The Impossible Faith
is an essay by JP Holding , where he attempts to show that Christian converts were all sceptics, who converted because the evidence was overwhelming for a corpse rising from the grave, eating some fish, and then travelling into the sky on its way to Heaven.
Most of it is really bad, but JP Holding does make one or two good points.
I quote him 'Suppose, for example, you are starting a new UFO cult, where the faithful will be taken up into a UFO that is waiting for them. Such a cultist would usually follow advice from factor #7, and make sure the UFO is somewhere where people can't go and check up on it (e.g., assert that the UFO is hiding behind the Moon). But suppose you ignored this advice, and instead asserted that the UFO was waiting in a cave in a mountain not far from the city. The last thing you would do is encourage people to go to the cave and check out your claim - thereby discouraging the very gullibility that your cult's survival depends on.'
This seems like good advice for early Christians , who made sure that this alleged resurrected Jesus had gone to Heaven before telling people about a resurrection.
If you claim that somebody has been resurrected, then you need a really good answer when somebody asks to see this resurrected person.
But what should we conclude if this hypothetical cult of JP Holding's had members who scoffed at the whole idea that there was a UFO in a cave in the mountain, but still remained cult members?
We would have to conclude that the cult did not think it a central belief that there was a UFO in a cave in the mountain. People could remain cult members, and still scoff at such a claim.
And they clearly could not have been converted to such a cult by stories of a UFO in a cave in a mountain.
After all, these cult members scoff at the idea.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is writing to cult members who scoff at the idea that God would choose to raise a corpse.
Clearly early Christianity could not have been built on the idea of a corpse rising from the grave. The logic of JP Holding's analogy is very clear - cult members do not scoff at central beliefs of their cult. So if they do scoff at any belief, we know that that belief is not central to the cult.