I will be the first to admit that there are times when the Gospels seem unbelievable. I mean really, a virgin birth? A rabbi who goes around working miracle after miracle, curing the sick and raising the dead? A man who dies—by crucifixion, of all things—and then, three days later, comes back to life? I can understand why people are trying to make sense of these events. The appeal of a ‘mythical Gospel’ is undeniable: one can keep the “spiritual and philosophical meaning,” as Mr. Thiessen put it in his article “Gospel as Myth,” without all the troublesome physical miracles that are so frustrating to our scientific minds.
The fact of the matter is, the Gospels have no meaning without miracles. Without the Resurrection—the greatest and most unbelievable miracle of all—Christianity is worthless. As the apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The death of the early martyrs attests to the value of this statement: no one dies for a lie, and no one is killed for a pleasant metaphor. To strip Christianity of the living Christ is to reduce it to nothing more than vague platitudes and aimless ‘faith.’
Certainly, it would be more convenient if it were otherwise. To read the Gospels as quaint, mythical tales designed to teach useful lessons to simplistic ancients is much more comforting than to see them for what I would argue they are: a witness, the stark declaration of spiritual God become physical Man. It’s an invasion into our safe, shattered world, the incomprehensible goodness crossing a boundary we never thought could be crossed and literally entering into our physical reality. This is not a joke, a hoax, a metaphor, or a myth. This is the truth: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. Literally. I can see why people want to deny this reality, to rest safe in the denial of the shocking, wild, deep, violent strength of that love; to hide from it, as our first parents hid in the garden, afraid because they were naked before it. But it is, nevertheless, reality. We are loved by God. He became physical Man. He died and He rose again.
This is our faith.