In reference to all this bally-hoo about the supposed “tomb of Jesus”, Church historian Andrew McGowan, warden of Trinity College at Melbourne University, said if the claims could be proved, some Christians would give up their faith.
I would give up my faith tomorrow if it could be proved today that Jesus Christ was not physically raised from the dead. Ie. if someone found a box of bones which could be shown beyond reasonable doubt to be those of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate. God alone knows how such a thing could be proved–it would at the very least involve finding an undisturbed tomb with an authentic inscription upon it and a skeleton in it with nails still through the wrists (and the carbon-dated inscription from above the cross thrown in for good measure)–so my faith is probably pretty secure.
And I mean the physical resurrection. No other sort of resurrection cuts it for me, I am afraid. I am not interested in spiritual “floaty bits” surviving death. Every spiritualist of every age has always held such a view–there is nothing revolutionary about that. Real resurrection means no dead body. The real Easter hope, the hope I proclaimed every time I officiated at the side of the grave or in the crematorium, is that this body that we today commit to the elements will rise again. The Creeds say as much: a comparison of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds indicated that resurrection of the dead means resurrection of the body. All else is pale gnosticism.
And we have two strong historical reasons for believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus.
The first is that nothing else explains the emergence of the Christian religion. Nothing else explains why Jesus’ followers–who deserted him at his death (a point that scores negatively for the apostles themselves, so they would hardly have made it up if it wasn’t true)–had a complete change of heart almost immediately after his crucifixion that led them to “go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations”, to the point of willingness to die for the faith they proclaimed. What happened to bring about this change? As Archbishop Bruno Forte, a member of the International Theological Commission, said in a Zenit report recently: “What happened? The profane historian cannot explain it. The Gospels imply it: There was an encounter that changed their lives.”
The second is that, while there were plenty of folk in the first decades of Christianity who sought to discredit the Christian proclamation of resurrection with theories of grave robbers taking the body away (note that these theories are tackled head on within the gospel accounts themselves), no-one thought of the simplest solution: to open up Jesus’ tomb and show that there was a body in there. They didn’t do this because there was universal acknowledgment from both believers and unbelievers that the grave was empty. Nor was there any debate over whether or not Jesus had actually died. It was a public death, and seen by many. Surely the next easiest way to negate the resurrection would have been to point out that Jesus was still wandering about the place, married to Mary Magdalene with a son in tow.
It is just too silly for words.
My faith has one foundation, and one alone: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. However you like to dress up this statement–and I agree that it has as much about it that is spiritual and religious and faith filled–that statement is also a statement of historical truth.
That is why I am a Christian. And will be till the day I die.
Or they find the proven body of Jesus in a tomb somewhere.