure, you can doubt it. Doubt is not good, but all Christians wrestle with doubt from time to time. The better question is: “Can you assert either a) that Christ did not literally rise from the dead; or b) it doesn’t matter whether or not Christ rose literally from the dead and still be a Christian?”

    I believe Paul would answer that question in the negative. But I am loathe to be too dogmatic. It is sort of like the question, “Can someone who is living a life of flagrant sin have assurance of salvation?” One can be a Christian, I believe, and yet for a season fall into a pattern of sin. Is this hypothetical person still a Christian? Only God knows, but let’s be omniscient narrators for a moment and say yes he is. Though a Christian he probably has little _assurance_ of salvation because he is not being obedient to the Lord.

    When I was in college at Berkeley in the late ’70′s I attended Earl Palmer’s church, First Presbyterian. I was a new believer. After service one Sunday I went up and asked Rev Palmer a question: “If you were to go back in time to the Tomb on Easter morning with a video camera, would you see a body there or not?” To be honest, after all these years, I don’t remember his exact answer. I know he did NOT say, “No, you would not see a body.” To the best of my recollection, he said, “I don’t know.” Palmer attended Princeton Theological Seminary I believe at a time when they were Neo-Orthodox. (I have no idea what Princeton is now.)

    I relate that story because I don’t think I’ve ever known a man with a more vibrant faith in the Lord than Earl Palmer — though I didn’t know him personally. It is hard for me to imagine that Palmer is not a Christian, despite — in my view — giving the wrong answer to that question.

    My final answer is that God is the judge of whether you can be a believer and not believe in a literal resurrection, but I do think your confidence for thinking you are a Christian should be severely eroded if you don’t believe such a clearly taught doctrine of Scripture that is intimately connected with salvation itself.

    • @Theophilus

      This question requires courage to answer HONESTLY:

      Al Queda has faith that Allah wants infidels dead. They have faith in Allah who DIRECTLY compels them to kill infidels as a path to heaven:
      “Slay them wherever you find them…Idolatry is worse than carnage…Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme.” (Surah 2:190-)

      If FAITH in your Christian religion is enough for you,
      what argument can you use against the FAITHFUL BELIEVERS of Al Queda who want to go to Heaven?

      (remember that you must not use logic in this argument. Only faith.)

      • I don’t even know how to compose a sentence without logic, so I’m not entirely sure what you mean. I can say right off the bat that in my book there is true faith and there is false faith. Everyone thinks his faith is the right one, obviously, but if you have any integrity you have to admit that they can’t all be right, because they contradict each other.

        What argument can I use against a Muslim who seeks heaven by killing infidels? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved! Your faith is misplaced!” Of course, he thinks my faith is equally misplaced, as do you.

        The best I can say is: Read the Bible. God’s word will not return void. If you’re a Muslim, read the Bible — see if the Holy Spirit breaks through to you. If you’re a Mormon, read the Bible. If you’re a Scientologist, read the Bible. If you’re a Roman Catholic bearing the burdens your church has placed on you, telling you that you can’t be sure of your salvation in this life, read the Bible. (In both his gospel and his first epistle the beloved disciple John explicitly says that he was written that you might KNOW that you have eternal life.)

        Engraved in stone above the entrance to the physics building at UCLA is a quote from Faraday: “Nothing is too wonderful to be true.”

        • @Theophilus,

          The Muslim Al Qaeda would agree with Faraday that “Nothing is too wonderful to be true” and he would point you to the Holy Quran and then blow up the whole building in celebration of Faraday’s message as well as Allah’s message.

          Your faith in the resurrection will only convince the Muslim that you are an infidel – just as your faith convinces you that the Muslim’s faith is wrong (nonbeliever).

          His blowing up of the building sends you both to Heaven. He to his, you to yours.

          I consider this insane.
          Faith is a poison pill.

          The proper answer to my question is that Faith is not a solid argument – it is the achilles heel of ALL religion.
          Faith is proof that religion can’t be real. Because if every religion needs it – none of them have the truth.

          • After I became a Christian in college, my atheist dad used to like to tease me: “When you die, you’re going to heaven. When I die I’m going into the ground.” And I would always say back to him, “EITHER I’m going to heaven and you’re going to hell OR we’re both just going into the ground.”

            Faith indeed is not an argument. The thing is, if you posit a hypothetical God who is all-powerful and further stipulate that there is a heaven-type thing after death, you don’t as the creature get to decide what the criteria are for going to that heaven, or, more generally, being in right relationship with that God.

