At an upcoming live simulcast event, three of the best teachers and speakers in apologetics and biblical hermeneutics, Lee Strobel, Mark Mittelberg, and Michael Licona, plan to give their answer to the question: Did Jesus of Nazareth really rise from the dead?
"The Case for Easter" event will be simulcast on the evening of Sunday, April 6, and hosted by churches all around North America, Strobel, who wrote the book by the same name, told The Christian Post via email recently.
"The resurrection, of course, is a linchpin of the Christian faith," Strobel writes. "As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17: 'If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you're still in your sins.'
"This event will present the latest historical evidence for this pivotal event that happened 2,000 years ago. It will be based on my book The Case for Easter, but it will go far beyond that by addressing today's most potent objections to the resurrection."
Strobel said he will be presenting a fresh talk that will set forth the affirmative evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Then, he and Mittelberg will be interacting with Licona, a historian, on the current objections that are being offered by skeptics. "Dr. Licona is one of the leading resurrection scholars in the world and has debated atheist scholars on the topic," Strobel said. The three experts will also be taking questions from people watching at churches across the U.S.
Organizers point out that of the many world religions, only one claims that its founder returned from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very cornerstone of Christianity.
"When you get down to the actual meaning of Easter," Mittelberg told CP, "you realize it comes with some big claims – ones that many people have never thought much about. Like: Did Jesus really die and come back from the dead three days later? How can we know? Is there really enough evidence for me to have a confident belief in this extraordinary claim? How can we be sure these weren't just fanciful stories from fanatical followers of Jesus?"
He adds, "What a lot of people don't realize is that this Easter claim is not just a story, it's an event of history that was seen and recorded by those who were there and who know what really happened – some of whom were skeptical themselves until confronted with the facts. And these eyewitnesses wrote down what they saw – as the apostle John puts it:
"'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life ... We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.' - 1 John 1:1,3."
Strobel, who also wrote The Case for Christ and The Case for the Real Jesus, said that skeptics have heightened their objections to the resurrection in recent years, even making the claim that Christians stole the idea of the resurrection from earlier mythology.
"Muslims assert, based on the teachings of the Qur'an, that Jesus never died on the cross and therefore was never resurrected," Strobel noted. "Skeptics charge that miracles are impossible and therefore Jesus could not have risen from the dead. Some claim that the post-resurrection sightings of Jesus were hallucinations or a form of wish fulfillment by the disciples. The current movie 'Son of God' is prompting a lot of questions on why Christians are convinced Jesus really is divine."
When he was an atheist, Strobel said he began investigating Christianity, and recognized immediately that the key was whether Jesus really returned from the dead.
"Anyone can claim to be divine, as Jesus did in several direct and indirect ways, but Jesus has unique credibility if he backed that up by conquering the grave," he said. "In the end, the persuasive historical evidence for the resurrection was a major factor in me coming to faith in Christ. After all, the resurrection clearly can be investigated historically: was Jesus alive at Point A? Was he executed at Point B? And was he alive again at Point C?
"These are issues that can be checked out – and that's what we will be doing in this simulcast. This is essentially what I did when I was the legal editor of The Chicago Tribune. I checked out stories to see whether the evidence backed them up. The resurrection of Jesus, in a sense, was the biggest story I ever covered as a journalist!"
Strobel said that almost two million people have already read The Case for Easter. "This event offers a special opportunity for churches to present the historical evidence for the resurrection in a compelling and easy-to-understand format," he explained.
This simulcast gives churches a turn-key outreach event, say Strobel and Mittelberg. "They can promote it in their community by inviting Christians and spiritual seekers," Strobel said. "The question-and-answer feature will give the event an interactive feel."
Strobel and Licona are both professors at Houston Baptist University. Strobel has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School and is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 20 books. Licona is co-author (with Gary Habermas) of the award-winning The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. He earned his doctorate at the University of Pretoria in South Africa based on the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Mittelberg is the best-selling author of Confident Faith, which this week was named winner of Outreach magazine's apologetics book of the year. He also wrote The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask and The Reason Why Faith Makes Sense. He has a master's degree in philosophy of religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
A short video explaining the event, as well as more details and information on how churches can participate, can be found at www.incastevents.com.
Thie event is the latest in a series of live simulcasts hosted by The Institute at Cherry Hills, an evangelism and apologetics ministry at Cherry Hills Community Church in the Denver area. Hundreds of churches around the country have participated in such previous events as "Unpacking Islam," "Unpacking Atheism" and "The Case for Christianity." Strobel and Mittelberg are co-directors of the Institute, along with Garry Poole and Blake LaMunyon.