Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Qur'an and the Resurrection (Previously titled, "The Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ")

Introduction

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian Faith. The Apostle Paul himself knew this and wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14, ESV).

A Problem for Muslims

Muslims often claim, due to the teaching found in the Qur’an, that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but a substitute died in his place. Consider the following from the Qur‘an:

“They killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise” (Sura 4:157-158, Emphasis mine).

We can then conclude, according to the Qur’an, that it only seemed that Jesus was crucified, and Allah took him directly up to heaven.

Norman Geisler and Roman Turek in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, explain why historically and logically, this claim does not hold up:

“There are a number of problems with this theory, not the least being that there’s absolutely no evidence to back it up. This assertion from the Qur’an comes more than 600 years after the lifetime of Jesus. How can this be considered a more authoritative source for the life of Jesus than the accounts of the eyewitnesses? For this theory contradicts all the eyewitness testimony, and the testimony of the non-Christian sources.

Moreover, this theory raises more questions than it answers. Are we to believe that scores of people who witnessed some aspect of Jesus’ death- the disciples, the Roman guards, Pilate, the Jews, Jesus’ family and friends- were all mistaken about who was killed? How could so many people be wrong about a simple identification?…There are many other questions raised by this theory. If Jesus wasn’t killed, then why was the tomb of the man who really was killed found empty? Are we to believe the substitute rose from the dead? Is so, how did he do it? Are we to believe that all the non-Christian historians are wrong about the death of Jesus? And what are we to make about the Jewish admission of Jesus’ death? Was the Talmud mistaken for saying that Jesus was hanged on a tree on the eve of the Passover? In short, are we to believe that everyone from the first century was wrong about everything?

One has to question a theory that comes more than 600 years after the events and asks you to believe that all the first-century evidence is wrong. In fact, this theory contradicts most of the twelve facts virtually all scholars believe. (See our Feb/March Apologetics Newsletter) Like other alternative theories, this one is built on mere speculation without a shred of evidence to support it.” [1]

When the facts are weighed objectively, one who accepts the belief that God provided a substitute in Jesus' place, must do so without a shred of credible, historical evidence.

Conclusion

Other objections to the resurrection (swoon theory, disciples were lying, etc.) also fail to explain the know historical facts that are accepted by virtually all serious, reputable scholars today. So, the inquirer and/or non-Christian is left with the very same question Jesus asked Simon Peter:

“Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Before one can truly answer this, they must consider all the evidence and be willing to follow it wherever it may lead; even if the conclusion is not what they expected.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources

1) Norman Geisler and Roman Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 309-310, Emphasis mine.

For further investigation, please see:

1) http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html by William Lane Craig
2) http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html by Josh McDowell

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