            The basic story line of the Christian faith is that God is perfect and human beings all sin to some extent or another. No one can be right with God based on his or her own merits. Jesus was perfect though, and just as all human beings, by some divine logic, are “in Adam” (whether they like it or not) they can choose to transition from that state to being “in Christ” by placing their trust in Him.

            I’ve often wondered myself why of all things God requires faith. I don’t fully understand it, but it does make more sense in a scheme of grace than it would in a scheme of works righteousness.

          • So you consider the actions and justifications of Al Qaeda insane. So what? So does everybody else. Al Qaeda has nothing to do with religion. It is sometimes referrred to as “political islam” because its focus is on politics, not really religion.

          • @gelbertin,

            You are wrong again.
            Islam dictates killing.
            THE Religion ITSELF dictates killing infidels:

            “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.” (Surah 2:216)

            “The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam.” (Surah 3:19)

            “If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches…” (Surah 3:156-)

            “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” (Surah 5:51)

            “Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home.” (Surah 9:73)

            “Muhammad is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (Surah 48:29)

            “Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him…He has given you the name of Muslims…” (Surah 22:78-)

            “Blessed are the believers…who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)…These are the heirs of Paradise…” (Surah 23:1-5-)

            “If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches…” (Surah 3:156-)

            RELIGION IS BRUTAL, PRIMITIVE NONSENSE.

        • @Theophilus,
          The reason I said you can’t use logic is because FAITH has no logic. There is nothing logical about the Resurrection. It is impossible to truly believe in the Resurrection but one can manage to have ‘faith’ that it happened somehow if one eliminates logic.

          Also, logically, it makes no sense for God to commit suicide to save us, which is what God did if He KNEW he would end up on the Cross.

          • Your first point seems to be that it is impossible to believe in something that “violates the laws of physics.” Though I daresay an all-powerful God could convince you if He put His mind to it. He changed the Apostle Paul’s mind in a hurry, on the road to Damascus.

            Your second point is totally unconvincing to me. My wife would sacrifice her life in a heartbeat to save our children. (I’m a bit of a coward myself, but I have great faith in her.)

          • @Theophilus,

            What can be gained by believing that God committed suicide for us?
            What sort of God needs to do that? Why doesn’t that sound as crazy to you as it does to me?

          • God did not commit suicide. Do you understand commonly used terms? Suicide is when you kill yourself. Jesus was killed by other people.
            As to the logic of Jesus letting himself be killed by others, sure, it makes sense. I’m surprised that you don;t understand it. God needed to demonstrate to mankind what true love was. He wanted us to stop killing each other and live in peace. So he let his son undergo great suffering in order to show us that we should pour ourselves out for each other, just as he did for us. That there were no bounds to how much we should give for each other. Being God, he could have wiped the Romans out, but rather than do that, he just took it – for their sake, not his. It was a message we can understand. And, it is clear that is what humans understood by his sacrifice. He got his message across.

          • @GELBARTIN,

            “God didn’t commit suicide.”
            Oh Yes, He did.

            God became man to Save humanity from His own laws – That’s Jesus.
            God knew He had to die on the cross, it was the only way – That’s Crucifixion.

            God died exactly AS HE PLANNED. (GOD NEEDED INNOCENT* BLOOD TO BE SPILLED – SO HE SPILLED HIS OWN!)

            —-

            *What makes God’s blood innocent anyway? He commanded genocide, rape, slavery, deception and murder long before he forced Noah to have INCESTUOUS sexual relations with all his female relatives to restart the human race after the flood.

            Forcing Noah to have incest!? Jeeesh, God.
            Way to RID THE WORLD OF EVIL! :-D

          • There is nothing illogical about faith or the resurrection. Induction is logical, but it is not bullet-proof. Deductions are logical, although they cannot always be shown evidentially beyond the deduction. Evidence can support a conclusion without actually proving it with any certainty. These are all prospects for faith. Something can be false and still be logical.

            The resurrection is illogical. You can say it is unlikely, even irrational, but there’s nothing illogical about it under any rule or law of logic. It is, therefore, at least conceptually possible.

            I think a better term, rather than suicide, is martyrdom. Sacrifice is good too. Martyrdom is to die for a cause, by or against one’s will. Sacrifice is to give up one’s life for a greater good or purpose. Suicide is simply the taking of one’s life. Christ died willfully, but not at his own hands, at least not directly, though perhaps indirectly.

