Cynics And Skeptics
Sadly, not everyone is willing to fairly examine the evidence. Bertrand Russell admits his take on Jesus was “not concerned” with historical facts. Historian Joseph Campbell, without citing evidence, calmly told his PBS television audience that the resurrection of Jesus is not a factual event. Other scholars, such as John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, agree with him. None of these skeptics present any evidence for their views.
True skeptics, as opposed to cynics, are interested in evidence. In a Skeptic magazine editorial entitled “What Is a Skeptic?” the following definition is given: “Skepticism is … the application of reason to any and all ideas – no sacred cows allowed. In other words … skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.”
Unlike Russell and Crossan, many true skeptics have investigated the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. we will hear from some of them and see how they analyzed the evidence for what is perhaps the most important question in the history of the human race: Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
In advance of his death, Jesus told his disciples that he would be betrayed, arrested, and crucified and that he would come back to life three days later. That’s a strange plan! What was behind it? Jesus was no entertainer willing to perform for others on demand; instead, he promised that his death and resurrection would prove to people (if their minds and hearts were open) that he was indeed the Messiah.
Bible scholar Wilbur Smith remarked about Jesus:
When he said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if He expected longer the devotion of any disciples – unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that.
In other words, since Jesus had clearly told his disciples that he would rise again after his death, failure to keep that promise would expose him as a fraud. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How did Jesus die before he (if he really did die) rose again?