This week’s Question That Haunts Christianity comes from Jason, and it’s a doozy:
Hello Tony, I’ve been reading your Questions that Haunt Series for a while now and I thought I’d submit my own. If I’ve understood what you’ve written correctly, you, like me, are a largely materialist Christian. “Souls” probably don’t exist, metaphysics is largely unfounded speculation, and heaven and hell seem more and more like abstract concepts than real places.
But also, like me, you seem to still affirm the bodily death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as most, if not all, of his other miracles. I feel a strong pull in this direction but I don’t know how I can honestly live there. It feels like straddling the fence to affirm the miraculous and yet denounce all the metaphysics around it.
Of all of the issues this might raise though, the one I keep getting hung up on is Jesus’ resurrection. If his resurrection was bodily and we believe that, yet we don’t believe in other “planes” of existence (a heaven where spirits and angels float around like glowing light bulbs) then where did the resurrected Jesus go? I suppose a similar problem crops up with all of his miracles but for whatever reason they don’t bother me as much. I suppose it is because I hold the resurrection so dearly that the idea of denying Jesus anywhere to lay his resurrected head bothers me the most. Thanks I really enjoy your work, -Jason
You responded in the comments. Thanks.
Especially with what’s gone on this week on the blog, answering this question is intimidating. Let me start by giving a couple caveats: 1) I had honestly never really considered this question before Jason’s question came in. Probably, I should have, but I haven’t. So my answer will be provisional, a first crack at a vexing question. And 2), as such, it will likely be disappointing to some of you. It seems that the pressure is higher than normal this week, since I have again professed how central I consider the material resurrection to be.
Jason, you’ve asked the question in exactly the right way, I think. I, too, am troubled by my own predisposition to accept Jesus’ miracles and his resurrection, yet harbor my own suspicions about all metaphysics. It seems inconsistent, even unfair to do so. Yet that’s where I currently sit.