“Pastor Ray, Isn’t That a Little Harsh?”

March 9, 2006

This afternoon I taped a one-hour interview for “Christian Radio Magazine” that will air nationwide on Good Friday. We were discussing my new book, Credo: Believing in Something to Die For. Here was the final question of the interview:

You write “If you truly do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you have placed yourself outside of the boundaries of orthodox Christianity and are not a Christian at all—and you shouldn’t be treated as one even if you happen to be a pastor or a seminary professor.” Pastor Ray, isn’t that a little harsh?

I replied that I was not being harsh, just blunt and truthful. The key word in the quote is “truly.” It means that a person has studied the evidence and come to a settled conclusion that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Such a person has placed himself outside the boundaries of the Christian faith. There aren’t many things that all Christian have believed at all times in all places, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ falls into that small category. Believing in the resurrection goes to the heart of our faith. If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain, we have believed a lie, and we are of all men most to be pitied. The resurrection is not a debatable or secondary doctrine of the faith. If Christ is still in the grave, then his death cannot save us, and we are still in our sins. Therefore I conclude that what I wrote in the book is entirely correct. If you deny the resurrection, you are not a Christian and should not be treated as one, even though you might be a pastor or a seminary professor. By saying that, I am not suggesting that we should be rude or unkind to such a person, only that we should not extend Christian fellowship to him. Why recognize a person as a Christian who denies the very heart of our faith? I would add that such a person should not be preaching or teaching under the guise of Christianity. A person who denies the resurrection might be brilliant, a gift orator, a renowned scholar, and might even have a genial personality, but all of that doesn’t matter when it comes to salvation. If you truly don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, you are not a Christian. All the religious merit badges in the world can’t change that simple fact.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?