What’s at Stake in the Resurrection?

What’s at Stake in the Resurrection? October 10, 2013

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.

– Doctrine of the incarnation: God is deeply involved with human flesh, according to the incarnation. Adoptionist theologies were thrown out of the early church.

– Theology of the body: God does not forsake the human body, even after the death of Jesus.

– Sexual ethics: see above.

– Anti-Gnosticism: Since the very earliest church, there have been those who’ve wanted to spiritualize Christianity. And since the very earliest church, those impulses have been considered contrary to the faith.

OK, your turn.

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  • “…spiritualize Christianity… those impulses have been considered contrary to the faith.”
    Say what! I couldn’t call myself a Christian without the spiritual nature of Jesus’ teachings. If the “kingdom (realm) of God” is spiritual, what is it? A place? I don’t think/believe that!

    • …should read “isn’t spiritual,” Sheesh!

  • CurtisMSP

    Isn’t it enough to trust the physical resurrection to be true, that God is incarnate, that God does not forsake the body, that God is active in the physical world, without actually knowing that there was an actual, historic physical resurrection? Isn’t that the definition of faith — the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things which we cannot see?

    If we knew with certainty that Jesus experienced a real, physical, historic resurrection, then what would be the need for faith? We can all have faith in the physical resurrection, and everything it means, separate from the fact of whether I know it actually, historically, happened.

    • Ric Shewell

      I think the concern is what we do with our beliefs. How does your belief in the resurrection impact the way you interact with others? We should be concerned with each other’s beliefs because they impact us all to a degree. I can’t prove Christ rose, but I believe it, and I operate in such a way that Christ actually did rise from the dead. That changes the way I have conversation, the way I treat my body, the way I buy things, The way I vote, etc.

      • CurtisMSP

        The question is: Is our walk with Christ is based on reason? — I know that Jesus was physically resurrected, therefore I will operate as if he was, or is our walk with Christ based on faith? — I trust that Jesus was physically resurrected, even though there is no way to objectively know this as fact, therefore I will operate as if he was.

        The result is the same. But do we get to the result by trusting, or by knowing? Or maybe a little of both?

        • CurtisMSP

          I am avoiding the word “believe”, because we too often conflate “believe” as a synonym for both “know” and “trust”, when in fact knowing and trusting are two very different things.

        • This remains, to my mind, a weak reason to follow Christ. It seems to imply that if (somehow) the resurrection was shown to be objectively false, that you would cast aside the radical love you’ve encountered there. I doubt your faith is as arbitrary as that. More is in play than simply “X or Y cannot be decided. Therefore Y.” The deeper reality, I’d suggest, is that X or Y is on a different level than the question of whether the account of Y reveals God.

          • CurtisMSP

            If I follow Christ based on reason, then you are right. If I follow Christ based on faith, then my faith in the physical nature of God does not depend on what can be proven or disproven about the historic resurrection of Jesus. I can maintain faith in resurrection, even if Jesus’ physical resurrection is proven to be objectively false.

        • Ric Shewell

          I believe in order that I might understand.

          • CurtisMSP

            “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” — Proverbs 3:5

            “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” — Matthew 18:3

            Or, if you prefer the 12 Steps

            “We admit we are powerless and that, on our own, our lives are unmanageable, so we believe that only a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” — Steps 1 & 2.

      • tanyam

        But part of what we say when we talk about the resurrection is that God has done something without us, you might even say, in spite of us — God didn’t need our help, didn’t need us to “trust” (in Dianna Butler Bass’s recent post, this seems the highest value) but God did something without our permisson or effort. Sure, we are invited to live out the truth of it, but God raised Jesus from the dead despite what human beings did, not because of what they did.

    • Justin

      Trust certainly has its place. But it is no substitute for an engagement with what something means (logically, existentially, rhetorically, philosophically, theologically).

