Editor’s Note: I am currently blogging through my book Easter: Fact or Fiction, 20 Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead. That book is available on Amazon by clicking the picture or link below. Please check it out! (Scroll down for links to the other parts to this post) (CLICK HERE FOR THE AMAZON LINK)
“This…is that carpenter’s son, the son of prostitution, that Sabbath-breaker, that Samaritan and devil-possessed! This is he whom you purchased from Judas! …This is he whom the disciples secretly stole away, that it might be said he had risen again, or the gardener abstracted that his lettuces might come to no harm from the crowds of visitors.”
– Tertullian, quoting a Jewish conspiracy theory of the second century, which identified the gardener, or disciples of Jesus as those who stole His body from the tomb.
Do you believe that the government is suppressing evidence of alien interaction with humanity? Do you believe that John F. Kennedy was shot by more than one person, or that government agents somehow had a hand in the death of Martin Luther King Junior? Is it possible that militant atheists are actually using chemtrails (left behind by passing jets) in an attempt to poison heavenly angels? Some conspiracy theories are bizarre and strain credibility to the extreme (like the angel one…) other conspiracy theories are quite plausible, if unproven, such as the Martin Luther King Junior possibility. If you are a skeptic, you might be surprised to know that some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories are verifiably and historically true. We know this because almost always, co-conspirators break down, given a long enough time. There are death-bed confessions, and documents left behind. Big conspiracies usually leave some findable evidence.
For instance, did you know that the U.S. Government intentionally withheld life-saving anti-syphilis medicine from a group of Alabama citizens for decades in order to test how syphilis impacts the human body? In this experiment, approximately 400 men with syphilis were separated into two groups. One group was given real medicine, and one group was given a placebo. This ‘test’ was designed to last for 6 months, but it ended up going for over 40 years. Yes, the government told hundreds of men that they were being treated for their disease, while giving them a placebo medication that did absolutely nothing. How did they get away with it for so long? These men were African-American, from my own home state of Alabama. The United States government simply thought they could get away with it but ultimately they were caught by some intrepid reporters and forced to settle in a class-action suit. We learn several things from the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: Racism is not limited to a few states in the south, people can be incredibly calculating and cruel, governments aren’t always to be trusted, and conspiracies are difficult to suppress!
Speaking of the government, did you know that the government added deadly chemicals to alcohol during prohibition, so that anybody who tried to drink alcohol not meant for human consumption would die? During 1926-27 in only one city, New York, over 1100 people died from this government poisoning! Whatever your feelings on alcohol, I suspect that you might find that fact disturbing. In a somewhat similar, but less intentional situation, were you aware that government-made polio vaccines that were distributed from 1954-1963 were tainted with a cancer-causing virus called Simian virus 40? I’m no anti-vaxxer, but the fact that this news has been somewhat suppressed is a bit concerning.
One more conspiracy theory, that is absolutely factual, and very timely, considering the current (as of 2017) allegations being put forward about possible Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election. Were you aware that Congress once had a Russian spy counted amongst its members? Yes, well before Joseph McCarthy began seeing communists behind every shrubbery, there was a member of the House of Representatives, Samuel Dickstein (D. – New York) who was on the payroll of the KGB, and did the bidding of the Russians.
Mr. Dickstein was born in Vilnius, Lithuania (shout-out to Reason to Believe # 5), and was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 1923, defeating Socialist incumbent Meyer London. Good job on these elections, New York, though, to be fair, voters that year had a difficult choice: Socialist Meyer, or KGB spy Dickstein. Dickstein would go on to be re-elected 11 times, and would finish his political career as a justice of the New York Supreme Court. For the majority of his career, Dickstein was a paid Russian agent, who was leaking information to the Soviets AND doing their bidding in speeches, and other governmental activities. Perhaps most astonishingly of all, Dickstein was the initial creator and first chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities!! What was that committee charged with? Yep, you guessed it – they were in charge of rooting out socialist and communist influence from the United States of America. I don’t want to be redundant, but that bears repeating in case you missed it: The highest government organization in the nation devoted to anti-spying efforts, essentially an early version of the Department of Homeland Security, was founded and headed by a Russian spy! If you were to put that in a movie, it would be lambasted as unbelievable. And yet, it is true, and the truth of this conspiracy, was uncovered shortly after the death of Dickstein. It is hard to suppress the truth for very long.
Almost every conspiracy, especially the big ones, will ultimately be rooted out. It is very difficult for any grand scheme, especially one that involves the participation of multiple people, to be kept secret forever. How does that proposition relate to the resurrection? By way of explanation, please allow me to share a personal story.
Shortly after graduating from college, I happened upon a work of Christian fiction called A Skeleton in God’s Closet, by historian Paul L. Maier. It would become one of the most influential books I have ever read, because it opened my mind to consider and pray about the possibility of attending seminary. At the time, I had just finished Emergency Medical Technical school and was on my way to being a firefighter. I had never envisioned myself being a firefighter, but the job I had always desired – FBI agent – seemed a dim possibility, as I had dropped out of criminal justice graduate school upon learning that the FBI was not currently hiring. Thus it was that I had settled on training to be a fire-medic. Maier’s book introduced me to the world of biblical scholarship, something I, rather surprisingly, found myself fascinated by. In that fictional book, archaeologists discover what appears to be the bones of Jesus, and a note of confession from some of his closest disciples. The note is carbon dated to the first century and indicated that some of Jesus’ disciples had conspired to hide His body and perpetuate upon the world the greatest hoax in history: that Jesus had come back to life. In the story, this news shocks the world, and Easter is essentially cancelled for an entire year – only celebrated by a few die-hard adherents to Christianity.
In an ironic twist, however (SPOILER ALERT), the protagonists of the book discover that the bones of ‘Jesus’ and the letter from His disciples were both elaborate hoaxes, perpetuated by a bitter archaeologist. This would be a conspiracy theory inside of a conspiracy theory, which leads us to a good discussion point relative to the resurrection. Most skeptical scholars believe that something unusual did indeed happen in regards to Jesus’ death in 33 A.D. A significant percentage of those skeptical scholars who deny the resurrection of Jesus, hold to some version of the Hoax Theory, which proposes that some confederates of Jesus somehow pulled a fast one and perpetuated a deception that He rose from the dead.
Perhaps they did the ‘ole switcheroo, and an imposter took over for Jesus. Perhaps the disciples hid His body and merely claimed that He was resurrected (and people believed them.) Perhaps Jesus somehow survived the crucifixion in a normal, medical sort of way, and then He made up the story that He defeated death. Whatever hoax theory one might adhere to, I would point out that NONE of them have any evidence! Not only that – there has been NEVER been a discovery that would indicate anything like a conspiracy theory amongst the followers of Jesus. The fact that, despite centuries of diligent searching, no skeptic has come up with evidence of any sort of conspiracy is itself evidence that there is no conspiracy to be found!….Continued in the book.
(Note: This is a partial preview of my book, you can continue reading FREE on Amazon via Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the book for a few pennies, OR you can find a friend reading it and take it when he isn’t looking!)
 Reverend Alexander Roberts, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers: the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.d. 325 Volume Iii Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian -Three Parts: 1. A (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007), 91.
Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead)