Why It Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose

Why It Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose May 4, 2009

Last week, I spent time with some new friends in Canada. Most of them were church leaders in the United Church of Canada, the result of a denominational merger in 1925. The United Church is unabashedly liberal in its social stances, for example, affirming same sex unions in 2003. Due to my positions on the atonement and same sex marriage, I’m getting less and less invitations from evangelical groups and more and more invitations from liberal groups.

But, I came away from my time in Canada with one thing on my mind: I don’t like the package deal. Here’s what I mean:

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.

Well, as I posted on Good Friday, I consider the miracles performed by Jesus to be extremely important in the understanding of his mission — with the miracles, he inaugurates the messianic age, and offers the “first fruits” of the final consummation of God’s love.

While the Jesus Seminar infamously rejected the miracles as mythological fables, I think it’s important that Jesus healed real people of real maladies. The inauguration of a new age would be rather impotant if Jesus wasn’t able to heal an actual, physical, historical woman who had suffered from non-stop mentrual flow for years, thus disqualifying her from Temple worship. Yes, she was real, and her blood was real, and her healing really meant that she could join with God’s people and experience temple worship.

Why is that important? Because I’m a real person. Because the people to whom I have ministered in Jesus’ name are real persons. We’re not hypotheses, fables, or legends. And we need real healing, all of us. While our realities may be largely socially constructed, we have real DNA, real physical, material properties.

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.

So, what I’m trying to navigate is my discomfort with the traditional package deal: If you affirm GLBT rights, you end up denying the resurrection. I realize this isn’t true across the board, but it seems to me to happen more often than not. Some commenters will say that’s because you have to pitch the Bible out the window to affirm GLBT rights, but that is clearly not the case.

So, here’s my pledge: I’m going to keep theologizing about ways to affirm historic, orthodox Christianity while undermining the historic Christian perspectives on social issues like slavery, the role of women, and homosexual rights.

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  • Djayt

    Isn’t this just a new spin on the classic conservative vs. liberal questions that beg polarized responses? It’s easier to never drink than to drink responsibly. It’s easier to never see a movie than to edit in your heart and head. It’s easier to never play cards than to beat the temptation to bet what’s left of your 401(k).
    The hard path is the one that sees shades, and that tries to find the best part of whatever, rather than choosing the “package” and dismissing the assumed opposite.

  • Your Name

    Seems rather arbitrary to me to posit that God acted this one time in history for sure but every other event that claims that status is negotiable. Besides the fact that a God acting only one time in a highly ambiguous and particularist manner in the past 15 billion years seems to be rather ridiculous.
    And it’s ambiguous because no consensus seems to exist today or existed in the earliest church as to what EXACTLY the resurrection was supposed to mean. Certainly almost all Christian doctrines do not necessarily follow from its mere occurence, there’s always lots of interpretation involved. Because of the resurrection we know…runs the formula…but what do we really know? Very little. We merely interpret this event through the lens provided by the early Christians and church fathers. Unless you believe that Jesus actually unequivocally spelled out to his followers that he had descended to hell and what they needed to do and who he was and all that before he floated up into the sky………..then there’s not much here to be certain of in terms of doctrine. Do you support a literal ascension? I doubt it…so why a literal resurrection?
    I wish Tony that you would recognize how arbitrary your stance on this issue is. You frankly admit that you draw a line not on rational or logical grounds but for emotional ones…which is rather disappointing.

  • Ted Seeber

    Ok, I’m a conservative who has often written *against* SSM here and elsewhere, but I just don’t get it.
    It makes *almost* as much sense to me as voting for the Republican Party to overturn RoeVWade and finally pass that right-to-life Amendment(hint- they’ve had 17 out of the last 37 years with a big enough majority to do this, and they haven’t done word one).

  • @Ted,
    I think that’s exactly Tony’s point–there IS no connection, but unfortunately, the two are often linked.

  • Todd Ewing

    Tony, I hear you. A couple of the above obviously do not get the point. Central to the message of Christianity is of course the resurrection. Without it nothing else makes any sense. It is not arbitrary to recognize some “miracles” as opposed to others in the greater context. Unfortunately for many, that means that we have to find a balance between acknowledging the contributions of higher criticism without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    I understand what you mean about being labeled a liberal because of my stance on certain issues, such as that of gays (it was just an example, Ted). There is a polarizing emphasis that to be a good Christian you must accept all or nothing. My gay friends get angry with me because I do not condone anything beyond monogamy, gay or straight, yet I fight for their rights. People cannot seem to find balance anymore. Lol, balance, weedhoppers, balance.

  • Ben

    Not to be sarcastic or mean but you are able to come to the conclusion easily that Jesus rose from the dead but yet disregard the “few” scriptures, in your opinion, on homosexuality being wrong.
    It sounds like you’re just attempting to be different so you can be different. But that is a very subjective and ignorant statement since the only snapshot I receive is this blog. I will admit that but your desire to compromise truth with sentiment doesn’t work Biblically and actually waters down the actual truths you desire to espouse on.
    Anyway, there ya go.

