Doctrine of Christ (part 17)January 14, 2012 Time: 00:43:15
We have been talking about the resurrection of Jesus and looking at the different views of the resurrection that have been offered down through history. I think a brief recap of some of these would be helpful.
The first interpretation was the literal interpretation. This was the one held to by the church fathers, that God had actually raised Jesus physically from the dead to glory and immortality. I skipped over that because we will return to that and look at challenges to that later.
During the 17th and 18th century, the Conspiracy Theory was floated by many European rationalists. This theory held that the disciples stole the body of Jesus out of the grave and then lied about the resurrection appearances so that the cause of Jesus could continue. This theory is now completely obsolete, as I explained. It is psychologically implausible. One fact that no one who reads the New Testament can plausibly deny is that these people sincerely believed the message that they proclaimed and were willing to die for. So the idea that they were all hoaxers and liars is really just utterly implausible psychologically.
More fundamentally, I pointed out that the theory is really anachronistic because it looks at the disciples’ situation through the rearview mirror of Christian theology and history. But when you put yourself in the position, or the footsteps, of a first century Jew, the idea that Jesus could have been Messiah would be absolutely absurd. Messiah was supposed to come and establish the throne of David in Jerusalem and throw off the enemies of Israel, which in this case would mean Rome. The idea of a Messiah who was defeated and executed by his enemies was simply a contradiction in terms. And Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection at the end of the world. So the fundamental problem with this Conspiracy Theory is that it just really can’t take seriously what a disaster the crucifixion of Jesus was for these disciples. It wasn’t just that their beloved master was gone; it was that they had been following a messianic pretender who had now been exposed as a fraud. There would be no thought to steal his body and say that he was resurrected from the dead. That is a later Christian doctrine that wouldn’t be something that would spring to the minds of these first century Jewish believers.
Apparent Death Theory
The second theory that we looked at was the Apparent Death Theory, which arose near the end of the 1700s and early 1800s in Germany. This theory held that Jesus wasn’t really dead, but he was in an unconscious state when he was taken down from the cross, and he somehow revived in the tomb and escaped and presented himself to the disciples, who mistakenly inferred that he was risen from the dead. I explained that this theory is really medically absurd. The Roman executioners knew how to ensure the death of their victims; this is what they were trained for and were professionals. And in any case, even if Jesus had been taken down alive and placed in the tomb, he certainly would have died of exposure without immediate and extensive medical attention. The idea that he could somehow get out of a sealed tomb and present himself to the disciples and they would think that he was risen gloriously from the dead is just really laughable. And the theory is, in any case, explanatorily inadequate because it wouldn’t account for why the disciples came to believe that Jesus was now risen from the dead to glory and immortality rather than that he had merely escaped the executioner. So this theory also is not one that is found among current scholars.
The Mythology Theory then replaced the Apparent Death Theory around 1835 with David Strauss’ book The Life of Jesus. This dominated for about 100 years or so in German theology until, during the course of the 20th century, scholars came to understand that the theory was simply dealing with the Gospels under the wrong literary type.1 That is to say, the Gospels are not of the literary genre, or type, of mythology. Rather the genre of literature that they closely resemble in the ancient world is ancient biography – the “lives” of famous Greeks and Romans, for example. So they really belonged to the type of ancient biography. They are not mythology in the way that, say, stories of Hercules and Zeus and Osiris and so forth are.
Moreover, as scholars studied these supposed parallels between the resurrection of Jesus and these myths of dying and rising gods, it was realized that these parallels were really quite spurious. These dying and rising gods in the ancient Near East were merely symbols of the crop cycle, as the vegetation dies in the dry season and then comes back to life in the rainy season. They weren’t relevant to historical individuals. In fact, these mythological figures don’t really return to the earthly life in any case. They just live on in the afterlife; but they don’t really come back to life in this world in the way that the resurrection of Jesus entails.
Moreover, there was no causal connection between these pagan myths and the disciples who followed and knew Jesus. It would be absurd to think that they would come to believe that Jesus was literally risen from the dead because they had heard about these myths of dying and rising vegetation deities in Greco-Roman or Persian mythology.
