October 22, 2007
Resurrection of Jesus: So What?
A large majority of Americans take Bible stories "literally."
A new study by The Barna Group shows that Americans "remain confident that some of the most amazing stories in the Bible can be taken at face value."
The nationwide survey asked adults their take on six well-known Bible stories (Creation, parting of the Red Sea, David killing Goliath, Daniel in the lion's den, Peter walking on water, the Resurrection of Jesus) whether the story was "literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible" or whether they thought the story was "meant to illustrate a principle but is not to be taken literally."
The results are broken down by faith tradition, geography, race, and education. To take one overall finding, though: "The story of Jesus Christ rising from the dead, after being crucified and buried" was the story most widely embraced. Three out of four adults (75 percent) said they interpreted that narrative literally.
Yet polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that 75 percent of Americans are not living dedicated lives to the resurrected Jesus!
This should give us apologetic pause. A great deal of evangelical apologetics is about proving the historicity of the resurrection (or creation--intelligent design or 7-day--but nearly two-thirds of Americans already believe in a literal 7-day creation). The figures suggest that this is NOT the battle ground for most Americans. It is the relevance or meaning of the resurrection that seems to elude Americans. It is not a stretch for most people to believe that a God who created the universe could raise Jesus from the dead, among other miracles--Duh. What is a stretch is understanding what difference it makes.
Perhaps it's time for a new chapter in evangelical apologetics. Not "The Resurrection--Did it Happen?" but "The Resurrection--So What?"