One of the biggest problems of churches today is churchianity. There are scores of young, second (or third or fourth) generation Christians who believe because their parents believe. They have no terms of reference beyond what the church says. In a logical debate, the best they can come up with is circular thinking that goes along the lines of "this is true because the Bible says it is true and the Bible is true because I believe it is true". If you take the Bible out of the equation and ask them how else they can prove that what they believe is true, they have no plausible answer. They go stammering back to the sentence, "but the Bible says..." This does not work in a world of skeptics.
Another thought forwarded was, "this is true for me. You must try it for yourself." If it is true for me because I believe it is true, and you must try it to know if it is true, how different is that from the new age thinking that says that truth is relative to a person? Fine and good for you if you think it's true. Whatever works for you, man.
We discussed in CLEY three of the common theories to disprove that Jesus rose from the dead.
One - he did not die. He fainted and woke up in the tomb. Stupid theory - the Roman soldiers were professionals at killing. I doubt that since they made sure the two thieves were dead that they would have missed out on making sure Jesus was dead.
Two - the disciples stole the body. Maybe, if they were desperate enough to break with their own ingrown Jewish tradition of not touching "unclean" things (hard to believe if you've ever tried to reason with those who are superstitious) and fight the Roman soldiers (It would have been a tough fight - I doubt that the Romans would slack in their jobs and they were highly trained, something that the Jews were not). Where then would they have put the body?
Three - the authorities themselves spirited away the body. If they had done this, why did they not bring it out when the news was being spread about that Jesus had risen? If they were in possession of his real body, they could have easily disproven the new religion and gotten rid of the disciples. What was there to gain in hiding the body?
The assumed position of the leader then was that we were all defending the resurrection of Jesus. I beg to differ. All we were doing was to show the pitfalls and fallacies of those theories because frankly, they do not make sense. But disproving those theories do not prove that Jesus rose. They do not give any facts that can conclusively show that he did or did not rise. All they prove is that he died and his body disappeared.
So when put to the question of what then is the evidence that he truly resurrected, you have to take it back to the texts. Obviously if you are questioning the truth of the Bible, you cannot point back to biblical statements on his appearances. Were there any other texts outside the Bible that say he was seen alive? I don't know. I haven't heard of them. Has he been seen since? Say, if he appeared 2,000 years ago, does he appear now? How do you know he is alive? What of all these other theories and archaeological finds that seem to say that all this is really another religious scam?
The young church of today cannot answer these questions. The only lingo they speak is Christianese, and this does not make sense to a skeptical world. They are not able to take themselves out of the cocoon they have put themselves into, with its prosperity teachings and their own brand of superstitions. And the deeper problem, I feel, is this: when faced with a problem, they spew out Churchified and Christianesed answers. They give you feel-good messages that make you feel guilty because it makes you wonder what you've done wrong and why this God of theirs doesn't love you. They have their set of answers that really doesn't answer anything. They say that you must reach your lowest point before you can truly seek God and find him and understand what they are talking about. What if you've reached your lowest point but you still don't? Then they say that you aren't seeking him. And again it is your fault. Always your fault. You did not have enough faith.
Maybe the best answer to a skeptical world is that we do not know. We too are humans. We can only make sense of what we have experienced and what we have in our hands. We cannot prove that Jesus is alive because we have not seen Him. You cannot prove that He did not rise because all the theories, in the end, break down. At an impasse like this, the best we can say is, because of faith we are willing to stake our lives on this. Would you stake yours on what you believe?