“Is the Resurrection for Real?” is the question that Patheos is asking its mainline Protestant bloggers to respond to. Here is my take on it.
Why would we ask the question? At Patheos, the secondary title after asking the question is,
“In our modern scientific world, does belief in a Resurrection make sense?”
The bloggers are overwhelmingly positive in their answers, and I agree; yes, the resurrection is real and physical (though, admittedly weirdly so, if Jesus’ resurrection body goes through walls and has breakfast on the beach).
But my question is about the question itself. Why ask it? Does the question reveal some discomfort with the issue? Is it really our knowledge of science and our self-perception of being all modern that makes us wonder about Jesus’ resurrection? After all, C.S. Lewis (and probably others before him) pointed out that the concept that dead bodies stay dead was pretty well established in the ancient world; it doesn’t take the Enlightenment to come to that conviction.
But could it also be that something other than scientific reasoning is behind resurrection qualms? Could it be our uneasiness with physicality itself? Perhaps we are perpetually as ashamed by our nakedness as Adam and Eve were, upon discovery.
But God is not embarrassed by the physical world. The God we Christians know (via Judaism, of course) is the one who made a physical world and repeatedly pronounced it “good.” We could never be gnostics who think that there is something inherently degrading about being physical. We could never be Platonists and undervalue the physical world by comparison to the world of the forms.
And all this physicality is why what we do with our physical world, the one that Jesus was resurrected into, matters so much. This is why poverty and hunger for literal bread is such a scandal. This is why killing is so bad. This why the see-saw between “development” and recovery-from-development is so agonizing.
Today, April 20, 2011 is the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster (not just a “spill”) in which 11 lives were lost and for 87 days following, raw oil and gas gushed into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The church I serve is in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I can bear witness to the fact that though the beaches are sugar-white again, the damage is still on-going for people who lost their businesses, their security, and for some, their marriages as they struggle to cope with the disaster.
We have held a 24 hour prayer vigil on the beach, each local church taking turns. This evening at 6:00 we will all gather for a community prayer service. We will pray to the resurrected Lord for our physical planet, and the people created to live on it, certain because of resurrection that he is there to hear, and that he cares.