As a young doctoral student At Michigan State Univ., Gary Habermas was losing his Christian faith
Confusion about the “volumes of debate and critical speculation surrounding belief in the Scriptures as God’s revealed word to humanity.”
The solution: Become a Buddhist…
or… please use the DOOR…
Look at the evidence.
[The overall citation below is from Rice Broock, Man, Myth, Messiah (Nelson, 2016. pp. 23-42)]
We have strong faith in the existence of many of the ancients who said and did things: Socrates, Plato, the Greek play writers, etc. A scholar wouldn’t get much of a hearing if he insisted that such persons never existed. Yet the basic sources for telling us about such folks is often thin at best. Though in other words, still it’s enough to go on–and yes, believe in. And, at least, postpone the Buddhist plan…
The key event of Christian faith is the literal, bodily resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. Even St. Paul underlines this: “your faith is futile” if this isn’t true (I Cor. 15:17).
Habermas picked his doctoral committee: “a Jewish scholar, an agnostic, and two others who did not believe the Scriptures were the inspired Word of God. The leader said, That’s fine; just don’t come back and tell us that Jesus was raised from the dead just because the Bible tells us so.”
“As he researched the historical evidence for the resurrection, he assembled the facts that a majority of historians would accept, regardless of whether they were Christian, agnostic, or atheist. He would come to call this method the ‘minimal facts’ approach¹. It was designed for discussing the faith with skeptics and doubters, since it shows that Christian beliefs, particularly the resurrection, are not just an issue of faith, but a question of history.
“Dr. Michael Licona, a historian and an advocate for the minimal facts approach, says, ‘Some facts are so strongly evidenced that they are virtually indisputable. These facts are referred to as “historical bedrock.”…Historical bedrock includes those facts that meet two criteria. First they are so strongly evidenced that the historian can fairly regard them as historical facts. Second, the majority of contemporary scholars regard them as historical facts².The specific types of evidence, which lead to the designation of historical fact, fall into several categories….a historical claim is typically considered highly probably if it is made by multiple independent sources. Paul Maier states, ‘Many facts from antiquity rest on just one ancient source, while two or three sources in agreement generally render the fact unimpeachable.’³”
The Minimal Facts
(1) Jesus was crucified.
(2) His tomb was found empty.
(3) His disciples believed he appeared to them.
(4) The resurrection was proclaimed just days after the event.
(5) Saul of Tarsus (later “Paul”), once harsh opponent of the sect of Judaism called Christianity, was transformed and later a defender of the faith after meeting a risen Jesus.
(6) James, the skeptic and half-brother of Jesus, becomes his disciple.
(7) The Christian Church was established and grew.
(8) John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
“Habermas has compiled a list of more than 2,200 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present. He has identified minimal facts that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by a large majority of scholars, including skeptics.”³
The decision to become a Buddhist was cancelled.
¹Gary R. Habermas, “The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection of Jesus: The Role of Methodology as a Crucial Component in Establishing Historicity,” Aug. 2, 2012, http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/southeastern_theological_review/minimal-facts-methodology_08-02-2012.htm.
² Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (InterVarsity Press, 2010), p.8.
³ Paul L. Maier, In the Fullness of Time: A Christian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church (HarperCollins, 1991), 197.