Death and Resurrection
Taking on himself the persona of the sinner, Paul asks, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:24), a death that he experiences in his inability to escape from sin. Paul's answer is that we are freed from the death of sin by the Holy Spirit, who causes us to live anew (Rom. 8:2, 11). As a sinner, spiritual resurrection is the most relevant form of resurrection.
At the same time, however, it is important not to reduce either Jesus' resurrection or mine to only their spiritual meaning. I ought not to think of Jesus' resurrection without attention to its spiritual meaning. But the resurrection is not only spiritual.
With most other Mormons I believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the literal resurrection of all people. We are who we are because we are embodied. We are the histories made flesh in our bodies: scars and bulges and warts and all.
Like others, Mormons have often spoken of being resurrected in bodily perfection, whatever that means. But I wonder. Would I be the person I am now if I had the body I had when I was twenty-five (which even then was far from perfect)? I doubt it because at twenty-five I had much to learn, things to learn that have informed the shape and heft and look of the body I now am.
But regardless, we are our bodies and, so, must be resurrected bodily as well as spiritually if eternal life is to have any meaning. Jesus' resurrection testifies of our eventual resurrection. On Easter I will testify of both.
James Faulconer is a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, where he has taught philosophy since 1975.