Can You Be a Christian and Deny the Resurrection?

There is a rising skepticism of all things supernatural. The idea of the resurrection of Jesus has become nothing more than a fairy tale in the minds of most westerners. Many think the idea of Jesus rising from the grave is a ludicrous idea held by ancient, ignorant people. The anti-supernatural bias and presupposition that has infiltrated all aspects of western thought has even been brought into the church itself. Astonishingly enough, there are many today who are claiming to hold to some sort of Christianity while denying the resurrection itself.

Is holding to a a historical, literal resurrection of Jesus as a supernatural event necessary in order to be a Christian? The answer is simply and unwavering, yes. To deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to reject Christianity. You may claim to practice Christianity while denying the resurrection, but call it whatever you like – it is not Christianity.

There are certain areas of Christian doctrine that is non-negotiable. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of those essential beliefs that make Christianity what it is. To deny the resurrection turns Christianity into a religion of our own making.

1. To Deny the Resurrection is to Deny Jesus’ Deity

One of the most essential tenants of Christianity is that Jesus is the son of God. He is both fully God and fully man. To say that Jesus did not rise from the dead is to say that he remained in the grave and his corpse decomposed and rotted away. God is eternal and if Jesus is the eternal God of the universe than must resurrect.

One of the essential truths of orthodox, apostolic Christianity is that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore to claim that Jesus never resurrected is to claim that Jesus is not God. This turns Jesus into a martyred good teacher rather than the living God and resurrected King he really is.

2. To Deny the Resurrection is to Call Jesus a Liar

In the Gospel Jesus continually predicted his own death. There are several clear examples, but one comes from the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 9:31 Jesus says “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” Jesus made explicit claims about his own life, death, and coming resurrection.

Therefore if anyone is going to deny that Jesus did not rise from the grave bodily is to call Jesus himself a liar. This would not even make Jesus a good moral teacher but simply a con-man whose ministry is nothing but charade of deception. To deny the resurrection is to turn Jesus into a crooked, forked tongue liar.

3. To Deny the Resurrection is to Deny Christ’s Substitionary Death

One of the most dangerous results of denying the resurrection is that we lose salvation itself. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Jesus resurrection is the approval that his death did pay the penalty for our sins. It is the confirmation that Jesus’ death on the cross was a substitutionary death. He died in the place of sinners. The sacrifice of Jesus paid in full all our sins and our redemption is secure.

When the resurrection is denied the very concept of salvation is lost. Without the resurrection Jesus’ life is nothing but a tragedy. Yet the greatest tragedy of no resurrection is that we remain condemned under the wrath and judgement of God because of our sins.

4. To Deny the Resurrection is to Deny Any Hope

Any hope we have in present suffering, sorrow, or death comes only from the assuredness of the resurrection. Life can be filled with heartbreak in this fallen world. The only hope we have not only in this life, but in the life to come is that we know our redeemer lives. As Paul again writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied”.

If we deny the resurrection we have no hope. Death will swallow us up and we will perish. We have no hope that king Jesus will return and vindicate his people. If the resurrection is not true all we have left is the ashes of God’s broken promises.

The Resurrection is Essential

The Resurrection is essential to Christianity. In fact, to lose it is to lose every truth claim the church proclaims and believes. If Jesus was not raised than he is not God, he is a liar, his death was pointless, and we have no hope. If you deny Jesus’ bodily resurrection, though you may call it Christianity, it is anything but. If you deny the supernatural, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ you are not a Christian. You are still in your sins and you will one day find yourself before God condemned for your lack of belief.

Though a supernatural resurrection of Jesus may be difficult for the modern western mind, to reject it is to reject Jesus. The truth is that Jesus is alive as the ruling and reigning king of the universe. He is the resurrected Lord and “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. (John 20:28)