Adventures in Theology Blog

Chase A. Thompson: Author, Pastor, Vigilante.

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

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) 

Today the term ‘Jesus’ accounts for 1 out of every 10,000 words appearing in scanned books. How much more prominent could he possibly have ever been? There is not enough room for much upside here.”[1]
 – Who’s Bigger, a book that ranks the most famous people in all of human history. Jesus came in first place by far.

When I was a teenager, the number one high school recruit in the nation was a guy named Todd Marinovich. Todd was a great quarterback, who ultimately signed with Southern California, and went on to play pro football for the Oakland Raiders. Todd’s father raised him from a baby to be a quarterback, utilizing every opportunity possible to train his son. In fact, Todd was famous as the kid who had never eaten a hamburger (or much other junk food) by the time he signed with the Trojans. Perhaps unsurprisingly, things didn’t end up so well for Marinovich. While he did play quarterback at a high-profile college, and did play some football in the NFL, his career ultimately ended poorly due to drugs and other troubling issues. As of 2017, Todd has been arrested for wandering around naked with marijuana and amphetamines.  It seems that it might be a bad idea to raise somebody to be a “Robo-quarterback,” from the age of two. 

It does cause you to think, however. Let’s do a thought experiment: What if your goal was not to raise a great quarterback, but to raise your son to become the most famous person that ever lived? Let’s consider that you have a budget of 25 million dollars to make it happen, and you use a chunk of that money to hire some of the best ‘fame’ consultants that the world has to offer. After a year-long research period, these consultants come to you with the following 7 step plan: 1. Your son needs to be born in a dank and unsanitary room, unfit for human habitation, with urine and animal droppings all around. For good measure, they tell you, make sure your son sleeps his first few nights in an animal’s feeding trough. 2. Your son’s birth should be heralded and announced by some dirty and poorly thought of shepherds to proclaim his arrival. 3. Your son must stay almost 100 percent exclusively in an area the size of Rhode Island for his entire life. 4. Your son may never write a book or leave any art behind, or letter or even a self-portrait – only his memories and teachings. 5. Your son should have followers, but very uninfluential followers – ones that are possessed of little fame, money, or import.  6. You son must die before he reaches the prime of his influence, which for most men is in their mid-forties to fifties. 7. Finally, these consultants recommend that your son must be executed by the state in the most dishonorable way possible. For an American, that might be the electric chair, for a first century Jewish person, that would be a cross. Would such advice produce somebody likely to become the most influential or important person in history? Hardly!

I suspect that you would fire your advisers with extreme prejudice the moment they presented you with such a ridiculous plan. Not a single one of the seven steps above are even remotely conducive to becoming famous. Indeed, every single one of those seven steps would seem to favor anything but fame, import and influence. And yet, Jesus met all of the above criteria, and then some. He was born in a most embarrassing and unimpressive manner. His childhood was spent as an immigrant on the run, in a foreign country, from governmental officials that desired to kill him. To our knowledge, Jesus never wrote a book, or a letter, or any work of art whatsoever. There are no surviving pictures of Him, so we have no idea what He might have looked like. He lived in the tiny country of Israel, which is much smaller than most people realize. Consider the state of Alabama, which is 52,000 square miles in size. As the 30th largest state in the United States, Alabama is much smaller than its neighbor Georgia. And yet, one could fit six and a half Israel’s in Alabama and still have room left over for the cities of Birmingham and Montgomery and Huntsville! And, with maybe two exceptions, Jesus never travelled beyond the borders of his tiny nation. Finally, as noted above, He died the most ignoble death possible as a condemned enemy of both His home country, and the ruling power of the world at the time.

Given all of that, how in the world has Jesus become the most famous and influential person to EVER LIVE? It’s not like he had an army of followers – just 12 uninfluential men and a group of women that travelled with the Jesus Team to met their needs, per Luke 8. Jesus might have been somewhat famous in His own home country, but even there, He was quite unpopular with the rich and famous, with perhaps Simon the Leper and Joseph of Arimathea being the lone exceptions.