  • Matt

    Hey Tony,
    Thanks for posting. I’m always encouraged to read re-affirmations of the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus!
    I don’t know why I feel compelled to write *today* particularly… I’ve wanted to comment for a long time on Christianity and LGBT… Maybe it’s because it is the Resurrection that gives me the hope that I am being healed! The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is healing and changing and freeing THIS very real human being.
    I have been attracted to men as long as I can remember. I don’t for a moment think that we “choose” our sexual orientation. Nor do I have any problem with gay rights in America. I wouldn’t have voted for Prop 8 in California… I think people should have the same rights under the law no matter who they are “married” to by the government. I’m with you, Tony, on the whole “get the Church out of the legal marriage business” idea. I believe Christians should love and accept people where they are. No matter who they’re with or why.
    But just as you can’t embrace “the package,” neither can I. Just like Stan Grenz and John Stackhouse and many other theologians I admire, I live my life in a “welcoming” way, but I cannot “affirm” the normalcy of homosexuality. I do NOT believe that the experiences of women and slaves are exactly the same as those of the LGBT community.
    My personal experience and my study of God and the bible has shown me over the years that this orientation of mine is not built-in and unchangeable. In fact, my attraction itself has proven to be malleable.
    (Why is it that the same people who insist that we’re ALL a little bit bisexual and that we’re all on the same continuum in different places have such trouble with the idea that people who want to change their orientation – especially with the help of God Almighty – can’t move a little bit on that continuum?)
    There was a time when I couldn’t imagine ever being with a woman and all I wanted was sex with men. Now I’ve been married for nearly 15 years – to a woman. We have four kids, and I’ve experienced a change… slow, to be sure, but REAL… in my attraction. Where I once could not muster even a hint of attraction for women, now I can have sex with my wife and focus on her alone. I believe that I am being changed. I believe that I am being healed.
    (I know, I know… People will say I’m fooling myself or making it up. Again, this is my real experience. I’m not cramming it down your throat.)
    I know it’s not popular to believe these things, but my experience shows me that this orientation is based on a very complicated mix of “nurture” and “nature.” I very well could have some genetic reason that I was predisposed to homosexuality. I also believe that my sexuality was reinforced by some early chidhood sexual experiences I had, my family of origin and the relationships we experienced, the expectations of society, and my own choices to feed and foster this attraction through pornography and sexual experiences for many years.
    Now that I have turned my life and my will over to the care of the resurrected Jesus, I am slowly being sanctified, slowly being transformed and healed.
    It’s a strange place to be. I often wonder what you and your readers would do with ME… I’m in the middle. Too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the libs.
    Where do *I* fit? If homosexuality is just one of the ways God creates us, then my life, my journey, my hard work, my beliefs and convictions, my marriage, my children… Is it all in vain?
    Cuz it would have been a HELL of a lot easier to just be gay.
    But I wouldn’t give up the life I live by the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrected Jesus for anything. Do you remember the scene toward the end of the film “A Beautiful Mind”? The guy knows he’ll never be totally free from the mental instability he’s lived with his whole life. He still “sees” people who aren’t there. But he chooses to ignore, knowing that the life he’s embracing, the life he’s worked so hard to attain, is worth the ignoring. That’s how I live now. Am I still attracted to good-looking men? Uh, yeah… They’re still there in my vision, and they probably always will be. AND I’m choosing to ignore, to walk away, to live “as if” I’m not attracted to them – because THAT is the way of life for me. The way of freedom and healing, through the power of Jesus.
    Thanks for reading! Peace of Christ to all… no matter your views and experiences.

  • Ann

    Tony- I completely know where you are coming from. Why is it that if a church is more liberal/progressive on social issues, it tends to have issues with the mysteries of faith. It absolutely drives me crazy that many of my fellow parishioners can’t join with me on Sunday in saying the Nicene Creed….. that many miss out on the true joy of Easter! I will never understand why it is so hard for people to believe in the resurrection. If you can believe that God is the creator and sustainer of all that is, why is it hard to believe that God can raise the dead or cure the sick? If God created the laws that govern our universe, why is it even hard to imagine that He could break one of His own laws. I absolutely can not understand the struggle people have with this.
    The reason that I consider myself a “friend of emergent” is because when I read your book and I realized that you embrace the resurrection, mystery and all, I just had this gut feeling that God was at work in this Emergent movement. When you can be on the liberal end of the social issues and not lose your belief in the resurrection, that is a rare place to be. Maybe the Emergent church can bridge that gap. It truly is the best of both worlds.

  • Larry

    Ben, just because somebody reads a passage differently from you doesn’t mean they “disregard” it. You are assuming that your version of the truth is the only possible one, which is a rather poisonous attitude to any kind of discussion.

  • Tim Fitch

    Tony I would love to hear more thought on how you came to the actually resurrected Jesus. This argument seems to me to be unlike your usually impeccable logic. I appreciate though your struggle through this process.
    I would also like to point out one thing. For those of us who may fit under the liberal viewpoint our Christianity is not impotent. It just looks different from yours and yes there are many people for whom it is. I would argue the progressive side Christianity has a harder faith to follow because it demands more faith in its belief in the unknown.

  • Jason

    So, what I’m trying to navigate is my discomfort with the traditional package deal: If you affirm GLBT rights, you end up denying the resurrection.
    It’s more likely that the track of causation runs the other way: folks who do not believe in the resurrection (i.e., non-Christians) much more easily affirm GLBT rights, because Scripture’s inspiration is automatically suspect, through and through, for such folks. Why trust Paul on ethics if he was just “seeing things”?
    If you don’t believe in the bodily of resurrection, you are not a Christian. It’s as simple as that. Sounds to me, Tony, like fewer and fewer Christians are taking you seriously.

  • Benjamin

    this contains Logical and Systematic inconsistencies with Tony’s historic views on scripture, authority and orthodoxy through the ages.
    Almost every church father and every apostle puts PSA at the heart of Christianity and every orthodox person/literary work says that if you lose PSA you lose Christ’s work on the cross and his resurrection. And as we all know, Tony deny’s PSA. You accept the resurrection, as you should, but deny what it means; ie; logical and systematic inconsistency.

  • Dino

    I agree with Tony. The biblical account of creation is a myth (a theological term, not a literature term). It does not have any tie to a specific time in history, such as “in the 3rd year of the reign of Cyrus”. Almost all cultures have a creation story and a flood story which are used to explain why things are the way they are. Remember, it was handed down orally before it was ever written down. Now as to the resurrection. The disciples were frightened out of their wits, afraid of also being arrested and crucified for their beliefs. Basically, hiding in an upper room with the doors and windows shut. Some were leaving Jerusalem on their way to Emaus. So why didn’t christianity go underground and die out? They did have something to unite and excite them to fulfill what they were taught. Jesus appeared to them in the flesh, opening the scriptures to their understanding, even eating fish in front of them to prove he was a physical flesh and bone person. If I am ever going to find out what a “glorified” body is, or what eternal life is, I have to believe like Paul, “to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord.” It is difficult to sort out for yourself what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken figuratively. That is part of the journey. It’s easy to say all or nothing. While I do not promote SSM or gay and lesbian lifestyle, I do promote God’s acceptance of people, but not always our choices. When a workshop was offered at my sister’s church to those wanting deliverance from hangups of all sorts, those that came looking for freedom were all looking for a way OUT of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Every last one! No overeaters, no smokers, no sex addicts, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. If you believe that Jesus actually healed real people of real maladies, why wouldn’t a loving God want freedom for us from anything that holds us captive? I know, I was assaulted in my mind by thoughts of lesbian lifestyle at a vulnerable age. Ultimately, I prayed for those thoughts to stop, and they did. That was my choice. I don’t condemn others. Behaviors don’t define us.

  • Yes, the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ is critical, and it doesn’t seem credible that there would have been a Christian church without it. The liberals may believe something, but it isn’t really Christianity.
    It’s very different than a particular theory of atonement. This is a question of fact, not theory. There have been a variety of theories of atonement through the centuries. But no theory seems to have fully captured the Truth of the atonement. Christianity which is a set of intellectual doctrines is as bankrupt as Christianity which questions the physical resurrection.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Tony! You are not alone in trying to navigate these issues. It may not be “new” ground per se, but thanks for continuing to carve a path.

