Saturday, 5 April 2008

Dead or Alive?

Dead or Alive? by Dan Clarke is a book that explores the truth and relevance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (it does exactly what it says on the tin!).

The resurrection is in many ways a foundation by which Christianity stands or falls. If the resurrection is proved to be myth, then Christianity falls apart at the seams. But if the resurrection is a literal event in history, the implications are massive.

This book is a very good resource to own (so that you can give it away!), and to have read. The book basically divides up into three sections:

1. The relevance of the resurrection
In this section Dan looks at what impact the resurrection, which he assumes to be a literal historical event, has on various big questions. These include questions about suffering, what happens after death, the validity of other religions and meaning in life. To be honest, I think this is the weakest section in the book. That's partly because of where it is placed (it starts off, if I remember rightly, asking the reader to assume the resurrection is true, which will be explored later in the book). I wonder if it might have been better to include it further on in the book. Despite that though, it is still a very good section, where Dan provides compelling arguments as to how the resurrection unlocks some of these big questions.

2. The evidence for the resurrection
Here Dan persuasively goes through the evidence for the resurrection. The book both points to the obvious want of evidence and consistency in the alternative theories, as well as looking at the historical evidence for the Bible and the convincing truth nature of a belief in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus. This is systematic, logical and accessible and I think it is probably difficult to finish this section without being fairly convinced that the resurrection did happen. This section really is excellent.

3. The implications of the resurrection
The book's final section looks at just what the resurrection means today. What are it's implications. Dan Clarke does well here in taking the book from simply an apologotics book to a book that takes us to the gospel, by asking the title question ('Dead or Alive?') of the reader too.

Some other highlights of this book include the clever diagrams alongside the text, the amusing little pictures scattered around and the personal testimonies at the end of each chapter, reminding the reader that engaging with Christianity isn't a dry academic exercise but something that impacts lives.

So, in summary, what is good about this book? The highlights have got to be the very concise and logical explanation of the evidence for the resurrection and the way that Dan uses the resurrection as a way to point people to the gospel. This book is worth reading whether you are a Christian, interested in Christianity or think it's a load of nonsense!

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