Monday, December 19, 2005

Resurrection, part 16

The third argument comes from John 20:24-27. In this passage, Jesus appeared to everybody but Thomas. Then when they told Thomas about it, Thomas didn't believe them. He said that "Unless I shall see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." It's interesting to note the kind of proof that Thomas required. Thomas was requiring physical proof, which shows that he assumed resurrection was physical. Moreover, he wanted proof that the raised body was the same body that died. That was the purpose of verifying the nail holes. The nail holes would show that it was really the crucified Jesus who had risen. So Thomas understood the resurrection to be physical and to be a resurrection of the same body that died.

Eight days later, Jesus obliged. He used his scars to prove that he had risen from the dead. Now think about this. How is it that the scars prove that it was Jesus? Well, we know that Jesus died by crucifiction, right? That means the body that died must've had scars. Now Jesus is showing a risen body that has the exact same scars. For this argument to work, Thomas would have to apply the indiscernibility of identicals. If for whatever property the dead body has, the living body also has, and vice versa, then the body that lives is the same body that died. Since the living body has all the same scars as the body that died, then it's the same body. That proves Jesus has risen from the dead.

But if the Jehovah's Witnesses are right, this argument doesn't work at all. In their view, the body Jesus was showing them was not the body that died. It was a different body altogether that Jesus just manufactered for the sake of display. The dead body was disposed of somehow by Jehovah to prevent the disciples from being confused. Well, if the body Jesus was showing them was not the same body that died, then what do the scars prove? They don't prove anything! They're just copies of the scars on the original body.

Think about this for a minute. Suppose I wanted to prove to you that I actually had a famous painting that was supposedly destroyed in a fire fifty years ago. To prove it to you, I painted an exact replica of it. I showed you the replica and said, "See? This proves that I have the original painting." Would you not object, saying that it proves no such thing?

If the scars Jesus showed Thomas were not the scars he received at the crucifiction, then they don't prove anything. The fact that Jesus presented his scars as proof of his resurrection shows that the body he raised was the same body that died.

To be continued... Part 17


At 12/19/2005 6:04 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

In all fairness, the Jehovah Witnesses could object saying that you've wrongly assumed that Thomas would have behaved as a perfectly logical creature, thinking through everything carefully and acting on his deductions. In fact, as far as I know, no human is 100% logical, and the JW's would probably argue that the body was presented in such a way that Thomas was convinced it was Jesus, and it really was Jesus, however Thomas's reasons for believing it was Jesus were actually flawed. (It's like the Gettier Problem)

At 12/19/2005 6:58 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Dale, I think that basically is what JW's argue. But that seems to me to be a weakness of their position, not a strength. They'd basically have to argue that Jesus intentionally used flawed reasoning (or counted on Thomas using flawed reasoning) to get Thomas to believe something which isn't even entirely true. It would be true that Jesus was raised from the dead, but it wouldn't be true that Jesus raised his body.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about the empty tomb, but for now, I just want to add something. JW's also say that Jehovah disposed of Jesus' body, partly so the disciples wouldn't get confused. I mean if Jesus was still in his tomb, yet this person with scars was claiming to be the risen Jesus, that is bound to cause a lot of confusion, right? If it's true that Jehovah disposed of Jesus' body, and that Jesus presented another body with identical scars, then obviously, both Jesus and Jehovah are perpetuating the "mistaken" belief in bodily resurrection. They're misleading the disciples.


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