Christian (on the brink of de-conversion from Christianity): Progressive Christians who hold for a Christian faith where one does not need an actual resurrection, metaphor being enough, must do some interesting theological gymnastics with the last Apostle’s declaration that their resurrection-less faith is in vain. Traditional Christians suffer despite the Apostle’s circular reasoning because, again, the account they put their hope in is entirely internal (an arguably ecclesiastically borne) ‘evidence’.
I do, so want to remain Christian but it seems very much a literal fool’s errand.
Gary: So why do you remain a Christian?
Christian: A good question, Gary. My best and no doubt weak answer by some people’s standards would be, in broad generality, circumstances: family relationships primarily and once would have included livelihood though this is no longer the case and secondarily, the acknowledgement that Christianity had brought good into the world and perhaps with a renewal of itself bring continued good in spite of its baked in flaws that inspired and facilitated much harm in the world. Mind, this can be said of other religions and of non religious movements. However, there is no external evidence for the veracity of the claims of the new testament’s chief and foundational claim, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this all stands or fails on faith and if one cannot believe then yes, very good question and one that is my daily struggle. I am not one to comment online at all. My comment is in no way frivolous or merely an attempt to be contrarian (which I do not say you think of me though certainly some readers will think just that).
Gary, do you identify as a Christian (of any label)? Do you believe in the literal, actual, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ? Honest questions. Not baiting.
Gary: I was a preacher’s kid. I grew up evangelical until my mid 20’s. I left evangelicalism because I was tired of the emotional roller coaster of always trying to determine whether or not I felt truly saved. Catholics, Lutherans, etc. know they are saved because they were baptized. Evangelicals can only know they are saved if they are certain (a feeling) that they sincerely repented of ALL their sins and sincerely committed EVERY aspect of their life to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If there is even a sliver of doubt, they worry that they might not be saved, and repeat the born again experience…again. There is one evangelical pastor who says on his website that he repeated the born again experience FIVE THOUSAND times while he was an older child and teenager! I then became a Lutheran. I was very content as a (conservative, LCMS) Lutheran until one fateful day an online ex-evangelical pastor turned atheist challenged by beliefs. I determined that I was going to bring this black sheep back to Christ! Instead, four months later I was a non-believer. This ex-pastor/turned atheist helped me see that the evidence for the central claims of Christianity are really, really poor: assumptions, assumptions, and more assumptions.
I believe that Jesus was a real person. I believe that he was crucified by the Romans in the first century. I even believe that there was probably an empty tomb. I also believe that his followers soon came to sincerely believe that he had appeared to them in some fashion. But good evidence that a resurrected corpse appeared in the flesh to individuals and groups of people?? No. The evidence is very, very poor.
I have been studying the evidence for the Resurrection ever since that fateful day in February, 2014, when the ex-pastor turned atheist first challenged my beliefs. Here is the first post on my blog about my encounter with this man (while I was still a believing Christian):