Maas, Korey D., and Adam S. Francisco, eds. Making the Case for Christianity: Responding to Modern Objections. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 3, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Trial: Easter Triumph, Easter Legend, or Easter Fraud?” by Craig A. Parton, Loc. 1286-1749. (This chapter is also called “Lawyers, Trials, and Evidence: Investigating the Resurrection of Christ.”
Craig Parton opens this chapter by observing that a lawyer-eye view of the resurrection is valuable. Lawyers are not normally easily persuaded of a position. They tend to seek out factual evidence. They also seek finality and closure (Maas 2014, Loc. 1304). The evidence must point to the conclusion, and the conclusion will almost certainly be based on probability (Ibid., Loc. 1324).
“Christianity has direct and important links to the world of trial lawyers and verdicts. Christianity is fact-centered and therefore welcomes (indeed insists upon) careful and thoughtful examination” (Ibid., Loc. 1334). Christianity depends upon events. The fact of the resurrection is, according to 1 Corinthians 15, the event which is most critical (Ibid., Loc. 1344). Parton says the burden of proof for the resurrection is on the Christian, as he is positing a deviation from normal events. Further, the Christian’s opponent may not require an impossible standard of proof (Ibid., Loc. 1355).
Parton describes the New Testament as a document of established reliability (Ibid., Loc. 1385). The New Testament presents the resurrection as an established fact. Rejections of miracles, such as resurrection, because miracles do not happen, is self-contradictory. There is evidence of inexplicable events, including this one (Ibid., Loc. 1407). What other evidence is important? Parton notes that these are early, apparently eyewitness accounts, affirming the disappearance of Jesus from the tomb, and his appearance to his followers. The contrary accounts are all a generation or more later (Ibid., Loc. 1429). Explanations which reject the resurrection require evidence which is not present and which appears less likely than the resurrection (Ibid., Loc. 1461).
Parton next pursues the significance of the resurrection. “In Jesus Christ we find the announcement that, though we have brought about our own doom by our cosmic rebellion against God, God himself has acted to effect a reconciliation wholly incapable of being effected by sinful man” (Ibid., Loc. 1486). Jesus’ own interpretation of the resurrection he accomplished is of greater validity than the interpretation of his critics. In this matter, presented as a matter of life and death, we would expect them to be a definitive interpretation (Ibid., Loc. 1501). Jesus is the one qualified to interpret his own actions.
The resurrection and the New Testament’s required interpretation of it obligates us to align our hopes and beliefs with this event and its results (Ibid., Loc. 1511). Parton leaves us with an extensive bibliography related to the evidence for the resurrection.