            God dying on a cross for sins is, indeed, a stretch of the imagination. Even the Bible admits this through St. Paul. The thing is, we don’t believe it in a vacuum. Beliefs are like jinga blocks that build on top of each other. At the bottom are more essential, foundational, more grounded beliefs and we work our way up to something like God incarnate dying for sin, epistemologically speaking anyway. Is it a belief? Sure, but I think it’s a perfectly reasonable belief given the full scope of the Christian intellectual tradition.

      • Some faith – faith that teaches you to love and be kind, like Christianity does, is better than a faith that tells you to kill thousands of people. Not to mention that Al Qaeda is a small offshoot of nuts with whom enormous numbers of Muslims disagree.

        • @GELBERTIN,

          RIDICULOUS NONSENSE.

          Christianity tells you to kill. Jesus specifically calls for it.
          You just decide to cherry pick!

          “BRING to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

          JESUS SAYS KILLING IS A NECESSARY PART OF THE FAITH.

          “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” (Matthew 10:21)

          “Jesus said…’Except they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death.” (Rev. 1:22)

          “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4-7, Jesus is scolding the Pharisees for not carrying out God’s laws and for being hypocrites.)

          Though Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world – he is very interested in ruling this one – with the power over life and death!

        • Christianity is about division and hatreds for all ‘out groups.
          Love and acceptance is only welcome for the ‘in group’.

          Those who resist are to be shamed or killed.

          Christianity functions exactly like all the other religions in the world.
          Infidels are the out group – and every religion agrees that it would be nice if they were all dead.

  9. From a historical perspective about all we can say is that the disciples experienced Jesus alive. The appearance stories in the Gospels are clearly late developing stories designed primarily to convey spiritual and theological teaching.

    Theologically, I believe the resurrection functioned to vindicate Jesus – all that he stood for and lived and died for. Belief in resurrection emerged late in Judaism in a context of oppression and persecution. Conventional wisdom no longer worked. Belief in resurrection emerged as a way of putting things right. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that the God who raised Jesus (Jesus didn’t raise himself) would make things right and the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed and embodied is worth devoting our lives to.

    I also believe that it reveals that the power of God that was present in Jesus to heal and liberate is still loose in the world and that ultimately the death dealing and life diminishing forces of the worlds domination systems will not have the final word. The power of love and redemptive justive will ultimately prevail.

  10. Jonathan J. Turner

    For the seeds of doubt about the resurrection, look no further than the gospel story itself, and the reports of the first responders. In a sermon-like letter to Quakers’ women’s meetings (letter no. 320, from 1676), Quaker founder George Fox described the ironic circumstance:

    “Now here you may see it was Mary, and Joanna,
    and Mary the mother of James,
    and the other women that were with them,
    who declared the resurrection of Christ unto the eleven,
    which seemed but as idle tales to the apostles.”

    If you read Josephus’s “The Jewish Wars” you will get a feeling for what the political situation was in Palestine for the 100 years up to 66 A.D.: the occupation by the Roman authorities, the Jewish rulers, the Greeks and Jews in the population, the Jewish Zealots, the various histories of wrongs and corruptions, the Zealot’s unyielding militant opposition to the Romans, and the reluctant but overwhelming Roman military effort which eventually defeats the Zealots, razing the temple in Jerusalem, and dispersing the Jews.

    There is virtually no sign of Jesus nor his followers in the pages of Josephus; yet if one is to imagine the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John taking place somewhere within his historical landscape, it’s kind of even more amazing that Christianity, and its ideas–forgiveness, rebirth, and the light of Christ–survived to emerge out of this social chaos. A miracle and a mystery then and today, no doubt.

    • @Jonathan,

      If Jesus rose from the dead, so what?
      Even if it happened that doesn’t mean that what he said is true or that he was all-knowing God.

      Jesus endorsed this:
      “The slave will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. ‘But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48)

      Is it true that “much is given” to a slave? THEY ARE NOT PAID!

      Isn’t it more true that the giver is the slave HIMSELF who earns no money and is handed whatever his master chooses !?

      Is it not strange the Jesus at no time says “Slaves, run to freedom” or “I curse the slave owners”?

      I’m quite sure the Resurrection is fiction. But even if it were true, it would not render Jesus’ position on slavery to be morally correct!

        • @Edward,

          I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. It didn’t happen.

          But EVEN if He did – what would it prove?
          Would it prove that the Bible is correct about all the other claims too…

          That genocide is a good solution to many problems? (Exodus 21:21)

          That selling your daughter for sex is a good thing? (Exodus 21:7)

          That Jesus was right to defend the stoning laws? (John 7:9)

          That we should OWN slaves? (Lev 25: 44)

          That raping a woman is a good way to punish her husband? (2 Samuel 12:11)

          That Leviticus is correct that bats are really BIRDS? (Leviticus 11:13-19)

          The Bible is nonsense
          whether Jesus rose from the dead or not.

