ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

Category Archives: Resurrection

Call to Worship: “the taste of death will not defile us”

Resurrection from St John Vianney Seminary

I really liked the Call to Worship in tonight’s worship:

When the tomb looms large before our eyes, remind us, Lord, who we are:

We are children of the resurrection; the place of death will not hold us.

We are the painters of the rainbows; the shadow of death will not daunt us.

We are the breakers of loaves and fishes; the taste of death will not defile us.

We are the raisers of the dead; the power of death will not defy us.

We are the people of Pentecost; the spirit of death will not destroy us!

God is our refuge and our strength.

We gather in the power and sure promise of resurrection.

If creation is credible, resurrection is credible as well

In “The Mystery of the Resurrection,” Regis Nicoll critiques the view (in this case, of Lisa Miller, a journalist) that the resurrection of Jesus (or of anyone) is incredible. In the end, Nicoll emphasizes, if one cannot accept the miracle of creation, in the first place, one will have a hard time as well acceptin the possibility of resurrection (i.e., re-creation).

After pointing out that Miller seems to find reincarnation more plausible, Nicoll gives this great response:

If Ms. Miller is as appreciative of reincarnation as that statement would suggest, one wonders why the ability of an unintelligent karmic force to transmogrify a human being into a beetle, buffalo or rose bud is any more credible than the ability of super-intelligent Being to raise a decayed corpse or cremated ashes into a reconstructed body.  [emphasis mine]

He then goes on to point out that, even though Christians as a whole are tending to believe less in a physical / literal resurection and more in a spiritual / symbolic one, that tendency is contra to the long-term traditions of biblical interpretation (since the time of the early church), pointing to the examples of Job’s, Daniel’s, King David’s, the prophet Ezekiel’s, and of course Jesus’s belief in a real resurrection, and to the examples of accounts of actual resurrections (Elijah raising the Shunammite’s son; Jesus raising Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son; Paul raising Eutychus, and Peter raising Dorcas).

Recognizing and admitting that these resurrections were not permanent, were not resurrections to an immortal life — these bodies were raised “with the same abilities and limitations as they had before” — Nicoll emphasizes that Jesus’ resurrection is something “wholly different.” It is

The resurrection is the reconstitution and reanimation of remains that have decayed beyond all recognition and, sometimes, widely dispersed in the ecosphere. As Tatian, the second century Christian apologist wrote, “Even though fire may destroy all traces of my flesh… I am laid up in the storehouses of a wealthy Lord.”  [emphasis mine]

Nicoll ends by re-emphasizing that the miracle of resurrection is really no different from the miracle of creation in the first place. If one cannot accept the latter, it’s not suprising that the former would seem incredible as well.

The resurrection is one of Christendom’s deepest mysteries and, yet, no different in kind than the mystery of creation—whereby, man was formed from the dust of the earth, and the earth, ex nihilo, by the utterance of God. Consequently, folks who are put off by the resurrection of the dead will likely find the creation of the living a difficult pill as well. [emphasis mine]

It suggests that the real objection to the resurrection mystery is not so much over the process, but over what the process implies. Someone who is able to reassemble, refurbish, and reinvigorate our remains is Someone who can assert cosmic authority over us and make demands of us. And that is Someone some people would rather not think about, for now.

Really nice article.

a Muslim version of 1 Corinthians 15

This is kind of a Muslim version of 1 Corinthians 15. Interesting extra-Quranic stories.

From Washington: ‘How will God judge over six billion people?’
By Afis A. Oladosu

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.

“WHEN is this your “judgment day” by the way? How many people will be judged on this memorable day? Everyone, who ever lived since Adam? Or only those, who came after Jesus the Christ, since there were no Christians before his coming to create them on earth? As of last count, the Chinese alone now number some 1.5 billion souls – alive, be it noted!

How many judges will this your God need for the Chinese alone (since they were never Christians anyway, so they are already doomed even before their trial – what a fair God!) on that faithful day, this famous “judgment day” sold to my Nigerian brothers and sisters of the Christian faith (like the 70 promised virgins of the Moslems heaven!) Or will your God do all the judging by himself – with no assistant judges? And why wait till “judgment day” before delivering “judgment” since we already know pretty much who is going to heaven anyway?

