The Resurrection Is REAL

Peter Rollins and Tony Jones (photo by Courtney Perry)

That’s what Peter Rollins and I talked about last night at Revolution NYC, Jay Bakker’s church in Brooklyn.  In fact, Pete, Jay, and I had a rolling conversation about the meaning of crucifixion and resurrection throughout the weekend that we spent together, debating the differences between saying,

The resurrection really happened


The resurrection is real.

It was a fascinating dialogue, and it culminated with our time together at Revolution.  You can listen to the sermon below:

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No, Marcus Borg, the Resurrection Does Not "Make Sense" – That's What I Love about It

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,

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From the Archive: Why It Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose

Originally posted May 4, 2009:

As often when I’m with liberal groups, Marcus Borg’s name came up early in the conversation. And, as I usually do, I took that opportunity to affirm my belief in the actual, physical, historic resurrection of Jesus, something that Borg notoriously does not do. (I wrote about my experience with Borg in my book.) Many times over the rest of the weekend, I was approached by participants on the retreat who wanted to challenge me on that — why do I think it’s so important that Jesus actually rose from the grave.

And I understand where they’re coming from, because I don’t feel the same way about the historic facticity of Adam and Eve, the Tower of Babel, Jonah living in the belly of a fish, or Job’s family and cattle being wiped out by God. So it might seem rather arbitrary that I draw the line between some accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures, which I consider mythological (but nonetheless “true”), and the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ miracles, death, and resurrection.

via Why It Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose | Tony Jones.

From the Archive: Why Jesus Rose

Originally posted April 12, 2009:

So, why a resurrection? More importantly to me, as one who is increasingly shunned by evangelicals and in the same room with liberal mainliners (and Catholics), why a real, historical, physical resurrection?

Well, if you found some resonance with my previous post on the crucifixion, then the resurrection of Jesus is all the more important. In Jesus, God identified with humankind in an unprecendented way — this is why the divinity (i.e., non-mortality) of Jesus really matters. So deeply did God enter into the uniquely human experience of godforsakeness that God even died. God experienced grief in the shattering of the eternal relationality of the Trinity. Yes, God really died.

So, when Jesus rose from the grave, it was more than the resusitation of a corpse (hell, I’ve seen Criss Angel do that!). Instead, it was a foretaste of the eschaton. I described Jesus’ miracles in the last post as significations of the new, eschatological age that Jesus the Messiah inaugurated. The resurrection is the capstone event in the inauguration.

via Why Jesus Rose | Tony Jones.