Easter Sunday should more properly be called “Resurrection Day,” because it’s our Lord’s resurrection that’s being celebrated, and the very basis of the Christian faith. But our faith is based on solid evidence that the resurrection really happened. During this week's broadcast, John Stonestreet discusses that evidence with distinguished professor Gary Habermas from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Happy Easter! He has risen! He has risen, indeed!” We say that and believe it on faith. But it’s faith founded on evidential grounds. And our guest this week has devoted much of his academic life to exploring, enumerating and advancing those grounds.
Dr. Habermas, who is currently Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Distinguished Research Professor at Liberty University, started experiencing gnawing doubts about the authenticity of Jesus' resurrection, among other questions, at an early age. He describes how, as a young man, he embarked on a mission to find solid proof that Jesus really had emerged from that tomb after dying on the cross two millennia ago.
"I was on a pilgrimage to see if there was anything that can be trusted about Christianity," he says. "I actually reached an impasse where I came to the conclusion that the resurrection couldn’t be proved—that is just had to be believed."But Habermas was in for a life-changing surprise. Near the end of his PhD studies at Michigan State University, that impasse came crashing down when his professors gave him the green light to write his dissertation on the resurrection of Christ.
Forbidden to simply "quote the Bible," as one faculty member put it, Habermas began exploring the historical and circumstantial grounds for believing that the Founder of Christianity had actually died and come back to life on the third day thereafter. He developed an approach he termed the "minimal facts" argument.Dr. Habermas explains: “I proposed a list of facts which people shared, and that these facts could best be explained by Jesus’ resurrection.”
"If this is what the critics allow," he said, "this is pretty significant! The majority of scholars concede these facts because the vast majority of the data supports them.""These are facts," interjects John, "that everyone agrees on—skeptical scholars, Christian scholars, evangelical scholars. They agree that these are reliable facts. And when you put these facts together, you need to ask, what happened to create these facts?"
The only explanation which can even begin to account for such details, realized Habermas all those years ago, was resurrection.
Since that time, he has devoted much of his professional life to expounding these evidential bases for the greatest miracle of all time, and has become one of the world's foremost apologists for the trustworthiness of the Christian story. He has debated some of the fiercest skeptics and atheists on the academic speaking circuit, and has authored several groundbreaking books on the subject, including "The Case for the Resurrection."
We hope you'll take full advantage of Dr. Habermas's work not only through putting the arguments you've heard this week into practice, but by deepening your understanding further with the resources below.
We hope you've enjoyed this edition of "BreakPoint this Week," and pray you'll have a blessed Easter weekend!