Beat your minister with a cat-o’nine-tails

Next Sunday morning, I will stand at the front of our church and say, “He Is Risen!”

Next Sunday morning, I will stand at the front of our church and say, “He Is Risen!” The congregation will reply, “He Is Risen Indeed!” And it will be a passionate declaration, because we believe it!

There are many who deny the resurrection (some of them claim to be Christians) and there are several theories disclaiming the biblical/historical record of the resurrection . The following is a brief synopsis of a few of them.

The earliest theory stated that Christ’s body was stolen. Matthew 28:13 explains that the religious leaders bribed soldiers and told them, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night… and stole his body.’”

A second theory claims that someone other than Jesus’ disciples removed His body from the tomb. Interestingly, that was Mary Magdalene’s supposition when she found Jesus’ tomb empty (John 20:2-16).

The swoon theory purports that Jesus never really died. He simply fainted and slipped into a deep coma from the pain and trauma of crucifixion, regaining consciousness in the tomb.

The swoon theory is considered one of the more plausible explanations, however the absurdity of this theory was comically and profoundly addressed in a “Dear Uticas” column. A reader asked, “Dear Uticas, Our minister said that Jesus fainted on the cross and then His disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?” It was signed, “Bewildered”.

The columnist replied, “Dear Bewildered, Beat your minister with a cat-o’-nine-tails 39 times. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his side, embalm him and put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens. Sincerely, Uticus”.

There are many other theories…the drug theory alleges that Jesus deathlike appearance was drug-induced. The twin theory is based on the assertion that Jesus had an identical twin. The vision theory claims that post-resurrection appearances of Christ were illusions, visions or ghostlike appearances and apparitions. Similarly, the hypnosis theory claims that Christ’s appearances were caused by posthypnotic suggestion; this theory espouses that Jesus’ miracles were also the result of hypnosis rather than actual miracles. And on and on the theories go…

Admittedly, Josh McDowell’s summary statement on these resurrection theories is cutting, if not outright caustic, but it truly cuts to the heart of the matter. In “The Resurrection Factor” he writes, “Many theories have been advanced, attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud. I believe that many of the people who came up with these theories must have had two brains–one lost, and the other one out looking for it. Historians have to become anti-historical to invent some of their ideas.”

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

Pastor Ross Helgeton is the senior pastor of Erskine Evangelical Free Church.

FAITH & REFLECTION