          Now THAT is something you should think about.

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            I wouldn’t begin to suggest that you believe Jesus rose from the dead; but to aver that if such an event did take place, it would prove nothing; that is what I find amazing, since such an event has to be regarded as miraculous. As for God committing ‘suicide,’ Jesus as the perfect Son of God, sinless, made the perfect sacrifice required by a holy and just God to make a propitiation for our sins. Of course you know all this, you simply reject it.

          • @Edward,
            I don’t reject Jesus. I simply find it unbelievable. After 44 years I finally gave it thought and it made no sense at all.
            God ‘committed suicide’ according to Christians.
            God IS Jesus, Jesus IS God so Jesus became man – to die.
            For what? to SAVE humanity from His own rules!?
            It makes no sense. It is a confounding theory and it seems people feel a very emotional pull to this theory – but it still makes no sense.

          • You misunderstanding of every single verse you sited is clear. You know no context to the Jews in the Old Testament who were in the Desert. Let us start with your first misrepresentation:

            ‘That genocide is a good solution to many problems? (Exodus 21:21)’
            You missed these:

            “Exo 21:20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
            Exo 21:21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. Exo 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
            Exo 21:23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

            every single one of those things deserves remorse and a penalty…including eye for eye and tooth for tooth and hand for hand and foot for foot…burning for burning, wound for wound stripe for stripe. those are all things…under the law… that are recompense for misbehavior.

            And then your other misrepresentations:

            ‘That selling your daughter for sex is a good thing? (Exodus 21:7)”

            Actually it says: Exodus 21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

            “That Jesus was right to defend the stoning laws? (John 7:9) ”
            Remember he came to fulfill the laws and promises to the jews.
            This verse also does not mention stoning at ALL…here is what it sites:
            Joh 7:9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
            And he was talking about going to the feast.

            ‘That we should OWN slaves? (Lev 25: 44)”
            Actually he was talking only about JEWS buying slaves from the gentiles who were SELLING THEM (all without any concern for God)
            “Lev 25:44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. ‘
            See? Heathen are selling. Do you get it? Bet not.

            ‘That raping a woman is a good way to punish her husband? (2 Samuel 12:11)’
            The Lord is punishing DAVID, for the thing that DAVID did to Uriah, whom he had killed, as shown here; “2Sa 12:7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
            2Sa 12:8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
            2Sa 12:9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
            2Sa 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
            2Sa 12:11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
            2Sa 12:12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
            2Sa 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

          • @Paul Ross,

            I’m glad you looked all of that up.
            And you confirmed every bit of what I pointed out:

            God loves slavery and commanded it of his people (that would be YOU – not ‘the Israelites)
            God loves rape and commanded it as punishment (do as the Lord does)
            God agrees with selling your daughter for sex or any other thing the master commands (that is what a slave is; property)
            Jesus agrees with all of it because he is the great VALIDATOR – the proof that God is real.

            Thanks for playing. God, if he exists, is awful.

      • “If Jesus rose from the dead, so what?”

        This is an interesting question in that it works back a bit towards fundamentals. My question for you: “If you were convinced that the God of the Old and New Testaments were real and that the Scriptures truly contained His communication to mankind, what would you do?”

        It isn’t necessarily obvious. It’s entirely possible that you could still rebel against God, as Lucifer did. You might well say, “He may really be God, but he doesn’t even live up to MY humanist standards of morality. He perhaps has the power to do what he wants, but I’m not going to worship him.” Or you might say, “I always wanted to believe in a God — albeit one a bit different than the Christian God — and I’m glad to know He does exist.”

        • @Theophilus,

          You asked, “If you were convinced that the God of the Old and New Testaments were real and that the Scriptures truly contained His communication to mankind, what would you do?”

          I would worship God and follow Jesus. No doubt about it.
          I was a Christian for 44 years because I did believe.

          But if FAITH WITHOUT EVIDENCE is the only argument one has, then one must allow Muslims to have ‘faith’ in Al Queda and Hezbollah

          And Zionists are right to have faith in seizing land from Palestinians as Yahweh instructed.

          And Barbarians are right to have faith in throwing virgins into volcanos.

          ‘Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – (John 20:29)

          No.
          Faith is not an argument. Faith is an unfair request from God. If God exists He MUST know this.

          Faith is gullibility – to embrace a world of conflicting religions
          and throwing away the one tool we have to keep ourselves sane.

