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Book Review: Raised by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson

Author: Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson

Publisher: Zondervan

Reading Level: Leisure

Pages: 101

The resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is basis of the Christian faith (1 Cor 15) and one of the most unbelievable events in human history. Playing off the natural human response of disbelief, Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection seeks to present a Christian apologetic for the resurrection. And it seeks to start with the most common response: doubt.

With an eye toward the doubt and skepticism of even the disciples, Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson, authors and pastors, look to speak to their respective audiences (Austin and Portland). With atheism on the rise in America this book attempts to combat this growing lack of faith in the historical validity of the resurrection.

Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection
By Jonathan K. Dodson, Brad Watson

The Communication

This book is pastoral in its tone and missional in its attempt to reach a lost audience. The language is modern and incredibly easy to read. Laymen and casual readers will appreciate the down to earth tone of Raised. Similarly, the general content of the book flows well together and builds upon itself despite its multiple authors. The overall tenor of the Rasied is both practical and applicable.

The Content

Despite the good communication and intent of Raised the content is lacking. In its first chapter, the resurrection is presented as something readers get to analyze and judge (11). Though not an uncommon starting point in modern apologetics this entry into the worldview of the enlightenment and evidentialism places the rest of the chapter on thin ice. The evidence now must be full and convincing. Instead the authors confuse the purpose of atheistic attacks of resurrection discrepancies (12). Far from proposing historical invalidity directly, these attacks are against the inspirational nature of the Scriptures. These are the very Scriptures that are used to defend and promote the resurrection throughout the rest of the book. The very source of the evidence is being placed in question.

In a similarly confusing point, it is argued that the church’s conviction of the resurrection was evidence of its validity (28-32). Over against the worldviews of the Greeks and Jews of the day a sudden change of philosophy/theology is argued to be a great indicator of the truth of the resurrection. Modern scholarship, in the voices of Borg, Crossan, and Ehrman, has challenged the universal acceptance of the resurrection and when it became dogma. But even within the inspired writing of John and Paul confusion about the nature of the incarnation and resurrection is depicted. The church was predominantly the good witness that Raised depicts. But the Scriptures themselves show that the church was an imperfect and confused witness. This evidence is not persuasive in challenging doubt.

The remainder of Raised seems to be implicitly built upon the foundation of Pascal’s wager (59) and Lewis’s "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" (65). The resurrection makes sense of Biblical history in chapter 2 and the resurrection is impactful in chapter 3. But neither foundation is sufficiently renewed to provide evidence for doubters to pass a positive judgment and develop faith in Jesus Christ.

Despite these problems the book is not without its highpoints. The entire fourth chapter describes excellently how the resurrection changes lives. This comes after the admission that the resurrection does in fact “change everything” (57).  Clearly influenced by N.T. Wright (as indicated by the additional reading recommendations) the major points are boiled down well and communicated efficiently. As the book moves the resurrection from the position of being judged to the position of active power, the book’s value grows. The audacity to state that the “cross is not enough” (original emphasis) shows the strong conviction of the authors concerning the resurrection (64). That the church “will not be exiled” (84), provides a stirring and valuable testimony to the work of Jesus Christ and confidence for the church moving forward.

The Conclusion

Ultimately, Raised starts with audacious conviction and high standards. Asking people to start with doubt and move to faith is a strong thesis. But the content will fail to meet the standard of skeptical empericalism. After only one chapter addressing the doubt of the non-believer Raised focuses on the benefits and reasonability of the resurrection as found in the Scriptures. Though this is not useful for refuting doubt it does provide value.

This book is a valuable introduction to the effects of the resurrection. Christian laymen already convinced of the historical validity of the resurrection will receive some benefit from the final chapters of the book. But Raised fails to climb to the heights of its own standards. Raised presents no new resources to combat doubt despite its desire for its readers to start there.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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