Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
These “Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection” were derived in large part from Tim Drake’s Easter Evidence.
1. The testimony of the texts. It is significant that Scripture, Tradition and the Church thereafter all agree that Christ rose. That kind of unanimity of witness is rare — and meaningful.
2. The testimony of the Twelve. If the apostles were making up a religion, they were making themselves look really bad in the process. In the Gospels, cowardly apostles flee in fear and embarrassment; they even greet the news of the Resurrection with doubt, at first. Says the Catechism: “The hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up” (No. 644).
3. Transformation of Saul. St. Paul went from persecutor to believer after seeing Christ alive.
4. No early Church debate. The early Church debated many fundamentals, but not the Resurrection.
5. Centuries of martyrs. Christians, from the Church’s first days to our own day, have been willing to die for their conviction that Christ rose from the dead. For them, the Resurrection wasn’t a sweet dream that they indulged in, but a hard reality they suffered and died for.
6. Diverse sources. Gospel writers included different details and material from different sources — all of which agreed on the fact of the Resurrection.
7. Eyewitnesses. St. Paul spoke of how Christ appeared, alive, to 500 at once. If it weren’t true, he couldn’t make that claim so soon after the event occurred.
8. Non-Christian historical accounts. Tacitus and Josephus mention Christ and describe how Christians endured torture when simply renouncing him would end it.
9. Not dead again. Other resurrections are mentioned in the Bible — chiefly Lazarus — but of these, Christ’s is unique in that it is never suggested that he died again.
10. Rise of a historical religion. Christianity spread and grew, even though, as St. Paul told Christians from the beginning, and here in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain.”