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Daniel Arendt

Is Resurrection Even Necessary To Legitimize Christian Faith?

  • In support of recent blog posts on the Resurrection, I made two comments citing Tacitus and Josephus, inter alia, as many theologians hold the Gospels to be “contoured” truth…sayings of Jesus, but presented under Apostolic kerugma apropos at their time; many theologians also hold that the NT “Acts” is actually extension of the Luke Gospel, even if “Acts” holds relevant data. I don’t think it’s fair to non-believers to say truth of Jesus was available only from the dictation of men claiming to have known Him, and that said, believe now “Acts” then has relevance insofar as further historically provable reactions to the Resurrection claim are concerned. 

    Referring to “Acts”, for about ten years after the Crucifixion, the Apostles enjoyed some success even among Jews. But as the body of “Acts” of the Apostles notes, after such ten years the Sanhedrin took action against the Apostles, first seeking their death (in fact, one…Stephen…was stoned by Jewish officials) but mostly softening to scourging for being disciples of an idol. That is, no Jewish Court accused the Apostles of falsely preaching Jesus had risen, but as an entirely possible reading of “Acts” shows, they always accused Apostles of blasphemy through preaching the power of GOD would raise ANYONE from the dead (vitiating but not contesting the raising of Lazarus, Jesus’ healings, or the raising of Jesus)…literally, acknowledging what the Apostles claimed happened to best knowledge of leaders, just that they thought Jesus and the Apostles weren’t part of this due to God. 
    From this, I gather from His worst critics of His earthly time that Jesus was a miracle worker, more noteworthy than any other messianic or “person claiming to be great”, was Crucified, and no one in any official action seasonably alleged His body lingered in their midst nor interposed a plausible way it could have been secreted by humans.
    Thus I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of Jesus, nor separately to doubt the Gospels reported by those closest to Him and willing to suffer much in regard to such Gospels.
    I believe the “kerygma” influencing the Gospels ‘day one’ was a sense of Apostolic need to convince ancient powers the new faith hoped to guide at best, not supplant or change, earthly potentates…thus an over-indulgent air of over-bending at a time it was death many places to be a Christian. Indeed, as time wore on, Catholics and some Protestants found no Gospel heterodoxy in supporting prudent self/nation defense quo warranto…except for some like Luther, who took the deontological route of defining “do the right thing” as being self-discipline limited less by conscience than legal right, duty, or obligation (ala original Apostles). Showing that Christian people, not necessarily God, change attitudes back and forth- from human dignity to human nihilism and even Gospel interpretation-  might help explain why demanding faith confession of Resurrection helps make human error the "voice of Jesus in people".  
    Most Christian leaders once took a more Thomistic teleological approach to ethical defense. Even the Vatican from Emperor Constantine through to Benito Mussolini had no problem maintaining not just a Swiss Guard-type symbolic guard but its own military…and now keeps swinging Luther’s way and perhaps further sans defense. Religious disciplinary systematics change from time to time; these days, Catholic television EWTN has been running a series called “Will You Be Left Behind?”, in one episode it being addressed at length that the idea of the “Rapture” was unknown until about 175 years ago, was the idea of a theologian "called by Christ" who merely thought interest in Christendom was waning and really was just his social doodling…and is absolutely a false premise. See why I like to search for scientific/historical support rather than just rely on my own or somebody else’s oeuvre or possible oversight?
    If self-defense were absolutely forbidden by Jesus and a cause of separation from Him and the Father, after all that time in His presence and ministry, how did the Apostles come to still have swords to offer or to cut an official’s ear off near “the end”; it would seem perhaps that Jesus meant not to just have His Apostles go get swords like props at the end simply that He would fulfill a prophecy about a messiah in the company of criminals, especially since in those days (and after for some time) merely owning a sword was hardly a de facto symbol of criminality…perhaps teaching and acting in the name of “someone not doing this by God’s power” would be the ‘criminality’ Jesus meant, since even He indicated His disciples weren’t robbers or something despite obviously always owning a sword, and remarked that Apostles needed no sword while He was “with” them on earth, but now… .