          • Somehow I was not expecting a sincere and thoughtful answer. Thank you.

            True freedom of religion is problematic. We say we have freedom of religion here in the US, but it has only (generally) worked because the predominant religion (Christianity) has norms which comport well with what most people think is reasonable. The fights over gay marriage and abortion show that that historical alignment is breaking down. Any religion that were to promote child sacrifice or the killing of infidels would — I hope — result in suitable restrictions on religious freedom in this country.

          • @Theophilus,

            Regardless of what the law allows regarding religious practices, what about the larger question you brought up about ‘faith’? How does one determine which religion is true?

            If it all comes down to Faith doesn’t that validate every religion on earth? All 40,000 of them?

            Or isn’t it more honest to ponder this:
            Either all of them are true – unlikely since they conflict.
            One of them is true – but which one?
            or None of them is true – most likely.

            What are the chances that you were born with the correct faith?
            What is the benefit of that possibility if you can’t confirm it?

          • If you considered yourself a Christian for 40-odd years you must have at least believed at some time that it was not mere belief that saved. On must place his weight on something solid. Belief in Santa Claus does not save, belief in the goodness of the universe does not save. The essence of saving faith is trust in the one true God of the universe.

            John Owen has been very helpful for me in understanding the nature faith, and specifically, how we get it. In a nutshell: The Holy Spirit reveals to us that the Scriptures are the Word of God. From the perspective of the non-believer that is like saying that airplanes fly because angels hold up the wings. I know. All I can say is that God is not in the business of proving His existence to anyone. What He wants is a trust which is ultimately a gift from Himself and which not everyone will have.

          • @Theophilus,

            Yes. I believed I was saved from Hell. Love of Jesus does that to you.

            We are told a bundle of things about Jesus.
            He is God, He is all-knowing, is omni-present, intercedes, always answers prayers with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ or a ‘not yet’, He sees our pain, He came down from Heaven, He will return…..etc.

            But if He is God, and if He became a man to Save us, isn’t it fair to ask what it is He is Saving us from?

            According to the Bible we are all on a conveyor belt to Hell from the moment we are born (original sin) so we are doomed and it is made clear that this giving of ‘free will’ was always God’s plan in Genesis.

            Our only hope for SALVATION then is to grab hold of Jesus and proclaim our love for him.
            If we don’t – Hell awaits us.

            But Jesus operates the conveyor belt! Why didn’t Jesus just turn it off?

            Turning Himself into a man, getting himself killed on a cross, rising from the dead, and then leaving behind conflicting messages all seems like a lot more work – especially since it isn’t working very well. Most of the world is still not Christian.

            There is something very wrong here.

          • One of the most difficult things for me to accept as a Christian is the notion that there is a hell. How could it not be? How can it be right for God to do something to His creatures that it would be wrong for me to do — even if I could? How in the grand scheme of things can it better for even one person to go to hell?

            The only answer I can find — and it too is difficult to accept — is in Romans 9. There Paul seems to be saying that if God saved everyone, the saved would not sufficiently value the salvation they had received, and God’s glory would be diminished.

          • Faith is belief. How do you feel when everyone disbelieves you?

            And there is vast “evidence” of the truth in scripture.unlike every other religious claims and books.

            Look at the immense number of prophecies that were listed. notice the continuing existence of the Jews…2,000 years after the destruction of their nation and dispersion in all the gentile world. And as prophecied now, with the end times coming, the resurrection of Israel…

            Name any other situation analogous to these. You can’t.

            And then look at the prophecies regarding the Messiah… over 600 for Jesus Christ, of which he already had fulfilled many.

            The salvation by faith for us gentiles, and also for Jews in the age of Grace, is laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

            1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
            1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
            1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
            1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

            So a big chunk of the prophecies (at least 324: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Miscellaneous/messianic_prophecies.htm) were fullfilled. Some remain …which pertain to the end times. But that causes atheists to fear that even more. Because they know their refusal to believe does mean their final eviction from Heavan and placement in the Lake of Fire with their buddy….Satan…for eternity.

            Salvation by faith is trust, hope and love. So you don’t like any of those? You want evidence? The jews were given massive evidence of the Messiah….but they had him crucified because they refused to believe. They rejected the miracles proven in front of them, and called it satanic. You need to revisit the evidence you have skipped over….and misunderstood. And keep in mind, there was a change of program when God turned to us gentiles…and none of the dictates in the old testament are requirements for salvation. Jesus gives us a free gift ….if we truly believe in our hearts.