  • I hear you. I was struck, while watching the video of yourself and Scot speaking at the book expo, when Scot kind of shouted “I’m orthodox!” as he tried to get people to understand that emergence isn’t just liberals becoming comfortable with heresy.
    I’ve been on a long road of my own and part of that has been not such much a becoming comfortable with heresy as a becoming comfortable with -risking- heresy as an admission that I am a fallible human being making a good faith effort to understand G-d’s revelation. I’m not going to get it 100% right. Augustine didn’t. Calvin didn’t. I hate to say it, but Paul didn’t get it 100% right, either. If he had, we wouldn’t need the rest of the Bible, we’d only need Paul’s letters.
    So I have to be OK with the fact that I’m not going to get it all right, and I have to have faith and trust that G-d will honor my good faith effort to get it right and my understanding that G-d gave me a brain to -use- it, not to simply read and hear the words of ‘great men’ and then take their word for it and assume all the hard thinking is long since concluded and the perfect doctrine exists for me to know with my finite mind.
    But I don’t want to be someone people can dismiss as simply “liberal” or “heretical”. I want to join Scot in shouting “I am orthodox!” After all, I’m a Catholic and I have signed onto an understanding that finite as we are, there are some things about which we must have at least some level of agreement upon.
    And so my quest has changed a bit from being comfortable with the risk of heresy to a quest to find ways of -expressing- and -articulating- orthodoxy that I can be comfortable with and embrace without feeling like I am either ignoring the brain G-d gave me, or passing the buck to history’s great thinkers.
    The Church needs to find a way to reconcile GLBTQ into its understanding of G-d and the world. If same sex orientations and actions are sin (and I genuinely don’t know anymore if they are or they are not) then they are not any kind of a unique or special sin. We all live with -some- sin about which we are unrepentant. To pretend that a gay couple who are sexual together are somehow -especially- unrepentant and sinful compared to, say, myself and my anger and over developed sense of justice, is the height of hubris. The Church _NEEDS_ to reconcile with GLBTQ.
    But you are correct. We have already seen where a liberal, toothless, apologetic theology gets us. The Social Gospel was a disaster both for the Church and for human history and suffering. We need to be able to assert -something- that we -definitively- believe. And I agree with you (and Jack Caputo and Richard Kearney) that it is possible to be authentically post-modern and authentically deconstructionist while making specific, particular assertions.
    If we can’t, we’re just Universal Unitarians pretending to be Christians. And I suspect that G-d is more interested in -honest- Universal Unitarians than G-d is interested in disingenuous Christians.

  • Tony,
    Thanks for opening this topic up for discussion. We’ve had this conversation before and I think it is important for you to understand why you received this response from progressive Christians (non-literalists). It appears to many of us that you are looking at the resurrection through a modernist lens, beholden to Cartesian dualism. You appear to have bought into the modern false dichotomy that either A) the resurrection is a historical event or B) the story is “impotent”.
    By choosing this modern lens and dualistic approach, you’ve affirmed the mistakes of both poles in modernity (religious fundamentalism AND modern Atheism). You’ve neglected to try and view the stories through a lens that moves past the modern insistence that our stories must be historical to be “real”. You’ve overlooked the postmodern (and also very ancient) ability to use stories (myths) to change REAL people in REAL ways. It sounds like you’ve neutered the resurrection stories by suggesting their value hinges on their historicity. You’ve drawn a line between narrative and reality and decided that one can’t effect the other. That is the fallacy of modernity! Stories really do change real lives in the real world every single day. Only a modern thinker would assume that labeling a story as a “myth” is a rejection of the story. Progressives like Marcus Borg do not “deny” the resurrection. They affirm the ability of this parabolic narrative to radically change our lives and our world. That is no denial and it is a much stronger statement than, “I believe it actually happened”.
    Are you going to suggest that a REAL life cannot be changed by a poem, song, play, movie, or parable? Are you going to undercut the majority of Jesus’ words and suggest that the good Samaritan and Prodigal son are impotent stories that cannot possibly change real lives?
    I don’t agree with everything Marcus Borg says, but I think he has authored the most effective guide to Postmodern hermeneutics, when he famously said, “Believe what you want about if the story happened, now lets talk about what the story means.” I can’t think of any better statement about biblical interpretation that moves us past our modern baggage. This attitude toward out texts brings us to a place of real dialog. It circumvents the modern bible wars and allows the conversation to begin anew. Your approach, on the other hand, sounds like your drawing a line in the sand and terminating the discussion.
    Understanding the resurrection as Myth does not make the story impotent. Instead, it rightfully respects the story as one pregnant with powerful meanings.

  • Kenton

    What a downer it must be for those who deny the resurrection. Can Easter be anything but a fraud for them?
    Tony, I give you grief sometimes when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Let me give you kudos on standing up again for the bodily resurrection.
    Matt & Dino, thanks for sharing your stories today. May your healings bring hope for others, and your struggles be a reminder that we all need to be agents of grace.

  • Your Name

    Maybe I’m dense, but did I miss a step?
    “If you affirm GLBT rights, you end up denying the resurrection.”
    How so? That’s the part I’m missing. What does Jesus coming back in a physical body have to do with GLBT anything? How does treating LBGT people equally under the law ipso facto mean you ‘deny the resurrection’?
    Sorry, to me, this does not compute.
    A clarification anyone?
    Same thing with,
    “you have to pitch the Bible out the window to affirm GLBT rights”
    Again, how so?
    As tony says, “that is clearly not the case.”
    So why type it? What is it I am missing?

  • Ted Seeber

    “It’s just an example, Ted”
    “It’s really the reverse- if you don’t believe in the Resurrection, then you’re more likely to believe in GLBT rights”
    Paraphrasing on both of those, but I think there’s still one other important thing to chime in on here:
    Catholic traditionalism and different varieties of sin.
    Some fundamentalist Protestant Traditions abandoned the concept of Venal Sin because it was attached to the doctrine of Purgatory- that some of us fall short of being perfect and need to be perfected before we get to heaven.
    Because of that, fundamentalist Orthodox can’t reconcile themselves to *any* form of GLBT rights, where I can say things like “Government should get out of the marriage business because marriage is a sacrament and civil unions are NOT”.
    It’s just a venal sin folks, like a million others we human beings practice, it means *NOTHING* to the salvation of a Christian or a Catholic. Sure, you might have to spend some time in purgatory for it, but what DON’T you have to spend some time in purgatory for?

