This may very well be one of the most bizarre statements that I've heard in a long time. John Dominic Crossan's statement is heretical. There, I said it. Some of you may think that this is a little harsh--that I've crossed the line by passing such a harsh judgement on a man who claims to be of the same faith that I claim as well. But the difference between myself and JDC is where we get our material. Basically, Crossan says, "If he [Jesus] is in fact dead, so what? It doesn't shake my faith at all!". But the statement begs the question: WHAT exactly is it that he would believe in?!
Let's take our current holiday into consideration. The focus of the Easter holiday for the Christian community is the death AND resurrection of our Lord. To be sure, we are celebrating the passion of the Christ and his triumph over the grave which frees all of those who believe in him from death and hell as well. This is the Gospel in shorthand. Now, when we take this into consideration up and against what Crossan says, it makes you wonder how in the world anyone who is a rational, thinking Christian can basically say that they are essentially indifferent about the death and more particularly, the resurrection. This is the culmination of the Good News of the Gospel--if we get to the end of the story and Jesus did everything else, but does not rise after the third day, we are indeed nothing more than dead men walking. This is the same sentiment expressed in the scriptures themselves:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. - 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 ESV
So while nothing will change for Crossan, it's pretty clear from the Bible itself that everything changes. There is no salvation for sin without the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Every prophecy of scripture, every orthodox creed and confession gets turned on its head. There would be no good news to tell; we are left with just another Friday and relegating Easter to a day of Egg-laying Bunnies and Cadbury's. Sweet. A guy couldn't ask for more...
I doesn't take long for Crossan's hypothetical to step over into the heretical. The fact that he's willing to go out on a limb and make such a statement means that he doesn't have much faith in the deity of Jesus Christ, which ultimately leaves him with no faith at all. He assumes Christianity based solely on it's moral teachings, but he denies the very thing that makes it viable for the salvation of mankind. That's not what I would call contending for the gospel--it's offending the gospel delivered once for all to the saints.
As you go about your business this Easter weekend, please take the time to meditate not just on the life of Jesus; meditate on our risen Lord and his triumph over the death, sin, and hell. Without this monumental historical event there is no hope for any. I would also urge you to pray for men like Crossan who have a muddled view of the savior. Pray that they come to the knowledge of the truth. And lastly, for those who do believe, don't forget to share this wonderful news with someone over the holiday....
He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Amen.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. - 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 ESV
Soli Deo Gloria,