      I can trust, for instance, that political equality is good. But that does not substitute for an actual engagement with what equality means: how it can be achieved, where success has been made, where it hasn’t, etc. etc.

      • CurtisMSP

        That is right. That is why there are very few things in life that a person can have complete faith in.

  • tanyam

    I’d like to hear Tony comment on the way the Gospels treat the resurrection accounts, because I think there is a third way, that neither completely spiritualizes the resurrection nor finds a resurrected corpse.
    Jesus was embodied enough that Thomas could touch his wounds, yet able to walk through walls. He was recognizable, yet walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus without him noticing who he was. What does this mean?

    • tanyam

      I should have said “resuscitated corpse.”

      • Jakeithus

        I don’t think the idea of Jesus existing as a “resuscitated corpse” has ever really been considered or held by Christian’s however. Our earliest accounts all point to the idea that Jesus’ resurrected body is somehow both the same as, yet fundamentally different, than the one that walked this earth and experienced death.

        In my humble and personal opinion, it speaks to the resurrection’s ability to make all things new, both spiritual and physical. It’s not just replacing what was with a new, physical body of the same type as the old, but of the old body transformed into a new thing. I’m not sure I’ve expressed my thoughts as well as I could, but that is the idea that I see the scriptures treating the resurrection accounts.

  • Ric Shewell

    I’ll add Creation and Eschatology.

    The Creation accounts communicate the goodness of the material world, and that death (real death, death death) is an antithesis to God’s creative activity. There is no concern for “spiritual” death, or anything like that. According to the creation account, the goal of creation is a physical reality where God and creation are in full community with each other. The bodily resurrection of Jesus (and all of us) affirms the intentions of Creation.

    Eschatology (all these things go hand-in-hand right?). If Christ was merely spiritually raised, then that is what we all have to hope for. In the end, we are all to exist in some ethereal soulish existence? If that is the case, then the way we treat the earth and our bodies is no consequence. However, the Scriptures and the Resurrection give witness to the hope of creation made new. This hope ties us to the earth and the God who made material and said it was good.

    Creation and Eschatology are at stake.

    • Rolland

      What if crucifixion and resurrection are about spiritual death and spiritual resurrection while the physical body is still living? What Peter Rollins calls life before death. This way, the way we treat our bodies, others, and the earth is everything. I don’t see how hope in a physical resurrection later makes me care more about the here and now.

      • CurtisMSP

        Good point, but if the body is still living, then this re-birth is physical as well as spiritual. God is in, and affects, our body, as well as our spirit and our mind. That is why the physical resurrection is important, even if it happens to us while we are still living.

        • Rolland

          I like your idea, but I think your misguided. Think of Jesus’ words, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit
          gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). One would have to physically die in order to be physically resurrected. A spiritual rebirth cannot give birth to an actual physical one.

      • Ric Shewell

        This view of salvation is too androcentric for me. It seems that spiritual resurrection in this life for humans is too small a thing to be the total effect of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The biblical narrative handles Christ’s resurrection as the great reversal of the trajectory of all creation. New Creation has begun for all creation, including ourselves, with the resurrection of Christ. In this time between times, God is inviting us to join God in making things new right now. This world will not perish, but it will be made new by God, and God’s invited us into that activity. We are included in that, making human life good now. The promise of resurrection is that our work is not in vain, even if humans succumb to death.

        • Rolland

          Spiritual resurrection is still “the great reversal of the trajectory for all creation” in this view though. Spiritual resurrection is the defeat of sin and death through love. The impact of our love through spiritual resurrection should outlive our mortal bodies. The hope is that one day all humans will eventually experience this resurrection and the destructive trajectory of history will be reversed and God’s kingdom will indeed reign. We make thing new right now by being resurrected people in a not yet resurrected world, before and until all mankind experiences resurrection. Whether you or I physically die and resurrect is inconsequential to changing the trajectory of all creation, but our spiritual resurrection is.

