"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." - 1 Corinthians 15:17
The belief in the resurrection is central to the Christian faith and to a sinner's hope of forgiveness. That is why it is vitally important to know that the resurrection is not a made up story or hopeful thinking but a fact of history.
This short booklet seeks to validate the resurrection using abductive reasoning, "inferring to the most reasonable explanation" (pg 6), based on the evidence provided to us.
How to be a Detective about the Resurrection.
Possible vs. Reasonable Conclusions.
The 4 Minimal Facts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Objections to the Facts (and the Problems to the Objections).
The Most Reasonable Conclusion.
Believing That versus Believing In.
The booklet starts out by sharing J. Warner Wallace's testimony of being a cold-case detective and how he used abductive reasoning to solve murder cases. Throughout the book, Wallace relates how he applies the logic he used to solve cases, to solve the case of the resurrection.
He discusses the difference between conclusions that are possible and ones that are reasonable (pg 9). Technically, anything is possible but only conclusions that line up with the facts are reasonable. Therefore, a reasonable person would believe the facts wherever they lead, instead of always coming up with another excuse about some other conclusion being possible...but not reasonable.
The conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead are based on four minimal facts (pg 19).; these are agreed both by scholars and skeptics.
"Jesus died on the cross and was buried."
"Jesus's tomb was empty, and no one ever produced His body."
"Jesus's disciples believed that they saw Jesus resurrected from the dead."
"Jesus's disciples were transformed following their alleged resurrection observations."
Wallace brings up potential arguments against these four facts; these objections, if proven right, would disprove one (or more) of these facts and hence destroy the case that Jesus died and rose again.
"The disciples were wrong about Jesus's death" (pg 20).
"The disciples lied about the resurrection" (pg 26).
"The disciples were delusional" (pg 28).
"The disciples' observations were distorted later" (pg 37).
After each argument Wallace shows the problems with these objections based on logic and other known facts.
After all of the objections are debunked, Wallace presents the last conclusion that given the four key facts and abductive reasoning, the resurrection must be true.
He then gives his personal testimony that when he was an atheist looking at this information, he realized that he had to go from believing that Jesus died and rose again, to believing in Jesus' death and resurrection (pg 43). He knew that he had to make a decision whether or not to believe the truth with his heart, and not just his head.
The benefit of this booklet is that it is short (45 pages) and concise on proving the resurrection. And it does so without using Bible verses. It proves it based on known facts, history, and logic, which is beneficial when approaching someone that does not believe the Bible. Since it uses the analogy of a detective to prove events that happened in the past at a crime scene, which is an accepted method of discovering truth, it is an easy bridge to also discerning the truth of the past concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus.
When giving out this booklet, it would be helpful to also give a tract that clearly explains the Gospel. Although a brief presentation of the Gospel is made at the end, and there is a challenged to not just believe about but believe in Jesus, a more thorough presentation of the Gospel might be needed for some people. Living Waters has a lot of great tracts that could be included with this book.
This is an excellent booklet to give out around the Easter holiday when people are thinking about and questioning whether or not the Resurrection is just a tradition/holiday that people celebrate, or a fact of history that has an impact on their eternal destination. It brings the reader, who might be resistant to believing in Jesus as the Savior, to the heart of the issue---"Am I rejecting this because there isn't enough evidence, or am I rejecting this because I don't want there to be enough evidence?" (pg 44).
May we pray that those reading do not harden their hearts, but turn to the Savior and believe in him for salvation.