Easter has always been one of the Church’s greatest days of celebration—and rightfully so. To quote the apostle Paul, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:14, 19). But, Easter is also a time when many critics of Christianity raise objections to the claim that Christ rose from the dead. Historically, there have been three major objections to the resurrection. This article will present those objections and give brief apologetic responses to each.
1. The Swoon Theory
One of the major objections to the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the swoon theory. Those who hold this theory claim that though Jesus was hung on the cross, he never actually died; he just “swooned”—kind of passed out or something. The soldiers took him down (so they say) and put him in the tomb, unaware that he was still alive. Then Jesus somehow escaped.
There are at least two major problems with this view. First of all, it ignores the gruesome details surrounding Christ’s death. The Romans were known for perfecting the art of torture and capital punishment. What Jesus went through would have certainly killed him. Second, there is no way a half-dead Jesus would’ve had the strength to role away the stone from the tomb by himself; and even if he did, he would have never been able to make it past the guards. Jesus didn’t “swoon”; he died.
2. The Conspiracy Theory
Another common objection to the resurrection is the conspiracy theory. This theory holds that Jesus really did die, but that after the burial his disciples stole his body from the tomb, and lied to everyone, telling them that Jesus had risen. They did this, so the argument goes, because they wanted the Christian movement to continue. If everyone knew Jesus was dead, then they wouldn’t be able to draw a crowd anymore.
Again, there are at least two major problems with this view. First, it would have been nearly impossible for these men to have gotten past the Roman guards surrounding Jesus’ tomb. Second, and most important, is the fact that most of these disciples wound up being martyred for their faith. Are we supposed to believe that these men would be willing to face death without denying Christ all in the name of a lie they had concocted?
3. The Hallucination Theory
A third major objection to the resurrection is the hallucination theory. This theory says that the disciples merely thought they saw the resurrected Jesus, but really they were just hallucinating.
One problem with this theory is the fact that Jesus’ body would’ve been in the tomb. Are we supposed to believe that the disciples hallucinated about the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances? Second, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to multiple people in multiple places at multiple times. Are we supposed to believe that all of these people had the same hallucination?
Brothers and sisters, these objections are lame. Let’s celebrate this Easter with the confidence that Jesus really is risen!