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“the Bible has absolutely nothing to say about an invisible place that the dead go to called heaven”

Yes! I love it.

Why the rush in going to heaven?
April 15, 2010 9:32 am
Patrick Hall wrote:

Most Christians are in a pretty big hurry to get somewhere else. Maybe you’ve heard of that somewhere else. It’s often referred to as “heaven.” Supposedly this place has pearly gates and really soft toilet paper.

Maria Shriver, apparently an expert on Christian doctrine, wrote a charming little bit of heaven-fluff aimed at grieving children. It’s utterly unimaginative and objectionably boring depiction of the Christian “hope” is as follows, “Great grandma’s body is in the wooden box, but remember, her soul – all the things that made her a wonderful person – has already been taken up to Heaven by the angels.” How sappy can you get?!

Yet this is what Christians have been promulgating as our great “hope” for at least the past 200 years.

What could be more boring than an invisible place where the dead float around without bodies? Think of all the awesome stuff you did today. For me, today’s awesomeness included a double scoop of Marble Slab peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle bowl, and a gloriously interesting, absurdly long, deeply personal lunch with one of my favorite parishioners – a lunch full of good food and laughter and even a tear or two.

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“Said one demon to another: If Christ ever gets out of that tomb, hell help us…all heaven will break loose!”

From a sermon by Jerry Shirley, “The Message Left in the Tomb,” found on sermoncentral.com:

Said one demon to another: If Christ ever gets out of that tomb, hell help us…all heaven will break loose!

Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive!

“[Christ] has made [the earth] blossom afresh with men brought back to life.”

I love this line by St. Maximus, quoted by Randy Sly, found on catholic.org, in a sermon entitled Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

The Season of Easter is not just about His resurrection but also ours.  St. Maximus of Turin wrote in the 5th Century, “Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life.

“His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth.” [emphasis mine]

 

“On the Cross was consummated a mystical marriage between the Bridegroom Christ (the New Adam) and His Bride (the New Eve).”

[emphases mine]

A theology of the body
by Fr. Thomas J. Loya, STB., MA.
April 08, 2010

The theology of the body, the fact that our bodies “speak a language” that points us to the ultimate “why” behind our being human and gendered, comes to its fullest expression during this Paschal season of the Church.

In many Eastern Christian Churches the Sunday immediately following Pascha (Easter) has a special significance in terms of the theology of the body. On this Sunday Eastern Christian Churches focus an account of Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles in the Upper Room after His Resurrection when Thomas is also present.

The Bible makes a point to say that Jesus entered the Upper Room although the doors were locked. He passes through the door like a ghost or in some spiritual form. At the same time Jesus Christ invites the “doubting” Thomas to touch the wounds on Jesus’ body which he incurred during his Crucifixion. This means that the wounds and the physical body of Jesus must have been real enough to have wounds that could actually be recognized and touched.

It was only when Thomas touched the wounds that he pronounced the most important words in the entire Bible: “My Lord and my God.”

So, in this moment the body of Jesus was both spiritual and physical all at the same time.

In this way Jesus was in the state in which we are all meant to be except for the fact of Adam and Eve’s sin. It is also the state that Christians believe we will all end up in for those who make it to Heaven. Our bodies will rise up gloriously transfigured and will reunite with our souls so that we will be whole persons once again in Heaven forever. Our bodies were never meant to be separated from our souls. As the author Peter Kreeft said, death is a “cosmic obscenity.”

But it is also the week leading up to Pascha and Thomas Sunday that is significant for our understanding of the theology of the body. In many Eastern Christian Churches, this week is called The Week of the “Bridegroom.” This incredible week speaks of the Spousal Mystery upon which the theology of the body is founded. The worship services speak of Christ the Bridegroom coming to wed or “marry” His Bride which is all of creation and in particular, humanity. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, is coming to take every hit for his Bride, to bleed, suffer and die for Her. On the Cross, Christ is now known as the “New Adam.” His Mother will now become the New Eve and He will call her “woman,” and not “Mother.”

