resurrection and acceptance

Related to my post on atheist/religious dialogue, I came across a fascinating quote that for me accurately describes what’s central to Christianity. Oh, and it’s from the openly secular organization, Centre for Inquiry Canada:
Only claims of his supposed and unsupported resurrection from the dead elevated Jesus above the many lower-level social and religious charismatics who were common in Galilee and Judaea during his time. If Christianity hadn’t become the only Jewish sect that eventually allowed non-Jews to convert, it is doubtful that the life of Jesus would have gone on to influence Western civilization to the degree that it has. "Christ" - Extraordinary Claims
Okay, so “supposed and unsupported” is debatable. Many reasonable individuals look at the historical evidence and do think the resurrection is supported. But that’s not what I want to focus on. The quote describes two key Christian beliefs: resurrection and acceptance. In my view, the authors get it (even if they don’t like the results).

As the quote summarizes, without resurrection and acceptance, Christianity likely would have failed. Yet even the Apostle Paul recognizes the implications for the reality (or unreality) of Jesus’ resurrection: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” But Paul continues, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead...in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:17,20,22). This is the hope that has inspired millions in history. It’s true, hope in the resurrection is critical to Christian identity.

When it comes to acceptance, Jesus himself taught, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31). And Paul boldly stated a new reality of human relationships: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Again, it’s true, this acceptance is central to Christian identity.

Very likely, I agree, the influence of Christianity on Western civilization would have been minuscule without these keys. And sadly, the rest of Christian history hasn’t always displayed the same life-giving message of resurrection and relationship that the early church lived-out.

But these inconsistencies and the speculations on what may or may not have been doesn’t negate the truth in the analysis of these atheists: resurrection and acceptance are central.

As a Christian, I’m glad for this reminder.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

David,

the quote (i haven't read the links) deals with the resurrection in isolation of Jesus life, teachings and mighty deeds. I'm slowly reading NT Wright's Resurrection book (it's way too massive). Wright makes the point that one person coming back to life would have been very interesting. But when we examine the other claims of Jesus (he is the true Israel, etc) come to set creation right we have something truly earth shattering.

And I just heard Dr. Watts (gospel of John) talk about the Gal 3:28 text. a text which rocked the stratified Roman world.

Larry S

David Warkentin said...

Hey Larry,

I briefly scanned Wright's book before I posted this, but as you say, it's "massive." I do really appreciate how Wright places Jesus' resurrection in the historical context of Israel's story. My guess is the Centre for Inquiry hasn't read Wright! :).

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