“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this’ ” (Acts 17:32).
THERE IS NO PROPOSITION SO COMPELLING THAT EVERYONE ACCEPTS IT. No matter what is affirmed, some objection or other is always possible. So with any idea, the question is not whether anyone can come up with objections but whether those objections are valid. Taking an opinion poll won’t help us much either. Regardless of which way the opinions of the majority may be running, the only question worth asking is always: is this idea true?
In Acts 17, when Paul was asked to speak to a group of philosophers in Athens about Jesus Christ, he first talked about the nature of God. But as his argument progressed, he came to Jesus’ resurrection. At this point, “some mocked,” while others said, “We will hear you again about this.” They all heard the same words — but the response of the audience was a split decision. In the end, the gospel was not received as obediently in Athens as it was elsewhere, and perhaps that is not surprising. But Paul’s preaching was acted on affirmatively by some who heard it: “some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them” (v.34).
Today, we could make a long list of objections that people offer to the resurrection of Christ. Some of these are based on misunderstandings which can be cleared up, while others come from a lack of acquaintance with the evidence. But there is one objection that can’t be overcome by supplying additional evidence: the belief that the resurrection cannot have taken place. If a person approaches the question maintaining that such a thing is inherently impossible, he will not believe it no matter how much evidence there is.
So when it comes to miracles, and especially the resurrection, our presuppositions are crucial. In an age of astonishing discoveries, haven’t we learned to use the word “impossible” very sparingly? It is a strange world, is it not? Let us, then, be open-minded enough to admit the possibility that the resurrection could have happened — and then have the courage to assess the historical evidence fairly.
“If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say” (C. S. Lewis).