I believe I am going to spend the next 6 weeks posting answers to essay questions posed to my Christian apologetics class from my undergraduate studies a few years back. The text is The Case for the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Michael R. Licona. Here is the brief bio for Dr. Habermas and Dr. Licona as written on the back of the book:
Gary R. Habermas (Ph.D., Michigan State) is currently distinguished professor and chair of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and a recognized authority on the resurrection of Jesus. He has twenty-five books to his credit and has also authored over one hundred articles in journals and magazines across the nation.
Michael R. Licona (Ph.D. cand., Pretoria) is a New Testament historian who has been defending the Christian faith for over a decade, speaking at a variety of venues across the nation. He is also author of Cross Examined and Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock.
Dr. Habermas’ Website can be found at http://www.garyhabermas.com/. More information about his works and research are in abundance on the site. I am not too familiar with the other gentleman but suffice it to say that I have read the book twice and it is one of the staples in helping me when my faith in man is low and my convictions that Jesus is real are running dry. I do not consider it divine on any level, but it has been of utmost importance and help to a double-minded plebian who is often times unstable in all his ways.
The questions to answer are below.
1. Describe the “minimal” facts approach to the resurrection question, complete with a general description and outline of the approach as applied to the resurrection of Christ. Do I agree or disagree with this approach?
2. Provide a description of reasons why it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus did in fact die and that his tomb was later found empty. Does the empty tomb itself prove that the resurrection is factual? How far does the empty tomb take us in making a case for the resurrection?
3. What is it so important to deal with the question of “legend” as it pertains to the resurrection? What is the relationship between the early dating of New Testament documents and the dispelling of accusations that the resurrection story developed as a legend? What is it so important that the resurrection testimony be dated back to the years immediately following the crucifixion of Christ? What is the recognition of “creeds” so important in establishing an argument refuting the “legendary development” objection to the resurrection? (I might have to break this question up into more manageable parts or post three times during the week.)
4. If a skeptic counters your witness by saying that the disciples simply lied about their eyewitness claims to having seen the resurrected Jesus, how would you respond? What if the skeptic claimed that the disciples must have simply experienced hallucinations of some kind?
5. Why is the resurrection so important to the message of the gospel? To what extent should the fact of the resurrection be presented as part of the gospel? In typical “programmed” gospel presentations, does the resurrection take a prominent position?
6. Can one “prove” that Jesus was raised from the dead? Why or why not? Can evidence from the case for the resurrection be used to further any other apologetic inquiries or arguments? If so, which ones?
As you can see, these are not short answer questions and will require fairly lengthy posts. I do not expect anyone to read them all. I do expect people to skim the ones that they are interested in finding out more about. I do expect myself to be strengthened from going back through this information. (It has been about two years since I last read the book.) I would love to see other people strengthened in their faith and in their understanding of the importance of the gospel message from reading these posts. Have a great week and may the weeks to come be extremely uplifting before the celebration of our Lord’s birth!