The shortness of the time span also is important here. We are not dealing with ancient myths that are lost in the gray mists of antiquity; rather, we are talking here about people who lived with this man and who knew him and who were still about and came to believe that God had raised him from the dead and that there was an empty tomb to show for it. In that sense, it is utterly unlike mythology. Rather we are talking here about oral history. It is people who are passing on the traditions about Jesus that they were acquainted with first hand. So this Mythology Theory really gets things completely wrong in terms of understanding the Gospels. And therefore, among New Testament scholars today, there are very few who would think that the study of ancient non-Jewish mythology is even relevant to understanding Jesus of Nazareth. The proper interpretive framework for understanding the historical Jesus is first century Palestinian Judaism, not Greco-Roman or other ancient Near Eastern mythology.
Subjective Vision Theory
That brings us then, finally, to the Subjective Vision Theory, which you will recall is the view that the disciples, after Jesus’ death, experienced visions of Jesus – hallucinations of Jesus. Perhaps this was brought on by the guilt that they felt by having denied Jesus in his hour of need. So as a compensatory mechanism they projected hallucinations of Jesus risen from the dead and, deceived by these, they came to believe that God had raised him. Let me mention three fatal flaws with the Subjective Vision Theory.
First of all, it is psychologically implausible. There is nothing in the psychological case books which is comparable to the resurrection appearances of Jesus. These appearances, we know from the information given by Paul as well as what we find in the Gospels, were not just to one person at one time under one circumstance. They were to multiple individuals. They were also at different times and in different locales and different circumstances. Moreover, they were not just to believers, but they also were to unbelievers – people like James, the younger brother of Jesus who had no belief in Jesus during his lifetime, to Thomas, who was skeptical about the resurrection of Jesus, and to Saul of Tarsus, who was the chief persecutor of the early church.2 In order to find something comparable to the resurrection of Jesus, what you have got to do is cobble together various anecdotes from the psychological literature and construct a sort of composite picture to try to explain away these resurrection appearances. But there is literally nothing in the psychological literature of a series of psychological hallucinations which is comparable to what we have in the case of Jesus’ resurrection. Therefore, the Subjective Vision Theory is really quite implausible psychologically.
Secondly, in any case, it is explanatorily inadequate. Let’s assume that the earliest disciples did have hallucinations of Jesus. What is important to understand about a hallucination is that as a projection of one’s own mind, a hallucination cannot contain anything that is not already in your mind. It is a projection of the contents of your mind into external reality. But, given the Jewish frame of thought which the disciples brought to their experiences, if the disciples were to project hallucinations of Jesus after his death, they would have projected visions of Jesus in glory, in Abraham’s bosom. This is where Jewish people believed the righteous dead went to await the resurrection at the end of the world. So the disciples, if they were to hallucinate visions of Jesus, they would have seen visions of Jesus in glory with God in heaven. They would not have hallucinated Jesus as literally risen from the dead, which goes contrary to Jewish beliefs. But in that case, it would never have led to their belief that Jesus had been raised by God from the dead. At most, it would have led to the belief that God had assumed Jesus into heaven and there he appeared to them.
Even given the empty tomb, that would not imply the resurrection of Jesus. That would at most imply the assumption of Jesus into heaven. In Jewish thought, the idea of an assumption, or a translation, into heaven is a completely different category than resurrection of the dead. In the Old Testament, certain people like Elijah and Enoch were thought to have been taken up directly into heaven. And in the extra biblical book The Testament of Job there is a story of a young mother whose children are killed in the collapse of a house.3 When the rescuers come and remove the rubble, the bodies of the children are missing. Thereafter, the mother experiences a vision of the children in heaven, where they have gone to be with God ,and her heart is reassured that her children are all right because they are with God. That is how Jewish mentality would project visions of Jesus subsequent to his death, even given the fact of the empty tomb. The idea of resurrection, by contrast, is the bodily raising up of the dead person in the space-time universe in which we live. So the proclamation of the disciples that God raised Jesus from the dead would remain unexplained, even given the hypothesis that they hallucinated visions of Jesus after his death.
