What’s at Stake in the Resurrection?

Let’s continue this conversation, shall we? Marcus Borg asked (and I answered) what’s at stake in the difference of opinion we have about the materiality of Jesus’ resurrection. My first four responses were regarding the church, the Bible, and the people. That made some think I should be moved to Patheos’s evangelical channel (I am listed there, FYI). But let’s go on to list some more ways that the resurrection has implications for Christianity.

Whatever you think (material vs non-material, historical or fictional, physical or spiritual), I’ll start the list, and I hope you’ll add to it in the comments.

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Dear Marcus Borg: Please Reconsider the Resurrection

Marcus Borg has joined Patheos as a blogger, which I think is great. He has put out some of the most solid biblical scholarship around over the past few decades. His more popular work I’m less fond of, in which I think he tries too hard to disabuse people of some important aspects of Christianity. Nevertheless, I consider him a very important voice, and I heartily recommend his work to people.

Last week, in my QTH answer, I referred to Borg in passing, writing,

When I read Marcus Borg arguing that Jesus’ resurrection only happens in the believer’s heart or Reza Aslan saying that it’s shocking to discover that Jesus didn’t really grow up in Nazareth or Bart Ehrman revealing that Jesus didn’t think that he was God, I honestly yawn.

I wasn’t trying to pick a fight. I was just honestly stating that those who take the historical Jesus to be significantly less than the Gospels portray him to be are not interesting to me. But Borg took exception to what I wrote, stating that I have thrice misrepresented his views:

I have never said or written anything remotely like that…

…I do not understand why Jones misrepresents my understanding of the resurrection. Perhaps it’s because the only two options he has considered are that it either happened in a physical bodily way or else it happened only “in the believer’s heart.”

Borg writes that I have also misrepresented him in a book. Here’s what I wrote about Borg in The New Christians:

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Where Did the Resurrected Jesus Go? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week’s Question That Haunts Christianity comes from Jason, and I love it so, so much:

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Satan Is Real, Just Ask Jesse Pinkman

ALERT: Spoilers ahead.

It will take some time for those of us who watched Breaking Bad to absorb the layers of that show, and the near-perfect ending of the series, aired this week. When the show began, Walter White was a high school chemistry teacher, struggling with cancer and mounting bills — and, we soon discovered, a tragic personality flaw that led to him missing out on being a rock star chemist and billionaire. Jesse Pinkman was a ne’er do well dropout druggie with a penchant for nothing in particular, except maybe a quick buck.

When the show ended this week, much had changed. It turned out that Walt was not just a guy who started out a couple degrees off course and got swept into a dark underworld that he couldn’t escape. In a final and belated bit of self-awareness, he tells his former spouse, Skylar, “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was, really … I was alive.” Previously, he’d told himself and anyone who would listen that he was doing it for his family. But he wasn’t.

And, as viewers, we began to see that over time. Walt had several opportunities to extricate himself from the drug trade, and do so cleanly, but every time he chose to stay in. And the longer he stayed in, the more people got sucked into the gravitational black hole that was his life. In the end, dozens of people died because of Walt. Skylar was reduced to a chain-smoking bag of bones. And Jesse…

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