Thursday, March 27, 2008

He Is Risen Indeed - Alleluia!

The Easter season is a particularly important time to deal with the question of epistemology, a very important topic. Put simply, it is the matter of how one knows what he knows. It is on this point that I find the most profound difference between Christianity and every other religion; generally the others do not even deal with this question. They simply have teachings which claim to have antiquity.

What the Biblical writers claim, by contrast, is to have the proof of eyewitness testimony, and corroboration, to support what they assert about Jesus. It is a particular claim of Christianity to establish its merits on the basis of eyewitness testimony of historical fact, viz., the resurrection of Christ. As far as I can tell, no other religion does this, with the possible exception of religious sects which may be considered as offshoots of Christianity, such as Mormonism.

Christianity, as opposed, say, to Hinduism, makes very exclusive claims. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." In addition, it makes very clear its basis for those claims in historical, verifiable events.

Behind the question "why do you believe what you believe?" there is an implied challenge: on what basis do you claim to know what is actually true about God? While that challenge may make people uncomfortable, it is essential to historic Christianity that that this question demands an answer.

According to the testimony of St. Paul, "he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present" (I Corinthians 15:6). The significance of this assertion is partly in his saying that most of the eyewitnesses were still alive when he wrote it. This means it could easily have been refuted, were it not true. These kinds of assertions are especially noteworthy in view of their implicit challenge: if they were fabrications, they would not have survived.

The Christian faith makes its truth claims on the basis of its assertions regarding the basis of its truth in verifiable reality, as seen, for instance, in this age-old versicle and response:

V: Christ is risen!
R: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Hence, the Christian faith is manifestly not one which asserts that what one believes is all just a private matter of personal choice.


Jeff said...


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

I John 5:1-5