Finally, of course, there is the empty tomb to be explained. The Subjective Vision hypothesis has to assume that the empty tomb is merely a legend, a late development. But as we will see, in fact, the empty tomb belongs to some of the earliest material in the New Testament. It belongs to the earliest stratum of traditions about Jesus and therefore most biblical scholars today, most New Testament scholars, are convinced that in fact the empty tomb narrative found in the Gospels is fundamentally reliable. And that cannot be explained by the hallucination hypothesis. In order to explain the full scope of the evidence, you have to have some other hypothesis to get rid of the body in the tomb conjoined with the Subjective Vision Theory. So now this theory becomes less simple – it is no longer an overarching explanation that covers all the data. Rather it has a narrow explanatory scope that only tries to explain the appearances, but it doesn’t explain the fact of the empty tomb, and therefore it fails to have an adequate explanatory scope. For those three reasons, at least, I think the Subjective Vision Theory is not the best explanation for understanding the resurrection of Jesus.4
Question : I have always been confused about subjective vision. I am trying to think of events in history where people have gathered in some field or whatever. I can’t think of anything, but you know they will see a vision in the sky, and it will occur over a period of months. Or say you have someone go somewhere supposedly haunted, and they will see a spirit or something like that. How would you address something like that if a skeptic is coming from that point?
Answer : What we want to say is, certainly these kinds of visions do appear. Certainly there are hallucinations that you can read about in the literature. But I would just go back to the points that I made. None of them is comparable to this series of visionary, or appearance, experiences that the disciples had, which involved multiple individuals, different occasions, different locales and circumstances, groups of people as well as individuals, and non-believers as well as believers. Very often, with hallucinations, what you will find is they concern people who have a belief already that would lead them to hallucinate, to see something that they would want to see – UFO sightings or, some people would say, Catholic visions of Mary, if you are skeptical of those. These would all be in line with a person’s worldview that he already has. In that sense, they are very, very different from these resurrection appearances, which are quite distinct from Jewish expectations and thought forms. So we can happily admit that people hallucinate things all the time but, I think, still insist that they are 1) not comparable to the resurrection appearances and 2) given their Jewish frame of thought, the type of hallucinations the disciples would have would not lead to the belief in Jesus’ resurrection; at most it would lead to his assumption into heaven.
Question : Gary Habermas’s dissertation is available on his website5, and he spent most of it going into subjective theory. It is a fantastic discussion of this. He spent most of his dissertation on the defense of the resurrection over subjective vision. I was going to ask you what if somebody grants all your points and they just say, “Well, it is just an anomalous naturalistic situation! Maybe he did rise, but science will figure it out.”
Answer : I think you raise a good point. These kinds of objections are not knockdown objections. What we are doing here is we are searching for the best explanation, and this is a mode of reasoning called “inference to the best explanation”. This will be a comparative sort of study or explanation. We will compare the Hallucination Hypothesis, the Apparent Death Theory, the Conspiracy Theory, and the Literal Theory. Then we will say which one is the best explanation. What I would argue is that the Literal Theory meets the criteria for being a best explanation better than do any of these other theories and therefore it is to be preferred to them. What the critic or skeptic would have to do is to show some way in which the literal resurrection theory is defective that would lead him to question it. Typically this will involve a kind of anti-supernaturalist move, that you cannot appeal to miracles or supernatural explanations. So we will need to deal with that. But I do not think that scepticism is warranted when you have an explanation on the table that has adequate explanatory power, explanatory scope, it is not ad hoc, and it is plausible. Then it is simply stubborn to resist the inference to the best explanation of the data.
Question : What is the most common objection by fellow theists – people who would not deny the existence of miracles? Maybe Muslims or rabbis or someone like that? What would be their most common objection to this?6
Answer : You know, I have had debates with Muslim apologists on this, and the difficulty for the Muslim is that he can’t even admit the crucifixion because the Qur’an says, “They did not kill him, neither did they crucify him, it only appeared that way.”7 So the Muslim is backed up into the position, not simply of denying the resurrection and the empty tomb and the burial, he has to deny the crucifixion, which is the one fact about the historical Jesus that is just universally recognized among New Testament critics, no matter how radical and how left-wing! So when you do get a Muslim who is willing to entertain the idea that Jesus was crucified – what I have found in debating, for example, Shabir Ally8, who is perhaps the most prominent North American Muslim apologist – he adopts a sort of supernaturalist version of the Apparent Death Theory. He will say, yes, Jesus was crucified; but he was taken down alive, and he would certainly have died in the tomb without medical attention, but before he could die, God assumed him into heaven, and then God gave the disciples these miraculous visions or appearances of Jesus, and that led them mistakenly to infer that he was risen from the dead. So this allows him to go as far as he possibly can in admitting the historicity of the New Testament text but without believing in the resurrection of Jesus. What is interesting about that theory is that it means that God misled the disciples into believing Jesus’ resurrection, thereby foisting Christianity upon the world and leading a third of the world’s population into heresy and error instead of believing in Allah as the true God, which is I think preposterous! It winds up making God responsible, or Allah responsible, for Christianity, even though it condemns Christianity as a heresy.
