(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The Resurrection of God Incarnate is divided into three parts. In the first part, Richard Swinburne assesses the general background evidence related to the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. One crucial aspect of background evidence is whether the God of classical theism exists. Swinburne assumes that there is a fifty-fifty chance that such a God exists, and he refers the reader to some of his other works that explore this question in more depth. If such a being exists, then the laws of nature depend on that being, and God can suspend those laws if he chooses to do so. This raises the probability that God will raise Jesus from the dead. With respect to the Resurrection, an important source of available historical evidence is the testimony of eyewitnesses to the Resurrection. In Swinburne’s view, testimony in general must be taken to be accurate, unless there is evidence to the counter, and therefore the specific testimony to the historicity of the Resurrection should be viewed as accurate.

Swinburne also argues that God would have at least three reasons for becoming incarnate. First, the God of classical theism would want to provide people with a means of atonement. Second, God would do so to identify with people’s suffering. Third, God would want to show people a dignified human life and what a perfect human life looks like. Next, Swinburne turns to a consideration of the attributes of God Incarnate and claims that an incarnate God would live a life of supererogatory goodness and would engage in physical, psychological, and social healing. An incarnate God would also teach people how to live and would do so by means of revelation that they could not obtain or discover on their own. God Incarnate must also believe that he is God Incarnate and must ultimately reveal his identity to humanity, teaching that his life provides atonement. He should found a church to carry his message to other generations and cultures. Finally, a super miracle should...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Hall, Lindsey. Swinburne’s Hell and Hick’s Universalism: Are We Free to Reject God? Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2003. A comparison of the thought on Swinburne and John Hicks on the idea of whether people can reject God. Hicks believes in universal salvation, while Swinburne argues that hell must exist for Christians.

Messer, Richard. Does God’s Existence Need Proof? New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Shows the disparity between the thought of Swinburne, who believes that an attempt to prove God’s existence is worthwhile, and that of D. Z. Phillips, who does not believe such an attempt is valuable.

Padgett, Alan G., ed. Reason and the Christian Religion: Essays in Honour of Richard Swinburne. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Two essays in this collection focus on Swinburne’s views of the Trinity and Incarnation.

Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2d ed. New York: Clarendon Press, 2004. Contains the arguments that Swinburne refers to several times in The Resurrection of God Incarnate, which are intended to show that it is more probable than not that theism is true.

Swinburne, Richard. Faith and Reason. 2d ed. New York: Clarendon Press, 2005. Explores the relationship between the probability of God’s existence and religious faith.

Swinburne, Richard. Providence and the Problem of Evil. New York: Clarendon Press, 1998. Offers a detailed answer to the question of why a loving God allows so much suffering.