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The Resurrection of Christ: Hoax or History? Part 1 of 4

Written on Thursday, April 21, 2011 by

three crosses

The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that “…if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” He continues this thought in verse 19 stating, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable.” (1599 Geneva Bible)

The person and deity of Christ have been under intense scrutiny in the last few years. There was Brian Fleming’s DVD documentary,The God Who Wasn’t There, which denied that Christ ever existed. Then there was Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, presenting Christ to be a mere man who married Mary of Magdalene and had children. Most recently there was James Cameron’s book and documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which claimed the discovery of the tomb that held the remains of Jesus.

Ironically, most “enlightened” and skeptical scholars disagree with the conclusions of Brian Fleming, Dan Brown, and James Cameron. That’s because they are convinced that Christ never rose from the dead—and in their minds that’s enough to bury Christianity. If the skeptic can prove that Jesus’ life ended in the cold dark tomb, then Christianity is truly dead. The Gospel has no real power and there is no hope of eternal life. Have the skeptics been successful in proving that the resurrection is a hoax? Or, is Jesus’ triumph over the grave a confirmed fact of history?

In his book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell states:

Jesus has three basic credentials: (1) The impact of His life upon history; (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life; and (3) His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me: “Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?” I answered: “For a very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Each Friday, beginning today and ending on Good Friday, I will be presenting the Scriptural and historical support for the most important event in history—the resurrection of Christ. Together, we will analyze and refute the major arguments against the resurrection. We will also consider that, in light of all the evidence, the Resurrection is the most reasonable explanation of all of the facts.

Before I go much further, however, it is important to clarify that we believe in the Resurrection of Christ because the Bible says it happened. Facts do not interpret themselves. With the presuppositional truth of Scripture, we can look at the facts and draw rational and compelling conclusions. The inspiration and material for this 4-part series is drawn greatly from the work of Josh McDowell. Here’s the outline we will follow:

  • Part 1 (April 21): Introduction and Scriptural account
  • Part 2 (April 22): Refuting poorly constructed theories concocted to explain away the resurrection
    • The Theft Theory (The Jews or Romans stole the body)
    • The Wrong Tomb Theory
    • The Legend Theory
  • Part 3 (April 23): Refuting poorly constructed theories concocted to explain away the resurrection continued…
    • The Swoon Theory (Jesus never actually died and was simply resuscitated.)
    • The Hallucination Theory (The people who claimed to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection simply had hallucinations.)
    • The “Contradictory Gospel Accounts” Theory
  • Part 4 (April 24): How the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Changed the World

As we conclude part 1, I encourage you to read the Scriptural account below from Matthew 28:1-11 (1599 Geneva Bible). See also Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21):

Now in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers were astonied, and became as dead men. But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified: He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid, And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid. Go, and tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were gone, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the high Priests all the things that were done.

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  • dj

    Anyone who denies that the Bible is not true and Christ is not Gods son has never sat down and read the book thru and ask God to show them the trues in it. They have a closed mind and dont want to know the true. God will show anyone who is willing to read and listen to the words the truth. It will be to late for them when they die. I once didnt believe thank God I found the truth.

    • Dave

      To me, being Christian is trying to live my life the way Christ taught us to. Nothing else matters.

    • Mary

      Yes, DJ, the Bible is the truest book I’ve ever read. Certainly, it is God-inspired. If a person believes in God, in what God is, certainly cannot doubt that God could send a Son who would rise from the dead. Since He was God, is it so outrageous? Of course not!

  • The Enemy

    The scoffers are increasing in numbers and intensity now that the end of time is getting so close. The risen Jesus was seen by more than 500 people, including the “doubting” Thomas.

    Try as they might, the scoffers will never disprove the Bible because it proves itself in fulfilled prophecy.

    • Nancy Miller

      My reply to the non believers always is the same…”Are you willing to take the chance that you are wrong??”

      In regard to proof, that is what the meaning of faith is.

    • Gary Purcell

      I Nancy, would much rather go through life believing there is a Christ and at the end find out there was not, than to go through life believing there isn’t and find out in the end that there is>>>>>Amen??

    • TooToo

      Nancy and Dave, read about Blaise Pascal and his “wager.” He was a scholar, mathemetician and scientist from the mid-1600s and he was willing to “bet” on the reality of Jesus Christ. To believe is to gain everything, to not believe and find out there is something is disastrous!! This is from a “scientist” – WOW!!

    • Dave

      I didn’t say I don’t believe. I just think all the religious ritual and things like the resurrection are irrelevent.

      Mathew 6:5 & 6:6
      And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

      But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    • BobbiSue

      But Dave, without the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ, He would have died in vain… and then where would we have been?

