Bishop Barron on the stubbornly historical nature…

of the Christian faith:

Christianity is not fideist, that is to say, reliant upon a pure and uncritical act of faith on the part of its adherents. Rather, it happily embraces reason and welcomes critical questions. Secondly, and relatedly, Christianity is a stubbornly historical religion. It is not a philosophy (though it can employ philosophical language), nor is it a spirituality (though a spirituality can be distilled from it); rather, it is a relationship to an historical figure about whom an extraordinary historical claim has been made, namely, that he rose bodily from the dead.

Or as Paul bluntly put it:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;* If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Co 15:3–17).

This is not a story set in Joseph Campbell realm of cloud cuckoo land myth and legend.  This presents itself, both consciously and even accidently as historiography.  When Mark pauses to mention that Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus for the benefit of his Roman audience, it’s because he is telling a story that involves the father of two guys they know personally (Romans 16:13).  That’s why the other gospels don’t mention this detail. The shout out makes given Mark’s audience but not given the audiences of the other gospels.  Simon of Cyrene was a real guy who really helped Jesus–who was real–carry his cross down a particular street to a particular spot outside the walls of the actual city of Jerusalem, where he was really crucified just like Spartacus.  And he really rose from the dead in a tomb nearby that you can still go and see.  And when Paul was writing most of the people who saw this dead man after his resurrection were still alive and you could talk to them.  And they believed it so much that they went on to die gruesome deaths for it.

History.  Not myth. Not legend.

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