Followup : Interestingly enough, some of the Jewish anti-missionaries have the Trickster God Theory – that he tricked people to see . . . “Are you going to be with God or are you going to go with this evidence over here?” I think that is extraordinarily implausible. That is a hard bullet to bite.
Answer : If I understand you right, they are saying, in a sense, this is a test to see whether or not you will embrace irrational faith rather than follow the evidence where it points.
Followup : Yes! Rabbi Asher Wade says this exact thing.
Answer : Yeah, you know, when you get down to that, in one sense you have ceased to deal with rational inquiry because you are willing to admit the best explanation is that God raised Jesus from the dead – that is where the evidence points – but you just refuse to believe it. In that sense, the apologist has done all that he can, I think.
Question : When you have these debates, I am sitting here wondering, does it ever lead anyone to Christ? When you are battling on the points of history, does it ever, in your experience, lead people to Christ or not?
Answer : Yes! We get emails from folks who will say, “I was at the debate you had at Ohio State University” or “I was at that debate at Willow Creek and that propelled me on a path that led to my coming to Christ.” Often this will be a sowing kind of ministry, rather than harvesting, if you know what I mean. Sometimes there are people who make decisions that very night, but more often, I think, it will be part of sowing and watering that will put them on the path that will eventually lead them to receive Christ. The other thing that needs to be said, too, about the purpose of these debates is that the task of apologetics is broader than just your immediate evangelistic context. What apologetics serves to do, when it is on a university campus like this, is to help to create an environment, or a cultural milieu, in which Christianity is an intellectually viable option for people to listen to. That, I think, is extremely important. Even if people don’t come to Christ because of the arguments, what the arguments and evidence do is to help shape a cultural environment in which the Gospel can be heard as a reasonable option for thinking men and women today.
Followup : That makes a lot of sense.
Answer : It is very important, I think, that we help to shape the western university context in such a way that Christianity has a place at the table.9
Followup : It is kind of like being on the platform with everybody else – you need to at least be on the platform. People have the option of your view.
Answer : Yes, that is exactly right!
Question : In commenting on that, some of our best contemporary authors, or most read contemporary authors, in the Christian world were converted on the basis – well, ultimately they received Christ based on the message of Scripture – but they were driven to that by apologetic type arguments. C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel, to mention some people.
Answer : Yes, absolutely!
Objective Vision Theory
Let’s go to the next theory, which is the Objective Vision Theory. You will remember this is a more subtle view and, I think, one that really is a type of resurrection view. And that is, what God gave the disciples was not physical, bodily appearances of Jesus, but rather he gave them what are called veridical visions. They were visions of Jesus in glory, where God had raised him from the dead, and these visions were objective in the sense that they were seeing Jesus. But it wasn’t as though there were photons bouncing off a physical object and impinging on their retinas. But on the other hand these weren’t projections of their mind either, and that is why it is different from the Subjective Vision Theory or the Hallucination Theory. Rather these are God-induced visions of Jesus, who was no longer dead but risen from the dead. Sometimes these theorists will even believe in the empty tomb. Sometimes they will say that God transformed the body of Jesus in the tomb into a spiritual body which is immaterial and invisible and non-physical and then gave the disciples these visions of the glorified Christ. Other times they will say, no, the physical body remained in the tomb and decayed and wasted away, but God raised Jesus in a spiritual body which is distinct from and non-identical to the corpse that was in the tomb. And the disciples then had these visions of Jesus in his spiritual existence. So this is definitely a supernaturalistic kind of theory, but it differs from the resurrection view in that it doesn’t think that the body in the tomb was actually raised to glory and immortality in a physical, tangible way and that the disciples experienced it in that way. It is a visionary experience that the disciples had but not a subjective visionary experience. It is one that is induced by God, and they really are seeing the spiritual Jesus.
What critique might one offer of this objective vision theory? We have already spoken about this a little bit when we talked about the biblical data concerning the resurrection. Let me review some of these points.
