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Resurrection question

Ok Christians, this is your turn to speak up. I have a question about Jesus‘ resurrection. I fully understand the Christian claim of Jesus sacrifice and following atonement but what I don’t understand, actually what I find totally unintelligible, is why Paul wrote ( 1 Corinthians 15:14 NIV)

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

Paul never gave any reason for his conclusion, at least I have never found one anywhere in his epistles. Quite often when anyone questions the resurrection  all the Christians I have spoken to fall back on the idea Paul put forth that Christianity is “useless” unless Jesus has been raised. My problem (bet you wondered when I would get to the point) is that Christianity’s idea of the atoning sacrifice was because Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice (which wasn’t a true sacrifice since it was a short vacation). Nowhere is a resurrection a requirement for a Christian’s salvation. Can some Christians please shed some light on this. Don’t worry, I am not baiting you guys into an argument nor am I luring anyone into a trap. This is just an honest question that I would like answered.

[tweetmeme source=”noreligionblog” only_single=falsehttps://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/resurrection-question/]


28 Responses

  1. To Christians the resurrection of Christ affirms the belief that Jesus was who he said he was (the Son of God). We believe it is God verifying that the controversal message Christ preached is true. Without the resurrection Jesus could appear to be just another morality teacher with a few cool party tricks. To raise from the dead though gives Christians confidence that they have picked the right one.

    It also gives hope of eternal resurrection, that it is something that awaits us. As the early Christians experienced a lot of difficulties and were persecuted on account of their faith, there wasn’t much benefit in being a Christian unless there was something else on the other side of eternity. Paul is saying that the burden of the difficult lifestyle is not for no reason and that people who believe in the resurrection can have hope that they will too will be raised.

    There may be other reasons too. For me personally the principle piece of evidence for Christianity is the resurrection and I wouldn reject Christianity if I wasn’t convinced Christ rose, even with the experience of God I believe I have had through my faith.

    • sorry where it says wouldn I meant to say would

      • Thanks for your answer Nick. You see here is my problem. Jesus’ “sacrifice” was made regardless of his being risen so why you or any other Christian would lose faith if he wasn’t resurrected (trust me on this, he wasn’t – read Chariton’s tragedy from 62 CE Callrhoe – among many others) makes no sense to me. Saying it verifies your faith is essentially saying it gives evidence for your faith. If your faith has evidence, it isn’t faith as the bible defines it so that really can’t be the reason Paul meant.

    • Nick, you said

      As the early Christians experienced a lot of difficulties and were persecuted on account of their faith, there wasn’t much benefit in being a Christian unless there was something else on the other side of eternity

      and I just had to take the time to address that issue. Basically you are saying there is no meaning to this life so an eternal life after this is needed for meaning. Let me ask you, what do you get when you add a string of zeros to zero? Either there is meaning in this life or there isn’t (which really isn’t a horrible thought). If there is no meaning to life now, there could be no meaning later either.

      • Very true. I think there is definitely meaning and purpose in this life now, I didn’t mean to imply there wasn’t.

        What I meant was if Christianity is bogus then there is no benefit in it for believers like the early church whose lives were more difficult and painful because of it. The difficulties and persecution they faced were a consequence of their faith and they would have had a more comfortable existence in those times if they renounced Christ. Paul is saying that if Christ didn’t rise their preaching and belief is foolishness because it is causing them to be ridiculed, killed and harmed for a sham. However, he believed it was worth going through those things if Christ had risen because rising from the dead would have vindicated the hope they believed in.

  2. No resurrection does not mean Christianity is bogus. I’ll agree that Christianity is bogus if there was no atoning sacrifice made but that happens without the resurrection. If the resurrection is “proof” of Christianity then faith (the faith defined by the bible) is useless. Unless this matter can be made clear there is no way I can even begin to understand why Christians feel the resurrection is so important. I can understand it seems to be an evidence to some but evidence means faith isn’t necessary so that can’t be the reason.

    • Faith (as found in the Bible) is not the blind type of faith without evidence. The word faith in the Bible most commonly refers to confident trust and doesn’t mean without evidence. A lot of times throughout the Bible the believers actually appeal to ways God has demonstrated his character/trustworthiness as reason for faith. One of the things that they appeal to as evidence is the resurrection of Christ, which gave them confidence and affirmed their trust.

