My first arrows
Well here they are, my first real arrows. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.
They are made of walnut and maple spliced together. Pretty neat, huh?
I decided to give this blog a shorter name. "Primitive thoughts of a Christian philosopher" was just too long. See the first post in January 2005 for my purpose in starting this blog.
Well here they are, my first real arrows. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.
A few years ago, I saw a flier on a bulletin board at school advertizing a class on apologetics. I emailed the guy because I was curious about it. He sent me to his web page. After looking at it, it became obvious that he was a reformed Christian who was heavily influenced by presuppositional apologetics. He especially seemed to be a big fan of Cornelius van Til. I posted a message on his bulletin board because I was curious about the transcendental argument. After his response, I gave him a few reasons I was skeptical of it. Then he wrote me an email asking a little about my background and inquiring further into my thoughts. I don't have what I wrote on the bulletin board, but I thought I'd post what I wrote in the email. Maybe it will stir up some discussion.
Another Biblical miracle is in Joshua 10. Joshua prayed to God to cause the sun to stand still, and it did. People object to this event for a few different reasons. None of these reasons, though, are because it's a miracle. Nobody says, "Well God couldn't have done that!"
There are actually some good arguments against miracles, but today, I just want to talk about some bad ones. These aren't objections to miracles in general; they are objections to specific miracles in the Bible.
I just discovered Photobucket. It's where you can upload pictures for free and post them on the internet by linking to them. You can't stick that with a beat. I've always wanted to have pictures in my blog. Let's see if I can figure out how to do it.
I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to Dale, Steve, Jeff, Paul, Safiyyah, Kelly, Angie, and anybody else who might visit my blog from time to time. Thanks for coming, and I hope you have a good weekend.
I have a few last thoughts. Resurrection in Jewish thought always involved a body vacating its grave. If the first Christians had meant anything like being tranformed into spirits, they would not have used the word "resurrection." Resurrection is essential to Christianity. Without it, we have no hope. Jesus did not conquer death for us if he did not rise from the dead. If Jesus' resurrection were just a metaphor for Christ's continued presence in our memories and inspiration, there wouldn't be a clear indication in the scripture of a series of appearances that suddenly stopped. Since Jesus was raised bodily from the dead, we will be raised bodily from the dead. Our bodies will be like his body with all knew groovy things. I can't help but wonder if we'll be able to appear and disappear like Jesus did.
The most often cited scripture against bodily resurrection I've heard is 1 Peter 3:18. It says that Jesus was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." When a Jehovah's Witness reads this passage, he reads something a little different. He reads that Jesus was "put to death as flesh, but made alive as a spirit." To them, this seems like a pretty convincing argument against the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
The fourth and final argument for the bodily resurrection of Jesus comes from the empty tomb. We just have to ask ourselves, Why was the tomb empty? Jehovah's Witnesses say it was empty because Jehovah disposed of the body. The Bible gives an entirely different answer.
He is not here, for he is risen (Matthew 28:6).In John's gospel, it's a little different, but John makes the same point. Everybody checks out the tomb, and they are baffled by the fact that it's empty. John explains, "For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). So even in John's gospel, the reason the tomb is empty is because Jesus has risen from the dead.
He has risen; he is not here (Mark 16:6).
He is not here, but he has risen (Luke 24:6).
The third argument comes from John 20:24-27. In this passage, Jesus appeared to everybody but Thomas. Then when they told Thomas about it, Thomas didn't believe them. He said that "Unless I shall see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." It's interesting to note the kind of proof that Thomas required. Thomas was requiring physical proof, which shows that he assumed resurrection was physical. Moreover, he wanted proof that the raised body was the same body that died. That was the purpose of verifying the nail holes. The nail holes would show that it was really the crucified Jesus who had risen. So Thomas understood the resurrection to be physical and to be a resurrection of the same body that died.
The second argument comes from Luke 24:36-43. In this passage, Jesus makes a surprise appearance after his death. When his disciples saw him, they "thought that they were seeing a spirit." In the Jehovah's Witness view, they would've been entirely correct. Jesus was a spirit. But in Luke, Jesus corrected them. He said, "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." It's interesting that Jesus would use the phrase "flesh and bones." Remember that "flesh and blood" is an idiom for mortality. Jesus avoided that idom and said, "flesh and bones" instead. Such was the Jewish view of bodily resurrection that many of them were careful to preserve the bones of their dead in ossuaries, because they thought the bones were the objects of the resurrection. By saying, "flesh and bones," Jesus was emphasizing his physicality. While the disciples were still staring at him flabergasted, Jesus asked for food and then began eating in front of them, giving more proof of his physicality.
And now I'm going to talk about the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Remember what I said before, that Jesus' resurrection sets the precedent for our resurrections (Philippians 3:20-21). I'm going to give a few argues that I think show pretty clearly that Jesus' dead body actually came back to life.
If the body that rises is the same body that died, that raises an interesting philosophical question. Suppose a cannibal eats somebody and then dies shortly afterwards. How can both of them be resurrected entirely with the same body they died in?
That brings me to the next part, which I think is interesting. It turns out that the resurrection isn’t just something that affects the dead. It also affects the living. Paul said, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (v. 51-52). So both the living and the dead will undergo a transformation from perishable to imperishable; mortal to immortal. The fact that Paul is speaking of transformation strengthens the case that there is continuity between body that dies and the body that rises. Those of us who are alive at Jesus’ coming will be changed. We don’t shed this body and get a different body altogether. Rather, the same body is transformed. The same must be true of the dead.