  • Theological Epistemology:
    For classical theists who conceive of God is Being-itself (not “a” being who may or may not exist), the urgency of “proving” the resurrection will be less critical. For theological personalists (those who view God as “a” being, and thus cannot avoid the question of whether or not this being exists), proving the resurrection is a much more urgent task. They need evidence, and the resurrection, such as it may be, is a huge piece.

    • Craig

      If, as I suppose, Christianity, atheism, and any number of alternatives can all acknowledge Being-itself, it would remain to Christians to show that Being-itself is also sensibly thought of as God in any sense that distinguishes their own view of it from any of these others. Appeals to the Jesus of history and tradition will presumably play a role here, and then the resurrection may become rather important.

      • I think that’s right, Craig. The Christian faith, that is, the Christian risk, is that Being-itself is Love. In faith we see in the picture of Jesus as the Christ, a love that drives toward union through a total giving of self. Countless Christians down through the ages have named the new life that emerges from self-loss as a participating in the resurrection of Christ.

        In this way of thinking Christianity is a faith, not a theory. In faith we recognize that resurrection is something that is happening, has happened (in some sense), and will happen. But all these temporal designations ought not get hung up on the level of theory. Christianity (ought to) operate on the level of faith, that is, on the level of the eternal. In light of this, past, present, and future are one. The moment this insight is lost, we’re not talking about faith anymore, but some theory of things in existence *as* things in existence. And there’s no such thing as God *in* existence. Unfortunately, I think that’s what so often happens in these kinds of discussions. We argue over our little frameworks, which are really our *gods.* We get trapped on the level of the theoretical where God will never be met.

        • Craig

          I follow you up to where you mention “the level of the eternal.” There I lose the thread. What I do understand, however, sounds quite attractive.

          • That sounds like a pretty natural place lose one’s grip on understanding. In fact, that’s sort of the point. The “eternal” is incomprehensible, for it includes everything AND that [unnameable] that “grounds” everything. It includes and transcends you as the reflecting subject as well as the object of your reflection. Faith has this basic structure. It’s human awareness of the eternal. Lacking this, it’s *just* a dubious theory, a belief, a trust, a hope. Faith includes all those things, but its core, which keeps it from idolatry, is awareness of the eternal.

            • Craig

              So I think I can grasp the idea of a timeless reality that, beyond its serving as a kind of ground for both ourselves and everything we could possibly experience, is incomprehensible to beings like me and you. Suppose I call my awareness of this timeless reality faith. I would still say that any features we attribute to it–including features that give it a recognizably Christian form–are matters of “dubious theory.”

              • Good, good! And that’s why any theologian worth their salt (from Augustine, through Aquinas, all the way down to my man Tillich) marks out a unique form of discourse for that level of attribution. In Aquinas you have the analogical (between the univocal and the equivocal), in Tillich you have the symbolic. The critical point in all these forms of speech is that they stake out a way of speaking that avoids our “normal” ways of speaking of things in the world (which the theoretical would be an instance of), as well as a total break with reality (as a nihilist theory would hold). What’s left is a mode of attribution that aims for “some” contact without ever being able to specify or define exactly what that contact is. We say God is Love. We see that love in Jesus. We understand *something* of that love, but as predicated of God, we can never pin that down. And that’s okay.

                • jeffstraka

                  As post-emergent/post-theist, I connect with what I hear you saying. Have you read any of Lloyd Geerings or Don Cupitt’s works?

                  • Hi Jeff,
                    Nope. My work is mainly informed by Tillich and Aquinas. …and I have a LONG way to go there.