  • Michael Willett Newheart

    I appreciate Tony Jones’ commitment to LGBT rights, and if his belief in Jesus’ resurrection supports that commitment, then I rejoice in it. I take issue, however, with his statement, “Without a resurrected Jesus, Christianity is impotent.” Hmmm, I think that we’re on to something when we start using sexual imagery to speak of theological issues. It sounds like for Tony the resurrection is like Viagra! It clears up our impotence. (But that’s only for men.)
    I’m perhaps having a little fun at Tony’s expense. I guess the difficulty I have with Tony’s statement is that it comes off as so judgmental. What is “impotence” in Christianity? (One might say that it doesn’t “screw” others, but I won’t say that!) Put in a different way, what is power in a religious body? Many African American Christians a half-century ago were “powerful” in bringing down segregation. Soon after, many Christians were “powerful” in ending US military involvement in southeast Asia. What did these Christians believe about the resurrection? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure that it’s important (but I am sure it wasn’t “impotent!”). And many Christians these days are exhibiting power in human and civil rights, in environmental activism, and many other issues of the day. So, Tony, please keep your comments about “impotence” to yourself!

  • Michael Willett Newheart

    I also have some difficulty with Tony’s statement about the Jesus Seminar “rejecting the miracles as mythological fables.” That’s not exactly what the Jesus Seminar said. See their book “What Did Jesus Do?” where their position is much more nuanced than what Tony says.
    I would like for Tony to unpack what he means when he speaks of a “real resurrection in the space-time continuum by a physical being known as Jesus of Nazareth.” Is he speaking about “resuscitation”? But resurrection is fundamentally different. Resuscitation is return to life fundamentally the same as before death. Resurrection, however, is life radically different! The risen Jesus is in a different dimension. The Gospel writers tell of a Jesus who is resuscitated (he eats), yet is resurrected (he passes through locked doors). This is their way of telling something that is impossible to tell. Paul is getting at much the same thing when he speaks about a “spiritual body” in 1 Corinthians 15.
    A final question: Why is it necessary to ground issues of social justice in something that happened or didn’t happen in the first century?

  • Josiah

    Tony, thanks so much for this post. I recently read a bunch of NT Wright and Marcus Borg simultaneously and found myself comfortably on Wright’s side of the resurrection, the trinity, and eschatology. Borg challenged me with his definitions of certain words/phrases (faith/belief, sin, born-again, repent, ransom, way) and his understanding of the purpose of the cross (though lacking, it contained brilliant insights). Unfortunately, I personally felt Borg’s version of Christianity is lacking the hope that the real resurrection brings. As Wright persuasively argues (Surprised by Hope), the literal, bodily resurrection is absolutely central to the mission of the church. I appreciate Borg’s call to social justice, compassion, and humility – these are certainly reflections of Jesus – but something deeply important and powerful is lost without the REAL resurrection. On all these issues (including LGBT rights), I thank you for your courage in leading the way into a new kind of faith.
    Peace and love.

  • Your Name

    Personally, the resurrection of Jesus is MORE REAL than both literal and metaphorical interpretations.
    The most real thing there is in the universe is this: the re-creation of Jesus, following his brutal death on the cross.
    And, futhermore, what happened on the cross is even more incredible than PSA or any other atonement theory. Whatever theory you come up with, whatever Bible verses you line up, God is actually better than that.

  • Michael Willett Newheart

    I thought I’d posted an earlier comment, but I see it here. So let me see if I can reconstruct it, or at least the gist of it.
    Tony says, “Without the resurrection, Christianity is impotent.” (It sounds like the resurrection is like Viagra!) What does Tony mean by “impotent”? He points to liberal Christianity, but many liberal Christians are very “potent” in addressing issues of social injustice. Does “impotence” refer to declining membership? I am uncomfortable with the judgmentalism in Tony’s statement. Maybe his belief in the “real resurrection” revolves his impotence, but I’m not sure that he should point out what he understands as others’ impotence.

  • Mike L. said it beautifully above. Go back and read it again.

  • Cobus

    I also struggle to follow your logic. But you’re writings and speaking has had an extremely important influence on my own journey, so I’d like to understand.
    What exactly are the options in your mind? From the post I gather just two:
    1) you accept the miracle accounts in the gospels, and the actual, physical, historic resurrection of Jesus
    2) you see the miracle accounts in the gospels and the actual, physical, historic resurrection of Jesus as myth.
    I can’t see the logic. I mean, the reason why a category such a myth is used is not because we (or at least I) find it difficult to believe a narrative like Jonah, but because the text has the markings of myth all over it.
    Wouldn’t a better approach be to take every text on it’s own. We cannot treat miracle accounts in John as similar historical material to miracle accounts in the synoptics. When historical methods is applied, certain miracles remain, others show the markings of myth. No history can point to what actually happened, the best we can say is that certain accounts have a very high probability that the people actually interpreted something as miraculous, that it was not created by the early church.
    The resurrection? Wouldn’t the honest approach be to acknowledge what we can, treat the text similar to every other text? We don’t deny the resurrection because it doesn’t fit our worldview, but we recognize that the resurrection texts defy our attempts at arriving at a history of that Sunday morning. I struggle to see the resurrection narratives opening themselves up to words such as “actual, physical, historic”. But saying this is not saying that it’s myth either, there is more possibilities for interpreting that those two.
    But as with the Athenians, I’d want to hear you on this again…

  • Bonnie

    As an ardent advocate for oppressed sexual minorities I am a little irked that you neglect to include Intersex and Queer persons in your acronym. I hope this is oversight and not a conscious omission. I am for the full inclusion of all LGBT and Intersex and all Queer persons in all facets of society. Please use the more accurate acronym LBGTIQ – yes putting the L before the G says something about undoing millennia of androcentrism – in your future advocacy.

  • Sara

    It looks like Tony is fighting fire with fire – or, more accurately, he’s fighting certainty with certainty. Liberals like Marcus Borg have certainty (with the United Church of Canada) and conservatives like NT Wright have certainty (with Tony Jones). Both groups have certainty, but they have different things they’re certain about. Personally, I’m tried of all these old, self-righteous arguments. Theological conservatives, like Tony, think they’re being more orthodox and Biblical. Theological liberals, like Borg, think they’re being more rational and enlightened. These traditional, dualistic arguments are blustery equivalents to boxers giving pre-fight interviews just before a big pay-per-view match. It all boils down to posturing.
    I thought we were past these old, certainty-laden dichotomies. Good grief! Get over yourselves! Apostle Paul says we “see through a glass dimly” and “know only in part.” We simply don’t get to have certainly in our faith. In fact, Anne Lamott says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt: It is certainty.” Amen!

