Roman Catholic Professor Denies the Resurrection of Christ

By Wayne Jackson

Thomas H. West, a Roman Catholic by background, is Professor of Theology at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. The controversial teacher recently authored a book under the title, Jesus and the Quest for Meaning (Fortress Press, 2001).

Unfortunately, the gentleman’s “quest for meaning” remains unfilled, for he has yet to grasp the basic meaning of the very foundation of the Christian religion. Rather, his book demonstrates that his mind has been cluttered with a discombobulated mass of assertions that reflect only the stagnant residue of an infidelic ideology.

In his new book, West raises the question as to whether the Christian must believe that Jesus was actually raised from the dead; he answers in the negative.

One of Professor West’s main objections to the Lord’s resurrection is grounded in his conviction that a bodily resurrection is impossible — from a scientific vantagepoint. For example, he contends that if there is a theological connection between Christ’s resurrection, and the general resurrection at the end of time (as argued by Paul — 1 Cor. 15:12ff), then one would have to believe that the “body of John F. Kennedy, Jr., whose ashes are scattered in the vast tomb of the sea” would come forth at the last day (pp. 110-111).

So, what is the problem with that? Cannot the Almighty Creator who formed man from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), bring a body from the dust again? Or from the sea for that matter (cf. Rev. 20:13)? The professor’s problem is as old as that of the Sadducees. He knows neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Mt. 22:29). Basically, the malady is skepticism.

Then consider this rhetorical inquiry from the professor: “Would our resurrection faith collapse if we were to learn that the body of Jesus had in fact been stolen?”

This is the sort of theological double-talk that liberals find so enchanting. One may believe that someone stole the body of Jesus; that he was not raised from the dead — without his “resurrection faith” collapsing!

And then: stolen? Stolen by whom?

There are but two possibilities relative to the “stolen” theory. Christ’s body was taken either by his enemies or by his friends. But neither of these options makes any logical sense.

(1) If the body of Jesus had been confiscated by the Lord’s enemies, they would have brought it forth triumphantly — as soon as the resurrection doctrine was proclaimed by the apostles — and Christianity would have died a swift, painless death. The “enemy” theory is bereft of common reason.

(2) It is equally an affront to common sense to suggest that the first-century martyrs were willing to forfeit their lives — in a variety of horrible death-modes — in order to perpetuate that which they knew to be a lie, namely that the Son of God had been resurrected, when they themselves disposed of the corpse. What in the world would those martyrs have gained by such a futile move?

While it is true that folks sometimes surrender their lives for a false belief, it is not the case that people are anxious to die for that which they know to be fraudulent. Thousands of primitive Christians were willing to give their lives for their confidence in the actual resurrection of Jesus.

The stolen-body theory is wholly void of any credibility.

The prime reason for West’s repudiation of the resurrection “as a miracle,” is that he, and an accelerating mob of skeptics, have divested themselves of valid belief in the God of Scripture. They have substituted their own rationalism for the credible testimony of the ancient, inspired documents. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, they long to retain a superficial identification with the Christian movement.

The professor boasts that his liberal views are in agreement “with most contemporary theologians and biblical scholars” (pp. 237-238). Who cares about the opinions of the “riff-raff” of the so-called modern biblical “scholars”? True scholarship deals with hard evidence, not fantasy animated by the spirit of atheism.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.