First of all, Paul held to a physical resurrection body. Paul believed in a physical resurrection body. The strategy of those who hold to this view is to try to drive a wedge between Paul and the four Gospels – to say that Paul’s information is earlier and therefore more reliable, whereas the Gospel appearance stories, which are clearly physical and tangible, are later legendary developments; but when you look at the really early material, namely, what Paul tells us, Paul believed in a spiritual resurrection body, not a physical resurrection body. As I shared earlier, I think this is based upon a disastrous mis-exegesis of what Paul means by “spiritual body.” Paul talks about a soma pneumatikon – a “spiritual body.” And he contrasts this with a natural body or a soma psychikon – a “natural body.” The word ψυχή is the word for soul, psyche in English. So this soma psychikon literally means a “soul-ish body.” Now, obviously, when Paul says that our bodies that we have right now are soul-ish bodies, he didn’t mean their bodies are made out of soul.10 He is not talking about their constitution when he says we have soul-ish bodies. Rather the word psychikon has always a negative connotation in the New Testament. It means the natural bodies that we possess – the bodies that are animated by the human soul. It is just the natural body. It is talking about its orientation, not its constitution. The orientation of the present body is to ordinary human nature. Similarly, the word pneuma means “spirit.” When Paul says the resurrection body will be a spiritual body, he doesn’t mean a body made out of spirit, any more than by soma psychikon he means a body made out of soul. A body made out of spirit would be a contradiction in terms because a body is spatially extended in different dimensions. A spirit is not extended – that is what a spirit is! So a spiritual body in the sense of constitution – a body made out of spirit – is just a contradiction. Rather, when Paul speaks of a spiritual body, it is a contrast to the natural body – it is the body under the domination and orientation of the Holy Spirit. It is a body freed from the effects of sin and death and decay and mortality. It is now a spiritual body in that sense. This would be the same sense as when we say something like “The Bible is a spiritual book.” We don’t mean it is an invisible, intangible, immaterial book. We mean it is a book that has spiritual aspects to it. Or we say, “Bryant Wright is a spiritual man.” We don’t mean he is an intangible, invisible, immaterial man; we mean he is oriented toward the things of the spirit. The decisive proof that this is the correct understanding of soma pneumatikon is that in chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians, he talks about the anthropos pneumatikos – the spiritual man – and he contrasts that with the anthropos psychikos – or the natural man. Obviously, the spiritual man doesn’t mean an invisible, intangible man, and the natural man doesn’t mean a man made out of soul. He is talking about the difference in their orientation. So this attempt to drive a wedge between Paul and the Gospels on this notion, I think, is just disastrous. It is a fundamental misinterpretation of the terms. Paul believed in the resurrection of the body, and this body will be a supernatural, immortal, glorious, powerful body freed from the effects of sin that dominate the soma psychikon. So the body is going to be rescued in Paul’s view, not from its materiality, but from its fallenness and sinfulness and mortality.
Notice also, in confirmation of this point, that Paul, and indeed the entire New Testament, draws a very strong distinction between an appearance of Jesus and a vision of Jesus.11 Now I do not mean – don’t misunderstand me – I do not mean a difference in vocabulary. I am not talking about a linguistic distinction between a resurrection appearance and a vision. I am talking about a conceptual distinction between the two. The resurrection appearances ceased soon after the crucifixion of Jesus. Paul says that the appearance to him was the last of all. It was the last resurrection appearance there was, and even it was out of time – it was some three years later than the appearances to the disciples. But visions of Jesus continued in the church. Paul talks about the visions that he had. The book of Revelation is a book about a vision of Jesus on the throne in heaven. So visions of Jesus continued in the early church, but the resurrection appearances ceased soon after the crucifixion.
What is the difference between a resurrection appearance of Jesus and a vision of Jesus? When you read the New Testament, the answer is very clear. Only a resurrection appearance involved a physical, bodily appearance of the object that was perceived. A vision of Jesus was something that was not in the external world. It was just, as it were, in your mind. A contrast here would be between the resurrection appearance of Jesus to Paul, which had physical accompaniments in the external world – the light, the voice – and some of these were experienced by Paul’s traveling companions. Contrast that with Stephen’s vision of Jesus in Acts 7, where, as he is being stoned to death, he sees the heavens open and he sees the Son of Man at the right hand of God. Nobody else saw anything. He was not seeing a resurrection appearance of Jesus – he was seeing a vision of Jesus. So the difference between a resurrection appearance and a vision is that the appearances were in the external world, involving physical, tangible objects, whereas the visions were something that were purely in the mind. What this Objective Vision Theory has done is confused a vision with an appearance, I think. What they are describing are really visions of Jesus, not resurrection appearances. The fact that the New Testament makes a clear distinction between these two becomes impossible to understand on the Objective Vision Theory. If the original appearances were objective visions, then this distinction that the New Testament draws between the two becomes incomprehensible.