  • Sara

    I’d like to request that you more accurately represent the perspectives of “liberals.” They are a diverse group with many different understandings of the resurrection. Heck, even the folks in the Jesus Seminar are diverse in their perspectives. Christianity is just too complex for all these old, dichotomous labels.
    I’d also like to request that you more accurately represent the perspectives of Marcus Borg. In your book and blog, you’ve presented a whittled down version of Borg’s arguments that amount to nothing more than an grossly simplistic description. It’s a good way to set up a straw man argument, but a poor way to accurately represent his theology.
    Please consider switching from “(William) Occam’s razor” to “(John) Caputo’s balloon.” In other words, it’s the most complex description that’s probably the most accurate (Caputo’s balloon).

  • nathan

    I thought I was a pretty well-informed person, however would someone explain what “intersexed” is and what, pray tell, is “queer”, assuming it contrasts to the other parts of the alphabet soup?

  • Korey

    Agreed. As a member of the United Church of Christ I witness this first hand. I personally need to and do affirm the resurrection. In fact, I think it important that those who tend toward lack of belief in a real resurrection attempt to live as if it were true. And indeed this is the very thing I tend to think Marcus Borg does except for when he’s establishing the difference between pre and post Easter Jesus or Christ of Faith vs. History. In any case, Borg’s Heart of Christianity was quite helpful to me. I simply get uneasy with those concerned with being certain it really happened or really didn’t happen. Some seem incapable of accepting that I think some miraculous events happened while others may not have happened.
    Perhaps when someone confesses that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead that is enough. Whether they believe it in such and such a way or themselves doubt it or can empathize with those who doubt makes no difference to me. But if they are certain it didn’t happen and are concerned with regularly making it known that it is only a powerful mythological story, this can be a joy sucker.

  • isaac

    Intersexual is a (much) better word for Hermaphrodite. Queer is more of an umbrella term as far as I know.. basically all forms of sexuality other than woman and man. (There could be a more specific meaning for “queer” but I do not know it.)

  • Dan

    I admire your pledge. I look forward to your affirmations and clarifications. Also, how can we support you?

  • Wow Tony,
    Liberal Church=impotent.
    Please show me how much better the non-liberal Church, with its belief in a literal resurrection, is at making a difference in our culture? They are every bit as impotent as the liberal Church.
    It seems neither group is producing children……….SO it can’t be the lack of believing in a literal resurrection that is causing the impotence.
    I am disappointed in your approach on this one.

  • “Please use the more accurate acronym LBGTIQ – yes putting the L before the G says something about undoing millennia of androcentrism – in your future advocacy.”
    Bonnie from central casting, ladies and gentlemen…
    …Putting the ladies before the gentlemen says something about androcentrism, probably.
    “These traditional, dualistic arguments are blustery equivalents to boxers giving pre-fight interviews just before a big pay-per-view match.”
    True, and, as is the case with most pay-per-view matches, everyone pretty much knows who is going to emerge the victor, simply by sizing up the fighters.

  • In my opinion this pledge is dissapointing. If one believes that theologically speaking, the resurrection of Jesus is an experiential event rather than a penal substitutionary one; and biblically speaking, if one believes that the resurrection was an oral, experiential communal event rather than a historical, factual, pre-modern view event… that means that Christianity loses its core message? I do not think so.
    Maybe one needs postmodern lens to understand the power of non-factual, oral and experiential events, found in non-Western pre-modern cultures, and nowadays, found in indigenous communities.
    Very dissapointing stance.

  • Your Name

    Amen! Well said, Tony, you conservative Bible believing Christian!

  • William Ingold

    I don’t Know if this is the forum fot hsi but here goes.
    The man “Jesus” or whatever his real name was used the
    Intellect and understanding of the peoples of that era
    To “scam” them and all those that followed.

  • henry

    Why the hell would I want to be a Christian if Jesus never rose from the dead?

  • Pam

    I don’t get it. I had assumed this would answer the question for me, why is it so important to some people that he rose from the dead? but I still don’t get it. Do you think because he did you will? Clearly it didn’t bring an end to suffereing and death, cause here we are with both in full force 2,000 years later?
    I don’t understand why this feels like an important thing to believe.
    What if I believe Athena really was born out of Zeus’ head? seems about equally unlikely, and equally irrelevant to anything in my life as it stands today.

  • Joey

    And what exactly, William Ingold, did Jesus get out of this scam? Believe he is God or not, there is no argument the the fact that he was not a man of wealth and that he died a criminals death. You’re statements are thin and ridiculous.

  • Joey

    Despite the fact that Jesus was an historical person and Zeus was not the resurrection is essential. Death, the final enemy, has no power because of the resurrection.
    Every single person who ever came and claimed to be the Messiah that the Jewish people had been waiting for died and their claims fell short. The Messiah was to bring a new age for the people of God, he was to implement God’s Kingdom on earth and every claimant had died and left all of their promises unfinished. Jesus didn’t! Even his disciples had assumed he was full of it after he died until they saw him alive. There are even extra-biblical, historians and writers like Josephus, Thallus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Pliny the Younger, etc., that write about the resurrection, or at least affirm that hundreds of people claim to have seen the risen Jesus first hand. He conquered death in a grand coronation of a new reign.
    This doesn’t mean suffering doesn’t happen, but that his people are to step into a suffering and hurting world and share the Kingdom here on earth with those who are hurting. If you haven’t seen any glimpses of the Kingdom from followers of Christ, I’m sorry. Our task is to be Kingdom people; people who heal, love, and hope.

  • Your Name

    “When a workshop was offered at my sister’s church to those wanting deliverance from hangups of all sorts, those that came looking for freedom were all looking for a way OUT of the gay and lesbian lifestyle.”
    That says a lot about how society has told gay people they are sick and in need of curing, healing. Not sure what a “gay lifestyle” is, but obviously, these poor people have been brainwashed so much that it hurts them deeply and now believe they are somehow “trapped” in (ficticious) “lifestyle” that should be, must be escaped at all costs.
    Such a filthy lie to teach God’s gay (and lesbian and all the other letters) children.

  • Hilda

    If the ruling Jews of the Temple had found that Jesus was still dead on the third day they would have displayed his body before the people to show that Jesus was not the Messiah.The Romans would have done the same thing and even with the tomb being guarded it would be virtually impossible for his disciples to have stolen the body and buried it somewhere else.Even if they had they would not have gone out and risk their own lives and the lives of their fellow disciples for someone who was a liar..Who on earth would do that?.So,the only conclusion to be reached is that Jesus did rise from the dead.One of HIS great miracles is that he left an empty tomb.