    • Dave

      I don’t think the end times will come for at least a million years.

    • Katie Dolph

      Wow Dave, are you in for a great surprise!!!

    • PD

      You might be right but, just in case, be ready today.

    • Apache6

      How about the FACT that LAST DAYS PROPHECY’S are being fulfilled before OUR very EYES,AMEN!!!

    • Dave

      Like what?

    • Are you Serious

      You’re so dumb you can’t figure it out for yourself? Can you tie your own shoes?

    • Serge Popper

      Your discussion is fascinating and timeless, at least in the era of Christianity. Faith allows one to make facts out of myths. Then those myth/facts gain the stature of reality, to those who choose to accept the symbiosis.
      I agree, faith is an extremely important aspect of holding the human race in check/control/on the come. The motivating factor of faith is fear; the fear of going to hell. Those who want to hedge the bet of their lives accept faith. Those who reject basing their lives on faith are just simply different.


    It’s called FAITH for a very good reason.
    Believe it or face the consequences, maybe.
    And, it costs nothing to believe, but to try your best to be a good human being. Not exactly an incredible price to pay.

    • Woolfy

      Te Deum…
      There is no small price. It costs nothing to be a Christian. Christ’s death on the cross paid our price.
      And believing is not enough. Even the Devil “believes” God and Jesus…and Satan will not be in heaven.
      It takes the confessing of your sins, the asking for forgiveness and the consciuos invitation for Christ to live in your life.
      If your comments were simply showing that it is simple to be a faith believer, I applaud you for sharing. If you think only “believeing” God and Jesus will get you in heaven…then I trust you will take the next step and join us in heaven.

    • Apache6

      HE died for US,and if it comes down to IT,I will do NO LESS for HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Apache6

      P.S.If ya think about it,WE may not be HERE for the 2012 elections (RAPTURE)! FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!

    • Wild Bill

      So, I ask you Mister Woolfy, what about one who believed, asked God to forgive him for his sins, then committed another tiny little sin just before he dies, will he go to Heaven? John 3:16 says in Jesus’ own words, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (BELIEVETH) in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He said nothing about forgiveness of your sins. Of course Satan believes in God and Jesus because he is a fallen angel and has seen both. Satan who was an angel, not at earthly person, does not need to have faith that they are real, because he has seen Them and suffered the rath of God personally. Those that are waiting to see Him personally before they believe will have waited too long and too late. Please don’t make salvation tougher than it is. You can’t fool God with saying you believe and really don’t, because He will know!

    • American with a birth certificate…

      Very,Very well said Woolfy—-see you in heaven….I hope i see everyone who reads this in heaven.Forever is a long time for those who refuse to believe. God bless America.——

  • GLJ

    I believe Christ is risen from the dead not only because it is written, however because “I know him!”, as do cristians around the globe!

    • Apache6

      THE SHROUD of TURIN,IS WHAT IT SAYS IT IS,PROOF!! Isn’t it like GOD to leave proof of the ONE MIRACLE that wasn’t SEEN!!!

  • Nancy Miller

    I had the Geneva Bible added to my Kindle. It is so nice to have it at hand whenever I want it.

    • Woolfy

      Nancy…where did you find the Geneva Bible for downloading?

  • Barb

    He is RISEN, I KNOW, read HIS WORD.

  • Ken

    The only reason this is happening is because the human society has aloud the devil to water down their faith. Over the years more and more young people are distracted from the true reason why they are on earth. Distractions like video games, internet, and entertainment of all kinds have become the religion of many. Church now seems to be voluntary. This is just as the scriptures had said would happen. Now we have people who actually want to erase God from all of history and present. This is why today in America we have such a divide between the liberals and the conservatives. Liberals have done more to destroy the moral core of America then and thing else has. That has happened because the liberal media has done nothing but put a wedge between loving God and those who choose to do so. Anything made now days by the media has to do with destruction of human kind and the earth, and they call this entertainment. How could anyone believe in God with all of the negative distraction that is all around us. There is a war on earth and you can recognize it or you can ignore it but you can’t get away from it, and the war is between the faith in God and his resurrection and the lies and distractions of the devil. Your chose is that there is only life on earth and you live your life that way or, you recognize that this life is a test of how much you love God and what to live your life for him so you can live forever with him. Living your life for God just makes you a good person, living your life for the devil only manages to make you happy for a very short time. Here on earth and in eternity.

    • Dave

      Jesus preached against war, violence, hatred and cruelty. These are not liberal values – liberals fight to preserve what Jesus taught.

    • Apache6

      READ the BIBLE,JESUS is NOT a pacifist,and neither am I!!

    • Dave

      Jesus’ “Sermon On The Mount” is the classic statement of Christian ethics, expressed by Jesus Himself, as written in the Bible.

