April 15, 2006


The Resurrection. Did it really happen? (Sandi Dolbee, March 27, 2005, San Diego Union Tribune)

Great artists paint it. Famous composers produce masterpieces inspired by it. Leading theologians write books about it. The event stands alone as a single word, without need of description or definition.


Today, on Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the defining moment of their faith: a crucified Jesus rising from the dead, living proof of his divinity.

But did it really happen?

And how much does it matter for a religion that has grown from a band of disciples to the world's largest body, claiming a third of the population? Roughly 7 of 10 Americans identify themselves as Christians in surveys.

In U.S. opinion polls, the literal account of Jesus' Resurrection wins in a landslide. But religion is not a contest and Easter isn't an Election Day where one group of Christians wins out over another.

There are no photographs of an empty tomb. No home videos of Doubting Thomas checking Jesus' wounds. And there's no "CSI: Jerusalem." Instead, there is lingering disagreement over what was written centuries ago in Scriptures and what was meant.

"The classic Christian understanding of the Resurrection is that it did happen, it literally happened in a way that remains fundamentally mysterious," said the Rev. Lawrence Bausch, rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Ocean Beach.

Bausch turns to a famous passage in the New Testament from the apostle Paul, who writes that without the raising of Christ, all their beliefs are in vain. "In the end, if there is no Resurrection, then when you're dead you're dead," is how Bausch puts it. "There is nothing to be hoped for."

But there are Christians who simply don't buy into the physical Resurrection account.

So take a guess which day they decided to run this piece?

Article on Resurrection stirs responses (San Diego Union-Tribune, April 4, 2005)

On Easter, one of the most sacred days in Christianity, readers of The San Diego Union-Tribune read a headline and a story on the front page that made some of them furious. It said: "The Resurrection. Did it really happen?"

"Yes, the Resurrection did happen," wrote reader Michael Visnack. "Why would you run this type of journalism on the most holy Christian day is beyond belief. Please cancel our subscription immediately."

One reader complained that the newspaper "soiled and spoiled" the holiday. Another reader did not go past the headline. "You guys are really a tacky bunch," she wrote, adding she didn't bother "to read your crummy article and let it spoil my day."

Letters questioning the article and the newspaper's motives for printing it appeared on Wednesday. Religion and Ethics Editor Sandi Dolbee received numerous e-mails about her article that was widely circulated; some were critical but others were complimentary. Scott Bligh wrote that he thought the article "was very well written and thought-provoking although you no doubt ruffled a few feathers. I am Catholic, by the way."

Peter Kopkowski also wrote Dolbee, thanking her for the article and commenting about statements that were made by those she interviewed. Another reader called it "rational, sane and balanced."

But there was anger as well. "Just for your information," wrote reader Ron Sawzak, "your article buried on the bottom of Page One questioning the Resurrection of Christ was a direct slap in the face to the Moral Majority of San Diego." He called the newspaper and its staff "appalling and disrespectful."

"The whole tenor of the article was to marginalize the value and basic beliefs of Christianity," wrote Jim Call. He said Dolbee quoted "a few fringe scholars and tries to suggest that these revisionists, 2,000 years removed from the Apostles, have it right and constitute 'movement.' "

"How could your religion editor write something like 'Did the Resurrection really happen?' on the holiest day in the Christian religion, believed by billions of people in the world?" wrote Jerry Rosenberg.

[Originally posted: April 3, 2005]

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2006 11:58 PM

It would be interesting to find out if the Union-Trib:

1. Ever questioned the existence / prophetic status of Mohammed on the first day of Ramadan;

2. Every questioned the existence / miracles of Moses on Passover Sabbath;

3. Ever questioned the historicity and/or veracity of Joseph Smith's urim, thummim, and tablets on Pioneer Day (24 July);

4. Ever questioned the existence of the events of "Julius Caesar" on the Ides of March (since there is obviously much more documentary evidence for Christ's resurrection than for Brutus and Cassius' existence);

5. Ever questioned Darwin's theory of evolution on his birthday;

6. Ever questioned the intelligence, wisdom, and/or sanity of Freud, Jung, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, or Che Guevera on their respective birthdays?

Even without doing the back-issue research, I'm thinking THEY NEVER DID. So why is Christianity singled out?

The answer is contained in C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength.

Steve Bragg

Posted by: Steve Bragg at April 4, 2005 3:54 PM