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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

Don Stewart :: What Objections Have Been Made to the Resurrection?

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Answering Common Questions

Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus – Question 1

If Jesus did not come back from the dead, as the New Testament plainly says He did, then some alternative explanation must be offered to explain what happened. The problem is that other explanations take as much faith to believe as the New Testament’s account. Indeed, these alternative theories leave more questions unanswered than they explain. There is really no plausible explanation to replace what the New Testament says happened; Jesus rose from the dead. We can make the following observations.

How to Falsify the Resurrection of Jesus

First, we want to make it clear that it is theoretically possible to falsify the resurrection account. It can be done in one of two ways. Either some has to:

  1. produce the body of Jesus; or
  2. have a reasonable theory that explains all the evidence.

The Main Objections, Accusations, and Theories against the Resurrection

Since the body off Jesus has never been produced, we will examine the major theories that attempt to explain away the New Testament account of the resurrection of Christ.

These include the following theories, accusations, and claims by those who reject the idea that Jesus has risen.

  1. The Resurrection from the Dead Is Scientifically Impossible
  2. There Are Mythical Elements in the Resurrection Accounts
  3. The Real Story about Jesus Was Suppressed by Later Authorities
  4. The Story about Jesus Became Embellished as It Was Told and Retold
  5. The Story of Jesus’ Resurrection Was Borrowed from Other Similar Accounts of a Dying and Rising God
  6. We Are Not Certain the Tomb Was Really Empty
  7. The Body Was Stolen
  8. Jesus Did Not Actually Die on the Cross
  9. The Women Went to the Wrong Tomb on Easter Sunday
  10. The Gardener Removed the Body
  11. There Was a Twin Brother of Jesus Who Appeared after the Crucifixion
  12. Someone Else Was Crucified Instead of Jesus
  13. There Was Some Sort of Conspiracy to Deceive the People
  14. The Disciples Merely Had Hallucinations about Seeing the Risen Jesus
  15. Jesus Actually Appeared, but Only in a Vision
  16. Jesus Appeared to Believers Only—those Expecting a Resurrection
  17. The Reports about His Resurrection Are Hopelessly Contradictory and Thus Not Believable
  18. We Cannot Know What Happened and It Doesn’t Matter Anyway

Each of these theories, accusations, and claims, has been popular at one time or another throughout the history of the church. Some of them were proposed by scholars, others were not. Today, many of these popular theories are rejected even by everyone, including unbelievers.

Generally speaking, sophisticated unbelievers will account for the belief in the resurrection of Jesus by claiming the story became embellished as it was told and retold. In other words, it was a legend that grew over time.

However, as we shall see, neither this alternative explanation, nor any other alternative explanation, fits all the facts. The only explanation that does fit all the facts is the one the New Testament consistently gives; Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Summary – Question 1
What Objections Have Been Made to the Resurrection?

There have been a number of theories that have been proposed throughout the history of the church that have attempted to give an alternative explanation to biblical claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days after His death. However, as the evidence is examined, each one of these theories fails to explain all the known facts. While not all these theories are put forward today by unbelievers, they have been in the past. Therefore, to be thorough, it is necessary to examine each of them.

Indeed, usually there is someone who can still be found who still holds to some version of one of these theories. Therefore, it is essential that each of these theories be examined in detail and shown to be exactly what they are; inadequate explanations of what happened to Jesus after His death. As we will see, the Christian need not have any fear of the evidence. When all the facts are examined it will become clear that Jesus Christ did indeed come back from the dead.

Who Brought Jesus Back from the Dead? ← Prior Section
Isn't the Resurrection from the Dead a Scientific Impossibility? Next Section →
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