“Can These Bones Live”? is up at Afterlife

I’m an occasional contributor to Afterlife, a New Zealand Website exploring the questions of life, death and eternity, from an Evangelical Christian perspective. My latest article there, Can These Bones Live? The Resurrection of the Body is now available.

Is it really clear that the first Christians believed in the empty tomb of Jesus and in the resurrection of our bodies, leaving all the graves empty?

Check out the rest of the article, in which I explain that the earliest Christian community maintained that in the resurrection of Jesus, his body came back to life, setting the precedent for the resurrection of all the dead.

The minimal facts argument and teleportation

Is believing in the resurrection of Jesus as foolish as falling for somebody’s tall-tale about teleportation? Recently James East brought to my attention his short article where he calls into question the “minimal facts” approach to arguing for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. How well does his objection fare? Not especially well, as it turns out. Continue reading “The minimal facts argument and teleportation”

“God of the Living” – William Tyndale and the Resurrection

Jesus used God’s relationship to Abraham to argue for the resurrection, not a conscious intermediate state.

In the New Testament in Mark chapter twelve (paralleled in Matthew chapter twenty-two), we read about an encounter between Jesus and some Sadducees. Sadducees, as you may know, were a group of Jews who denied the resurrection of the dead, as well as the existence of spirits (in the sense of departed spirits), angels and demons. This life is all there is, they believed, and when you die, that is the end of you forever.

In this passage the Sadducees were trying to reduce the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead to absurdity by showing that it led to bizarre consequences. What if a woman’s husband died, so she remarried a number of times, with each subsequent husband dying (!!!). At the resurrection of the dead, who would she be married to? Their implied answer was: “Surely not all of them. So the resurrection leads to unacceptable consequences, and you should really just give it up.” Continue reading ““God of the Living” – William Tyndale and the Resurrection”

Episode 042: The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection

Episode 42 presents the “minimal facts” approach to the resurrection of Jesus.

This episode doesn’t just present the argument in order to persuade you, it’s also meant to show you what the argument is like so that you can use it yourself (if you find it persuasive of course). It starts out with four facts granted by the majority of New Testament critics, and then works towards an explanation of those facts.

In this episode I refer to other blog posts and podcast episodes, and as promised here are links to those:

Merry Mithras!
Episode 19: Osiris and Jesus
Is there No Evidence that Jesus Even Existed?
Is there No Evidence that Jesus Even Exited? Part 2
Is there No Evidence that Jesus Even Exited? Part 3

 

 

The death of the Apostles: Why would you?

What does the death of some of the first followers of Jesus’ tell us about what they knew?

Easter is a time of year that seems to bring sceptics out of the woodwork. The proverbial Grinches (wrong holiday, I know) find this to be a natural time of year to rain on the parade of Christians celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. I still recall listening to the debate between William Lane Craig and Brian Edwards on the resurrection a few Easters ago (gosh, has it been that long? The year 2001 or 2000, I forget). You can check that debate out for yourself – Link to the debate.

It’s only fair, then, that Christians take this opportunity to capitalise on the surprising flimsiness of some of the sceptical arguments out there (hence my last post on the supposed virgin birth of Buddha), and also to continue to illustrate the way that the biblical account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus stands up well to critical scrutiny.

So here’s a brief thought to consider for today: Why were some (although not all, or even most) of the early disciples martyred? What was the reason for killing them? That’s something of a no-brainer. They were killed for their proclamation of their religious beliefs in an effort to convert the local populaces where they lived. They proclaimed the message of the resurrection of their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, and it cost them. Continue reading “The death of the Apostles: Why would you?”

Episode 023: Imagine There’s No Heaven

Is Christian hope all about going to heaven, rather than you-know-where?

Here it is, the first podcast episode for 2009, complete with my summer hay fever voice! Kicking things off for the year is a discussion of what lies beyond the grave. The resurrection of the dead is the hope of the New Testament for our eternal life, yet popular Christian theology has come to place a lot of weight on the hope of going to heaven when you die. Short story: It has to stop and we need to adjust our focus.

Glenn Peoples

 

A non material body?

Here’s an argument I’ve seen from time to time in theological circles, but it never becomes more plausible, no matter how many times I see it.

One of the apparently embarrassing doctrines of Christianity is the resurrection of the dead. That dead people could return to physical life by a miracle of God is utterly absurd to many. Apparently it’s absurd to a number of people who say they believe the teaching of the New Testament as well. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example say that they believe in an immaterial invisible “spiritual” resurrection. Mind you, they only had to start teaching that when Jesus failed to return in 1914 as the WatchTower society predicted, so they had to start saying that He did…. invisibly! But what about the resurrection that was supposed to happen? Well, they said, that is happening too. Invisibly.

Then there is a wee group called “full preterists,” who also believe in an invisible, immaterial resurrection, that started happening in AD70 or thereabouts. We will never again have a physical body, say these people, and we will be better off as non physical beings forever.

But how do people like this who claim to adhere to the teaching of the New Testament get around what the New Testament says, namely that there will be a bodily resurrection? Well, here’s one way. They point out that 1 Corinthians chapter 15 says that we currently have a “natural” body, but at the resurrection we will have a “spiritual” body, showing that we will be immaterial.

This view of the biblical teaching has literally nothing going for it. In the first place, a body that is not physical is not a body, just like a drink that’s not liquid is not a drink.

But secondly, this view involves importing highly dualistic concepts into texts that really don’t contain them at all. The assumption being made is that the word “spiritual” just means “immaterial.” But in the writing of the Apostle Paul who wrote 1 Corinthians, we know this is just not true at all. In fact, we can see this in 1 Corinthians itself. have a look at 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

The natural (psuchikos) man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual (pneumatikos) man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.

The Greek words for “natural” and “spiritual” here are psuchikos and pneumatikos, respectively, the same words used in 1 Corinthians 15 when talking about the present natural body and the future spiritual body. Notice that the Apostle Paul is talking about living people in 1 Corinthians 2. What is the difference between the natural man and the spiritual man? Is one physical, and the other immaterial? This is clearly not what is meant. But if this is so, why should we assume that “spiritual” means “immaterial” when it comes to the resurrection?

The contrast in 1 Corinthians 15 is not one of physical and immaterial. It is one of “mortal” and “immortal.” “Corrupt” and “incorruptible.” Spirituality is about being right relation with your creator, not about being made of different stuff.