Saturday, April 15, 2006

Resurrection Debate - a Recording has a recording of the show at Premier Christian Radio. Thank you to Adam for hosting this recording.

The Christians were reduced at the end to saying that my arguments came from the Antichrist, and that they had a bit of the True Cross.

Personally, I think Canon Michael Cole got roasted.

I did get rather tired towards the end, as I had been up so early to get to London. That showed.

I would like to thank the moderator, Justin Brierley, for being so fair and even. It does him great credit.


Blogger reason42 said...

I listened to the show and I think you did very well to show the holes in the resurrection story. You certainly challenged their beliefs and hopefully you've given them something to think about.

You are right about the comments from the listeners; they simply reduce themselves to calling you the devil or the Anti-Christ, which made me laugh!

The shows host (and not forgetting that this is a Christian radio channel) does give each side a fair and equal amount of time to put their side of the argument forward. The BBC (esp. Jeremy Vine) should take note!


3:02 AM  
Blogger Pogsmum said...

I listened to the show and found your comments interesting however, I think that you really must ask God to reveal Himself to you as was suggested several times on the show. I was shocked when you said you had never done that! What have you got to lose?

1:31 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Pogsmum. Thank your for listening to the show and thank your for your comments. I do appreciate your interest, and am pleased that you have taken the trouble to look at my blog.

Why were you shocked? Are you also shocked that I have never said the Shahada?

What part of the stories of the conversion of Paul convinced you that you must ask God to reveal himself before he will do so?

1:40 PM  
Blogger Pogsmum said...

I guess what shocked me was that for a man who had clearly investigated the Bible in such depth this same man [you] did not appear to want to investigate the [potential] living God but I guess you must feel there is no possibility at all of God being real or you would have asked Him to reveal Himself? On to your second question, my answer would be: God revealed himself to me before that particular part of the Bible became real to me. In a way, God broke into my life when I didn't realise I was even looking for Him. It was only *after* I met with God that the Bible suddenly became alive to me. I therefore believe that for the Bible to make proper sense, the Holy Spirit reveals truth through the word. I had read [parts of]the Bible several times before and I had always found it illogical, dry, boring and totally irrelevant to me. After my conversion, it literally came alive. I personally can only put that down to the Holy Spirit which I am sure must sound dead weird to you but there it is.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I dont find the Bible 'dry, boring and totally irrelevant'

As my web page explains, it is an examination of the Bible from the point of view of historical analysis.

If you feel that historians cannot understand the Bible, this is a point of view which concedes that the Bible is not to be taken as history.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...


Unfortunately I was unable to stay in to listen to the debate and I have tried both the URLs you have provided and neither has worked.

Although I would want to reserve the right to comment on the content of the debate once I've heard it, I remain intrigued about a number of things relating to my comments to your previous posting on this blog:

1. How you can possibly say "Martin ignores the teachings of the Bible", or "Why should we listen to people who lie for their faith?"?
2. Why the use of the 3rd person and/or the apparently hostile tone? Unlike Justin Brierley's performance, this does you no credit at all.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

The link should work.

Paul is clear that issues of the law were what early Christians were persecuted on, and that early Christian leaders were quite prepared to compromise their beliefs to avoid persecution.

Galatians 6:12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Notice that Paul says 'cross' of Christ, and not resurrection of Christ. Paul claimed the cross was a stumbling-block. The resurrection was apparently only a stumbling block to other Christians, many of whom did not believe in bodily resurrection.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...


Sorry, I do not have a broadband connection, or Windows XP, and the mp3 file is too big for me to copy onto a CD, so it would seem I am going to have to do without the pleasure of hearing the debate. However, I was very sorry to hear that some - probably understandably - frustrated listeners resorted to childish-sounding abuse.

Nevertheless, the above notwithstanding, the point I was trying to make previously was that I see no conflict between the acceptance that, although dead bodies do not generally leave tombs; Jesus’ case is the exception that proves the rule.

As much as I dislike selective quoting of texts, I do so here (for the sake of brevity alone) to illustrate my point:

’Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious… The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands… In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

'When they
[i.e. the men of Athens] heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject."…’
Acts Ch.17:22-32[NIV].

Martin Lack.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Martin again has to quote anonymous documents, written by a poor historian, who never names his sources, or gives any indication of how he found out what was true and what was false.

Paul, on the other hand, was a primary source, and he records the fact that many of the very earliest Christians did not believe in bodily resurrection.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...


I see that you are still persisting with this strange "third person" thing. However, no matter, at least now we're getting somewhere:

You have now made it clear that you consider the non-Pauline parts of the NT to be unreliable. But, if that were the case - leaving aside the fact that such an assertion would make the ludicrous conspiracy theories of "The Da Vinci Code"seem mere triffles by comparison - why on earth do you waste your time building such an argument upon Paul's writings. Surely the Catholic Church is just as likley to have tinkered with that as much as any other part of the Bible?

