Chapters 32-35 – The Resurrection and the Trinity

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised
Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

St. Paul and John Young are agreed on this – that the resurrection is the
heart of the matter. If Jesus was not raised, if he is not in fact alive today, then we should just walk away because the whole edifice of Christian belief is based on a mistake or a lie.

Young reviews the evidence and the arguments well and I won’t go over all that here. What struck me again, as many times before, is how much of the evidence and argument revolves around the emergence of the church.

  • young men don’t found great movements. Unless they have been
    raised from the dead.
  • public failures don’t found great movements. Unless they
    have been raised from the dead.
  • cowards don’t found great movements. What transformed Peter
    from a ditherer into the great leader, with James and Paul,
    of a rapidly growing church?
  • women don’t found great movements – well not in Jesus’
    day. Why would Mary be named as the first witness to the
    resurrection if it were not true?
  • powerful leaders don’t tolerate great movements. So why
    did the Roman/Jewish authorities not produce the body?

The common factor in all these argument is the ‘great movement‘. An unstoppable movement grew out of the confused, terrified inner core of
Jesus’ friends and followers. Then, and now, the most impressive evidence for the resurrection (apart, obviously, from a conversation with the Risen Lord himself!) is the church – the community which is prepared to live and die by it’s faith in the resurrection.

Does  that sound like a church you know?

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2 responses to “Chapters 32-35 – The Resurrection and the Trinity

  1. Joseph Smith was a twenty-something Illiterate bumpkin when he first encountered the Angel Moroni. There are 14 million Mormons in the world today. He was never raised from the dead (as far as we know).

  2. Hi Vinny!
    You may guess that I’m not here to defend Joseph Smith!, but I do want to protest a little against the description of him as an “Illiterate bumpkin”. He could read, though most of what he read was the Bible; he could certainly write, endlessly it seems. A simple soul, perhaps, and by our standards uneducated, but hardly illiterate.
    His great movement? Cutting a long story short, Mormonism, in it’s earliest days, was parasitic on the Second Great Awakening which converted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the 1820’s and 30’s while Smith was digging up and translating the Golden Book. A twisted off-shoot of authentic Christianity. By his death he had gathered about 26,000 followers, which is impressive but in that atmosphere not necessarily miraculous.
    That’s where it started – Mormonism persists because of the commitment of Mormons to sharing their (misguided )faith. Full credit where it is due! Have you come across this passage from Penn Jillette, atheist and magician?

    “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I
    don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a
    hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and
    you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would
    make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t
    proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to
    yourself – how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

    “I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was
    coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you,
    there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important
    than that.”

    Quite – the Mormons understand that; so in his very different way does Richard Dawkins; I wish more Christians did.

    Vinny – thanks for chipping in.