If there was no resurrection, then what might explain Jesus’ startling and sustained rise to fame and influence? The Bible, of course, would point to the fact that Jesus is the only person that ever lived who has permanently overcame death. (Lazarus, you will remember, only temporarily overcame death.) The Bible would also indicate that, after Jesus’ ascension, God sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower all who followed Jesus, which enabled them to take His good news to every corner of the earth. But, if you don’t agree with the biblical account of the spread of Jesus’ fame, what is your explanation? And, in the name of science, do you think your theory might be repeatable? In other words, do you think it would be possible, given a skeptic’s explanation for the rise in fame of Jesus, for that process to be duplicated? Could somebody else with Jesus’ giftings (and geographical/technological limitations) become as famous as Jesus did?  

I suspect not. Every hypothesis which attempts to explain the fame of Jesus apart from the resurrection of Jesus is ultimately not scientifically sustainable, since such a hypothesis could not be tested. Skeptics, like Jeffrey Jay Lowder, suggest that a claim like the resurrection of Jesus requires extraordinary evidence before one could logically accept it as true. I concede his point, and agree with him. However, I believe that there is PLENTY of extraordinary evidence that points to the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, including the fame of Jesus, the spread of the Gospel, and the fact that almost 1/3 of the known world today worships a Galilean[1] that was born over 2000 years ago. I suggest that, if you are going to doubt the resurrection, you should have extraordinary evidence that refutes it. I have never seen a skeptic produce any such evidence that would refute convincingly any Christian claim about the resurrection of Jesus. In that light, ponder the following statement from pastor and writer Tim Keller:

“The resurrection of Jesus was a major historical problem, no matter how you looked at it. Most modern historians made the philosophical assumption that miracles simply cannot happen, and that made the claim of the resurrection highly problematic. However, if you disbelieved the resurrection you then had the difficulty of explaining how the Christian church got started at all. “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.” That is how the first hearers felt who heard reports of the resurrection. They knew that if it was true it meant we can’t live our lives any way we want. It also meant we don’t have to be afraid of anything, not Roman swords, not cancer, nothing. If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything. Most people think that, when it comes to Jesus’s resurrection, the burden of proof is on believers to give evidence that it happened. That is not completely the case. The resurrection also puts a burden of proof on its nonbelievers. It is not enough to simply believe Jesus did not rise from the dead. You must then come up with a historically feasible alternate explanation for the birth of the church. You have to provide some other plausible account for how things began.[2]

Essentially then, I am arguing here that Jesus’ coming from utter obscurity to time dominating ultra-relevance is a proof, so to speak, of the veracity of the Bible, and the plausibility of the resurrection. Before you scoff too much at this, my dear skeptic friend, consider well how you would explain Jesus’ meteoric and sustained rise to relevance absent the resurrection.

FULL CHAPTER. 

[1] Remember that, even in tiny and insignificant Israel, that Galilee and Nazareth were both considered tiny and insignificant.

[2] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, ©2008), 200

[1] Steven S. Skiena and Charles Ward, Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 32.

(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!) 

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

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) 

Everyone knew that the Messiah, the son of David, must come from Bethlehem, the city of David, as the prophets had foretold. But Jesus came from Nazareth, not only an obscure village with no royal connections, but also located in Galilee, which, as John 8:41-52 reminds us, was no place for a Messiah to come from.”[1]
-R.T. France

The Lithuanian argument is a sort of subset of the Marinovich argument, and takes a similar approach to demonstrating the reasonableness for the resurrection. Can you name (without Googling) which countries border Lithuania? Could you locate Lithuania on a globe without country names? What about the capital of Lithuania? Most Americans, at least, know very, very little about Lithuania. I know this for a fact, because I have asked over one thousand college students in my various classes (World History, New Testament and Old Testament) what the capital of Lithuania was, and I cannot recall a single student ever getting the correct answer. 

This is actually kind of sad, because Lithuania is a lovely country that is, for the purposes of this discussion, approximately 3 times larger than the country of Israel. Consider this: The Roman Empire at its height was roughly 51 percent the size of America in square miles Therefore, Lithuania to America in 2016 very roughly corresponds to the size and influence of Israel to the Roman Empire in the first century. In fact, Lithuania is actually a little bit larger proportionally, compared to the U.S., than Israel was to the Roman Empire in the first century.

