Back at Eastertime I went back to speak at the Christian Union at Stranmillis University College which is the teacher training college here in Belfast. About 30-40 of us gathered on Zoom, as restrictions were still in place then. I have lots of good contacts and friends at Stranmillis CU, as I spoke at their annual mission week this year, alongside my old friend and former colleague Lara Buchanan – (you can hear more about that here). So it was great to reconnect with the great folks at Stranmillis!
I was asked to speak on the topic, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” So we kicked the night off with a twenty minute presentation which I did on evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. We also looked at the way in which the resurrection is really the foundation of the Christian faith, the cornerstone on which the whole of Christianity is built. If we don’t have the resurrection of Jesus – then we really don’t have any Christianity at all!
We looked at four great facts about the death and resurrection of Jesus which are securely established. First, that Jesus actually died on the cross. Second, that his tomb was found to be empty. Third, that Jesus’ first disciples really believed that he has been resurrected from death, claiming to have seen him (along with multiple other people at different times and locations). And Fourth, the explosive growth of the early church occurred so that many of Jesus’ former enemies came to believe in him and his resurrection. That includes Saul of Tarsus, and also Jesus’ sceptical younger brother James.
The question I then asked the students to consider was what account best fits this evidence and makes most sense of these established facts. I argued that the naturalist explanations fall short and that the best and most natural explanation of these known facts is that Jesus actually rose from the dead.
There was a good Q&A session after my talk in which students sent in questions on everything from the significance of other resurrection stories, to questions around science and miracles to that of other religions and cults. One question honed in on whether pagan resurrection myths had shaped the gospels. These were all fairly well-known and well-studied areas of questioning, so it was good to be able to proclaim and defend the gospel.
It was great to catch up with the guys at Stranmillis, and share this really positive event with them. They were really positive and encouraging about the event too and I look forward to working with them in the future.