Thursday, February 22, 2007

Holtz on Exclusivity of Resurrection Apperances

Special thanks to JP Holding of Tekton Apologetics Ministries!
Holtz.AAC.2002: "The appearances were suspiciously exclusive: 'He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen' [Acts 10:40-41] 'Why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?'" This is not a problem at all, since a miraculous (physical) resurrection is much more parsimonious and has much more explanatory power than "epiphanies, perhaps involving the occasional dream, ecstatic vision, encounter with a stranger, case of mistaken identity, or outright hallucination (or fabrication)," in addition to the stolen body, voracious dogs and birds, Passover plot, legend, twin, and swoon theories; cf. Charles Pettit McIlvane in The Evidences of Christianity:
Now, in conclusion, let us see what an unbeliever must believe in consistency with his profession. He must believe that the apostles were either such weak-minded men as to imagine that their crucified Master had been with them, from time to time, during forty days after his burial, had conversed with them, and eaten with them, and that they had every sensible evidence of his resurrection, while in truth he had not been near them, but was still in his sepulchre; or else that they were so wicked and deceitful as to go all over the world preaching that he was risen from the dead, when they knew it was a gross fabrication. Suppose the unbeliever to choose the latter of these alternatives. Then he believes, not only that those men were so singularly attached to this untruth as to give themselves up to all manner of disgrace, and persecutions and labour, for the sake of making all the world believe it, knowing that their own destruction could be the only consequence; but also, what is still more singular, that when they plunged, immediately at the outset of their ministry, into an immense multitude of those who, having lately crucified the Saviour, were full of enmity to his disciples; they succeeded, without learning, eloquence, power, or a single conceivable motive, in making three thousand of them believe that he, whom they had seen on the cross, was indeed alive again; and believe it so fully, as to renounce every thing, and be willing to suffer any thing, for the sake of it, and this on the very spot where the guards that had kept the sepulcher were at hand to tell what was become of the body of Jesus. He must believe, moreover, that although in attempting to propagate a new religion to the exclusion of every other, they were undertaking what was entirely new, and opposed to the views of all nations; although the doctrines they preached were resisted by all the influence of the several priesthoods; all the power of the several governments; all the passions, habits, and prejudices of the people; and all the wit and pride of the philosophers of all nations; although the age was such as insured to their fabrications the most intelligent examination, with the strongest possible disposition to detect them; although, in themselves, these infatuated men were directly the reverse of what such resistance demanded, and, when they commenced, were surrounded by circumstances of the most depressing kind, and by opposers specially exulting in the confidence of their destruction; although the mode they adopted was of all others most calculated to expose their own weakness and dishonesty, and to imbitter the enmity and increase the contempt of their opposers, so that they encountered everywhere the most tremendous persecutions, till torture and death were almost synonymous with the name of Christian; although they had nothing to propose, to Jew or Gentile, as a matter of faith, but what the wisdom of the world ridiculed, and the vice of the world hated, and all men were united in despising; although they had nothing earthly with which to tempt any one to receive their fabrication, except the necessity of an entire change in all his habits and dispositions, and an assurance that tribulations and persecutions must be his portion: Yet when philosophers, with all their learning, and rank, and subtlety, and veneration, could produce no effect on the public mind, these obscure Galileans obtained such influence, throughout the whole extent of the Roman empire, and especially in the most enlightened cities, that, in thirty years, what they themselves (by the supposition) did not believe, they made hundreds of thousands of all classes, philosophers, senators, governors, priests, soldiers, as well as plebeians, believe, and maintain unto death; yea, they planted this doctrine of their own invention so deeply that all the persecutions of three hundred years could not root it up; they established the gospel so permanently that in three hundred years it was the established religion of an empire co-extensive with the known world, and continues still the religion of all civilized nations. This, says the unbeliever, they did simply by their own wit and industry; and yet, he well knows that, preachers of the gospel, with incomparably more learning, with equal industry, in far greater numbers, and in circumstances immeasurably more propitious, have attempted to do something of the same kind among heathen nations, and could never even approximate to their success. Still the apostles had no help but that of their own ingenuity and diligence! Such is the belief of the unbeliever. To escape acknowledging that the apostles were aided by miraculous assistance, he makes them to have possessed in themselves miraculous ability. To get rid of one miracle in the work, he has to make twelve miracles out of the twelve agents of the work. The Christian takes a far different course. "Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." The weapons of their warfare were not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds. To which solution, philosophy or common sense would award the prize of rational decision, it is easy to determine.

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