  • “these poor people have been brainwashed so much that it hurts them deeply and now believe they are somehow “trapped” in (ficticious) “lifestyle” that should be, must be escaped at all costs.”
    At ALL costs? They are simply attending a workshop. That seems more like they’ve been taught that it would be good to get a fresh perspective and applicable learning. That’s usually why people go to workshops, which is why they call them workshops, and why the church calls them “workshops” instead of “death aversion seminars”.

  • heidi

    There is a God. Anyone who can look at this world He created and can then question the efficacy of Jesus as Resurrected Christ, doesn’t really want to acknowledge God’s existence. Anything Jesus did that was miraculous was part of his being God. It’s easy.

  • annie rooney

    I maynot be able to speak as well as religious leaders on the subject of the resurection but I truly believe in it Isnt that what it is all about believing in the risen Christ Thank you

  • Sara

    Thanks mike L. Amen! Tony has chosen to flee from postmodernity in this post.

  • Sara

    Tony –
    I’d like to call you to account for five mistakes that you made in this blog post:
    (1) You present a reductionistic description of Marcus Borg’s position that doesn’t honor the nuance of Borg’s understanding of the resurrection. This is uncharitable.
    (2) You present a reductionistic description of The Jesus Seminar’s position that doesn’t honor the nuance and diversity of their understanding of the miracles of Jesus. This is dishonest.
    (3) You present “the liberal” perspective as if they are a monolithic bloc who all agree theologically. This is disingenuous.
    (4) You present your own perspective in a way that isn’t intelectually honest – especially in regaurd to myth in the Bible. This is sloppy.
    (5) You present yourelf as a postmodernist, yet clearly have embraced foundationalism – especially the foundation of Moltmann. This is hypocritical.
    You simply don’t get to parade around and misrepresent all of these people and get paid for it. This is unethical.

  • Joey

    I’d like to call you to account for misunderstanding this blog post:
    1. This isn’t an academic discourse and makes no claims as such.
    2. Tony’s central point was aided by the use of generalizations, which they are obviously. Generalizations can be helpful or they can be dangerous. I’m not convinced these generalizations are dangerous. If you are convinced of that I think you’re coming to the post with too many preconceived ideas about what you would like him to say.
    3. You didn’t mention anything about his central point or focus which shows your lack of ability to read the post for what it is. He used generalizations about both liberal views and conservatives because it didn’t matter if he portrayed them perfectly. The point was that he holds onto orthodox doctrines and socially liberal stances on things like sexuality, and many of his critics on the conservative end have trouble separating theologically liberal from socially liberal. He wasn’t trying to prove a point about Borg, or anybody else.

  • Your Name

    I just lost my life partner of 35 years, and as I stood by her bedside she said to me, ‘We’ll meet again – with Jesus.’ It is a truth I have lived with for my whole life – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.It was brought home to me there at the bedside. It is not necessary to insist that Jesus’ resurrection was a REAL physical act in the REAL world – as if punctuating this FACT makes it more REAL. This is the simple truth – because Jesus was obedient to death, the Father returned life to Jesus body – Jesus’ human body, as well as to the divine Person we recognize as the Son of God. The unbeliever will argue eternally that this is not possible and, we will allow him the final fruit of his ‘unbelief’- death. Do not let those who are trapped in their unbelief convince you that YOU are the one being duped. Jesus is who He claims to be – the Greatest Answer to those who CHOOSE this type of human existence, and the eternal result -immortality. We are FREE beings, made in the ‘image and likeness of G-d’ Why would any being choose DEATH over LIFE? The succession of Death choices results in – DEATH. The succession of Life choices results in – Life. “I came that you might have Life, and that you might have it in abundance.” Because all matter is a part of G-d, and His spirit which motivates and vivifies it, the resurrection from the dead is a physical AND spiritual process that occurs simultaneously, out of sight of our visible world, but ultimately ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ Since the unbeliever only accepts that which he can see and measure, he cannot accept the resurrection as a REAL fact. And, this ‘unbelief’ further rooted and ensconced in the body and mind of the unbeliever, further delivers them to death, from which there is no escape. Even as two intellectural concepts eternally toyed with by the ephemeral mind, life and death can only be humanly understood in Jesus’ own words – If you want Life, you ask for Life through Jesus, and if you want Death, you will receive that also for the asking. The choice is ALWAYS yours. “I set before you Life, and Death. Choose Life, that you, and your children might live.”

  • Joel

    I am glad to see that you reaffirm the Christian doctrine of the resurrection, but how can you turn around and questions the historicity of Adam and Eve, Jonah’s fish experience, etc? If you can’t trust the Bible on those issues, how can you trust the Bible on the resurrection? Your ideas are historically contradictory especially in light of the fact that the gospels that tell us of Jesus reaffirm the beliefs of Adam and Eve as historical figures of whom serve as the model of marriage between 1 man and 1 woman and Jonah serves as a historical illustration of the Jesus’ death and resurrection. Seems like you need a course in Logic 101. what is the church’s belief in slavery? Go back to the book of Amos, slavery has always been looked at negatively. If the church contradicts that in its practice, the problem is not the Bible. To stand by the modern society’s view of the role of women and the practice of homosexuality is again contradictory to the Scriptures. You have a problem both in the trustworthiness of the Scriptures and in the authority of the Scriptures. Your real problem is not with the church. Your real problem is with God. Just admit, He is right and you on some of your contemporary issues are wrong.

  • Garrett

    “If one believes that theologically speaking, the resurrection of Jesus is an experiential event rather than a penal substitutionary one; and biblically speaking, if one believes that the resurrection was an oral, experiential communal event rather than a historical, factual, pre-modern view event… that means that Christianity loses its core message? I do not think so.”
    but I am not an oral, experiential, communal event. I am an embodied soul so for the resurrection to be truly hope-filled it must impact what I am and how my life is lived…as a body, in time, in place.
    The bodily resurrection doesn’t necessarily imply a commitment to penal substitutionary atonement just that God brings real life back to really dead people.

  • Megumi Kayou

    To say that the miracles of Jesus are a myth is ridiculous to me since I myslef have experiences miracles in my life. I was deaf in my left ear and my hearing was resotred during a praise and worship service at my church. That’s just one of many miricles in my life. I have also seen miricles occur in the lives of friends and family. My friend’s doctor told her after 4 miscarriages that the scar tissue in her uterus was so bad she could never carry a child to term. Her son just graduated college. So to claim that miracles are a myth that don’t happen to real people is just plain silly to me.

