Dr. Lydia McGrew is a renowned Christian apologist and philosopher, who surely needs no introduction to viewers of this blog. Recently, she released her Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection of Jesus on Cameron Bertuzzi’s Youtube channel, Capturing Christianity. Here it is:
(For the benefit of viewers, I should explain that Dr. Lydia McGrew suffers from severe back pain.)
I decided to post a short six-minute reply, summarizing and rebutting her case. I conclude that the Resurrection of Jesus is something that believers have to take on faith. What do you think?
Here’s my transcript.
Hello everyone. Recently, acclaimed Christian apologist Dr. Lydia McGrew released her Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection of Jesus on Cameron Bertuzzi’s Youtube channel, “Capturing Christianity.” Today, I’d like to explain why an honest seeker after truth might not find Dr. McGrew’s Elevator Pitch convincing. Without further ado, here it is.
First, the disciples claimed, as we find in the Gospels, that they had lengthy conversations with Jesus after he died, that the had the ability to touch him, that he ate with them on more than one occasion, and that he stayed with them for several weeks. This is what the people who were in an original position to know claimed.
Second, the fact that they were risking their lives, as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, shows that they were not lying.
Third, the fact that they interacted with Jesus in multiple ways – seeing him, hearing him and touching him – shows it’s very unlikely that they were mistaken.
Finally, the best explanation of what they claimed is that they were telling the truth.
So what’s wrong with this case? The hidden assumption in Dr. Lydia McGrew’s Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection is that the Gospels accurately record what the disciples claimed. In fact, none of the Gospels claims to have been written by a disciple who actually saw the risen Jesus. Only one Gospel – the Gospel of John – claims to have been written by people who knew one of the disciples who saw Jesus and who wrote down what he saw. However, we don’t know which disciple it was, or who the people who knew him were, and we don’t have his original account.
What about about Luke’s Gospel? Well, Luke doesn’t claim to have spoken to eyewitnesses to Jesus’ appearances. His Gospel merely claims to be a carefully investigated record of Jesus’ life, and to be familiar with other accounts of his life. Matthew and Mark don’t claim to be based on eyewitness reports, either.
Now, if the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances were quite similar to one another, like the four Gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000, we might suspect that they were based on a shared recollection. But they aren’t. In fact, the only thing about the appearances that the Gospels all agree on is that Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples (“the Eleven”) somewhere, and sent them out to preach. (Mark’s Gospel doesn’t describe this appearance, but implies its occurrence in chapter 16, verse 7.) And that’s it. On every other point, the Gospel accounts diverge.
Given that the Gospels were written at least three decades after Jesus’ resurrection appearances, by unknown individuals who failed to record a single eyewitness report of these appearances by an identified individual, it’s reasonable for someone to doubt whether the disciples who saw the risen Jesus all saw the same thing, or conversed with him at length, or touched him and ate with him. And without these facts, you cannot establish the resurrection of Jesus. You have to take it on faith. Thank you.