At least from a mathematical perspective, we can perhaps get a vague understanding of how citizens in The Roman Empire viewed Israel by thinking about how Americans presently view the country of Lithuania. You might, of course, argue that Lithuania is significantly farther away from the United States vs the distance of Israel to Rome, and you’d be correct, but remember that it would take the average American about 8 hours to fly to Lithuania in the present time, while a journey from Israel to Rome in antiquity would likely take two weeks, possibly more. Though the U.S. is further on the globe away from Lithuania, in practical terms, that country is far closer to the States than Rome was to Israel in the first century.   

Imagine then that a teacher of a new and radically different religion arose in Lithuania in the 1700s. Imagine that this particular teacher had no television shows, no operas, no compositions, no music, no books, art, or anything. He didn’t even have any famous and important followers, and yet, within about 200 years of his ignominious death, his followers would be well on their way to dominating the religious landscape of America. Can you imagine it? Americans suddenly worshipping and telling others about this amazing Lithuanian teacher?

This is, euphemistically speaking, what Jesus and His followers did. Historically and factually – a teacher and His followers from a largely unknown, small and unimportant country came to dominate an entire empire within a short time after the death of that teacher. People MUST have a rational theory to explain how Christianity spread so far and wide in such a short amount of time without military power or economic riches! Such a thing has never happened before in history and hasn’t happened since.

Keep in mind that the Jesus movement from the first few centuries spread across all cultures and languages, gaining adherents from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, many of whom were openly hostile to the Jewish people. Remember also that there were dozens of claimants to the title of messiah around the time of Jesus, and none of them ever amounted to anything historically significant except Jesus.  I propose that a public, bodily resurrection of Jesus is a plausible answer to how Christianity came to dominate the greatest civilization in world history. In fact, I am honestly not sure that there is another answer that could be proposed to explain the cross-cultural dominance and appeal of Christianity in the first five centuries A.D.

Skeptical theories (i.e. that Jesus never existed – which no almost no peer reviewed scholar, atheist or otherwise, believes…or that an impostor took His place, or that the resurrection was invented by His followers, or that they hallucinated Him, or even that Jesus was simply a good teacher who had his reputation greatly enhanced by legendary exaggeration decades after his death.) don’t account very well at all for the explosion of Jesus’ followers all across the world – permeating multiple cultures and languages.  

FYI, the countries that border Lithuania are: Latvia, Poland, and Belarus. The capital city of Lithuania is Vilnius. And a world conquering king coming out of a small town in Lithuania is about as likely as one coming out of a small town in Israel. And yet, it happened. Tiny, insignificant (at the time) Israel produced the most famous and influential person the world has ever known, an indisputable fact that only makes sense in light of the resurrection.

Perhaps you’ve heard skeptics raise objections about the supposed fact that nobody (other than ALL of the writers of the various books eventually collated into the New Testament) ever mentioned Jesus in writing during His lifetime, or shortly after? First, as you will read shortly, that is quite an exaggeration, there are extant documents from over 40 people that wrote about Jesus within 150 years of His death and resurrection. If that number seems small to you, then consider that there are only extant works from 10 people who wrote about Tiberius Caesar within 150 years of his lifetime, and He was the emperor of Rome for over 20 years at the height of its impact!

Very likely, there were many more people than 43 who actually wrote about Jesus, but many, many books and writings from 2000 years ago have disappeared for a wide variety of reasons. In keeping with our Lithuanian thought experiment, consider this: If a worker of miracles and great teacher really did arise in Lithuania in the 1700s, even if that man were to also genuinely come back from the dead, how many Americans do you think would write about him within 100 years of his lifetime? Of those that did, how many of those writings would survive almost 2000 years? If the Bible accounts of how Jesus lived His life are exactly true – and I believe they are – then there is very little reason nor means that the Romans (or Greeks) would have known about Jesus during His lifetime, or even decades afterwards. In the same way that an 18th century American would be highly unlikely to write about a Lithuanian holy man – even one that legitimately did miracles – a first century Greek/Roman would also be highly unlikely to write about a Jewish Messiah.

[1] R T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary On the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2007), 41.

(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!) 

