Was Christ’s Resurrection Merely a Hallucination?

By pintswaquinas April 2, 2024

We Catholics believe that Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead. The credibility of our entire faith rests on this truth, for as St. Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).

However, there are Christians who doubt the historicity of the resurrection. They, along with atheists, put forth different theories to explain Christ’s empty tomb on Easter morning.

One popular explanation is the Hallucination Theory. The gist of it is that the apostles were really sad over Jesus’ death. They so longed for consolation that they thought they saw Jesus comforting them.

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There are several problems with this story.

People who have grief-induced hallucinations of the dead rarely think they’re resurrected.
It’s true that some people have hallucinations and think they’re seeing the faces of loved ones. But when they explain their visions, they rarely mention they think the people came back from the dead. They primarily think these are visits from loved ones in the afterlife.

If the apostles did hallucinate about Jesus, they would think, “He’s okay. He’s in Abraham’s bosom.” But they preached that Jesus truly came back from the dead.

It would have been easy to find Jesus’ body.
If the apostles were hallucinating, it would have been easy for the Jewish leaders to find and show the corpse of Jesus to prove He was dead. And it would have been tough for anyone to hide the body. In Jerusalem, Jesus’ physical appearance was well-known.

St. Paul names several witnesses to the resurrection.
“For I handed onto you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).

Could all of these people — who were not always in the same location when they saw Christ — have hallucinations of Him? Unlikely.

The resurrection was a real, historical event. It was not a spiritual resurrection, but a bodily one. It was an event that opened the door to our future reunification with our bodies after death!


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