      MATTHEW 5-7 (King James Bible Clarified New Testament)

      5:38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a
      tooth for a tooth:

      5:39 But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever shall
      smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

      5:40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat,
      let him have your cloak also.

      5:41 And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.

      5:42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you
      turn you not away.

      5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your
      neighbor, and hate your enemy.

      5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
      do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use
      you, and persecute you;

    • American with a birth certificate…

      And to think what the koran says is just the opposite. WOW…

    • Lyn

      Dave I have a good book for you (no, seriously) it’s called Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. Maybe you have read it but if not you really should, it is a best seller for a long time now. One of a kind.

    • Johnboy156

      Do you know what that proves Dave? That we all fail miserably. Did you happen to notice the last verse of chapter 5? It says,”Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your father in heaven is PERFECT.
      The Lord Jesus himself, was the only one who achieved the perfection required by God the Father: He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”(Heb.4:15KJV)
      The Lord through the scriptures, declared all mankind under sin: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”(Rom.3:10KJV) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”(Rom.3:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(Rom.6:23KJV)
      Men die lost, and go to Hell, because they reject God’s righteousness, and trust their own righteousness: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness”(Rom.10:3-4KJV)
      Unsaved men are children of the devil: Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.(John 8:44KJV)
      Therefore, Christ declared that we must be born again: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.(John 3:3,7KJV)
      “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”(Rev.20:15KJV)
      Dave, It’s either God’s way, or it’s Hell fire, Damnation, and Judgement! If you find anything liberal in that at all, then you fall under the typical sterotype, “blind liberal”. Good day

  • Am2sweet

    I believe that the atheists are taking over and trying to make the Christians not believe in the Bible or Christ. I choose to believe anyway and anyone who doesn’t I feel sorry for as they will at some point wish they had lived and believed differently. HE is watching all of us to see who will stand for him and who won’t.

    • Are you Serious

      In Florida , an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.

      The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer,
       the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”

       The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, How can you possibly
       dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom
      Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.”

      The  judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.
      The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.
      The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in
      his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is
       no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

      You gotta love a Judge that knows his scripture!

       This is too good not to share In GOD we trust!

  • Pixielou

    Did you hear BO talking about Christ and prayer recently? It sounded like he was choking when he said it. Anything to garner votes. He started going to “church” 20+ years ago when his handlers decided he was the one to destroy this country and got him into politics. Once he got into the White House he hasn’t seen the inside of a church, except for a brief period when people were commenting on him not being a Christian then he went a few times. Now that he’s on the campaign trail again (oh, that’s right, he never left it!) he’s not talking about his love of Christ and how much he prays. It made me sick to listen to it and his minions believe him.

    But we know He can see right through this Anti-christ. I haven’t decided if BO or George Soros, his handler, is the Anti-christ.

    • Dave

      Is that what a good Christian does? Criticize other people’s faith?

      God Bless you President Obama!

    • Anonymous

      Oh, puh-leeze! You BOTH make me want to vomit!

  • J R Williams

    Just take a look at two of the miracles that occured when Christ died. The three hours of total darkness during the middle of the day. It couldn’t have been an eclipse, they only last for minutes, it had to have been inspired by God. Another one was the tearing of the inner veil in the temple, directly down the middle exposing the holy of holys, meaning that Christ’s death removed the need for the inner holy place any more.

    • Apache6

      Don’t forget the EARTHQUAKE JR!!!

  • American with a birth certificate…

    Why is it so hard to believe the history about JESUS? We believe george washington was our first president and yet nine of us have ever known him or seen him yet we believe he was our first president because of history books. look up the history of JESUS CHRIST in the history books of the romans and not just the Bible and you will find many accounts of JESES going to the cross. Here in America when we were the greatest nation ever,we were founded on JESUS CHRIST,The Bible and the TEN Commandments. Now that we have kick JESUS out of schools and the rest of America we are falling on our face. If we pray and believe that JESUS is LORD and SAVIOR then he will through faith heal our land. The choice is yours. Forever is a long time to pay for a bad choice. You will either believe or you will fall with the devil and burn. Sorry,no time for candy coating.God Bless America(JESUS CHRIST) and may the Good LORD Bless us here in America once again….

    • Dave

      I don’t think there is mention of Jesus in any of the history books from the time. Is there a particular book you have read?

    • American with a birth certificate…

      Go on your computer and look up (history books on JESUS) and pick some.God Bless….

    • Katie Dolph

      Hum, the largest selling book of all time. The inspired word of God “The Bible”. The Bible has been the #1 seller, than any other book written. I don’t need any other book. All other books is just what someone has written.

