Some dismiss the independent testimony of the various Biblical witnesses of the resurrection on the basis that these witnesses are Christians, and their testimony is recorded in the Bible. Since they are Christians, it is reasoned, they are biased to believe in the resurrection, making their testimony unreliable. Greg Koukl discussed the merits of this argument on his March 18th radio broadcast. I would like to share some of his comments with you, as well as add a few of my own.
This sort of thinking is logically fallacious. First, it presumes that rational objectivity is impossible if one has taken a position on the matter (in this case, the resurrection of Jesus Christ). This ignores the fact that rational objectivity may be what led these individuals to believe in the resurrection in the first place. The evidence could have been so strong in favor of that conclusion that they were incapable of remaining intellectually honest without affirming that Jesus rose from the dead.
Furthermore, this standard works both ways. Those who deny the resurrection have taken a position on the matter. If taking a position eliminates objectivity, and hence trustworthiness, then we should dismiss the evidence against Christ’s resurrection presented by those who deny it. Their belief that Jesus was not raised from the dead makes their testimony against it unreliable. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
It also ignores the fact that those who are psychologically biased (i.e. have come to a conclusion) are still capable of rational objectivity. If that were not so, none of us would ever change our mind about anything we have come to believe. Clearly we have, and thus psychological bias does not preclude rational objectivity. Another way of saying this is that psychological objectivity (i.e. having formed no conclusions) is not a prerequisite for rational objectivity.
Secondly, it presumes that the only valid, objective evidence for the resurrection of Jesus must come from those who do not already believe in the resurrection of Jesus. But if they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, why would they present evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? Those who do not believe in the resurrection are not going to provide evidence for that which they do not believe! Can you imagine this standard being applied to any other topic? What if I said the only valid, objective evidence for global warming must come from opponents of global warming? That is nonsensical. We would expect the evidence for global warming to come from those who are convinced that it is a real phenomenon.
Furthermore, if those who deny the resurrection knew the evidence for the resurrection, they would probably believe in the resurrection as did the earliest Christians. At that moment we would have to reject their testimony as well.
The skeptics have set up an impossible, self-serving standard, and then claim victory when it cannot be met. Don’t take the bait. The testimony of those who believe in the resurrection is valid evidence, and needs to be evaluated on its own merits.