From the series, Ten Turning Points That Make All the Difference
It is the greatest turning point of them all. Nothing else could possibly compare. It turned days of desperate hopelessness into centuries of joyful celebration. It turned death upside down. Of this Christians are convinced: the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest and best thing that has ever happened.
Are we right? I am sure that no one would dispute the resurrection’s central importance in human history—if it really happened. Did it? Interestingly enough, there is more agreement on the facts surrounding the resurrection account than most people realize.
Gary Habermas has done the research to determine that. A world-class scholar on the resurrection (and a Michigan State grad to boot, though I’m not so eager to talk about that this morning), Habermas has developed a continually growing database of virtually all academic articles on the resurrection. From that that he has been able to determine that there are at least a handful of facts on which virtually all scholars agree, skeptics and critics along with believers.
There is plenty there to put to rest some fables that keep circulating: “We don’t know if Jesus ever existed,” or “There’s nothing we can know about his life.” I cannot say this too strongly: if you think anything like that is true, you’re not getting it from anyone who knows anything about it.
From this handful of facts, Habermas argues, it is possible to make a solid case for the historicity of the resurrection. It’s not necessary, he says, to start out by proving the reliability of the New Testament. It’s not necessary to resolve all the disputed historical facts. All one needs to do is start with the “minimal facts” on which almost every knowledgeable scholar agrees, and ask, “What’s the best explanation for these facts?”
Listen to Habermas speaking on the minimal facts approach, or watch him give a talk based on it:
Next in this series: what do the critics think about this? Is it reasonable?