Thursday, March 1, 2007

Prayers To the Dead?

Ideas have implications. That is particularly noticeable in the realm of theology. While this might seem theoretical to most of us, we continue to live with the implications of ideas in our day-to-day lives. One example can be found in the media attention currently being given to "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." On Sunday, the Discovery Channel will air a program that will make the claim that Jesus' ossuary (a burial bone box) and that of other members of His family has been found in an archaelogical site in suburban Jerusalem.

Think of the implications if this happened to be true. If this were true, it means that Christ's bodily resurrection, attested to so strongly in the Gospels, would have never happened. The remains of His dead body would have been in a burial site in Jerusalem for over the last 1900 or more years. It would mean that somehow the well-attested historical accounts in the New Testament would have never happened. How, also, could the rise of Christianity be explained? If Jesus died and stayed dead, what could possibly have motivated His followers to travel great distances and often give their lives to spread the testimony of the death and resurrection of Christ, the very core of the Christian faith (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Also, if Christ had died and stayed dead, Christians over the centuries have been offering prayers to the dead man by praying to Jesus. Yet, we know better as we read in the book of Hebrews:

He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 ESV) (Emphasis added)

Our prayers to Christ do not fall on deaf or even dead ears. Christ's bones are not in Jerusalem. They haven't been since the first century. Rather, the bones of Christ are still attached to Him because He is alive and is currently in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father, in resurrected glory. (see Hebrews 1:1-3)

This latest attempt to blaspheme Christ and destroy the core of the Christian faith will collapse as all other attempts before this have collapsed. History stands against it. Logic stands against it. Most importantly, the living Christ stands against it.

If you want some well thought out responses to the "Lost Tomb", I suggest the website site of Dr. James White at Alpha Omega Ministry under "Tomb Issues." I also recommend reading the blog of New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III found at (I think highly of his teaching and writings. I was fortunate enough to have Ben Witherington as my New Testament Gospels professor when I was in seminary back in the 1990s and thus have followed his further career with interest).

Christian, take heart. A mere assertion that Christ's bones were found in Jerusalem in 1980 is not true merely because the assertion was made. Once these old claims are re-examined in the light of known reliable history, they will become a mere footnote in the history of failed attempts to discredit the Gospel.

(The picture included here is that of an ossuary found at the same site as that of the alleged Jesus ossuary)

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