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The Resurrection with a Cold-Case Detective Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
March 24, 2021 8:42 pm

The Resurrection with a Cold-Case Detective Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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March 24, 2021 8:42 pm

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace joins Bill and Eric as he provides evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus. This information is crucial to understand because, without the resurrection, Christianity is no better than any other religion.

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM.

It was said of our guest, who better to learn apologetic strategies from than one who has spent decades in the trenches? That was Dr. Gary Habermas, and in my opinion, there's probably few that are better at defending the position of the bodily resurrection of Christ than Dr. Gary Habermas from Liberty University. But we have J. Warner Wallace again with us, and he's going to be talking about some of the criticisms that skeptics have made regarding the bodily resurrection of Christ. We've already established this week that if there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus, then really, Christianity is in vain. We're still in our sin.

So it is a pivotal position that the church has had ever since the beginning. So, Jim, welcome back to the show. It's great to have you on.

Thanks for having me. You're right about Gary. I mean, I think that Gary Habermas is, in my mind, there's just no doubt that this is the foremost expert in the resurrection in the world today. So I'm just delighted to call him a friend. And yeah, so I'll sit in his shoes today as a poor substitute, but he's the guy.

There you go. I often try to get skeptics to read his books on this subject because he does have a lot of really good information. But you know, it's amazing, Jim, your book, your book lit, I should say, and the one that we're talking about this week, Alive, A Cold Case Approach to the Resurrection, takes a lot of those points and condenses them in a way that I don't think would be intimidating for most people.

And that's one reason why we wanted to talk about this. And I mentioned this on Monday's show, but you can actually purchase these in sets of 10. They're small little booklets. I think it's about $10 on christianbooks.com.

My wife is planning on giving these to her coworkers and I'm sure they'll receive them. Many of them are LDS. I mean, what could be so bad about the resurrection? But we want people to know that there really is a truth about who Jesus is as far as his resurrection is concerned.

He didn't just stay in the grave. And we're looking at some of these theories that people have that I think quite frankly are lame, especially as our police detective Jim is showing us that when you take a closer look, there really is no doubt that those theories are false and that there really was a resurrection of Jesus. One that we're going to look at today in your book, Alive, is the disciples were delusional. You write this, you say some skeptics believe that the disciples, as a result of their intense grief and sorrow, only imagine seeing Jesus alive after his death on the cross.

How would you respond to that? Yeah, that's exactly, I mean, that was what I view that I held myself as an atheist, right? If you want something bad enough, you can imagine it, even if it's not really true. You know how many times you've heard a story of somebody who's had a love one pass away and they have a vision of the love one, they could swear they were in the same room as them or whatever it may be. And so if you look at some of the early encounters of Jesus, like Mary Magdalene in the garden, right, in Mark 16, in John 20, talks about how she sees Jesus, at least she thinks she does. Is it the gardener? Is it Jesus? You know, there's some confusion about this, but she's alone.

And if she wants it bad enough, I can see how she could mistakenly think something is true when it's not. You have another single appearance to Peter mentioned in Luke chapter 24, 1 Corinthians 15, you have another single appearance to James. These are people who might have felt bad about Jesus's death, either felt like, Peter felt like he probably denied Jesus, right? So I'm sure he would love if he had a chance to see Jesus after the fact. But then it gets weird.

And this is why they get to really understand the depth. Sometimes people make objections to the claims of scripture without really fully reading the scripture they're objecting to. And that's where it gets a little tricky, right? So if you were to actually read all the accounts and separate them all out, you'll see there's another single account of a single person who sees Jesus. But his name is Paul. And he sees him on the road to Damascus. And I just don't know why Paul would so desire to see Jesus alive that he would imagine this, right?

That it's a little harder to explain. And then you have multiple accounts, at least two on the road to Emmaus. Are they having a group dream? Look, folks, if I said I had a dream last night, and you were able to repeat the details of my dream, that would freak me out, because we don't have group dreams.

Collective things like that are called memories, okay? When you're dreaming it, you don't have a collective dream, especially in the kind of detail that's recorded early in Christian scripture, early enough to have been fact checked by those who could say it wasn't true. That's another reason why the early dating of scripture is so important, right? Because it basically shows you that if it's written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses, or those who could have said, hey, I knew Jesus, and he was none of those things, you could fact check it.

Well, that helps us to determine if it's reliable. But then you have more accounts than this. You have three women in Matthew 28, who see Jesus at the same time. You have seven men in John 21, who see Jesus at the lake. You have 10 who, no Judas, no Thomas, who see Jesus in Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20. Then you have Thomas come back into the fold, so we have a sighting in John 20 with 11 people seeing and reporting the same thing. And then you have another situation in Luke 24, the ascension. You have one of the mountain disciples on the mountain in Matthew 28.

You have 500 who saw the Christ risen on the same day at the same time, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, 6. Now, why I mention all that is because if we're saying that someone is delusional because they really want something to be true when it isn't, well, I can understand that. That actually sounds reasonable to me. What does not sound reasonable are group visions of any nature. Read them.

The amount of detail involved in each account. Now, I would also say, though, if I could demonstrate these were written 200 years after the fact when everyone's dead, well, then I would doubt them. But the problem is, and I demonstrate this in Cold Case Christianity, you can date these to within the lifetime of eyewitnesses, but more importantly, to within the lifetime of people who could say, that didn't happen.

