28 April 2010


As Paul points out, the resurrection of Jesus and our eventual resurrections are the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without either, there is no basis for continuing Christianity although commercial interests might justify continuing the Christmas shopping season. Paul said:
13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
One Corinthians 15: 13-18 NIV from The Bible Gateway web site at: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2015:13-18&version=NIV"

So, do I believe Jesus was raised from the dead? I do. That is not a big deal, as Scripture observed on another topic, "the demons do also and tremble." In fact, there are two possible ways to approach the resurrection. Either it is true or it is the biggest delusion in human experience. I think (and shall not defend here at the moment) that the evidence is for truth.

That is, it is for truth if we give up some of the mythology that the centuries have left us with. First, and foremost, we do not know how this all works. Anyone (most especially including a fundamentalist preacher) who claims he knows what 'resurrection' means is either mentally ill, a liar or both. We simply do not know what happened and the Gospel accounts are not all that helpful. Consider:
  • Mark the eldest Gospel and probably the elusive "Q" does not say much about it. The women find the tomb empty, they are afraid and the story ends.
  • Luke and Mathew do not agree on what happened or when.
  • John's account is without the Ascension and "great commission" so beloved of the fundamentalists.

I turn to Paul. Yes I know, Paul wrote epistles not gospels according to our modern taxonomy. It is my entirely private view that the epistles to the Corinthians contain a concise and complete summary of the resurrection and essential doctrinal points that effectively show us the earliest faith. Paul tells us what he told the Corinthians, what he considers essential and what we need to know. If the entire New Testament was reduced to Mark and the Corinthian epistles, I think we would have enough.

So how do we define or understand resurrection if all we have is Mark and Paul? Mark says the tomb was occupied by a messenger and the women ran. Paul talks about a glorified spiritual body and leaves as many questions as answers. Neither tells us how precisely Jesus left, if he indeed did.

So here is where I land up with all this. Resurrection happened, and will happen. I cannot conceive of how one can claim the word Christian without that affirmation. We do not know how that worked, and we do not need to know. If we needed the information we would have it. What we do know is that resuscitation is not resurrection and Paul is clear that we will have, and Jesus has a new, glorified, spiritual but real body.

OK, if I cannot live with a bit of mystery and unknown reality, I should be something else. Paul also tells us of the Eucharist as does Mark. Neither explain it. We have our "Doctrine of the Real Presence," "transubstantiation," "memorial" and "consubstantiation" but neither Paul nore Mark help support any of them We are left with mystery and reality. We know what Jesus said and we know what we see. Everything else is commentary to steal a line from Hillel.

So too, resurrection. I accept that something happened. I do not claim to know what beyond this:

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia


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