In any case, if Paul agreed with the Corinthians that dead bodies don't generally leave tombs, why did he spend so much time trying to put the Corinthians right on the subject ( i.e. the rest of I Corinthians 15)?

5:20 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Paul's letters are primary sources.

OK, there have been interpolations, and there is a lot of textual variation, especially in 1 Corinthians 15 where later scribes tried to make Paul talk about the resurrection of the flesh.

But Paul's beliefs are pretty coherent.

And it is clearly that some very early converts to Christianity did not believe in resurrection of corpses.

As for being wrong, the Bishop of Durham , NT Wright says my ideas are 'no doubt right', although he tries to spin away the implications.

'Though Moule is no doubt right that Paul can envisage here the possibility of 'exchange' (losing one body, getting another one) rather than 'addition', as in 1 Corinthians 15, we should not lose sight of the fact that even if such an 'exchange' were to take place the new body would be more than the present one. (N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 2003: p. 367)'

Wright later contradicts himself on what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 15, but 'no doubt right' sounds good, doesn't it?

12:07 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Paul never says that dead bodies leave tombs. In fact, he regards people as idiots for even wondering how it could happen.

If you wonder how a dead body could leave a tomb, you just don't get it, in Paul's view. He is clear that there are two bodies 'If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

The natural body is just a seed which dies. All the seed is there for is to tell God what kind of body to create.

He says 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit'.

Of course, Martin is right that Paul had to spend a lot of time explaining this to the Corinthians.

In fact, he had to write another letter, 2 Corinthians, telling the Corinthians in chapter 5 that their earthly body will be destroyed and they will get a heavenly body.

Orthodox Christians had to forge another letter by Paul, 3 Corinthians, in order to get Paul to say that flesh would rise.

The real Paul had never said that.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...

It warms my heart to know that Steven Carr thinks "...Paul's beliefs are pretty coherent" but, as for the fact that "...some very early converts to Christianity did not believe in resurrection of corpses; does anybody?

It may seem to some that we are at risk of arguing about semantics here but, I think we all accept that Paul and the Corinthians, and the whole of the Roman Empire - including the inhabitants of Palestine - accepted that dead bodies rot.

I therefore find it very hard to believe that, on the basis of one phrase in one verse (1 Cor 15:45b), Steven tries to deconstruct one of the fundamental – if not the fundamental – historical tenants of Christianity... and I am bound, therefore, to question his motives. Perhaps Jesus had Steven in mind when he inspired Paul to write “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds… [and with them we] …demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. (2 Cor 10:4-5)!

Both Paul and his audience (in the widest possible sense) believed in an afterlife, (or a spirit world - call it what you will) but, even to them, it was not normal to see spirits wandering around, and certainly not normal for them to be “seen” by more than one person (1 Cor 15:5-9). However, if we take Paul’s writings as a whole, it is just not tenable to conclude anything other than that, in the case of the body of Jesus, Paul believed something special had happened. This is not negated by his acceptance that “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable”. (1 Cor 15:42).

When Paul said “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor 15:12-13), he was not questioning his own faith – he knew Jesus had been bodily raised from death because – as far as he was concerned – it was impossible that God could be defeated by death (i.e. stay dead).

The point Paul was making, to those Corinthians (like the wise Men of Athens in Acts 17) who questioned how Christians could believe in the bodily resurrection of a man when “everybody knew that” that was impossible, was that there would have been no point in Jesus’ victory over death if there was no afterlife at all. Having established that point; Paul then goes on to (try to) explain his understanding of the nature of the “spiritual body"...

Of course, Steven will not accept this because, although he likes to make it sound like he empathises with Paul’s “world view”, his intention is to try and prove that “...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile [and]... If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men”. (1 Cor 15:17-19).

11:17 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Martin still refuses to engage with any arguments , and can find phrases in Paul which do not exist.

Paul never states that the corpse of Jesus rose from the dead.

He just says that Jesus is still alive, and has risen, and he refuses to say that the body that went into the ground is the body which came out of the ground.

In fact, Paul flat-out states 'You do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed...', and explains that the seed dies.

Paul is saying that the body planted into the ground dies.

And Martin , like all Christians, cannot begin to explain how the Corinthians converted to Christainity while denying that dead flesh-and-blood bodies can rise.

Martin writes 'Both Paul and his audience (in the widest possible sense) believed in an afterlife....'

Again, Martin needs to read 1 Corinthians.

The Corinthians denied any reward for the dead.

If they felt that their souls lived on , they could have particapated in the baptism for the dead. But their view was that the dead were lost. No souls living on, no bodies living on.

And if they had believed in immortal souls, Paul would have attacked them on that point.

