I was sort of playing around in the John Ankerberg channel on YouTube looking at all the stuff they’ve posting and I found some Bill Craig videos. And suddenly I found a video that I thought was worth posting. The question from John Ankerberg was on whether there were guards at the tomb described in Matthew.
Now, everybody who has seen a Bill Craig debate knows that he uses 4 minimal facts in order to infer that the resurrection happened. He chooses these facts because they pass certain historical criteria. For example, he can only uses a fact that is present in early sources, and in multiple sources. It also helps if the reported fact is embarrassing to the early church or the message they were trying to get accepted by other people. Anything reported by an enemy is more likely to be historical. And a fact is less historical if it was used by the early church as an apologetic to defend against opposition from some group. And so on.
So, I thought it would be fun for you to see that there are some facts that you SHOULD NOT USE in your minimal set.
Here’s one that you should not use – the guard at the tomb:
Notice how forthright and honest Craig is? The guard at the tomb is probably toughest thing to defend in the whole New Testament. Why? Because it’s late – Matthew is later than Mark! Because it’s only in one source – Matthew! And because it seems to be an apologetic against the idea that the disciples stole the body – which means most people will say it was invented for that purpose.
So, what do we learn? It means that when you watch all those Craig debates, you have to keep in mind that he isn’t just a pastor sort of using the text like a pastor would. He had to do a PhD to find out which verses are more and less strongly historical based on the normal criteria that historians use on historical biographies. No one is treating the New Testament any differently than any other book when you argue in a debate. He only uses the parts that are the strongest, and that’s why he’s always winning these debates. If he had to defend the guard at the tomb, he’d have a much tougher job! Whereas something like the crucifixion is admitted by every single scholar across the board, even the atheists.
Sometimes, it’s fun to explain to non-Christians how you argue for the resurrection by contrasting a solid fact, like the appearances, which are in 1 Cor 15:3-7, and the guard at the tomb, which is only in Matthew. I think they think that we are doing faith, when we are really doing history, then trusting in what the historical investigation reveals.