For this perishable must put on imperishable,Read that carefully. He doesn’t say this perishable must be done away with so that we can gain imperishable in its place. Rather, he says this perishable must put on imperishable. This mortal must put on immortality. It is this same body that we already have which gains immortality. The fact that immortality is something we put on implies that we are gaining the property of immortality; not that we are losing the property of physicality. Paul doesn’t say we take off physicality in order to put on immortality. We don’t take off anything at all. We only put on.
And this mortal must put on immortality (v. 53).
The next part that Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have taken to imply a non-physical resurrection is v. 50. Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Jehovah’s Witnesses take “flesh and blood” to refer to physical bodies. This, then, becomes another proof text on which they base their distinction between the heavenly class and the earthly class. They know that some Christians inherit the kingdom of God. It follows that some Christians are resurrected without physical bodies. That’s the only way they can inherit the kingdom of God.
If there was any part of 1 Corinthians 15 that would cause me to change my mind, it’s the next part. In v. 45 it says, “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” There you have it. Jesus became a spirit. That seems to settle it, doesn’t it? The problem is that it goes against everything else in the Bible. That makes me wonder if maybe there’s some other way to understand it. I think there is.
Paul goes on to say that just as stars differ in glory, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” He elaborates by explaining exactly in what ways they differ:
It is sown perishable, it is raised imperishable;Notice that in each case, “it” refers to the same thing. It is sown perishable, and the same it is raised imperishable. That means the body that rises is the same body that died, albeit transformed. That raises an interesting philosophical question, but I’ll get to that in another blog.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (vv. 42-44).
Today, I’m going to tackle another controversial passage: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. It’s controversial because some people think Paul is arguing for a non-physical resurrection, and some people think he’s arguing for a physical resurrection. I’ll bet you can’t guess which side I take!
And now I want to talk about bodily (or physical) resurrection. I’m going to talk about both the general resurrection, and specifically the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection is the model for our resurrection.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21).If Jesus’ resurrection is physical, then so is ours. If ours is physical, then so is Jesus’.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is (1 John 3:2).
And just as we have born the image of the earthly [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [Jesus] (1 Corinthians 15:49).
For a lot of Christians, the ultimate hope is to die and go to heaven. That’s it. I think that’s a mistake. While I agree that we experience a disembodied existence immediately after death, that state is temporary, and our ultimate hope is a physical resurrection from the dead. I think that’s what the Bible conveys.
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)That’s the gospel. And Paul hangs everything on the resurrection of Jesus. He says,
Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-18).The reason Jesus’ resurrection is so essential, is because if he has not risen, then he can’t be the Christ, and if there’s no Christ then there’s no Christianity. I’ll elaborate on that point when I do my series on “Christ/Messiah.”
Before, I mentioned that the common belief in resurrection among Jews included the belief that the resurrection was general and eschatological. That is, it was one resurrection of all the dead that would happen on the last day. Now I want to look at two passages in the New Testament that reflect this understanding.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at his coming, then comes the end, when he delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.Paul did not completely give up his belief in a general resurrection. Instead, he managed to figure out how Jesus’ resurrection fit into it all. He divided the general resurrection into two stages. Jesus is the first fruits of the general resurrection. In other words, we’re still talking about a general resurrection of all the dead, but Jesus was the first one up. His resurrection marked the beginning of the general resurrection. The rest of the general resurrection, though delayed in time, would culminate in the final abolition of death. In the meantime, Jesus reigns. The Christ has been enthroned, and the resurrection has begun. So Paul also continues to carry the Jewish belief that the resurrection would be ushered in by the Messiah as 1 Enoch indicates or that it would at least be accompanied by the Messiah which Ezekiel indicates.
Today, I'm going to quote some passages from non-canonical Jewish literature. These passages mainly show how the Jewish understanding of resurrection was physical. If any Catholics are reading this, you'll have to excuse me for referring to 2 Maccabees as non-canonical. :-)
Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of Life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death (2 Maccabees 14:45-46).Notice that Razin called upon the "Lord of Life" to give his entrails back to him. This shows Razin's expectation of a physical resurrection. He was dying and expected to come back to life and recieve his entrails back.
And when he was at his last breath, he said, "You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the king of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws." After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth is hand, and said nobly, "I got these from heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again" (2 Maccabees 7:9-11).Again, we have somebody giving up body parts with the expectation that he would get them back from God. His understanding of resurrection is clearly physical.
For the earth shall then assuredly restore the dead. It shall make no change in their form. But as it has recieved, so shall it restore them. And as I delievered them unto it, so also shall it raise them (2 Baruch 50:2).The "make no change in their form," is an interesting thing to say in light of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul argues that the resurrection involves a transformation. But anyway, the emphasis in this passage seems to be continuity between the dead and the raised. I suspect that's what it means by saying there will be no change in their form. The important thing to notice in this passage is that the resurrection refers to the earth giving up the dead. This is contrary to the Jehovah's Witness view that resurrection has nothing to do with the bodies that have returned to the earth.
And the earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who dwell silently in it, and the chambers shall give up the souls which have been committed to them (4 Ezra [2 Esdras] 7:32).Clearly, the author thinks resurrection involves bodies exiting their graves.
And in those days shall the earth also give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol also shall give back that which it has received and hell shall give back that which it owes. For in those days, the Elect One... For the day has drawn nigh that they should be saved... And the Elect One shall in those days sit on my throne (1 Enoch 51:1).I left in the reference to the "Elect One" to show the agreement with the canonical references. The Elect One appears to be the same person as David mentioned in Ezekiel, since he sits on God's throne. The Elect One is the messiah.