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VICTOR JOECKS: Addressing common objections to Easter

Sunday is Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Fifty years ago, around 90 percent of the country identified as Christian. Today, that number is dropping toward 60 percent, while those who religiously unaffiliated are approaching 30 percent.

With that in mind, take a look at some common objections to Easter.

Some would say resurrection is physically impossible. Christians don’t claim Jesus was gravely wounded. They believe he died and rose again. That defies science. But science is the study of the natural world. It can’t — by definition — rule out supernatural interventions.

And that’s what Christians believe about Easter. Jesus’ resurrection was a supernatural act with profound implications. It proved that Jesus was God. That he conquered death. That God accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for people’s sins. That by believing in what Jesus did and submitting yourself to him, sinners can be saved from God’s wrath and receive eternal life after death.

Sure, that sounds nice, some say, but it’s a mere fairy tale. There’s no more evidence for the resurrection than Odysseus meeting the Cyclops.

But there is. The first four books of the New Testament were written either by eyewitnesses or those who sought out those with firsthand information. Luke, at the start of his gospel, wrote that he “carefully investigated everything” in order “to write an orderly account.” Even non-Christian authors from antiquity, including Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger, referenced Jesus. Josephus, a Jewish, not Christian, historian, called Jesus “the Messiah.” He wrote, “Pilate condemned him to be crucified.” Then, Jesus appeared to his followers “on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold.”

In today’s social media age, it’s hard to understand, but this is a staggering amount of historical evidence for Jesus’ existence.

Perhaps Jesus’ followers were lying. But why? They didn’t gain health or wealth. Instead, they faced persecution and death. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you.” Instead, “rejoice” that you “participate in the sufferings of Christ.”

Note the difference between Christianity and other religions where divine revelation is supposedly given to one man who then convinced others. Jesus’ disciples were all eyewitnesses. Aside from Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him, they spent their lives preaching the gospel with the traditional belief being that most were executed for doing so.

Others will object that, however noble Jesus was, Christianity itself is a net historical negative. Certainly, people calling themselves Christians have done terrible things. Three points. One, people sinning doesn’t contradict Christianity. Jesus died on the cross, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Two, Christians in ways big and small have improved society in ways most people take for granted. Christians powered the abolitionist movement. Think about all of the hospitals with “St.” in their name. That’s a tangible expression of Christ’s love for others. Three, atheistic alternatives have their own problems. Communist regimes murdered more than 160 million in the 20th century.

Then, there’s the question of evil. How can a loving, all-powerful God allow so much evil, such as the murder of Jerry Lopez or sexual abuse? Note, that question assumes the existence of God. Without God, there’s no basis for the idea of evil. God gave man free will, including the ability to harm others. And he doesn’t offer the answer to all of life’s specific hardships.

But Easter is proof that he loves the world, including you. He sent his only son to die a horrible death on the cross, taking the penalty for your sins. He raised him from the dead and offers eternal life to those who believe. If you don’t, I urge you to consider the evidence for Easter.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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