Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or is this a fairy tale?
This issue, along with who God is, could keep the twenty-first-century reformation from moving forward.
Progressive thinking is often considered heresy because it questions doctrines such as a god living above us or physical resurrections. A dead man coming back to life defies the laws of nature, which say that dead is dead because the body shuts down and the decomposition process begins instantly. Nothing can reverse that process but fantasy.
Some people try to squirm out of the finality of death by postulating that Jesus played dead, maybe holding his breath for thirty-plus minutes. After the centurion pronounced him dead, Jesus supposedly snuck away, never to be heard from again.
Reality says this theory is even sillier than a dead man walking because natural law knows humans can’t hold their breath for even twelve minutes or they’ll die. Furthermore, those condemned to crucifixion stayed on their crosses until a professional Roman soldier, a centurion, declared them dead. A centurion would never allow one of the condemned to escape unless that soldier wanted to be crucified too.
In reality, the dead bodies of crucifixion victims stayed on the crosses with wild animals eating them at night, or they were taken to the dump to be cremated.
Ideas about bribing guards or Jesus being buried in an expensive tomb are wonderful stories—with a problem: who was there taking notes, recording conversations, and following the Followers? No one. The disciples were too busy getting out of town for fear they would be implicated and crucified.
Let’s not forget that the first time a story about Jesus’s resurrection appeared in writing was in the ninth decade CE, or about fifty years after Jesus was executed.
Of the twenty-plus extant “gospels” about the life of Jesus, only the canonical four have speak of a resurrection event. Each of these four stories have different details about how Jesus’s “resurrection” happened.
Ancient peoples told many resurrection stories, such as the one about Thulis of Egypt, who reportedly died around 1700 BCE. My latest book, Cramming for the Finals, talks about eight other people who were “resurrected” long before the Jesus story.
Nor can we forget that the story of Jesus was primarily written by Jewish writers who had a habit of hiding truth in fairy tales. The surface stories were usually totally fabricated. For example, I suspect a real prodigal son never existed, but the moral of the story about the power of agape is total truth.
So many stories in the Bible are metaphors wrapped in fairy tales.
Jesus’s resurrection metaphor tells us that no matter what kind of Good Friday event shatters our life (let’s be honest and call it a Bad Friday), Jesus gave us the tools to turn it into an Easter through agape. The day I was fired from my church job in 1969 for being against the war in Vietnam was a Bad Friday (even though it was really a Monday). Suddenly I had no job, car, house, or money. That quickly became an Easter when the local bishop hired me to be on his staff. The bad times passed, and agape prevailed.
What’s your take? Shall we move ahead with the twenty-first-century reformation and leave the literalists behind, or should we wait until they see the light?
I’m going with the former.