Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus – Post Resurrection apperance to His brother James

Taken from Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics by William Lane Craig

P 282 “…apparently neither James nor any of Jesus’ younger brothers believed in Jesus during his lifetime (See Mark 3:21, 31-3; John 7:1-10)

P 283 “Finally, in Acts 21:18 James is the sole head of the Jerusalem church and the council of elders.  We hear no more about James in the NT: but from Josephus, the Jewish historian, we learn that James was stoned to death illegally by the Sanhedrin sometime after A.D. 60 for his faith in Christ.  ”  see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews20.200

“Now, how is this to be explained?  On the one hand, it seems certain  that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him during his lifetime.   What would it take to make you believe that your brother is the Lord, so that you would die for this belief as James did?  Can there be any doubt that the reason for this remarkable transformation is to be found in the face that “then he appeared to James”?  Even the skeptical NT critic Hans Grass admits that the conversion of James is one of the surest proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” see Hans Grass, Ostergeschehen und OsterberichteI, 4t ed.  (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974), p. 80

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Love your neighbor (for your own sake)

A researcher at Harvard, George Vaillant conducted a longitudinal study  with seven other researchers of men they’d  followed since 1938.  They took 268 men at Harvard and followed them all of their lives. It is examined at length here but I have below the nature of this study.

Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.

The authority of these findings stems in large part from the rarity of the source. Few longitudinal studies survive in good health for whole lifetimes, because funding runs dry and the participants drift away. Vaillant managed, drawing on federal grants and private gifts, to finance surveys every two years, physicals every five years, and interviews every 15 years.

One would think certain traits would show up and we would have a lot of “if this then that” application.  Bob was raised without a good education so then he will experience x, y and maybe z in his life.  What Vaillant and others have realized is that the real outcomes of a happy and fulfilled life for many of these successful men (including a few senators and a president) are summed up by this:

In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

It is astounding that across the categories of marriage, family, career, education, wealth, etc  the number one thing this study has found that matters is relationships.

So social, physical, and other sciences have brought us this grand finding.  Thanks modern science!  What God has told humanity thousands of years ago we have revealed to us today.  Sarcasm aside, all that has been complied is very valuable and been put in useful terms thanks to a number of modern practices within science and statistics.  This should be a confirmation of what we should already know.  God values relationships and wants us to value them too.  Not just for some arbitrary reason, but because life is better, more meaningful and more fulfilling loving others.
1) God creates humankind for relationship with others.  He institutes marriage and says its not good to go through life alone (Gen 2:18) Relationships where we care about others, our wives, husbands, children, friends, and family has always been important and will always continue to be.
2) God commands we love others even back to the days of the Israelites. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart…” (Lev 19:17) “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18) “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:34)

3) Jesus emphasizes this command when he comes to speak to humankind. When speaking of the greatest commandments, Jesus states that the first is to love God then “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

4) Jesus fulfills this command to love your neighbor as He loves humanity by laying down his life for ours.  It is the ultimate sacrifice and ultimate display of love to die for another (John 15:13)  Jesus shows us eternal love in that His death brings reconciliation to God for humanity.  By Him we will forever live with God one day; and until then we have the perfect example of loving others to follow.

Is God Silent?

There are some who would say God is silent, or we do not hear Him or can not know him. If only he would speak or reveal himself in a greater or clearer way, we could know for certain He exists and know exactly what He wants from us.

Richard Carrier, outspoken anti-theist claims:

“The logically inevitable fact is, if the Christian God existed, we would all hear from God himself the same message of salvation, and we would all hear, straight from God, all the same answers to all the same questions.”

“So a God who wanted us to make an informed choice would give us all the information we needed, and not entrust fallible, sinful, contradictory agents to convey a confused mess of ambiguous, poorly supported claims. Therefore, the fact that God hasn’t spoken to us directly, and hasn’t given us all the same, clear message, and the same, clear answers, is enough to prove Christianity false.”

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html#silentgod

So Carrier makes the assertion that only if God existed, then he could know and so could everyone else, what God is saying.  Carrier is pushing us toward the rhetorical answer, “I didn’t hear God audibly speak today”.  The conclusion is since God would speak to us if He existed, and He hasn’t spoken to us, therefore He does not exist.

Or put in the form of a logic statement (with P=premises and C=Conclusion).  The result is if the premises hold true the conclusion flows.  Lets look into this.

P1           If the Christian God existed, we would all hear from God himself

P2           We do not all audibly hear from him, both by experience and evidenced by not everyone agreeing on the same message

C1           Therefore since we do not hear from God himself, He cannot exist

The problem is P1 is not a supported premise.  Nothing says that we would have to hear from God.  God is not obligated follow what we would like.

Second, it is a fallacy akin to ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ to assume that because some people disagree on God’s message all are wrong.  If President Obama gave a speech tomorrow and said this is our foreign policy going forward, we could have 10 people give 10 different summations of exactly what Obama meant.   This does not mean we can’t know what Obama said, but everyone knows Obama has an idea(s) in his mind when he gives the speech.  Therefore some people’s interpretations will be closer to Obama’s intent than others. This is analogous to God’s word.

In defense of God speaking lets consider a few things.

  1. God is holy and righteous and we are not.  Therefore the theological understanding of relationship between God and man after the fall is a loss of fellowship, communication. And close relationship with God after humanity’s first sin. (Gen. 3:23)  This loss includes not a complete removal, but a damage of communication with God.
  2. God out of His grace and mercy for us reaches out to us (Romans 11:30).  God doesn’t need us to survive but we need him (Acts 17:28)
  3. We humans ask not to speak to God, (Deuteronomy 18:16-17).  The people in Moses’ day feared when God spoke.  God in His grace appoints prophets to us to speak His words. The glaring question in this is, ‘great, how will we know if someone starts spouting off that God spoke to them?’ God provides us the answer in Deuteronomy 18:19-22, if the prohecy does not pass (I.E. Harlod Camping) then that person is not one of God’s appointed prophets.  So God puts regulations in place to keep His word through sinful humanity.  So when we  or the Israelites’ would have judged prophets coming up, they have a guideline to work from.
  4. God does send His son Jesus Christ to speak to us.  He comes in human flesh to tell us how to live, what to do to follow God Yahweh.  It would be irrational to think that because some people have a different view of that than others, we can completely dismiss that the Lord of the universe descended into human flesh to bear our sins, so that we can have a relationship with our Creator again.
  5. Finally, the Holy Spirit is promised to lead and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Not only us but the Holy Spirit now will convict the world regarding sin (John 16:9).  So even though the anti-theist will not maybe agree with it, it is what God says to us.  This personal experience can be evidence (even if just for us individually) that the Holy Spirit does speak to us.

This sounds like wisdom a loving, wise and just God would implement.  God speaks, lets open our ears and our minds to hear what is said.