Thoughtful Beliefs

Minimal facts

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Minimal Facts

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5-minute-fact-run

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1) “One of these Claims is not like the Others . . .”

The phrase above is part of a Sesame Street song that asked children to pick out 1 object from a group, which didn’t belong in the group; for example, a baseball, basketball, an apple, and a soccer ball. Similarly, of all the worldview beliefs that claim to give truth about the God that exists, only Christianity places itself on an entirely other level – on the examination table – by backing the claims with checkable events.

The evidence presented in the previous sections points to the inaccuracy of atheism and agnosticism, and directly to the reality that God exists. Yet, for any belief system claiming to provide accurate knowledge of God, or communication from God, natural questions come up: Why would you believe those sources are accurate? What evidence? Do these sources provide any verification that is beyond the ability of people to produce? Or is the best explanation just that these are entirely man-made beliefs?

Belief systems or models can be tested for truth, the same way we do with other claims or choices we come across in life. Unfortunately, most people seem to have a number a negative shots at belief systems they want to reject, and only a shallow idea of positive reasons why they believe what they believe, and choose to stand upon.

Instead of focusing on the negative evidence against atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Islam, etc., this article will focus on unequalled positive evidence that only Christianity brings to the table. Jesus established his authority as something entirely beyond man’s capability in numerous ways, this and other articles go right to the testable claim of Christianity that may be the most difficult/amazing to accept, the resurrection of Jesus.

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2) Easter: the greatest T or F answer possible

As noted earlier, the Easter account is either true, or false, there is no middle-ground, and considering what is at stake, makes the account either unimportant (and pitiful to believe in), or ultimately important (and pitiful to reject) – the one thing it is not is only moderately important.

The Easter account has been read and studied by the best minds, effort, and tools, more than any other claim throughout history. There is so much research that can be done on all the evidence surrounding the resurrection, it can appear overwhelming. But, we can begin with a simple approach because the experts have scoured the evidence with the finest-toothed combs throughout history, which has led to a consensus on critical facts.

If scholarship in an area of study reach such a consensus on critical facts, then the options become clear and limited. Therefore, we have a tool to directly deal with the question of whether the biblical explanation, or a natural (no-God-involved) explanation fits the facts.

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3) Five-Minute-Fact-Run (The Minimal Facts Approach)

Background: Every peer-reviewed book or article written by one with a finishing degree, PhD, that concerned aspects of the resurrection, written in German, French, or English, from 1975 to today, has been reviewed and catalogued for what they accepted as fact, based on the evidences.1 Pictured to the left are just a handful for us to think about.

The following facts are well-evidenced and granted by virtually every scholar.

Why are these facts accepted by even critics of Christianity – they accept those as facts because they have to! The flow of evidence is too much to go against without being spotlighted as one who goes against the evidence without academic or rational support.

Approach: Whether you are trying to determine what you want to base your choice upon, or are interacting with someone else, who may be asking your thoughts or challenging your beliefs, the approach is the same.

  1. First Question to ask: What exactly do you believe?
    Clearly figure out where you, or the other person, currently stands: Either you believe the biblical claim, or one of the no-God-involved claims, or are not really sure what to think.
  2. Second question to ask: Why do you believe that?
    Ask this of yourself, or the other person. Why are you standing where you currently stand on this issue? If you do not have significant support, then the way you approach your belief in this area, and your current position is unstable, and so will be the results that follow from your choice. Claiming you don’t know what to think is honest, but it is only intellectually honest only if you put the necessary effort in to know the evidence that is available. Have you really looked?
  3. Third question to ask: Have you considered the Minimal Facts?
    In just 5 minutes you can go over the 5 facts shown above, which are well-established by the scholarship, and use them to compare and contrast which explanation(s) fit the facts, and which are exposed as inaccurate, or, at least, are very shakey to believe in.

References
1 Habermas, G. R., Licona. M. R. (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.

Regarding the overview of all scholarly publications, professor Habermas stated: “(B)est treatment of the scholarly attestation to the minimal facts is in my book The Risen Jesus & Future Hope (2003). See especially the various lists on pp. 15-31. The endnotes, in particular, provide the relevant sources.”  The minimal facts arguments for the reliability of Scripture was published in the Christian Research Journal Vol. 28 (2005), pp. 22-31. Habermas, in speaking of his massive culmination work, which will include his final overview of scholarly work, “I have not documented the list of scholars yet, although I have mentioned the study in a few places. Partially, this is because new studies are regularly coming out and I want to be as complete as I can. I am presently hoping to go back and update that study and see if any of the statistics have changed. But I do mention the statistics in a recently-published article, “Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying?” It was published in The Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Vol. 3, 2005).[1]

Sources Habermas recommends: The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Michael Licona, (Intervarsity Press, 2010). NT Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress), William Lane Craig’s writings on the resurrection, especially his Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection (Mellen), Habermas’ own The Risen Jesus and Future Hope (Rowman & Littlefield) and The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996).

Cold Case Christianity (Cook), by J. Warner Wallace, I would also add   had a productive approach and interesting read.

[1] https://www.garyhabermas.com/qa/qa_index.htm#evi

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 4) Analysis

What explanation best fits even these minimal facts? A quick summary is below, and more detailed coverage of all the possible explanations surrounding Jesus, possibly the central figure in all history and in your life, are covered in articles.4

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Possible Explanations

Attempts to Explain Minimal Facts

Directly Fails Minimal Facts
(a) Jesus’ followers were grief-stricken and just hallucinated seeing Jesus after death 1, *3-5 2, *3-5
(b) The disciples were biased, just blind followers, whose bias influenced them 3-5 2, 3, 4, 5
(c) The New Testament writers lied 3-5 2, 3, 4, 5
(d) The disciples stole the body 2 3, 4, 5
(e) The story is just a myth, or copied from myths 2-5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
(f) Jesus didn’t really die 2 1, 3, 4, 5
(g) Jesus rose and validated his claims 1, 3, 4, 5
*If such hallucinations as believed by (a) ever occurred, or were possible, then 3 may be explained, but that is not the case. Further, 4 and 5 directly contradict explanation (a).

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Even after considering the analysis above, and adding in whatever further facts or points you may have, because questions concerning one’s beliefs are so personal, and will have a serious impact, our personal wants and emotions are involved, which means after the intellectual analysis of a choice we face, it’s essential to also analyze ourselves.

More in-depth coverage of personal road blocks, which run us off the road to correct choice-making, can be found in The Ice Cube Challenge: Check yo self. For now, our next section displays some common responses to the Minimal Facts.

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