The Resurrection: Myth and folly or factual cornerstone?

Coming our way via Fr. Longenecker who calls it a humdinger, Mark Shea has put up a defense of the event Christians are celebrating today the world over:

emptytomb.jpg“Jesus came to give us moral guidance, and to prove he meant business, he let himself be killed and seen after death, so we would listen and be good.” Not being raised in any particular religion myself, it wasn’t until later that I discovered that this view of Jesus’ death and resurrection (which I heard from my grandmother) had more in common with The Day the Earth Stood Still than it did with the historic faith of Christianity. But this view of Jesus-as-Klaatu, impressing the yokels with spiritualist stunts to wow them into listening to His preachments, is but one of many “alternative” views of the resurrection of Christ. In this view, it isn’t particularly important whether Jesus was raised bodily, just so long as His disciples knew He was “really alive” — more likely as a particularly impressive ghost.

To others, it isn’t important whether Jesus is alive even as a ghost so long as He “lives in the hearts of his countrymen.” This is more or less the position of alleged “Christian theologians” like John Dominic Crossan, who cheerfully relates this happy news in Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (1994):
What actually and historically happened to the body of Jesus can best be judged from watching how later Christian accounts slowly but steadily increased the reverential dignity of their burial accounts. But what was there at the beginning that necessitated such an intensive volume of apologetic insistence? If the Romans did not observe the Deuteronomic decree, Jesus’ body would have been left on the cross for the wild beasts. And his followers, who had fled, would know that. If the Romans did observe the decree, the soldiers would have made certain Jesus was dead and then buried him themselves as part of their job. In either case, his body left on the cross or in a shallow grave barely covered with dirt and stones, the dogs were waiting. And his followers, who had fled, would know that too. Watch, then, how the horror of that brutal truth is sublimated through hope and imagination into its opposite.
In other words, Jesus’ corpse was dog food long ago, but since the idiot-savant apostles were particularly adept at religious psychosis and making lemonade out of lemons, then we can say the Resurrection is full of “hope” in a sense intelligible only to extremely advanced theologians like Crossan.
Then again, there are others who solve the problem of the Resurrection by not letting Jesus die. In this view, somebody else was crucified on Good Friday (somebody who really deserved it, like Judas Iscariot), while Jesus went off to a well-earned pension someplace else. Depending on which legend or Shocking Book (e.g., Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent) you choose, “someplace else” could be anywhere from Japan to France. Frequently, “Jesus didn’t die” scenarios go for the hearts-and-flowers conclusion favored by Hollywood, in which the retired Son of Man finally gets the girl, like Clark Kent in Superman II, and no longer has to pursue His unrewarding task of proclaiming platitudes. Typically, they pack Him off to some vineyard with Mary Magdalene, there to found a dynasty of Merovingians or something. Instead of having Him escape crucifixion entirely, some scenarios grant that He was crucified but insist that He only swooned (possibly with the help of some drugged wine) and regained consciousness later. But the central claim of all such scenarios is that Jesus didn’t really die on the Cross.

There’s much more and it’s excellent stuff.

Read the entire piece and be better prepared to defend that which you believe or… if you’re one who sits on the fence about this at all or have come to believe the mythology, read it and begin your trek toward Truth.  It’s a journey many have taken.  Now may just be your time to embark.

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