But if faith is not placed in a trustworthy source, how can we know that it is legitimate? Again, we do not need sight as a basis for our belief, but historical facts provide a stronger foundation than does a hopeful “leap.” If strong evidence for the resurrection is found, this would be the final indication that this event can be investigated historically, for it would bear up well under examination.
Some historians have called for just such an investigation. They hold that any data for the resurrection must be examined. Then we can judge whether it is an actual event of history.^45
3.The failure of naturalistic theories
A third problem with this approach to history in the life of Jesus, especially with Old Liberalism, is that the naturalistic theories that were proposed to account for the resurrection are disproven by the known historical facts. Interestingly enough, it was the liberals themselves who attacked their own theories, in spite of their theological dispositions.
These naturalistic views were very popular in the nineteenth century. There was no consensus of opinion on which theory was the best alternative explanation for the literal resurrection. In fact, many of those who popularized these theories did so only
45 Some examples are Yamauchi, “Easter,” March 15, 1974, pp. 4–7 and March 29, 1974, pp. 12–16; Maier, First Easter, pp. 105–122; Wand, Christianity, pp. 29–31, 51–52, 93–94; A.J.Hoover, The Case for Christian Theism: An Introduction to Apologetics(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), chapter 16.
after attacking and revealing the weaknesses in the other theories of fellow liberals. For instance, Paulus’ swoon theory mentioned above was disarmed by David Strauss, who, according to Schweitzer, dealt it its “death-blow.”^46 We will examine the swoon theory in detail in Chapter 4.