I was a skeptical thirty-5-year-old atheist when I very first study by means of the New Testament. I was also a detective serving in Los Angeles County. I can nonetheless try to remember exactly where I was when I found this verse:
“…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Furthermore we are even identified to be false witnesses of God, for the reason that we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in reality the dead are not raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15)
I was in a surveillance automobile in south central Los Angeles, functioning a case and taking a break. I was passing some time reading a Bible I bought immediately after listening to a message from a neighborhood pastor. As quickly as I study this passage, I knew I would have to start out a extremely various sort of investigation. I was familiar with the claims of Christianity: Jesus allegedly rose from the dead immediately after becoming executed on a Roman cross. I didn’t think it, but this ancient Biblical author apparently did, and he seemed to be difficult me to investigate the Resurrection. If the alleged eyewitnesses of the risen Christ had been lying (speaking as “false witnesses”), the claims of the New Testament had been in “vain” and the faith of Christians – nevertheless effectively intended they may well be – had been “also in vain.” If the claims about Jesus had been correct, on the other hand, almost everything I believed I knew as an atheist would have to be reconsidered.
I decided to accept Paul’s challenge. I knew how to evaluate eyewitnesses to see if they had been dependable, and I knew a single of the most crucial regions to investigate was motive. Folks lie for precise factors, and my encounter as a detective taught me there had been only 3 of these factors:
Several of the crimes (and lies) I’ve investigated more than the years had been motivated by the pursuit of income. Did this motivate the very first Christians to lie about the Resurrection? Nearby believers in a assortment of ancient communities wrote about the activities of the disciples following the Resurrection. None of these texts describe any of the disciples as guys who possessed material wealth. As an alternative, they seem to have been chased from place to place, continually abandoning what ever house they owned. Even the earliest Christian records describe the followers as practically homeless. Peter acknowledged as a lot when he told Jesus, “Behold, we have left our personal residences and followed You” (Luke 18:28). Paul later reminded his readers that the apostles had been “both hungry and thirsty, and [were] poorly clothed, and [were] roughly treated, and [were] homeless” (1 Cor. four:11). The apostles lived “as unknown however effectively-identified, as dying however behold, we reside as punished however not place to death, as sorrowful however usually rejoicing, as poor however creating lots of wealthy, as obtaining absolutely nothing however possessing all things” (two Cor. six:9–10). In addition to this, all the nonbiblical accounts connected to the lives of the apostles affirm the poverty of the disciples as they traveled the planet to proclaim their testimony. If the disciples and apostles had been lying for economic get, their lies didn’t look to be functioning.
Sex or Relationships
Sexual or relational need is a different potent motivation for crimes and lies. But this second motivation appears just as unlikely as the very first in explaining why the gospel authors would lie about the Resurrection. Whilst the New Testament documents say small about the “love lives” of the apostolic eyewitnesses, we do know that Peter was married and had a mother-in-law (Matt. eight:14). Paul confirmed this and recommended that Peter wasn’t the only a single who was married when, in his letter to the Corinthians, he asked, “Do we not have a ideal to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas [Peter]?” (1 Cor. 9:five). The early-church fathers also recommended that the apostles had been married, with the feasible exception of the youngest apostle, John. It is clear from each the biblical record and the nonbiblical history that the apostles had been cautious to reside their private lives in a manner that was beyond reproach. The apostles weren’t making use of their position or testimony to get sexual favors. If the apostles had been motivated by sexual need, there is absolutely no record of it in the ancient writings of the time and no hint of it in their personal texts.
The Pursuit of Energy
There’s a third motivation for felonies and falsehoods: the need to be potent and respected. Offered that the disciples had no apparent economic, sexual or relational motivations, I suspected this third category would clarify their “lies”. Certainly the early Christian leaders ought to have gained stature and energy inside their personal religious communities. But, as I investigated the lives of the very first-century apostles, I found the expense they paid for their leadership part. Energy has its perks, not the least of which is the capacity to guard oneself, however this sort of energy was in no way out there to the apostles. The early Christian movement straight away faced hostility from the authorities. Tacitus, the ancient Roman historian wrote, for instance, that Nero after “inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, referred to as Christians by the populace… Mockery of every single sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they had been torn by dogs and perished, or had been nailed to crosses, or had been doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired” (from his Annals, Book XV). The nonbiblical histories and writings connected to the lives of the disciples regularly described them as persecuted and martyred for their testimony and leadership. The Biblical record is no various. Paul wrote that he was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, shipwrecked, endangered, mistreated, starved and sleep deprived (two Cor. 11:24–28). As the apostles rose to positions of leadership, they created themselves the target of oppression and abuse. They received persecution rather than energy.
By the time I completed investigating these who claimed to see Jesus rise from the grave, I realized that none of these eyewitnesses had a superior purpose to lie. Whilst later believers had been prepared to die (as an act of faith) for what they did not see with their personal eyes, the original eyewitnesses we prepared to die (as an act of certainty) for what they did see. Their claims about the Resurrection had been expensive, and weren’t motivated by income, sex or energy. As an alternative, their testimony expense them their comfort, their households, and in the end their lives.
The disciples’ claims about the Resurrection were costly, and weren’t motivated by money, sex or power. Instead, their testimony cost them their comfort, their families, and ultimately their lives. Click To Tweet
If the disciples didn’t have a superior purpose to lie about the Resurrection, what was my superior purpose not to think them? I couldn’t obtain a single. The additional I discovered about the historical proof for Christianity, the additional convicted I was about my personal resistance to its claims. I sooner or later had to ask myself, “Am I resisting for the reason that there is not adequate proof to demonstrate this is correct, or am I resisting for the reason that I just do not want it to be correct?” Just after examining the proof, I knew it was the latter. I had constructed a series of prideful, intellectual barriers that prevented me from hearing the truth. After these barriers had been removed, I was capable to recognize myself on the pages of Scripture: a fallen, rebellious, and prideful detective who didn’t want to admit he required a Savior.
As I came to trust what the Bible mentioned about the Resurrection of Jesus, I also came to trust what it mentioned about me. I found my will need for a Savior, even as I found the Savior, Himself.
This write-up very first appeared in Selection Magazine
For additional details about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these approaches to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to assistance folks or smaller groups examine the proof and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot College of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for children.
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