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Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Raised?" (Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson)

TITLE: Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection
AUTHOR: Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014, (112 pages).

There are many non-Christians who readily doubt the reality of the Resurrection. Some Christians too but do not make it so pronounced. They simply choose to shove the doubts under the carpet and deal with them on another day. Working collaboratively, two pastors have come together to author a book that addresses the doubts of both believers and non-believers on the topic of the resurrection of Christ. Non-believers are urged not to be afraid to question because anything worth believing is first worth questioning, for the express purpose of finding the truth. Believers are encouraged not to settle for "pat proofs, emotional experiences, or duty-driven religion." Based on the premise that the Resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith, anyone seeking to know the truth will not fear questions to help one find out more. The authors believe so much in the historical fact of the Resurrection and the Truth of Jesus risen from the dead, that they have no fear about challenges. Challenges like:
  • How can lowly man ever crucify a High God?
  • Skeptical accounts of the Resurrection
  • How can such a supernatural event happen in the natural world?
  • Disputes over the afterlife
  • If Jews and Greeks find the Resurrection "implausible" then, why not others?
  • Was it a delusion?
  • Are the witnesses then reliable?

The authors are sensitive to the skeptics and the dilemma of some believers. One such predicament is in distinguishing sentiment from hope. The former is about one's temporal feeling while the latter points to everlasting hope. Chris to committed suicide despite being a believer. In his suicide note, he showed his conviction about Hebrews 13:5, that God will never leave nor forsake him. Yet, the pressure of life forced him to attempt to escape this world. Without yielding to easy answers, pastors Dodson and Watson put together a four-part series to 1) explore the doubts; 2) examine the historical facts; 3) and what the resurrection means for Creation story, the Fall, Redemption in Christ; and 4) a Renewed Future. They listed the four things that the resurrection helped to raise.
  1. Raises Our relationship with God from death to life
  2. Raises our purposes to live from self toward God in joyful gratitude
  3. Resurrects the reality of us being accepted by God; adopted into the Divine Family; forgiven in Christ; 
  4. Renewal: Having everything changed.
Faith is explored through the eyes of faith as well as doubts. Without the resurrection, any faith about Jesus would be in vain. For biblical faith is about believing in the Resurrected Christ. Faith is in trusting ourselves less and God more. It is avoiding the idolatry of self. No matter what we say or do, if it is not based on Christ, it will be in vain. The last chapter describes some practical ways in which Christians can live out the promises of a resurrected life.

This book is both a defense of the Resurrection as well as a practical guide on what this means for Christians. The authors advocate a life of faith that does not easily wilt or yield to criticisms and skepticisms about the Resurrection of Jesus. They acknowledge the legitimacy of the question but doubt the easy answers given by the naysayers. It is the very reality of the Resurrection that makes the life of a Christian renewed, revitalized, and revived. We are urged to give of our gifts and of ourselves to the needs of the community. We are encouraged to pause regularly and celebrate. Like Christ, we are urged to serve wherever we are and whatever we can.

Dodson and Watson have crystallized for us what the resurrection means in practical ways. By beginning with doubts, they exercise that level of faith in knowing that the truth can never be defeated. The harshest critic or the most irrational skeptic's arguments will eventually fall. For nothing can stand up against the truth. They show from history what the resurrection had meant for the Early Church and the communities of faith of our forefathers. Finally, they help us understand the significance of the Resurrection that it is more than just a nice doctrine to know. It is one that completely changes our world, our thinking, our behavior, and our lives.

Resource: Small Group Study (link)

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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