We've had lively debates here at Locusts & Honey on the doctrine of the Virgin Birth and the meaning of prophecy. And now there's a new one at the MethoBlog right now about whether or not the Resurrection of Jesus happened, and does it matter if it didn't happen. If you've been reading me for a while, you can probably guess that I answer 'yes' to both issues.
In these debates, there seems to be an overall pattern. We talk past each other because we disagree on one fundamental presupposition: the inspiration of Scripture. I assume that the Bible is an accurate account of God's Word and my debating opponents assume it to be essentially a human work of no particular authority.
The prophecy debate was over whether a person, lacking mystical experiences of revelation by God, could claim to be a prophet. I looked at the Biblical portrait of the office of prophet and said 'no'. The general argument of my opponents was (my summary) "Well, I feel that I can be a prophet if I search the Scriptures and learn Biblical principles and apply them to today. It's not like the prophets actually had mystical experiences. That was only added later by mythologizing Biblical writers."
The Virgin Birth debate was of course about whether or not Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. I looked at what the Bible had to say on the matter and concluded 'yes'. Again, my opponents saw these passages as irrelevant attempts to mythologize the normal conception of Jesus by a human biological father.
Now over at The MethoBlog, I argue that the Resurrection of Jesus really did happen, again by showing Biblical passages about the life of Jesus which of course depict Jesus rising from the grave and appearing before his disciples --- even eating in front of them. Responses include notions that Jesus later died instead of ascending, or that the bones left his body when he was Resurrected and only his flesh moved about, or that he simply appeared in the minds of his disciples. All of these responses ignore the quite straight-forward Biblical narratives and the direct teachings of the Apostolic writers.
Essentially, we're talking past each other. To support my positions, I'm appealing to Scripture, presupposing that it is truthful document. My opponents are immune to such arguments because they lack that presupposition. I might as well be appealing to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or The New York Times.
And that's where the argument breaks down and progress stops. And again, I'm left quite perplexed.
UPDATE: I would like to highlight two excellent comments by Tim. Tim correctly points out something that I've wondered about. If one believes in (1) God, (2) the Bible, and (3) the supernatual, then why would anyone doubt the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, or the various miracle stories of the Bible? What possible reason is there. Well, Tim, the reason why they don't believe in these events is...no, I'd better not say it.
Other bloggers have picked up this subject, including Art Ruch, Allan Bevere, Willie Deuel, and Theresa Coleman. There may be some others, but that's all that I can find right now.