77 Fuller, Foundations, p. 142.
verifies this conclusion, as does the testimony of the early church authors, including the reports of the disciples dying for their faith as martyrs.^78
Lastly, Paul’s conversiondue to an experience that he also believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus, is both recorded by him personally in 1 Corinthians
9:1and 15:8–10, and reported three times in Acts (9:1–9; 22:5–11; 26:12–18). Naturalistic theses also fail to apply to Paul.^79
Therefore, these four core facts are established on strong, historical grounds. They are generally accepted not only by critical theologians but also by historians and philosophers who study this subject.^80
Of these four core facts, the nature of the disciples’ experiences is the most crucial. As historian Michael Grant asserts, historical investigation actually proves that the earliest eyewitnesses were convinced that they had seen the risen Jesus.^81 Carl Braaten adds that other skeptical historians also agree with this conclusion: Even the more sceptical historians agree that for primitive Christianity . . . the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was a real event in history, the very foundation of faith, and not a mythical idea arising out of the creative imagination of believers.^82
One major advantage of these core facts is that, not only are they critically accepted as knowable history, but they directly concern the nature of the disciples’ experiences. As such, these four historical facts are able, on a lesser scale, to both disprove the naturalistic theories and to provide major positive evidences which relate the probability of Jesus’ literal resurrection.^83 A few examples will now point out these claims.
First, using only these four historical facts, the naturalistic theories can be disproven. For instance, the swoon theory is ruled out by the facts concerning Jesus’ death and by Paul’s conversion. The disciples’ experiences disprove the hallucination and other subjective theories both because such phenomena are not collective or contagious, being observed by one person alone, and because of the wide variety of time and place factors involved. The psychological preconditions for hallucinations were also lacking in these men. Paul’s experience also rules out these theories because he certainly would not be in the proper theological frame of mind.