Re: The Thomas Trap

George Murphy (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:59:15 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> At 07:41 AM 11/19/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> >Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> >> It is clear to me that the disciples did base their belief system on what
> >> had been observed. if this is not the case, why didn't Peter and John stay
> >> put, eat their dinner and talk politics, rather than run to the sepulchre?
> >> BELIEVE AND NOT SEE. They did the same as Thomas!!!!!!
> >
> > You continue to neglect an important distinction. Yes, the apostles were
> >eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. That is the basis on which they give
> >apostolic testimony to the his resurrection, which is at the heart of the
> >gospel which they proclaim & which has been transmitted to us. But they
> do NOT >invite people to go out and find further observational evidence to
> support the >resurrection before believing it!
> Paul's citation of the people who still lived who had seen the risen Lord,
> was an implicit invitation for someone to go talk to them. If it isn't, why
> would Paul mention that they still lived? If he didn't want to invite
> people to gather evidence he would have never mentioned those 500 people.

No, Paul is "delivering" to them the apostolic tradition and adding to it
his own witness to the risen Christ. "Implicit" can cover a multitude of sins, but
there is no indication that Paul expected any of the Corinthians to hunt up another of
the apostles and check their testimony. In any case, this wouldn't apply to us because
the apostles are all dead.

> > The gospel has power in itself to create faith because it is not mere
> >human words. It is the creative Word of God.
> > It's a good thing for us that our faith doesn't depend on having the
> >kind of evidence for the resurrection which Thomas asked - _because we're
> not >going to get it_!
> > The risen Christ isn't going going to appear obligingly to everyone who
> >hesitates to believe.
> Nobody is asking him to. But one does have a right to aske for some
> evidence.

One can ask that the biblical testimony to the resurrection be made _plausible_
from examination of what we know about history &c.

> I notice that you have not answered my question. Is there any
> evidential misfit between science and the Scripture that would cause you to
> reject the Bible as false? If so, what is it?
> If you can't name any such misfit, then I contend evidence has no bearing
> upon your belief system. And IF evidence has no bearing on your belief
> system, then I would ask you why you continue to expect me to pay attention
> to your evidence? So, I ask again, is there any evidence that would lead
> you to reject the Bible as false? What is it?

Well, if someone finds a skeleton unmitakeably identifiable as that of Jesus
of Nazareth there would be such a misfit.
But my approach to apologetics is more fundamental and more distinctively
Christian than the one for which you argue. It makes use of the fact that one must
begin with presuppositions, and then evaluate those presuppositions _a posteriori_
from their results. That is the way science works. Einstein didn't first "prove" that
c is the same for all observers. He _assumed_ it and then showed that a coherent theory
could be developed which explained observations better than the older theories. E
should do the same thing theologically and, in particular, proceed in this way in
apologetics. Instead of saying "I'm going to prove to you that Jesus is God Incarnate
who was crucified and is risen, I would say, "I invite you to look at the world and at
your own life on the assumption that the crucified and risen Jesus is the one "in whom
all things hold together."

> And I would point out that if Peter and John had done what everyone wanted
> them to do--simply believe without seeking evidence--then would anyone here
> believe them? Here is what the situation would look like:
> Mary and the other women run into the room screaming that Jesus has risen
> and that angels had told them of this. Peter and John sat at the breakfast
> table and said, 'We knew this was going to happen! We believed Jesus. And
> we believe that a man can rise from the dead so much that we don't care to
> go see the tomb. Come on sit down and eat some sheep burritos, hey John,
> pass the jalepenos."
> Would anyone believe the testimony of Peter and John if that was what they
> had done? We would think that they were excellent candidates for David
> Koresh's followers.
> No, their reaction was natural. Of the disciples the Bible said, Luke 24:11
> "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not."
> Why are the Disciples allowed to gather further evidence and we aren't?
> Where does it say that in the Bible?

Paul said "but some have fallen asleep." Now they have ALL fallen asleep.
They're all dead, Glenn - sad but true. We can examine the plausibility of the accounts
they left, but there is not going to be "further evidence."