  • Brandon

    It’s unlikely that any of us will think of a reason for affirming the material resurrection of Jesus that Mr. Borg has not already heard and considered. I think all those above are excellent pointers to the material resurrection of Jesus, though I would add something about it also pointing to the eschatalogical hope for the future resurrection of us. Resurrection is an act of new creation on God’s part, where he takes the old, broken, and temporary and fashions it into something new and eternal. If the resurrection is simply a spiritual or existential event, then I wonder if we are just playing mind games with ourselves. This does, however, bring up the best reason for DENYING the material resurrection of Jesus: it “domesticates” and pushes Jesus away into a category that does not allow him to disrupt our life and world in the same way a material resurrection does. It becomes more of an inspirational story that arouses sentimental feelings, but can easily be re-compartmentalized and put back into a box, so to speak, when we feel like it. Borg’s version of the resurrection ultimately allows us to retain a greater deal of personal autonomy than the materially resurrected Jesus allows us to do.

  • Andrew Dowling

    To say denying an actual physical Resurrection leads to Gnosticism (of the variety that eschews the physical universe) is a ridiculous reactionary argument. That Jesus’s body didn’t leave the grave doesn’t equate to God not caring about materiality . . talk about straw men . . . .

    • CurtisMSP

      Yes, but you can believe God “cares” about material things without believing that God “is in” material things. That is the distinction.

      • Andrew Dowling

        I concur with your above statement, and see absolutely no reason why it necessitates a bodily Resurrection. That God interacts and is within the material universe is functionable without supernatural ascensions from the dead.

        • CurtisMSP

          Once you believe god is in everything, bodily resurrection no longer seems so unlikely. Whether or not bodily resurrection happens becomes almost irrelevant, because god is already present in everything; god is continuously, physically resurrected.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “Once you believe god is in everything, bodily resurrection no longer seems unlikely.”
            No, because I don’t view God as, on very rare occasions, completely breaking natural/scientific laws and then returning to the background. A bodily resurrection to me posits not a God constantly engaged but more of a deistic God who occasionally intervenes. And that conception of God exacerbates the problem of evil, b/c there is WAY too much suffering of innocents that never receives a miracle/Resurrection event.

            • CurtisMSP

              If god is in everything, then god never retreats to the background. Sure, to say the bodily resurrection is a one-time event indicates a disengaged, deistic god. But that is not what I am talking about. If god is present in everything, even in suffering, even in death, then god experiences bodily resurrection, not once in the resurrected Jesus, but every day, continuously, by being present in the cycle of life, death, and re-birth.

              • Andrew Dowling

                I suppose I agree with what you are saying, but could we agree this ‘cycle’ follows within a certain bounded framework? ie once something is dead, there is renewal/new life elsewhere but what was dead still remains dead? I do think the Holy Spirit works through love in all things, but I don’t think that results in occasional overturnings of the natural order/law (which is what a bodily Resurrection from the grave requires).

                • CurtisMSP

                  Indeed. A seed that is planted does not come to life unless it first dies, and stays dead. But who can deny the life that comes out of a dead seed? Who can deny the life that comes out of a recovered addict? Who can deny the real, physical resurrection experienced by anyone who dies first, and is then born again?

  • Craig

    Strikingly, Tony makes no mention of hope concerning the afterlife of ourselves or our loved ones. Why?

    Would it be too ordinary, too base? I suspect that, for most Christians, this hope in the afterlife is the preeminent concern; it’s their main, motivating reason for revolting against the idea that Jesus rose bodily but only in the hearts/minds/imaginations of true believers.

    I suspect that the answer is this: non-materialist interpretation of the resurrection (like substance-dualism interpretations) would suffice to secure the promise of the afterlife without a material resurrection. But, then, this suggests that Tony’s driving reason for insisting on a material resurrection is his commitment to materialism. Unless the best arguments for materialism are theological (quite unlikely, I’d say), then Tony’s best reasons for insisting on a material resurrection (as opposed to a substantive, spiritual one) will be non-theological.

    So here’s maybe a more incisive question: what’s at stake in affirming materialism?

    • Justin

      Arguments from silence are weak arguments. This post is connected to a very specific question and t a very specific topic (the materiality or non-materiality of Jesus’ Resurrection). The “well look at all these things he DIDN’T say!” argument is a largely speculative (in the derogatory sense) exercise, and seldom produces helpful dialogue.