            Think about how you would want people in your presence …for eternity…? Do you want to have rebellious enemies of yourself?

          • @Paul Ross,

            “Faith is belief” – yes – FAITH is belief WITHOUT EVIDENCE.
            Believing Jesus rose from the dead must be taken on faith because there is no reason to believe it otherwise.

            Believing your computer works is NOT faith – because you have EVIDENCE to support it – your computer is in front of you.

            So. Then…what is wrong with Muslim Faith?
            Muslims have NO EVIDENCE (just like you) and can only take their belief in Mohammed on faith.

            Do not describe Islam again. We both agree that it is ridiculous and the ridiculousness of something is clearly not relevant to FAITH.

            Why is Al Qeuda wrong to have FAITH in Islam?
            If it is OKAY for you to have faith in the resurrection of a dead man?

          • the apostle Paul was given a mystery that you don’t recognize:

            Phillipians_3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

            And also his letter to the Galations:

            Gal_2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
            Gal_3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
            Gal_3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
            Gal_3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
            Gal_3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
            Gal_3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
            Gal_3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
            Gal_3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
            Gal_3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
            Gal_3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
            Gal_3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
            Gal_3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
            Gal_3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
            Gal_4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
            Gal_4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
            Gal_4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
            Gal_5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
            Gal_5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

      • Are you trying to misinterpret everything? What nonsense. Your level of misunderstanding is mountainous.
        First of all Jesus is talking figuratively again. Read all of Luke 19, He is talking to the apostles and comparing them to servants. In his little story he is making a point about how servants should act, and the apostles are supposed to get the idea.
        Secondly,
        You will see that he not talking about how to treat slaves. The problem with the word “slaves” is that it means both “servant” and “slave” in the bible, since there was just one word in Greek for both concepts. Most bibles translate that word as servant, since that makes sense in context. And servants do get paid, that is why he talks about servants getting paid.
        Here”
        In antiquity, slavery was often very different than the slavery we think about in the south. Often, people elected to become “slaves” (servants) , simply as a way to get a job in a time of great want. Sometimes they were captured in war and rather than kill them, it was encouraged that the victors turn them into slaves, that way they would at least live. Note that the bible does include many injunctions that at all times slaves are to be treated well in all contexts, and it even says that everyone is equal, slave or free, man or woman.

        • 41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

          42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

          47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

        • @Gelbartin,

          1. “the apostles are supposed to get the idea.” YES – they are to understand what will happen to those who do not accept Jesus as their King. Those people will be executed.

          2. Your understanding of slavery in the Bible is completely wrong.
          The Bibles commands slavery, recommends it elsewhere and decrees the physical punishments.

          “you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also the children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a PERMANENT INHERITANCE. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

          JESUS SAID, “The slave shall be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.” (Luke 12:47)

          The Lord said, “if the
 servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to 
go free,’ then his master must take him…to the door or the door post
 and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant FOR LIFE.” (EXODUS, 21:5)

          GOD’S RULES FOR SEX SLAVES:
          God’s commandment for selling your daughters as Slaves…
          “When a man sells his daughter 
as a slave, SHE WILL NOT BE FREED at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be
 bought back again.” (Exodus 21:7)

          God commands A METHOD for certain adult slaves to be made into “permanent” property:

          As you know, Exodus 20 involves the Commandments.
          Immediately following is
          Exodus 21
          WHICH COMMANDS METHODS OF PERMANENT SLAVERY.

          Additionally,
The 600 stoning laws throughout Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are not explicitly “commandments” but are themselves enforced.

          Since the penalty of disobeying the stoning laws was death – as such, they are ‘commandments’ by another name.

          YOU ARE WILLFULLY DENYING THE TRUTH ABOUT SLAVERY AND GOD’S LOVE OF SLAVERY.

          • You are willfully missing that the slavery which was from the Heathans, and god was having the Jews respond with grace. As for stoning, he was setting the Jews aside to be lawful, and the Caananites were highly wicked, hence the law regarding stoning. Which is now gone. As the promises of the Kingdom to the Jews (the Kingdom of Priests) is on hold during this age. And all those laws were put on the cross with Jesus as well…if we only believe what he did for all our sins. We are under grace.

            Over and over in all of Paul’s epistles, such as his letter to Ephesus:
            Eph_2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
            Eph_3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
            Eph_3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
            Eph_4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
            Eph_4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
            Eph_6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
            Eph_6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

            As over and over in Romans:
            Rom_1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
            Rom_3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
            Rom_3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
            Rom_3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
            Rom_3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
            Rom_3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

            Galations also:

            Gal_2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
            Gal_2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
            Gal_3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
            Gal_3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

            Gal_3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
            Gal_3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
            Gal_3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
            Gal_3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
            Gal_3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
            Gal_3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
            Gal_5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
            Gal_5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
            Gal_5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

          • NO, NO, NO PAUL ROSS !

