Memorizing the Minimal Facts Argument for Jesus’ Resurrection

Let’s talk about memorizing the “Did Jesus rise?” argument.  (I recognize that if you’re still weighing whether or not the argument is true, this is probably not your first concern, and I appreciate the seriousness with which you are still considering the evidence).

Reasons (for a Christian) to memorize the argument:
1.  To give you rational assurance that Christianity is true when you face various doubts.
2.  To prepare you to conversationally explain why you are a Christian when others ask honest questions about your beliefs.
3.  To have a better grasp on the historical facts surrounding the life of Jesus.

The best way to do so is to buy, read and study The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona.  Their book will walk you through all the evidence and summarize it in helpful ways.

Another way to do so is to remember the following basics, presented below in very simple form. Flashcards helped me remember it all after a week or two.

First, you need to remember two short lists – the five facts and the five theories.
Five facts:
1.  Jesus died.
2.  Disciples believed they saw the risen Jesus.
3.  James the skeptical brother believed.
4.  Paul the persecutor believed.
5.  Empty tomb.

Five theories:
1.  Jesus rose.
2.  Jesus resuscitated.
3.  Disciples lied.
4.  Disciples hallucinated.
5.  Church legend.

Notice the alliterations and repetitions – they help with memorization.

Then: the three supporting reasons for the empty tomb:
1.  Jerusalem.
2.  Jewish report (“disciples stole the body”).
3.  Justice system – women’s testimony wasn’t allowed, but they are the reported eye-witnesses.

Then: the flow of the argument.
1.  We agree that many historical facts can be known.  We use them all the time for important decisions (e.g., historical data on the stock market influences billions of dollars in trades each year).
2. There are five facts which non-Christian scholars agree upon from the time of the early church.  Present the five facts.
3.  There are five major scholarly theories to account for these five facts.  Present the five theories.
4.  Compare each of the theories to the five facts, showing that only the “Jesus rose” theory accounts for all five facts in a simple and elegant manner.
5.  Begin to dialogue with your friend about this with an open posture, listening carefully, and being humble.  In general, I find that people want to do more research, so I recommend we read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel together. (You could also consider one of the other ‘five recommended books for skeptics‘).

That’s it!