  • Your Name

    I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that the sting of death is no longer a question.Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that there is already resurrection for us in our spirit,but,we must remember that
    it took three significant days for Jesus to rise from the dead,and
    what does it mean that it took 3 days not 1 or 2 days for the resurrecction to take place.The Bible did not provide brief explanation as to why it took 3 days for the Resurrection of Jesus.
    Can somebody explain why?Please.

  • mike L.

    This is my last word on the subject…

  • Sara

    Why did Jesus only heal SOME people, SOME of the time? Why did God only resurrect a FEW people? Why does God only break nature’s laws once in a while? Isn’t this just a “God of the gaps”? Isn’t this a capricious God? Isn’t this a immoral God? Personally, I don’t believe in a God that acts capriciously and coercively in the lives of some people, some of the time.
    I believe in a God that acts continually and lovingly in the lives of all people, all of the time. I understand God as working through the power of persuasive love, beckoning all people to health, life, and wholeness. Resurrection is what God is always doing in our lives. This isn’t about performing occasional magic tricks in order to prove that God can act coersively. This is about God making each moment sacred because each moment is drenched in divine activity.
    The song “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer describes my theology well:
    When I was a kid, each week
    On Sunday, we would go to church
    And pay attention to the priest
    He would read the holy word
    And consecrate the holy bread
    And everyone would kneel and bow
    Today the only difference is
    Everything is holy now
    Everything, everything
    Everything is holy now
    When I was in Sunday school
    We would learn about the time
    Moses split the sea in two
    Jesus made the water wine
    And I remember feeling sad
    That miracles don’t happen still
    But now I can’t keep track
    ‘Cause everything’s a miracle
    Everything, Everything
    Everything’s a miracle
    Wine from water is not so small
    But an even better magic trick
    Is that anything is here at all
    So the challenging thing becomes
    Not to look for miracles
    But finding where there isn’t one
    When holy water was rare at best
    It barely wet my fingertips
    But now I have to hold my breath
    Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
    It used to be a world half there
    Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
    But I walk it with a reverent air
    ‘Cause everything is holy now
    Everything, everything
    Everything is holy now
    Read a questioning child’s face
    And say it’s not a testament
    That’d be very hard to say
    See another new morning come
    And say it’s not a sacrament
    I tell you that it can’t be done
    This morning, outside I stood
    And saw a little red-winged bird
    Shining like a burning bush
    Singing like a scripture verse
    It made me want to bow my head
    I remember when church let out
    How things have changed since then
    Everything is holy now
    It used to be a world half-there
    Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
    But I walk it with a reverent air
    ‘Cause everything is holy now

  • Larry

    Actually, Sara, He hasn’t resurrected a “few”, but only one, and that one is significant and not at all capricious. Indeed, since God is not capricious, to use your word, I know that He will, eventually, resurrect us all.

  • Paul

    Herein is the problem- man trying to make God fit in their box. Just because we don’t fully understand something doesn’t make it false or unreal. God is a gentleman and will not force anything upon us we do not want to receive. It is a gift and if we choose to walk away He will let us. Believe it or not there are conditions to most if not all of God’s promises, so if you wonder why only one or few get “miracles” you must look at the person also. Some miracles are God driven and some are faith driven, but all are performed by the power of God and by his Grace. I could go on and on but it is the Holy Spirits job to reveal. Just know that God is not back on the throne of the world just yet. Satan has the power and he is the one who kills and destroys. As far as the liberal “church” goes, believe what you may, but be sure it lines up with Biblical teachings. (not judgmental,but warning to be sure you are not justifying a personal position) I too am a sinner saved by grace.

  • godsbutterflys

    Maybe I can help. You see I was a drug user until the hand of God touched me. For the longest time I cried believing that their was know one out there that cared about me.
    From being abused both ways to not know who my dad was, and my grandmother telling me that I was never wanted.I grew up with a large blackness inside me. Of course I turned to drugs finding a way to hide all the ugliness that I lived with each and every day of my life.
    Then a few years ago I cried out God please,please help me I don’t know what is going to happen to me, you see I was at the end,the lowest I could go.
    That day God reached out and took out of my body all the blackness that I had owned. I left that life the very day and have never looked back.
    You see God still performs Miracles.

  • Your Name

    I really like what Paul said.(may 7) I agree, believe what you may, as long as it lines up with scripture.Miracles are all around us everyday. Just look at the trees, the sky, the flowers. All here by chance? I hardly think so. Remember, we are ALL sinners saved by the Amazing Grace of our Lord.

  • karena

    I think with all the turmoil in each persons hearts we are all guilty to one end or another of judging others. I don’t know the passage exactly- but there is a passage in the bible where Jesus taught us in essence that what is a sin for one brother might not be a sin for another and to be careful not to cause the brother to sin by judging him on the rules we individually live by. I will look up the passage later and post it- for example part of the passage was about the food one eats- how in one house it is not a sin to eat meat and how in another house it is- i may be wrong but I feel that God doesn’t want us to judge because we are all different- he made us different and I also think that maybe what i am trying to get at is that our sins are individual and between the person and God- a personal example I could use is I like to pray privately and others I know pray in the open- that does not make praying in the open a sin or give me the right to judge the person that does. i have seen people in church judge others over this- the only thing I always try to point out is that judging anyone is for god to do. I have been guilty of judging lately- where I live a man brutally killed a baby- I have had to pray for this man and for myself for forgiveness from god for all my dark thoughts against this man- either way we believe in anything- no matter how holy any of us try to act- in the end we are all sinners- no matter how good our hearts are- we can only rely on god’s grace and the work Jesus did on the cross-

  • Your Name

    I am always declaring that God is good all the time,all the time God
    is good.He is the Great Shepherd,in the parable of the lost sheep.we
    recall that He left the rest of His flock and rescued i sheep missing
    He found that sheep almost at the brink of death,at the edge of a hill
    almost falling down to a deep pit to die,Jesus was there and was
    ABLE to rescue not minding that those rest of the sheep may also be
    endangered without him from the hands of the wolves around them.His
    love was demonstrated greatly that one’s life matters that He confidently left the rest just to rescue one life that made Him
    the great Shepherd.By this example,we are confident that one life among His children is precious.We can link this parable by Jesus
    resurrection that while others were all saved by grace,if there is one
    not been saved by His saving grace,He will surely find him that everyone may receive that saving grace.

  • Your Name


  • Carole

    You want the joy of the resurrection without obeying God’s laws. “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
    One cannot “pick & choose” what they will believe and what they don’t.
    God the Father, Jesus our Saviour & the Holy Spirit along with Mary His Mother, the angels and saints just performed a miracle in our family.
    Just because we don’t “understand” or “find it hard to believe” something does not make it untrue. If we could understand God, He wouldn’t be God. Faith belives all things. St. Paul
    Truth is Truth whether anyone believes it or not.

