Re­spond­ing to re­li­gious skep­ti­cism

The Covington News - - Religion -

Sup­pose on Mon­day you went hap­pily to work, still hum­ming “Christ the Lord is Risen To­day, al­leluia!” And a co­worker hears you and says, “What are you so happy about? The res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus is malarkey. It is just a story in­vented to sell Bibles.”

How would you re­spond to a skep­tic?

You might ask, “Have you read the story?” Read­ing the story can change a per­son. It has a cer­tain au­then­tic re­al­ity that is hard to ex­plain. Peo­ple through­out his­tory have been drawn to it. Charles Dick­ens wrote, “The New Tes­ta­ment is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.” Al­bert Ein­stein wrote, “No one can read the Gospels with­out feel­ing the ac­tual pres­ence of Je­sus. His per­son­al­ity pul­sates in ev­ery word. No myth is filled with such life.”

Ask the scoffer sim­ply to read the story and see for them­selves if they are not drawn to Je­sus and if they do not find them­selves be­liev­ing that all things are pos­si­ble for him. Point out that Je­sus pre­dicted that he would be killed and that he would rise again on the third day. Point out the dis­ci­ples also had dif­fi­culty in be­liev­ing. They doubted the first re­ports of the res­ur­rec­tion, thought at first that the risen Christ was a ghost, and one of them even in­sisted on touch­ing Je­sus’ wounds. They had doubts, but they came to be­lieve.

But sup­pose the scoffer says, “The church wrote the New Tes­ta­ment; they could put any­thing in it they wanted to.” Then point to the Old Tes­ta­ment. The Old Tes­ta­ment was com­pleted hun­dreds of years be­fore the time of Je­sus. Copies of al­most all the books of the Old Tes­ta­ment were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. So how is it that this an­cient Jewish book seems to de­scribe some­one that looks so much like Je­sus? Have them read Isa­iah 53 and Psalm 22. Th­ese pas­sages por­tray some­one suf­fer­ing in a man­ner very much like Je­sus did. Have them read Psalm 16 and 49. Who is this per­son that God will not leave in the grave?

“No, the scoffer says, you are still quot­ing the Bi­ble. Have you no ev­i­dence be­yond the Bi­ble?” Yes, we do. There is the neg­a­tive ev­i­dence. Chris­tian­ity would have been easy to dis­prove.

All that was needed was for some­one to pro­duce Je­sus’ dead body. His body could not be found. Why not? Then there is the pos­i­tive ev­i­dence. Some­thing must have hap­pened to the dis­ci­ples. Chris­tian­ity started in Jerusalem, right where Je­sus was cru­ci­fied. From Jerusalem the dis­ci­ples went out into the world telling peo­ple about Je­sus’ teach­ings, life, death and res­ur­rec­tion. The dis­ci­ples were ar­rested, beaten and for the most part … killed. How can their zeal and courage be ex­plained, un­less they had ac­tu­ally seen what they claimed to have seen?

Lastly, there is the ev­i­dence of the church. For nearly 2,000 years the Chris­tian church has claimed that Je­sus was alive and still some­how present among Chris­tians. Chris­tians have claimed to feel his pres­ence. This may be the best an­swer for those who say, “Je­sus is dead.”

Come to church, friend, and see that Je­sus is with us still — just like he said.

John Donaldson

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