Instead, he attacks them for not realising that it is obvious even to an idiot that when you plant a body in the ground it dies, and God will give it a new body, made of a different material - a 'life-giving spirit', in Paul's phrase.

Why attack the Corinthians for not realising that what goes in the ground dies, when Paul could (on Martin's view) have rubbed their noses in it, by producing all the stories of Jesus eating and being touched?

In fact, in 1 Cor. 6:6, Paul says that God will destroy both stomach and food - hardly the view of somebody who teaches that eating fish was a proof of resurrection.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

'seen'(opththe) in 1 Corinthians 15, is the same word used to describe Paul's vision in a trance of a man from Macedonia in Acts 16:9.

It is also the same word used in Revelations.

Almost always in the NT, 'opththe' means a vision, trance or whatever - a non-physical seeing.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...

You point out that, "'seen' (opththe) in 1 Corinthians 15, is the same word used to describe Paul's vision in a trance of a man from Macedonia in Acts 16:9." with which I cannot argue, as this is news to me. However, is not the greek word for "raised"? used in 1 Corinthiinas 15:4, the same as that used in relation to the sign that the Messiah would raise the dead?

Notwithstanding the above, I do not know anyone who thinks that God actually (generally) raises any dead bodies after death (although that has not stopped the Monks at the foot of Mt Sinai carefully keeping the bones of their predecessors). However, if he did, those who choose to be cremated are going to be a bit stuck! Nevertheless, all the Christians I know believe that God raised the body of Jesus from the tomb. How else do you explain the concept of the Trinity? Or is that, in your opinion, yet another invention of the Early Church?

However, although I am not a Biblical scholar such as yourself, I do now that the last book in the bible is "Revelation".

4:01 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Martin writes 'Nevertheless, all the Christians I know believe that God raised the body of Jesus from the tomb.'

In which case, he has to explain why the very early Christians in Corinth did not believe that.

The obvious reason is that they had never heard of any stories saying that, or else they would have believed that, just as every other Christian Martin knows believes that.

And why none of the early creeds (in Philippians 3, Romans 1, or 1 Cor. 15) have a resurrected body of Jesus walking the earth.

And also explain why Paul is very careful never to say that flesh and blood bodies will rise.

4:44 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...

What's the title of your next film going to be: "Da Vinci Code II"?

5:26 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...


I enjoyed the show a lot and think you did a great job. I wrote about it in my own blog:

Carr vs. Cole

I transcribed a few portions of the recording and did my best to capture what you and Cole were saying. But there were a couple points which were fairly garbled, so I'm not sure if I got it entirely accurate.

One point I wrote about was Cole's claim to have experienced Jesus personally. I think by making such claims Christians reveal that a physical-body Jesus is not at all required for believers to experience him. This was a point that you brought out, and I elaborated on it from my own church experience.

Best regards,

7:57 AM  
Blogger Skazlathac said...

Steven, well done at frustrating Martin. I'm not sure how you determine what of Paul's is Paul's and what of Paul's is a forgery, and I found Martin's logic much easier to follow. I agree with his appraisal of your debate style, and was able to truly empathize with him when he surrendered his last retort, "What's the title of your next film going to be: 'Da Vinci Code II'?" in frustration.

I have an atheistic impression of things, and so was hoping you wouldn't mind expanding on your Corinthians 6:12 argument. The argument for Christianity that I find hardest to reject is how early Christians were tortured for a belief that was immediately testable. I'd love some good evidence that some of these persecuted Christians surrendered their religion, or better yet, were not persecuted, but only punished for legal offenses.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Galatians 6:12
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, not resurrection, and compromised their beliefs to avoid persecution for the *cross* (NB not resurrection) of Christ.

How was Paul's belief that Jesus 'became a life-giving spirit' easily testable?

By the way,nobody was ever killed for preaching a resurrection of Christ. (Even Stephen in Acts never mentions a resurrection , or even the name Jesus , before he was lynched by a mob)

Even Acts has a supposed letter by a Roman, who made clear that Paul had done nothing worthy of death.

If Paul had been following an executed criminal, whose body had gone missing, and whose followers claimed was still alive, he would have been a dead man. Paul saying that Jesus had been killed and was now in Heaven would not have saved him.

The Romans would simply have laughed at this, pointed out that Christians themselves said the guy was still alive, and there was no dead body. They would simply have assumed Pilate had bungled the crucifixion or something else had happened. After all, there would have been no dead body to prove that death had happened.

So Paul could not have been following a recently executed criminal, whose body had gone missing.

Or else he would have either faced a charge of following a criminal who was still alive, or being part of a conspiracy for grave-robbery. (Whether the Romans could have made those offences stick is a different matter, but if the body was missing, he would have gone on trial for one of those offences)

3:58 AM  

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