Why Easter Draws a Crowd
Whether churches stage large Passion Plays or simple celebrations, Easter draws a crowd.
The Resurrection of Jesus still draws a crowd, even when it's notEaster Sunday
"I've been at major universities where the Resurrection topic got standing room only," said Gary Habermas, a scholar at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. A few years ago, more than 1,500 people turned out to hear him debate a well-known atheist in California, he said.
Nearly two millennia after the apostles first spread news of this seminal event in Christian history, scholars still cogitate over the Resurrection. Books and articles exploring every Gospel jot and title cram bookshelves. And films exploring Jesus' life and death draw millions of viewers.
Earlier this month, more than 4 million people tuned in to watch a Discovery Channel documentary purporting to have found evidence ofJesus' bones in a Jerusalem tomb
, according to Nielsen Media research ratings.
But Jesus' Resurrection, celebrated each Easter by 2 billion Christians worldwide, attracts attention even without multimedia spectacles, scholars and academics say. And while polls show that a vast majority of Christians think Jesus physically rose from the dead, there are enough who believe he didn't to stoke a lively and long-lasting debate.
"It's the center of Christianity," said Habermas, who's written 15 books on the Resurrection. "Those who think it happened literally, those who say it's not literal and those who are not positive--all would say the Resurrection is the center of Christianity."
St. Paul wrote: "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."