With the season comes one special holiday: Easter. This is the time that Western culture dedicates to the special remembrance of bunnies and Easter eggs, candies and chocolates — oh, and jelly beans. But once upon a time, we used to remember the real meaning of Easter.
Jesus Christ, his betrayal and mournful death on Good Friday, followed by the brightness of Resurrection Sunday. “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” once sounded on many lips. Sadly the only time we have for Christ now is a documentary or two rehashing old denials of the empty tomb. A religious expert and scholar spins a witty yarn about how gullible people were back in the dark ages. We enlightened people don’t need a Risen savior now. The empty tomb was a mistake, and Jesus’ corpse must have lain somewhere else – forsaken and neglected until years later, imaginations ran wild…
It is to this sad modern state of affairs, that Christians in the West are called to minister. We are to upend the malaise and awaken the sleepy populace with the wonder of the Risen Son of God.
A new book from New Reformation Publications, and the 1517 Legacy Project, aims to help us in this daunting task. In The Resurrection Fact: Responding to Modern Critics, John J. Bombaro and Adam S. Francisco bring together an intriguing mix of Lutheran churchmen, theologians, and experts in philosophy and legal practice to tackle modern criticism of the resurrection head on.
The centrality of the resurrection for Christian faith and practice is underscored, even as attempts to downplay the importance of the bodily resurrection are countered. Specific arguments by Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, Michael Martin, Robert Price, Dale Allison, Gerd Lüdemann and others are addressed and several lists of additional resources are shared with the reader. The result is an accessible introduction to the debate surrounding the resurrection.
At times the book is a bit repetitive: several of the contributors treat us to the same explanation of David Hume’s influence behind the bias toward antisupernaturalism so prevalent today. Occasionally, there seemed to be an over-dependence on secondary sources and a tendency to summarize rather than quote the arguments of the critic being addressed. There was even a wholesale borrowing of significant parts of N.T. Wright’s research on the resurrection, particularly evident in the chapter by Jonathan Mumme in his critique of Dale Allison. Wright’s work (specifically his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3, Fortress Press, 2003) is credited and pertinent to the discussion for sure, but perhaps overly relied on in the space of one chapter. Wright is second only to C.S. Lewis in the number of references found in the book’s index.
Quibbles aside, this is a sound book with a wealth of information and excellent references for further research. Many readers may encounter this book without much exposure to the arguments being raised against the historicity of Christ’s bodily resurrection. This book will educate and equip the reader to stand firm in an age of unbelief. Another helpful theme throughout the book is the idea of myth not being simplistically dismissed as the opposite of rational fact. To the contrary, Christianity is both myth and fact. This idea expounded by C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton, can be helpful in responding to attempts to classify Christianity as just a myth, no different from other ancient belief systems.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by New Reformation Publications via CrossFocusedReviews.com. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.