            How would you feel if your father were branded as permanent property by an Israelite? This is God’s grace?

            THE LORD COMMANDS, MAKE YOUR SLAVES INTO PERMANENT PROPERTY BY BRANDING
            The Lord said, “if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him…to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” (EXODUS 21:5)

            How would you feel if your father and mother were seized simply because they lived nearby and happened not to be Jews? This is God’s grace?

            “You shall purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also the children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children AS A PERMANENT inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this…” (Leviticus 25:44-46)

            The willful ignorance is completely yours!

        • @GELBERTIN,

          After you wallow in my ‘mountainous’ ignorance of the Bible…

          You may want to ponder:

          Why the Bible calls ‘Bats’ a kind of ‘Bird’?*

          Or why God loves the smell of burning goat flesh?**

          Why have we inherited original sin FROM ADAM AND EVE when Deuteronomy clearly states that this is impossible?***

          —–
          :-) “Then burn the entire goat on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma…”
          (Exodus 29:18)

          :-) :-) “These are the BIRDS you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, any kind of heron…THE BAT..” – (Leviticus 11:13-19)

          :-) :-) :-) “Parents are not to be put to death for their children’s sins, nor children put to death for their parents sins; each will die for their own sin” – (Deut. 24:16)

  11. To deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus is to deny the clear and unequivocal claim of the biblical writers, who claimed to have handled seen Jesus’ risen body with their eyes, handled Him with their hands, heard His voice with their ears, for a period of forty days after His resurrection, until He was taken from them out of their sight. . If all this is to be interpreted “spiritually,” what about the part of Him being taken out of their sight after forty days– does that mean they lost a spiritual vision of Him in their hearts after “seeing” Him for a brief period? Clearly, these so called theologians who deny the resurrection are nothing but deceitful liars and wolves in sheep clothing who assert those things which they know to be contrary to the biblical authors’ intent. They are simply servants of Satan masquerading as servants of God. You cannot be a Christian and deny the clear testimony of the apostolic writers to the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Anyone who thinks you can is deeply deceived.

    • Haven’t you ever read a work of fiction before? Do you believe everything that you read even if defies science and common sense? Why do people suspend their intelligence when reading only this book? It’s truly a mystery!

  12. Why do Left wing religious web sites like this one always name themselves as something neutral? This site is not a “Religious News Service”. It is a highly liberal religious web site. I suppose they are afraid to make their views known in their name because people will quickly ignore them, so they have to trick people into reading their site.
    Same with the National Catholic Reporter. That sounds official, but it is the left wing rejects from the Catholic church, and it pretty much opposes everything ‘Cathollc

    • Jonathan J. Turner

      There does seem to be a question of integrity of religious journalism, and here’s a little postscript addressing the problem from RNS itself–a question and answer from the RNS/Newseum panel discussion on April 9, featured currently on the RNS main page. The full video is on YouTube at:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKH4TiyJ0Sc#t=1922 (total length=1:40:13)

      After an hour and a half discussion among leading religion journalists (who often seem incredulous that so many people in the world take religion seriously), one final audience question (beginning at 1:28:25) on journalists’ moral responsibility for religious literacy, elicits this exchange between the moderator (Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett) and one of the panelists (Johannes Langkilde):

      Q: That’s a really really deep question. I wish I’d had you prepare my questions, ’cause that’s an excellent one. Why don’t we take the moral responsibility to raise religious literacy first, and then the issue of whether or not in the American model we are actually secularizing God? Anybody want to take a crack at your moral responsibility as journalists to not only report but to actually educate–educate your readers educate the broad public, and raise the level of literacy. And to what extent, Johannes, does that process of education begin to compromise that vaunted objectivity, that sort of neutrality you talked about? So–anyone who would like to jump in on that?