The only other time Christ called his Mother, “woman” was during His first Miracle at the Wedding of Cana. It is the same word used to describe the original Eve in the beginning of the Bible.

On the Cross was consummated a mystical marriage between the Bridegroom Christ (the New Adam) and His Bride (the New Eve). This is why in many Eastern Christian Churches on Paschal (Easter) Sunday the people will sing, “Christ emerges from the tomb like a Bridegroom from the Bridal chamber and fills the women with joy.” Christ’s death and Resurrection is the consummation of his entire plan to unite Himself intimately in love with His Bride and to take her to heights never known before. It is upon these events in the life of Christ that find the “why” behind our own deep desire for intimacy, marriage, sexuality, fruitfulness and fellowship and all the while this is stamped in the very language, the theology of our gendered bodies.

“Jesus’ resurrection is about more than simply new hope being born inside of human consciousness. It is also about a change in our planet.”

[emphases mine]

Friday, April 9, 2010
The resurrection of Jesus and physical creation
By Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was once asked by a critic why he so often mentioned atoms and molecules when he talked about Jesus. His answer: I am trying to formulate a Christology that is large enough to incorporate the full Christ, because Christ is not just an anthropological event but a cosmic phenomenon as well.

What does he mean by this? Essentially that Christ came into the world not just to save human beings and reshape human history, but to save and reshape the earth as well.

Christ came to save the world, not just the people living in it. We see the deep proof of this in the resurrection. Jesus was raised from death to life. A dead body was resurrected and that, clearly, has a dimension that goes beyond the mere psychological and spiritual.

We do not stand apart from the earth and it does not exist simply for our benefit, like a stage for the actor, to be abandoned once the play is over. Physical creation has value in itself, independent of us.

There is something radically physical in the resurrection. Simply put, when a dead body is raised to new life the physical structure of the universe is being altered; atoms and molecules are being rearranged. Thus, Jesus’ resurrection is about more than simply new hope being born inside of human consciousness. It is also about a change in our planet.

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“Living Fully into the Life to Come”

From an article in Christianity Today:

Such a lack of funerals, Friesen says, is a missed opportunity for spiritual formation. A funeral, he says, is like the North Star in the sky, so that a navigator knows where the ship is and how to adjust its direction to get to the destination. At a funeral, “you get these coordinates” to position yourself in life, says Friesen.

“hungry for myths that are not only resonant but true”

I liked this review of Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, especially the last two paragraphs. I feel the way Douthat describes — i.e., I crave concrete truth in my myths, too. It’s one reason I could not wholly embrace a liberal theology or a liberal biblical interpretation. I couldn’t get my brain around the main events in the Bible being only symbolic and not also (at least in some way) historical. The biblical writers just don’t sound like they’re writing symbols a lot of the time. So, for me, I either had to interpret the Bible basically historically (via either a traditional interpretation or a space-age interpretation) or not at all.

Anyway, here’s the last two paragraphs. Very nicely written. (The bold is mine.)

This explains why liberal religion tends to be parasitic on more dogmatic forms of faith, which create and sustain the practices that the liberal believer picks and chooses from, reads symbolically and reinterprets for a more enlightened age. Such spiritual dilettant­ism has its charms, but it lacks the sturdy appeal of Western monotheism, which has always offered not only myth and ritual and symbolism (the pagans had those bases covered), but also scandalously literal claims — that the Jews really are God’s chosen people; that Christ really did rise from the dead; and that however much the author of the universe may surpass our understanding, we can live in hope that he loves the world enough to save it, and us, from the annihilating power of death.

Such literalism can be taken too far, and “The Case for God” argues, convincingly, that it needs to coexist with more mythic, mystic and philosophical forms of faith. Most people, though, are not mystics and philosophers, and they are hungry for myths that are not only resonant but true. Apophatic religion may be the most rigorous way to go in search of an elusive God. But for most believers, it will remain a poor substitute for the idea that God has come in search of us.

from Ross Douthat, “Perpetual Revelations.” NY Times, October 4, 2009.

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