      • Craig

        Justin, go back and read my comment again. Perhaps you think it fails to plausibly point to a more fundamental issue here. But if it doesn’t plausibly point to a more fundamental issue, then you ought to be able to say something plausible in response to the questions I’ve raised. Start here: why isn’t it striking that Tony makes no mention of hope concerning the afterlife?

        Generally, try to avoid being mislead by superficial aspects of an argument’s form. Is the marine biologist fated to give a badly speculative response to the question “why don’t sea turtles eat mature dolphins?” Does the fact that it seeks to explain an absence in the turtles’ diet mean that any explanation she gives must be “weak” and badly speculative?

        • Justin

          The form of an argument is as important as its content. There is nothing superficial about logical form. Arguments from silence, when used legitimately are generally weak, but when one begins to fill the gaps with supposition they move quite quickly toward fallacy.

          While your pursuit of an underlying motivation (“what’s at stake in affirming materialism?”) is certainly legitimate, I don’t think that the speculative apparatus of an appeal to silence provides any assistance in the generation of your question, but merely permits you to put ideas into Tony’s mouth. Which is really just a monologue in the guise of dialogue (thus my assertion that it “seldom produces helpful dialogue”).

          As for the point that you seem to actually be moving towards, the question of materialism, I think Tony is merely offering a repetition of the classic bent of traditional/orthodox Christian theology against gnosticism (which is essentially the argument he levels against Borg). I can’t really offer a deeper response to your question, without a clarification of how you understand materialism (whether you mean it in the positivistic-scientific, the Marxist, or the traditional Christian sense). For what its worth, i think that attributing either the positivist or the Marxist understanding of materialism to Tony would be unwarranted. But again, I don’t really want to put to much into his mouth.

          Edit: (also, the biology example you gave, is a very poor parallel to your actual argument, so I feel no need to address it.)

          • Craig

            Justin, your replies are so off the mark that I don’t see any hope of us making progress. Obviously the form of an argument can be important; obviously logical form per se isn’t superficial. If you are going to so reply to my own remarks, then I have no interest in giving any further consideration to anything else you have to say, much less reply to it.

  • John McCauslin

    The post-resurrection appearances, as a physical reality, were yet another sign and wonder, to highlight God’s power, for the benefit of those whose faith requires such signs an wonders to believe and otherwise embrace the message and meaning of the Incarnation. I cannot accept that the sum and substance of the incarnation was Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.

    Nor is the belief in or promise of an afterlife contingent on the physical Resurrection or upon whether one accepts belief in the physical Resurrection. (How much more blessed are those believe without seeing?). In fact assurance of an afterlife is a bonus, and not a reason, for having a relationship with God. Once it becomes a reason then we become nothing more than insecure schemers, trying to manipulate God into giving us what we want, denying God’s agency and imbuing our ownselves with an ageny we cannot have, and should not want – how can we have faith in or confidence in or ever truly worship a God who is subject to human manipulation?

  • CurtisMSP

    You’re right. Insistence on bodily resurrection will likely bump you to the Evangelical camp, if not Mainline camp. But that is not all bad. Progressives tend to be a rather grouchy group to hang out with anyway!

  • Justin

    Does material resurrection necessarily hold all the cards when it comes to a concrete theology of incarnation? Might it be possible to consider that a theology that does not rely upon a resurrection might more strongly communicate with the materiality of life? For, what is more human than death? Can the incarnation be understood to take death seriously, if it itself does not die? As Heidegger writes, “Death is something that stands before us–something impending. […] Dasein is dying as long as it exists.”

    • “I live a dying life—’prolixitas mortis’ is the Church’s name for this life—so how can I expect to experience…eternal life, which knows no death?” –Karl Rahner

  • For me, there’s an important link to our future hope of a New Heaven and Earth. Just as Jesus was physically and spiritually resurrected and glorified, so too will we be, and so to will all of Creation.

