Dear friends,

Several decades ago, a famous Anglican scholar and bishop in England wrote and spoke against the idea that Jesus had physically and bodily and historically and really risen from the dead. Because he was a bishop, and truth be told, because he was witty and engaging, he got a lot of press. However, what he taught is very common among academics and clergy. When I took courses at St Paul University here in Ottawa, my Christology prof said that he believed in “the resurrection” even as he said that it was irrelevant whether or not the bones of Jesus lay decomposing somewhere. In other words, the resurrection of Jesus is a powerful metaphor, image, “spiritual truth”, symbol – it is not God doing a “conjuring trick with bones.”

This all sounds very good. Many find it very moving. I do not. I told my Christology prof that if they could prove that they had found the bones of Jesus, I would not believe in the resurrection and I would not be a Christian. In fact, I believe it is intellectually dishonest to say that you believe in the resurrection of Jesus and you believe that His body is buried somewhere. You cannot read the New Testament in a fair and honest manner and believe that it teaches that the resurrection is a symbolic or “spiritual” event, so that what happened to Jesus’ body is irrelevant. The New Testament (and the Creeds) teach that: Jesus died on a cross; the He was buried; that on the third day He rose from the dead; that the grave was empty; that He defeated death in His resurrection, so that He would never die again; that He is alive now; that He will come again in glory. To reject this is to reject the Christian faith. You might be right (Jesus’ body is decomposing), but you are not a Christian, and it is better to acknowledge this.

I believe the witness of the New Testament. I believe that there are good historical, philosophical and intellectual reasons for the belief that Jesus truly died and He truly rose from the dead and the tomb is truly empty. This is more than a “conjuring trick with bones” – it is the means by which God would reconcile people to Himself. This Gospel message is the power of God for salvation for all who believe.