This chapter of Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics covers the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus (which is evidence that the Father approves of everything he said and did in his ministry on earth).
The significance of the resurrection: “Of all the world’s religions, Christianity alone purports to be based on the resurrection of its divine founder.” Matthew 16:21, 12:40, John 2:19-22 (p.526)
Whereas in ch.20 John Frame is quoted to dispel rumors that the virgin birth is stolen from other religions or mythologies, in ch.22 Groothuis quotes Bruce Metzger and J.N.D. Anderson on why the resurrection is not likewise stolen. Perhaps I will combine those two sections into a unique post at some point. However, a) those rebirths symbolized spring, vs. b) resurrection on the 3rd day, and c) mystery religions were not yet well-established at that time.
Paul, writing two early for the theft hypothesis: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
There are other consequences if you read on to verse 19: 1) Christians are false witnesses, 2) Christians are unforgiven, alive or dead, 3) Christians are supremely pitiable, because their hope ends in this life.
The evidence for general theism, and the evidence for the resurrection, are both strong. One may come to Christianity through the evidence for the resurrection alone, without ever knowing the evidence for general theism. However, one may more readily accept the evidence for the resurrection, if one already accepts the evidence for theism, because if there is a God, miracles like the resurrection are more probable.
Groothuis defines a biblical miracle as “an act of divine agency whereby a supernatural effect is produced for the purpose of manifesting God’s kingdom on earth.” (p.532) (Hume misdefined it as a violation of the laws of nature.)
Groothuis defines a law of nature as describing “the basic properties of physical objects in relationship to one another.” (p. 532)
Hume does not argue that miracles are metaphysically impossible, only that natural explanations are always more probable, and no amount of evidence could ever ground a belief that a miracle occurred (this begs the question). He argues that all miracle claims are based on misunderstandings of prescientific,”ignorant and barbarous nations” who are not credible (however, the disciples were very skeptical, notably Thomas, and in order to identify a miracle, one needs to be able to identify the laws of nature by which they are contrasted).
However, it is not the general probability that ought to be considered for any event, it is that event’s conditional probability–the evidence that makes it more probable, despite its general improbability. As already mentioned, if God exists, this increases the probability (in this case, general) of miracles. The evidence for the resurrection, specifically, increases its conditional probability.
The “cancellation argument” against miracles: Various miracles of various conflicting religions cancel each other out. Answer: miracles do not directly support the truth claims of all religions, and the case for Jesus’ historical resurrection is far stronger than any other miracle claim made by a non-Christian religion.
Jesus was the “kind of person God might raise from the dead” (p538-539). 1) he was accredited by God through miracles, wonders, and signs (Acts 2:22), 2) he was a master teacher, 3) he was a man of compassion, 4) he was a worker of miracles, 5) his life fulfilled OT prophecies, 6) he claimed to be God, 7) he prophesied his own death and resurrection.
The “Minimal Facts” Approach:
Using only those facts (“minimal facts“) contained in the NT that are accepted by both liberal and conservative critical NT scholars, the resurrection is shown to best explain them over rival hypotheses.
Four minimal facts:
1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. Jesus was buried in a known tomb.
3. The tomb was found empty.
4. There were postmortem appearances of Jesus.
Jesus died by crucifixion.
“Even if Jesus somehow survived the intense scourging, as well as the agonies of the cross … this would leave completely unexplained why Jesus’ disciples ended up hailing him the resurrected Lord of life.” (p.543)
Jesus was buried in a known tomb.
Do this “Twelve Facts” Resurrection Logic Puzzle