From Christology to Theism: The Resurrection and the Existence of God
There is one conglomerate argument (the total evidence warrants the deduction) for each of the three foundational propositions of the case for Christianity: (1) God exists, (2) the Bible is the word of God, and (3) Jesus Christ is the Son of God. However, each of these three basic arguments contains several constituent elements which, themselves, can be presented as separate arguments for the respective proposition. For example, the conglomerate argument for the existence of God has individual elements which are conclusive to prove that God exists (i.e. my own inner self with consciousness, memory, rationality, conscience—oughtness, sense of ultimate and absolute good; my own body—contingent and teleological; other bodies; other minds; the physical universe—contingent and teleological; the Bible—contingent, teleological and beyond human production; Jesus Christ—the biblical presentation of His person, word, and work beyond human invention; the church—its beginning, early work, and present work, etc.). It is not necessary that we stand on any single bit of information. However, there are single elements that can be presented through sound arguments that prove the case for God’s existence.
Three examples that illustrate this point of separate arguments formulated from constituent elements found within the one conglomerate argument for the existence of God are: the cosmological, the teleological, and the moral. The cosmological entails deduction from contingency to necessity. If a contingent being exists, then the absolutely necessary being (God) exists. The teleological argument entails deduction from order and adjustment to design (adaptation of means to an end or purpose) and from design to Designer (God). The moral argument entails deduction from absolute right and wrong to the ultimate Good (God).
Two separate additional arguments from constituent elements within the one conglomerate argument for the existence of God are what can be called the (1) Biblical argument, and (2) Christological argument. Dr. Warren explained the former (the Biblical argument) in the following:
The basic thrust of what I am calling “the Biblical argument,” is from the properties of the Bible (as objective evidence) to the truth that God exists. Care must be taken by the theist at this point not to be guilty of circular reasoning, i.e. one must not “reason” so as to be saying, “I know that God exists merely because the Bible says so, and I know the Bible can be trusted to tell the truth about the existence of God because it is the word of God.” This would be like arguing: (1) “I know that proposition A is true, because I first knew that proposition B is true.” and (2) “I know that proposition B is true, because I first knew that proposition A is true.” Here we use the Bible as objective evidence and, determining that it has certain properties, we see that the existence of God is implied by those properties. (“Atheism” 6)
In similar fashion, the Christological argument for the existence of God entails the evidence of the biblical presentation of Jesus Christ, the properties of which warrant the deduction that the Bible is a production of God (It is beyond human invention. It was not merely “thought up.”), therefore, God exists. In 1980 Thomas B. Warren set forth this in his debate with professor Joe E. Barnhart at North Texas State University. Warren said,
I insist to you tonight that Jesus Christ is the greatest person this world has ever known. Not only is he great, he is so great that he is beyond human invention. He could not have simply been “thought up.” You cannot invent anybody who can even compare with him. I offer this challenge to Dr. Barnhart: invent somebody who really even compares with Jesus Christ, who is as good, or who surpasses him. He is simply beyond human invention. (Warren and Barnhart 96)
Varghese says, “The portrait presented in the four Gospels [and the remaining twenty-three books of the New Testament canon] shows us a personality that can plausibly be considered as not only real but uninventable” (16-17). Varghese references an interview of Einstein by George Sylvester Vierick published in The Saturday Evening Post, October 1929.
VIERICK: Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus? [the author of the book makes an audacious attempt to reconstruct the thoughts of Jesus throughout His life.]
EINSTEIN: Emil Ludwig’s Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot . . . no myth is filled with such life. (16)
Einstein’s conclusion is presently interesting in light of the numerous accolades given atheistic physicist Stephen W. Hawking since his death 14 March 2018. Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York, said, “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world” (qtd. in Overbye), However, make no mistake, Hawking was no Einstein when it came to God and religion. Dennis Overbye, New York Times science reporter, who wrote Hawking’s obituary says, “Nothing raised as much furor . . . as his [Hawking’s] increasingly scathing remarks about religion.” Hawking had referred to the “mind of God” in his early 1988 work A Brief History of Time. However, in The Grand Design (2010), which he coauthored with Leonard Mlodinow, he said, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [British term for a firecracker fuse] and set the universe going” (180). Overbye says Hawking “went further that year” when he said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” Hawking’s obituary stated, “Dr. Hawking had no fear of the dark.” He once told an interviewer, “I don’t have fears of being thrown into [black holes]. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master” (Overbye).
