He is Risen Indeed
I have spent many years concerned with how the mind works and with logic and reason. I like to think this was a character of my thought before I ever heard the word, “metacognition,” but that may be wishful thinking. One way I sharply differ from many with similar interests is that I believe in God. To state it plainly, I truly believe in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Historical” is the operative word in that statement of faith, because I believe there is something supernatural here. I think there can be things that go beyond the laws of nature. Mine is not a modern faith in Jesus as a good teacher, without all that business of being God incarnate. No, what I believe challenges plain reason. I don’t believe without reason, however.
I think all worldviews hinge on some bit of faith. For instance, science depends on the underlying belief that the universe will make sense. That reality is figure-out-able. There is no reason it has to be this way though. Careful observation and scientific testing strengthens this case, and logic indicates–but does not require–that this will remain so. Believing reality will remain understandable is required for science to work, and that is a reasonable faith.
Where I part company with so many scientists is the requirement that there be only a naturalistic explanation for everything. This may be, but I can’t see how it must be. Any observation that defies a natural explanation is either because it indicates the functioning of a more fundamental natural law, or because there has been some supernatural force acting on reality. I make room for the supernatural, even as I don’t assume it.
This is my reasoned position now, but I grew into it. I started with faith as a child, but when I entered school, I learned more of the common objectives to a belief in God. This got me interested in Christian Apologetics, from the Greek word “Apologia,” which means defense. These discussions in defense of belief were useful as I worked out my own faith.
One of my favorite voices in those days was Chuck Colson, who was formerly Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man.” Earlier this week, I heard a few episodes of the Breakpoint podcast, which continued after Chuck Colson’s death. My favorite was a re-broadcast of some past Easter messages, and one of them was a discussion of the first bit of apologetics I remember finding truly compelling when I was a teenager.
It is reliably agreed, by Christian and secular scholars alike, that the tomb of Jesus was empty three days after the crucifixion. Scholars likewise agree that the “Swoon Theory,” and other similar explanations for how Jesus did not actually die on the cross, are improbable. Therefore, the most likely natural explanation for the empty tomb would be some sort of conspiracy that removed and hid the body of Christ. If there was a conspiracy, the beneficiaries of such a conspiracy would have be its likely perpetrators. Namely, Jesus’s disciples.
Recorded in the Gospels, and to their discredit, the disciples abandoned Jesus in fear, when he was taken prisoner by the authorities. Like nearly all their contemporaries, the disciples believed in a mighty and predominately political or warrior messiah that would restore the Jewish people to worldly prominence. When, instead, their supposed Messiah went meekly into confinement, all that was put asunder.
Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. Three days later, the tomb was empty, and He later appeared to them alive. If we grant the former point, we don’t have the same reason to grant the latter, except for the disciples subsequent behavior. These formerly fearful men began to boldly proclaim their Faith under harsh persecution by the Jewish and Roman authorities. All but one were martyred for their Faith.
Very occasionally, people will choose to die for truth, but it defies reason that the 11 people most in position to know the truth would instead knowingly die for a lie.
Embedded here is Chuck Colson’s discussion of this idea, with his additional perspective of having participated in the conspiracy to coverup the Watergate break-in.
This doesn’t prove anything, of course, but I hope it shows there can be reason in faith. I cannot separate my mind from my heart, and I don’t want to. I don’t need to.
I would like to close with my favorite church tradition. Saying “alleluia” (praise the Lord) in the church’s liturgy is put away during Lent, until the Easter service when it returns in the Paschal Greeting. It is a wonderful celebration.
“Alleluia. Christ is Risen!”
“The Lord is Risen Indeed”