There’s Validity in Your Doubt
Is the Belief in the Resurrection Essential to Being a Follower of Jesus?
Recently on Twitter, the oft underground of Christian debate, there was a trending discussion surrounding whether or not Jesus was actually resurrected from the dead, or if it was simply allegorical. In an increasingly progressive climate within the Church, much good has come from the movement, including further emphasis on social justice and concern for our fellow humanity. Yet, as with every trend in the Church, we are in danger of falling too far off the horse that we get trampled in the process. Just as conservatism in the Western Church has negatively (and sometimes positively) impacted the view of Jesus in the 20th and 21st Centuries, so now does the progressive movement that is deconstructing the orthodox creeds that Christianity has embraced for over 2,000 years.
If you’re on a journey of faith that doesn’t include being a follower of Jesus, I want you to know that it’s safe to ask questions and to form your beliefs on your best educated reasoning.
When I was in University, one of my Church History professors once said (paraphrasing), “Embrace doubt. If you really want to know the truth, I believe you’ll run right into it on the journey of questioning.” In no way am I advocating for a mindless faith dependent upon “the Bible told me so” reasoning. We should always know why we believe what we believe. What I am calling into question is this: can someone claim to follow Jesus Christ if they don’t even believe in the resurrection? Does the title “Christian” actually fit someone who denies the ultimate lynchpin of Christianity?
If you’re on a journey of faith that doesn’t include being a follower of Jesus, I want you to know that it’s safe to ask questions and to form your beliefs on your best educated reasoning. What I have concern with is when someone calls themselves something they simply are not. You would not consider me a Muslim if I did not adhere to the teachings of Muhammad as a prophet sent by God. I would never be labeled as an atheist if I believed in intelligent design. In every scenario we could equate, calling a duck an eagle simply doesn’t change the reality of one’s identity.
In an article by BBC News discussing the increasing rejection of a physical resurrection by those within progressive circles, the writer says, “A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, a survey commissioned by the BBC suggests.” I recommend you give the article a read when you have the spare time. It’s intriguing, to say the least.
Many within progressive circles take issue with Pauline Epistles, so I know that the following verse won’t necessarily hold the same weight with each reader, yet please indulge me in sharing a verse out of 1 Corinthians 15:
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14
Pretty straightforward in what Paul is getting at here. Yet, for those of you who may only adhere to the Gospels as “canon,” I find it odd that physical (not metaphorical) resurrection was a mainstay in the teachings of Christ. In fact, if Jesus Himself did not raise from the dead, that leads me to a pivotal question: why in the world would He raise mortal humanity so frequently during His days on earth?
The most well-known example of such an instance took place when His friend Lazarus died. In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, the writer tells the story:
“Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’” John 11:14-15
John wants to be clear: the dude was dead, as in dead-dead, not merely a flesh wound. Further in the text, John tells of a fascinating development.
“When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” John 11:43-44
This begs the question: if Jesus can raise a standard model human who is physically in decay and literally bites the dust, why should we even call into question His ability to rise from the dead Himself? Is God only capable of raising others, but not His very own Son?
In the midst of that doubt, I hope you run right into Jesus; but if that simply doesn’t happen, I hope you know that your questions and doubts are valid.
My reason in writing about this topic is neither to present a dissertation or a theological transcript for discussion in seminaries. Rather, my ultimate purpose is to simply ask this question in the midst of such an important discussion:
If we claim to follow Jesus, yet don’t even believe that He is the “resurrection and the life,” is the title “Christian” applicable?
My answer is “no.” That’s not a critical opinion, but an honest one based on fact and reason. Just as I said, if someone clings to the title of “atheist,” yet believes in intelligent design, the title of atheist is simply not accurate. Call it what it is: agnosticism.
As a follower of Jesus, I believe in the depths of my heart that Jesus is the embodiment of God in human flesh, walked our earth, taught us about the Father, died for our redemption, and was raised to life for our reconciliation with God. My faith has wavered during my spiritual journey and it’s safe to do so. However, let’s be honest about where we are in that journey and stop trying to reinvent a faith that is built on the resurrection of Christ.
Wherever you are in your own spiritual journey, I encourage you to seek truth, to question, to research, and to call upon God to speak to you in ways only He can. In the midst of that doubt, I hope you run right into Jesus; but if that simply doesn’t happen, I hope you know that your questions and doubts are valid. My request of you is simply to be honest in how you depict yourself and identify in your beliefs. Doing otherwise is misleading and dangerous in any faith expression, not just Christianity.
This article was originally written by Andrew Voigt and is available on his blog.
Andrew Voigt is a writer and blogger who engages in conversations about God, brokenness, and what it means to be human. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC and is a self-renowned root beer and coffee enthusiast.