Sunday 21 April 2019

Resurrection day - who is interested, who wants it?

Today, many Christian celebrate the resurrection of Jesus - so that the divine but mortal Man was born again in an everlasting divine body - and the promise that those who want resurrection - who believe and follow Jesus - can have the same gift.

By not thinking, by pretending that beliefs do not have consequences, Modern Man usually does not want Resurrection. Many claim to be 'satisfied' with mortal life; and regard it as childish, selfish and greedy to want 'more'.

But eternal life is not 'more' than mortal life; it is something utterly different.

This qualitative distinction between death and life used to be so obvious as not to require explanation, even to the simplest mind; but Modern Man has so fragmented his thinking that he can deny anything which he doubts - and he can be induced to doubt everything.

There is no possible coherence when thoughts are regarded as detached units, confined to a detached brain. More - there is no self; so Resurrection is incomprehensible; since after the body has died there is nothing to resurrect...

In such a world, the gift of Jesus is not so much denied as incomprehensible; not so much denied as unwanted. When life is experienced as intrinsically meaningless, why should anyone want it to persist eternally? Why should anyone want an everlasting body?

Most would prefer a painless transition from this mortal life to extinction, annihilation - and this is a technological/ managerial problem - not a matter of religion. If they want eternal life, they reject eternal consciousness - so, at most, will be yearning for a painless, preferably blissful, but unconscious eternity of spiritual dissolution or assimilation (it doesn't make any perceptible difference which).

This is the absolute negation of Love - and it is the norm.

Christianity is for those who want what Jesus offers. It is possible, it is perhaps likely, that these will be a minority of Modern Men: and that this minority will be a small one.

We can reflect on some words of the Apostle Paul, inspirationally done into some of the greatest prose to which English has attained. 

1 Corinthians. 15

[12] Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? [13] But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: [14] And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. [15] Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. [16] For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: [17] And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. [18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

[19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. [20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. [24] Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

[25] For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. [27] For he hath put all things under his feet.

[35] But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? [36] Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: [37] And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: [38] But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

[42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

[50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

[54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ...


Bruce Charlton said...

From dearime - "The Gospel of Mark doesn't end with a resurrection but with a mystery. That's presumably why a forger later added the stuff after 16/8.

(By the way, can anyone explain to me the significance of the young man dressed in white?...)"

Francis Berger said...

I do not understand, but am willing to accept why many reject resurrection for themselves and would rather just slip painlessly into the void.

Yet I have never understood how these same people so readily accept a similar end for their own children (those who have children, many do not). How can parents so callously dismiss eternal life for their own kids? These same people often work diligently to ensure their kids get the best education, the best training, the highest quality of life, all the creature comforts in the world, etc., yet when they invest nothing, not a single second of effort into their children's souls. They do not even pause to consider resurrection as a possibility - at least invest a little into it, just in case . . .

In my mind, this amounts to the greatest example of the absolute negation of Love you mention. It saddens me beyond description.

Adil said...

It seems that many souls will indeed burn out after death, out of self choice and spiritual ignorance. It doesn't matter for them I guess but it also means that they individually risk throwing away the potential gift of consciously coming to know the love of God after death as an individual. I don't think falling in love matters for anyone either until you actually do it.

Surely, eternal bliss would be a goal worth to bet for, but perhaps it doesn't matter for atheists since they won't exist anyway. Well personally I think those who fail resurrection might reincarnate instead, and even the void is not a luxury reserved for everyone. So I agree with the previous speaker that the spiritual health and wellbeing of ones children should be of uttermost importance.

David Balfour said...

In contrast to FB's comment - To me, it seems that I cannot imagine being able to accept Eternal life without my wife or children or extended family. The prospect of not being with them would effectively make any heaven i am able to imagine into a hell! And in those circumstances, in the event that my dearest loved ones reject heaven (which seems frighteningly plausible under modern conditions) then I would chose merciful annihilation from existence than to know we are eternally separated. This seems like it must be a entremely common dilemma for a modern Christian to face, given that they will likely have spouses, children and close friends who reject the faith of their loved ones. Of the many people i hold dear in my heart I am the only one who would claim to be Christian and even then many of them and world would (and do) dismiss my faith as a kind of deluded and pathetic fantasy.

Bruce Charlton said...

Comment from Arakawa: " If people confront in their own minds this question of whether they want bodily existence, do they think flat out “I do not want to be resurrected” or do they say “resurrection, sure, but not (that kind)”? (Whatever kind is contemplated as being on offer.)

"Most of the sexual revolution / bombardment with corrupted-ideal images of humanity in media / mandatory dysphoria seems mostly oriented toward misleading people who don’t reject the idea of living in a body in the abstract, but who can be made to hate and reject every aspect of their own particular body. It doesn’t help that that there are indeed plenty of aspects that anyone who is mortal might hate about his or her body and want to change, and these aspects multiply as time goes on. As Wm Blake says, “A Truth that’s told with Bad Intent beats all the Lies you can invent.”

"What do I think about this? On the one hand, to some extent creation is also self-creation. The resurrection body would be changeable intentionally in accordance with self-understanding. It is unlikely that self-understanding will stay fixed at one level, either. It should not be possible to hate any unchangeable aspect of one’s body — one will either understand how it reflects an unchangeable aspect of the self, or change it through self-creation. But creation is also something that is in harmony with existing creation, so this cannot be an ‘anything goes’ process.

Could you be a man or a woman?

Could you be six feet tall? Four feet tall? Fifty feet tall? Three inches tall?

Could you be a different ethnicity?

Could you be humanoid or something else?

Could you be old or young?

"Clearly total formlessness amounting to arbitrary swapping of the above and other characteristics does not appeal. And neither does the classical-philosophy resurrection image of adamantine statue bodies fixed at exactly 33 years of physical development.

"Someone who was afraid of understanding their own reality and making that reality visible to others would logically be in the grip of self-hatred and their preference if released from Death by Christ and granted self-creation of a resurrection body would be to erase and obscure, not reveal their being. But the logical endpoint of this would not be resurrection into a successively-changing body or series of bodies, it would be refusal to resurrect at all. Since even a misleading form will inadvertently reveal what a person hopes to conceal.

"Historically there was the option to turn such self-hatred to the service of God and say the self-hatred was an inevitable product of original sin and it was sufficient to wait for God to sort it out. Now this option is increasingly improbable.

"What has to be done now is — people need to understand what they Desire (ideally, in a perfect world) — people need to recognize when their Desires contradict each other — people need to Choose between these contradictory Desires — in some cases, the Choice will not be morally neutral, and then they must make a Good choice! And because this is all a Choice between presently-unattainable things, it must be done by exercising the Imagination. (Else the same choice is made through passive revealed preference, which is more likely to be evil.) After these prerequisites are accomplished, when people are not able to make the Choice, then they are finally in a position pray and refer the Choice to God.

"That’s a lot of steps for someone trained from birth to self-deception and constantly distracted"

Bruce Charlton said...

@David. I incline to your way of thinking, but (as I have several times written, and won't repeat myself) I believe two things: 1. that each person must personally choose Heaven; and also that Love (which is reciprocal) makes a difference.

So when those we Love choose Heaven, it makes it more likely that we too will choose Heaven.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ara - I don't think it present in the form of a sequence of 9many) choices - but that there is a clear grasp and understanding of what is right. As Arkle said in GoC, freedom is not really about choices; but about knowing and choosing what is right.