Friday, April 14, 2006

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

In one of today's Town Hall columns, Tony Snow, does an excellent job of stating the basic case for the physical resurrection of Jesus and also for the ramifications that miracle creates for mankind. It's a very good read.

However, Tony wrongly attributes the survey that started his meditations to the Standard of London. Now there might be such a publication (even though I can't find it around) but the survey he refers to must, in fact, be one I'd just read a few hours earlier over at the Spectator of London. Registration is required to get into the site -- it's free and relatively quick -- but, after reading Tony's very good column, I thought you might be interested in some of the answers of that survey. The Spectator's survey actually consisted of one simple question: ‘Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?’ Here are a few of the responses:

Taki Theodoracopulos, the conservative writer, critic and bon vivant

I like to believe it. No, I do believe it, and I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. I was brought up as a very strict Greek Orthodox. I don’t think about it much. I don’t intellectualise it. I am very pagan that way.

The Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Thursday. Archbishop’s assistant: ‘He’s very busy but I’ll see what I can do.’
Friday. Archbishop’s assistant: ‘I’m afraid we don’t take part in compare-and-contrast surveys.’

The Spectator: ‘But we’re not comparing or contrasting anything. Please at least a
sk him.’
Monday. The Spectator: ‘Any luck with the Archbishop?’

Archbishop’s assistant: ‘Archbishop Rowan said to put him firmly in the “yes” camp. What were the follow-up questions?’

The Spectator: ‘No follow-up questions. Just the one about the Resurrection.’

Tuesday. Another assistant: ‘I’m afraid there won’t be a [further] quote from the Archbishop.

Keith Ward, Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, and emeritus student of Christ Church, Oxford

I am certain the apostles had visionary experiences of Jesus after his death. I think these were genuine. But though Jesus appeared in physical form, his mode of existence after death was not in physical space-time as we know it.

Edward Stourton, reporter, broadcaster and author
Yes. I am pretty liberal in most Catholic matters, but I am old-fashioned about the Resurrection, because if it’s not true, what’s the point? Actually, it’s a non-controversial belief. If God intervenes in human history, there is absolutely nothing peculiar about his raising his son from the dead.

Christopher Howse, author and arts critic for the Telegraph

Yes. He rose bodily, so you won’t find any bones around. I don’t suppose many people would take ‘physically’ to mean ‘naturally’. The point was rather that, unlike the revivification of the mythical phoenix, Jesus’ resurrection was not just a wonderful thing but was completely above any natural power to perform. Jesus Christ dies and takes up his own life, in union with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Resurrection demonstrates that Jesus has told the truth and has the ability to keep his promises. Otherwise we are all sunk.
(By the way, I posted earlier today a Christopher Howse book review on the Da Vinci Code over at The Book Den.)

Sir Cliff Richard, pop music pioneer

Yes. For me the validity of the Christian faith stands or falls by the Resurrection. If it didn’t happen, then all we’ve got is a code of ethics. Good ones certainly, but we need more than ethics to change lives.

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist

No. People believe in the Resurrection not because of good evidence (there isn’t any) but because, if the Resurrection is not true, Christianity becomes null and void, and their life, they think, meaningless. From this it is grotesquely false logic to conclude that therefore the Resurrection must be true. The alternative — that their religion is indeed null and void — may be unpleasant for Christians to contemplate, but there is no law that says the truth has to be pleasant. And nature does not owe us a meaningful life. It is up to us to make it so.

Charles Moore, the former Editor (23 years) of the Telegraph

Yes: he overcame death, body and soul. However, this is a statement of belief, not science. If archaeologists could prove (which they won’t) that they had found the bones of Jesus in Jerusalem, Christianity would still be true. This sounds like a contradictory statement, but I do not think it is.

Paul Johnson, acclaimed historian and author

I believe Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday and later appeared to St Peter, the other apostles and over 500 of the brethren, as recorded in St Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. This triumph over death is an adumbration of our own entrance into eternal life.