Friday, February 3, 2012

Key Issue - Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. -Tim Keller

The above quote by Tim Keller reminded me of a conversation that I had recently with one of my cousins who was raised Catholic and if anything is a nominal Catholic now as an adult. This conversation basically revolved around the above quote in whether or not Jesus rose from the dead and that is what everything revolves around and hangs on in Christianity. 

Our conversation basically came to a point in which we had discussed the distinguishing differences between every other world religion and Christianity, discussed some of the different tribes or sects of Christianity, including Catholicism, and what it is that makes it true and different then the rest. Our twenty minute conversation revolved around the man Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection. We already agreed that nobody can deny that there was a historical man named Jesus or that he was killed on a cross, but that what really makes the difference is the claim of a resurrection.

Being nominal Catholic there is a lot that she doesn't understand because she was never taught solid truth. So in the midst of our conversation she turned to me and said, "So basically if Jesus rose from the dead then the claims to Christianity would have to be true?" My response, exactly, it isn't whether or not you like his teachings, but that if he rose from the dead you have to accept all that he said as truth.

You see the only concept that she had ever been taught was a religious one in the sense that everything hung on her own behavior or that she would at least have confession with a priest when she had done wrong things so that they could be forgiven. She found exactly what she should have found, an endless cycle of meaningless confessions, by some man who cannot forgive or intermediate on your behalf for forgiveness. As with most Catholics I know this led to nominalism.

I wish I could tell you that she fully saw her need for the Savior Jesus Christ that day, but she didn't, not yet anyway. Everything was so seemingly new for her that she needs time to let it all set in from the religious baggage that she like many of us carry.

So to quote Tim Keller, I say to you as I said to my cousin, "If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said?"


  1. Praise God that you were able to have this important discussion. Tim Keller's quote, and many others like it ranging from Dostoevsky's "If there is no God, then everything is permissible" and Flannery O'Connor's story "A Good Man is Hard to Find", to C.S. Lewis' famous "Lord, Liar or Lunatic" passage, drive home the reality of Jesus Christ as the narrow gate. If taken seriously, the reality of Jesus forces a choice--the one thing he cannot be is ignored. As a Catholic myself, I must say that your cousin's experience is the experience of far too many Catholic young adults, and adults for that matter--and this is completely unacceptable. This is why I derive tremendous joy in the work I do as a Catholic collegiate missionary: introducing college students and adults to the reality of the person of Jesus Christ present in the Scriptures, in prayer, present in the Church Body, and in the Sacraments. The Catholic Church and its Sacraments make absolutely zero sense without a living, Divine, loving and personally interested Jesus Christ--but with Him at the center of the life of a Christian and therefore at the center of His Body on Earth, the Church, the Catholic Church is a very beautiful collection of sinners and saints indeed.

  2. Andrew, I appreciate your role within the Catholic church and will say from my experience it is a rare one. Maybe we can do a series of post on two cousins who are both serving the Lord, one within the Catholic tradition and the other within the Protestant tradition. We can reflect the similarities and differences of two young leaders trying to help others see their need for Jesus in this lost world. What do you say?

  3. I think that would be a great idea, and hopefully God would bless it and reach many biased and lapsed Christians alike. At the very least, I think it would be interesting to those who follow your blog!