So I think that the attempt to drive a wedge between Paul and the Gospels on this score is really quite hopeless. Paul’s doctrine of the spiritual body is the doctrine of a spiritually dominated, powerful, physical resurrection body, and the distinction between an appearance of Jesus and a vision of Jesus is best understood by saying that while visions were purely in the mind in the subjective realm, appearances of Jesus were in the three-dimensional, spatial, external world.
Moreover, when you go over to the Gospels, the Gospels give very good reason for believing that these resurrection appearances were physical, bodily appearances. The Gospels are unanimous in portraying the resurrection appearances of Jesus as physical, bodily appearances. This would be astonishing if, in fact, none of the original appearances was a physical, bodily appearance. This would be an unbelievable corruption of the oral tradition in so short a time, to say that an original series of objective visions were corrupted in the presence of the eyewitnesses during their lifetime to a unanimous testimony of physical resurrection appearance stories. So the unanimity of the Gospels gives us very good reasons for thinking that the resurrection appearances were in fact physical bodily appearances.
Sometimes the skeptics will say that the resurrection appearance stories in the Gospels were motivated by an anti-Docetic apologetic on the part of the evangelists. Docetism was an early heresy that held that Jesus did not really become incarnate physically – he merely had the appearance of a human body. It comes from the Greek word dokeo which means “to appear.” So there wasn’t really a physical incarnation; it was all just an appearance of an incarnation. This is driven by a sort of Gnostic view that the material world is evil, and therefore God cannot be associated with the material world. It was just all a phantasm, an appearance. The claim is that the physical resurrection appearance stories are an anti-Docetic apologetic.
What are the problems with this?
(1) This is implausible because the resurrection appearance stories are earlier than Docetism. Docetism is a heresy that arrives sometime later in the first century, whereas these Gospel appearance stories go right back to the earliest materials in the New Testament.12 Therefore, they can’t be a response to Docetism – Docetism is actually a response to the physical stories of Jesus of Nazareth.
(2) Moreover, think about it – if there really were originally just objective visions of Jesus, then there would be no reason to oppose Docetism. Docetism wouldn’t be a threat to them! Docetism would be right! There were just objective visions, so there wouldn’t be any reason to materialize these into physical appearances. You would just stick with the visionary stories.
(3) Moreover, thirdly, having resurrection appearances that are bodily and physical is really quite irrelevant to Docetism. Docetism denied the incarnation; it didn’t hold that Jesus was physical up until the resurrection and then there were somehow these phantasms of his appearances. Sometimes Gnostics would say that the Spirit of God left Jesus at the crucifixion and then the physical body of Jesus was raised from the dead. But it is just irrelevant to Docetism because Docetists didn’t deny the physicality of the appearances; what they denied was the incarnation all together.
(4) Finally, the last point against this being an anti-Docetic apologetic is that the stories lack the rigor of an anti-Docetic apologetic. The physicality of the stories is just a natural presupposition of the stories. Jesus comes to them, and he appears to them. Even in the story of Thomas, where Jesus invites Thomas to put forth his hand and probe his wounds, Thomas doesn’t actually do so. He just falls on his feet and says, “My Lord and My God!” If this were an anti-Docetic apologetic, you would have to do more than Jesus just showing them his wounds – right? – because that can just be an appearance, too. If this were an anti-Docetic apologetic, you would have the disciples physically handling Jesus and accepting his invitation. Instead, it is just a natural presupposition of the stories that Jesus is appearing physically and bodily. So the stories don’t really have the rigor that would be required if this were motivated by an apologetic against Docetism.
So I think that in the Gospels as well as in Paul, we have good grounds for affirming physical, bodily resurrection appearances, and that goes to belie the Objective Vision Theory.13
3 cf. The Testament of Job, chapter 9 verses 4 through 14
5 http://garyhabermas.com/books/dissertation/habermas_dissertation_1976.pdf (accessed October 2012)
7 cf. Qur’an 4:157-158
8 For the video of a February 2009 debate with Dr. Craig and Shabir Ally, see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-vs-ally-canada
13 Total Running Time: 43:14 (Copyright © 2012 William Lane Craig)