Magazine article The Spectator

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Magazine article The Spectator

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Article excerpt

Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar. 'If Christ be not risen, ' wrote St Paul, 'then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.' The Spectator approached politicians, churchmen, media folk and entertainers -- and members of its own staff -- and asked them a simple question: 'Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?' Some did not answer the question: Tony Blair, Ruth Kelly, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell.

Those who did reply gave some surprising answers. The results of our inquiry reveal a remarkable amount of faith, doubt and evasion.

The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury Thursday. Archishop's assistant: 'He's very busy but I'll see what I can do.' Friday. Archbishop's assistant: 'I'm afraid we don't take part in compare-and-contrast surveys.' The Spectator: 'But we're not comparing or contrasting anything. Please at least ask him.' Monday. The Spectator: 'Any luck with the Archbishop?' Archbishop's assistant: 'Archbishop Rowan said to put him firmly in the "yes" camp. What were the follow-up questions?' The Spectator: 'No follow-up questions.

Just the one about the Resurrection.' Tuesday. Another assistant: 'I'm afraid there won't be a [further] quote from the Archbishop. Sorry to let you know so close to the deadline!' Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster 'If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile' (I Corinthians xv,17). The Christian message stands or falls by this truth. Both the empty tomb and the witness of those first disciples who saw, ate and conversed with the Risen Christ highlight this. This is not only the core of my faith but it is also the faith of the Church, namely, of those countless millions who since that first Easter Sunday have believed and proclaimed that Jesus is Risen. Therefore, his life and what he promised bring meaning and hope for everyone. What I do at Easter as Bishop is proclaim this truth on behalf of that believing community.

Tony Blair No. 10: 'I doubt we'll be able to assist.' The Spectator: 'It's a simple enough question.' No. 10: 'It is a simple question, but that does not mean we'll be able to help you, but if we are I'll come back to you.' Final answer: 'I am afraid the Prime Minister does not take part in surveys.' Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald Yes, of course I believe in the physical resurrection of Christ.

Peter Oborne, political editor, The Spectator There's a great deal of compelling evidence that something astonishing happened. The Resurrection caused the apostles to take the path they did after Jesus's death. The gospel writers were convinced. But you can't prove it and one is bound to have doubts. You are choosing to believe the unbelievable. That is what faith is about.

John Prescott Press office: 'I am not going to be able to help you. I'll have to get a colleague to call you back.' The colleague did not call back.

Ruth Kelly Spokesperson: 'Ruth Kelly will not be able to take part in this survey.' George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Yes, I believe in the Resurrection. I believe God restored the life of Jesus of Nazareth and took him to his bosom. The example of suffering and sacrifice followed by vindication is central to my religious belief.

The Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York His assistant: 'The Archbishop is away today, I don't know if I'll see him at all today. Maybe not tomorrow either. I understand that you've got a statement from the Bishop of Oxford. I don't know what he said, but I'm sure he speaks for all of us. Goodbye.' The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford Yes. I believe that the tomb was discovered empty and that Jesus was raised as what St Paul calls "a spiritual body" (I Corinthians xv,44). This is not a miracle like any other but comparable only to the creation of the world ex nihilo and its transmutation into glory at the end of time. …

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