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The Influence of a Dead Jesus?

Can even the most objective historian honestly say that the history of the Christian church can be explained apart from its resurrection faith?  

Surely it is not enough to say that the moral influence of the spirit and teaching of Jesus explains our story.  Would people have built cathedrals and churches, composed great music, painted timeless art, faced hardship and persecution and death, written massive and simple books; indeed, would you and I really find our personal strength for living and our capacity to help others, would you and I want to share with someone else in need what we have found in Chrst, could we have learned to pray for those who despitefully use us, if all there was to the story was a good man who died for his beliefs?  

The influence of a dead Jesus would have petered out long ago.  It could hardly have lasted for 2,000 years.  A dead Jesus would have been no more than an inspiring teacher who lived long ago in the little country of Palestine.  A dead Jesus would have no power to change the world, as the risen Lord has done.  A dead Jesus would not have led people to write the matchless words of the New Testament.  

Our story, with all its rise and fall, its capacity for rebirth out of ashes, its persistent renewal in every generation, is testimony to the resurrection.  

- George Laird Hunt, "Resurrection Faith," guest editorial, Presbyterian Outlook, March 24-31, 1997, p. 8.