Friday, March 25, 2016

Resurrection Is the Heart of Christianity

The hope of rising from the dead is a massive stumbling block for many people. That’s understandable. The idea of a dead person coming back to life kind of flies in the face of everything we know about our natural world.

Science and biology tell us that when an organism dies, it stays dead. Medical researchers have never chronicled a single case where a dead person came back to life. The cemeteries in our communities are the quietest places in town. So, modern science, the historical record, and our own personal experience tell us the same thing: resurrections don’t happen.

Now, there are two key points to understand about the idea of rising from the dead. First, the concept of resurrection is the heart of Christianity. If rising from the dead is impossible—if resurrections have never occurred and will never occur—then the Christian faith is stripped of all its meaning and relevance.

Without a hope in resurrection and the possibility of eternal life, then Christianity is, frankly, a waste of time. St. Paul wrote, “How can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?…For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins….If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-19).

Paul was quite clear: if resurrections cannot occur, then this whole Christian thing is a massive waste of time, and those of us who spend our time and effort following Christ should be pitied.

The second important point to understand about the idea of rising from the dead is the concept of anti-supernatural bias, the idea that the natural world is the ONLY world. The thinking goes something like this: “Since I’ve never seen a miracle occur, that proves one cannot happen.”

If we believe the natural world is the only world, in other words, if our starting point for understanding reality is the declaration that miracles are absolutely impossible, then of course a miracle such as a resurrection cannot happen.

But if we expand our understand a little bit, if we acknowledge that there just might be a supernatural dimension to reality above and beyond the natural dimension, and therefore miracles, though extremely rare, are possible, then we can rationally and reasonably believe that rising from the dead can occur.

If you would like some powerful evidence that there is a supernatural dimension to reality, then spend some time studying the genetic code. The data encoded in our DNA is more intricate and complex than the most advanced computer software ever written by the brilliant minds at Apple, Microsoft, or Google. If you think such an immense collection of information and instructions just formed itself by accident without any outside supernatural guidance at all, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you.

Admittedly, believing that resurrections can occur is kind of challenging. But once we come to understand that God is real, and that He can perform miracles, a hope in resurrection transforms a curious philosophy into a life-altering, joyful faith. God’s promise that He will raise our mortal bodies allows us to look death right in the eye and laugh, just as St. Paul did. “Where, O death, is your victory?” he mockingly wrote. “Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Resurrection is the heart of Christianity. And Resurrection is exactly what happened on that first Easter morning 20 centuries ago. Thank God!

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