You're lying. And that's why the early dating helps us. This is why I think that Peter says this in 2 Peter 1. We didn't 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.

And let me just say something here before we go any further on this. When we talk about, well, is there another way to explain the resurrection accounts or this early belief in the resurrection? Maybe they were wrong and He didn't really die. Maybe they were lying about it.

Maybe they just hallucinated this. If you asked me, is that possible that one of those explanations is the true explanation? I'm always going to say yes, because anything is possible.

Anything and everything is possible. We have a jury instruction in California that tells jurors that the standard is not beyond a possible doubt because I can level an imaginary or possible doubt against any claim. The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt.

And that's a slightly lower standard, right? Because I could never demonstrate something is true beyond a possible doubt. I can't even demonstrate that I'm really talking to you. You sound like you, but I'm not in the same room as you.

So it's possible I'm talking to somebody that does a really good Bill and Eric impersonation. So the question is, do I have good reasonable evidence to get beyond a reasonable doubt before I embrace a claim? The idea that they were hallucinating, certainly I say anything is possible, but it's not reasonable. Well, you mentioned the apostle Paul, and certainly he wouldn't have qualified to be one of those who wanted or had even any affection towards Jesus. If anything, he had hatred towards him. But what about Thomas? Thomas seemed to have his doubts as well. He was a skeptic.

Yeah, no doubt. And there's a reason why I think his story is included. I mean, we often sometimes will talk about embarrassing elements of the Gospels that tend to speak toward their truthfulness.

I'm kind of divided on that personally. I've seen really good liars. I've been in the presence of really good liars who have inserted embarrassing details to make their lie sound better. But I do think it's interesting that you get a full view of who's smart, who's not, you know, who is really committed, who's not so committed. And Thomas is interesting, right? He's a guy who wanted to see. Isn't it interesting too, when he actually sees Jesus, he's immediately convinced, he's actually immediately remorseful that he even asked, right?

And I think that that's okay. I think Jesus does not say, okay, now, Thomas, this disqualified you. Instead, what he says is, you know what, Thomas?

You're blessed because you get a chance to see and touch me. But the people who are going to rely on your eyewitness testimony in the future are even more blessed. And as he elevates, remember that eyewitness testimony is what we call in criminal trials, direct evidence. There's only two kinds of evidence, direct and indirect. Direct evidence is eyewitness testimony. Most people would say that direct evidence is like the higher form, right? If I could, somebody saw him do it. By the way, videotape or videotape now, the video recordings, I am dating myself here, are actually considered direct evidence. And so they would often say that's, now you realize though that, you know, witnesses can be wrong and video can be altered.

But we would say that those two forms, direct and indirect, are the standard forms of evidence used in every criminal trial. And what is Jesus telling Thomas? He's telling Thomas, hey, you're going to act as a form of direct evidence, along with all your buddies here, to tell the rest of the world what you saw.

So I'm glad you're touching me. I want you, this is going to be part of your story going forward. This is going to be part of your testimony going forward. And when Jesus uses the word testimony, he's not using it like we use it or like Mormons use it, where it's like, let me tell you how God changed my life, or let me tell you what experience I had that confirmed for me this truth claim.

No. Testimony in the book of Acts is the eyewitness observations of people who saw the resurrection. When people share their testimony, how has Peter changed?

You never get it off the mouth of Peter. You never get it as his testimony, how he was changed by the gospel, what experience he had. Instead, the first time he ever talks about Jesus, his testimony is his testifying to the resurrection on Pentecost.

So I think that's the difference, right? We're trying to show that this is actually evidential by its very nature. One of the arguments that you include in your booklet, Alive, a cold case approach to the resurrection is you say the disciples were fooled by an imposter. You write, some non-believers have argued that an imposter tricked the disciples and convinced them that Jesus was still alive. The disciples then unknowingly advanced the lie.

Very quickly in the time that we have remaining, how would you respond to that? Well, let's just take one side of it. Either they're fooling you on the front side of the cross or on the back side of the cross, right? So what's interesting about it is, is that Jesus is very supernatural before he goes to the cross. It'd be hard to pretend you're Jesus unless you can also feed 5,000 and walk on water and do all that stuff, right? But it turns out on the back side of the cross, Jesus is just as spectacularly supernatural.

He still works miracles. He appears miraculously. He even ascends miraculously into heaven. If you're an imposter, you'd have to be able to do what Jesus does. And there's the problem, is that the miraculous nature of Jesus is what defines him, what separates him. And any imposter would have to do the same things on one side or the other. Appear miraculously, perform miraculously, and ascend miraculously. So I always say, is it possible?

Like I always say, yes, it's possible, but it's not reasonable. We're talking to Jay Warner Wallace. He's the author of Cold Case Christianity, God's Crime Scene, Forensic Faith. And as I mentioned earlier in this week, all three of those books have an edition that are made especially for kids. I am a very strong proponent of raising your children and understanding apologetics.

I think that's one area where the Christian church is really lacking. And Jim, you offer some good material that parents can use to educate their children. Your website is coldcasechristianity.com. And tomorrow we're going to wrap this series up talking about some more of the objections that skeptics have had regarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-11 21:06:34 / 2023-12-11 21:12:36 / 6

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