Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Does the Resurrection entail the deity of Christ?

1. As I recall, John Warwick Montgomery used to mount the following argument for the inspiration of Scripture: 

i) Bracket inspiration. Treat NT documents as 1C primary sources

ii) Sufficient to establish Resurrection

iii) Resurrection proves deity of Christ

iv) Testimony of divine Christ validates the historicity/inspiration of Scripture.

2. A potential weak link in that syllogism is (iii). Some scholars point out that the usual NT formula is that God raised Jesus from dead, not that Jesus raised himself. 

i) A partial exception is Jn 10:18, but even that depends on the Father's authorization.

ii) A more intriguing example is Heb 7:16, which attributes the immortality of Christ to the "power of an indestructible life". That suggests Jesus had the intrinsic ability to raise himself from the dead by virtue of his divine life. He is the "living God" (Heb 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22) Incarnate (Heb 1-2).

3. In addition, there's the ambiguity of "God". In the NT that's typically used as a proper name for the Father. 

To say the Father did X isn't equivalent to only the Father did X. To say Peter preached the Gospel doesn't mean Paul didn't preach the Gospel. 

An affirmation that someone did X isn't by itself a denial that someone else did X as well. To say someone did X is not an exclusive claim. To say Tom Brady won the Super Bowl doesn't mean no one else ever won the Super Bowl. 

4. The Resurrection may not entail the deity of Christ. There are more direct arguments for the deity of Christ. I think premise (iii) is too weak to yield Montgomery's conclusion. However, premise (iii) isn't demonstrably false–contrary to what some scholars say. It's a defensible claim. 


  1. Within the structure of Montgomery's argument, it's not clear that deity is required to reach his final conclusion. The much weaker claim that Jesus speaks with divine authority would be sufficient, for the purposes of the argument.

  2. It's been a long time since I read Montgomery, but I think it's obviously true to say that the resurrection of Jesus in the context of the Jewish background and what he himself said makes it *highly probable* that he is God. No need to claim entailment. Very few historical events *entail* other interesting substantive conclusions.

  3. Interesting. Jesus said I lay my life down because I have the power to take it up again. Only God could say that.

    1. I address that, albeit briefly, in my post.