The Invisible Things

Articles in Apologetics

The Tomb and The Question

with 9 comments

Consider this perhaps familiar scenario: A controversial theory is made that challenges the core beliefs of a faith rooted in history, embedded in an attractive, popular and entertainment-oriented format which masquerades as scholarship…

Like the cultural fallout of the The DaVinci Code, James Cameron’s documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” makes strident claims about the central figure of Christianity, Jesus himself, yet takes them even further than even Dan Brown. The substance of the claims of the documentary is that an opulent tomb containing 10 ossuaries, 6 of which are inscribed with Biblically familiar names, actually contains the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family- including his wife, Mary Magdalene (or in this case, “Mary, the Master”) and their child, Judah! No doubt the discussion will be passionate, and perhaps last as long as the post-DaVinci Code activity did. However, central to any discussion will likely be the same question: Who was Jesus?

I have already seen numerous opinions written in the last several days that in response to the discovery of the so-called “Jesus Tomb,” Christians should do the reasonable thing and accept the facts, “Jesus’ bones have been found. He was not bodily resurrected. He is dead. You’ve been duped! But, I suppose you can still be a Christian. After all, Jesus is more powerful as an idea rather than a person. Ideas change people. That’s all we have!” I must strongly disagree. If it were to be proven somehow that these remains are in fact those of Jesus and his family, and that he was not resurrected, the reasonable response would not be to adapt the Christian faith and reconstruct its theology to fit the predicament and worship a symbol. The reasonable response would be to abandon the Christian faith altogether (what this would mean for theism is another argument). The apostle Paul spoke to this idea when he wrote in his first letter to the church of Corinth, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

Ultimately, faith cannot be in a symbol. Symbols are interpreted in light of many things, often subjective in nature. They can mean vastly different things to different people. Yet, the Christian faith and its understanding of who Jesus was has always been based upon specific events in history and the people involved in those events. The primary meaning of these events is not subjective, but the foundation upon which Christian theology is understood. The meaning and power of these events and people have no value if they are not true! There are many beautiful stories that were never intended to be anything other than fiction, and though their ideas and symbols have persevered through the generations, placing faith in them in the way Christians do in Jesus Christ, would be absurd.

In the same way, no man, no matter how wise a teacher or influential a revolutionary, aught to be the object of faith or worship; for so long as he is a man, he can reach no further or do no more than those who may mistakenly place their faith in him. The man who accepts worship and acts as if he were God without having a shred of divinity is, as famously put by C.S. Lewis, either a lunatic or a liar, neither of which is worthy of worship. But, if He truly is Lord, then worship Him we must!

While we have little reason to think that this particular find bears any threat to the truths of the Christian faith, we must not entertain any notion of diluting it simply to avoid the challenges we are sure to face. We must consider it yet another opportunity to respond to the question that Jesus asked of His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

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9 Responses

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  1. I’ve written a comprehensive rebuttal to claims and evidence of this film. Please read it and decide for yourself.

    You will find it at extremetheology.com

    Chris Rosebrough

    March 1, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  2. [...] (6) Chris Rosebrough runs a few numbers and concludes that the probability that this was Jesus’ family tomb is more like 1 in 7.5 million. Of course, since Jesus rose, we know that the actual probability is zero. Nonetheless, Chris’s analysis is interesting and helpful. Christopher Butler also provides helpful analysis at his weblog. [...]

  3. Great post. I like how you turn to scripture and end with Jesus’ own question, “Who do you say I am?” a question not to just anybody with an opinion, but to his disciples.

    God bless you
    -RED

    R-E-D

    March 10, 2007 at 2:27 am

  4. Hi

    I just wanted to say that I’ve seen the documentary and I don’t believe in it’s credibility. The producers probably wanted to capitalize on the recent phenomenom like the Da Vinci Code and all that stuff. They know they can ruffle feathers and make money doing it.

    However, I would encourage you (you may have already) to thoroughly examine the resurrection accounts. They are riddled with contradictions. They have Mary meeting Jesus both before and after she met up with the disciples, the disciples being told to stay in Jerusalem and also being told to go to Gallilee, amongst a plethera of others.

    But I appreciate your critical evaluation of the documentary – good stuff.

    Mike

    March 21, 2007 at 10:37 pm

  5. If you could die to get out of this little nightmare, you would have.
    Jesus over came death to show that death is not real. If He left a body (which He didn’t) then death would be true and eternal life and illusion.
    Take away the stories, the church, the pope, the dogma and the drama and all you are left with is, YOU and God. A Single relationship- Cause and effect. There is nothing else.

    Tony

    May 16, 2007 at 12:26 am

  6. I say it’s good evidence, I’m sure they have went over the evidence again and again, throughly. These are professionals. If science has determined these facts to be true, then it’s a good chance it’s true.
    In addition, there’s more to the story then his flesh rose in three days. It’s not mentioned if it was his fleshy body or his spiritual.
    A couple possible ideas on what might of happened:
    1-Traditional: flesh rose and went to Heaven. (which makes no sense.)(He seems to have a strong dislike for any type of matter, but puts much love and importance upon the soul/spirit of people.)
    2-Jesus’ flesh did rise, but during the meeting with Mary in the garden, at the time he said he had to rise to Heaven, his flesh was left and his spiritual self accended.
    3-His spiritual self rose, and shown himself to his diciples and whatnot, thusly proving his supernatural nature.

    Mary

    May 22, 2007 at 10:15 pm

  7. I welcome the documentary and scrutiny of suposed facts documented in Christian scripture. I have long held the belief that we are litterally as a flock of sheep beying to every ‘Word’ laid before us in the name of ‘The Lord’ which we then absorb as ‘Gospel Truth’.
    I can’t allow myself to discredit the input of all theologens and scientist involved in the documentary. My conclution, based on the FACTS estabished during the program, is that the tomb is far more likely to be that of Jesus and his family than not!
    I accept that christians may still assert that the spirit of Chris accended regardless of where his body ended up. I however prefer to rely on factual evidence and in the entire history of man there is’t a single case which presents proof of this phenomina!
    Are we humans completely incapable of releasing the fancyful ideas we have established in the name of religion? There is soooo much that needs to be said about religion in general but the bottom line is, don’t dwell on what may or may not happen when we die (NO ONE KNOWS), concentrate on LIVING!

    Chris Gray

    August 7, 2007 at 6:02 pm

  8. интересно было прочитать.

    Ferinannnd

    May 25, 2009 at 1:51 pm

  9. just a test to see if the comments are still active.

    peace
    Nazaroo

    Nazaroo

    July 10, 2010 at 4:48 am


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