  3. It’s a real sad state of affairs when only one Christian has the decency to even address the honest question I asked.

  4. Nick, I refuse to believe you have never read Hebrews 11:1

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    • When I first read that verse I wondered about it myself, because at first the translation does seem to suggest blind faith which is something I can’t come at. I also struggled with it because the believers who are in the Bible often seemed to have been given evidence to base their faith on, as is the case with the list of examples offered in Hebrews 11 who all believed they had undeniable evidence for which they based their faith on. If that list is the context for verse 1, it would be odd for verse 1 to be about blind faith.

      Another translation says it like this-

      Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

      My understanding is that the word faith (‘pistis’ in Greek) roughly means a confident trust based on knowledge, and the word assurance (‘hypostasis’ in Greek) roughly means a foundation that is solid. “Hope for” and “not seen” are talking about future things.

      So with the Greek considered and the context of the examples that the writer gives, Hebrews 11 is saying that faith is believing God is trustworthy based on his track record and the evidences He has given us, and placing hope/expectation on that trust and on those evidences.

      That understanding of Hebrews 11:1 actually relates quite well to 1 Cor 15:14 which you mentioned in your original blog post. The resurrection of Christ gave the early Christians that Paul is addressing confident trust as they hoped for their own resurrection.

      • Nick, no amount of mental gymnastics is going to change the plain meaning of the text. Essentially it is following the same train of thought attributed to Jesus when he told Thomas blessed are those who have not seen but still believe. The argument you just used may in fact convince believers to understand but it is like putting a bandaid on a gunshot., it just doesn’t work. For example, the Old Testament says Solomon had 4000 stalls and in another place it says he had 40000. Only a bible believer falls for the argument that a difference of “0” was just a copyist error and not a contradiction. Tell me, are numbers denoted with Arabic numerals in Hebrew? The KJ translation is correct much to the chagrin of many Christians. What it ultimately comes down to is a statement that there is and can be no evidence whatsoever for Christianity because if there was that would negate faith which would make Christianity untrue. Kinda nice how it works isn’t it? It’s a built in mechanism that protects Christianity from being shown as false (to Christians – from inside Christianity who give the bible authority, not to unbelievers who do not give the bible authority).

      • Nick, in English there is the word faith and another word trust. Religious faith is entirely different from trust.

      • I believe as you do that mental gymnastics wouldn’t change the plain meaning of the text. We just differ on what that plain meaning is. The bible does not define faith as belief without evidence, and evidence does not negate faith.

        Hebrews 11:1 is not a definition of faith, as you do not use a word when giving a definition of it. The verse assumes that the reader knows the meaning, which at the time of writing they would have. The verse is a statement of one function, namely as something that hope in the unseen future fulfilment of promises can be placed onto.

  5. That’s really quite funny nick, in the space of two of your comments you go from “in your understanding” to now you are sure the meaning is what you say. Sorry, no amount of magical mumbo jumbo is going to redefine religious faith as trust with evidence. If you believe there is evidence for Christianity, your not basing your belief on faith then faith is useless. If you believe based on faith, you do not need nor even have to seek evidence. Look at it this way, if you truly believe based on faith, even if evidence were to be shown to you contradicting your faith, you would still believe (IOW a faith based belief can’t be falsified) but a belief based on evidence can be changed (just look at geocentric theory being replaced by heliocentric theory – that can not happen with a faith based belief).

  6. Nick, what translation of Hebrews 11:1 says faith is ….faith? Neither the KJV i posted or the translation you posted says faith is faith. A definition is usually structured as FAITH IS and golly gee so is Hebrews 11:1. Are you beginning to suffer from a touch of cognitive dissonance?

    • A common definition would be “the word faith means…” or “the meaning of faith is…” The writer of Hebrews is saying “faith is the substance” which is like saying “truth is the basis” or “cash is the way I’m going to pay”. The writer of Hebrews presupposes that the readers of the letter would understand the meaning of the word ‘pistis’ and they so are not offering a definition.

      If faith meant as you say it does then most of the believers who are named in the Bible would be disqualified because they often pinned their belief upon something. Fortunately the word faith ‘pistis’ means something else. Look it up in the Greek, I would be surprised to know of any Greek dictionaries give the meaning as being belief without evidence.

      This is not saying that faith will always have solid evidence, just that it often has good cause, evidence or reasoning behind it. Which relates back to the original blog post about the resurrection because the early Church appears to have believed the resurrection was good substance (“hypostasis”: thing to stand under as a support) for faith.

