Does every historic movement emerge from a specific cause? If so, what caused the Christian religion to come into being? According to the original followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the church sprang into existence and was deeply shaped because of the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The first four parts of this series (see part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) have catalogued five evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. This article will briefly consider two more important elements in support of the truth of the resurrection

6. Emergence of the Historic Christian Church

What initiated this religious movement that within 300 years dominated the entire Roman Empire and over the course of two millennia dominated all of Western civilization? In a very short time span, Christianity developed a distinct cultural and theological identity apart from that of traditional Judaism. According to the New Testament, the unique religion of Christianity came into being directly because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The extraordinary historical emergence of the Christian church needs an adequate explanation. According to the Christian Scriptures, the apostles turned the world upside down with the truth of the resurrection, and the historic church emerged. This is why many have called the historic Christian church the community of the resurrection.

But if the resurrection didn’t cause the emergence of Christianity, what did? There seems to be no other adequate natural explanation. Thus the heart of historic Christianity is found in the remarkable happenings of Easter Sunday.

7. Emergence of Sunday as a Day of Worship
The Hebrew people worshiped on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (measured from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). Nevertheless, the early Christian church (which was viewed initially as a sect of Judaism), gradually changed the day of their worship from the seventh to the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; “the Lord’s Day”: Revelation 1:10). For the early Christian church, Sunday uniquely commemorated Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

Sustained reflection on Christ’s resurrection to immortal life transformed Christian worship, uniquely influencing the formulation of the sacraments of the early church (baptism and communion), and thus it distinguished the Christian faith in its theology and practice from traditional Judaism. Apart from the resurrection, no reason existed for early Christians (as a sect of Judaism) to view Sunday (the first day of the week) as having any enduring theological or ceremonial significance. The resurrection of Jesus therefore set historic Christianity apart from the Judaism of its day. That same truth of resurrected life sets the faith apart from all other religions through the centuries.

So the happenings of Easter Sunday—Jesus’s resurrectionexplains two things well: First, why the Christian religion emerged as a historical movement; and second, why Christians worship on a different day of the week from the Jews. And, in turn, both of these historical elements support the factual nature of Jesus’s resurrection.

Reflections: Your Turn

Many believers describe their Christian faith in very personal terms. But why is it important to also understand that Christianity was a dynamic historical movement? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Subjects: Jesus Christ, Resurrection

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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