Following Easter Sunday, it didn’t take long for skeptics to fabricate fictitious claims to debunk Christ’s resurrection. It’s easy to understand why. These critics knew that if they could dispel the resurrection, Christianity would crumble. And they weren’t wrong about that. Even Paul indicated, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The problem is none of the objections raised by skeptics have been able to explain the resurrection away. That’s because they’re flimsy. For a mere sampling, here are three such theories.
First, Some Skeptics claimed, “Jesus’s body was stolen”
This was the first theory to emerge which attempted to deny Christ’s resurrection. But think about it, if Jesus’ body was stolen, don’t you think the thieves would have brought the body to bear once the disciples claimed he’s alive? No doubt, their bluff would’ve been called. And if the disciples stole the body, what motivation would they have to die for a hoax which they created? As we’ve all heard before, “Many will die for what they think to be true, but who will die for what they know to be false?”
“Many will die for what they think to be true, but who will die for what they know to be false?”
Second, some skeptics claimed, “The People Were Hallucinating”
Now we’re getting desperate. Perhaps one could argue in this fashion if there were only a few random encounters. But that’s not the case. In fact, Jesus appeared to his disciples on several different occasions, and one time, even appearing to 500 people at once. To think that a crowd that large collectively believed they set their eyes on the resurrected Christ is seemingly absurd. Adding to this, it’s hard to interpret the radical life change experienced by disciples such as Saul following his encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road, or the transformation of James, the half-brother of Jesus, or Thomas, or even Peter apart from an actual resurrection.
“Hallucination theory doesn’t explain the radical life-change of some Jesus’s harshest critics like Saul the Pharisee and James brother of Jesus?”
Third, some skeptics claimed, “Jesus Merely Passed Out.”
This is known as the “swoon theory.” A view popularized in the 18th century, which suggested that Jesus never died on the cross, but merely passed out. To cast aspersion on the resurrection, adherents to the swoon theory contend that after Jesus was placed in the tomb and mistaken for dead, he was restored to consciousness at which point he then rolled away the tomb stone and announced, “Check it out, folks, I’m alive.” Are we so naïve as to think after being severely scourged, having his hands and feet nailed to a cross, his head punctured by a crown of thorns, his side stabbed, and his body wrapped in 75 pounds of burial cloth following his death, that Jesus somehow mustered the strength after regaining consciousness to unwrap himself, move a two-ton stone out of the way, bi-pass the guards only to then convince his disciples that he’s alive? I don’t think so. If that did happen, the only place he would’ve been discovered is at the nearest hospital.
The fact is, these desperate attempts to explain away the resurrection show that it’s easier and frankly, even more rational to simply believe the truth than to ascribe to one of these far-fetched fictional theories.
Recommended Resources Related to the Topic
The Resurrection of Jesus: The Tomb is Empty, Our Hope Is Not by Gary Habermas and Michael atton (Self-Paced Course)
Examining Historical Evidence for the Resurrection with Mike Licona (Podcast)
Doubting towards Faith by Bobby Conway (Self-Paced Course)
Bobby serves as lead pastor of Image Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is well known for his YouTube ministry called, One Minute Apologist, which now goes by the name Christianity Still Makes Sense. He also serves as the Co-Host of Pastors’ Perspective, a nationally syndicated call-in radio show on KWVE in Southern California. Bobby earned his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, his Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Birmingham (England) where he was supervised under David Cheetham and Yujin Nagasawa. Bobby’s also written several books including: The Fifth Gospel, Doubting Toward Faith, Does God Exist, and Fifty-One other Questions About God and the Bible and the forthcoming Christianity Still Makes Sense to be published by Tyndale in April 2024. He’s married to his lovely wife Heather and together they have two grown kids: Haley and Dawson.