  • tanyam

    I care about where the responsibility for “resurrection” lies. Is it in my (or our)believing it, trusting it, acting it out, experiencing it–or did God do something without our permission, cooperation, or participation? Sure, I’m invited to live the truth of it — but the act of bringing life out of death was God’s.

  • Jonnie

    What’s at stake is vindication of the executed (see Ted Jennings), every unjust domination of life–the bios (as broadly construed as possible) and its constantly being snuffed out–and the material value of these lives. If Jesus is not the first fruits of these dominated material lives, the real presence of the resurrection is an idealized (internalaized and ‘spiritual’) presence that makes no difference to these lives.

    • Andrew Dowling

      1) Spiritual does not equate to strictly internal

      2) As orthodox Christianity already preaches an afterlife in which our bodies are not resurrected (go to any Christian cemetery and you can dig up the physical bodies . . they are still there!), I don’t see the necessity for a bodily Resurrection. Unless Tony wants to say there is no afterlife we experience after we die (until a general Resurrection that will occur sometime in the unknowable future) . . I suspect he won’t.

      • Jonnie

        1) Ostensibly, spiritual certainly does for the most part work out as some internalized, immaterial, refelctive element of life. How this term has been used in history is its meaning.
        2) Please don’t use “Orthodox Christianity” as something that preaches. That simply doesn’t make sense, especially in the context of some highly speculative idea of the intermediate state, which is by no means something preached by “orthdoxy” as if it’s a unified thing (let alone on an issue like that), but rather a function of some feeling the need to fill in the time between death and bodily resurrection. I;m quite fine saying, I’m dead when I’m dead (along with many Jewish brothers and sisters who’ve said the same thing–ancient and present), and we’re raised when we’re raised. To speculate on somethign in between based on foggy, diverse biblical passages by no means should be considered something preached by Orthodoxy.

        • Andrew Dowling

          So do not almost all mainstream churches preach that people either go to heaven or hell right after they die? I feel fairly confident in stating that is an extremely widespread belief across all of Christendom. I can’t think of any major denominations that preach that when we die we are dead and stay dead until the general Resurrection.

          • Jonnie

            Perhaps the weakest argument for what determines whether something is orthodox is it’s happening to be widely preached or thought though right? LIke I said, this is an extrapolation and speculation based on peoples feeling the need to postulate conscious continuity between death and resurrection, and I would argue an overemphasis on me being something immortal that must be conscious to be vauable and me. In this way, it is precisely because we over value our own consicous life which we associate with immateriality that we have such a widely postulated but biblically way underemphasized thing like the intermediate state. What matters in the bodily return on the last day. That is vindication and value and ‘orthodoxy’ if we have to use that phrase in a strident fence-like way.
            I think we could develop a pretty long list of thinks that fit as ‘extremely widespread beliefs across all of Christendom’ that aren’t determinately orthodox at all, but philosophical assumptions and valuations.

            • Andrew Dowling

              “Perhaps the weakest argument for what determines whether something is
              orthodox is it’s happening to be widely preached or thought though

              But its not just “preached” or believed by the masses; its been in the catechisms of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches for centuries, and is (I’m fairly certain although I don’t have them next to me) articulated in the formal book of prayers for Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Methodism, SBC etc. So if that doesn’t designate “orthodoxy” I don’t know what does.

              I will say your viewpoint does more closely aligns with what the early Church preached in the first century or so of Christianity, but since then it has mostly not (although it is still in the Creeds). The belief in what you call an “intermediate state” of souls has been part of Christian orthodoxy since then for over 1000 years.

