ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

“body, soul, mind and spirit are alike material, made up of the same created energy and matter as everything else”

from a Christian Century review of Joel Green’s  Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Baker, 2009)

As Green engages key questions at the intersection of the Bible and biology—What does it mean to be human? Whatever happened to free will? What does it mean to be saved? Is there life after death?—Green demonstrates that biblical teaching is not what tradition has taught us. Whether addressing the image of God, sin and human freedom, the nature of salvation in Christ or the resurrection of the body, Green argues on exegetical grounds that the correct biblical view is monism—that a human is a complex living unity, and that body, soul, mind and spirit are alike material, made up of the same created energy and matter as everything else. The resurrection of the body is thus a miracle of God, not a natural event in which the immortal soul separates off from the body at death.

Reminds me of the Gladdens’ description of the Holy Spirit, of God the Creator, as “biocosmic energy.”

Here’s the amazon link, which includes a Nancey Murphy review.

“If you think nothing new ever happens in theology or biblical studies, you need to read this book, an essay in ‘neuro-hermeneutics.’ Green shows not only that a physicalist (as opposed to a dualist) anthropology is consistent with biblical teaching but also that contemporary neuroscience sheds light on significant hermeneutical and theological questions.”–Nancey Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary

Which reminds to also read Nancey Murphy’s book, Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Current Issues in Theology) (Cambridge 2006)

from Amazon’s product description:

The reader is invited to appreciate the ways in which organisms are more than the sum of their parts. That higher human capacities such as morality, free will, and religious awareness emerge from our neurobiological complexity and develop through our relation to others, to our cultural inheritance, and, most importantly, to God. Murphy addresses the questions of human uniqueness, religious experience, and personal identity before and after bodily resurrection.

These kinds of arguments excite me because my view of the Bible already agrees with them. But I also think how sad and frustrating it is 2000 years of Christian tradition have ingrained a significantly different view. And it also helps explain one reason I’ve had trouble imagining being a pastor — how can I go around telling people I think most Christian tradition is wrong on this most-important issue? And how can I offer much consolation when the grieving church member wants to know their loved one is “with the Lord in heaven” right now.


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