Chapter 4

What The Opposition Says

Apremise that cannot stand up against opposing views is not worthy of our trust. Therefore, it is only fair that we mention some of the theories that have been proposed to explain away the resurrection. Looking carefully at the logic of these ideas, we will be able to see how they fare when stacked up against the evidence already presented.

THEORY: The body was stolen from the tomb. In this theory, the disciples are the culprits. They sneaked up to the stone, rolled it away, and walked off with Jesus’ body. That’s why it wasn’t there when the women, John, and Peter arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week.

OBJECTIONS: Why would the disciples want Jesus’ body? Who was it who appeared to all those people later? How did the disciples sneak past the guards? Why would an angel lie about the reason for the tomb being empty?

THEORY: The authorities took the body. Knowing that the disciples had an unusual interest in Jesus, the authorities—both governmental and religious—made sure they would not see Him again. They opened the tomb and took the body.

OBJECTIONS: Why didn’t the authorities produce it to disprove the claims of Peter and others just a few weeks later? What turned the disheartened disciples into fiery proponents of a new cause if they had not seen Jesus again?

THEORY: Jesus’ friends went to the wrong tomb. It had been a terrifying week for the disciples and the others who had grown so close to Jesus. Therefore they became disoriented and went to the wrong grave. That’s why they found an empty tomb.

OBJECTIONS: Whose graveclothes did John and Peter find? What was an angel doing at someone else’s gravesite? Is it possible that they all forgot their directions at the same time?

THEORY: Jesus only fainted. This theory says that Jesus didn’t die on the cross. Instead, He fell into a deep swoon. Then, when He was placed in the tomb, He was revived by the cool, damp air. That explains His later appearances.

OBJECTIONS: What caused the soldiers to misinterpret the evidence and certify that Jesus was dead? Why didn’t Joseph notice that Jesus wasn’t dead when he wrapped Him in linen? How did Jesus, who had been nearly dead just days before, push away the stone and walk about town in perfectly good health?

THEORY: Jesus’ friends saw hallucinations. The resurrection makes a nice story, says this theory, but the disciples never saw any of the things they thought they saw. In fact, some say, they hallucinated, seeing images in their minds that corresponded with what they wanted to see.

OBJECTIONS: Is there evidence that suggests that 11 people can hallucinate the same image? How about 500 simultaneous, identical hallucinations? Can people drag out hallucinations over 7 weeks, in many locations, and under various circumstances?