              I guess for me a big problem with the idea of the “Resurrection of the Dead” event is why should we give such credence of divine insight to Paul who made such an event a major component of his theology when he was so terribly wrong about when it would happen? The belief was that Jesus’s Resurrection was the “first fruits” and the second/third/fourth fruits would occur shortly thereafter (Paul declared he would live to see the day). Well, it’s almost 2000 years past the death of Paul and there’s been nothing. I like most of the rest of humanity long for an afterlife in which I will get to see loved ones and continue existence in some fashion, but if such a dimension/reality exists I don’t think it hinges on a massive zombiepalooza.

          • Phil Miller

            Honestly, I’ve not heard very much preaching specific to it. I think when asked, most pastors would probably say there’s some sort of “intermediate state” before the resurrection. What the average churchgoer thinks, who knows? But the idea that we’re physically resurrected is certainly what’s been preserved in the creeds.

  • Kien Choong

    Hi, with respect, I suggest the sequence is first, “Did the resurrection take place?” Then ask, “What does this imply about Jesus, God and the world?”

    The sequence is not, “What do I believe is canonical?”, and conclude “Therefore this must be what happened”.

    It is the event which caused the early Jews (eg Paul) to rethink their world view.

    Similarly we must confront the evidence around evolution and ask what this implies for our world view. We should not start from our prior assumptions and reject data that is inconsistent with our priors.

    • jeffstraka

      Absolutely, Kien. Science has forced Christianity to shift it’s theology ever since Copernicus found we weren’t “all that”. To not shift belief on the bodily resurrection – like Borg and Spong and Geering have done – makes no sense. If one can cling to a supernatural, all-powerful God who can suspend the laws of physics to reanimate a Jewish Rabbi 2,000 years ago, why did he sit idly by while over 1 million CHILDREN were murdered during the Holocaust? (Wait for it…he was there suffering WITH them…) And we wonder why churches are closing and the “nones” are on the rise. Sheesh. http://www.westarinstitute.org/store/from-the-big-bang-to-god/

  • ChuckQueen101

    “Adoptionist theologies were thrown out of the early church.” Paul seems to be an adoptionist in Romans 1:3-4 and Luke proclaims that only in light of God’s vindication of Jesus through resurrection did God appoint him Messiah and Lord (Acts 2:32-36). His ascension in Luke seems to be his assumption of the divine powers and qualities. I’m not an adoptionist, but it does appear that some in the early church were.

    “Since the very earliest church, those impulses (spiritualizing impulses) have been considered contrary to the faith” — I don’t know, my church history is weak, but didn’t a number of the so called church fathers (I’m thinking of Origin in particular) regard the spiritual meaning of Scripture as the highest meaning? But even if the dominant voices in the early church regarded such impulses as contrary to the faith — big deal. I think you put way too much stock in the fallible traditions of a fallible church.

    In the Gospels, Jesus trumps his own experience of Abba over his own Jewish traditions. I would argue that he brings his experience of Abba to bear on his reformulations and reinterpretations of his Scriptures and traditions. For example, love your enemies because God loves God’s enemies. I doubt if he came to this position by simply reading his Hebrew Bible.

    And Paul, too, while dependent on the tradition passed down (1 Cor. 15:3) seems to value his own personal experience of the living Christ above his Jewish Scriptures and the tradition of the gospel passed down to him (Gal. 1:11-12). His experience of the living Christ certainly led him to reinterpret his Jewish Scriptures in some very fanciful ways, such as in Gal. 3:8, 16). If this is not spiritualizing, then I’m not sure what is.

    • Andrew Dowling

      To me it’s fairly clear that adoptionist Christology either post Resurrection (Paul, Epistle to the Hebrews) or at the Baptism by John (Gospel of Mark, Gospel of the Hebrews (1st century Jewish-Christian Gospel), Shepherd of Hermas) was present among Christians well before any belief in Jesus’s virgin birth or pre-existence.

  • Mike

    Salvaton by intellectual accuracy through perfect rhetoric would be of ourselves.

  • jeffstraka

    “The old world made spirit the parent of matter. The new makes matter the parent of spirit.” ~Ludwig Feuerbach

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