      A: Well, very briefly, I would say that as journalists we have a personal responsibility of educating people about everything–when it comes to political matters, culture, whatever, but especially of course politics. That’s what we do every day, we educate people for them to take–to be able to go and vote, and without education they wouldn’t be able to go and vote, so I would say every day we are educating our readers about politics, and when it comes to religion, of course, that’s also what we do and we have a responsibility to be very accurate, in whatever–what we do, and…

      Q: I’d like to jump in–and this would probably be a more relevant spin-off of the gentleman from Galludet’s question if these were all American journalists, but it’s been pretty widely noted–I think there’s some studies to back it up–that by overwhelming majorities, journalists in American newsrooms are overwhelmingly entirely secular, and have not only no knowledge of nor interest in, but often relatively little connection to, or sense of respect, for religion. To what extent, I wonder, does that undermine their ability to serve that educating function? To actually bring, you know, not just facts, but a sense of enlightenment to a topic? And I think you may have a similar situation in Denmark, where the majority of the people engaged in your craft are themselves deeply secular? And do you think that that does impact on your ability to do effective reporting?

      A: Not necessarily, because as a journalist you have to be able to report on all subjects without being an actual expert. [laughter]

      Q: The Truth comes out! [laughter and commotion]

      There’s more to witness, but that’s all I’m transcribing–go watch it!

  13. If you believe that Christ is divine as well as man, then what is so hard about believing in a bodily resurection? Now if you don’t belive in God at all, then I understand. But if you believe in God and consider yourself a Christian, then I have to question whether you really believe if you don’t believe in the resurection. Who are you to question what happened two thousand years ago. The disciples claimed Christ visited them after His death. Are you calling them liars?

      • I’m no expert on Islam and I doubt you are as well, but from what I understand Mohammed physically died and was buried. There is no mention of rising to heaven on a horse here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad#Death_and_tomb

        You might be reiterating folklore. Even if it was claimed in the Koran – which it can’t because Mohammed wrote the Koran and he couldn’t have wrote his own death – that he rose on a horse then it becomes a question of belief.

        I’m not asking you to believe Christ rose from the dead. That’s your belief. But the question was can you be a Christian and not bvelieve in Christ rising from the dead, I would say the answer is no.

        • @Manny,

          You are free to believe what you want. But my problem is I am told I MUST believe it – or else.

          I am told these things are not optional; I MUST believe in the resurrection of Jesus or I have chosen to be EVIL and I deserve death as a non-believer.

          Christianity does not give you the option of saying – “I’m good without this.”
          That is why religion is poison. You are not allowed to think for yourself.

  14. Liberal “Christians” have been trying to get away with this for almost 200 years, and it’s just as ridiculous today as it was when German “higher” critics were trying to debunk the Bible back in the 19th Century. The resurrection is an historical fact and the whole of the Christian faith stands it, period. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

  15. There’s a difference between doubting the resurrection and denying the resurrection—but not much if you claim to be a Christian. Substituting words like “doubting” or “questioning” for the more straightforward and honest “denying” is a disingenuous attempt at giving the impression of open-mindedness, when in fact we know that the mind of folks like Spong and those who follow him were closed before they really considered the subject.

    According to Apostle Paul, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile,” (1 Cor. 15:17). So it would seem that Paul is to be counted among those poor, misguided literalists who deny that the resurrection can be reduced to a metaphor about new beginnings or some such trite cliché and actually go so far as to make belief in Christ’s resurrection a litmus test for what it means to be a Christian.

    If that’s the case (and I believe it is), then so-called liberal Christianity is not really Christianity at all, but a completely different religion altogether.

  16. The short answer is no. Not unless we are redefining terms. Spong’s interpretation is shamefully revisionist.

    I Peter 1:16-21

    16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

    No one can be forced to believe, but no one should pretend that they can say they are an honest scholar or correctly reading/interpreting the Bible if they say that the Bible does not clearly teach a physical resurrection, actual miracles, and a future, physical return of Christ; nor can anyone credibly say “it’s all myth.” Peter just said above that myth is not what they intend to convey, but what they had actually witnessed.

  1. […] Can you question the Resurrection and still be a Christian? (religionnews.com) Did Jesus literally rise from the dead in a bodily resurrection, as many traditionalist and conservative Christians believe? Or was his rising a symbolic one, a restoration of his spirit of love and compassion to the world, as members of some more liberal brands of Christianity hold? […]

  2. […] “On the third day, he rose again.” That line, from the Nicene Creed, is the foundational statement of Christian belief. It declares that three days after Jesus died on the cross, he was resurrected, a glimmer of the eternal life promised to believers. It’s the heart of the Easter story in seven little words. But how that statement is interpreted is the source of some of the deepest rifts in Christianity — and a stumbling block for some Christians and more than a few skeptics. Did Jesus literally rise from the dead in a bodily resurrection, as many traditionalist and conservative Christians believe? Or was his rising a symbolic one, a restoration of his spirit of love and compassion to the world, as members of some more liberal brands of Christianity hold? [Read more] […]

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