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

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)

 

He was crucified, died, and was buried, and the third day He arose.’ Although the Gospels have most clearly testified concerning the evident fact of the Lord’s Resurrection, which was further proved a reality by many men, the Apostle preached that the Saviour ‘arose’ from the dead ‘on the third day.’ If He had risen on the same day He died, or in the night which followed, some people would scarcely believe that He truly died. So, you see, the postponement of the Resurrection was a confirmation of His death; conversely, the truth of His death was the authority of reason. Unless you show me that a man has been bent down, you will not convince me that he has been raised up; on the other hand, you will easily prove he was stretched out in sleep, if you show that he has been aroused. ‘And that he appeared to Cephas, and after that to the Eleven; then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time.’ O wonderful, inestimable goodness of the Lord! He thought it would not strengthen the faith of the Church enough if all the Apostles saw Him after the Resurrection unless He would show Himself to the crowds who stood around[1]
From a sermon preached by Caesarius of Arles in ~500 A.D.

Trot out one of those 500 witnesses or give us something that they wrote, and we will accept that as reliable proof or evidence.” [2]
 – Resurrection skeptic and agnostic, Farrell Till

The biblical messenger Paul makes a startling claim in the 15th chapter of his letter to the Corinthians – that claim is, essentially, that all of Christianity hinges on the historical truth of whether or not Jesus rose from the dead. If He did not rise from the dead, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain,” Additionally, Paul says that Christians should be the people in the world most looked down on and pitied IF Jesus did NOT rise from the dead. (vs. 19) Here’s the whole passage, please read it, as it is one of the most critically important passages in the entire Bible:

“ For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me. 
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.11 Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-2)

Those are strong words! To Paul, the historical resurrection of Jesus wasn’t merely a belief, or facet of Christianity, it was the basis and foundation of the whole thing! The central and core heart of Christianity is the resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead, then all humans should follow Him, and devote their lives to Him. If Jesus rose from the dead, then likely all of His other teachings are true, and must be obeyed. If Jesus rose from the dead, then He is unique in all of the history of humanity and is therefore worthy of our highest praise. 

  If Jesus did NOT rise from the dead, then what are people doing going around and worshipping a teacher who has been dead for almost 2000 years? What an absurdity! A recent survey of British ‘Christians’ conducted by the BBC revealed some startling facts: over thirty percent of those surveyed (who claimed to be Christians) did NOT believe in life after death. Additionally, nearly one-quarter (almost 25 percent) of the surveyed ‘Christians,’ did NOT believe Jesus rose from the dead![1] What an astounding statistic! I would love to sit down with them, and ask them why in the world they identify as Christians if they don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead – it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Those ‘Christians’ should be reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still dead in your sins.”

Thus it is remarkably important that Paul mentions that over 500 people actually saw Jesus after His death. There were over 500 eyewitnesses! This is not a small claim! Paul is effectively challenging the Corinthians in the chapter by telling them that the historical/factual resurrection of Jesus is the central core of Christianity, and if any of them doubt that it happened, most of the 500 people who witnessed the risen Jesus are still alive and can give testimony of the fact that they saw Jesus after He died and was buried. This demonstrates that Paul is not merely claiming a spiritual resurrection for Jesus; nor does it allow for the idea that Jesus is coming back and somehow symbolically visiting those who were important to Him. No, 1 Corinthians 15 makes it crystal clear Paul believed that Jesus bodily (not metaphorically) rose from the dead and factually appeared to 500+ people, many of whom could still attest to that appearance as eyewitnesses at the time Paul wrote His first letter to the Corinthians.

Additionally, as mentioned by Michael Licona and Gary Habermas, there are at least 42 writers from antiquity (only nine of which are in the Bible), that reference Jesus within 150 years of His life.[2] Almost all those ancient writers show clear evidence of believing in the factual and historical resurrection of Jesus. Here are some examples of believers in the resurrection of Jesus that wrote about it shortly after His death:

  • The Epistle of Clement: Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead.” AND, “The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.” This letter was written by Clement, probably around 90ad and possibly before the book of Revelation.  This is perhaps the earliest extant church letter outside of the Bible, and gives indisputable evidence that the early church not only believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but that they based their future hope AND proclamation of the Good news of Jesus on that hope… 

    This Chapter is 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!) 