    • chris

      Because there are documents signed by George Washington and portraits painted of him by known artists. There are no such items from the time of Christ to support he ever existed in the first place, and the bible published today contains stories about Christ written well after he supposedly died. Not one likeness of Christ from the time he was to have lived has ever been found anywhere. There are, however, likenesses in the form of paintings, statues, coins, tapestries, etc, with the images of other ancient peoples created during the times in which they lived, and we even have mummies of Pharoahs who predate Christ, but nothing on Christ himself. Why is that?

    • Katie Dolph

      There is a negative of Christ, it was imprinted by God on the Shroud of Turin. Wow, you should study before you laugh it off! Christ wasn’t a great pharoh with servants to do his bidding…like making a statues of him. But I know (by faith) that He did exist!

    • American with a birth certificate…

      The shroud and also look up roman history books on your computer. I can not make you believe in JESUS CHRIST but if you want to become a muslim you can call the white house and ask to talk to the kenya man himself,barry,he can help. As far as pictures of george washington,there are pictures of JESUS as well. If you went to israel or rome or the middle east there are many things about CHRIST. Even the muslim book the koran says JESUS CHRIST was sinless. Your choice though. I hope you make the right one… God Bless America…

  • sean murrey

    if iam wrong isnt said in thebible that when people say there is no god then we are on the edge of end of the world.

    • BobbiSue

      Sean, here is what I found about that ob Blue Letter Bible online. It is free to use. I’m not sure exactly what else is said but in some way I think you are correct. Either way, we can look at all the sins that have become common place aka legal…. Homosexuality, same sex marriages, etc…. and we know that we are NOW in the latter days.***Psa 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God . They are corrupt, they have done abominable works , there is none that doeth good 2896.
      Psa 53:1 The fool 5036 hath said in his heart 3820, There is no God . Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity : there is none that doeth good.

  • Wimbly J Hankins

    All the effort to convince unbelievers that the resurrection really happened is futile. They will not believe because they don’t want to believe, and this is because they want to be free to live in their sins as they please and not have to answer to anyone. Read the third chapter of 2 Peter and you will see that Peter knew by revelation that this would be the attitude in the end of this age.

    • American with a birth certificate…

      Well said and to the true point. Thank you..Jesus loves everyone even if they do not love him….

  • BobbiSue

    AMEN to all who KNOW Christ died on the Cross and was resurrected. Anyone who thinks differently, had better start reading the KJV Bible esp. the first four Gospels… Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well and Revelations! Otherwise, some may end up having a bad surprise waiting for the,….IT is called HELL!

  • Andy in Fremont NE

    I am living proff there is a God. I lived in South Africa 8ears ago. 1 out of a 1000 survive a highjacking. You are shoot. It is too long to tellabout it. I didn’t live buy the 10 comandments befor. When it happened I was at peace, not scared or frightened. I survived. God gave me my life back. I also had rectal cancer and now I am clean. All this has changed my life and I am so grateful to GOD for giving me my life back. And there is NO-ONE can frove to me there is no God

    • Lyn

      Thank God for the wonderful miracles He has done for you! He is the Great I AM and He takes good care of His children (us)! Praise His name!

  • Lyn

    God does not need man to prove He exists neither does He need anything physical from the natural world, though all creation exists because of Him.
    No, listen to the words of Jesus himself in the Bible (KJV) John 16: 7- 13 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away , the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement; Of sin, because they believe not on me, of righteousness because I go to my Father and ye see me no more. Of judgement because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall speak; that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come.”
    1. First Jesus himself says he is going away (to the Father)
    2. When he goes he is sending the Conmforter which is the Holy Spirit of God and the Spirit of Truth.
    3.And when the Holy Spirit comes he has a job to do, that is conviction of sin and convincing every man of the Truth.
    4. He will guide you into all Truth and he will show you things to come.
    The Holy Spirit is the one who “proves” to you that Jesus is real (without any physical evidence except a changed heart) and the Holy Spirit will show you the events that are coming about now and in the future concerning the times and seasons of God. And one more thing that the Holy Spirit will do is prepare you for these events and eternity. This same Jesus is about to come back and you cannot be ready or know that Jesus is the only way, the truth or the life except by him.
    If you aren’t convinced and need “proof” of anything concerning the end times, who Jesus is or what happens next, pray for God to give you His Holy Spirit now and you will know the Truth without a doubt. Call upon Him and He will answer you. God bless you all fellow Patriots of America.

  • Lyn

    Need further proof? Jesus was a Jew, look at Israel, the Holy Land, land of his birth, death and resurrection. He reigns!

  • Anonymous

    I believe in Jesus. I know he died for our sins. We have Easter because of his resurrection.

    • Lyn

      AMEN Happy Resurrection Sunday to ya’ll!