by Bill Fancher and Jim Brown
(AgapePress) – It was a staged event pondering an eternal question with eternal ramifications: Was the resurrection of Jesus a literal event?
For the first time ever, the hallowed chamber of the Senate Judiciary Committee this past weekend hosted a unique case considering that question. For an hour-and-a-half, a three-judge federal appeals panel listened intently and questioned the two advocates who presented arguments for and against the resurrection.
Religious liberty advocate and Catholic philanthropist Thomas Monaghan told the jurists the testimony of those who saw Jesus after the resurrection is the most compelling evidence for the risen Lord.
“Then they turn around and they die in coliseums, they die on crosses, they die at the chopping block, professing that faith,” Monaghan said. “That is quite a testimony; and it is a testimony that has gone for 2,000 years. It is a testimony that can be found in Nagasaki, as well as Rome, and it can be found in the Sudan today.”
He said the witnesses who saw Jesus were proof enough of the resurrection, and that their willingness to die for the faith proved their testimony of the risen Christ.
ACLU advocate Bruce Fein argued against the literal resurrection, saying that “the idea that Jesus died for all of our sins is more central and … could have occurred without him being resurrected.”
Throughout the arguments, the judges interrupted the advocates with questions of their own, such as: Is not the resurrection the absolute core of the New Testament?
In the end, the judges retired to their chambers and will release a decision soon. The event, staged before a packed hearing room, was sponsored by the National Clergy Council. The standing-room only crowd included judges, ministers, Senate staffers, and historians.
Christians are not waiting for the judges' decision to dictate whether Easter will be celebrated this year. Believers worldwide will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the coming week with special church services and ceremonies and hunts for Easter eggs from the Easter bunny. Regarding the latter, an evangelist from California says it is possible to allow children to have the Easter bunny as part of their holiday tradition and still not miss out on the real reason for celebrating Easter.
Steve Russo is the author of a book titled Why Celebrate Easter. Russo says Christians must concern themselves with keeping Jesus Christ's death and resurrection the main focus of Easter, and not let any holiday traditions including the Easter bunny diminish the reason for celebration. However, the author says it is not necessary to deprive children of “good fiction,” provided they understand the difference between fact and fiction.
Russo advises Christians to be careful about being opposed to a tradition with which they disagree because one may lose sight of what Easter is all about. As Russo puts it, “Make sure you are more passionate about sharing the truth of Easter than you are about sharing what you think is wrong with it.”
(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)