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-39153121

[2] Gary R. Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, ©2004), 233

[1] Caesarius of Arles, Saint Caesarius of Arles: Sermons (1–238), ed. Hermigild Dressler and Bernard M. Peebles, trans. Mary Magdeleine Mueller, vol. 1, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press; Consortium Books, 1956–1973), 57–58.

[2] Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 247.

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

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.”[1]
 – 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.[1] 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.[1] 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!) 

[1] https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/april-3-ad-33

[1] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/samuel-dickstein-congressman-russian-spy-111641

[1] 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

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

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) 

The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, so His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (For not even His brothers believed in Him.)

Jesus told them, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always at hand. The world cannot hate you, but it does hate Me because I testify about it—that its deeds are evil. Go up to the festival yourselves. I’m not going up to the festival yet, because My time has not yet fully come. “After He had said these things, He stayed in Galilee.

After His brothers had gone up to the festival, then He also went up, not openly but secretly. John 7:2-10

Then He went home, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. When His family heard this, they set out to restrain Him, because they said, ‘He’s out of His mind.’ Then His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him and told Him, “Look, Your mother, Your brothers, and Your sisters are outside asking for You.’

He replied to them, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking about at those who were sitting in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.’ “Mark 3:20-21; 30-34.

I still give my sister, Channing, a hard time about it. When I was about 13, and she was 7, I had her convinced that I was He-Man, the incredibly powerful champion of justice and foe of Skeletor on television. The way I convinced her was quite simple. I would take a medium sized rock, and ‘throw’ it high into the air, all the while never letting go of the rock. As her eyes followed the supposed trajectory of ‘thrown’ rock, I would surreptitiously slip it into my pocket. Then we would go for a long walk to look for the rock’s landing place. A few hundred yards later, I would deftly slip the rock out of my pocket, let it fall on my shoe (so as to not make noise) and then I would walk away until she actually found the rock. When she did, she would come away with the idea that I, her brother, could throw a rock over 500 yards, and therefore, as I explained to her, I was He-Man. QED. It is sort of easy to fool a seven year old with such tricks, it is quite another thing to fool an adult. Especially one that is fed up with you, and doesn’t hold you in nearly the same esteem level as everybody else does.

As the Scriptures show at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had several run-ins with His family during His public ministry. He had a dispute with His brothers about going to the Passover, at which point He rebuked them about being too focused on worldly ideals. More seriously, at some point during the early part of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus mother and brothers came to where He was teaching and tried to “restrain Him.” Because they thought He had gone crazy. Yes, Jesus dealt with much of the same family drama as the rest of us do, though I can honestly say I don’t think my family has ever tried to have me committed for being crazy. At least not yet.

 Enemy attestation is a fancy way of saying that whatever positive thing your enemy says about you, is likely true. For instance, a group of my critics might say, “That Chase Thompson, boy is he trouble. His hair is unkempt, he dresses funny, he eats enough cereal for five elephants, and preaches way too long…but, he does have good ears, so don’t talk about him behind his back.” Chances are, if all of that is said, then I really do have good hearing. Positive things your enemy says about you are strong testimonies. 

 Along those lines, we read in 1 Cor 15 that Paul mentions by name three eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus (Paul himself, James the brother of Jesus, and Peter) Two of those witnesses began as enemies of Jesus’ ministry: James, the brother of Jesus, who apparently wanted to have Him committed to a loony house; and Paul, who was a persecutor who breathed out murderous threats against the church, ultimately presiding over the murder of Stephen, the first martyr. Peter himself rejected Jesus before His death. Keep in mind too, that Jesus was worshipped as the risen savior by at least TWO of His brothers since the author of the penultimate book of the Bible, Jude, was also likely the (half) brother of Jesus. And yet, post-resurrection, all of these men did a dramatic and life-long 180, worshipping Jesus and declaring Him as the resurrected Son of God at the COST OF THEIR OWN LIVES.

If you can get your brother (i.e. James) to worship you as God…then that might be the best example of enemy attestation in world history! If you don’t believe me, go and try to convince your adult sibling, who has known you all of their lives, that you are something so special that you stand out above all of humanity. Good luck! …(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!) 

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

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