Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Early Story

I am very happy to have my first guest writer, Shelby Cade, on the OC Apologist's blog.  

Shelby has a Master's in Christian Apologetics (with highest honors) from Biola University. He has taught science at the high school level for over 20 years and has taught at the college level as well. Currently he pastors a small Southern Baptist Church in NW Kansas and works as a school counselor. He also is a certified apologetics instructor for the North American Mission Board. The name of his blog, "Flatland Apologetics" is derived from the fact that he lives in the high plains area of Northwest Kansas.  Check out his blog when you have the chance.  

The post he has written fits in line with some of the latest posts I've had on the historical reliability of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  I hope it's helpful. 

The Early Story

Many times those skeptical of the resurrection of Jesus will attack the New Testament as a mythological story.  However, the resurrection can withstand the attacks, because the New Testament is not absolutely necessary to show that the resurrection is the most likely story.

There are certain passages that are referred to as creeds.  These creeds represent known stories that stand outside of the New Testament documents.  In other words, creeds are stories that no one would question as being a latter invention.  Creeds appear earlier that the actual writings of the New Testament and represent the news flashes of what people were saying early on.  Early creedal passages were never debated by those of the first century.  In other words, individuals of the first century who may have been skeptical of Christianity never questioned the creedal statements that existed.

One such creed that existed early on is found in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8.  This creedal passage comes by way of the apostle Paul.  This passage may have been written some 30 years after the death of Jesus, but the story itself goes all the way back to the resurrection itself.  This passage was not some story written down some 30 years after the fact.  Most scholars accept this story as being very early, showing that the resurrection of Jesus was proclaimed very early as well.  The late Jack Kent who authored the skeptical book, The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth even says, “the creed might have been in circulation for some years and it could be dated very close to the actual crucifixion.” [1]  The First Corinthians creedal passage shows that the resurrection story was not an invention of men or myth.

Implied in the story are the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of Jesus to others.  If nothing had been written concerning the person of Jesus, one would still need to explain this apparent miracle.  Jesus was a known person who suffered death on a Roman cross, which no scholar would debate.  Jesus was placed in a known empty tomb according to the majority of scholars and was reported to be alive after three days in the tomb.  For the skeptic, it is incumbent that he/she offers explanations of the empty tomb and appearances of the risen Jesus.  The New Testament is constantly attacked, but if Christianity is to be proven false, then a better explanation to the implied First Corinthians creed must be offered.  The early story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus has stood the test of time and confirmed the reason for the early spread of Christianity.

By Shelby Cade 
Shelby's blog: "Flatland Apologetics"

Shelby Cade

[1]  Kent, Jack, The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth, p. 16-17

The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth
Click for more info.

1 comment:

  1. Very succinct use of the 1Corinthians text - a text that even very critical scholars are willing to agree is definitely written by Paul. Gary Habermas utilizes this text *very* effectively in some of his lectures and writings to demonstrate that the foundations of the text (the creedal subtext that Paul appears to be drawing from) can be reasonably dated within as little as six months from the death & resurrection of Jesus. Definitely worth further reading on for those interested in this aspect of textual defense.