The Resurrection or the Bible

Who would think that the resurrection of Christ would be so controversial – among people who share the same belief regarding the resurrection of Christ. But it is. Or, at least in recent sermons and conferences and in the twitterverse, it has become so.

There has been a lot of discussion about Atlanta based pastor and author Andy Stanley’s recent statements that seem to pit the authority of the Bible against the historicity of the resurrection. With sufficient Google skills I’m sure you can find more about the hullabaloo online. I’ve appreciated so much of Stanley’s writings and teaching over the years I don’t want to become one more blog committed to showing you every YouTube clip with a concerning comment.

For time sake, I do want to emphasize one thing: We would do well to follow the Apostle Paul’s pattern. He didn’t separate scriptural authority with the resurrection. Rather, his authority was grounded in Scripture. “That Christ died for our sins,” Paul said, “according to the Scriptures.” And again, “that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). While there is good, nay great, historical support for the resurrection, historical proofs are not the center of the Christian’s authority. The Scriptures are.

We should be thrilled, but not surprised, to know that there are good historical evidences about the resurrection. In fact the Apostle Paul argues that God has given evidence to all men by raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 17). But we have to rightly order or thoughts on this topic. It’s not the resurrection or the Bible. It’s Jesus, who died for our sins. It’s Jesus, who was raised on the third day. But it’s Jesus, according to the Scriptures.

We cannot deny the source of our authority even as we rejoice in affirmative external evidences. I’ll close with an excerpt from Thomas Kidd’s recent helpful article on Jonathan Edwards reliance upon the authority of Scripture:

This is a key distinction to keep in mind for orthodox scholars engaged in biblical studies, or for anyone engaged in biblical apologetics. It is a worthy calling to defend the Bible’s reliability on historical and logical grounds. And pastors will sometimes need to explain how we know that we can trust the Scripture historically. 

But we should remember that the best that historical, rationalist arguments for reliability can do is to clear the ground for true faith to come in. Faith is hardly irrational, and Christians can offer solid historical reasons to believe in the whole Bible as God’s authoritative, perfect revelation. But rationalist historical argument can never ultimately bring someone into the kingdom. For that, they need what Edwards described as the new spiritual sense. That sense is a gift of grace from God.