Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Christianity is founded on facts, not myth

The "New Atheist" movement is a small number of very vocal, influential men (I know of no women in the loose affiliation) who are evangelistically, even angrily atheist. The best known figure is Oxford biology professor Richard Dawkins, who travels around Europe and America giving speeches and seminars on why belief in a deity, especially Christian belief, is misguided and uneducated at best, and is moronic stupidity or even dangerous at worst. (Lately, though, Dawkins has begun to vent his ire against Muslims, also.)

In fact, there is nothing new about New Atheism. None of their arguments are original with them. Yet they are undeniably effective to some degree in quashing inquiring minds from exploring the tenets of theistic faith, probably nowhere more effective than here in the United States.

That the tomb was empty is not the big deal. That the body lived again is.
Of all the claims of truth made by Christianity, a single one is the fulcrum of our faith: “The third day he rose from the dead.” All of Christian faith is founded on the Easter proclamation, “He is risen!” Absent that, we got nuthin’.

And nothing is frankly what increasing numbers of Americans think we've got. On Good Friday, the respected polling firm Rasmussen Reports released a poll that showed that the number of Americans who believe that Jesus rose from the dead has dropped 13 percent since only last year. The poll question was the same this year as last, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?” Last year, 77 percent said yes. This year, 64 percent said yes.

Of the 36 percent who did not affirm Jesus’s resurrection, 19 percent rejected it outright, a staggering 12 percentage point jump from last year. Seventeen percent said they weren't sure.

Christian faith is founded on historical facts, verifiable facts, facts that even non-Christian historians and scholars agree are true. And yet probably only a small number of typical mainline Protestants, including Methodists, would be able effectively to recount and relate what they mean.

So on April 7, I will begin a sermon series on the factual, historical bases that Jesus arose from the dead.

The series will address these topics:

April 7 - Overview and discussion of, "What is truth?"

April 14 - The Easter story itself and why it is solidly historical.

April 21 - The various alternative explanations that have been offered over the last couple of centuries attempting to show why the Easter proclamation is actually false.

April 28  - What the apostles meant by resurrection in the first place and what it has to do with us.

May 5  - Conclusion and maybe even a few minutes for discussion.

I hope you will join us!

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