At Patheos, Marcus Borg recapitulates what he’s been saying for years: that the resurrection of Jesus was not bodily, it was mystical/spiritual (to be fair, he demurs on these terms, too; not because he doesn’t like them, but because people don’t rightly understand them). Money quote:
Moreover, what would it mean to say that the risen Jesus is a physical/bodily reality? That he continues to be a molecular, protoplasmic, corpuscular being existing somewhere? Does that make any sense? How can the risen and living Jesus be all around us and with us, present everywhere, if he is bodily and physical?
I have written before that I think Borg and others in his camp are beholden to a paradigm of modern rationality: if the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t jibe with modern understandings of science, then it doesn’t wash.
In 2009, I battled this notion with a series of posts. In Why Jesus Died, I wrote,
Jesus’ death offers life because in Christianity, and in Christianity alone, the God and Creator of the universe deigned to become human, to be tempted, to reach out to those who had been de-humanized and restore their humanity, and ultimately to die in solidarity with every one of us. Yes, he was a sacrifice. Yes, he was “sinless.” But thank God, Jesus was also human.
Then, in Why Jesus Rose, I wrote,
What I’m saying is that Jesus (God) really, materially healed people — if he hadn’t, then the miracle stories are without worth.
Jesus (God) really, materially died.
And Jesus (God) really, materially rose from death.It’s only in his resurrection, his victory, that his death has any meaning at all.
And, finally, in Why It Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose, I explicitly took on Borg’s influence on progressive Christianity:
Thus, since the resurrection of Jesus is his defeat of death, evil, and grief, it’s important to me that it really happened. Without a resurrected Jesus, Christianity is impotent. (Exhibit A: liberal Christianity) And I don’t mean a Jesus who was “resurrected” in the Disciples’ hearts, and in my heart. I mean a real resurrection in the space-time continuum by a physical being known as Jesus of Nazareth, as 99.99% of Christians for the last two milennia have believed.
Now, as then, I’m sure that liberal readers will rush to Borg’s defense in the comments. In the past, I’ve been chastised by my friend, Diana Butler Bass, regarding my criticism of Borg, and I’ve been chastened by Phyllis Tickle who’s reminded me how many liberals are Christians today because of Borg.
But I need to ask, again, what kind of Christianity it is that denudes the Savior of a real, historical, bodily resurrection? It might not “make sense” that Jesus would be bodily resurrected two millennia ago, and yet still cosmically reign today. But, for me, I can live with that unrelieved paradox.