Dial-up modem nightmares and the physical resurrection of Christ
Thank you for those who have e-mailed me. Yes, I’m still in England, and will be till next Monday - my sister is getting married this weekend. I hope, however, that my dear sister realises that I’m giving up Pannenberg’s lecture in Tübingen to attend the ceremony ...
As much as I love England, the analogue dial-up modem I’m forced to use is driving me NUTS. I deplore and despise this loathsome waste of computer power. It not only sometimes refuse to log on line, but when it does often only manages a 28k transfer. It crashes downloading even simple e-mails, and leaves blog pages hanging half loaded! If there are computers in hell for use, they all have dial-up modems. All this means that my access to blogdom has been a little less convenient as originally hoped.
Actually, for the last couple of days I haven’t even seen a blog, so turning on today, I see that I’ve been missing a fascinating discussion about the physical resurrection of Jesus.
My position, stated briefly (if you’re interested)
1. I firmly believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus, and I believe it is the teaching of Scripture - but I don’t claim to understand how his body is continuous and discontinuous with the type of body we all have, just that it is physicality, albeit transformed . I realise that there is some disagreement on the interpretation of 1 Cor 15, but, for me, among other reasons, it would make little sense for Paul in 15:4 to insist that Christ was ‘buried, and that he was raised on the third day’ were this simply ‘spiritual’. Beyond 1 Cor 15, there should be little dispute about the NT teaching of the physicality of the resurrection, cf. the risen Lord’s conversation with Thomas.
2. However, I do not affirm that one must believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus to be a Christian. For starters, to do so is to impose a disputed interpretation of at least 1 Cor 15 on those who out of exegetical honesty cannot see this as Paul’s teaching. They will point out that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’, and note Paul assertion that ‘“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” and God will destroy both one and the other.’ (1 Cor 6:13). I think these exegetes would be wrong to infer from such passages that the resurrection, as understood by Paul, is not physical, but their reservations demonstrate that affirmations of the resurrection of Jesus do not necessarily connote physicality. A belief in the resurrection of Jesus is, I think, essential to Christianity; but how one is to understand this is disputed within Christendom.
However, healthy Christian theology, I suggest, includes an affirmation of Christ’s resurrection as physical, albeit transformed, for the simple reason that it promises that God has always had the physical in his saving intentions, and in this age of ecological crisis and Left Behind novels, this is highly significant.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23)