Friday 20 September 2019

Jesus came to bring resurrection - and to show what that meant

Since Jesus came to bring resurrection - the Fourth Gospel also shows what resurrection means - shows what happens after our bodies die.

First we see Lazarus (author of the Fourth Gospel) resurrected. He has been dead a few days, his body has begun to decompose - and he is resurrected to resume his discipleship. It seems to be implied that the damage of putrefaction was healed (he isn't a zombie).

We aren't told what happens to Lazarus after writing the Fourth Gospel - but I have come to assume that at some later time he followed Jesus, ascending to Heaven.  

Then we see Jesus resurrected two days after being beaten, mutilated, crucified. Something seems to be different, because he is not immediately recognisable - but he retains some marks of his mutilation. He also eats and drinks. And seems able to appear and disappear. He later ascends to Heaven.

What I wish to emphasise here is the Fourth Gospel shows us that resurrection happens soon after death - a few days. There is nothing about awaiting a second coming, or a long sleep awaiting a day of universal judgement - there is no mention of a such matters in the Fourth Gospel.

The implication is that resurrection happens - if it is going to happen, and I presume there are other possible outcomes - soon after we die.

We will then be solid, incarnated, indestructible eternal Beings. According to the Fourth Gospel, we then 'ascend' to Heaven - where we will meet with God, Jesus, and other resurrected Men who have followed Jesus. So there are other 'solid' Beings in Heaven. It seems to be an actual, solid place.

And there are also unincarnated spirit Beings. For instance, Jesus says he was in Heaven as a spirit before he was incarnated as a Man.

So Heaven seems to 'house' both spirit Men (who may, or may not, be incarnated at some future time) and resurrected Men. Apparently, Heaven is a place where the spiritual and incarnated are in full relation and interaction.


Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

These are all things that I want to believe. And that I do believe (except perhaps for timing), because I believe on Jesus Christ as he teaches us in the Gospels.
But, again: This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
You posit, based on the examples of Lazarus and Our Lord Himself, that the dead are resurrected, presumably incorruptible, in a short time after the physical death of our earthly bodies. But if I were to go a mile from here to the cemetery where my ancestors are buried and exhume their coffins (which I will not), I should find their remains much the worse for wear for being dead.
How does one square that circle?
The idea of a general resurrection, of the dead rising again to life at the end of days, does not present the same contradiction.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HRC - No circle to be squared! The example of Lazarus - putrefied, stinking - established that resurrection does not depend on the intact flesh. But obviously, it could not require intact flesh, for multiple reasons.

It would be foolish to suppose there can be a 'scientific' explanation for the 'process' of resurrection; any more than we understand Life or Consciousness or the devlopment from cell to adult; or innumerable other matters of fact.

Just because we can form a question does not mean that there is something than needs to be, or can be, answered.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

What I think HRS means, and I agree, is that it is very obviously not true that people (other than Jesus and Lazarus) are resurrected a few days after they die. Years after death, their decomposing bodies are still there, unraised.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Yes. I think we can agree that resurrection does not mean recently dead bodies coming back to life.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

The resurrections of Jesus and Lazarus did mean recently dead bodies coming back to life, though, so there are obvious problems with drawing conclusions about resurrection in general from those two examples.

David said...

"What I wish to emphasise here is the Fourth Gospel shows us that resurrection happens soon after death - a few days. There is nothing about awaiting a second coming, or a long sleep awaiting a day of universal judgement - there is no mention of a such matters in the Fourth Gospel."

I don't see how this fits with the simple observation that people do not physically resurrect a few days after death as far as basic observation shows! Surely the resurrection of the soul must either occur unseen to this physical world or those bodies in graveyard must be waiting for the headline act. More perplexingly, what happens to the vast numbers of people who are cremated?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I have never considered them as such. But I can see that this could well be the conclusion. I assumed there was a replacement of the dead body by the resurrected person. Of course, that would itself perhaps imply that the dead body would disappear when the person was ressurected...

In general, I think this line of thinking is missing the point in a way that means the point can never be regained. This was considered a non problem at the time, and it is a non problem properly considered.

As I said - anyone can ask questions, and keep on and on asking questions. The point is to be clear about what position the questions are being asked from. All good questions come from a perspective that is explicit and acknowledged.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - What do You think answers your question? Are you saying that resurrection is impossible, meaningless, or just does not happen? Are you saying that the dead body must be annihilated before resurrection is possible?

I'm pretty astonished that anyone could assume that the persistence of a dead body on earth means that the person's soul cannot be, has not been, resurrected in Heaven. The one has nothing to do with the other.

If resurrection is a real and possible thing, it is the making of an eternal, indestructible and self-renewing body. DO you know anything at all about how this could be accomplished? I don't. It is something that God *could not* accomplish without the birth of Jesus Christ.

But maybe that way of reasoning is mainstream nowadays - this is the Ahrimanic era after all. Materialism is indeed incompatible with Christianity, in multiple ways - its assumptions exclude Christianity.

David said...

That seems like a Pretty reasonable point to me William! So it would seem an argument supporting resurrection based on emphasizing dead bodies coming back to life is misleading. Resurrection of the soul appears to occur independently of the remains of the mortal physical body or it doesn't happen happen at all. This seems to follow from the thread discussion. I would like to think that it does but, frankly, what do I know!

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Bruce, I understood you to be saying that resurrection probably occurs shortly after death because that’s how it happened with Lazarus and Jesus, and the thrust of my reply was that other people’s resurrections are not like those of L and J, because if they were, we would find bodies disappearing from tombs as theirs did. Therefore, I don’t think there’s a good reason to assume resurrection happens shortly after death.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I understand; and I said that it doesn't follow.

The question of bodies remaining or disappearing is irrelevant to resurrection; but the rapidity of resurrection shows that there is no need or reason to await some kind of second coming/ final judgement day before resurrection.

If there is no need or reason to delay resurrection, why would it be delayed? I'm not asserting anything fixed about the timing. There were reasons to delay Lazarus and Jesus for a few/ two days - lacking any such reason, I presume resurrection could be more rapid.

As a kind of 'empirical' confirmation is the entire mass of 'evidence' (if believed) of communication between the living and the deceased - since (for most Christians) resurrection is necessary to the restoration of personhood (e.g. we would not be able to communicate with ghost-spirits in Sheol).

Of course, if it is believed that the dead can be full persons (not merely ghostly demented spirits) - as with some theories of reincarnation - then communication would be possible. But I think that is probably ruled-out by the reason for resurrection in the first place.