I had a very interesting and engaging conversation with a Dutch couple on the plane earlier in the week. Afterwards, I once again realised how important it is for Christians to be able to offer legitimate reasons for WHAT they believe and WHY. It is one thing te believe that Jesus rose from the dead, it could be quite another to explain why. Did he really rise from the dead? Are there any credible evidence for it? Or is faith a step in the dark?
I have been studying these issues for more than five years now. From the start I decided to study not just those whom I agreed with. I wrestled with the likes of Gerd Ludemann, Sandy Wedderburn and John Dominic Crossan (not the kind of scholars to study over a cup of tea on a sunday afternoon). I have read their work carefully. Do I agree with some theories that Jesus' disciples experienced hallucinations? Or that his body rotted in a tomb? Or that the vultures tore his bodily remains apart on the cross? As a historian, I think there are credible reasons to refute these claims.
"Historical investigation, I propose, brings us to the point where we must say that the tomb previously housing a thoroughly dead Jesus was empty, and that his followers saw and met someone they were convinced was this same Jesus, bodily alive though in a new, transformed fashion. The empty tomb on the one hand and the convincing appearances of Jesus on the other are the two conclusions the historian must draw."
http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jesus_Resurrection.htm (Part 4 & 5 in particular)
See also the youtube link below, for an excellent preview of a new book on the resurrection by Wright:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7moErEWXZo
Hey, but the facts alone cannot produce faith! That is God's gift for those who put theit trust in Jesus.