Christ cross

Gordon Robinson | Cross objectives | On point

Last week I reviewed and commented on an inspirational message on the significance of Christ’s resurrection delivered by Swallowfield Chapel pastor David Henry.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Most understood the message to be proof of the forgiveness of “sin” so that we could exercise our (God-given) agency to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of this relative world. The idea that God sent us into this existence armed with His built-in Incredible Grace (forgiveness) resonated with many. A regular reader (a veteran former journalist and a devout, devout Christian) wrote to me:

“Great sermon today! The gift of clarity (clear understanding, logic and vision) is a treasure.

I continue to celebrate you and your exceptional ability to bring complex issues home in such a remarkable and relevant way.

Well, you can’t please everyone. One person left a not quite so favorable review online, which I will address, albeit reluctantly. I am reluctant because I believe that opinions are free; most people can afford to have at least one; and the mission of trying to change a person’s opinion is one for Mr. Phelps (or Tom Cruise). So, not to argue with this commentator but to bring clarity to those who wish, I take on the tedious task of responding.

The commentator (with the tongue-in-cheek “Voice of Reason” inline handle) wrote:

“So wait. The resurrection of Jesus is a fact because a lawyer somewhere said it was? And he also said he hadn’t had time to figure out all the facts as to why the resurrection of Jesus was a historical event. It was right. And it’s also enough to hold up in court, even if he’s not going to tell you why. Uh, in a way, I have the impression that the purpose of going to court is to find out the facts, in depth, over and over again. Exactly the opposite of what this guy said.

I’m glad you’re passionate about something, and I hope you’re having a happy Easter. Did you know that Easter is actually a pagan holiday in 8th century England (a region called Eosturmonath, or Eostre Month, after the goddess Eostre) where a goddess who brings spring is celebrated?

Let’s break it down. Pastor David made it clear that his basis, including time not permitting, for asserting the resurrection as historical fact was the irrefutable “I saw” evidence to support this claim and NO. “because a lawyer somewhere said so”. The answering machine continued: “It’s also enough to hold up in court even if he’s not going to tell you why.”

But. He. Did. To tell about. You. Why.

It’s amazing how often our minds trick us into seeing what we want to see instead of what’s actually there. Pastor David believed the PROOF of the apostles that they had seen the risen Christ because this PROOF was unshakable despite the attacks of enthusiastic and often cruel antagonists. Pastor David backed up his belief with a legal opinion not from a “lawyer somewhere”, but from “Dr. Simon Greenleaf, one of the greatest legal minds ever known, who was the famous Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University”.

Greenleaf said: “It was impossible that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths which they had related if Jesus had not really risen from the dead and if they had not known this fact as certainly as they knew everything. another fact. The resurrection of Christ was one of the most substantiated events in history according to the laws of legal evidence administered by a court of law.

“Voice of Reason” seems confused about the function of a tribunal. I came to this conclusion because of the assertion “Um, in a way, I feel like the point of going to court is to get the facts straight, thoroughly, over and over again. Like the exact opposite of what this guy said.

Sigh. Again, someone’s mind is playing tricks. As I wrote in last Sunday’s column, “The apostles’ testimony of the resurrection of Jesus has not been shaken by the most intense cross-examination. They endured imprisonment, torture and death rather than simply recant. This is, uh, more of an IN-DEPTH EXAMINATION of the evidence and not the repetitive elucidation dreamed up by “The Voice of Reason”.


“The voice of reason” can confuse the courtroom’s findings of fact with the truth. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you were there and saw for yourself, the truth will always be elusive. Even people who were there often see what isn’t there or don’t see what is there. A court can only test “I saw” evidence through demeanor, cross-examination and comparison with other testimony, using professional techniques to draw inferences of fact which may or may not be what is really happened.

Regarding the resurrection, there is not a single eyewitness that contradicts the testimony of the Apostles. The proof that Jesus was resurrected comes from several apostles, not just one person. These witnesses have been tested through torture, imprisonment and gruesome deaths. They didn’t back down once.

No, “Voice of Reason”, it’s not because “a lawyer somewhere” said it. This is because the actual evidence would certainly lead any court to conclude that the resurrection is a fact. Most of us accept a court’s findings of fact as what happened, even though we understand the difference. In this case, I believe the finding of probable fact is also what happened. You have the right to conclude otherwise, but not to adopt an ostrich approach in the process.

Some of the omissions caused by Pastor David’s time constraints include how to debunk the theory that since the evidence of life is impeccable, perhaps Jesus is not dead.

There are two elements to this hopeless hypothesis:

1. Was Jesus really crucified?

Too many independent analysts, of different denominations and levels of cynicism, have cited about a dozen relevant and credible sources that attest to the fact of the crucifixion to be a myth or an operation under false banner. It happened!

It is important to note that the crucifixion is not something the early believers invented. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul points out: “but we preach Christ crucified: scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles”. According to Ye Olde Testament (Deuteronomy 21:23): “…whoever hangs from a post is under the curse of God”. It is therefore not surprising that the Jews refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah because they believed that those who hung on a tree (including the victims of crucifixion) were cursed by God.

No. The Messiah. Would like to. Be. Damn. By. God!

The early Gentiles were no different. For them, it was madness to adore a man who suffered such a dishonorable death, normally reserved for the worst criminals. So, would Christianity invent, as the foundation of their faith, crucifixion as a type of death inflicted by law on someone they subsequently revered?

If they were making up a story, Jesus would have been buried alive, drowned, or impaled (death penalty methods popular at the time). Christian worship is yet another example of corroborating evidence proving that the crucifixion was real.

2. If he was crucified, did he really die on the cross?

Damn Louise!


Look at the FACTS. It would be ridiculous to believe that Jesus could somehow survive the crucifixion, live again in the tomb without medical assistance or food, and then remove the heavy stone from the entrance to the tomb despite his savage beatings and his dehydration on the cross. Then He walked on feet that were just pierced with nails and with the severe wound in His side administered to ensure death?

Really? Seriously?

Now, what would Jesus’ physical appearance be like after all this? Surely he would be weak, lame, pale, sickly? He would probably be bent over, clutching His injured side, which probably opened up and was bleeding from His efforts. How could someone in this state convince ANYONE (especially a doubting Thomas) that He was dead? Perhaps he would be hailed as a medical guru NOT a resurrected Messiah.

So “Voice of Reason” I believe is some (not all) of the details that Pastor David didn’t have time to include. But you are free to hold and express contrary opinions, no matter how far apart they are from the ones I have presented until they come (no pun intended) against the grain. So, like Edna told NW, keep going regardless. All is well (Romans 8:28) .

One last thing (says Lieutenant Colombo): Contrary to popular belief, Easter is NOT a “pagan feast of 8th century England”. Easter is the time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. The “holidays” you mention involved ancient pagan rituals celebrating the resurrection of life in the spring (cycle of nature). I recommend the classic 1973 film The wicker man (or, better, the Robin Hardy/Anthony Shaffer book adapted from the film).

Obviously, some Easter traditions are inspired by these outdated rituals, BUT Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and not the life cycle of nature resurrected in the spring. Of them. Different. Resurrections!

Again, Cross goals.

Peace and love!

Gordon Robinson is a lawyer. Email your comments to