    John Paul II as Vicar of Christ wrote an encyclical including representation that prudent self-defense is nihil obstat (not outside doctrine) to Christianity; Martin Luther as one "called by Christ" in “Plass” homiletically represented that he would draw his sword and kill every robber he met going to service IF no other way(s) of escape were available, yet allow anyone to kill him IN a service…given his deontological metaphysics, perhaps he meant God decides justification and what happens in a Church, but without Divine objection the State determines your justifications (e.g., self-defense laws) and limitations outside the Church. An interpretation that Christianity MUST induce absolute personal nihilism inside and outside of faith would seem a rather recent step in deontology, radical enough as if to deny science has shown a transcendental causal agent created our universe and thus say no truth higher than human ability to reproduce exists. If some want to thwart, renounce, or otherwise impeach their own or Christianity’s Scriptures or doctrines , they certainly may individually believe or cloy as if the New Testament were false (even those now wearing collars or pastor pins)…but where they insist such faith or doctrines or anyone else must accept, give way or act as if the cosmos and political struggle are the Absolute, such people act despite science and infringe even non-Christian peaceful teleological metaphysical perspectives, secular and ontological.
    Anyway, there is no easily apparent mandamus through the New Testament in any nature(s) requiring all humanity to expiate pity, self-defense, constructive occupation, and conscience to produce the perfect state of personal nihilism and social statism...as if a risen Christ makes erratic redactions and edits to his diverse "staff".      
    That said, for those who insist NO body rising quashes the faith, yet another Apostolic finger pointing to “power not of God” as the “blasphemy” and “criminality” Jewish leaders meant is the narrative on Gamaliel in “Acts”. This man was a popular Pharisee who asked the Apostles to be taken out of the Sanhedrin for a moment while he counseled the court; then he said of the Apostles that if what they were teaching (including about the risen Christ) and doing wasn’t coming from God then their movement would die out shortly, together with counseling the Sanhedrin that if what had occurred WAS from God then they’d be opposing God Himself…now, how could Gamaliel or the Sanhedrin even propose the teachings and acts of the Apostles MIGHT be from God if even one of them had proof that Jesus had not risen, or that His body’s “disappearance” could plausibly if not conclusively be explained away, thus extinguishing a need to debate who caused what?
    IF the content of “Acts” is truly reported by the early disciples, then it is further support for the Resurrection. All I could personally opine is that “Acts” is widely held to be a continuation of the Gospel of Luke, a discipleship focused on theological aspects, and thus to me it seems one shouldn’t over- or under-estimate its historical value; I personally believe “Acts” indeed was an Apostolic attempt to allege the gravamen of complaint against them by the Sanhedrin, a theological complaint NOT that Jesus didn’t arise but that all things by and of Jesus happened by power not from God…and it’s what the Sanhedrin records would have told the world written in that day, not popular opinion/myth/any singularity or diversity of folk tradition(s), that would have the best, if any, chance of defeating claims in “Acts”. Otherwise to defeat such Apostolic claims in “Acts” it would seem one would have to prove NO contest(s) in regard to Jesus or His followers for their religious acts/teachings ever were lodged with or pressed by any Jewish Court(s), thus impeaching Apostolic references to such affairs as having happened at all.     
    On the contextual parol of Old and New Testament , I echo in Mircea Eliade and take this position on Jesus and His Resurrection: to imply Jesus had primordial knowledge so as to deny He had or needed faith would cast doubt on His real humanity; His faith was in confessing revelation and salvation in the story of the Jewish people; His judgment about such issues came from primordial awareness of His identity and mission together with being matters of knowledge not faith; and in my own opinion Transfiguration only increased God’s power through Jesus, it being perhaps as with Moses et al Jesus is so important to God He has put Jesus’ body elsewhere that people must seek GOD for answers…making it moot through WHICH mortal vestiges He makes the same ideas known throughout time in ways suitable for an era or due to misuse of Divine points.  
    Not feeling the steam of the Apostles’ day, I remain on the teleological path of defining “do the right thing” by deducing what a likely issue is or should be and weighing the morality of various ways to it; because I don’t absolutely deny prudent self/nation defense quo warranto, I am a Platonic Deist who otherwise believes the gravamen of the New Testament and tries to live it as best I can…and remaining confounded to apprehend why the prudence of Jesus (or anybody at all similarly interested) “must” be sacrificed to some secular Rorty-esque pseudo-intellectual fad, be it called social Darwinism or anything else.
    I hope my support for Jesus and His Resurrection are helpful to others for whom the Gospels are relied upon for prudent, reasoned teleological moral considerations; without a real Jesus, many (but not all) religious people could be told by critics anything but devotion to personal nihilism is superstition, epigenetic psychology, blasphemy, or combinations thereof.