Eye-witnessed Accounts

Dave 07I very rarely write directly about religion, or more specifically, my Christian faith. Religion is not the focus of my blog, even less is it the focus of the Let’s Do It Ourselves online community. LDIO™ has members that are Christians, Sikhs, Agnostics, and Atheists.

LDIO™ members simply observe that government is too big; that it interferes in our lives in ways that are contrary to good government, and that we are better off doing most things for ourselves, together with our families and communities.

And, we’re working together to do something about it.

But this is Holy Week in the Christian calendar, and since a life lived about 2000 years ago completely changed the course of human history, I hope it’s okay if I comment on it.

Easter and Christmas are the times of year when media outlets like Maclean’s magazine and PBS roll out sensational articles and programs, featuring interviews with “scholars” who present, (to put it politely), non-Orthodox theories about Christianity.

Some ideas that I’ve read over the years propose that Jesus was married, or that he was just another one of many so-called Messiahs in Palestine during the Roman era, or that his disciples made the whole thing up, or that his disciples conspired to steal his body after the crucifixion. The most cockamamie theory has to be, that Jesus never existed at all!

For millennia, it has been a fundamental underpinning of justice, that facts can be established on the testimony of two or three reliable witnesses. And the fact is that Jesus Christ is one of the most widely attested to personages in pre-modern history, including being written about by those hostile to the Christian faith. (See Josephus)

In an era before the printing press or cell phone cameras, information was mostly passed on orally, and, with remarkable accuracy by the way. Yet to make sure the record was straight, four of his disciples undertook to write Jesus’ biography, known as the four Gospels, beginning just about 30 years after his crucifixion and resurrection. 2000 years ago such extensive, written, eyewitness accounts, were extremely rare.

To skeptics, the fact that the Gospels don’t describe each event exactly the same way is proof that the stories were made up. But in a court of law, if eyewitness accounts are fundamentally the same, they are accepted as reliable, even though they don’t necessarily agree in each detail.

Of course, if the Gospel writers had described each event in exactly the same way, they would be accused of collusion.

Not only was Jesus life written about by several of his disciples, but his life was witnessed by thousands; his crucifixion and death were witnessed by dozens, and his in-body appearances, after his crucifixion and burial, were witnessed by hundreds over a period of about six weeks.

Many of those hundreds, including 11 of the 12 disciples, went on to die horrible deaths; by beheading, being fed to the lions, immolation, and crucifixion. They were killed for refusing to retract their assertion that they had seen Jesus alive, after his crucifixion. It seems to me that someone willing to die rather than recant what they claim to be true, must be a pretty reliable witness!

As CS Lewis pointed out, people will die – and many have – for what they believe to be true, but there is no account in human history where someone has accepted a horrible death for refusing to recant what they knew to be a lie. And incidentally for which – if it was a lie – there was absolutely no upside for anyone, including themselves!

Unless you reject eyewitness testimony, which is a foundation stone of our justice system, the evidence for Jesus life, death, and resurrection, are conclusive. Many legal scholars have said as much.

So let me affirm, as Christians around the world will affirm this Sunday morning: “He is risen. He is risen indeed!”

Happy Easter!


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