Posted by: Johnold Strey | May 28, 2009

Resurrection Reflections

Defense Never RestsThe Easter season of the church year concludes this week.  In light of the end of this year’s Easter season, I’d like to share some resurrection-related quotes from Craig Parton’s book, The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyer’s Quest for the Gospel.  The quotes I have included below are excerpts I cite when I teach the lesson on Jesus’ resurrection and exalation in my Bible Information Class.

Remember, always trust what the guy who rose from the dead has to say!

On the factual validity of the Gospels:

“The Gospel writers…are the antithesis of clever schemers.  They are direct and plain about their own faults and go to seemingly great pains to establish that they are presenting facts and not fables.  The apostle Peter puts it clearly: ‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty’” (p. 80).

On the variations within the Gospel accounts:

“In fact, the presence of four different but not inconsistent versions of events is one of the strongest evidentiary factors in favor of the integrity of the Gospel writers.  Identical statements by witnesses is one of the surest signs of collusion.  When preparing a case for trial, a lawyer assumes that they will be prevented by the judge from wasting the jury’s time by presenting multiple witnesses whose testimony in substance is exactly the same.  It is only because different witnesses have additional perspectives and evidence to offer that the advocate is allowed to present “cumulative” testimony.  Thus, for example, at trial a lawyer will likely not be allowed to offer four witnesses to testify that the traffic light was red.  However, if one witness testifies as to the road conditions on the day in question, one as to the speed of the plaintiff’s vehicle, one as to the speed of the defendant’s vehicle, and one as to whether a pedestrian was in the crosswalk or not, it is likely that the court will allow all four to testify even if they each also testify that the light was red.  The fact is, with respect to the Gospel accounts, no single author claims to give the definitive treatment of the life of Jesus.  In fact, the writers themselves specifically disclaim any claim to an exhaustive record of the life and ministry of Christ (cf. John 20:30-31; John 21:25)” (pp. 81-82).

On the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection:

“The issue of the missing body is one of great force.  The empty tomb itself has been sufficient on its own merits to bring skeptics to Christian faith.  For example, attorney Frank Morrison converted to Christianity on the sole basis of his investigation of the factual case for the resurrection.  Morrison’s argument is that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there are only three interest groups who might have had a motivation to remove the body: the Romans, the Jewish religious leaders, and the disciples.  The Romans craved peace and order so that they might extract taxes from the Jews.  The last thing they wanted was controversy.  Morrison notes that the Jews had every motivation to preserve their religious influence and control, while the disciples would hardly steal the body and then go out and die for what they knew was a lie” (p. 89).

A conclusion based on the above evidence:

“Thus the legal approach to the biblical Gospel not only vindicates the case for Christ—it also vindicates the traditional ‘natural sense’ interpretation of those Gospels that reveals the redemptive life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ confessed by the three ecumenical creeds of Christendom held to by all Christians—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—for two millennia” (p. 96).

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