“Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
Each of the four Gospels announces that the tomb in which the crucified Jesus had been buried on Friday afternoon was empty on Easter morning. Their testimony is supported by the primitive preaching recorded in Acts: “his flesh did not see corruption” (2:31), and echoed by the apostle Paul who, in agreement with the Jerusalem apostles, wrote that “Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3–4, 11). By an action of God the Father, the tomb wherein Jesus had been placed was emptied of its contents, and Jesus, body and soul, was raised to newness of life, his earthly body having been transformed onto the eschatological plane. Through the clarity of their testimony and the spiritual power of this truth upon Christians from then until now, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ has been the historic conviction of the church and the normative meaning of the phrase in the Apostles’ Creed, “… on the third day he rose again from the dead.”
Despite this evidence, there persists an effort to dematerialize belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Last year a novel appeared by Charles Templeton entitled Act of God. It tells a story about the discovery of Jesus’ body and the church’s attempt to keep news of this from the general public. More intriguing than the novel itself—its plot centers upon precisely that supposed discovery which the historical evidence assures us did not occur—has been the reaction to that possibility by liberal churchmen. Ernest Howse, for example, a long-time pastor of the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto, explained in a newspaper column that ...1
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