There is a great contrast between Hawking’s above words and those of Einstein as referenced by the late British philosopher and atheist-turned-theist, Antony Flew, in his remarkable book There Is A God. Not only did Flew renounce atheism, but he describes how he also renounced his “old position” that Einstein was an atheist. The book, Einstein and Religion, authored by Einstein’s friend, Max Jammer, paints a very different picture than the one formerly held by Flew and others such as Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion. Einstein stated:
I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they were written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. (qtd. in Flew 99)
Flew concluded that Einstein believed “he who knows nature knows God, but not because nature is God, but because the pursuit of science in studying nature leads to religion” (101). Although he was not a Christian theist, Einstein did acknowledge during the above cited 1929 Saturday Evening Post interview the nature of Jesus is “too colossal” to be mythological. “No myth,” he said, “is filled with this [Jesus Christ’s] life.” It cannot be dismissed with “a bon mot” [a clever remark]. Such sounds very similar to what Peter, the apostle of Christ, affirmed: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16, ESV). “Cleverly devised myths” means artfully invented. The case for Christ set forth in the New Testament proves the claim that it is not a cleverly devised, humanly thought up, or artfully invented story. It is not a bunch of “tales” (NASV). Therefore, God exists.
Fifty years ago the late E. M. Blaiklock and his son, D. A. Blaiklock, coauthored the book, Is It—Or Isn’t It?, Why We Believe in the Existence of God. At that time, 1968, the elder Blaiklock was Professor of Classics at University of Auckland. Though brief, the book presents an eloquently rational case for the existence of God. One half of the book engages the mind through an appeal from cosmological, teleological, and moral argumentation. The remainder of the book, excepting one chapter, makes the case for the implications of the Christological argument for the existence of God. The following is the Blaiklocks’ summation of the veracity of the resurrection of Christ and its place in this Christological argument for God’s existence.
. . . Lord Darling, Lord Chief Justice of England . . . [an] eminent judge said . . . “The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what he claimed to be, must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. . . . [T]here exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
We have paused to stress these four testimonies [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] because the plain text of the New Testament narratives is so frequently lost beneath vast drifts of comment, fantastic theories of origin and composition which would not be entertained for a moment about any other ancient writing, and skeptical exegesis whose first object is the destruction of authenticity, authority and truth.
It cannot be denied that the gospels claim to be plain history. The writers set out to report what they believed to be fact. Matthew and John both actually saw what they narrate. Mark may have been an eyewitness, and at least had the story first hand from Peter. Luke, in his own right a major Greek historian, conducted personal research among those who took part in the events he so exquisitely describes. Nor is there a break in style and composition. The story of Christ proceeds to the account of His trial and death, and passes on to tell us of His resurrection without becoming at some unspecified point “mythology,” either in the Platonic or any other sense of that word. . . .
That the tomb must have been found empty is a core fact which can hardly be disputed. . . .
Without a doubt the tomb was empty. . . .
The resurrection of Christ, perhaps the best authenticated fact in ancient history, clenches the Christological argument for the existence of God. It was the central point in the teaching of the early Christians, the edge of their appeal. Without the all-embracing truth Christianity cannot stand. Christ is central in all that which we have sought to say, no diminished Christ of some theological imagining, no defeated and trampled Christ, but the Son of God, of the historic faith. (65-66, 68-70, emp. added)
The uninventable properties possessed by the case for Jesus Christ in the New Testament imply that the case is beyond mere human production. Ultimately, the element of the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ makes the conclusion that the Bible is beyond human production as obvious as any constituent element in the total case does. As a result of His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ is declared to be the Son of God (cf. Romans 1:4). Again, Peter in another place sums up the argument: “. . . Through Him [you] are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21, NASV).
Charles C. Pugh III
Blaiklock, E. M. and D. A. Blaiklock. Is It—Or Isn’t It?, Why We Believe in the Existence of God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968.
Flew, Antony. There Is a God. New York: HarperOne, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. New York: Bantam, 2010.
Overbye, Dennis. “Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos.” NYTimes.com. 14 March 2018. Web. 23 March 2018.
Varghese, Roy Abraham. “Jesus of Nazareth (The Christ), as Set Forth in the New Testament, Is an Actual, Historical Person.” The Case for the Christ of the New Testament. Vienna: Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2013.
Warren, Thomas B. “Atheism—Our Greatest Foe—And How to Deal With It.” The Spiritual Sword. 8. 4 (July 1977): inside front cover – 7.
Warren, Thomas B. and Joe E. Barnhart. The Warren-Barnhart Debate on Christian Ethics Versus Utilitarian Ethics. Jonesboro: National Christian, 1981.