Strobel's sermon at Southeast
As I had announced, Lee Strobel was the guest preacher this weekend at Southeast. He preached on the four primary evidences for the Gospels which had led to his conversion fom atheism (available until next Monday or so on-line).
1.) The execution of Jesus, leading to a resurrection not a resuscitation. Both the Bible and extra-biblical sources agree here. Moreover, the extent of the pre-Cross beating and the wounds inflicted on the Cross makes it beyond incredible that Christ could have survived.
2.) The early accounts came far earlier than would be plausible for legends to develop about Christ. The gospels are plenty early to make this point, but the extra-biblical record is again quite clear. It would be historically unprecedented for legend to develop that quickly; again, it takes far less faith to believe in the historical accuracy of the traditional account of the Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
3.) The empty tomb. Strobel made two points here. First, he noted the "criterion of embarrassment"-- where some details in a fictional account would likely be omitted since they cause embarrassment. One example is women finding the empty tomb and acting as witnesses (a no-no in that culture). Second, he noted that no one disputed the empty tomb, they merely wrestled with how it could have happened. The Romans and Jews didn't want it empty-- and it is incredible to imagine that the disciples were able to recover and pull off that feat in the face of such strong opposition.
4.) Eyewitnesses-- more than 515 in at least 12 different encounters with the risen Jesus. Strobel asked us to imagine 15 minutes of testimony and cross-examination (more than five 24-hour days)-- and then saying "I don't believe that". Moreover, it is again incredible to imagine that the disciples would have been willingly persecuted, tortured, and willing to die for a lie.
If you are not yet a disciple of Jesus Christ, consider the testimony-- whether the evidence of Strobel, the logic of Geisler, the argument from conscience of Lewis, the paradoxes of life and Christianity from Chesterton, or the confession of Tolstoy.