  • Foon Der

    While you are saying that you have compromised your left leanings to accommodate your affirmation of the physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus I have to point out that the Bible is not a smorgasbord of beliefs that you can take or leave one sample at a time. I am not smart enough to be able to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to take literally or not. I take the whole Bible as is because God intended it to be that way. It was not meant for scholars to interpret and to tell us how/what/why to believe. It was meant for the common folk to read and believe without having to read between the lines. That is why Adam and Eve’s encounter as well as Noah’s Flood must all be taken literally just like Jesus’ resurrection. You cannot be selective. It is a package deal I am sorry to say.

  • Steve A

    I was interested to read your post on Out of Ur about “ordaining everyone” http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/tony_jones_we_o.html#more in conjunction with this post about the truth of the resurrection.
    I think it shows the tension–would you ordain (to positions of leadership, not lawnmowing) someone who disagreed with you about the resurrection? About the existence of God? Is there a boundary and how do you pick it? I think once you recognize the reality that all of us have a boundary to our belief then the question of who do you set up in positions of “authority” becomes relevant.
    I’d submit that ordination struggles in various denominations–while the possiblity of taint to the process due to sin is always present–are fundamently efforts to be faithful to what you think is really true. People can and do disagree about what is really true, but ordination struggles at bottom are NOT power struggles or meanness, they are efforts to represent the Body of Christ faithfully (despite our frequent failures to do that).
    I guess this is just another opportunity to recognize the faithful face behind actions you disagree with and to try to love Christ in people who are driving you crazy!

  • Your Name

    “I don’t like the package deal.”
    Ah, there’s the rub. Authentic, potent Christianity IS a package deal; a heretic is, by definition, someone who doen’t like the package deal. Therefore, it is about as pointless to reject (Eastern) Orthodoxy (or something like it) for that reason as to reject liberal Western Christianity for the same reason. Somewhere, you have to embrace the whole (what being “catholic” means) to get the behefit of even part of the whole.
    That is, in part, why I forsook the Episcopal Church some 17 years ago and came East. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best move I’ve ever made. Go East, young man!

  • Your Name

    Foon Der,
    “I am not smart enough to be able to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to take literally or not. I take the whole Bible as is …”
    That is either foolish or a lie. It is so easily disprovable. Surely you are “smart enough” not to put your disobedient children to death? Surely you are “smart enough” not to put the victims of incest to death? Surely you are “smart enough” not to deny communion to the disabled? Surely you are “smart enough” not to realize that eating shrimp or lobster won’t send you to hell?

  • For those of you interested in Tony’s comments about why same sex marriage and not the historicity of the resurrection has become such a defining issue for conservative Christians, check out a Q & A recently here…http://www.patheos.com/Explore/Additional-Resources/Tony-Jones-Sounds-Off.html

  • Why not refer them to 1 Corinthians 15?
    “Yes, folks; He really really really resurrected in the space-time continuum. If he didn’t, this whole thing is off. This is all totally useless, if he doesn’t resurrect.”
    I love this: “If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?”
    Sounds like this conversation has happened before.

  • Commenting on an old thread, yes but saw it posted on the main page here, so . . .

    I think it’s unfortunate that you feel you have to approach THE central tenent of the Christian faith (the bodily resurrection of Christ) in such a defensive manner, i.e. the OT-stuff-is-a-bunch-of-myth-and legend, but-here’s-why-this-NT-story-isn’t-and-just-hear-me-out. Your justification as to why is that important? “Because I’m a real person.”

    Wow. That was a pretty good analogy to what ails the emergent church, i.e. it’s all about me.

    Btw, I have to say this: a previous post said “For those of you interested in Tony’s comments about why same sex marriage and not the historicity of the resurrection has become such a defining issue for conservative Christians, check out a Q & A recently.”

    Did he not see the irony of that comment in light of Tony’s resurrection post which also discussed gay rights?

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  • “Why is that important? Because I’m a real person. Because the people to whom I have ministered in Jesus’ name are real persons. We’re not hypotheses, fables, or legends. And we need real healing, all of us. While our realities may be largely socially constructed, we have real DNA, real physical, material properties.”

    I think the word “real” is functioning here in a way which is philosophically disingenuous to support a conclusion which is untenable in its metaphysicalism.

    Would we be less real if we were stuck in the Matrix? If instead of bodies we were self-aware algorithms in its program? Of course not. The essence of our reality is mediated by language in our phenomenological experience of our own existence. The limits of our language are the limits of our world. In an important and crucial sense, we ARE hypotheses, fables, and legends–and so it should be no surprise that Jesus is too.

  • Matteo Masiello

    Great post. I would extent that same belief to all the “myths” of the OT as well. I can’t offer any rationale that fits into, as you put it in your post on Marcus Borg “to a paradigm of modern rationality”. But, why do I have to? Why do I have to accept the theories of physicists and scientific materialism, but not supernaturalism? Why aren’t both true? Ever hear of “theoretical” physics? Is Stephen Hawkings’ theory true? He doesn’t even think so. He’s commented that if he could travel in time, he would go to the future to see if his theory is right? Liberals and conservatives are not much different than one another when it comes to reinforcing paradigms which make them feel certain of their beleifs. That’s okay, because everyone does it. We have to. We’re only human. For myself, I can accept the creation in six days, but don’t tell me what “days” means. The same goes for Noah’s ark and the Nephilim. Who the hell were they? And, really, EVERY species of animal, all millions of them? In one boat. While I accept that they are true and that they happened, I can’t explain them to you. No one can. That’s why I take it on faith. That’s why I also don’t think about all of that all the time and these things are not really essential to my belief. For me, following Christ is not staying at Calvary, or in Eden, or at Jericho, or at Mt. Sinai. Scripture is a story and a process of development, within and without, for me, that is organic. If you take away the first act of any movie, book, or play, it’s a waste of time to continue your engagement with the story. If I hold these beliefs, they are as ingrained in me as my unconsciuous. I am not conscious of it, but it’s still a part of me. The problem is that conversatives feel the need to defend their faith with apologetics and a rationalism that’s inadequate approach the subject. They are just buying into the paradigm of modern rationality. Why should they? Scientists, the really good ones who marvel as the Mystery of God’s creation, whether they believe in God or not, are as irrational as followes of Christ, or Buddha, or Krishna. And that’s fine with me. And I think same sex marriage is fine, too.

  • Scott P.

    A question:

    If you accept the historicity of the miracles attributed to Christ by the Gospels, does that mean you also accept the historicity of the miracles attributed to Peter in the Acts of the Apostles? If not, why not?

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