On the other hand, Christ himself had a habit of defying people’s expectations. The Jews expected a King who would ride in on a great charger and vanquish their enemies. Instead, they got an itinerant rabbi who rode a donkey, challenged their understanding of the Law and then suffered an agonizing death upon a cross at Golgotha. Hardly fit the job description of a Messiah now, did it? But if we look as closely at the Shroud as we do the person of Jesus in the Gospels, we find confirmation of the miracle of Resurrection. We find empirical evidence validating Christ’s Gospel claims as to his identity and his purpose in this world. In other words, from the Shroud emerges a physical representation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, hope of the world and guarantor of eternal life to all that place their faith in Him. Quite remarkable to find all that in a dirty piece of linen!
Of course, it goes without saying that if the Shroud does turn out to be a clever fraud or some sort of natural formation, it would not impact the truth claims of Christianity at all. Its authenticity is either evidence overwhelmingly in favor of Resurrection or it is evidence of nothing at all. The only thing it cannot be is evidence against the Resurrection.
It is possible however, that the Shroud could provide a powerful, empirical challenge to the naturalist worldview. If it can be demonstrated scientifically to be the actual burial shroud of a crucified man dating back to the 1st century A.D, whose image on the Shroud bears the marks of wounds received in cohesion with the Gospel accounts and for which no plausible naturalistic explanation can be given to account for either the formation of the image or all the circumstantial physical evidence, then the conclusion that the Shroud is indeed evidence of a Resurrection event, is something that merits serious consideration by those willing to challenge their own philosophical bias against the foundational claim of Christianity.
I should note that it is not only naturalists and persons of other major religions who reject the Shroud’s authenticity, but some Christians do also. I suggest that at least some of these Christians are motivated by an understandable reluctance to place too much faith in a physical object that could still turn out to be fraudulent. . . .
The Jesus Seminar and their ilk:
. . . Members of the Jesus Seminar, for instance and other liberal, progressive Christians that reject a bodily Resurrection would be inclined to ignore evidence in favor of the Shroud or actively seek counter hypotheses to account for the scientific evidence.
What we can expect:
. . . If the evidence for its legitimacy is sound, then its presence would accomplish several tasks. First, it would establish that the Biblical God exists and that by raising Jesus from the dead He vindicated the exclusive and authoritative claims that Christ made about Himself to be the Son of God, able to forgive sin and offer salvation to the world. Second, it would thus immediately falsify naturalism and all other worldviews besides the Christian worldview. Thirdly, however, it would also falsify the claims from those within Christianity that regard the Resurrection as merely a metaphor and not a physical, bodily event that occurred within the space-time continuum.
But what if Jesus and his burial cloth defies expectations again?