Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Five E's of Evidence

I saw Lee Strobel on TV recently talking about the evidence that transformed him from an atheist to a believer of the the gospel. He listed five E's: Execution, Early Accounts, Empty Tomb, Eye Witnesses, Emergence of the Church.

  1. Execution
    Christ died by crucifixion. The Roman guards testified that Christ had died. Christ was buried under Roman guard.
  2. Early Accounts
    Myths take time to develop -many, many years or even decades. But the news of Christ's resurrection spread within months.
  3. Empty Tomb
    Today, 2000 years after the event, the empty tomb doesn't mean much, but at the time, it stood as a strong witness that Christ had indeed risen.
  4. Eye Witnesses
    Jesus appeared to over 500 different people post-resurrection. Many myths involve "someone" who heard or who saw, but the resurrection account names names -- Mary, Peter, Paul, and others who encountered Christ personally.
  5. Emergence of the Church
    What else would account for the rapid growth of the church at that time? What besides the fact that Christ had arisen and everyone knew it? Some say the disciples duped the people, but those same disciples died defending the very truth they preached -- that Jesus Christ was alive.


  1. The first written references are Paul's letters fifteen to twenty-five years after the death of Jesus. Written accounts containing details of Jesus death appeared over the next fifty years. I is impossible to say what was believed in the first few months or to asssert that the story did not change and develop over time.

  2. The point regarding the early accounts was not that a written record was established within months, but that the early church sprang into existence within months, supported by the testimony (early accounts) of men and women who had seen the resurrected Christ. The rapid growth of the early church occurred in a time that had Christ indeed not risen, others could have attested to that fact.

  3. We know from the warning in Paul's letters against false teachings that there were competing interpretations of the life and death of Jesus at a very early stage. However, Paul's viewpoint triumphed and competing interpretations were not preserved.

    The fact that Christians writing twenty to seventy years later did not report any challenges to their position hardly provides any basis to conclude that there were none.