Moderator's Comments - Posted 19 August 2015
The latest biography of the late B.A. Santamaria, by Gerard Henderson, records an interesting incident. Santamaria had cooperated with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, to see the successful establishment of the Democratic Labor Party in Victoria, but had less success with the church’s Sydney heirachy.
The Sydney Archbishop Gilroy and his Bishop, James Carroll opposed the establishment of the DLP in NSW. Santamaria worked with James McAuley, a prominent convert to Catholicism, a journalist and a poet, to persuade Gilroy and Carroll to cooperate, but was unsuccessful. McAuley’s parish priest expressed the fear that these political battles in Sydney might diminish McAuley’s recently acquired faith, he responded,
“Why do you think that because my Bishop is a liar and a schemer that this somehow disproves that Christ rose from the dead?”
The new Atheists assert that faith and reason are opposites, so that, religious faith is “unjustified belief”, according to Sam Harris.
McAuley was correct to recognise the reasonable basis of the Christian faith is the historically verifiable, bodily resurrection of Jesus.
The gospel of John, which has healthier manuscript evidence than any other piece of ancient writing, does not urge us to have faith as though faith were a mere leap in the dark, believing what you know isn’t true. John uses words like witness, testimony and signs and he tells us that he has provided his gospel to give us written evidence that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31). John’s purpose is to persuade, just as it was Paul’s purpose to persuade throughout the book of Acts (17:4, 17; 18:4; 19:8, 26; 26:28; 28:28).
Paul records the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15, he says the resurrected Jesus appeared to Peter, the twelve, more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, then to Jesus’ half-brother James and lastly to Paul (v 5 – 8). This chapter explains the consequences of faith in the resurrection of Jesus.
At the conclusion of his account, John personally adds, “this is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true!” (John 21:24)
The sceptical Thomas was not easily persuaded by the witness of others but having Jesus stand before him, he declares, “My Lord and my God “ (John 20:28).
Anyone knows that people don’t die for what they know to be a lie. The early Christians were killed because of their faith in the risen Lord Jesus, they died for what they knew to be true, Thomas himself, by tradition, becomes a martyr in India.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, preached:
“Sin is death’s parent …. death binds every man who is born except that one Man who became Man that man should not perish…. he lived without sin, he did not die because of sin; sharing in our penalty not in our offence…. our Lord Jesus Christ came to die, did not come to sin, by sharing in our penalty without our offence, He annulled both our offence and penalty.
He was crucified that He might show the dying out of our old man; and He rose that in His own life, He might show our new life.” (Sermon 231)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, the reasonable foundation of Christian faith; God’s warranty of our sins’ penalty paid; God’s guarantee of our new life now and for eternity!
“and believing you might have life in His name” John 20:31