This post is part of the April synchroblog, the Resurrection Hoax. It is adapted from a prior post I wrote in 2010.
Many people emphasize the importance of the resurrection in their theology. They have said that if Christ did not rise from the tomb, their whole faith would be lost.
Honestly, I don't really understand this.
Is the resurrection central to Christianity? Of course. Is it a defining variable? I'm not so sure.
It's distinctive, but how different is Christianity from ancient, pre-Christ Judaism? In specific practices and culture, it's of course different. And people could argue a focus on the law. However, a focus on the law was really within certain Jewish traditions. And there's plenty of Christian traditions that focus on the law just as much.
In my studies, I have seen a rich and vital faith in ancient (and modern) Judaism that really connects with God, seeing God transforming lives. God is involved in the present, changing lives now.
However, that is often not as emphasized in a lot of modern Judaism. There is a big trend of seeing God less involved. That is a power of Christ--Christ came to bring life. Not just in the future, but now.
When we forget about the now, we only focus on life in the future (i.e. eternity). And if there is no resurrection, then of course we should be afraid of our life after death. However, when we see our faith and experience with God transcending more than just death, then we can value many more things than just the resurrection.
Would the absence of the resurrection make my faith different? Probably, and likely in ways I don't even realize. However, my faith is also not rooted in historial facts. It's rooted in faith. Belief that God exists and transcends not only death, but life itself. I have experienced that. And if someday I find out the resurrection did not historically occur, I think (and hope) I would still have a vibrant faith in God...
One of the interesting questions the synchroblog provided as a possible prompt was what religion (if any) would you be a part of if the resurrection did not occur. I believe I would still be a follower of Christ because his teachings are true. Further, considering options for epistemology, my experience and what I would interpret as my relationship with God (and each person of the Trinity) reinforces my faith.
Therefore, ultimately, a lack of the resurrection would have to change the way I understand Christ, but not necessarily the way I love him. I don't think the resurrection made the disciples love Jesus any more or any less. They probably cognitively understood him better (or simply acknowledged the awesome mystery). And I think one of the primary effects of the resurrection was God having the final word in dramatic fashion. But even if he didn't take the final word, that doesn't make him less powerful or less God.
Here are the other synchroblog participants: