ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

Monthly Archives: January 2012

“Will religion end on Mars?”

Was just adding a google-news search keyword to my Google News page for “religion” and found this article. Will religion end on Mars?” It’s an old question, but one that hasn’t been explored (except, like this article, to throw the question out there). Well, Paul Davies explored it a bit in his Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life. But, at least back in the late 1990s, the last I checked, no theologian had seriously explored it. And that’s what I was going to do in my doctoral dissertation in theology.

Still a fascinating question, but, you know what, it just doesn’t seem as important or even needful to me anymore. I mean, basically theology (even the theologies of “scriptural faiths,” as this article puts it) will just adapt. They always do. And they’ll probably be enhanced, too. Tradition expanded… keeping the baby, draining the bathwater — always a good thing.

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“If the Shroud is real then maybe the Resurrection was really a physical, bodily, historically factual event.”

Excellently written article on the shroud: The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection Problem: an Anglican/Episcopal perspective.

[…]

But what if the Shroud is first century cloth? What if it is Jesus’ burial cloth? I am a theologically liberal thinking person — brought up on Bishop Robinson’s Honest to God and now an avid reader of Marcus Borg — and I accept many thing in the Bible that are scientifically or historically implausible as something of a metaphor. For me, these questions about the Shroud’s authenticity were daunting. For no matter how I might try to separate the mysterious and inexplicable image on the Shroud from my metaphorical interpretations of the Resurrection, I could not do so. The image and the event seemed interconnected. Scientists who study the Shroud are better at making the separation by stressing that science can only go so far in explaining things. But I lack their scholarly methodical restraint. My imagination takes over and I wonder if the image was formed by the act of resurrection. If the Shroud is real then maybe the Resurrection was really a physical, bodily, historically factual event. Metaphorical thinking about the Resurrection was challenged. [emphasis mine]

[…]

If we are to accept the evidence concerning the Shroud, and thousands do, we should recognize that it is science and history confronting and challenging the prevailing worldview that unnatural things don’t happen. For those who are scientifically inclined, it may seem like an Alice in Wonderland nightmare. The evidence seemingly gives credence to the “the postmodern contention” — as historian Joseph Ellis describes postmodernism — “that no such thing as objective truth exists, that historical reality is an inherently enigmatic and endlessly negotiable bundle of free- floating perceptions.” The Shroud is important because it challenges what we may believe about the Resurrection. It challenges extant historical and biblical scholarship. It challenges two centuries of historical and theological progress in the scholarly “quest” for the historical Jesus. It challenges the discourse on science and religion. And as Pope John Paul II states — a man keenly aware of intellectual dilemma — the Shroud of Turin “challenges our intelligence.” [emphasis mine]

[…]

“Christ…is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23)

This is a letter to the editor, but worth quoting. I had never thought about Ephesians 5:23 possibly referring to bodies of individual believers. I think the first meaning is still (and definitely) “the body of Christ,” i.e., the church. But Paul (or the Pauline author) could have had a secondary meaning in mind of the “body of Christ” as the flesh and blood bodies of its members. Fits with the rest of the New Testament’s emphasis on redemption of creation (including the body), not just tossing creation aside.

Also, it’s helpful to be reminded that the neo-platonic spiritualizing elements of biblical interpretation more specifically came from the School of Alexandria.

[emphases mine]

And the graves were opened…
November 01, 2010 | 03:32 AM

[…]

But where did this abhorrence of the body come from? Could there be a different explanation of the body’s ultimate role?

[…]  to the Ephesians Paul wrote, “Christ…is the savior of the body.” If He’s the savior of the body only to have it be discarded, is He, in fact, saving it–at least in the eternal sense? (Eph. 5:23)

So let me reveal why I believe that the body has gotten the short end of the stick. To me, the saints in the early church, while acknowledging the body’s troublesome nature in this life, saw it as a literal and everlasting part of the resurrection. That’s what the resurrection was all about: to change corruptibleness (death of the body) into everlasting incorruptibleness (life or immortality of the body). Christ’s tomb and the graves of the saints did not become empty only to have their bodies buried in tombs and graves in the hereafter.

Alas, if you still find yourself sticking to your guns that the body gets in the way, then you are unwittingly subscribing to the School of Alexandria instead of the School of the Prophets and Apostles.

During the Second Century, A.D., Alexandria became an important center of religious scholarship, influenced more by Greek philosophy than by the teachings of the Early Church. Scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus, and the great Origen exerted a profound influence. Many scholars, such as Jerome, visited Alexandria to hear their arguments. It was here that the idea to “spiritualize everything” and to “cut out anything that was material, real, tangible, or literal” took root. All of which found their ultimate expression in the First Council of Nicaea presided over by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in A.D. 325. As we all know, the “Nicene Creed” became the central profession of faith for most of today’s Christian religions.

Yet, I submit, it fails to measure up against not only the Bible, but also the many apocryphal writings of the early church that have been unearthed since the 1940’s: Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi texts, Gospels of Thomas and Philip and Pistis Sophia, to name a few. Study them and you quickly get a completely different idea of what the early church believed and preached about the body and the dust from which it is made.

I say, with sympathy, let this give us pause as to what things concerning the body really were, and are.

Graham Ambrose

“resurrection is mind, body, and spirit, not just a floaty ghosty thing”

This is the second to the last paragraph in an article by Jeff Gill on the need for churches to focus both on spiritual and physical health.

Body and spirit are not in opposition: at least in traditional Christian teaching, the body is not a curse or a mistake, but a gift. It is how we experience the gift and blessing of creation, which is why resurrection is mind, body, and spirit, not just a floaty ghosty thing.

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