Pastor's Study: Raised?
Raised?  Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection is a short book written by Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson and published by Zondervan.  The book deals with doubt in a very real way and has had an encouraging impact on my life and ministry in a very short time.  This book is a perfect entry into apologetic questions about the Christian faith for both skeptics and friends of skeptics.  If you are a Christian and you are on mission in the western world than chances are you have friends who are skeptical about your Christian faith.  Heck, you are probably skeptical about what you believe in your darkest moments and maybe even some of the lighter ones.  

Can I be honest with you as I review this book?  I have my doubts.  Sometimes they are moments of doubt and other times they are more like episodes.  I became a Christian when I was 5 years old.  My experience was a very real encounter with the very real Savior, Jesus Christ.  I remember that I knew in an instant that there was nothing I could do to gain God's love.  But rather, Jesus, died on a Cross in my place, so that the penalty of my sins would be paid and I could enjoy fellowship with God.  I remember coming to know Jesus and confess him for the King that he is like it was yesterday.  But as time wore on, I had my doubts.  I also had my ups and downs.  But like a really good Calvinist, I do not tie my salvation or standing with God to any of my good or bad works.  Jesus paid it all.  I am a believer, saved by grace.  But I still have my doubts.

I have always appreciated Thomas and so do the authors of this book.  I always appreciated the way that Thomas did not take the disciples word for it when he was told that Jesus rose from the dead.  He, like me, like many of you, wanted to see with his eyes, and touch with his fingers, the man he knew to be Jesus.  He wanted proof.  He had his doubts.  Then, just as Thomas is speaking, Jesus appears to him and comforts him with these words, "Do not disbelieve.  But believe."  Not only does Jesus not throw Thomas out for his doubt, but instead invites him to do whatever he needs to do in order to believe.  God knows we have our doubts.  He was willing to step down into our lives in order to comfort us and save us from our doubt.  

In this book, the authors lay out some familiar but simple apologetic arguments in order to help the skeptic understand the resurrection and it's impact on humanity.  They liken the resurrection to a giant river that seems impossible to cross.  They ask the reader to imagine themselves on a walk to join some friends.  Along the way, they encounter a giant river where their friends are on the other side having a get together.  This river is the resurrection.  The river must be crossed in order to know life fully.  But how do we get there when we don't know if we can cross the river?  Do we just have a blind faith or is the Christian faith more reasonable than blind conjecture?    

Many people like the teachings of Jesus and the fact that he would die for people he loved and for his beliefs.  But the resurrection?  It just sounds too far-fetched.  And yet, the resurrection is Christianity.  Paul says in I Corinthians 15 that if the resurrection is not an historical fact than we are to be pitied above all people everywhere for our faith is fruitless.  We have to believe that the resurrection actually happened or Christianity is a false relation.  

The authors take us through a short journey.  In the first chapter they lay out reasons why we should doubt the resurrection and they address those reasons.  But they don't stop with simple belief.  In the remaining chapters, the authors lay out how the resurrection changed history and continues to change history and how it will be the ultimate end of history.  Further, they lay out the implications of the resurrection for the world and for the individual.  

Raised? is not as heady or thorough as some works bigger in mass.  But it is a good starting point for those who are believers but have their doubts, for those who want to believe but need a few questions answered, and for those who outright reject the Christian faith.  I think that pretty much covers everyone in the world.  I consider Raised? to be an entry level book into a bigger world of bigger questions and even bigger answers.  I would encourage you to consider starting with a book like this but eventually diving deeper into books such as Tim Keller's The Reason for God or Lee Strobel's The Case for Easter for a more lengthy discussion.  I would also recommend this book as a starting point for friends and family who doubt the historicity of the resurrection or who have questions about what the Bible says about resurrection.    

In the end, this is a great little book to question what you believe and why you believe it.  And I believe that is a good thing.  Continue to work out your faith!  

For more information on Raised?  Check out the official website.  

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