Myriad arguments against the Resurrection have been offered, most of which have been sufficiently addressed elsewhere. I would like to, if possible, get to the heart of the matter. The reason unbelievers must reject the Resurrection of Christ is that it puts them in a genuine dilemma – an answer they can’t accept for a question they can’t answer. The question – what about death?
Albert Camus said that death is philosophy’s only problem. William James said, “Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony.” H.G. Wells, an ardent evolutionist and humanist, in the end of his life (as observed by Malcom Muggeridge) “understood that what he had followed as a life-force was, in point of fact, a death wish, into which he was glad to sink the little that remained of his own life in the confident expectation of total and final obliteration.” Bertrand Russell said, unapologetically, that men in all their glory and genius “are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system…” He went on to say that, in the end, death is all that actually remains.
Why does the world reject the Resurrection? – Because the question of death haunts them and they are, therefore, without hope. In Proverbs 8, personified wisdom is speaking and, at the end of the chapter, she says that “he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death” (8:36). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7), and those who reject wisdom don’t just reject the Lord, they must embrace death.
Death is all the unbeliever is left with and that is an option that no person can live with because the soul of man is created for eternity. Those who reject the Resurrection are left with few options:
1. Attack the one answer – which they do, vehemently and continually.
2. Ignore the problem – which can work, until they or their loved ones encounter death.
3. Make themselves as comfortable with death as they can – exposure to violent images (the process of desensitizing the mind to what is actually happening), redefining death (“choice”), making death seem less threatening by portraying it humorously or making it a matter of plotline, not serious consideration.
Our world is, as Pope John Paul II said, a “culture of death.” It is not a culture of resurrection or hope. When the wisdom of God is rejected, man’s wisdom is all that can be inserted, and man cannot provide an answer for death. He cannot answer it and he must therefore embrace death alone.
Death is an enemy – a foreign invader, sent to attack us for our rebellion against God in the fall. And, without the Resurrection of Christ, we are defenseless against that enemy; we fall by his sword. But, it is through the Resurrection that Death, the great enemy, is vanquished. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1st Corinthians 15:54-55, 57)
The world may reject Christ and His Resurrection, but they can never get over it, never dismiss it. Death, the great enemy, cannot even be explained by man, yet he was slain by Christ.