      • Nick, finish the fucking sentence and stop the damn lies.Last time you tried to claim the New Testament said faith is faith. Every time you tried to twist the text into saying faith is evidential you have been shot down. Stop relying on the apologetics of others and think for yourself. You do believe god created humanity and gave you your brain/intellect don’t you? Well use it for this The verse does not say faith is substance. It is quite clear the verse goes on and completes the thought.. If you are gonna be dishonest don’t bother replying since I am not interested in dishonesty. You now bring up reason? Let me tell you, if faith had any reason, logic, evidence, cause, etc. it would be called reason, logic, evidential, causal, etc….IT ISN’T. Do not lie to yourself.

      • I’m sorry. I did try to address the whole verse and passage when I mentioned a few times that “hoped for” and “not seen” in this context are talking about future things. This makes sense given the context and language choice. If that is the case it is not a stretch or dishonest to understand the verse not as a definition but to mean that faith is good substance or evidence to pin future hope on. This is the common view of this verse, it is not twisting.

        I’m genuinely sorry this answer is not satisfying for you or is frustrating. I merely wanted to attempt to answer the question you posed in your blog post. I am being honest when I say I don’t see the dilemma.

  7. Nick, I have no idea on what planet and in what language not seen is a future tense. Let’s put it this way, what will make you not believe in god? If the answer is nothing, your belief is based on faith. If your answer is with anything other than nothing, you do not have faith. I don’t understand why you can’t (or refuse) to grasp this point. FAITH CAN’T HAVE EVIDENCE. Why do you think some people will argue with a theist when they claim their beliefs are based on reason, logic or evidence but will not argue with another theist that admits their belief is based on faith? Faith is unfalsifiable, evidence is falsifiable. Just do a little experiment (thought), what is required to falsify Christianity? I don’t mean just saying disprove this or disprove that, I want a concrete item. Why can’t you answer?

    • Good questions.

      The first question about what would make me not believe in God is tough. Even though at one stage I didn’t believe in God its hard for me to say what would make me not believe in God now, as I believe that since I have believed in God this belief has been supported by a lot of things. I’m reluctant to say nothing would make me disbelief but I certainly can’t think of anything. I would not call my faith blind-belief though because that would suggest that I have based my faith on nothing which isn’t the case.

      The second question about what concrete item in my mind would be required to falsify Christianity is easier to answer. If the body or bones of Jesus were discovered it would show Christianity as a sham. If there was concrete, credible archaeological evidence that suggested he never existed it would be reason to call it a sham as well. This is what Paul meant when in the verse you quoted in your blog post (1 Cor 15:14)

      And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

      • If it isn’t faith, then the belief is possible to falsify. If it isn’t faith but a belief based on evidence it is possible to falsify. As far as the idiotic conditions you put forth, you are aware even if Jesus skeleton were found, how can you really be sure it was his skeleton? For instance when you die and are buried in a tomb without a coffin somewhere in Hobart and in 2000 years someone shows a skeleton they claim is yours, how is it proven? As far as archeological evidence, you know you can’t prove a negative. You are fully aware the answers to both questions are, no, my belief is based on faith and so is Christianity. Now to be brutally honest, I am through with this stupid merry-go-round with you Nick. You are fully aware faith is different from evidence. You are not stupid. I know you don’t believe it no matter how much you claim that you do. Now stop your foolish arguing that faith is evidence….,……..IT FUCKING ISN’T.

    • I was wondering what your definition of evidence is when you use it? I just want to clarify because it might be why we are struggling to understand each others perspective.

  8. Christ’s resurrection proved he had power over death. If he had simply died, and not risen again, he could not have been an all-powerful God. Christ had absolute control over death, as he was God. For Christians, this also means that death is not the end, as it is not strong enough to stand against the power of God.

    • Good try but your answer misses the mark. It was his death that was the atonement not his resurrection. Your answer does bring up an interesting point though but it seems you and every other Christian for the last 2000 years missed. You say if he didn’t rise he couldn’t be an omnipotent god, the same is true if he died. On another note, when the gospel stories were written in Homer and other Greek tragedies (not to mention the other gospel stories) they are easily recognized as myth by anyone. Why is it that when written in the bible they are thought to be true?

  9. To answer you origananal question, what Paul is saying here is that if Jesus had not risen, it would mean he was not God, therefore NO ATONEMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE, because only a person of the trinity could have made the atonement. his resurection proves that he was God. Before you say an omnipotent God could not have been killed, he chose to die as an atonement.

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