Tom Wright explains why, as an ancient historian, the resurrection...
Andrew Hamilton-Thomas responds to a recent survey which revealed a quarter of UK Christians do not believe in the resurrection
As Easter Weekend fast approaches Christians are gearing up to mark one of the most important times of the year. But according to a survey commissioned by the BBC, not every Christian believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The survey also suggested that:
- 17% of the general population believe the Bible word-for-word
- 31% of Christians believe the Bible word-for-word, rising to 57% among "active" Christians (those who go to a religious service at least once a month)
- Half of all people surveyed do not believe in the resurrection
- 46% of people say they believe in some form of life after death and 46% do not
- 20% of non-religious people say they believe in some form of life after death
- 9% of non-religious people believe in the resurrection, 1% of whom say they believe it literally
The Church of England have said the survey shows how many people held religious beliefs. But this comment from the CofE suggests being religious in itself is enough to merit salvation. It is not. It seems the church would rather tip-toe around people’s feelings to avoid causing offence rather than tell the truth of the gospel.
Can you not believe in the resurrection and still be a Christian?
The short answer is no. Jesus being put to death and rising again on the third day should form the core of a believer’s faith.
In John 11:25, Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, and that anyone who believes in him will live even after dying. Jesus constantly prophesied his death to his twelve disciples and even cryptically to the Pharisees (John 2:18-22). Jesus’ death and resurrection was arguably prophesied in the scriptures as early as Genesis 3:15.
Those who tick a box saying 'Christian' but don't have a true faith are nothing new. Paul addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 15 where he writes, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith.”
He goes on to say “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” In others words, you’re no different from an unbeliever.
And that’s the problem with these types of surveys. They are completely unreliable because they cannot accurately distinguish between ‘tick-box’ Christians and genuine believers, but instead it groups them all together in the same bracket.
Matthew 25:31 tells us that it is only Christ himself who is able to separate the sheep (believers) from the goats (heathens), because he alone knows all things, and some who are believers now, will decide to become heathens later, and some who are heathens will eventually become believers.
If we say we are Christians we must believe that all scripture, including the gospel, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) because we walk by faith and not by what we can prove (2 Corinthians 5:7). At the end of the day, if we say we are Christians but we don’t believe in Jesus’s resurrection, the only person’s we’re deceiving is ourselves.
Andrew Hamilton-Thomas is a social commentator, aspiring political journalist and co-presenter for a weekly Christian radio show - The Genesis Show
Thoughts on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective.