Minimal Facts Approach?
That idea sounds kind of strange when using it as an argument to convince someone of something. However when you unpack the idea and understand what the minimal facts approach is, it changes how we can relate to unbelievers. If you are going to have a debate with someone, or even try to share Christ with someone, you need to stand on some sort of common ground. If you are trying to quote scripture after scripture to someone who doesn’t believe the New Testament is even credible, then you are going to lose your breath doing so. But if you can find some sort of common ground that the two of you agree on, then you can build a foundation from there into a conversation that lets you present your case in a way that will be paid attention to.
The Minimal Facts Approach.
Think of it like a common denominator in math. When adding and subtracting fractions, you have to find the common denominator before you start working, you break it down to it’s simplest form. That is what is done with the Resurrection of Jesus using what’s known as the minimal facts approach. Depending on who is presenting these facts, there are generally 3 to 4 facts that are agreed upon by virtually ALL credible New Testament scholars. That includes ones who are very skeptical, and even atheistic in their worldview, yet they still agree that Jesus was:
-Crucified in the First Century by Pontius Pilate
-Left an Empty Tomb
-His Disciples had experiences of an appearance of what they thought was from Jesus, that changed them
-Paul and James both “enemies” of Christianity had experiences that changed them.
These facts are all agreed upon by virtually all New Testament scholars, given the background historical information from sources in antiquity, not just the New Testament. These are facts that can be used as common ground for people who doubt the credibility of the New Testament Documents, because these are clearly seen with or without them. Josephus and other ancient historians write about Jesus’ crucifixion under Pilate, Paul’s writings clearly show that he had an experience that changed him. The disciples willing to die for a very un-Jewish notion of a resurrected Jesus before the general resurrection all show that they had some kind of experience.
These facts provide the groundwork for a very convincing case that the best explanation for these facts in that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Tomorrow, I will quickly look at 1 Corinthians 15 and it’s impact as a very early source.