The Minimal Facts Argument
My Minimal Facts Argument in favor of Jesus’ resurrection was developed many years ago while writing my PhD dissertation. It has two requirements for the historical facts that are used: each must be confirmed by several strong and independent arguments, plus the vast majority of even critical scholars must recognize the occurrence’s historical nature. The critical scholars can be liberal, skeptical, agnostic, or even atheist, as long as they are specialists in a relevant field of study, such as New Testament. Of these two requirements, it is important to recognize that the initial standard concerning strong evidential back-up is by far the most crucial.
So why do even critical scholars admit or allow these individual historical facts? The answer is that each one is virtually undeniable. Most of the half-dozen Minimal Facts typically used are confirmed by ten or more historical considerations each. That is simply an amazing foundation, especially for events that occurred in the First Century AD!
Gary Habermas speaking at the 2017 National Conference
The Half Dozen Facts
The half-dozen facts we usually use are these: 1) that Jesus died by crucifixion; 2) that very soon afterwards, his followers had real experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus; 3) that their lives were transformed as a result, even to the point of being willing to die specifically for their faith in the resurrection message; 4) that these things were taught very early, soon after the crucifixion; 5) that James, Jesus’ unbelieving brother, became a Christian due to his own experience that he thought was the resurrected Christ; and 6) that the Christian persecutor Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) also became a believer after a similar experience.
One “secret” not readily known is that these skeptical scholars are quite willing to cite New Testament texts in order to buttress the historical nature of these six events. While not believing that these passages are inspired or even generally reliable, they still employ the individual texts that meet their standards of evidence. It is largely from these passages, plus occasionally from extra-New Testament writings, that they find plenty of data to accept these half-dozen events.
If you are interested in the historical back-up for these six facts admitted by virtually all scholars, as well as how these six can show that Jesus’ resurrection really happened, you can buy a downloadable audio recording of my 2017 NCCA talk on the Evidence for the Minimal Facts on the SES Store.