It should be readily accepted that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian faith. After all, if there was no crucifixion, then there is no atonement made for the forgiveness of our sins, and if there was no resurrection, then the crucifixion was unsuccessful. This is why the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Rather explicit, isn’t it?
Okay, but what about the Bible? Is it really all that important to view the Bible as foundational to the Christian faith? Isn’t it enough to simply tell people to rest in the resurrection of Christ, especially in light of all the attacks against the trustworthiness of the Bible? Unfortunately, some professing Christians would say “Yes”. But this is not the Apostle Paul’s answer.
At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 (vv. 1-5) Paul says the following about the gospel:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
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. [emphasis added]
According to Paul, both the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior are according to the Scriptures. This is to simply say that the Old Testament Scriptures foretold of these gospel events. Paul does not merely rely on eyewitness encounters, but on the Scriptures that foretold of this redemptive event. We actually see in the book of Acts that this was in fact the approach Paul took in some of his preaching encounters. Acts 13:32-38 reads as follows:
And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. [emphasis added]
You see, the Apostle Paul did not preach the historical fact of the resurrection in isolation from the Scriptures, which he here, and elsewhere (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16-17), affirmed to be God’s very word. Rather, he emphasizes the resurrection as the fulfillment of God’s promise. Paul does not merely rest his proclamation of the resurrected Christ on the fact that he was an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ, but that what he had witnessed was rooted in and founded upon the Scriptures. The ultimate authority here is not the resurrection itself, but the Scriptures which give theological meaning and understanding to the resurrection. According to Paul, the Scriptures and the resurrection go hand-in-hand.
You cannot in one breath belittle the Bible by denying its infallibility and then in another breath affirm the resurrection as the foundation of the Christian faith.
Why do I write this? Well, as many are already aware, Andy Stanley, of Buckhead Churh (and several off-site campuses) in Atlanta, GA, has essentially affirmed this very thing in a sermon titled “The Bible Told Me So”. In this sermon he essentially denies the infallibility of the Bible, claims it is not the foundation of the Church, but tells people that the resurrection is the foundation. My purpose here is not to provide a critique of his sermon. I simply provide this post as a quick rebuttal to Stanley’s central affirmation. For a full critique by Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries, please go here (starts at 00:41:30).