Friday, July 02, 2010

Long Night of the Soul

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

19 εἰ ἐν τῇ ζωῇ ταύτῃ ἐν Χριστῷ ἠλπικότες ἐσμὲν μόνον, ἐλεεινότεροι πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐσμέν.

Where do you go when you have a dark night in your soul?  What do you grab when God seems very far away and your faith hangs by a thread?  I have times when I look around at my life and the world and wonder if everything I believe is true.  Maybe Bart Ehrman is right about the Bible.  Maybe the Muslims are right.  Maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses are right.  Maybe the agnostics and atheists are more intellectually honest than I am.  What do I do with all of that?

I run to this passage.  Paul makes it clear that everything stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ.  If Christ truly was raised from the dead then we have a true faith.  If not, then ἐλεεινότεροι πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐσμέν. 

So how does this help?  There are three possible explanations for what happened to Jesus' body.  The first is that He did not actually die on the cross, but merely "swooned."  Then when He was put in the cave He revived and somehow managed to get free and died quietly elsewhere.  The problem with this is that a professional executioner jabbed His side with a spear and pierced the sac around His heart.  They did not break His legs because they were sure He was dead.  It is extremely unlikely that He merely swooned.

The second possibility is that the apostles stole His body.  There are two major problems with this.  One is that there were a lot of powerful people who really wanted to produce a body so as to stop the spread of the new movement.  They couldn't do it.  The other is that the remaining apostles were all martyred for their faith.  Now the 9/11 terrorists were willing to be martyred for what they believed to be the truth, but could you find eleven men willing to die for what they know to be a lie?  You might, but it is extremely unlikely.

The final possibility is that the resurrection actually happened and that Jesus was indeed the Christ.  That is what I believe because it fits the facts better than any other theory.  Ultimately we all have to decide what we are going to do with Jesus.  Do we worship Him or not?  Everything hangs in the balance.  What is your choice?


Vinny said...

Does that really help you? If you seriously consider the possibility that Bart Ehrman is right about the Bible, then you must seriously consider the possibility that the story of the empty tomb was a later invention. How would that passage help with that?

Jason said...


Thanks so much for stopping by and interacting. What does it for me is that the extant literature supports the empty tomb as well. I am not just arguing in circles from the Bible.

Why this passage? It reminds me that everything hinges on the validity of the resurrection. As far as I know, there has been no plausible explanation for the empty tomb.

The behavior of the disciples does not prove anything, but it suggests it strongly enough that it reinforces my faith. This is one of my silver bullets in times of doubt.

What do you do with the Easter story?