- Paperback: 212 pages
- Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (December 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592444318
- ISBN-13: 978-1592444311
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?: The Resurrection Debate Paperback – December 4, 2003
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About the Author
Gary Habermas is author of 'Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection' 'The Resurrection of Jesus' and 'The Verdict on the Shroud' He teaches at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Antony Flew, a professor emeritus at Kiele University is author of 'The Presumption of Atheism' 'New Essays in Philosophical Theology' 'God and Philosophy' and 'A Rational Animal' Terry L. Miethe is dean of the Oxford Study Centre, Oxford, England, professor of philosophy at Liberty University, and an adjunct professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He is the author of 'The New Christian's Guide to Following Jesus' and 'The Christian's Guide to Faith and Reason'
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That criterion was not met in this book. First off, while Antony Flew may have been an eminent philosopher of the atheistic viewpoint, in my personal experience, he's a very weak debater. The preface even quotes one of the debate's judges, who says, "I was surprised (shocked might be a more appropriate word) to see how weak Flew's own approach was." Even so, the debate itself (Part I of the book) was fairly unbiased, with a structure that was mostly balanced, and had little external influence. However, this began a persistent pattern in the book of Gary Habermas (the Christian debater) always getting the last word. The "speech" portion of the debate ended with Habermas giving a lengthy rebuttal (over seven pages as transcribed here), without Flew getting even a brief rejoinder, as is the pattern of most formal debates I've seen. Next was a head-to-head portion, which was a more loosely-structured back-and-forth between Habermas and Flew. Habermas only got a brief last word in this section, but it was still longer than the last thing Flew said. The last portion of the formal debate was a Q & A period, where both debaters are given questions by two moderators; W. David Beck (Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at the very conservative-Christian Liberty University), and Terry L. Miethe (also a Professor of Philosophy at Liberty University). Miethe is also the editor of this book, if that doesn't give you a big hint at how overtly biased it is. Habermas' last word of this portion is over a page long.
Part II is "The Continuing Debate," a more casual discussion with Habermas, Flew, Miethe and Beck. As we've established that Miethe and Beck are firmly within the Christian camp, this is basically a three-on-one situation against Flew, hardly an unbiased or balanced format. Part III is "Response to the Debate," where three other scholars write essays about their thoughts on the issue (though the second one, by Charles Hartshorne, drifts pretty far afield). Even though they don't agree with Habermas on every point, they do all seem to be on the theist side of the issue, and yet Part IV gives Habermas an incredible twenty-seven pages to rebutt them! I suppose I should explain why that's so notable; it's actually three pages more than all the essays of Part III combined, and they spend a fair portion of their time agreeing with him. After the three-on-one discussion of Part II, Flew is nowhere to be found; he doesn't get a chance to give even a brief rebuttal to Habermas' closing essay (the excuse given in the introduction is that the closing statement was awarded to the winner of the debate, but if he won, why does he need twenty-seven more pages to defend himself?). If Christians really believed that the evidence was on their side, I don't see why they feel the need to stack the deck so heavily in their own favor.
Bottom line, if you're a Christian looking for something to preach to the choir and not present too much of a challenge to the beliefs you already have, I think you'll probably be pretty happy with this. But if you're looking for an unbiased, balanced debate on the issue, this book is not it.
Gary Habermas (born 1950) is Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University, and is a foremost evangelical apologist who has written many books such as The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus,The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, etc. These two philosophers also later met in debate in 2003 Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew (Veritas Forum Books)) and 2004 Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew (Veritas Forum Books). This book contains a transcript of the formal debate at Liberty University on May 2, 1985, followed by a dialogue the next day with Flew, Habermas, Terry L. Miethe, and W. David Beck. Finally, there are written responses to the debate by Wolfhart Pannenberg, Charles Hartshorne, and James I. Packer.
Habermas strongly endorsed the Shroud of Turin, saying that it "provides some empirically repeatable evidence for the Resurrection" (pg. 27-28); "it provides more strong evidence for Jesus' death" (pg. 69); but he also admits, "I will agree with you [Flew] that if the shroud can be legitimately carbon-dated, and it is not first century, that is going to have to be faced by anybody who says the shroud is authentic." (Pg. 119) [Habermas, of course, co-wrote two books on the Shroud: Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ and The Shroud and the Controversy; although in the latter book after the 1988 carbon testing of the Shroud he seemed less convinced, he still gave a "positive" lecture about it at the 2010 Evangelical Theological Society's annual meeting, that's currently posted on YouTube.]
In Flew's first rebuttal of Habermas, he said, "Dr. Habermas asked me whether I was an adherent of the swoon theory or any of these other accounts. No, I am not. My argument is that we are simply not in a position to reconstruct an account. I think the whole exercise of who moved the stone and so on is an impossible and misguided exercise because we have not got enough evidence of what actually happened in that undated year of the Easter events." (Pg. 33)
Later, Habermas argues, "you have to prove that Paul is saying that Jesus appeared to him in the same manner that he appeared to the disciples. I don't see that anywhere in Paul. I think Paul was arguing that Jesus literally appeared to him, period. I don't think Paul answers the question of whethe rhe could touch Jesus or whether he saw him eat. Paul just ignores those issues." (Pg. 57)
Habermas also admits, "there are approximately eighteen non-Christian writers who record more than one hundred events from the life, death, Resurrection of Jesus, and the beliefs of the earliest Christians. Now I suspect that Dr. Flew would say that they're comparatively late, because they are much later than the earlier creeds, and that's one reason why I prefer to use the core facts and the early creed in I Cor 15." (Pg. 65)
This book will be of keen relevance for anyone interested in Christian apologetics (including skeptics).